Written by: Tommy Quicksilver | SnagFilms Intern
Lately it seems that the majority of stories coming from the political realm are tales of misconduct and scandal, leading me to believe that the legislative process and those charged with carrying out the duties of government have lost all credibility and the whole practice has become little more than a sideshow. Two films that I recently watched, in the hope of gaining some grasp on the folly of our politicians and government, did little to boost my faith in the American political system. The first film, “How Arnold Won The West”, provides an analysis of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign to win the 2003 recall election for governor of California. With over 100 other candidates running, including a porn star and Gary Coleman, a very serious election for one of the most important states in country was transformed into a circus. Schwarzenegger’s victory was largely a result of his celebrity and the hype that constantly surrounded his campaign, rather than his policies or ability to run the state. In the end, one has to wonder if people even care about the credentials of the candidates they support. The likely conclusion is that the power of the media only allows voters to see a fraction of what they need to make an informed decision about those people they elect. Moreover, the financial backing can provide a boost to a candidate with the ability overshadow the entire platform they are running on. In Mr. Schwarzenegger’s case, he engaged in debate regarding the issues he was running on only one time in the entire lead up to election. Yet, this didn’t seem to matter as the former Mr. Universe crushed the competition and the citizens of California voted an Austrian born actor into the governor’s office. Only today, almost a decade later, does that decision seem totally crazy.
The second film I watched took a much more serious look at the future of America and the role that government plays in shaping that future. ”The End of America" is an insightful yet terrifying tale that uncovers the parallels between modern day America and fascist dictatorships in countries that were once free nations. Focusing on the notion that our civil liberties are under attack and are no longer guaranteed by the Constitution, “The End of America” forces us to reconsider the impact of September 11, 2001 and the events that followed. We must now view these incidents as a possible precursor to allowing the Bush administration the power to enact legislation like the Patriot Act, which directly violates the Constitutional rights of every American citizen. I was truly amazed by this film, and think it leads viewers to ask the question, “How much do I know about my government and what it actually does?” Further, it makes me wonder if we have neglected to question the motives of those in power because we actually trust them, or if it is because we are too afraid of what we might discover if we dig below the surface.
Watch: A preview of “The End of America”
Watch: A preview of “How Arnold Won The West”