Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Film Review: Roseanne For President

"Roseanne For President"
*** (out of ****)

As we are in the midst of a president election year, in which one of the two major political parties has nominated a candidate considered a reality television star, here is a documentary about another celebrity's bid for the presidency.

"Roseanne For President" (2016) follows the famous comedienne Roseanne Barr as she seeks the nomination of the Green Party as their 2012 nominee.

As the revealing documentary begins we hear Ms. Barr give a campaign speech. There are two lines she says which are so striking given the campaign cycle of this election. Ms. Barr declares "I'm not running as a publicity stunt" and " to chose the lesser of two evils is no choice at all". What makes these statements standout is the Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, began a political campaign widely viewed by the media, and perhaps some in the public, as a publicity stunt. A campaign that was only about him and his ego. The second statement reflects the public, the country's mood about the two major party candidates; Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump. The majority of voters say they do not like either candidate. Ms. Barr's statement would surely resonate with the public today.

Which leads one to wonder, why was "Roseanne For President" released at this point in time, during a presidential election? Why not release it after the 2012 election? Is the populist appeal for this documentary meant to resonate with voters today? Is "Roseanne For President" meant to give attention to third party candidacies? Perhaps it will shine a light on the Green Party.

It may come as a spoiler to those that don't pay attention to politics but, Ms. Barr did not receive the Green Party's nomination, Dr. Jill Stein did. While the fight for the nomination was seen as nothing more than a novelty in the eyes of the media, for Ms. Barr it was a serious fight. She says repeatedly during the documentary that she cares about the working class people. She also goes on about her celebrity and the success for her show and how with her as the Green Party nominee she was help the party expand, due to her name recognition. As it becomes apparent Dr. Stein will win (she is also this year's Green Party nominee, who hopes the disenfranchised Bernie Sanders voters will join her campaign) Ms. Barr is shocked. How could a woman no one has even heard of (Dr. Stein) be beating Ms. Barr, a famous person!

You may be skeptical but "Roseanne For President" is actually a clever, insightful and humorous look at American politics and our political system. This documentary seems to have foreshadowed where we are today. Though Ms. Barr does not share the views of Mr. Trump, what does it say about Ms. Barr that she felt just because she is a celebrity she deserved the nomination. Does that not sound like Donald Trump? Ms. Barr feels she was the victim of a rigged system. A system filled with out of touch delegates. Ms. Barr even goes as far as saying she will not vote for Dr. Stein.

Who knew Green Party politics could be so nasty!

"Roseanne For President" is also a look into the life of Ms. Barr, showing clips of her early stand-up comic years and clips of her television sitcom. In fact the documentary suggest Ms. Barr's sitcom was ahead of its time. dealing with the working class, race relations and homosexuality, at a time when television shows and network executives considered it risky material. These may account for some of the best moments in the documentary.

The documentary juxtaposes clips from Roseanne's television show with her campaign. In one scene we see all the awards she has won as she is home, making her bed. The message. Ms. Barr is a regular gal, like you and me. And that becomes the ultimate message of the movie. People feel left behind in our political system. There are issues people care about that are not being addressed by our establishment politicians. It is everyday citizens that should run for office. We are the ones that know what is it like to make a living surviving paycheck to paycheck.

How serious was Ms. Barr's candidacy? Who knows. She didn't seem to have much of a platform. But we do learn something about Ms. Barr and politics watching "Roseanne For President" and for that it is worth seeing