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Could indies pick Presidents?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 by

Could indies be the difference in the next presidential election?

Given the recent press on such films as Bully, you’d be hard pressed to think they wouldn’t be at least a factor.

Unfortunately for presidents, whether already elected or in the running, the ghosts of the past can (and most likely will) come back in the most inconvenient and publicly defacing ways to squash their public image and/or their chances at the most coveted office in the United States (that, however, is in the eye of the beholder I suppose). Recent examples of this include Mitt Romney and his treatment of accusations of bullying during his years in high school.

In any non-political arena the ability for anyone to find basis for discussion out of an act committed over 45 years ago (apart from crimes punishable at the time, of course) is almost laughable but, unfortunately for Romney and anyone hoping to win a place in high office, those little things are exactly what end up in the spotlight – scrutinized to no end. Some, including director Lee Hirsch of the much-talked-about film Bully which explores the deaths of two grade school children whom were the victims of bullying, believe Romney may have taken a misstep in his nonchalant apology for ‘horsing around’ so to speak. Hirsch told Hollywood Reporter: “My hope is that he would recognise that we are past framing bullying as horseplay or pranking around. We need our leaders to call it as it is.

Part of that conversation is moving away from ‘kids will be kids.’” I’d think this counts as influencing the political arena, don’t you? Hirsch’s film has been drawing a maelstrom of controversy about it’s R rating via it’s unedited depictions of REAL bullying (which, surprise surprise, in this day and age includes a great deal of swearing and slurs). We’ve, as voters and purveyors of films, obviously taken notice to this and unbenounced to us may be forming opinions about our voting intentions from the opinions of an indie filmmaker and our own inferences.

How cool is that?!

It’s one thing to say that independent films approach real subjects in a way most blockbusters aren’t willing to for fear of small market values, but it’s another story to see the efforts of an independent filmmaker making real differences in our society. Hirsch, in that interview, was simply stating his beliefs but most would be hard-pressed to say he’s being dramatic given what he’s seen through the filming of his documentary.

Another good example of this type of documentary-turned-political-inference (say that three times fast) is the film Boogieman: The Lee Atwater Story. On the surface, the film is the story of Lee Atwater: a prominent figure in Republican campaigning and a strong force in the election of George Bush Sr. After watching, though, you’ll learn that politics is a complete art form involving factors of subtle manipulation as well as other tactics that must be subverted in order that candidates don’t seem to be screaming “I’m saying this so you’ll pick me” (though they obviously are, they’d be silly not to).

These are only a few examples; given the scope of independent film it’s easy to say there are infinitely more (perhaps less direct, but with underlying themes). And, whose to say filmmakers wouldn’t make great presidents too? We’re definitely on our way to office in our own way – telling the stories of America.

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