Friday, February 20, 2009

Alexandra Pelosi

Daughter of San Francisco Senator Nancy Pelosi, Alexandra calls herself a New Yorker. She recently had some success creating some documentaries, two of which I caught on HBO. I thought both were excelent.

The Trials of Ted
The Trials of Ted is a series of brief interviews with Ted Haggard, the evangelist who fell from grace. Ted fell from the highest of highs in the Televangelist community when it came out that he was having gay sex with a male prostitute while high on meth. Prior to this he was able to command audiences with US Presidents, world leaders, and giants of the business world. He filled a huge stadium several times a week and was televised to millions of loyal viewers.

Pelosi did what I believe is an honorable job on this work. She does not inject herself into the story. She mostly asks some basic obvious questions to Ted and lets him give honest thoughtful answers. Of course she has the god-like power of editing, but I think the result was very fair. It is not a hatchet job exposing Ted's blatant hypocrisy. It really just shows a sad and broken man who lost everything, who is trying to find work to support his family. He seems to have a very realistic and reasonable outlook on his situation, and seems honestly sorry for his actions... not just the fact that he got caught. While his bigger than life persona is no longer projecting from the pulpit, he generally still keeps the bigger than life smile on his face. He still believes in God, believes in the Bible, believes that homosexuality and drug use is unholy and wrong. He does admit that he continues to struggle, on occasion, with same sex attraction. Unlike every other time I saw this guy, when I thought he was lying through his teeth, in this work he is completely believable. I wory that he might kill himself, and after seeing this, I would be sad if that happens. Now I see him as a person, not a characature of the Religious Right.

Right America: Feeling Wronged: Some Voices.
Remember toward the end of the presidential race when the McCain rallies were getting more rowdie and unmanageable? This documentary takes you into the heart of "Real America" during the height of those last few weeks. Pelosi asks random people at the McCain rallies some basic questions like "Why won't you vote for Obama?", "How will you feel about America if McCain looses?" and some simple follow ups like "What's the 'Real America'?" when it comes up in their answer.

She was kind enough to begin the documentary with a disclaimer saying that the following oppinions don't necessarily relfect the entire Republican party. And once again, bear in mind she is the final editing deity. So at first it is easy to assume that this one IS a hatchet job. The people are blathering on about the most ridiculous stuff imaginable... he's a Muslim, he works for Ossama Bin Ladin, He's not a full blooded American, and yes... he's a nigger. Several times, you hear Pelosi say "people are gonna think I hand picked the worst comments", and she askes people "do you think your view is extreme, or is this common around here?" I'm convinced that what she put on screen are all fairly typical reactions. Of course she's gonna put on the more flamboyant characters, but I don't think she really stacked the deck much. However, I don't think the deck was necessarily shuffeled in the first place being these were mostly people at a John McCain rally.

I think she puts herself into this moreso than in the Ted Haggard piece. She doesn't argue her point of view, except to the extent that she sometimes asks a follow up question that sometimes challenges the prior answer. But mostly she just lets the camera run and lets the people speak their mind.

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