The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Game Change

I went back and forth deciding whether I was going to review this. But, I've already broken my no politics rules more than a few times, but I think it's safe to say that I have not broken my no partisanship rules. This is actually pretty easy for me as I am not the sort of person who can be pigeonholed politically. I have liberal views, Libertarian views, and some conservative views too. I've never voted a straight party line, and I very likely won't be voting for the Democratic or Republican candidates this November.

Remember when we didn't know who Sarah Palin was? I know that seems like a million years ago, but I remember the day quite well when John McCain trotted her on stage and the first thing I said was "who the hell is she?" Actually, I used another four letter word. My roommate didn't know who she was, and I went to Arizona with some friends for the weekend, all very well read and educated people, and none of them had a clue who she was either. I like to think most sane people in either of the big two parties would love to go back to those days when we had no idea who she was. As a pretty big fan of the late Barry Goldwater, I think he would have been appalled with her.

Now, I am sure there are those who would dismiss this as a leftist hatchet job, but this is very much Steve Schmidt's story. He has confirmed everything in both the book and this movie. He handled the day to day operations of McCain's campaign. He was a Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush and Counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. This man is hardly a liberal operative. I know Palin's become very popular with the extremist wing of the GOP which is, sadly, no longer the fringe of the party, but the fact is that she was dangerously unqualified for the position. I know John McCain himself has denounced this movie, and I respect that. Despite some of my own disagreements with him, I've always liked McCain. He is an honorable man and he is not going to throw his former running mate under the bus, and I respect that. He made a bad choice, and while I cannot pretend to know what he really thinks, I would like to think he knows it and is living with it.

Julianne Moore plays Sarah Palin, and her performance is so dead on, it's frightening. Not once while watching this movie did I feel like I was watching an actor playing a caricature. This already puts it light years ahead of Oliver Stone's "W." where everyone except for Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, and James Cromwell felt more like rejects from an SNL skit. Even Richard Dreyfuss' Dick Cheney there felt like Lord Voldemort more than an actual human being. But here, Julianne Moore disappeared into the role completely. If I was told that this was actual candid footage of Sarah Palin, I would believe it.

Former Sarah Palin Adviser Says ‘Game Change’ Was ‘True Enough to Make Me Squirm’

What draws us back to this story? I think Sarah Palin's story is fascinating in the same way a train wreck is fascinating. I think as a politician in the truest sense of the word, she is brilliant. Ignorant and uneducated regarding items and information pertinnant to holding national office? Without question. That isn't opinion, it is fact. They showed a few bits of Tina Fey doing her impression of Palin. Why was it so funny at the time? Because it was true. Biden used to take a beating as well from the late night hosts and SNL for saying some absurd stuff. Again, funny because it was true. Her knowledge of world affairs was shocking. Her ignorance when she came on board the campaign was mind boggling. How does someone become the governor of a state without knowing that North and South Korea are separate countries? How does someone become a vice presidential candidate without knowing what the Fed is? How could she not be able to name one Supreme Court case?

As the movie closes, Rick Davis (played by Peter MacNicol) says to Steve Schmidt (played by Woody Harrelson) at the concession speech that in forty-eight hours, no one will remember who Sarah Palin is. And Palin is up there basking in the applause with a shit-eating grin on her face. I remember that grin in real life at that moment too, and I can only say that I wish Davis was correct. Because what we ended up with spoke to the darkest corners of populism I have seen in my lifetime.

At the end of the movie, McCain tells Palin she was now a party leader, don't get co-opted by Limbaugh and the other extremists, they'll destroy the party if you let them. Was that real, was it from actual recollection? Or was it dramatization? It felt like dramatic license, and yet the show did remind me of those very real moments in those crowds. I especially remember the time McCain responded to the old lady in the crowd, how he politely took the mic from her and defended Obama's Americanism. So I can imagine that McCain might have said something like that to Palin, at the end.

Ultimately, this movie pointed out something very truthful. In this age of the twenty-four hour news cycle, and YouTube, our political machine has turned into a bad reality TV show. We will never elect the next Thoma Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln again.  Now, to my friends who are still Obamamaniacs, I will toss you all a bone and say the jury is still out on him. But the sad reality of politics now is the president has to be more of a celebrity than a statesman in order to be elected, and Palin was, again, dangerously unqualified.

Well, I'm sure I alienated someone, but I thought it was a pretty good movie. If you have a chance to see it, I recommend it.


  1. I literally just finished watching this movie about 10 minutes ago. As a (former) republican woman (still registered, no longer voting GOP), I was INSULTED when they brought her on the ticket, b/c it was an obvious attempt to pander to ME, and she was obviously clueless. I could have answered any of her interview questions better than her, off the top of of my head, fer chrissakes.

    I have a ton of family/friends that adore her. This movie actually helped me to finally understand why (and yes, for all that I adore Julianne Moore as an actress, she really did disappear into this role). So I would say it was a great movie, on all fronts.

    And disturbing as hell.


  2. I haven't watched this movie, I only saw some clips for it on the Daily Show. I can say that they were scary, which I suppose I should keep in mind for all the jokes we made about Sarah Palin, what was going on behind the cameras wasn't funny.