Not a review; merely a response.
The movie “The Ides of March” does politicians no favors. If anything, its cynicism plunges a dagger into the ideals of any voter looking ahead to November, 2012. The movie does not miss a beat in its crafting: impeccable casting, compelling plot and unsettling message. But the story did not stay with me as much as my awareness of the doings and importance of the next twelve months.
“It’s only a movie,” I told myself, thinking all the while of the realities of our political processes. Within hours of leaving the theater, the current front-running Republican presidential candidate was being accused of sexual harassment back in the 90’s. “Here we go,” I thought, the first burst of fireworks to light up the minds of the voters.
And then I met my own cynicism.
I would like to think that politics is more about character than image; that the voters make their choices on the issues as well as the candidates themselves – informed, thought-out choices that elect, not an American Idol, but someone who knows America and its peoples and who has the backbone, belief and ability to do what is right for our nation and the world. I know I am not alone in my naiveté but I feel good having said that.
Enter money and media.
It seems both know that it is the mass mind that elects Presidents; that the mass mind by and large reacts more than thinks. The “Showtime!” part of politics is all about that. And it takes money and the media to make and market the show, that is, the so called narratives of each candidate’s cause. Spins, spots, photo-ops and campaign stops; all aim to sell a story. Debates, talk show appearances and coveted headlines are crucial to its telling and convincing voters to hand over their support come next November.
But what happens behind the scenes is where “The Ides of March” challenges every voter to remember the ancient phrase, “Caveat emptor,” buyer beware. It takes caring about the issues confronting our country these days to spend valuable time to try to “follow the money” behind each candidate and to ferret out media bias, pro or con.
Perhaps that is what makes the movie, despite its cynicism, somehow important. As it confronted my own naiveté it may also confront others with theirs. The person who will get my vote will be a human being with a human story. But more than ever, because of the power of money and media, that vote needs to be informed. It needs to be self-taught, which will require the hard work of reading, listening and thinking for oneself so that one’s choice is not reactive or wasted due to the glitz of “Showtime!”
Every four years Hollywood works overtime, it seems, to have its say in presidential elections. Maybe this time around its efforts do not have to feel so self-serving.