Thursday, August 9, 2012

"The Campaign" Movie Lampoons the Koch Brothers


Ebert and Siskel used to say that when the movies lampoon something broadly enough to be thought hilarious by most viewers, that's the death knell for whatever it is. For instance, the zany "Blazing Saddles" was the end of western movies for the next fifteen years. The outrageous "Airplane" movies were the end of epic disaster films like "Airport" and "Towering Inferno" that once dominated theaters.

It would be nice if the new flick "The Campaign" could cross over into reality and signal the end of the Tea Party in right-wing politics, but we probably aren't that lucky. However, this is parody at its best, nearly indistinguishable from real politics. We've all seen political ads with nearly identical staging and statements as the ones in the movie. Seriously, this is good stuff!

It's sweet to see filmmakers holding a mirror up to Wingnut-World, which they did before with "Game Change" and the McCain/Palin debacle. This time around, we even have a version of the Koch Brothers, those masterminds of election-buying, and the backers of Scott Walker's union-busting takeover in Wisconsin.


In the film, the Koch brothers become "The Motch Brothers," played by Dan Ackroyd and John Lithgow.

From the Milwaukee Express Review
. . . the real villains are the Machiavellian Motch brothers (John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd), stand-ins for the real-life plutocrats called Koch. Terming their economic scheme "insourcing," the brothers are conspiring to move their Chinese factories with their 50-cent-an-hour child labor to North Carolina. They'll save millions on shipping costs—providing the federal government suspends minimum wage, workplace safety and environmental regulations. They will spend whatever it takes to purchase victory.
. . . Huggins and his frumpy family are given a makeover by order of the Motch brothers' sinister political operative. The cardigan-clad schlep is put into a tailored blue suit with an American flag pin, and his home is furnished with an oversize Bible for the coffee table and an oil painting of an American eagle for the fireplace. Huggins probably believes that Jesus was "the greatest American who ever lived," but before long he crosses his own line of integrity, even unearthing Brady's second-grade coloring book as evidence for his Marxist economics.

Frankly, I don't see much fiction there. Sarah Palin spent plenty of time harping about flag pins and Jesus during the 2008 election, and now in 2012 we have Mitt Romney, proponent of outsourcing and gaffe-prone Ted Baxter, as the candidate of the right. Many Republicans can't write a sentence without adding "Marxist" to Barack Obama's name.

When actor Zack Galifianakis was interviewed by the NY Daily News, he talked real politics and brought up one of the problems with our system today ~ the influence of big money thanks to the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

This is the part that got the attention of the Koch brothers:
“We really wanted to highlight the ridiculousness that politics has descended into,” Galifianakis says. “Whether you are on the right or the left, everyone can agree that there are a lot of outside influences in American politics that are not good for the system. There’s just too much money.”
To emphasize money’s influence, the film also features Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow as the Motch brothers, billionaire benefactors intent on manipulating the political process to increase their wealth.
“I think it is pretty obvious that the Motch brothers represent the Koch brothers,” says Galifianakis, referring to the industrialists known for supporting conservative advocacy groups. “I disagree with everything they do. They are creepy and there is no way around that. It’s not freedom what they are doing.”

The Koch's decided that instead of being classy and just ignoring the opinion of an actor about a movie, they would make a point of insulting him.

From the Koch Brothers Spokesman via Think Progress
Last we checked, the movie is a comedy. Maybe more to the point is that it’s laughable to take political guidance or moral instruction from a guy who makes obscene gestures with a monkey on a bus in Bangkok…We disagree with his uninformed characterization of Koch and our beliefs. His comments, which appear to be based on false attacks made by our political opponents, demonstrate a lack of understanding of our longstanding support of individual freedom, freedom of expression, and constitutional rights.

I guess they don't understand that parody is protected under the law, and everyone has freedom of speech and expression, not just Republicans. The United States is famous for that - "justice for all," not for "the conservative 1%."

But here's the thing - satire is a subtle thing, even when it's nonsensical and silly. That's why sometimes on the internet you have to put "snark" tags around words so people will understand that you aren't being serious. If the Koch brothers were sophisticated enough to understood that "The Campaign" is a comedy, they still missed the main point, which was that their megabucks have only helped turn our political system into a circus sideshow, and attracted lame candidates in their own image, rich automatons who creep most people out - guys like Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney.

They've basically destroyed whatever credibility they ever had as "kingmakers" by betting on third-rate cuckoos with draconian agendas that nobody wants for their states. Oh, and ruined their own party, possibly forever, by leaning too far to the right.

The subtle part of satire is in knowing when the joke is on you. The Koch brothers don't get it, anymore than Sarah Palin ever got it. But I think most voters get it, which is why Obama is going to win in November. Even the Koch Brothers plus Sheldon Adelson with his billions can't put Humpty-Dumpy Romney back together again, nor can they make him more likable. Justice for all, indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment