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May 24 2008

Danny Strong Discusses "Recount" In The New Republic. In a two part discussion in The New Republic, Danny Strong, Jay Roach, and Jonathan Chait revisit the 2000 Florida recount in light of the new HBO film (written by Danny) on the topic, "Recount." There's another interview with the L.A. Times (thanks to Standard Genre Trope for the link).

The main link leads to Jonathan Chait's opening discussion of "Recount." This link goes directly to the responses by "Recount" writer Danny Strong and "Recount" director Jay Roach.

Wow, what a liberal propoganda position this whole article took. Wow, Bush spent millions on the recount while Gore spent not even 10 percent of what Bush spent. So proud. Of course, it leaves out the fact that Bush would not accept any donation over 2 thousand dollars while Gore would accept anything. And the fact that three of the people donating to Gore donated OVER 1 million dollars each, leading to a total of 5 million dollars spent. Lame lame lame. I won't watch that shit movie, even though I have HBO.
Wow, nice work there, Turbofist. Take a minor point of the film and interview (oh, and the actual historical episode) and blow it up into a critique of the whole kit and kaboodle, while missing the central point entirely.

Not to mention that prominent Republicans were consulted by Danny, and James Baker hosted a screening of the film. Facts are stupid things.

Yay for reading comprehension!
With so many former Whedon stars/writers/directors moving up like this... we should be able to play "Six Degrees of Joss Whedon" soon...
Um, boffo, I think Turbofist may have a point...although I don't think he articulated it as well as he could have, and though I'm not sure whether his conclusion to not watch Recount is warranted, the article does skew blatantly left-of-center--indeed, Chait admits his bias right at the top, when he describes himself as "one of the people who never let go of the events [the movie] depicts." In the first few paragraphs alone, the author makes the following (dubious) points:

1) Politics in Washington used to be "establishment" and bipartisan, before modern conservatives started mucking that up. For the record, the Democrats had a huge majority in both houses of Congress for most of the forty years preceding 1994, which might be why things were so much less contentious on the Hill during that period of time. Establishment, yes...bipartisan, not so much.

2) During the recount, the Democrats wanted to play fair and be seen as fair, while the Republicans only wanted to win. I think the selective recounts called for on multiple occasions by Gore--recounts that occurred not statewide, as would be fair, but only in counties where he thought he could find enough votes to win--put paid to that notion. (I also find it ironic that if the statewide recount Bush advocated had ever taken place, he would likely not have been President...while Gore's preferred selective recounts actually damaged his chances of winning.)

3) This one has to be quoted: "After the recount ended, there was intense pressure to look away from what had happened, a pressure that grew after September 11." Well, after September 11, we all had other things on our minds--I'm not sure we were pressured to look away; it was an unavoidable side effect. In any case, I certainly didn't see any evidence of pressure. Half the people I knew who had voted for Gore walked around for four years claiming he had been jobbed by Katherine Harris, the Florida State Legislature, the Florida Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, and so on. And let's not forget the large number of bumper stickers in 2004 reading "Re-Defeat Bush." The fact is, most people just didn't care. That's not pressure, that's apathy.

Chait makes these statements before he really gets down to talking about the movie in any depth, as a sort of background by which we can gauge his reaction. He then describes the movie as "an utterly devastating indictment of Katherine Harris, the Bush recount team, and the Supreme Court--but all the more persuasive because it is presented as a series of wry observations." In case it needs to be said, this is not an effective phrase if you want to convince conservatives that this movie is at all bipartisan. Chait clearly sees this movie as vindication of his beliefs, and trumpets it as such.

Have I sufficiently demonstrated my reading comprehension? Or should I go on? I could, you know.

What I'm unsure of is whether one can make the leap from "This is Chait's interpretation of what the film is" to "This is what the film actually is." It's possible that he went into the movie so blinkered that he missed things conservatives would have appreciated as leavening influences. James Baker's hosting a screening of the film would certainly lean toward that interpretation. But I don't think I would take issue with the description of the article as "liberal propaganda," as Turbofist put it...and I can certainly understand why this article would make anyone on the right suspicious of Recount.

In closing, I'd like to point out that I think you were a bit unfair, boffo. Just because Turbofist only listed one thing in the article that made him irate doesn't mean there weren't more that he didn't care to cite, possibly because he has a life. Thank God I'm anal enough for the job, eh?
Too easy, hbojo. We did that at the Whedonesque flickr site just with Buffy back in 2005. We finally grew tired of the game because we could even link silent film stars with Buffy . With all that Whedon has done since, the game would be way too easy.

Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, all have to agree that what went on in my adopted state in 2000 was corrupted, whether deliberately or by human error or by mechanical error--indeed, by all three. We will never know who actually won the state in terms of the popular vote. And, yes, Gore screwed up in how he handled the recount. There's plenty of blame all around. It was a mess -- or as Kevin Spacey has been saying, a confluence of events and agendas that gave us the results we got. All we will ever know is that George Bush was given Florida's delegates and, by extension, the presidency. Our perspectives on the results over the last 7 1/2 years obviously are going to be colored by our political leanings.

The film is also NOT a documentary. It's in the same genre as All the President's Men -- an entertainment vehicle based upon historical events, but one that takes some dramatic license for the sake of telling a story in two hours. Since it has passed bipartisan test screening for the most part, I think most people understand this.
BAFfler: Now THAT might have made a reasonable critique, and any one of those points would have been sufficient rather than the nit Turbofist picked. (I won't rebut them, because a political debate over the details of 2000 is not why I'm writing.) At the same time, it strikes me as rather silly, too. The article, after all, was printed in a slightly left-of-center and avowedly pro-Democratic political magazine, so what did you and Turbofist expect? (My god, what is it with Cat Fancy and all their pro-feline articles!)

The magazine and the author make no pretense of objectivity. But neither, given his open biases, does the author give one any reason NOT to watch the movie, unless we were to conclude that only a pro-Democratic writer could love it. You seem to acknowledge this. What evidence is there? That's why I pointed out the support of people like James Baker. To make this article the reason not to watch the movie, as Turbofist suggested, seems to me simply to let emotion overwhelm judgment. It's as though both liberals and conservatives could not appreciate the same political movie. You're more open to it than Turbofist, but it still strikes me as an indictment of our (U.S.) politics that there would be so much suspicion of the "other" side as to prompt such a knee-jerk reaction.
boffo: I am not only open to watching Recount, I'm planning on it. Just one more day to go! I believe Danny when he says that he made every effort to be as objective as possible. I was simply trying to point out that I understand perfectly why anyone whose politics could meaningfully be described as "right-of-center" would be suspicious of Recount based on this article.

Perhaps it is an "indictment of our politics," as you suggested, that Turbofist's should be a typical reaction--but then again, perhaps not. In any case, I'm not entirely sure it's an unreasonable one. We tend to judge art, after all, on how it makes us feel--I believe art to be the only field of human endeavor where judging something entirely by your emotional responses is even sometimes alright. Isn't there any genre of movie that you don't go see, or any type of book that you don't buy, solely because you have a good hunch that it will either bore you or piss you off?

Clearly, Turbofist feels that way about Recount...and given the review, it's a justifiable reaction. "If someone with politics I hate thinks this movie is awesome because of its politics," he thinks, "I probably won't like it, so I won't watch it." My personal reaction would be to read a few more reviews to see if there might not be more to the movie...one bad apple in the barrel, and all that. But I can certainly understand the urge not to watch, even based on one review. There have been movies I've judged that way. Life is too short, and entertainment options too vast, to spend too much time on stuff that has a good chance to grind your gears.

(And by the way, I'm not sure where you're going with your points about the New Republic. It sounds a bit like you're saying, "Well, consider the source...of COURSE it'll be partisan!" That argument doesn't hold water with me. There are different ways of being partisan, some of which I consider acceptable and some of which I don't. For example, both The Weekly Standard and Rush Limbaugh's radio show can be described as right-wing publications. However, the first is serious journalism that at least tries to treat both sides of an issue fairly, even though they unabashedly champion one of the sides. The second is partisan hackery of the type Chait is perpetrating here.)
Regardless of politics, I think it's in poor taste (and too easy) to just call someone's movie "shit" without further analysis. Pretty disrespectful in a community supportive of Whedon cast and crew.

[ edited by fortunateizzi on 2008-05-24 21:04 ]
The really amazing thing about the whole situation to me is how little most people apparantly cared, and still care, about the fact that the person who was most likely not elected became president. I suspect that if Kerry's folks had acted like they cared enough, it might have been a different story.

I have not seen the film, because the whole thing still makes me so mad, I don't want to think about it any more. I certainly hope that whichever democratic candidate runs this time truly thinks the issues are important enough to fight for. More important than, say, seeming like the most polite, good sport around .
8 years of Bush=Bad War, Bad Economy... His fault.
The 2000 election... started it all.
It started badly and it's ended badly.

So the details of just how we got screwed.....well.. I'm game.

And Danny Strong, well, much nerd love.
And I'm glad he didn't watch hours of Aaron Sorkin.
Love the West Wing but you can tell it's an Aaron Sorkin joint the minute the walk and talk start.
Does anybody want to talk about the movie as a movie? I can't see it 'til tomorrow night, but there's been so much stuff in the press and the HBO promos. I can't imagine, along with Danny Strong, that it could be other than comedic, but I think the decision to keep the candidates mostly off-screen is interesting. Certainly not the traditional choice. No kings in the king-making dramedy. If this can make me feel sympathetic toward party apparachniks, for whom I have not felt that while working for them as a volunteer - that's interesting, and a feat. And I think it might.
Well, I won't see it right away either, since I don't have HBO, but I'm interested in Danny's whole use of comedic touch to heighten the drama approach that gets talked about. I'm wondering if the humor will be Whedonesque, er Whedonish, since the kind of thing he's talking about is Whedon's stock in trade, and wondering if having worked on Buffy had an influence on Danny's writing style.

I'd love to hear Joss' take on the film.
There's a lot of Recount stuff getting posted to the front page so posters will find new interviews/reviews getting merged with existing entries.
Wow, a drunken tirade by me actually made some kind of a splash. Go me! Yes, there was a definate lack of articulation in my post, but as I said, I was drunk and that article pissed off my drunken mind. Did I pay attention to the "source"? Hell no. I don't care where it's coming from, I just think reviewers need to leave politics at the door and write objectively. Of course, I think Ann Coulter is a goddess of writing, so who am I to judge? But oddly enough, I also consider Aaron Sorkin a god of writing. I'm one twisted up fuck aren't I? I don't feel I need to really say anything else on the matter, what's done is done in terms of that whole fiaso and Baffler has said anything I'd want to say on it. So I say we move on and forget about it.
Turbofist911, all politics aside, I agree with the sentiment that to call a movie that you have not seen a "shit movie" is out of line. You are not drunk now, but you don't seem to want to address that. Therefore I assume you stand by rushing to judgment about a movie you have never seen and calling it dismissive names based on what a reviewer has said. I am hoping the joy at being an annoying drunk is pretense and meant to be humorous.
Turbofist911, in the future it may be an idea not to post on this site when drunk and pissed off. Take that as a friendly suggestion. Case closed.

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