This is just a short post from the social commentary aspect of my blog. I recently watched the movie The Campaign, a Will Ferrel movie that I would only recommend as a light, entertaining film to watch when you don’t feel like getting involved in serious intellectual stuff.
I’m going to spoil the highlight for you and show here the best part of the movie, when the two politicians are debating. This clip is a stroke of genius in an otherwise fairly average comedy. I am referring specifically to the reaction of the voters when one candidate mentions that his opponent wants all his voters to live in “Rainbow Land.”
For the non political person, this may just seem as an exaggeration, but having also watched another political movie, Game Change, about the McCain/Sarah Palin ticket in the 2008 Presidential campaign, I have to say that Will Ferrel has hit the nail on the head on the nature of politics today.
In Game Change, McCain’s political advisers choose Sarah Palin based on her looks and her fight against the Bridge To Nowhere. What is most disturbing about the movie is not even the abysmal ignorance that Sarah Palin demonstrates once she’s on the campaign trail (the movie purports that she doesn’t know that Germany was our enemy in World War II or that the Queen of England was not the head of state), but, as the title implies, that a presidential election has become nothing more than a game, where what candidates say is merely a script to propose the illusion of democracy, the illusion of experience, the illusion of control.
McCain’s staff decides to keep Palin’s ignorance hidden from everyone, including McCain: but if a candidate can’t even keep control of his own campaign, how can he keep control of a system as large and complex as the United States government?
I was never a fan of Sarah Palin, but after watching this movie I can only say that we deserve the government we get if most of us don’t really care what a candidate knows or doesn’t know. How do people who claim to love democracy come to choose a candidate based solely on her looks? This is the question that the movie too easily absolves, choosing instead to make a villain of Sarah Palin. Undoubtedly Sarah Palin was not prepared to be vice president, but what about McCain? What about his cynical and misguided choice of a candidate based on sexist principles alone? A good looking hockey mom: what a great vice-presidential candidate (read this with sarcasm, please). Who cares what her political positions are so long as she fits the part? It’s this kind of rah rah politics that is most troublesome.
In the opening frames, the McCain campaign asks America to contemplate whether voters would prefer to vote for a statesman or a celebrity. I am sorry to say that it’s a bad question to ask the American people. The clip on Rainbow Land shows how easily voters are swayed: one mention of the word Communism and suddenly even a second grader’s dream of cotton candy and fudge becomes a basis for a riot.
The genius of comedy is in portraying the truth in a humorous but informative way. I think in this respect, the clip on Rainbow Land certainly fits the bill. I only wish the rest of the movie had been as brilliant.