Disinformation Company // 2008 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // September 19th, 2008
Is the "Straight Talk Express" about to get derailed?
Is Arizona senator and presidential candidate John McCain a maverick, a champion of conservativism, and a war hero? Or is he a lifelong politician with a mass of corruption, mistruths, and bad legislation in his past? As the race for the number one job in the world tightens, an examination of McCain's record and life may reveal more than the official campaign story is telling.
John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Arizona and presidential nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential election.
Judge Ian Visser (born January 26, 1974) is a Canadian citizen ineligible to vote in the 2008 presidential election.
Remember the good old days of American politics, back before the turn of the century? Back then if you had an issue with a candidate you just wrote a poorly-worded newsletter, posted an ad in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine (or its left wing equivalent) and let people include a SASE in order to get your badly photocopied screed. Maybe if you worked for a campaign you could leak a sleazy story to a reporter and your opponent would be confronted with charges of having illegitimate children or failing to pay their Third World-originating nanny fair wages. It took some effort, but it all had a quiet kind of dignity to it.
Nowadays when an election rolls around, all you have to do is fire up your digital video camera, buy some editing software, and produce your own direct-to-DVD feature. It's cheap, it's easy, and it has been happening a lot in the past few years. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, chances are there is a one-sided hit piece out there made for your enjoyment. Even better, the proliferation of 24-hour news channels, C-SPAN, and YouTube means that there is no shortage of footage available for use. The work is practically done for you!
The Real McCain is one of these hit pieces that are becoming increasingly common as politics meets modern technology. Cheap and easy to make, such efforts can now find their ways into your DVD player only weeks after being constructed. These films may call themselves documentaries but make no mistake: their biases are front and centre, and the opinion of the filmmakers is already firm in hand. They use past transgressions, compromising video clips, and awkward exchanges to prove that the candidate in question is a liar, a crook, or worse.
A collection of ten "shorts," each segment of The Real McCain takes aim at a policy or issue that the filmmaker's claim McCain is on the wrong side of. Tackling such topics as the environment, the new G.I. bill, energy policy, and women's rights, the film cobbles together interviews, clips, and speeches by McCain in an attempt to portray him as a tool of big business and a war-monger bent on invading our enemies, whether perceived or real. Interviews with members of MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, veterans, and journalists further explain the opposition to McCain and his policies. There are also a number of skits featured, usually taking a sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek approach. For example, a woman visiting a John McCain family planning clinic gets only one piece of information about pre-marital sex: don't do it.
The segments run the gamut from cutting to stupid. "John McCain vs. John McCain" does a good job of making the senator look like a flip-flopper, featuring clips and quotations that often show him making opposing statements on issues, often within a few minutes of each other. "John McCain Sings 'Bomb Iran'" however, is a waste of time, unless you consider putting a single quotation taken off the cuff to a Beach Boys song an insightful look into politician's policies. Others, like a recounting by MoveOn.org staffers on how they managed to get McCain to reject his spiritual mentor, smack of conceit so heavily that it's almost hard to hear what is being said over the mutual back-patting.
Ultimately, The Real McCain is not a documentary; it is a one-sided attack designed to make the candidate look as bad as possible. If you hate "whining" liberals and love John McCain, there is no doubt this release will get your blood boiling. But for those voters unsure of how to feel about the Arizona senator, there is very little here that is of value. Aside from the "John McCain vs. John McCain" effort to make him look like a flip-flopper, the film is short on facts and long on opinion. The Real McCain ultimately comes off less like an investigation and more like an attempt to throw you-know-what at the wall and hope that most of it sticks.
The Real McCain is far from a professional-looking effort. Several of the clips appear to have been created for online posting first and then ported to this collection. These feature a watermarked website address that is distracting to see throughout the clips and some of the segments end by boasting of their view numbers on YouTube. The video quality varies considerably throughout the release; recent interviews are shot in digital video and are well-lit, while clips sourced from the current campaign and earlier events are understandably mixed in quality.
The only extra is a voting/action guide included in the sleeve of the DVD which essentially tells you to vote for Barack Obama.
I don't object to tough, hard-hitting exposés of politicians, whatever their position or policies. Nobody likes to think that an elected official is ripping people off or betraying the voters, after all. The Real McCain, however, does little to suggest that McCain is guilty of anything but being a shrewd politician who knows how to follow whichever way the wind if blowing. Maybe with more research and a clearer focus the film could have delivered more compelling evidence against the man, rather than coming across as a series of snarky finger-pointing.
Review content copyright © 2008 Ian Visser; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Disinformation Company
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Voting/action guide
* Official Site