American Politics in Hollywood Film

American Politics in Hollywood Film

American Politics in Hollywood Film

American Politics in Hollywood Film

Synopsis

From high-power celebrity endorsements to Governor Schwarzenegger's political win, Hollywood and politics have never been more intimate. As political film-making continues to explode in America, American Politics in Hollywood Film provides contemporary insight and analysis into the relationship between these tw0o powerful institutions.

Exploring the strength and consequences of this association, the new edition of this staple course book has detailed coverage of the past ten years, including insight on TV series, films, and documentaries like The West Wing, 24, Man of the Year, W, Farenheit 9/11, and Why We Fight, as well as election films and bio-pics. By drawing on these examples, Scott demonstrates how Hollywood is influenced by politics and how television and film play an increasingly important role in American politics.

Excerpt

As the 2008 presidential primary election season began to kick into gear, the Democratic campaign quickly drew attention to itself: not just for the war of attrition that was starting to unfold between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but also because news pundits and casual watchers alike seemed to be hit by a wave of déjà-vu about the ensuing battle. Here was an election that seemed very familiar. Haven’t we seen this campaign somewhere before? they cried. This sense of recall did not, however, emanate from another time in American political history. This was not a rerun of 1960 when John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey; nor a similar scenario to 1976 when Jimmy Carter emerged from obscurity before the primaries began that year to claim the nomination and then the White House. No, the similarity about this race came from television: specifically the seventh and final season of the acclaimed NBC political drama, The West Wing, in which aspiring but largely inexperienced Latino congressman, Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits), beats Vice-President Bob Russell (Gary Cole) to the Democratic nomination before going on to triumph narrowly over a moderate Republican from the West, Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda), in the November general election.

If all of this were nothing more than the coincidental coming-together of art and life, it would be pretty interesting to begin with. The fact that one drew inspiration from the other, however, shows the reality of the Hollywood/entertainment/Washington nexus within American political culture in the early twenty-first century. For when Elie Attie, a former speechwriter for Al Gore in 2000 and then a writer and producer on The West Wing, approached Obama aide David Axelrod in the summer of 2004, asking about the background and life of his boss, the two men set in train a sequence of events that saw the fictitious show uncannily predict the real-life action as it unfolded two years after the final season of the series had been screened in the United . . .

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