Thursday, May 21, 2009

political gloss

Obama was criticized for his celebrity
Tim Daly, co-president of The Creative Coalition
A production still from POLIWOOD: Susan Saradon & Josh Lucas at the 2008 DNC
Actor Matthew Modine and director Barry Levinson speak about POLIWOOD after its screening at the Maryland Film Festival.

Barry Levinson's most recent "film essay," POLIWOOD, addresses the hyperreality the media has created within politics. As seen most clearly in the 2008 presidential campaign, Hollywood has infiltrated politics. Obama was criticized for being a celebrity, not a legitimate presidential candidate, by the McCain campaign, and for one of the first times, Hollywood celebrities came out in hordes to endorse their presidential choice, whether it was for Obama or McCain.

POLIWOOD follows actors (including Matthew Modine, Susan Saradon, Rachel Leigh Cook, Josh Lucas, and Anne Hathaway) in conjunction with The Creative Coalition as they try learn more about politics, and understand how their voices both hurt and help. Throughout the film, celebrities are constantly criticized for viewing themselves as lofty and important, though mass society believes they are using their platform improperly and know no more than anyone else. This raises the question of celebrity power and mass resentment by the public.

Levinson makes a poignant example with his film, a scary idea that everything we encounter is filtered through a glossy media counterpart.

Can celebrities influence us?

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