Rightwing Film Geek

Hillary movies

The less said about HILLARY: THE MOVIE the better. The film by Citizens United, directed by Alan Peterson and co-produced with David Bossie, is basically a talking-heads negative campaign ad extended to infomercial length. Just about everything I wrote about CELSIUS 41:11 a couple of years ago applies here too — nothing wrong with it substantively, but really not very good as a movie.

The film is worth noting for one reason, described in a colleague’s Washington Times articles here and here: it illustrates the basic absurdity of so-called “campaign finance reform,” which attempts to ration political speech during elections, i.e., exactly at the time when it is most needed. Judge Lambeth was right to laugh at the claims that the film is not electioneering and thus ads for it would be covered by campaign-finance restrictions.

“Hillary Clinton is a European Socialist,” Bopp replied. “That is an issue.”
“Which has nothing to do with her campaign?” U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth interjected.
“Not specifically, no,” Bopp replied.
“Once you say, ‘Hillary Clinton is a European Socialist,’ aren’t you saying vote against her?”
Bopp disagreed because the movie did not use the word “vote.”
“Oh, that’s ridic…” Lamberth said, trailing off and ending the line of questioning.

But then that’s what absurdities anti-First-Amendment laws from the post-Watergate rules to McCain-Feingold force political speakers to do — mouth patent sophistries in the name of protecting their free speech rights to their megaphone. When you look at an ad, it will never say “vote against Candidate X” or “tell candidate to vote against Bill Y,” it will say “X is a loathesome, child-molesting deadbeat who hates mom and apple pie?” or “call Congress about Bill Y that would end freedom as we know it and make all our pee smell.” And speakers and judges have to pretend there’s some difference between the two sets of statements, inevitably coming across (see the Michael Moore counter-examples) as arbitrarily as the East German judge in Olympics. Determining permissible speech is exactly what the First Amendment says the government should NOT be in the business of doing (other East German judge examples aside).

Besides, the best Hillary Clinton movie already has been made: Alexander Payne’s ELECTION, as re-edited here (thanks Mark … and no, I hadn’t seen it):

ELECTION is a satirical and broadly-played comedy, but it’s flat-out the best political film of recent years, and one of the best ever. And this clip, the fact that Hillary Clinton’s recent turn could be so perfectly edited into Tracy Flick’s self-narrated self-presentation is proof of how brilliant it truly is. I’m not gonna claim Payne was “prescient” or had Hillary Clinton or this race on his mind. (Among other things, there is no rational comparison of rival candidate Paul in ELECTION to Barack Obama — Paul was a bit dim, not personally charismatic, a poor speaker and a reluctant candidate. And there is no Tammy parallel.) The whole point is that Tracy Flick is a timeless creation, nailing several particular features of “American politician” in his substantial essence, that are expressed variously in several different candidates over time. (In terms of recent American politicians, I’d finger Paul as closest to Dubya and Tracy as Ross Perot, though there are traces of several in all three characters.)

When Clinton said some of us are better-qualified and she’s been working toward this all her life — that’s Tracy’s case for herself, complete with inevitability factor (“that’s Tracy’s thing,” Paul tells Mr. McAllister upon being solicited to run for president). There’s also the driving sense of entitlement¹ that both women just exude, of seeing Paul/Obama as an arriviste, an interloper taking away her rightful inheritance (“people with no qualifications” = “ready from Day One / I’m running of 35 years of change”). Although this clip doesn’t show them … (vague spoilers) … when Tracy is at low points in the election, she dumps her perfect public composure and goes berserk, threatens legal action, and (in the lowest moment of all) starts crying. Any of that sound familiar?
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¹ Not in any European inherited sense, but in the more peculiarly American sense of “I worked so hard for this that I have the right to it.”

January 23, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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