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Money and Politics Bulworth. Politics in Film Braunwarth. Campaigns. "Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other" - Oscar Ameringer. Money and Politics.

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Money and Politics Bulworth

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money and politics bulworth

Money and PoliticsBulworth

Politics in Film


  • "Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other" - Oscar Ameringer
money and politics
Money and Politics
  • Contemporary mass-mediated political campaigns are very expensive and money is very important to candidates
  • It is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for electoral success
  • Money is also very important to interest groups as a way of signaling their preferences and influencing the political process
  • Money has essentially become a form of speech, politicians use it to get out their message, interest groups and individuals use it to express their preferences
what s the matter with money
What’s the Matter with Money?
  • Politicians are never bribed outright like in this movie
  • However there is a strong correlation between donations and political action
  • Money can buy access and well orchestrated lobbying and donation efforts can skew public policy toward those with money
  • Not everybody has equal opportunity to use this form of political participation
  • Inequalities in wealth translate into political inequalities
  • Politicians must spend up to half of their time raising money for re-election
  • Note how these are shown in Bulworth
efforts to limit the influence of money
Efforts to Limit the Influence of Money
  • Money is insidious and it has been very difficult to stem its flow into politics
  • When one avenue is blocked, it flows in other areas
  • For instance, when hard money donations to candidates was limited, donators gave soft money to parties
  • When this was limited, donators began producing their own issue ads
  • When donations from corporations and unions were disallowed, they formed PACs
ideological shift
Ideological Shift
  • Note the pictures on the wall at the beginning of the film
  • Warren Beatty with Civil Rights and other prominent liberals (MLK, Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, Bobby Kennedy, Angela Davis, etc.)
  • What is the message of Bulworth’s new campaign ads?
  • Trying to paint himself as a conservative to ride the popular tide of conservatism (reminiscent of Bob Roberts and Bill Clinton)
  • He’s a fraud who’s sold his principles and progressive policies to the highest bidder
  • Because he’s “tired of the bullshit” he decides to commit suicide and becomes liberated
  • Much like Network
other issues raised in bulworth
Other Issues Raised in Bulworth
  • Note the contrast with his support for “family values” and his own familial relations
  • Pay attention to the TV images in the background
  • Note how he chides Hollywood for their dumb, violent, and dirty films designed for maximum profitability
  • Free Media Time for Political Campaigns
  • Single-Payer (socialized) health care
  • Excellent analysis of the problems facing the African-American community and the lack of contemporary leaders (transcript)
  • Note the emphasis on scandal throughout the film
  • What do they mean by “you have to be a spirit but not a ghost”?
the media
The Media
  • How does the news cover the new Bulworth campaign?
  • Emphasis on the strategy and the image, not on the substance of what he is saying
  • Are the media prepared to cover a substantive campaign?
  • Would a message like Bulworth’s appeal to the public?
  • Why don’t candidates offer a more substantive message?
  • Don’t want to offend key constituencies
warren beatty
Warren Beatty
  • Warren Beatty directed and co-wrote Bulworth
  • He has always been active in Democratic politics
  • Interestingly, he has recently been making a number of public political appearances
  • Perhaps a run for Governor or Senator is in his future
  • How similar will the message of his campaign be to that of Bulworth’s?
the contender
The Contender
  • What message does this film make regarding the appropriateness of personal character attacks in politics?  
  • Do you agree? 
  • Can you think of any contemporary examples of this practice?
  • Is this film making any message about gender equality? 
  • If so, what is it?
the congressional address
The Congressional Address
  • The section on the Congressional address is a bit unrealistic
  • What if you were a conservative member of Congress
  • Oldman and his friends have abused their positions – OK, they may be traitors, OK
  • But he says the only reason they did it was because she was a woman?
  • What about her liberal politics?