Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Republicans Present At the Movies...

Writing in the Washington Times, DC's conservative newspaper, freelance reporter James Frazier reports on one thing he has apparently just learned about most of the Republican candidates for president, they have their favourite movies.

Texas governor Rick Perry likes "Immortal Beloved", the fictional biopic about composer Ludwig van Beethoven's relationship with his immortal beloved. Former speaker of the House and ex-history professor Newt Gingrich likes "Casablanca", that beloved film about love amidst grey World War II. Michele Bachmann likes Mel Gibson's biopic of Scot leader William Wallace, "Braveheart" and Stephen Spielberg's war drama "Saving Private Ryan". Former Pennsylvania senator likes the baseball is life drama "Field of Dreams". Mitt Romney likes the Coen Brothers redoing of the Odyssey "O Brother Where Art Thou". Ron Paul doesn't, he claims, watch many movies.

So what do these movie likes tell us about the Republican presidential candidates? Perry's choice, "Immortal Beloved", plays fast and loose with the historical facts so I suppose it suits the Texas governor who has played hard and loose with the facts on a number of occasions including referring to global warming as an unconfirmed scientific theory and questioning Obama's birth records. Gingrich's choice of Casablanca, perhaps the propaganda film par excellence, suits a Gingrich who seems to equate a American propaganda and demagoguery with historical fact as when he claims that the American founding fathers created an "orthodox" Christian nation . Bachmann's choice of "Braveheart" raises questions about what her love of it says about her. Not being a psychologist or a psychiatrist I am not going to try to make mental sense of her love of "Braveheart" with its depiction of extreme torture (a trait in auteur Gibson's other films like "The Passion of Christ" as well). Bachmann's choice of "Saving Private Ryan" is no surprise since, like that film which, in part, celebrates the US contribution to World War II and elides that of the USSR, Bachmann prefers her history to be mythic and whitewashed rather than accurate. After all Bachmann is someone who thinks, like a lot of Republicans, that the US was created as a Christian nation and as such ignores the impact of the Enlightenment on the American Revolution and the American Constitution. Santorum's choice of "Field of Dreams" a feel good movie about baseball and eternal fatherly love is not surprising from someone who confuses, like most of the other Republican candidates, ideology with historical reality as when he claimed in Spartanburg, South Carolina recently that gays were engaged in a holy jihad against American values. Romney's choice of Coen Brothers "O Brother" raises that eternal question: What is it with Mormons and the Coen Brothers? As someone who once lived in Utah amidst Deseret's Saints I ran into a number of Mormons who liked Coen Brothers films like "Raising Arizona.

The other question the article raises is what happened to Jon Huntsman? Is his absence a reflection of the contemporary Republican parties disinterest in moderation, civility, and intelligence? Only time will tell.

James Frazer, Everybody's a Critic: Republican Presidential Candidates' Favorite Movies, 26 October 2011, Washington Times,

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