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Hollywood Politics

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 12, 2004 3:46PM

Unlike chocolate and peanut butter, politics and art are rarely two great tastes that taste great together. Witness Robert Mapplethorpe’s troubles with the NEA, the painting of former Chicago mayor Harold Washington in women’s underwear and this Image: Allposters.comweekend’s Team America: World Police which is at the top of Chicagoist’s must-see list this weekend. Social commentary with puppets from the makers of South Park? Yes! And yet this only proves the above thesis as none other than Sean Penn has written (Penn-ed?) an angry letter to the movie’s directors due to comments they made in a recent issue of Rolling Stone and (presumably) the untimely end of his puppet likeness in the film. When will people learn? You do NOT want to piss off Spicoli.

Yes, politics and art often resembles a box full of wet, angry cats though the unholy union of the two can inform and educate. In that spirit, Facets Multimedia is offering FREE two-day rentals of some political documentaries between now and Election Day: Fahrenheit 9/11, George W. Bush: Faith In The White House, DC 9/11: Time of Crisis and Brothers In Arms. The catch is that you will have to declare yourself an undecided voter when you rent. All of these films have a distinctly partisan bent so watching any of them to become better informed about the issues is a little like watching an Oscar Meyer commercial to learn the truth about how hot dogs are made.

For a further exploration of the fine line between politics and movies, check our Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s book Movies As Politics or this list of politically-themed films.