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March 14, 2012 1:23 PM   Subscribe

A comparison of Sarah Palin's media appearances versus Julianne Moore's reenactment of them in the movie Game Change.
posted by gman (143 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Far from being a "look at this nutjob and laugh" type of movie, Game Change almost made me feel pity for a woman with a huge amount of stress and drama to work through with a limited tool set. Almost.

Anyway, Moore did a great job of playing a person rather than a caricature.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


The film definitely portrayed Palin very positively on a strictly personal, family level. It made her a piteous figure as Burhanistan says, a woman plucked from the world she knew and plunged into the deep end without the knowledge or intelligence to recognize her own level of incompetence by people who absolutely should have known better. McCain's people wanted her to be their savior so badly that no-one bothered to check if she knew how to so much as tie her own shoes much less was ready to be president of the United States.

Moore's portrayal was very well done.
posted by Justinian at 1:35 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh God, watching that Couric interview again is just so painful. Moore certainly softens the sheer blank panic so evident in Palin's responses. It must have been the weirdest experience on Couric's side, like firing a nerfball at someone and watching it remove a limb.
posted by yoink at 1:36 PM on March 14, 2012 [145 favorites]


Anyway, Moore did a great job of playing a person rather than a caricature.

I agree, but I actually think it would have been more compelling if she would have picked up on some aspects of Palin to emphasize. I have seen a bunch of clips, and this video, but not the film. But in all the clips, there is just something missing. Jamie Foxx seemed to capture and play up elements of Ray Charles in a way that he seemed to become Charles. But I don't feel that Moore ever really captured Palin. The voice she chose is too restricted, too measured.

Fey's portrayal is a caricature but she did get that speech pattern down where Palin runs a bunch of stuff out of her mouth and just keeps on talking like she's confident, but it's nonsense. But emphatic nonsense, and nonsense she feels like she has a right to say. I think back to that gaffe Palin had when she did that bus tour, and said she was given a "gotcha" question about the place she had stopped to visit even though it was a basic question. She was vocal and just kept talking, even though she didn't know what the hell she was saying. Moore doesn't capture that well.
posted by cashman at 1:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [21 favorites]


I adore Julianne Moore. She may be one of the best actors working in Hollywood, and unlike some (ahem Meryl Streep ahem), she takes on a lot of smart, challenging films.
posted by latkes at 1:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Should have "ahemed" Robert De Niro actually. He is squandering his talent so much worse than Meryl and clearly just takes crap for the money.)
posted by latkes at 1:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Julianne Moore manages to be more compelling, sympathetic, and human-seeming than Sarah Palin, so I'd say her performance was a failure.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


Moore's Palin is a better speaker.
posted by box at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ms. Moore did a heckuva job, but I still can't stomach more than a minute and a half. And she made clear during a recent Daily Show interview that watching teh tubez was her sole mode of preparation, presumably for the "media appearance" portions of the film. Haven't seen it yet. I'd almost prefer some unhinged, off-the-cuff ramblings to truly honor the source, but I guess it's important we all remember how amazing the GOP candidates were in 2008 compared to now. ::Shudder::
posted by obscurator at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


More pointedly, when Palin talks, her tone stays and she runs the words together - see the clip at around 2:10 - "Our nominee...." - Palin speaks through the entire sentence almost as a single word. Moore breaks up into individual words. I'm not trying to nitpick Moore so much as I am saying there is something about that manner of speaking that mirrors the way Palin acts and responds.
posted by cashman at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tina Fey's Palin was much more accurate.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm still not sure what the purpose of the film is. It's a fake documentary that takes things word for word from recently televised speeches?
posted by demiurge at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


unlike some (ahem Meryl Streep ahem), she takes on a lot of smart, challenging films.

Don't hate. You'd sell out, too, if it meant you could go to Greece, sing ABBA songs, and be drunk with your co-workers for weeks on end.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:43 PM on March 14, 2012 [35 favorites]


You are so right!
posted by latkes at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which is to say that she isn't able to convey the sense of smug idiocy that emanates from Palin in her actual public appearances.

Also, is that Ed Harris playing McCain? I may have to see this!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not that it will help/hurt the nominee, but is anyone else incredibly wary of the impending GOP VP donkey elephant show?
posted by obscurator at 1:45 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The silver lining in Republicans' attempt to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from a massive nuclear arsenal is that it is very difficult for them to go downhill from there. But they're trying, bless their hearts!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:46 PM on March 14, 2012 [22 favorites]


I watched it and was also struck by how sheerly out of her depth the poor woman was. They threw her to the sharks. I still think she's an asshole, don't get me wrong, but she really was put into a horrible position by people who should have known better.
posted by tristeza at 1:46 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lisa Ann's Palin gets at the heart of why so much of the electorate found Palin irresistible.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:46 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wasn't bad at all, it really didn't let anyone off the hook at all. Fucking hilarious that Steve Schmidt goes from suggesting Palin to abject hatred to a blanket "Still think she is qualified?" denouncement of his own pick. He got caught in a web of his own machinations and was still trying to pull a "Who Me ?"

This isn't going to help Palin win any races either. Her catatonic fugues and the McCain staff questioning her basic mental stability will probably put a stake in any hopes of holding office.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:49 PM on March 14, 2012


I watched it and was also struck by how sheerly out of her depth the poor woman was. They threw her to the sharks. I still think she's an asshole, don't get me wrong, but she really was put into a horrible position by people who should have known better.

Yeah, I too feel bad for Julianne Moore.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:49 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


You'd sell out, too, if it meant you could go to Greece, sing ABBA songs, and be drunk with your co-workers for weeks on end.

Where do I submit my resume?
posted by griphus at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm still not sure what the purpose of the film is. It's a fake documentary that takes things word for word from recently televised speeches?

It's a dramatization with lots of the backroom stuff. This video is just comparing the bits of the program that are modeled directly on filmed material with those sources.
posted by yoink at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2012


demiurge: I'm still not sure what the purpose of the film is. It's a fake documentary that takes things word for word from recently televised speeches?

It seems to be a re-creation of the 2008 election, based on portions of the book of the same name that was based on anonymous "deep" sources and speculation, a "docudrama."
posted by filthy light thief at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Her catatonic fugues and the McCain staff questioning her basic mental stability will probably put a stake in any hopes of holding office.

I wish this was a foregone conclusion, but I don't think you can be so certain in a political system in which Rick Santorum wins presidential primaries.
posted by gompa at 1:51 PM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


So McCain complained that this movie didn't do a very good job portraying him. He said that it made it seem like he had a foul mouth. “I don’t use coarse language very often. I have a larger vocabulary than that,” he says. Considering how accurately they portrayed Palin, can't we assume they did the same due diligence for the Maverick?
posted by crunchland at 1:51 PM on March 14, 2012


God, you guys are making me not want to see this. You're reminding me of how listening to actual Sarah Palin is like seeing an organ grinder turning the crank, but the sounds coming out of the box are only music in a strictly technical sense.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's putting on the Bostonian accent from when she was on 30 Rock. It's not perfect but might as well be close enough.
posted by Talez at 1:55 PM on March 14, 2012


Also, is that Ed Harris playing McCain?

Steve Schmidt.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on March 14, 2012


> I'm still not sure what the purpose of the film is. It's a fake documentary that takes things word for word from recently televised speeches?

The speeches and interviews comprise a fraction of the movie. It's mostly behind the scenes exchanges that are largely taken from the book of the same name, along with interviews of Steve Schmidt.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:58 PM on March 14, 2012


> Also, is that Ed Harris playing McCain? Steve Schmidt.

Nope, Woody Harrelson is playing Schmidt. Harris played McCain.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:58 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


“I don’t use coarse language very often. I have a larger vocabulary than that,” he says.

Oh, come on now.
posted by Flamingo at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The whole time I was watching this, I was wishing for a more vapid gaze... less thought behind the eyes, less awareness. I'm not an actor, so perhaps that's a super challenging thing to fake.
posted by heyho at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep hearing that this movie made them sympathetic towards Palin and I can't really see how. The movie portrays a woman who was being offered ALL the help in the world and she didn't take it. She didn't try at all. She had to be spoon fed answers and she even got those wrong.
posted by futz at 2:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Julianne Moore talked about Palin's accent on The Daily Show. It's some kind of weird Idaho-like thing that doesn't really come form anywhere, apparently.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Moore did a great job of playing a person rather than a caricature."

...and that's where she failed.
posted by markkraft at 2:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't know, its got to be profoundly creepy as a human being to be portrayed with so much effort towards faithfulness by a hollywood movie. No movie would never be able to get it, but the better it was the deeper it would sink into an uncanny valley like experience.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2012


I can't really see how. -- I've seen it, and if nothing else, I can say that I finally understand the rational behind why McCain's team picked her to be the running-mate. Up until now, I could not in a million years fathom why they'd pick her.
posted by crunchland at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this a sequel to The Manchurian Candidate?
posted by orme at 2:07 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


First Thatcher by Streep, now this. When do we get a Hillary Clinton docu-comedy? Seriously.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:07 PM on March 14, 2012


I remember the McCain concession speech very clearly. He seemed so much classier than his horrible crowd.

Ah, here we go.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on March 14, 2012


When do we get a Hillary Clinton docu-comedy? --- You're not the first to speculate.
posted by crunchland at 2:10 PM on March 14, 2012


> ...and that's where she failed.

Why? I mean, I don't care if people trash Palin because there's a lot there to hate, but the movie was about contextualizing why this nutter from nowhere suddenly became a massive celebrity with a chance at being a heartbeat away from POTUS. It's a lot more interesting to view her as an actual flawed human caught up in circumstances rather than just some object of scorn.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:13 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Boy, you all are a nitpicky crowd.

I hate listening to political speeches, even by people I agree with, and Palin is one of the worst, so I had little interest in seeing this. But it was on in our hotel room so we watched it, and it was riveting.

I would say it's sympathetic toward Palin, in that it doesn't revel in her goofs, but in a way that just makes it more damning. The protagonists are really the campaign operatives, and seeing them go from excitement to despair over the disaster of her candidacy is what really drives home just what a train wreck she is.
posted by bjrubble at 2:13 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's some kind of weird Idaho-like thing that doesn't really come form anywhere, apparently.

I've always been curious about that. Her accent has always kind of reminded me of something akin to a Minnesota accent, but she spent most of her life in Alaska. None of them (admittedly few) people I know from Alaska sound anything like here, so where did her accent come from?
posted by asnider at 2:16 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also: I couldn't watch the entire video (painfully and kind of boring), and I so jumped through a few times. After seeing Woody Harrelson cursing, "Just name one fucking newspaper," I really want to see this movie.
posted by asnider at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


That gal on Ice Road Truckers seemed to have that accent.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:19 PM on March 14, 2012


"I watched it and was also struck by how sheerly out of her depth the poor woman was. They threw her to the sharks. I still think she's an asshole, don't get me wrong, but she really was put into a horrible position by people who should have known better."

and

"I keep hearing that this movie made them sympathetic towards Palin and I can't really see how. The movie portrays a woman who was being offered ALL the help in the world and she didn't take it. She didn't try at all. She had to be spoon fed answers and she even got those wrong."

I think both things are true. I was going to just respond to the first quote until I saw what you (futz) wrote.

She's not just someone who was out of her depth and misused by people who should have known better and had a responsibility to do better. If it were just that, history would be different. It's also a tragedy in that her tragic flaws wasn't that she was ignorant and simpleminded, but that she's also arrogant, entitled, petulant, and unable to cope when out of her comfort zone.

It's interesting to think about all her note-taking. That inclines me to be more sympathetic to her—I think she clearly wasn't lazy. She thought she could do what she thought she needed to do, learn what she needed to learn, just like she was studying for a final on an undergraduate examination. But that was completely inappropriate in that context because she was so ignorant, and had so little organic comprehension, that accumulating facts didn't help her at all, it probably hurt her, just made her more confused and feeling more inept.

But, even so, it's striking that she was unable to admit that she was far out of her depth and to ask for help. It's as if she'd never been in that circumstance before. And I do blame her for that, really. The Peter Principle is really true, normally. But some people are adept at avoiding ever rising to the level of their incompetency. Palin should have had this experience long before this point in her life. It should have happened when she was governor...that it apparently didn't, or that she didn't learn anything from it, is damning of her and others.

As presented in the film, she may or may not be clinically a narcissist. I think there's an implication that she is. But, regardless, the problem is that she simply wasn't emotionally mature enough to deal with the situation she found herself in. And I think she had a responsibility to be mature enough. Furthermore, her behavior since then underscores this and adds a lot of evidence that she's clinically a narcissist. She blames everyone else. She's angry at everyone else. As sympathetic, in some ways, as the film was, I don't think there was a single moment when she took any responsibility for mistakes she'd made. I don't think that the real Palin we've seen has ever done so, either.

And, maybe, this personality is actually pretty common for politicians. Maybe so. But, if that's the case, then most politicians aren't this incompetent at everything other than giving speeches. Palin couldn't even manage to develop good relationships with the people closest to her within the campaign (apparently, from the film). There's nothing to indicate good people skills, expect possibly in some much more limited capacity. That's not a typical politician. A politician knows how to cultivate powerful/useful allies. Palin doesn't.

If her personality—her ego and narcissism—aren't unusual for politicians, then at the very least her general incompetence at everything other than giving speeches is. And, if that's true, then she deserves some blame for being a bad person, but so do most other politicians. But this means that the people who picked her and put her in that position bear the responsibility for the failure of Palin, the candidate.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:21 PM on March 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


Oh god I had to shut that off I was getting flashbacks.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Moore is a great actress, but this is a good example of a simple miscasting. I think Moore is simply too intelligent an actress. Or something, I don't know, I can't put my finger on it. Tina Fey did a caricature, a silly, more two-dimensional impersonation, and that fits. Sarah Palin is a simple person, a smug and mean-spirited person, and Julianne Moore is simply too good an actress and is overacting in a sense. Tina Fey just played her like an idiot, and it works perfectly.
posted by zardoz at 2:23 PM on March 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's also a tragedy in that her tragic flaws wasn't that she was ignorant and simpleminded, but that she's also arrogant, entitled, petulant, and unable to cope when out of her comfort zone.

She's basically a person who was able to get by being incredibly intellectually lazy, put into a position where that laziness was a problem, and then workarounds for the laziness were found FOR HER, and she's still pissy about it.
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


so where did her accent come from?

It's a pretty standard issue nasally, thin-lipped, front-of-mouth, short-voweled-with-hints-of-Dakota-Dutch lilt common to us northern types. (See Ice Road Truckers, Arctic Air, everyone in Northern BC…). AnIknowwhutI'mtalkinaboot.
posted by Pathos Bill at 2:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's some kind of weird Idaho-like thing that doesn't really come form anywhere, apparently.

I think this is mistaken. Palin talks like some people from Minnesota.
The next town over from Wasilla, Palmer, has a large settlement of Minnesotans—who were moved there by a government relief program in the 1930s—and features of the Minnesotan dialect are thus prominent in the Mat-Su Valley area. Hence the Fargo-like elements in Palin's speech, in particular the sound of her "O" vowel. (Despite its name, Fargo took place mostly in Brainerd, Minn.)
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


The dust bowl resettlement was discussed previously.
posted by plastic_animals at 2:34 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ever since the abomination that was "The Kids are All Right" I can't stand Julianne Moore.
posted by Clustercuss at 2:35 PM on March 14, 2012


Shout out to Harrelson. When he (as Schmidt) asked her a softball question about Great Britain and she started talking about the Queen you could see the first hints of panic creep into his face.
posted by Bonzai at 2:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


The film definitely portrayed Palin very positively on a strictly personal, family level. It made her a piteous figure as Burhanistan says, a woman plucked from the world she knew and plunged into the deep end without the knowledge or intelligence to recognize her own level of incompetence by people who absolutely should have known better. McCain's people wanted her to be their savior so badly that no-one bothered to check if she knew how to so much as tie her own shoes much less was ready to be president of the United States.

No offense to comments like this but I'm trying to figure out where this bizarre, arbitrary line is that makes someone too incompetent to be vice-president but just competent enough to make her existing position as governor of a U.S. state outside the realm of outrage. She was still an evil, selfish, narcissistic opportunist who enjoyed using power and assets to hurt enemies, whether it was the governor's office, the Fox News camera, or the TLC documentary show.

McCain picked her because his team knew she embodied the spirit of vengeful nastiness that is now the moral core of the Republican Party, and Palin knew damn well, long before she got the call, what act she was playing to make the crowds salivate. I have as much sympathy for being called on it as I do for the guy who beat someone up, stole their wallet, used their driver's license to get into a college course and then discovered they had to deliver their presentation of graduate astrophysics that morning.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [26 favorites]


Dude shut up that happened to me and it sucked.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:41 PM on March 14, 2012 [22 favorites]


> McCain picked her because his team knew she embodied the spirit of vengeful nastiness that is now the moral core of the Republican Party,

That really wasn't what was portrayed in the film, though, and I don't think that's probably what was going on in the McCain camp's collective thoughts either. It seems Palin was more a hail Mary pass, and they were excited to have a down home, attractive, and openly religious person on the ticket to balance McCain's perceived faults and try to make up some ground with Obama's runaway campaign. It was only towards the end that Palin was in attack mode.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:46 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


So yeah, Moore's not very good at sounding like Sarah Palin.
posted by fleacircus at 2:49 PM on March 14, 2012


In fact we had McCain the wounded matyr all grumpy as his campaign stirred up the hideous mess of racist goons that would become the Tea Party. If anything it's a little too sympathetic to him.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


the first hints of panic creep into his face.

It's Gods plan.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah I got the impression that towards the end they sent Palin on in attack mode in order to keep McCain's hands clean and she was just a little too good at it. Of course the idea that they are going out to attack Obama then are shocked by the depth of hatred is a little crazy. McCain's bizarro "Have you no decency? Obama is a fine upstanding citizen and this wanton attack will not stand" routine he pulled at his own events was a little hokey. Let's whip up the crowds and then the nice old man can talk some sense into them!
posted by Ad hominem at 2:51 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If sounding just like someone else was the point of acting, we would hire Jay Mohr instead of Gary Oldman all the time.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:51 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


"She's basically a person who was able to get by being incredibly intellectually lazy, put into a position where that laziness was a problem, and then workarounds for the laziness were found FOR HER, and she's still pissy about it."

Yeah. But I think she's just like all the people who are her constituency.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. Because part of me wants to place the failure on our educational system. Palin, and her constituency, would definitely not accept the claim that she's "intellectually lazy". But that's because, for her and them, being "intellectually hard-working" is memorizing stuff that's going to be on an exam. Anything and everything beyond that is unknown terrain for her and them. More than that: to them, everything beyond that is bullshitting. They like to call people doing anything beyond that "pseudo-intellectuals".

And it's not just this style of pedagogy, it's also that even within this limited style, what's asked of students in schools like Palin attended is itself actually very little. A fact-accumulator who goes to an Ivy school will at least be expected to accumulate a whole bunch of facts, and to retain them over time. A communications degree from Idaho? Not so much.

So I don't think that Palin, or her fans, even have anything approaching an accurate conception of what it means to actually know anything. They think they do. And they think people like you and me don't know any more than they do and, in fact, we know less because we just confuse ourselves with all our overcomplication and analysis and theory and whatnot.

It's not about laziness. I think Palin and many people like her quite often have a strong ethos of hard-work. And they likely bring that ethos to, say, cramming for a final. But not before that—which is revealing. The system is set up so that it actually doesn't make much sense, from their standpoint, to work hard, intellectually, prior to that final because the benefits of doing so are either entirely ambiguous or even, in truth, non-existent. Everything they know, everything they've ever been shown about what it means to "learn" anything, to know about anything, means cramming for a final. Which is unlike what it means to know anything in the real world of their homes, families, jobs, friends, whatever. So they quite naturally believe that everything that's actually worth knowing comes from one's personal and immediate experience. Because, for them, it has been.

It's tempting to say that Palin and all like her are dumb. And, no doubt, many of them are. But I think a lot of them never had much of an opportunity—because of their family and cultural environment, their schools—to ever really have the experience of what it's like to actually think about stuff that's not their personal lives. But we call Palin and people like her "dumb" and so just give them more reason to believe that the difference between us and them is values, that they value "real" and "meaningful" things while we value useless theory and being able to label ourselves "intellectuals" or whatever.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:52 PM on March 14, 2012 [66 favorites]


"I think this is mistaken. Palin talks like some people from Minnesota."

Yeah, she sounds to my ears a lot like my Minnesota/Wisconsin Norwegian-American relatives. There's some differences I can't quite pin down, and Moore's attempt at the accent goes even further afield, but that seems the core of it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:55 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked the movie, but I'm a sucker for political dramatization. The only part I thought they botched was McCain's rebuke of his more virulent supporters -- they weirdly cut out the booing that made his defense of Obama's character to the "he's an Arab" lady so disturbing, and they left out the more interesting confrontation with the less-obviously-unhinged guy who said he was scared of an Obama presidency (and McCain's reaction to the backlash).

Also, here are the "lost" concession and victory (!) speeches that Schmidt barred Palin from delivering in that dynamite final scene.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


heyho: "The whole time I was watching this, I was wishing for a more vapid gaze... less thought behind the eyes, less awareness. I'm not an actor, so perhaps that's a super challenging thing to fake."

You should see the movie. Sincerely.

Moore's entire performance gives a better (not 'better' as in 'positive,' but 'better' as in 'more accurate',) portrayal of Palin, I think.

There were quite a number of moments in the movie where Moore's Palin is silent, and you're reading her by studying her facial expressions: As she watches herself on television. As she zones out during briefing and prep meetings. When she deliberately ignores her handlers, lashes out at or outright defies them. It's during those quiet moments when you feel she's utterly out of her depth. And you don't ever really get the impression she's all that bright -- she's operating far more on instinct, bitterness, depression, anger, religious faith/fervor and to some degree, charm rather than any inherent intelligence. Her contradictions and hypocrisy don't show when she's being interviewed or speaking to a crowd -- as in these clips. She's portrayed as having almost unfathomable ignorance, and willing to lie to the public at the drop of a hat if it would help her get ahead.

Honestly, I thought Moore did a marvelous job.

On preview, Artw has it. The movie shows that after trying to get her to understand even some basics of foreign policy, her handlers simply gave up and wrote lines for her to memorize/read.

Steve Schmidt has said that the movie is essentially accurate, even though it condenses 10 weeks into two hours. In fact, he said watching it was like having an out of body experience -- because Harrelson had captured him so well. Nicolle Wallace (Palin's initial handler, played in the movie by Sarah Paulson -- who played Harriet Hayes on Studio 60,) has also praised the film and said it is an accurate depiction. She's on record saying that Palin is extremely defensive, cynical, bitter and 'prickly.'
posted by zarq at 2:58 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


In fact, he said watching it was like having an out of body experience -- because Harrelson had captured him so well.

Plus having Woody Harrelson play him has got to be flattering since his own bald head looks like some kind of weird lumpy potato by comparison.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on March 14, 2012


> Lisa Ann's Palin gets at the heart of why so much of the electorate found Palin irresistible.

Well, Rich Lowry, anyway.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:02 PM on March 14, 2012


Now, let's get one thing straight here.

Sarah Palin is a bad person. She ran on a platform of hatred - hatred toward Muslims, hatred toward so-called Liberals. She was not only willfully ignorant, but proud of her ignorance. Over and over again, she knowingly lied, literally making things up out of whole cloth. She shafted the citizens of Alaska and would have done the same to the citizens of America, and she's grown stinking rich from her dishonest activities.

There are a lot of people to feel sorry for in this world. Sarah Palin is not one of them.

At this point, portraying Sarah Palin as an evil caricature of a human being is completely accurate. She's worked extremely hard to turn herself into exactly such a person, by all evidence we have she is completely consistently such a person at all times - attempting to portray her in any way as a "victim" is nauseating.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:03 PM on March 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


> At this point, portraying Sarah Palin as an evil caricature of a human being is completely accurate.

Yeah, but the movie was about the campaign, not just her.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I felt Moore was good but underplayed Palin's "feistiness" a little oddly
posted by Bwithh at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2012


If sounding just like someone else was the point of acting, we would hire Jay Mohr instead of Gary Oldman all the time.

Nonetheless, the comparison is the point of this post. Furthermore, Sarah Palin is a real person of recent memory, and her quirky accent was a huge part of her perception. So there's a special relevance. I just don't think she captured it. I hope the entire profession of acting can withstand this observation.
posted by fleacircus at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


"McCain's bizarro 'Have you no decency? Obama is a fine upstanding citizen and this wanton attack will not stand' routine he pulled at his own events was a little hokey. Let's whip up the crowds and then the nice old man can talk some sense into them!"

Well, I'm in the camp that believes that McCain is weirdly both people he's often characterized as. I think he truly has some impulse toward being good and honorable, and that's the stuff that we've seen come from him that has caused the press and some liberals to like him in the past. I think his rebuke of that woman at the town hall was sincere, I think his being upset at the crowds being racist was sincere. And I certainly think that his opposition to torture is sincere.

But, at the same time, he's very much in the mold of politicians, like Bush, who are haunted by their family legacy and crave, to the point of deep pathology, validation and a feeling of being thought by others to be successful. McCain becomes desperate, more than most other politicians, and in those moments of desperation he's willing to throw pretty much everything else out the window to get that validation he craves. And then later, like an addict, he feels badly about it and that moves him back toward being virtuous. He's caught between his instinct to the good, and his ambition and insecurity. So, even more than most politicians, he radically moves between those two poles. So much so, that's it's entirely visible to everyone else, unsubtle, and he seems like two different people.

Well, also, the third big component of his personality is his vindictiveness and anger. He never lets go of his grudges, I think. If he had ever felt personally betrayed by Palin then his attitude toward her since the election would be exactly the opposite of what it has been. As it happened, he didn't feel personally betrayed by her, so he's behaving toward her in a gracious and forgiving manner, even though she was a disaster and he knows it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:07 PM on March 14, 2012 [22 favorites]


At this point, portraying Sarah Palin as an evil caricature of a human being is completely accurate.

I think that's ridiculous. No one's a villain in their own head; everyone has justifications for their own wrongdoing, no matter how facile and forced those justifications may be. Portraying Palin as a 'bad person' and undeserving of sympathy makes it easier to think that if I'm not a bad person, I won't do bad things-- but I'll never think of myself as a bad person, just as, I'm sure, Palin doesn't think of herself as a bad person. I'll look at my own facile justifications and say 'Well, I have justifications, so therefore I don't need to worry that I'm bad.'

Whereas portraying with sympathy and understanding someone who fucks up or fucks over other people makes us realize that they, too, are human, and that self-deception to the point of hurting others is an easy thing, and an alluring thing, so maybe we should pay attention to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves about our actions.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on March 14, 2012 [125 favorites]


I wish I could favorite shakespeherian's comment a thousand times.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:10 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can that be the on-the-blue equivalent of "Everyone needs a hug"?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:15 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember the McCain concession speech very clearly. He seemed so much classier than his horrible crowd.

A choice quote:

"I am also, of course, very thankful to Gov. Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen ..."
posted by mrgrimm at 3:16 PM on March 14, 2012


Very well said, shakes.
posted by zarq at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2012


Sarah Palin is a bad person.

And the people who supported her even worse.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2012


Of course shakespearian is right, but: there is a form of personality I've often met, who seem to believe everyone else is out to cheat and abuse them. And in my experience, these people feel can do things they know are very wrong because in their world view, "that's what everyone does". Lying, stealing, abusing people verbally or even physically. More than once, I have been told that I am naïve for thinking otherwise, by different people. These people often have strong moral views when it comes to family relations etc, and see themselves as honest and fair beings.
Now you may be reminded of recent blue/red Lakoff thread, but in my experience, these people can have all sorts of political and religious opinions. They are just fundamentally suspicious, and treat the world as they perceive the world treats them. (Now I have finally learnt to avoid them, I hope).
Not having met Sarah Palin personally, it's hard to judge. But as seen on television, she seems to be such a person.
posted by mumimor at 3:25 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


And it's not just this style of pedagogy, it's also that even within this limited style, what's asked of students in schools like Palin attended is itself actually very little. A fact-accumulator who goes to an Ivy school will at least be expected to accumulate a whole bunch of facts, and to retain them over time. A communications degree from Idaho? Not so much.

Were you around for the W. Bush presidency? Do you remember where he went to school?
posted by raysmj at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Psychopaths are people too.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Were you around for the W. Bush presidency? Do you remember where he went to school?

Bush was a horrible public speaker and lacked good improvisational sensibilities. However, at the risk of sounding like an apologist, he wasn't a proper clueless moron. Watch any number of one on one interviews with him about specific issues and events and you'll see a person who in general knows what he knows, and is able to discern subtleties and grasp the import of matters. He might have sleepwalked through most of his life and was handed the presidency on a plate, but he's clearly able to think about issues in a way that Palin doesn't appear to be able to, even if his conclusions sucked.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:30 PM on March 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh god I had to shut that off I was getting flashbacks.
posted by shakespeherian


Same here. Maybe the mods need to put a trigger warning on this one.
posted by Kevtaro at 3:34 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And Bush is probably significantly more aware of his limitations than Palin is. Well, in the way that any number is greater than zero. But yeah they're similar up to the point of "seems incompetent" but only that far.
posted by palidor at 3:34 PM on March 14, 2012


Honestly Palin actually makes me appreciate Bush in a way, and it's the most fucked up feeling. Please help
posted by palidor at 3:36 PM on March 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Please help

Avoid news articles mentioning "Rick Santorum".
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Were you around for the W. Bush presidency? Do you remember where he went to school?"

My response is partly what Burhanistan wrote and also that I think Bush is a "fact accumulator", though not a very good one. Even so, he's definitely a level above Palin.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:39 PM on March 14, 2012


Best/Scariest part of this film was when Steve Schmidt is talking to Palin just before the nomination and he remarks that she seems to be taking all of this in stride and she responds, "It's God's will."

Terrifying.
posted by ColdChef at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sarah Palin doesn't deserve a shred of sympathy, regardless of whether she is a villain in her own mind or not. She pushes the buttons of fear and hate--Muslim, socialist, death panels; there's a new hating point every time she appears on Fox. and she knows damn well what she's doing. She did as much to create the Tea Party idiocy as anybody--she tilled that field, even if others sowed the seeds, and she has dragged this country's discourse down more in three years than Rush and all his ilk have done in their entire careers.
posted by Camofrog at 3:52 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's worth nothing, by the way, that Palin attended a crazy variety of schools and ended up graduating from Idaho by default, practically. She didn't have enough time to have anyone mentor her, for any faculty to get to know her well enough to discover her strengths and weaknesses, steer her in any particular direction or challenge her, etc. Here's the rundown, from Wikipedia, restated in helpful would-be bulleted format:

After graduating from high school, Palin
-- Enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin
-- Transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester in the fall of 1982, and then to
-- North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d'Alene, for the spring and fall semesters of 1983. She attended the
-- University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, in late 1984 and early 1985, and
-- Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in late 1985.
-- Palin returned to the University of Idaho in the spring of 1986, and received her bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in 1987.
posted by raysmj at 3:53 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Were you around for the W. Bush presidency? Do you remember where he went to school?"

Bush didn't get into Yale; he inherited a place in the student body. He has often referred to himself as a "C student" with a certain amount of pride.

I have no absolute proof, but with the knowledge we have of grade inflation and the knowledge we have about Serious Money and children of alumni, I think it's fair to say that many, if not most, of those Cs were likely mandated gifts.
posted by tzikeh at 3:53 PM on March 14, 2012


Also: All of you still owe me twenty bucks.
posted by ColdChef at 3:55 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


mumimor: there is a form of personality I've often met, who seem to believe everyone else is out to cheat and abuse them. And in my experience, these people feel can do things they know are very wrong because in their world view, "that's what everyone does". Lying, stealing, abusing people verbally or even physically. More than once, I have been told that I am naïve for thinking otherwise, by different people. These people often have strong moral views when it comes to family relations etc, and see themselves as honest and fair beings.

This very clearly articulates something I've been building towards for some time, thanks.
posted by JHarris at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that's ridiculous. No one's a villain in their own head; everyone has justifications for their own wrongdoing, no matter how facile and forced those justifications may be. Portraying Palin as a 'bad person' and undeserving of sympathy makes it easier to think that if I'm not a bad person, I won't do bad things-- but I'll never think of myself as a bad person, just as, I'm sure, Palin doesn't think of herself as a bad person. I'll look at my own facile justifications and say 'Well, I have justifications, so therefore I don't need to worry that I'm bad.'

Whereas portraying with sympathy and understanding someone who fucks up or fucks over other people makes us realize that they, too, are human, and that self-deception to the point of hurting others is an easy thing, and an alluring thing, so maybe we should pay attention to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves about our actions.


Or, we judge ourselves by our intentions, but others judge us by our actions?
posted by vac2003 at 3:56 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


> No one's a villain in their own head;

I'm sorry - that's simply not true. I used to believe that - I no longer believe that. I've met quite a lot of people who are in fact villains in their own head - who have set out to become villains, in fact, and succeeded.

If you asked them, and they ever answered you honestly, they'd say that villains win, and they wanted to win - you would get no other justification.

I honestly believe that many of these political figures are self-consciously evil, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Humanizing such people is not useful. You'll make much better predictions of their behavior on the assumption they are, in fact, self-conscious villains, and from an ethical viewpoint, it blunts your anger and rage at the time we need it the most.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:58 PM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


The only part I thought they botched was McCain's rebuke of his more virulent supporters -- they weirdly cut out the booing that made his defense of Obama's character to the "he's an Arab" lady so disturbing , and they left out the more interesting confrontation with the less-obviously-unhinged guy who said he was scared of an Obama presidency (and McCain's reaction to the backlash).

Yeah, I noticed that, too. I was all, "Uh, where the boos, Boo?"
posted by ColdChef at 3:59 PM on March 14, 2012


Nicolle Wallace (Palin's initial handler, played in the movie by Sarah Paulson -- who played Harriet Hayes on Studio 60,) has also praised the film and said it is an accurate depiction.

Note that Nicolle Wallace was depicted in the film as having a breakdown on election day and, in tears, admitting to Steve Schmidt that she could not bring herself to vote for her own candidate. So for her to praise the film and its accuracy says rather a lot.
posted by Justinian at 4:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Nicole Wallace: Sarah Palin Inspired Mentally Ill VP Character In New Book
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with Mental Wimp on the accent. It's the same accent as on the Lake Wobegon skits on the Prarie Home Companion radio show. After the first time I heard Palin talk I mentally connected her to "tuna hot dish" forever after.
posted by bukvich at 4:06 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


NBK2: Natural Born Moose Killers.
posted by localroger at 4:06 PM on March 14, 2012


Also: All of you still owe me twenty bucks.

I believe you, Wendell, and Arianna Huffington all called it pretty early (probably along with plenty of other less vocal sorts). You can't expect me to keep sending all of you my money forever.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:13 PM on March 14, 2012


Bah. I was first.
posted by ColdChef at 4:15 PM on March 14, 2012


Also, is that Ed Harris playing McCain? I may have to see this!

Not the strong part of the movie. He may have been being true to the script. But I thought Harris only captured the mentally stable, even-tempered, non-abusive, non-hypocritical McCain. Which is to say, but a small fraction.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:28 PM on March 14, 2012


Huh. The first comparison -- which is as far as I could get -- made me lose respect for Julianne Moore as an actress, a bit. There's something to be said, certainly, for not going caricaturish, but when the person in question is already caricaturish, I think the right thing to do is make an attempt to capture that.

Maybe the other clips are better, but she certainly didn't capture that horrifying lunatic Palinosity in the first one, I don't think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:39 PM on March 14, 2012


The fact that 45% of the American voters thought that it was a good idea to put that person second in command of the country really forced me to admit to myself that I'll never fucking understand American politics. Not only would she have been VP but she would have been VP to a man in his seventies in iffy health. And 59 million voters didn't have a problem with that idea.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


So McCain complained that this movie didn't do a very good job portraying him.

It was very sympathetic to him. It didn't go into policy that much except where he was to the left of Palin so that helped, too. And it made me feel bad for Sarah. Yes, she refused the help she needed, but it wasn't out of arrogance but because it made her feel bad to be continually corrected and condescended to. Even her bitterness and anger seemed to be in reaction to feeling all alone in the Washington environment without her familiar trappings. Palin isn't a caricature and the tragedy that the movie conveys is that of a real person incapable of dealing with what needed to be done.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:45 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that's ridiculous. No one's a villain in their own head; everyone has justifications for their own wrongdoing, no matter how facile and forced those justifications may be

Hitler painted roses.

Look, I agree with the whole Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto kick, and I am also firmly behind the line of thinking that says when people called, say, Kim Jong Il 'crazy' what they were doing (consciously or not) was trying to separate him and his actions from the ordinary run of humanity, from themselves, because if the things that a Pol Pot or Kim or, yes, Hitler can do are things that are human, then we are not the angelic beings so many people like to think we are. At the very least, it makes things too complicate for people to be comfortable with -- so it's much easier to just say that they're crazy, and otherize them, and whew, we're still OK!

So, yeah, I think it's right to say that we can and should accept even the most twisted and destructively deluded among us as part of the overall human family, and accept and understand that it's all too easy for us, given the way our wetware is wired, to slip from ostracizing and thrusting away the truly vile to ostracizing and marginalizing our neighbour because they're atheist or christian or liberal or conservative or asian or handicapped or what-the-fuck-ever, and so eternal vigilance is required to rein in the worst of our tribalistic instincts.

But I don't think it's a straight line from that to 'so maybe we should pay attention to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves about our actions.'

I think we should do that, yes. I also think we should seek similarities rather than differences, sure, common ground, all that good stuff. I think we ought to rein in the worst impulses of our primitive selves which include an insatiable desire to have an other to demonize.

But I do not think we should cut politicians who are fools, who are bigots, who 'lead' by encouraging factionalization any slack at all. Actually, I don't think we should cut any politicians any slack whatsoever. It is our duty -- our sacred duty, in the most dirt-basement sense of the word -- as citizens of democracies to make sure that those who have power over us are capable, ethical, and less interested in power than in governance.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I honestly believe that many of these political figures are self-consciously evil, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Humanizing such people is not useful. You'll make much better predictions of their behavior on the assumption they are, in fact, self-conscious villains, and from an ethical viewpoint, it blunts your anger and rage at the time we need it the most.

Sorry but this is absurd to me. There are plenty of politicians who are solely concerned with their own power and how to maintain it, yes, but you can't equate that with being self-consciously evil. It's far easier to predict their actions based on their desire to maintain their power, and to be honest I don't even understand what being a self-conscious villain means for a politician. Unless somehow politics has been replaced with professional wrestling?
posted by palidor at 5:03 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, an evil act that politicians take part in involves demonizing and ostracizing minority groups, and it is really the only thing in politics today that can still bring out strong emotion in me, but I don't think any politicians do that and think "ha-ha! oh how I love demonizing and ostracizing minority groups! I'm such a villain!"
posted by palidor at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I don't think it's a straight line from that to 'so maybe we should pay attention to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves about our actions.'

I think maybe I wasn't as clear as I would have liked-- my point wasn't to go easy on Palin and to encourage us to just mind our own respective shops and not call people on their bullshit. My point was that when we call people on their bullshit, we do so in a way in which we don't, as you say, otherize them, because keeping our similarities to them in mind is how we pay attention to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves about our actions. I most certainly agree with you that it is our duty to call politicians (and anyone else with even a whiff of power) on their capabilities, ethics, etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The self-satisfaction you see in their faces when they do that kind of stuff is a result of the crazy cheers coming from the audience and the campaign donations and future votes that kind of pandering produces
posted by palidor at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2012


My point was that when we call people on their bullshit, we do so in a way in which we don't, as you say, otherize them, because keeping our similarities to them in mind is how we pay attention to ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves about our actions.

Then I think we are in agreement!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think so too. <3
posted by shakespeherian at 5:32 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, to me there's a distinction between trying to see people as they really are, in all their complexity and especially that others may have reasons for doing things that in our opinion are evil and wrong but, to them, are not evil and wrong...and not holding them accountable for what they believe and do.

In my view, this is pretty much the same as the more general problem of both knowing that I'm likely wrong about many things I believe and yet having the courage of my convictions. You can see people as something other than cartoon villains and still allow that they can be so wrong as to be evil. (And, incidentally, I totally disagree with the claim put forth elsewhere on the site recently that using the word "evil" makes no sense for someone who, like myself, doesn't accept a metaphysics that defines it.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:45 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note that Nicolle Wallace was depicted in the film as having a breakdown on election day

Well, yes. A guilt-induced breakdown is much, much more flattering to Wallace than the alternative of just not caring that she worked her ass off to put this dipshit in a place of potential power. Indeed the entire movie is much more generous than a career political operative like Wallace - who, do not forget, was one of the primary members of the Florida team that helped initially get GWB into office - deserves.

So yes, I would expect Wallace to cheer on the movie's accuracy. It makes her look heroic in the face of a disaster. Why wouldn't she say it was accurate?
posted by mightygodking at 5:48 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Humanizing such people is not useful.
this has always worked well in the past
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:01 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


MGK: Because there remains a dedicated contingent of Republicans who believe that Sarah Palin was not, in fact, manifestly incompetent, and that the country would be better off with McCain/Palin than Obama/Biden? Especially since they would likely disbelieve the larger narrative of Game Change, leaving only the impression of Wallace as an admitted Obama-voter.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:32 PM on March 14, 2012


Basing it just off the clips, Moore is too queenly to capture Palin's charm. Palin does have a charm that people respond to, she's got the "Minnesota Nice"/"Southern Hospitality" charm where you're warm and friendly as can be (even while shanking someone between the ribs).

If you have been raised where that is how good, polite, decent people act (see: Midwest and South) then that is what you're going to respond to in a candidate. And you don't see it as faking anything, you equate presenting politeness and friendliness and duty to God and country and apple pie as following the set rules of society and being a good person, like accepting Grandma's horrible Christmas sweater. In fact, knowing someone might not be sincere makes you appreciate it even more, because you know just how gosh-darn hard they are trying to hold their tongue and be polite.

Palin is like the head of the PTA, she presents that over-the-top facade to a T and plenty of people love her for it. Moore isn't capturing that homey-ness.
posted by schroedinger at 7:30 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


The only part I thought they botched was McCain's rebuke of his more virulent supporters -- they weirdly cut out the booing that made his defense of Obama's character to the "he's an Arab" lady so disturbing

My bad -- I was in a rush and mixed up my disturbing reactions to disturbing people clips. There actually wasn't any booing in the "Arab" clip, but it's disheartening enough when McCain says Obama isn't "an Arab" and then immediately follows with "he's a decent, family man citizen" as if that's the polar opposite or something. (Lots of booing in the second one, though.)
posted by Rhaomi at 7:45 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


She pushes the buttons of fear and hate--Muslim, socialist, death panels; there's a new hating point every time she appears on Fox.

This is part of why she is evil. The second part, and Rick Santorum and other "religious conservatives" share this flaw, is sanctimony. They actually think they are more moral than the rest of us and therefore are justified in doing what they to the rest of us. This is what makes that realm of political theater most despicable.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:46 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I just gotta say: the little shot of Faux Biden doing calisthenics from behind the VP debate stage (and Palin's mirroring) was hilarious.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


"This is part of why she is evil. [...] They actually think they are more moral than the rest of us..."

Ah, irony.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:09 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


ColdChef: "Also: All of you still owe me twenty bucks."

You need to prove I agreed to that, bucko. Barring that, ya'all can get your ass up here in person to collect.
posted by Samizdata at 9:29 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sarah Palin and Intermittent Gunderson Syndrome "Governor Palin has a very distinctive accent. Sometimes."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:55 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly believe that many of these political figures are self-consciously evil, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Humanizing such people is not useful. You'll make much better predictions of their behavior on the assumption they are, in fact, self-conscious villains, and from an ethical viewpoint, it blunts your anger and rage at the time we need it the most.

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster." - Uncle Fritz
posted by joe lisboa at 10:29 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


To be fair, I don't read newspapers much either.
posted by polymodus at 11:17 PM on March 14, 2012


Boy, I watch that and I think, "Phew, dodged a bullet there!"

I'll have to see the whole movie to really get any feel for Moore's portrayal. What is almost unreasonable to expect is that she should convey the spontaneity of Palin's responses. Palin was using all her smarts there, just every last ounce of bright that she had, and this is what she came up with.

Watching Moore, you could just almost see the various choices she made. I'll portray this moment this way, this other moment this way. There's so much intelligence and forethought and care in evidence. Palin is just like a whirlwind of reactions to god knows what flits through her head. Asking to portray that is a little bit like asking an actor to depict a chicken flying or a hippopotamus coming out of the water. They can, maybe, do it convincingly, but you are only ever looking at artifice.

More telling, and reason to watch the movie, was how at times Moore's portrayal was simply flatly unappealing. Watching Palin, what was unappealing for me was not her surface behavior but the meaning behind either her surface behavior or the strange sentence-like groupings that she passed off as 'speech.'

Thank god Palin's faded back into the hum of general crazy - that was some shrill, unpleasant stuff she was flinging around.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:46 AM on March 15, 2012


I saw an ad for that, I thought it was almost eery how much she looked and seemed like her. I know everyone always talked about how much Palin looked like Tina Fey, but Moore looked like her twin sister or something.

She's also somewhat of an iconic figure, a particular hair style, a peculiar accent and a bad 'newscaster' (her training was in broadcast journalism) cadence when she tries to do public speaking
Oh God, watching that Couric interview again is just so painful. Moore certainly softens the sheer blank panic so evident in Palin's responses. It must have been the weirdest experience on Couric's side, like firing a nerfball at someone and watching it remove a limb.
Part of that may have been nerves and pressure. Had a reporter from a local newspaper asked her that while she was running for governor, it would have probably never phased her.

Anyway, McCain was never going to win the election.
posted by delmoi at 5:38 AM on March 15, 2012


I'm sorry - that's simply not true. I used to believe that - I no longer believe that. I've met quite a lot of people who are in fact villains in their own head - who have set out to become villains, in fact, and succeeded.

If you asked them, and they ever answered you honestly, they'd say that villains win, and they wanted to win - you would get no other justification.


I've also met a few. And that's not the only reason. The other one I've run into (although fortunately only once) was a gay person brought up as the child of religious parents, and brought up that to be gay was evil (and thrown out when he came out). So he, for a while knew he was gay and believed that he therefore must be a villain - so might as well play to it. It's the old "Give a dog a bad name" principle.
posted by Francis at 7:52 AM on March 15, 2012



"This is part of why she is evil. [...] They actually think they are more moral than the rest of us..."

Ah, irony.


I don't know. I'll engage anyone who'll engage me. The problem with sanctimony is that it automatically excludes most other people a priori. I'll discuss the role of government in alleviating social problems, the participation of religions in public life, the ethical balance between a fetus and its mother, the implications of gay marriage, and the role of war in international affairs with anyone who'll discuss it. Emphasis on discuss as opposed to bleating dogma. People whose stance is "I have the truth; you are with us or against us," the essence of sanctimony, can't be engaged and would impose their will without debate on the rest of society. That this is an evil in our world (if you hold there is such a thing) is not ironic; it has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout history, in my opinion. But, your mileage may vary, I suppose.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:06 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always been curious about that. Her accent has always kind of reminded me of something akin to a Minnesota accent, but she spent most of her life in Alaska.
The one woman I know from Alaska sounds exactly like Palin, with the same weird and sometimes ditzy thinking. She too has roots in northern Minnesota, and early years growing up on a homestead, but with some exposure to Native culture since her father was an Indian agent. Or something like that.
posted by etaoin at 9:01 AM on March 15, 2012


Watching Moore, you could just almost see the various choices she made. I'll portray this moment this way, this other moment this way. There's so much intelligence and forethought and care in evidence.

That was the thing I noticed in the very first promo clip I saw for the show--Julianne Moore just looks too much like a thinking person. Which is an odd thing, really. How much can you tell about someone's intelligence just by observing them without hearing what they say? While I recognize, of course, that there are always outliers (in both directions), it often does seem that there's quite a high correlation between "looking intelligent" and actually being so. Intelligent, thoughtful people do often have a kind of alertness and intentness in their gaze that immediately strikes you.

But then again, these are the kinds of judgments that are often torn apart when subject to rigorous analysis. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of that kind? It would be hard to separate what I'm talking about from other confounders, of course, that would also affect our judgment of intelligence.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on March 15, 2012


Bush was a horrible public speaker and lacked good improvisational sensibilities. However, at the risk of sounding like an apologist, he wasn't a proper clueless moron. Watch any number of one on one interviews with him about specific issues and events and you'll see a person who in general knows what he knows, and is able to discern subtleties and grasp the import of matters. He might have sleepwalked through most of his life and was handed the presidency on a plate, but he's clearly able to think about issues in a way that Palin doesn't appear to be able to, even if his conclusions sucked.

and

And Bush is probably significantly more aware of his limitations than Palin is. Well, in the way that any number is greater than zero. But yeah they're similar up to the point of "seems incompetent" but only that far.


I agree completely. I was no big fan of Bush, but I felt bad for him, because any time he was doing a Big Important Speech, I felt like I could see his inner monologue, and it was "don'tfuckupdon'tfuckupdon'tfuckupdon'tfuckupdon'tfuckupdon'tfuckup". In more intimate moments, he came across as that "fun guy you'd want to have a beer with". I saw him work a room on CSPAN one day, it was some kind of tribute to hispanic people and their contributions to the US. He was on fire, going back and forth between spanish and english.

I don't doubt for a moment Bush wanted to do the right things. But he was plagued by his anxieties, his bad ideas about what the right things were, and his hawkish advisors. Compare that to Palin, who I think felt like it was finally her turn to push people around. Time to get what was due to her for being so awesome. She is the annoying neighbor that got elected to the condo association because nobody wanted to be on the receiving end of her crazy.
posted by gjc at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yoink, check out "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. It's all about the processing our brains do below the level consciousness, and how judgements based on that processing often turn out to be correct. He refers to several studies that explore ideas similar to what you're wondering about.
posted by diogenes at 11:23 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I meant "level of consciousness."
posted by diogenes at 11:24 AM on March 15, 2012


Hitler painted roses

I think I saw that novel in the clearance section of my local bookstore.
posted by juiceCake at 4:42 PM on March 15, 2012


On the consciously 'evil' (read: antisocial self-interest)...

I've worked with people who, over a cognac at the bar, would say things like:

"Jet, the thing you need to remember is: everyone is evil. The hippies and Marxists will tell you that they are all about peace, love, and understanding - but that's bullshit. They're just trying to score with braless lesbian chicks. Everyone is out for themselves, and don't believe all the cover stories. They will stab you in the back just as quick as anyone else. And if they won't - well then they are sheep. Stupid, gullible sheep that will be led to the slaughter. You don't ever want to be a sheep, Jet. You don't want to be a wolf, either. You want to be a shepherd. The shepherd gets the best of both worlds - the sheep come running to him for protection, and he has lamb chops on his table every night. Nice guys finish last, Jet - remember that. It's a cut-throat dog-eat-dog law-of-the-jungle world out there and there are no superheroes coming along to save the day. No superheroes, but plenty of villains. Superman ain't real, Jet - but Lex Luthor is. You don't want to be Superman - you want to be Lex."

So yeah, maybe not evil. But close enough as to be nigh-indistinguishable.
posted by jet_manifesto at 4:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Finally got around to watching this movie a couple nights ago. I gotta say, with all of the awkward and/or tense moments in shows like The Walking Dead, The Office, Wilfred, Dexter, etc., I don't think any of them had anything on Game Change in that regard. When she reached for Wallace's hand right before going on stage for the first time, I was just thinking about how many red flags there were up to that point, and she hadn't even been introduced to America as the VP candidate yet. It only went downhill from there.

Also, I just gotta say: the little shot of Faux Biden doing calisthenics from behind the VP debate stage (and Palin's mirroring) was hilarious.

Agreed. When that scene came on, I chuckled and said "Oh, Joe...."
posted by mysterpigg at 7:53 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dark Artists: How the political operative—not the politician—became the hero of modern American campaigns.
posted by homunculus at 12:03 PM on March 29, 2012


jet_manifesto: Something I've discovered about people like that is that they aggressively use the second person, they say "you want to X" a lot. It's become a strong indication to me when someone is being pushy or assholish, when they say "you don't want to X, you want to Y," or "when you are in X situation, you do Y." It gives me a strong adverse reaction. Your story reminded me of that because man, Mr. Lex Luthor Wannabe pushes that button hard with me.
posted by JHarris at 12:18 PM on March 29, 2012


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