Over the last month, several times people have pointed out to me that one of the hallmarks of the films that make up this project is the compassion with which the subjects are approached.
After our screening in Tacoma a woman came up to me and said, “I just really want to thank you for honoring people’s humanity.” A couple days later I saw a write-up about the project that said, “the shorts are all united in their humanity and gentleness, the respect and empathy that they show towards each subject.”
Well, this month we turn our camera toward politics — an arena that’s remarkably compassion free — with a focus on the congressional campaign of Star Parker, a black, female Republican candidate for the 37th District in California. In the rising tide of news coverage about the coming Republican landslide in the mid-term elections (a landslide that seems to have been predetermined) there’s very little reportage that simply presents the candidates and campaigns as they are. Instead we’re given analysis ad nauseum about what the Tea Party means or video montages of interviews with the most ignorant and offensive amongst them.
My intention in making this piece was to show the candidate, campaign and town hall event as I experienced them. I believe that is exactly what I’ve done. That being said, I do not think this is a particularly flattering portrait of the candidate or the culture that has allowed her brand of politics to gain legitimacy.
Over and over again what struck me while making this piece is that for many in the US “patriotism” has almost become a religion unto itself. It solidly rests in a worldview that combines a view of America that goes no further than a third-grade social studies class with the passion and fervency of evangelical Christianity. In this view both the Founding Fathers and the Bible are infallible and any contradictions – Jefferson owned slaves, the Death Penalty violates the most basic tenants of Christ’s teachings – are thrown overboard and dismissed immediately. All of this is then combined with an unwavering fear of the government itself.
While I have my own thoughts as to what has brought this about, I know enough to know that I have no true insight into it. So, with this piece I offer no analysis, no shrewd political intelligence, only what I feel is an accurate and honest depiction of the issues and feelings at the heart of a single campaign and single candidate.