"The White House as a Stage"
A Review of "The Reagan Show" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Sierra Pettengill, Pacho Velez, Writers: Josh Alexander, Francisco Bello
Rating: 3 Stars, STREAM!
My 19th film of the 43rd Annual Seattle International Film Festival was about a man who I respect for his ability to communicate but not much else. "The Reagan Show" is constructed entirely from archival news and White House footage. When pieced together, the documentary captures the behind scenes work necessary to craft the message of his White House.
President Theodore Roosevelt made us believe the President of the United States of America possesses awesome power because of his command of the bully pulpit. President Franklin Roosevelt was the first to capture the country's imagination through the power of radio with his fireside chats. President John Kennedy was our first president made for television. President Reagan was the first to truly use the power of television as an actor would ultimately unleashing a new era. One where the White House was also seen as a stage.
After seeing this documentary, I think it's fitting that an actor and public relations man would use the peoples' house in such a manner. In the midst of the Cold War with Russia, Reagan and his staff found their perfect prop and nemesis. Using the power of television, Reagan painted a picture of good versus evil, morally superior versus morally bankrupt and values versus something foreign, unknown, and clashing with Americana. Ultimately, some of this messaging was propaganda but after seeing this film he and his staff executed the messaging brilliantly.
This film will also make you reconsider how each president following Reagan has used the office, as well as how President Trump uses the bully pulpit now. It makes you realize that when the President speaks or tweets, the world is listening. Truth or falsehoods are gobbled up by the masses. This is probably something we should keep in mind next time we head to the polls.
For this film's keen ability to pull back the curtain on the White House, I recommend it. Of course, I firmly believe it is better suited for a news station like CNN. Not because of its quality though. I just believe it requires a more intimate setting.
Be good to each other,