Politics and Film: Strange Bedfellows
by Noel T. Manning II
(originally published October 31, 2000)
As crazy as political campaigns and election cycles can be, the films they inspire provide wonderful parallels to the chaotic reality of the mudslinging, broken promises, outright refusal to answer the real questions, and the sidestepping of the true campaign issues.
If you find you haven’t had enough of the debates, endless commercials, and 24/7 news coverage of the upcoming election, and you’re wanting to embrace the madness and mayhem of party politics on film, I offer four films from the 1990s, and one classic for the 1970s for your viewing pleasure.
As you prepare to enter the voting booth next week, I encourage you to examine each candidate, and explore where they stand on the issues most important to you. We have a major decision to make as we will select a new president who will lead our country for the next four years. The choice you make should not be done so lightly, a critical examination of what really matters to you should provide the basis for your vote. You have the power to be a part of setting this country’s course, and in the process charting a path for how we are perceived throughout the world. Believe me, that does matter.
After all the votes are tabulated, and all the campaign commercials are finally pulled, our new president will be either George W. Bush or Al Gore. And when that dust is settled in November, we can then hopefully put this wacky election season behind us … at least for a little while.
While it is true that fact is many times stranger than fiction (especially in politics), I invite you to check out the following films as you prepare for next week’s vote.
#1 – Bob Roberts (1992) – Tim Robbins wrote, directed and starred in this satire about a folk singing right wing politician running for senate. this film was based on the original Tim Robbins skit from a 1986 Saturday Night Live appearance.
#2. Wag the Dog – (1997) – Robert Deniro and Dustin Hoffman try to cover up a sex scandal in the White House by creating a war that doesn’t exist. During the Clinton years – this was a must see film.
#3 – Dave (1993) – Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver star in this political dramady of mistaken identity. The real president dies -so a look-alike is chosen to be a body double – in the process he wins the hearts of Americans with his real-world/regular Joe approach to the Oval office.
#4 – The Candidate – (1972) – Robert Redford stars as an idealistic young lawyer running for California senate. This is a story of media perception, compromise and political chaos.
#5 – The Distinguished Gentleman (1992) – A Florida con man played by Eddie Murphy gets elected to congress – when he gets to DC he discovers the true con-game and con-artists own the political arena. This is a take on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.