I am really mad at myself for using up my “replace the title of the movie with FOLLOWING THE NAZIS without drawing any attention to it” gag already. MEUTHEN’S PARTY is literally a fly on the wall documentary following leader of the new far right party campaigning for German government. Like, it’s literally—I just really regret this.
Anyway, there’s a scene in the brilliant and criminally underseen mockumentary BOB ROBERTS where the titular conservative folk singin’ senatorial candidate is the subject of an interview on Good Morning, Philadelphia. Fictional reporter Kelly Noble quickly turns the interview into a confrontation about Roberts’ deeply offensive conservative values, and it’s called off shortly after Roberts bullies his way into the upper hand.
Afterward, he confronts her about her behaviour: “You’re taking sides, ma’am. You’re abusing your responsibility as a journalist.”
“I am offended by you, sir. If I ignore my feelings, I’m taking your side,” she responds.
There’s a question of responsibility inherent in making a neutral, objective portrait of hateful and deceitful individuals who seek political office. When making a documentary about a person who claims that one in every thousand refugees are rapists coming to rape white German women and thus that all should be turned away, you have a moral and ethical responsibility to not rest on the values of your audience.
A film like MEUTHEN’S PARTY shouldn’t rely on me to be horrified by what’s being said. In the neutral and “objective” presentation of hate speech leading to wild gains in political power, you make a movie that, sure, horrifies a liberal audience who already hold your values.
But you’ve also made a campaign commercial for a far-right political party.
If the point of this movie was to show how Meuthen lies and that disqualifies him for political office, guess what? It doesn’t, as demonstrated by his office. If it’s to show how his party is linked to violence and hatespeech and that should disqualify him for political office, guess what? It didn’t. If it’s to show me “how exactly far right parties come to power”, guess what? I know.
Yes, I hold leftist values of inclusion and equality. Yes, I find Meuthen horrifying. But this movie, regardless of whether or not the creative team behind it hold these values, does not. It presents an “unbiased” and “objective” portrait of a group of a politician taking advantage of our species worst instincts to gain power.
But political campaigns built upon the marginalization of refugees aren’t objectively as worthy of uninterrupted, unquestioned airtime as any other campaign. To be truly objective in speaking about them is to say that they are horrifying. Not to portray them without commentary and rely on an audience to be horrified.
Because the base that this movie plays to will not be horrified. They will be excited. They will be ecstatic. And they will say that Meuthen did nothing wrong. ZERO STARS