“It’s not that she doesn’t know the right answer, it’s that she clearly doesn’t understand the question.” – Game Change, 2012
HBO’s Game Change premiered in the UK on Sky Atlantic this weekend after a successful debut in the United States.
The two hour film, which received 2.1m viewers on HBO not including repeats, and was adapted from Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, which I reviewed here a few months ago.
Although the book covered all sides of the election, the film focused on Sarah Palin’s journey as John McCain’s running mate in his unsuccessful bid to become commander in chief in 2008. Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Palin encouraged an empathetic response from viewers, while at the same time revealing the potential dangers of a McCain/Palin White House. Palin is portrayed as sometimes imbalanced and irrational as she operates within a hostile environment that she is continually unprepared to face.
The kaleidoscopic events of the 2008 election cast a harsh light on Palin’s own abilities, but highlights her devotion to her home state of Alaska, despite the importance of national news coverage and the campaign’s urgent need to have her brush up on foreign policy and national security. Palin is often perceived as unwilling, troubled and difficult to work with and McCain’s campaign team are also seen to have plucked Palin from a cluster of potential female running mates, deciding on Palin as a counter attack to Barack Obama’s celebrity power and charisma without securing her abilities to be a political asset.
The Palin SarahPAC camp were quick to establish a campaign to attack and mock the film, and accusations of false narratives were thrown its way. Palin’s people were eager to diffuse the hype surrounding the film. However, when one Nicolle Wallace, a former Palin adviser portrayed in the film, has said that the film was ‘true enough to make me squirm’, it is left to the viewer to decide, is this a 2012 example of Palin’s delusion of her own abilities? Or is it a harsh attack on a woman thrown in at the deep end? The one truth we can’t avoid is our own reflection, and in Sarah Palin’s case, her reflection is a HBO original movie. If by the time the next election race rolls around there’s a Mitt Romney movie, I’m sure I can find a dog that would be perfect for the role of Seamus.