Friday, March 2, 2012

Shockingly enough, John McCain and Sarah Palin won't be watching Game Change

In the run-up to the March 10 premiere of HBO's original movie Game Change, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, both Sarah Palin and John McCain have been giving the film some free publicity by talking about how much they hate it:
Current and former aides to Sarah Palin lashed out Wednesday at HBO's Game Change, describing the upcoming film's depictions of her on the 2008 campaign trail as "sick" and inaccurate. 
None of the aides said they have yet seen the movie, which debuts March 10, and some said they had asked for an opportunity to screen the film but had been denied. 
via USA Today
How these aides know what the film's portrayal of Palin, played by Julianne Moore, will look like, given that they haven't actually seen the movie, is a mystery. USA Today notes that the staffers are basing their claims on the trailer, an indication that none of them understand how marketing works. If movies actually resembled their trailers, Battle: Los Angeles would have been the best movie of 2011, and Aaron Eckhart would be getting the work that he deserves. (Seriously, watch the trailer for that movie, and tell me it isn't amazing.)

It's certainly possible that Game Change makes Palin look bad, although early reviews suggest that the movie is far from the inaccurate hatchet job that Palin and her supporters have made it out to be. Indeed, David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun argues that the film, and Moore's performance in particular, makes you feel empathy and compassion for Palin, even as it demonstrates that she was totally unfit for the vice presidency.

Unlike Palin, who let her underlings do the talking, McCain himself came out against HBO's film, although he was considerably more polite about it (possibly because McCain, as played by Ed Harris, comes off much better in the trailer than Palin does). And, of course, his denunciation came complete with a characteristic awkward, impenetrable joke:
Count one less viewer in the audience when HBO airs Game Change, its dramatization of the 2008 presidential campaign, which features a scathingly negative portrayal of vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin
"This new movie that comes out, (people) ask me if I'm gonna watch it," Arizona Sen. John McCain told a group of Republican activists on Saturday. "I tell them it'll be a cold day in Gila Bend, Arizona." 
(For the uninitiated, Gila Bend is a Sonoran Desert town that often appears on weather maps as the nation's hot spot). 
via the Los Angeles Times
Of course, HBO probably isn't bothered by these premature criticisms of the movie. In fact, I'm sure the network is thrilled about the free publicity. Honestly, though, if I were McCain or Palin, I would be incredibly pleased that Game Change is coming out now. If the film, like the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin on which it is (loosely) based, had come out two years ago, its indictment of the McCain/Palin campaign would have been damning, not only for the candidates but also for campaign manager Steve Schmidt (played by Woody Harrelson), who torpedoed McCain's shot at the presidency by pushing Palin as a running mate.

However, the movie didn't come out two years ago. Now, the Republican party is tearing itself to pieces in the most absurd election in recent memory. In the face of Newt Gingrich's determination to build a colony on the moon, Palin's ramblings about being able to see Russia from Alaska seem like good foreign policy, and Mitt Romney's unconscionable 15% tax rate and $10,000 bets make her infamous shopping spree seem like a trip to the Gap. McCain and Palin shouldn't be angry at HBO; they should be grateful to Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and the rest for making the 2008 campaign look like an efficient, well-oiled machine by comparison.

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