OPEN MONDAY-SATURDAY 10AND OPEN SUNDAY 10WATSON & COMPANY BOOKS CARP v $30 FOR TWO PER NIGHT $79 PER WEEK except Friday & Saturday P.O. Box 8 Port Aransas, TX 78373 Send the Observer to address city this subscription if for myself o gift subscription; send card in my name $23 enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $23 , Friends in faraway places need the Texas Observer address zip state state city zip price includes $1.12 sales tax The Texas Observer, 600 W. 28th #105, Austin, Texas 78705 thinking man’s alternative, a sincerely idealistic Oberlin professor. From the start, Aarons is a Madison Avenue version of the unworldly egghead, a square-jawed, blue-eyed, 30-ish man who looks like a GQ model. He is constantly surrounded by adoring, clean-scrubbed young people of all colors, all with wholesome grins and casual clothing, who could be refugees from a Dr. Pepper ad. Yet this cuddly liberal proves to be as easily manipulated as his amoral opponents, toning himself down in accordance with his media consultant’s suggestions. Then St. John appears, full of contrition for having sold out and anxious to redeem himself on the eve of Aarons’s big TV debate. In what may be the most contrived speech in this relentlessly contrived movie, St. John urges Aarons, “Instead of going back and teaching history, why don’t you go out there tonight and make some? Why don’t you go out there and tell them exactly what you think? Maybe even what you feel?” Hackman’s character has the good taste to leave the room, but Aarons’s mouth drops open in admiring wonder as St. John adds, “Just the spectacle of something human up there might make hordes of people come tumbling out of their homes to vote for you.” Phrasemaking like that makes Frank Capra look like John Kenneth Galbraith. Capra’s unabashedly flag-waving Mr. Smith Goes to Washington had far more savvy, more insight, and more clearly delineated issues than Power. Most important, there was more of what St. John would call “something human” up there on the screen. Power is full of references to “humanity,” as if the power plays, backstabbing, and callous manipulation it portrays are not just as much a part of human nature as the idealism it purports to champion. In the end, Lumet seems to be saying the answer to our political problems. is a candidate who can hesitate charmingly before the TV cameras and then tell us openly and honestly how uncomfortable they make him feel. If Al’s friends want to teach him about politics by sending him to the movies, they might do well to steer him clear of Power, find him a VCR, and rent a copy of Mr. Smith. Better yet, they might ferret out a copy of A Face in the Crowd. Elia Kazan filmed his version of the dangers of demagoguery almost 30 years ago, but nobody has done it better since. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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