Are Latest Political Movies Propaganda?

Filmmaker John Sayles was so angry at the Bush Administration, he didn't write a letter to his congressman — he wrote a movie.

The resulting film, Silver City, to be released on September 17, stars Chris Cooper. Cooper, who most recently won an Academy Award for his performance in Adaptation, performs a new sort of adaptation in the Sayles project, acting out Sayles' take on George W. Bush in his gubernatorial years.

"She was on my DWIs, all that stuff from 10 years ago," complains Cooper's character — Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dickie Pilager, a former ne'er-do-well Republican political scion with some notable characteristics in common with those about Bush that liberals frequently like to mention.

"In about two weeks, I had a first draft so that we could start scouting," Sayles told ABC News. "We really felt like it was important to get the movie out before the election just to get into the conversation at the right time."

Accompanying the famous tidal wave from the trailer of The Day After Tomorrow — a disaster flick about global warming endorsed by former Vice President Al Gore — comes a tidal wave of films with liberal political messages hitting muliplexes near you.

An Embraceable Cultural Form

"People of liberal ideology have finally found a cultural form that they can embrace the way people of conservative ideology have embraced talk radio," says Robert Thompson, a professor of Television and Popular Culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

In addition to The Day After Tomorrow and its vice president bearing a striking resemblance in appearance and tone to Gore successor, Dick Cheney, comes a myriad of others:

The Hunting of the President, a documentary on the Clinton impeachment based on the book by left-leaning journalists Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, was directed and co-written by Clinton friend Harry Thomason.

"I think they did a really good job," Clinton told reporters at the Wednesday night premiere. "They did a good job."

A documentary formerly titled Tour of Duty provides a laudatory look at the Vietnam service of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, filmed by former campaign aide George Butler, perhaps best known for his myth-making documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger: Pumping Iron.

An updated remake of The Manchurian Candidate features Denzel Washington decrying a sinister plan to stage a political coup, saying, "this is rich people funding bad science to put a sleeper in the White House."

Spike Lee's new "joynt," She Hate Me, deals with a corrupt Enron-like company and features an image of President Bush on a three-dollar bill; Bush's Brain, a documentary about Bush adviser Karl Rove, is based on the not-flatteringly biography of the same name.

"Hollywood has its own very peculiar idea of balance this year," joked film critic and conservative talk show host Michael Medved. "Because we're going to have a whole bunch of anti-Bush films but they will be balanced a little bit by a few pro-Kerry films."

Phenomenon Makes Sense

But the phenomenon makes sense in a way, particularly right now.

There are a lot of angry liberals whose voices have been manifesting themselves through various forums — on, the campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, struggling lefty radio network "Air America," and the like. So why not Hollywood, with its famously left-leaning politics?

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