Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Game Change

There's a scene in the HBO movie, Game Change, where Sarah Palin watches Tina Fey do a comedy bit on Saturday Night Live, based on her. "I can see Russia from my house!" Fey exclaims. It's at that moment I believe the real-life Sarah Palin lost credibility with the American electorate. Pointing out someone's foibles is one thing, but making a laughingstock of them is another. Just ask Dan Quayle.

The thought struck me: What if Sarah Palin (the real one), was looking at Sarah Palin (as portrayed by Julianne Moore) watching Tina Fey? How weird would that be? I got my answer yesterday when I heard Palin announce she wouldn't watch the movie. John McCain said the same, although the movie treats him much more kindly than it does Palin.

And it doesn't do a cartoon-like character assassination on Palin, either. Not like Saturday Night Live or political cartoonists did in 2008, anyway. Julianne Moore does not play Palin as a caricature, and even somewhat understates her personal "hockey mom" rah-rah vocal style. I think it gave the portrayal a bit more verisimilitude, rather than having Moore do a caricature of Fey doing a caricature of Palin.

I had to look closely when I went to find pictures of Palin and Moore-as-Palin. The resemblance is close, although Palin has a much squarer chin.

Game Change has gotten a lot of attention, much of it positive. But there are harsh comments, also. Those pundits who haven't seen it and are dismissing it automatically owe it a look-see. In real life Palin was in over her head, unable to handle the instant fame and notoriety. The movie portrays it well in scenes where Palin suddenly becomes a diva, demanding to do "what I want to do when I want to do it," rather than be manipulated by McCain's advisors.

I believe Sarah Palin is a narcissist, who feels that God has chosen her. There's a line of dialogue in the movie where she says that, and whether it happened in real life or just in a script-writer's mind, it rings true. It may be why rather than fade into obscurity (Dan Quayle, again), she continues to hammer away on television. She's gotten more media savvy, but her personal worldview is still out there in Cloud Cuckooland. There was talk of her running for President this year, which she wisely chose not to do. She kept everyone guessing, riding around in her bus, stirring up her base, all for naught. But come Republican convention time, if Mitt Romney doesn't have enough delegates to make it on the first ballot, who knows who will show up at the convention, glad-handing and throwing their hat into the ring?

The movie is a must-see for anyone interested in American politics, and especially the historic election cycle in 2008. Because an African-American was his party's nominee, and he had been running neck and neck with a woman (Hillary Clinton) for the nomination, and because of Palin's own self-destructive ignorance, it's overlooked that Palin was only the second woman chosen to be on a Presidential ticket. (Here's a pop quiz...can you name the other?*)

I'm sorry that Game Change is available only on HBO. I'd advise them to put it out on DVD and Blu-Ray immediately to cash in on the curiosity factor.

Ed Harris was good as John McCain, and Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt was excellent, but the real star was Sarah Palin, as channeled in such an uncanny and accurate performance by Julianne Moore.

*Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011) ran on a ticket with Walter Mondale (1928-) against Ronald Reagan in 1984.

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