September 19, 2004

Movie recommendation: Silver City

Roger Ebert gives this movie 3.5 stars, which is normally a recommendation in itself. But his review of this new John Sayles film, Silver City, insists on seeing the main character as

obviously intended to be George W. Bush. How do we know that? Because Dickie Pilager speaks in short, simplistic sound bites, uses platitudes to conceal his real objectives and has verbal vertigo.

But if you go to the movie you'll get much more out of it, whether you love or loathe George Bush, by not seeing Pilager as Bush. In some ways Pilager's politics and style are incidental to the plot that absorbs Danny O'Brien and Nora Allardyce (Danny Huston and Maria Bello), and the humorous interlude with Madeline Pilager (Daryl Hannah). These parts of the movie, which take up most of the running time, could easily have been derived from a plot with an old school machine politics Democrat, as well as it actually was from a corporate-Christian Republican.

And while the verbal miscues of Dickie Pilager have a certain echo in the President's1, surely it's possible to laugh at the politician out of his depth without insisting on seeing them as a standin for a particular, current politician.

In a representative democracy where people are elected to govern or represent geographic area, there is often going to be a gap between who a politician claims to represent and who they actually represent. And in that gap, there's always going to be scope to wonder whether a politician is an independent Burkean representative of the people, or whether they do the bidding of specific groups within their constituency.

Over time, that likely averages out as true for the right as for the left, and the humor of this film is less dependent on current analogies than Ebert will have you believe.

1Most noticably their resort to circular reasoning when asked to explain something. "Priorities are the things that belong on the front burner." "Tribal sovereignty means that ... I mean, you’re a—you’re a—you’ve been given sovereignty and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity.")

Posted by robe0419 at September 19, 2004 5:35 PM