Episode 11

14 09 2010

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.

Lastly, Michael was unavailable to shoot this month because he found himself on a nice paying gig.  The very capable Topher Osborn filled in with an assist from Jon Schwarz.


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15 09 2010
Tony Moss

Great observation and commentary, Alex. I really appreciate it – simple, honest and unpretentious or “clever” – like your work as a whole as I have seen it.

There’s something disturbing about the type of world view put forth by the Star campaign at a time when world is becoming smaller and smaller and our understanding of it and it’s place in the cosmos grows at an exponential rate. I often feel that whole segments of the population are some type of self-induced time bubble, arrested development, or willful disbelief or just flat our refusal to expand and evolve and embrace a larger world/cosmic view.

Is it fear induced? Purposeful manipulation via the educational system or media? I don’t know. But I do know that my excitement and enthusiasm for human potential is always slightly challenged, if not tarnished, after encountering, from my perspective, such narrow and limited world views…
which ultimately becomes the fuel of inspiration and motivation to continue to participate in and contribute to life!

I clearly have much personal work still to do in the areas of inclusiveness and tolerance which I’m happy to confront and engage.

Thanks again, Tony

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