In the new movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Tina Fey portrays Kim Baker, a journalist sent from her comfortable yet boring life and career in the United States to war-torn Afghanistan, where she is to provide coverage as a correspondent in the early days of America's occupation there in the early 2000s. The movie is based on the book The Taliban Shuffle, which was authored by real-life journalist Kim Barker, upon whom Fey's character is based. Barker was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune when she was first sent to the region in 2003, and she remained there until 2009, eventually rising to the position of South Asia Bureau Chief for the paper. But what does the real Kim think of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ?
It has to be odd to see one's own life portrayed by actors in a Hollywood movie, and that's essentially how Barker seems to feel about the matter, especially when it comes to the similarities she shares — and doesn't share — with Fey. "If people want to mix me up with Tina Fey and her character, that's going to happen," Barker recently told her old employer, the Chicago Tribune . "But I know who I am and my friends know who I am. And they know I'm kind of bemused by this whole idea. I'm going around, I've got fake eyelashes and, look at me, man, I've got TV anchorman hair. I'm coiffed. Look at the makeup on my face. Have you ever seen me with this much makeup on my face?"
The movie also changes a lot from the book, as Barker wrote in a New York Times essay. "In the movie, my name is Kim Baker, and I’m a television reporter. (Sorry, print journalism.) I have a made-up frenemy who is much hotter than any of my actual friends from Afghanistan. (Sorry, actual friends.) I’m also only in Afghanistan — there’s no shuffling to Pakistan involved. (Apologies, Pakistan.) It’s Hollywood." But in spite of these creative liberties, according to Barker, the backbone of her story remains intact. "Honestly, it kind of feels like the core of the movie is the same as the core of the book,” she told the Daily Free Press . “They use different things to tell the same story, which is the life we led over there and the idea of being this ‘Kabubble’ and going back and forth from covering really, really horrible things to … this really weird, strange way to live. And I think they captured that really well."
Barker was also pleased at how well the film depicted her relationship with her Afghan translator. "I wanted to be able to show those really human moments of how we both were kind of jagged at certain points and what it takes to cover this kind of stuff," she told the paper, also adding that a scene between the two of them in the film brought tears to her eyes.
In addition to making the rounds in the press, Barker has also been actively promoting the movie on her own Twitter account. She's constantly linking to positive reviews and retweeting praise, and even offering up admiration herself, telling one follower, "and the movie is pretty great too," when he mentions her own cheeky line from her NYT essay that the book is always better than the movie.
So despite some trepidation about the whole fame thing, and the numerous changes the film makes to her life, it sounds like Barker is quite proud of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot . And with Tina Fey portraying her... how could she not be?
Images: Paramount Pictures; giphy.com