I never intended to write a review of PoliWood. It was an interesting documentary but it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s just hard to watch the truth. However, there’s one scene from the film hasn’t left me. I keep thinking about it. It’s one of the final scenes in the film when political commentator for television Tucker Carlson speculates on what the political sphere should be. He comments that every society has been run by a small percentage of the population who make all the decisions for the people. And maybe that’s just how it should be, he suggests. It’s a comment that hasn’t sat well with me.
The premise of the documentary film is a group of politically minded celebrities try to be just that: political. The group attend both the Democrat and Republican National Conventions in the run up to the 2008 presidential election. The celebrities: Anne Hathaway, Tim Daly, and Susan Sarandon among others. And the result is just about what you’d expect.
The film comes out swinging with an obvious goal to prove all those ideas that “liberal” Hollywood is shallow, self-involved and out of touch. Video of the celebrities being educated in the best way to have politically-minded conversations are inter-cut with study group footage with “normal” people saying how shallow, self-involved and out of touch Hollywood is. It’s just too heavy-handed, righteous and almost smug — and this is coming from someone that’s already on their side and doesn’t need to be convinced. I should be yelling “right on!” and “they’re so right” like when you’re watching a good Michael Moore film…but I wasn’t. It’s worth noting that the film does make a concerted effort to include more conservative celebrities.
However, some other moments in PoliWood which are more memorable and convincing. The discussion around bipartisanship and the media’s part in all of this is more productive. In the end, the film comes around to making its point but it does so by showing the ugly as well as the pretty.