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In the early 2000s, a Bolivian politician tried to return to power and the presidency. Not content to do things the Bolivian way, he hired some American strategists, Jeremy Posner and the legendary James Carville. What followed was a campaign that was orchestrated to win, regardless of the methods necessary.
It's hard to say what the message of "Our Brand Is Crisis" is. My friend Chelsea, whom lent it to me, sees it as a critique of American culture and values pervading other countries. And she is, of course, right. I am not sure how Bolivian elections were run before, but here they were fine-tuned to the point of a science, where the formula wasn't necessarily genuine.
Opponents were smeared in television ads, where a man's military background was exploited to make him look less trustworthy. Demographics were sorted out, and focus groups were asked very specific questions, and results were tabulated before each television ad to change the message and look. Failures (such as low job creation) were turned into promises. This was American-style politics, where style trumps substance, and promises don't mean any guarantee.
And, of course, while the focus was on Bolivia (and the aftermath that lead to a complete collapse of order), the same critiques can be made of America. We have calls for "hope" and "change" and try to portray politicians as someone we would want to have a beer with. Politics in general is a farce, with real ideas being ignored for less important issues. But nowhere do we see this more than during campaigns, where a military record could create or destroy a candidate, not to mention their sexual history. And, of course, neither military service or sex will determine how they vote in most cases.
I found this film to be very powerful, and for the most part unbiased. I think it had a general left lean to it, but there was little commentary. We were given Posner and Carville unfiltered, so we can interpret them as we see fit. I found some of their words insightful and inspiring, but mostly was saddened that Americans could come to Bolivia and change everything in a place they knew little about (though, in Posner's defense, he seemed to have a general knowledge).
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