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Flicks: The Candidate

Clearly, I’m a product of my time. Post-Iran-Contra, post-Whitewater, post-Bush II, nothing that happened in The Candidate surprised me. In fact, the entire point of the movie was nearly too subtle for me to notice. Redford plays a big ‘L’ Liberal lawyer, defender of the little guy and so on who gets drafted into an election no one thinks he’d win. The focus of the film is how he gradually sacrifices some of his ideals to fit into the sound bites and commercials. He disgusts himself with every step away from who he was and periodically bursts with the outrage that motivated him in the first place. All his angst seems vaguely ridiculous in a time when one has to resort to platitudes and doubletalk before they can get enough signatures to enter an election, much less win it.

At the time it was probably the equivalent of Primary Colors, these days, it’s just a trite reminder of the world we live in. Redford’s character agrees with the critique that advertising for political office should have higher standards that advertising for detergent. They say that a candidate is not just another product to be sold like underarm deodorant. I don’t think anyone has seriously considered that argument in decades.

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