Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jason watches THE CAMPAIGN

Okay, this had some pretty funny moments. And I'm now trying to remember the last time I saw a Zach Galifianakis when he didn't own comically pampered dogs. Has that become his "thing" now?

So Will Ferrell's sleazy 4-time Congressman character Cam Brady is challenged by Galifianakis' Marty Huggins, the slightly-off son of a powerful family. For what it's worth, Brady is a Democrat and Huggins is a Republican, but the parties seem pretty intentionally interchangeable. The real power behind everything is the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, in an obvious dig on the Koch brothers) wealthy industrialists that want to sell their district to China, repeal minimum wage and safety laws, and save a bundle on shipping costs by "insourcing" crappy, underpaid, dangerous Chinese labor to the U.S.

Wacky hijinx ensue, and SPOILER ALERT: everyone learns a lesson about honesty and good governance, and the U.S.A. is A-OK in the end.

And that fucking bugged me.

A couple of years ago some cinephile friends of mine were talking about whether a movie's aesthetics could be "morally offensive." E.g., by trivializing a horrible situation by making it look pretty. The example given was CITY OF GOD and  I believe a term like "poverty porn" was used. Similarly, I guess it would apply to movies that show a lot of violence--gun fights, explosions, etc.--but not the realistic effects of violence, hence glamorizing it. At the time, I objected, in part because I pride myself in not offending easily. In part because I really liked CITY OF GOD. And in part because I thought, 'Gee, it's just a freakin' movie. You don't have to get so worked up about it.'

But now seeing this, I think I understand what they're getting at. The comedy only works because of the common knowledge (or widespread belief, if you're still a denier) that our political system is completely fucked up. But it doesn't propose a solution. It proposes laughing at the system while fantasizing that a good guy will come in and clean it all up. I'd even go so far as to say it promotes an attitude of 'Let's keep the system fucked up, just for the lulz!' It's political corruption porn. And for just a second, I found that morally offensive.

Of course, I quickly remembered that I still pride myself on not being offended easily, and I reminded myself that it's just a freakin' movie. So I won't begrudge anyone liking the movie. And I don't want to spend any more time up on my high horse ranting about it. But the next time I hear someone get worked up over the aesthetic immorality, whether I agree with them or not I can say, "I know what you mean, I felt the same way about THE CAMPAIGN."

Running Time: 85 minutes
My Total Minutes: 297,218

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