A Palin-ista Examines Game Change


By: David Bozeman
In defense of HBO’s ‘fact-based’ account of the 2008 campaign (which   this writer has seen), it is no less riddled with the inaccuracies   and falsehoods detractors claim than countless other docu-dramas from   television and the big screen.  Hollywood is in business to entertain,   and, with rare exceptions, even the most acclaimed ‘true’ stories pale beside   a documentary or a textbook (of course, no source is faultless or unbiased).
Yet to hear the Game Change hype, including the near-unanimous   media praise, what we are witnessing is a meticulous, behind the scenes   recreation of the 2008 campaign and a catalyst for a larger discussion of how   our political selection process could allow a bumbling (and lying and   diva-fied and emotionally unstable) oaf such as Sarah Palin to land a spot on   a major party ticket.  McCain’s top aides, on the other hand, are the   solemn, principled stalwarts out to avert the oncoming train wreck.  Such   a storybook contrast defies belief, but it fits the media narrative.
Game Change just takes itself way too seriously.  A glossy,   less detailed Movie of the Week or Lifetime TV production would have been more   entertaining, if only in a so-bad-it’s-good fashion.  Based on the book   of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, Game Change   reveals what we already knew — the elite opinion makers, including the makers   of this film, deemed Sarah Palin unqualified to be vice-president the moment   she walked onstage in Dayton, Ohio.  Who knew?  Thus the tele-pic’s   most talk about moment:  candidate Palin not knowing why North and South   Korea are two separate countries.  Haven’t we been here before? Remember   hearing that she supposedly didn’t know that South Africa was a country unto   itself?
Palin and those closest to her have dismissed Game Change as   fiction.  But according to the media tour, far from being a rip on the   governor, the film instead takes our system to task and criticizes John   McCain’s handlers for failing to fully vet the VP contender. To even the   most dispassionate viewer  that’s old news.  It’s not hard to see   that Game Change hides its anti-Palin sentiment behind a somber   veneer of examining our entertainment-oriented political selection   system.  Star Julianne Moore told Entertainment Weekly that “I   made sure I didn’t say anything unless it was sourced.  Absolutely   everything is sourced.”  Well, that settles it.  They can’t   print something if it’s not true, now can they?  Entertainment   Weekly gives the film an A- minus but admits that “by re-creating many of   [Palin's] greatest gaffes. . .  it obviously means for us to snort and   chuckle.”
Snort and chuckle?  At Sarah Palin?  Whoda thunk it?  But could her gaffes be for real?  Perhaps.  Is someone who can’t comprehend North and South Korea qualified for high office?  Perhaps not.  Still, I was never drawn to Palin for her intellect but rather for her rock-solid core values, grit, tenacity and ability to succeed spectacularly at nearly everything she attempts.  The Sarah we know would  almost surely have tackled the vice-presidency with the same gutsy, if homey, spirit that made her one of the nation’s most popular governors.
That is the spirit that Game Change misses by flaunting its   details.  Julianne Moore, a four-time Academy Award nominee perfects her   Palin impersonation down to the minutest gesture, but she fails to capture the   endless energy Sarah both radiates and inspires.  I never thought Tina   Fey was spot-on either, but I digress.
Hollywood is no less culpable than the dominant political culture in   shaping public perception.  One hundred years hence, Sarah Palin, thanks   to works such as Game Change, could well be regarded as an historical   punch line, in much the same way that Calvin Coolidge is a country doofus and   Warren Harding a slimy, philandering puppet of a corrupt political   machine.  Historical or personal context, i.e. truth yields to the final   pronouncements of the self-styled sophisticates who compose the What’s Hot and   What’s Not lists in the regular editions of Newsweek, Entertainment   Weekly and for all time.
Less important than Palin’s gaffes is Barack Obama’s radical   associations, divisive rhetoric and professed desire to “transform   America.”  I wonder if we will ever see a highly acclaimed actor telling   Entertainment Weekly how hard he worked channeling the young Obama   under the tutelage of Jeremiah Wright, and how inquiring minds must   thus examine the pitfalls of our political selection process.  That   would be not just a game change but a   miracle.

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