2011, Movies

The Ides of March (2011, George Clooney)

This appears to be Clooney’s attempt to show how a truly “good” candidate would fair in the US primaries. (Why are these films always about primaries? Oh, right, because the US has a bizarre system.)

The problem is that Clooney’s character is not a realistic candidate, in my view of American politics. I guess he got filled with hope and figured, if Barack can do it, my make believe idealist can do it. Well, I don’t buy that for a second. Most of what comes out of Morris’ mouth is anathema to much of the US. I don’t care if the theoretical Republicans don’t have a theoretical candidate; many Americans would not vote for Morris, end of story. Clooney doesn’t know that – or won’t believe it – because he’s smart and rich and lives in some secluded echo chamber, where people all agree with him.

Clooney wants us to believe it’s the dirty tricks of the American system – not the system itself – that is flawed. He wants us to believe that if only the system were more fair, more people would vote for someone like Morris. Well, that’s not how this works. And as evidence, I suggest we look at the first term of Obama. It’s only in his second term, now that he has no fear of losing the election, that he is actually living up to some (a very little) of his hype.

The unfortunate reality is that people suck:

  • they believe the lies they are told when they reconfirm their beliefs and they disbelieve facts when those facts contradict their beliefs;
  • they do what they’re told;
  • they make emotional decisions, not rational ones;
  • in short, they will not change their beliefs overnight because someone speaks truth to power even more blatantly than Obama.

(And look how that worked out. Also, politicians speaking truth to power? They are power. So yeah…)

And that means I have to call bullshit on the entire premise of the thing, which is sad, because of the cast – the male stars are excellent and Evan Rachel Wood is not terrible, which is a relief – and the general believability of the rest of the campaign, beyond the candidate’s policies. (As an aside: If we want to live in a better society, really, one thing we could stop worrying about is the sex lives of politicians. Marital infidelity is not considered a reason for incompetence in nearly all other jobs.)

Somebody other than Clooney should have written this, is what I’m saying. (Turns out, it’s based on a play. So everything I said about Clooney should really be targeted at Beau Willimon, he of American House of Cards fame.)

Watch The Candidate instead.


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