Portland filmmaker (and U of Oregon grad) Jeff Beard has put together a rather interesting documentary over the political divide in this country called Split: A Divided America. It’s something we see every time we turn on our television and becomes seemingly more pronounced every four years during presidential elections. This year has been particularly bad; well, the past few weeks have anyhow, but not historically bad. Though there have been hints, threats and overtones of violence the anarchy of 1968 hasn’t come close to being replicated.
Red state, blue state, social issues, pro-America pockets of the country, cultural elites, blah blah blah. It gets a bit tiresome after you hear the same things again and again. To the point when you hear the opposite, like Obama saying lets meet in the middle (I think his quote was we won’t agree on [fill in hot button topic issue] but surely we can agree on somethings), it comes off as another sort of political posturing. The point, I guess, is that politics in America have become so entrenched in this sort of divisive ugliness it’s hard to believe they were anything other than what they are today.
It’s hard to believe that policy and issues were ever at the forefront of political discourse. Everyone wants what is best for this country, regardless of party affiliation, but unfortunately there are different ways people want that to happen. That is the bedrock of political discourse, which has become obfuscated by social issues and slanderous innuendo.
What I enjoyed about Jeff Beard’s movie is that the same six questions were asked from all participants, including conversations with former MSNBC anchor Tucker Carlson, civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and political dissident Noam Chomsky. They really go out and see the country for what it is.
“By asking the same questions we could dispel the notion that we had a preconceived political agenda. This isn’t a Michael Moore-type documentary where a filmmaker goes out to find evidence to support his beliefs,” said Jeff Beard. “In many ways this film is a polite rebuke to that type of partisan documentary filmmaking.”
It’s refreshing in a way, and minor quabbles with the movie aside, it does an effective job of opening the dialogue as to how our country got this way. Does an excellent job of not taking a side and provides an excellent perspective of the current political climate.
I still think, it’s not that bad. The political climate, I mean. Or rather the great divide everyone makes a big deal out of. Maybe that’s just me because I have close friends from “the other side.” One of my closest friends is a very religious dude from Georgia and he’s one of the most standup guys I know; though you would think that it’s not possible for him and me to be friends since culturally we’re as far apart as two people could be. But baseball is the great common ground and oftentimes social issues that would divide people never enter into a friendship.
More interesting to me is how these supposed divisions that exist in great swaths of the nation, between the coasts and flyover country, often disappear on a personal one-to-one relationship. How music or baseball or movies or drinking beers or grilling out or whathaveyou always takes precedence over those divisive issues.
Still kudos to Jeff Beard. Movie after the jump courtesy of Hulu.