Political Animals

aristotle-262x232Man is by nature a political animal. Aristotle

Some pundits have posited that the debacle in the Senate has been manufactured to divert the public’s attention from controversies that seem to have vanished from centre stage such as Idle No More, the F35 brouhaha and robocalls during the last election. With parliament recessing for the summer, political junkies can find their fix in fictionalized portrayals of the underbelly of government. Here are a few thinly veiled treats to keep you going until the auditor’s report and RCMP investigations are released.

housebbc   The 1990 BBC political thriller House of Cards DVD series follows the Machiavellian scheming of the Conservative Chief Party Whip and his amoral ambitions to become Prime Minister of Great Britain. Drawn from Macbeth and Richard lll and starring the magnificent Ian Richardson, the series examines age old Shakespearian themes of power, ambition and corruption.

hous spacey   A recent American remake of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey is set in contemporary Washington and follows the path of a Democrat and Chief Party Whip who is passed over for appointment to Secretary of State and sets out  to exact his revenge.

bestlaidplans   Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis, a former Ottawa insider, exposes the backroom shenanigans of federal politics. Fallis served under several cabinet ministers and his political satire won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. The plot revolves around an attempt to run a desperate campaign using any candidate with a pulse.

The_Campaign_2012   In the same vein, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star in The Campaign which pokes fun at the nastiness of elections but in a non-partisan way – “may the best loser win.” While not a sophisticated film, it does skewer the vulgar depths to which campaign tactics stoop .

l_game-change-tv-2012-julianne-moore-woody-harrelson-8621 Julianne Moore is a dead ringer for Alaskan governor Sarah Palin in the political drama Game Change, a convincing account of the 2008 campaign trail of John McCain and running mate Palin. Moore provides a sympathetic albeit unflattering portrayal of Palin in this docudrama based on Game Change, a gripping account of the historic presidential election by John Heilemann.

1984  With the United States purportedly building a data bank to store every e-communication of its citizens for the next 100 years, it gives new meaning to the campaign slogan “ Yes we can” and revives the Orwellian warning “Big Brother is watching”. In the dystopian novel 1984, individuals are monitored through ubiquitous television screens overseen by a leader named Big Brother. Following reports of government electronic surveillance of everything from emails, Skype and Facebook posts to Google searches and bank transfers, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 spiked making it Amazon’s 100th best selling book.

bringup  And if you thought the halls of Parliament are fraught with peril enter the court of Henry Vlll in Bring up the Bodies , sequel to Booker prize winning Wolf Hall. Hilary Mantel’s novel re-creates a time when “ the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.” (from the publisher) When the stakes are as high as losing your head, these politicians’ antics look like child’s play.


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