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Political docs are often dry and impersonal. This portrait of
republican strategist Lee Atwater is anything but.
Boogie Man is a compelling story of an intense man driven by power and attention. Like so many in politics, but also on Wall street or in Hollywood, this guy is about winning at all costs. It has great music that keeps you tapping your foot. The film also provides a compellingly smart analysis of media and advertising strategies given by experts in the political world. The film's unexpected story arc that kept me riveted to the screen.
The archival footage of the Bush family is also priceless.
The film is a fascinating look at a man who profoundly changed the
tenor of modern political campaigns.
Stefan Forbes does an excellent job of charting Lee Atwater's political life, and you get enough of the personal to get a sense of the complexities of the man. As you hear stories told by people who are still very active in politics todayEd Rollins, Terry McAuliffe and Tucker Eskew it's easy to make a connection between Atwater's political legacy and current election dramas . . . It's something to see Tucker Eskew speak with such glowing admiration of Lee Atwater knowing that he was recently hired by the McCain campaign!!!
I really enjoyed the filmfound it entertaining and enlightening.
Much of what is worst in American politics is on display in the career of Lee Atwater, a bogeyman for Democrats he put to the sword with underhand tactics both offensive and dishonest. Two interesting things emerge from this documentary: firstly, that far from being an ideologue, Atwater played the game for its own sake, with a ruthless cynicism so naked as to almost be disarming: sometimes it's easy to love an unashamed rogue, even if that rogue does more harm than a conventional hypocrite. Secondly, although Atwater died (of a brain tumour) in the early 1990s, in many ways, George W. Bush is Atwater's legacy; and indeed, Karl Rove was Atwater's protégé. Michael Dukakis, floored by Atwater's dirtiest campaign, is an interesting interviewee here: he comes across as naive in expecting anything better, and maybe that's the saddest aspect of the way that Atwater changed politics. It's probably mistaken to assign too much influence to one man; but it's also possible to fear that the demon of spin will never return to the box.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Man what extreme propaganda. You would think that politics were never
dirty, run by hypocrites and a depressingly corrupt game for elitist,
egocentric and nihilistic animals before the man in question became
involved. I especially loved the quick draw editing to musical accents
in raucous blues tunes and the patronizing manner in which hesitant
support of this man's character is put in here and there just to make
people wonder whether this is a spin-job or an honest diatribe. It is
as much a lode of bull***t as its protagonists tactics.
There is only one moment in this film where you see democrats as total equals in the deceptive joke that is politics in the United States, and if you are not listening closely you will miss it, as the filmmakers bury it under a heaping of leftist propaganda. Oh the poor honest Dukakis was just not corrupt enough to handle these snakes in the open. Oh how disgusting it is to use race as an issue, except when it is for the sake of the filmmaker's agenda.
There is a lot of truth here about human disease but it is told in a manner exactly like the tactics of the man whose corpse it kicks around. And it is entertaining stuff, but it is less illuminating than its makers think it is. The Lee Atwater Story is stone cold preaching to the converted. I have no love for the viciously competitive nature of conservative politics but as a liberal minded individual I have nothing but contempt for the twisted and morally dubious tactics of the liberal machinery.
If you think you can see through this "boogie man" than you are only seeing the obvious. If nothing else the film demonstrates a man who was an open door into the seamy world that is all politics. But the lie is pretending that he represented a strictly conservative agenda. Everyone in this country who has eyes wide enough should be allowed to see that corruption is absolute. Anyone involved in the hierarchy of rule is corrupted before they make their first official vote. If nothing else, this film (I believe unintentionally) exemplifies just how bleak a state of affairs politics have always been, and will always be. Maybe I will go take a shower and a walk and try and let the autumn air sooth me into forgetting this silly reminder of just meaningless all of this really is.
First off, this wasn't an entirely bad movie. I found it to be an
interesting look into Lee Atwater and his life. It also shows his
strong impact upon the Republican Party. Additionally, we get to see
how Atwater's tactics may have helped play a role in Bush, Sr.'s defeat
of Dukakis back in 1988.
However, this movie is yellow journalism at its finest. The director falsely portrays Atwater as a one-dimensional, evil genius (who became evil because of a tragic incident involving the death of his little brother) who was the godfather of dirty mudslinging politics as we know it, and who had nothing redeeming about him. Dirty politics have always been around, and with some comprehensive reading, it becomes obvious that Atwater was not the one who started dirty politics. Also, the film makes it seem like everyone around him was a hapless, stupid puppet who quickly became a servant (or a victim) of the godfather Atwater and his evil empire. Additionally, the only characters who appear human in this video are, of course, Atwater's Democratic and Republican political rivals, while everyone else was just puppeted by Atwater. And surely, Atwater didn't just join the GOP just because he had no competition. He would certainly have to have agreed with at least some of what the GOP was saying, rather than just trying to do nothing except win all the time and be the one who controls the political "horse race".
All in all, while this movie is interesting, it reaches very silly conclusions about Atwater as a person and his role in contemporary politics.
I couldn't sleep one night and this documentary was on CBC Newsworld.
The political career of Lee Atwater and how he helped Ronald Reagan and
George Bush get to the White House is sobering stuff.
Atwater was a master at spin. He would use every dirty trick in the book to make the GOP's opponents in the elections look bad. Unscrupulous, underhanded, ruthless and unrelenting, he would do everything he could to undermine the opposition. He even would attack his own, such as Bob Dole. He would use the power of fear to get people to vote for the Republicans.
Despite all this, he still comes off as a charismatic, very likable, affable and cool guy. His love of blues music and the guitar just make you want to forgive him for his evil ways. He comes off as a true charismatic enigma.
A very interesting look at how the political machine worked in the 1980's and how easy it is to control people with words and images, Boogie Man is definitely worth a watch to see how Atwater manipulated the American people to see things his way.
OK bias declaration time here because this film is, by covering the
material really well, a tad critical of the Republican party, so it
helps if readers know at least where I approached it from. I am
generally liberal but in the case of partisan films I will try and put
that to one side, hence I can agree with Michael Moore's points but yet
also see the massive flaws in many of his films. I say this because I
enjoyed this film a great deal, finding it fascinating and am assuming
that anyone who disliked the film will assume that I have simply toed
the party line whether it was any good or not. I can assure you I have
I came to this film on BBC4 in the UK (where it was called "Dirty Tricks: The Man Who Got the Bushes Elected") because I, like many, have an interest in how American politics operate. Fear seems to play a big part, as does the exaggeration of the importance of patriotism and patriotic symbols and it amazes me how it appears to work to convince people to apparently vote against their own interests because the Republican party is, like the UK conservative party, the party of the wealthy and the party of the rich. OK that is a sweeping generalisation that is not as true as it was (all major parties are the parties of the rich!) but it has some merit. This can be seen in the most recent elections where Obama is attacked as being elitist due to his education, while Bush is painted as a "good ol' boy" despite his massive wealth and Harvard education. Or how such a fuss was made over Obama's flag pin or not having his hand on his heart etc. To be blunt it can be seen how there was a constant suggestion about Obama's religion which backfired wonderfully as McCain found his voters making racist statements ("he's an Arab") like a monster that you have raised that suddenly turns on you.
I wasn't initially interested in this as a subject though because I cynically assumed that things were always like this and didn't think that this approach would have had a founding father or a development. However what this film does that is so fascinating is the way it tells the story of the rise of Lee Atwater as an adviser to the Bush campaign and the tactics that brought him and his party success in the elections in such a clear way that you can see where his actions have led us. This allows the film to engage for those of us who have never heard of Atwell, because his relevance is obvious. To me I found the bigger picture to be much more interest than the man himself and as a result the film is less engaging at the start and end when it focuses on him as more of a man. Where it really is at its best is in the middle section where we are shown the approach of putting fear and patriotism onto the agenda and making them weapons to be used against Dukakis and in particular the racial element and the way that a rapist was essentially made his "running mate". It is here where you can see the damage and the sheer cruelty and deception of his game and it helps that Dukakis presents himself well because we feel much more sympathy for his failed campaign.
Although the title suggests that this is about Lee Atwell himself, it is a much more effective look at the birth of a destructive but effective political approach that the Republican party continue to use and indeed the Democrats themselves have picked up, perhaps having learnt that fighting fire with fire is the only way ahead. The film remains focused on its subject and, while I would have liked another thirty minutes that follows the path that Rove and others continued down, it does still work as an effective look at the subject that allows the viewers to follow that path themselves.
Terry McCauliff introduced this mind blowing film at the Democratic
Convention. The Starz sponsored "Impact Film Festival 08" showed Boogie
Man at both political conventions. That says everything about the
conflicting legacy of Lee Atwater, presented with heart and humor in
The filmmaker Stefan Forbes is brilliant in his storytelling. Where did he find those old clips of Atwater, in a creepy, sweaty trance.....performing funky blues on his electric guitar. Atwater's raw passion and his demons were in the room when he wailed into the mic. Bill Clinton playing saxophone looks darned angelic in comparison.
Forbes' bluesy, gritty music track is so intertwined throughout that is seems to ooze out of Lee Atwater's crazy pores.
When you see this film, you'll know what the Democrats need to do to get Barack and a new Congress elected in November. And beyond. I promise!
American politics at it's most revealing, in "Boogie Man: The Lee
Atwater Story", illuminating the most destructive forces at work in
American politics over the last thirty years.
The media, candidates, personal friends and colleagues reveal a deeply troubled man, seeking power at all costs. Lee Atwater is a real bully in every sense of the word, using his somewhat smarmy southern charm to both make himself look like "every man", as well as, the candidates he represents.
At one point, the conservative political strategist, Mary Matalin defends Atwater as "brilliant" and appears sentimental about her colleague and his unethical approaches to politics. In every clip, quote and historical reference Lee Atwater appears to be the Devil himself. The scariest part of this film, is seeing Rove groomed to be Atwater's successor.
Rove can attribute every one of his devious political strategies to the mastermind evil genius of Lee Atwater. This film portrays the average American as a sentimentalist, carefully "played" at our most basic fears and prejudice.
Watch this film and share it with others, to awaken your consciousness to what is truthful and real in the dirty world of American politics. What you hear in the next campaign slogan, should be considered carefully, as a probable misrepresentation of the truth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not being sarcastic. I really did enjoy this film!
I know this was supposed to be a political hit piece but much like antiwar movies, it makes the supposed subject of scorn seem pretty cool, while the Democrats end up looking like the principal on Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
The truth is that Democrats bow at the alter of political correctness and can't stand people who don't and (especially ones from the north) can barely hold their contempt for Southerners. Lee Atwater was both politically incorrect and a southerner and that drove them all bonkers.
They couldn't take away the fact that the complete waste of humanity, Willie Horton, really was one scary dude that actually committed the crimes for which he was convicted. For some strange reason, liberals cannot handle seeing any black person criticized for any reason, even rape and murder! To this viewer it appears that Atwater and his cronies judged Horton on the content of his character and told it like it is. He was a scary murderer who was let out on a weekend furlough, under a program supported by Dukakis. The accusations of racism look more like sour grapes to me.
I especially liked the end where after his supposed conversion to liberalism and eventual death, that he never read his bible and wasn't really sorry. He did die an SOB after all!
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