Hopefully, the handful of people who read this blog, were like myself and made sure to vote today. As I attempt to balance writing this blog, taking care of some schoolwork and also keeping an eye on the poll numbers as they come in, I felt it best to choose a politically inclined film as the topic of todays blog. Fortunately, I did not have to go about and dig up some classic political thriller or comedy as a means for this post, because the comedy star driven The Campaign was in the local cheap theater, providing me with the perfect subject for today's post. I will admit that I expected a varied level of humor from this film, something both heavy in high brow humor, as well as a considerable amount of toilet humor and this assumption was certainly proven appropriate, as the film does take some liberties with crude jokes, yet always manages to turn these moments into astute social critiques that while not perfectly satirical do manage to pin the tail onto some of the bigger problems facing contemporary political rhetoric. The thing I did not see coming from a film starring Ferrel and Galifianakis, was a movie that earnestly reflected on the state of voter power and big money spending in political campaigns, without engaging in a completely cynical approach to its subject matter. The Campaign manages to raise some rather pertinent questions as people return from the 2012 elections, anything ranging from what one should value in a political candidate to what role media coverage and financial revenue should play in power moves. The film also begs the question as to what value grass roots movements have in a political arena in which the moment an action or statement is taken out of context a person's political future is essentially ruined, in so much as it makes even the most well-polished and seasoned candidates victim to sly and corrupt actions on the part of divisive forces. Fortunately, the film is positive in its closing moments, suggesting that with honesty and well directed efforts, a person can affect change within a society, or at the very least draw attention to the inabilities of a group in power.
The Campaign begins by introducing viewers to the illustrious if not a bit pompous Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) a North Carolina congressmen who has made a career out of simply being a politician, one who it is revealed rarely engages in any sort of political actions. After a unfortunate misdialing, it becomes nationally known that Brady is a philanderer, causing his poll numbers to drop, despite running uncontested in his area. Two business brothers with ties to Chinese worker exploitation Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Akroyd) realize they have the power to dethrone the seemingly career congressman, by bringing in a dark horse candidate who they find in the eccentric and somewhat flamboyant Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). Despite his concerns about what it will do to his familial bonds, Huggins eventually agrees to taking up the race, almost solely as a means to please his father. While it appears as though the race between Brady and Huggins will be somewhat civil, at a brunch Brady makes a vicious attack on Huggins connecting him to communist ties and socially unacceptable behavior, leading to the beginnings of a scathing campaign that includes everything from babies being punched to Brady going so far as to sleep with Huggins wife. After a continual beating and prodding between the two individuals, it becomes clear that Huggins has a slight lead he is informed about the plans of the Motch Brothers in which he realizes that his hometown will be destroyed by corporate greed. Adamantly refusing to help the plan, Huggins heavy handed aides back off and turn to helping Brady, ultimately, allowing him to win the race. Yet in a moment of confrontation about the true nature of running for office, Huggins reminds Brady about what really matters when representing a group of people, something that causes Brady to step down and, ultimately, give Huggins the win.
Now I would in most every other situation go into a great deal of criticism and theory as it relates to a film like this and as much as I would enjoy doing so, as it is certainly full of possible points of discussion, I would rather contest something that has bothered me to no avail today as I glance through various social media outlets. I love democratic activism and the notion that we as a people are able to elect our leaders, even if it seems as though our options are slim or not particularly the best, it is always pertinent to remember that in most of the world people are unable to vote for anything and are often stuck with not just subpar leaders, but ruthless dictators who physically harm and belittle their people. I say al this to bemoan the onslaught of idiots who claimed that they were "too cool to vote" or I do not want to vote between "two losers," thus making a statement that it is better to lazily sit around and not do anything, instead of taking, in most cases ten minutes, to chose local and national leaders, who often have larger global political impacts. I could care less if everyone who reads this votes in opposition to my personal political beliefs as long as they are engaging in choosing our leaders, as opposed to complaining about having nobody to vote for, only to turn around and complain about the state of politics for the four years after a leader is elected. I mean it is thoroughly possible to write-in a candidate for basically everything on a ballot, which allows people to say that yes I voted, but did not vote for x, y or z leader. I know this all is a bit of a diatribe, but it is serious folks, political indifference and celebrated ignorance are not things to reward.
Key Scene: The "town hall" debate depicted in The Campaign is quite hilarious and somewhat pertinent in the wake of the debates of the past few weeks.
Go out and vote and then enjoy the warm feeling of civic duty by watching this enjoyable comedy in your local cheap theater.