City Paper contributors and movie-going pals Jack Hunter and Kevin Young saw The Undefeated, the documentary about Sarah Palin, last week, and offered us their takes on the film. Hunter, as you know, is the Southern Avenger, helming our conservative column. Young, on the other hand, is more into horror films and less into Ron Paul, leaving them with different perspectives.
Kevin Young’s take:
Sitting in the theater watching The Undefeated, it became apparent that my mission — to judge the Sarah Palin documentary as a regular moviegoer and not as a pinko-commie-leftist with an ax to grind — was gonna be a little harder than I thought. To attempt this meant I had to approach the film as if the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate was someone I hadn’t heard of.
Let me begin by stating this: Stephen Bannon’s documentary clearly doesn’t deserve the 0-percent rating it received on Rotten Tomatoes. It was much better than the lifeless Cowboys vs. Aliens.
Truthfully, I learned a lot from watching the film. From its hyper-kinetic visuals of celebrities bashing Palin’s existence, I could only assume she was a vile villainess with very little brains. It’s then we are treated to a 30-minute travelogue (thanks to some Errol Morris-inspired slow motion re-enactments and home movie footage) devoted to Alaska, its politics, and some of the folks who would shape the Tea Party sweetheart’s political future.
Even though Palin mentions her past accomplishments and bravery with grace and humility, the constant barrage of triumphant music and title cards like “Rawhide Tough” and “The Natural” remind us of her amazing spirit. I was thankful that such luminaries as Andrew Breitbart , Mark Levin, and Tammy Bruce were on hand to remind us of Palin’s accomplishments. It’s here that we learn what makes her different from the average politician is that she is a real person with two arms, two legs, a head, and a fully functioning circulatory system. Aside from the negative words of the hateful lamestream left, Palin is a kind woman of perfect character. It is Levin, dressed resplendently in wardrobe reminiscent of an off-duty Denny’s manager, who shines with his fair and even portrayal of her. He reminds us that she, unlike other candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign, faced vitriolic personal attacks because of her political beliefs.
According to Levin, Sarah Palin is just like Ronald Reagan, and it’s true. They are very much alike. They’re both Republicans. Before Palin, people never angrily questioned their government. And like Jesus before her, Sarah braved insulting scrutiny from corrupt liberals until she ultimately sacrificed herself by leaving the one thing that she loved so dearly, her governorship, to help save Alaska. As the film’s epic grandeur transitioned into the closing credits, it became glaringly apparent that the film’s unfair reviews had focused on politics rather than filmmaking. Not since Hobo With a Shotgun have I been left so stunned by a film’s midnight-movie-drinking-game potential. I honestly want to see The Undefeated again. It’s much better than Cowboys vs. Aliens.
And Jack’s take:
In her new movie The Undefeated, viewers are first taught Sarah Palin’s successful record as Alaska’s governor, taking on the state GOP establishment, confronting corruption, reforming government, improving the state economy — all of which gave her one of the highest political favorability rates in America at the time, above 80 percent. I was generally aware of Palin’s record, but the first hour of The Undefeated is dedicated to reminding viewers in detail (perhaps too much detail) about Palin’s admirable gubernatorial tenure.
Yet I was most anxious to see the story behind Palin’s vice presidential bid, her relationship with John McCain and any behind-the-scenes mechanics. This portion of the film was much shorter, featuring mostly glowing praise from various conservative pundits who told us in various ways what we already knew: that the Right loves Palin.
But what does the Right specifically love about her? The conservative pundits featured in the film emphasized that Palin resonated with them, “spoke” to them, connected with them. But how? Why? What policy proposals did they admire? What specifically about Palin’s philosophy did conservatives find most applicable to our current politics? The answers remained vague.
When Katie Couric famously asked candidate Palin what she liked to read during the 2008 election, we can only assume the CBS News anchor was looking for a New York Times or perhaps USA Today sort of answer. In The Undefeated, we get a sense of why no ready answer came as we see Palin, the exceptional governor, who was thrust into the national spotlight at the height of her state political career. The issues one deals with in the unique state of Alaska — and she dealt with them effectively — are not necessarily on par with the questions that must be answered by anyone seeking a national executive role in the United States. Does the governor of Montana or Idaho necessarily read the New York Times or USA Today? Do they need to?
More importantly, what truly qualifies someone to be president or vice president of the United States? What disqualifies them? Prejudices and perceptions aside, The Undefeated leaves one with the impression that Palin is just as qualified to be president as the current one, flaws and all.
I’ve never adored Sarah Palin and I’ve never abhorred Sarah Palin, but I’ve always been amused by those who do. This brings us to one of the most interesting parts of The Undefeated: the opening segment. This crude, somewhat paranoid, and downright cruel barrage of liberal criticism of Palin should be enough to make anyone, Left or Right, cringe. If the Left thinks Palin supporters are absurd, liberals should observe their silly selves when in full Palin-hatred mode — which is what The Undefeated allows us to do. Why the Left logically hates Palin becomes no clearer from this collage of liberal venom, just as why the Right loves Palin is made clear by the conservatives featured in the movie.
Perhaps celebrity, and even political celebrity, requires a certain degree of vagueness. Sarah Palin has become an emotional flashpoint for conservative desires and liberal derision. The Undefeated is about what it’s like to be that flashpoint.