Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Presidential Recount: The Movie

The Hill seems to seriously doubt that a movie about the 2000 presidential recount that is funded by, written by, and directed by Democrats could be “unbiased.”

HBO is planning to make an unbiased film, titled “Recount” and scheduled to premiere early next year, about the 2000 presidential election.That could be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off, because the director, executive producer, and writer of the movie are all Democrats. Oh, and Colin Callender, the president of HBO Films, is also a D.

The Hollywood Reporter this week quoted Callender as saying the movie won’t take sides and instead would be “a fascinating look at democracy.” Callender has made political donations to then-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
The Hill is right to figuratively roll its eyes, but that’s just because looking at this movie using the terminology of “bias” is the wrong way to judge it. It seems as if it was the president of HBO Films who decided that was how he wanted this movie to be judged. (Although I can’t discount the fact that it might have been the reporter at The Hollywood Reporter who selected the frame, “Can your movie be unbiased” and then The Hill, in turn, is amplifying the concept of “bias versus unbiased” as a way screen the movie.)

I'm not certain but it seems like this is going to be a scripted drama, not a documentary. Personally I think this is unwise. It's extremely difficult to dramaticize recent events that everyone has their own personal "memory" of because the audience will think about what parts of the story the director isn't telling. (And it's impossible to tell all stories at once).

Bias is the wrong way to judge movies. There’s no such thing as programming without a point of view. Any editorial choice reflects the bias of the creator. There’s no person out there who lacks biases. It’s just not possible.

I would say if you need a yardstick to judge a fictional movie about history what you are looking for is accuracy. To use the term “bias” is to imply that a film can’t be accurate. But even an accurate film can't cater to all viewpoints simultaneously. Ultimately it will have a point-of-view.

And it was downright stupid for HBO to try to claim otherwise because it's a perfect strawman to set aflame.

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