Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Church, State, Pledge, People Fighting. Film at 11.

I got a chance to watch Pledge of Allegiance Blues, a documentary by Lisa Seidenberg concerning Michael Newdow's efforts to take "under god" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Well, that's how it begins. The documentary opens by asserting that there are two kinds of stories --- the kind in which a stranger arrives in town, and the kind in which the protagonist goes on a journey -- and that the documentary will be both. In fact it is both of those things and more things besides.

A blurring of purpose dogs the film, but what emerges is nonetheless an interesting and informative snapshot of some of the lively antagonisms roiling the USA as of 2005 or so, and of some of the people involved:

  • The historical, political and legal questions of "under god" in the pledge.
  • Alan Dershowitz overcomes his crippling camera-shyness and gives an interview in which he uses the F__ word.
  • Speaking of the F__ word, Larry Flynt appears to discuss the usual things he discusses when he's not discussing his porn empire: censorship, the schemings of the religious right, etc.
  • Sandy Rios, arguably the most concerned of the Concerned Women for America, speaks for the theocrats. She's quite a piece of work.
  • There are scenes concerning Judge Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments monument. He's quite a piece of work.
  • Above all, the film profiles Michael Newdow himself: concerned parent, doctor, lawyer, publicity whore (not necessarily a bad thing), singer-songwriter, citizen activist, self-made man, contrarian, possible crackpot.
  • The film offers plenty of 'man on the street' interviews that show just how low the Low Information Voter is capable of going in the USA, especially when it comes to these hot-button cultural divisions.
The film is worth watching for the portrait it paints of a society divided over some very basic questions -- strangers to each other in surprising ways and yet trying to take a shared journey.

1 comment:

Louis said...

One nation under the Constitution.