'Game Change' Review: HBO's In-Kind Contribution to Barack Obama

The only surprise that came with my screening of “Game Change” was in the realization that HBO chose to remake the sci-fi/horror film “The Hidden.” For those of you who haven’t seen this 1987 cult classic, it’s about a dangerous alien who comes to Earth determined to become president of the United States. The alien is crass (it loves red sports cars), unsophisticated (it loves heavy metal) and it speaks in single, bewildered syllables because it doesn’t understand the world around it. But while the alien might not be educated, its ruthless survival instincts manage to get it within grasp of its insidious goal, thanks to a senator seeking the presidency.

There is one difference between the two films. “Game Change” ends a little sooner — at that bone-chilling moment when the audience is made aware of the terrible fact that the terrible alien (Governor Palin) has successfully put itself within reach of the presidency.

Fade to black.


Vote for Barack Obama.

“The Hidden,” however, ends with our hero rushing in to save the world … with a flamethrower. The alien is engulfed in fire, falls to the ground, exposes its true, ugly self and explodes into a million slimy pieces. And I think it’s pretty obvious that HBO, producer Tom Hanks, director Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong, see themselves as this hero, and their flamethrower is a little something called “Game Change.”

To understand just what a heinous piece of propaganda HBO has produced on behalf of President Obama, we have to go back in time to paint a complete contextual picture. HBO announced “Game Change” in early March of last year. This was after a difficult year for the president, when his approval ratings were in worse shape than they are now. This was also a time when many believed, including myself, that Governor Palin would enter the 2012 race to challenge Obama.

In other words, it’s just a fact that when HBO decided to pull the trigger, the possibility was very real that Palin could become president of the United States. So what did HBO choose to do as a response? Here are the facts:

1. HBO chose to adapt into a feature film the 10 percent of a 350-plus page book that focused on a vice presidential candidate.

2. HBO chose not to adapt into a feature film that portion of the book focusing on what might have given us some insight into the man currently residing in the Oval Office. 

3. HBO chose a book written by two men who were not on the campaign trail with Governor Palin, who made a conscious choice of their own to tell only the side of the story coming from those who refused to go on the record. Those willing to go on the record, those willing to stake their reputations on their side of the story, were all but ignored by these authors.

4. HBO chose to give left-wing partisans, who openly support Obama, millions of dollars to bring their vision of his likely challenger to life.

5. HBO chose as a release date (their absurdly dishonest protests aside) the Saturday after Super Tuesday. Think about this: If it’s March of 2011, and you’re remaking “The Hidden,” and you’re thinking ahead to the most likely day the alien might be one step away from obtaining power, what better day to rush in with your flamethrower than the Saturday after Super Tuesday?

The five points I’ve listed above are not opinions; they are facts. They are conscious choices made during the political reality of the time by multi-millionaires like Hanks, Roach and Strong backed by one of the most powerful multi-national corporations on the planet. If there was any justice in the world, HBO would now have to register as a super PAC, and the corrupt mainstream media would treat it with the same contempt and foreboding it does any super PAC backing Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.

This might not sound like a standard movie review, but the best reviews don’t break down the plot; they give you insight into what the movie is trying to say and why it’s trying to saying it. HBO’s “Game Change” is a firewall that cost millions of dollars and that was built just in case.

My admiration for Governor Palin is no secret, but I don’t know her. Other than a quick handshake at a campaign event, I’ve never even met her. But she’s one of the most public and publicly vetted figures of our time, and there is nothing about Julianne Moore’s portrayal any fair broker will recognize.

Pardon my mixing of movie metaphors, but Moore portrays Palin as a Manchurian Candidate for the extreme right who is activated by a phone call from the McCain campaign. Like a hypnotized spy, she’s humorless, incapable of any kind of emotional connection with anyone, bewildered by circumstance and absolutely determined to meet the goal she’s been programmed to complete. She’s cold, snippy, power-hungry and cruel. Yes, she’s dangerously ignorant of the simplest ways by which the world works, but it’s her calculating political instincts (and we rubes who fall for her beauty, simplicity and venomous hate for Obama) that see her through to triumph.

HBO informs us that Palin speaks in tongues. Moreover, we’re asked to believe that a self-made governor — an honor student who put herself through college, is “flipping” fascinated to discover Germany was our enemy during the world wars. We’re told that the very same woman who gave this interview in 2008 had no idea in 2008 that England has a prime minister. We’re instructed that the engaged governor, who wrote these emails and who sent her son to war and who understands the complexities of harvesting and trading energy like few others, is shocked to learn Saddam Hussein wasn’t behind 9/11, needs a flashcard to memorize what NAFTA is and has never heard of the Federal Reserve.

Did you know that the very same person with extraordinary poise and aplomb, weathering unprecedented media attacks intentionally designed to distort her record and who she is as a human being, breaks and melts down into a fetal position while under pressure? Did you know that the very same person who has never lost her smile or grace, even as her family, including her Down Syndrome son, has been publicly attacked and freak-showed in the cruelest ways imaginable, is a petty, charmless, phone-throwing shrew who demands the firing of others for her own mistakes?

And did you know that the same woman who has been unfailingly loyal to Sen. McCain so scared him with her ruthless ambition that he told a Steve Schmidt begging him to get her under control, “That’s not gonna do it, Steve. She might start turning on me.”

There’s no doubt HBO and its many enablers in the entertainment media will contest this point based on the few short moments we’re allowed to see the Governor with her family and with parents of Down Syndrome children. But even during these scenes, Moore’s one-note performance only shifts into a lower gear. Her hypnotic, unnerving lack of a core is always right below the surface. No matter what the situation, there’s always a dark, calculating vacancy somewhere in this alien’s eyes. And the reasons for this are obvious. HBO and Moore found it imperative to deconstruct Palin’s strengths – her warmth, charisma and extraordinary ability to connect with everyday Americans.

Another way HBO does that is to turn the flamethrower on us – on  you, me and anyone who dares support this alien. You see, we must also be exposed by fire, and that fire reveals us as so full of rage and ignorance that we can be manipulated by this alien – manipulated into screaming “Kill him!” at the sound of Obama’s name.

HBO’s message is simple: you’re either with the cool, smart, classy, sophisticated kids who stand against Palin, or you’re with The Mob, the rubes, the snake handlers, the shit-kickers.

Now that I’ve actually had a chance to screen HBO’s “Game Change,” I can tell you without any hesitation that if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the movie. The film is nothing more than an extended version of those 107 seconds where, for around two hours, Governor Palin is maliciously turned into one thing — that which she is not. 

Essentially, what HBO and company have done is to bring to life that which justifies the darkest part of their own incapacity to see the humanity in those who might threaten the reelection of Barack Obama.