Politics and movie a good mix in comedy

Published 1:57 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2006

By By Steve Flowers
If you like politics and also enjoy a good movie I highly recommend the recently released comedy starring Robin Williams entitled "Man of the Year." Williams plays a television talk show comedian who specializes in political commentary and satire of national politicians. His satirical comical exploits make him a wildly popular television personality. One day on his show he whimsically says I will run for President and is immediately bombarded with positive emails from throughout the country urging him to indeed run for President. He is enticed to run by the obvious popular draft so he runs as a third party candidate and wins.
During the campaign Williams exploits the hypocrisy and paradox of the two major party candidates. The democratic and republican nominees are saying they are for one thing while taking most of their campaign money from entities that are against that position. He even suggests that senators should wear patches or badges on their suits like NASCAR drivers that advertise for a certain beer or car. The senator should be identified by what special interest he is an advocate for and wear a jacket identifying him as the senator owned by Big Oil or Big Tobacco.
Williams' unrighteous candor about his own personal life is so forthright and funny that he wins votes by admitting to infidelity and smoking marijuana and just about anything else as he casually blurts out a litany of his personal transgressions, but his humor immediately diffuses them as an issue. His candidacy spotlights the mockery and parody in our electoral system that illustrates how much money dictates elections and decision making in our system of government.
His election as president is unexpected and he is hit by the reality that he is President of the United States and the leader of the free world. The scene reminds me of another movie from the 1970s entitled "The Candidate" starring Robert Redford. Redford is an unknown prohibitive underdog running for a California senate seat. A political media guru takes him and miraculously elects him. Redford wakes up the next day after totally not expecting to win and asks, "What do I do now?"
In "Man of the Year" Williams discovers that he did not actually win but instead a computer era made him President. He shows remarkable integrity by saying, "I'm not really President and besides a jester should not be king." He refuses to serve but would have easily been elected if a new election had been held and he had chosen to run. Williams' character was such a refreshing change to the packaged candidates of today that the comedy is not too far fetched.
I predict that the future field of candidates for President and U.S. Senators will be full of actors, movie stars, professional athletes, and television personalities. They already have name identification and money, the two most important ingredients for election to office. They are usually attractive and have star quality. Movie stars are America's royalty. They are idolized and scrutinized. Therefore they have already gone through the scrutiny test of past indiscretions so there are no personal skeletons to reveal at the last minute. They are impervious to a personal microscope. They are almost expected to have a colorful lifestyle. These celebrities are held to the standard of Hollywood mores rather than Main Street. A candidate with household name identification, plenty of money, good looks, and charisma will win every time.
It is already happening in California and New York. What credentials for being Governor or U.S. Senator did Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hillary Clinton have? Their resumes did not include years of hard work and experience in California or New York state political vineyards that prepared them for public service. In fact the ice has already been broken on a movie star becoming president. Ronald Reagan won the presidency thirty years ago in 1980 and reelected in 1984 thus occupying the White House for eight years. Many Americans would argue that he was a pretty good president.
Two more political comedies that I would recommend to you, they are both a few years old but definitely worth viewing, are "Blaze" starring Paul Newman and "Distinguished Gentleman" starring Eddie Murphy. If you like classics, the epic "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" is definitely worth your time.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us <http://www.steveflowers.us/>

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox