If there ever was a great commentary on our apathy as a nation, it's the movie Swing Vote. I just watched and I have to say that I was impressed with the message.
On the surface, it's played as a comedy where a total loser somehow ends up deciding the next president. There's a bit of song and dance - played for laughs - where each candidate immediately takes a position in support of whatever he says (whether or not he even understands the issue). Then he decides and the movie ends.
From that perspective, it was a terrible movie. I never laughed, his lifestyle made me really pity his daughter, and he had no redeeming qualities until the very end. They don't even tell you who he voted for.
However, it was the end that put it all into perspective. The undertone of the whole movie is the media circus that is a presidential election and how the candidates bend over backwards to appeal to people who just don't care.
In the beginning of the movie, the main character's daughter gives a report that spells out the cycle of liberty. It goes (if I remember correctly): bondage -> liberty -> prosperity -> complacency -> apathy -> bondage. The question I have (and that the movie hints at) is: are we at complacency or apathy? How many people and/or candidates actually think about what's best for their country, state, county, city, etc. when they vote and/or campaign? Do they even understand the issues they're taking a stand on? I always accuse the rank and file of America as voting for selfish reasons but I hadn't really thought about how many candidates are running for selfish reasons. The candidates say they want to make the country a better place but are they so focused on a few specific issues that they somehow think that those issues are all that matters? Probably. After all, nobody gets elected any more by putting their country first - it's just not popular enough.
The movie brought out these points and a couple of others. Some of these are as follows:
- The main character slowly realizes that his vote really does count for something and that the issues actually have real effects on real people.
- The candidates slowly realize that they are prostituting themselves to one man - just to get elected. The Republican who goes green and endorses gay marriage. The Democrat who goes pro-life and anti-immigration. Both end up being disgusted with themselves.
- The media who are more obsesses with sensationalizing than actual reporting.
At the end, our "hero" becomes the voter we all should be. He knows who he's voting for and he knows why. That's the point of the movie.
It's not necessarily a good movie but it make a great statement.