Revolution #68, November 5, 2006


Check It Out: Bulworth

Tired of mid-term election madness and hypocrisy? Or perhaps you voted and are having the day-after blues? For a really hilariously entertaining respite from all this, rent a copy of the 1998 movie Bulworth.

Warren Beatty stars as Jay Billington Bulworth, a U.S. Senator running for re-election, having a nervous breakdown, dodging a hit man and hanging out in the hood. On the edge of insanity, he’s different than any other candidate—he tells the truth.

Tossing out his usual “vote for me” script, Bulworth goes to a Black church in South Central, LA and asks, “Half your kids are out of work and the other half are in jail. You see any Democrat doing anything about it? Certainly not me! So what’re you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you’re not gonna vote Republican!” During a TV debate he says: “We got three pretty rich guys here, getting paid by some really rich guys, to ask a couple of other rich guys questions about their campaigns. But our campaigns are financed by the same guys that pay you guys your money.”

Bulworth hooks up with Nina, played by Halle Berry, and things really get wild when she takes him to her home in South Central. The Senator learns a little something about how the masses of Black people have to live. A crack dealer, played by Don Cheadle, calls him a “greed greedy-ass politician” and offers some insights into why the youth end up dealing drugs. And after shedding his suit and tie and dressing like a rapper, Bulworth gets a first-hand lesson in police brutality. Later, on another campaign stop, Bulworth launches into another uproarious spurt of truth-telling. He raps, “Rich guys/Democrats/ Republicans/It’s a club” and tells ordinary white people that they have more in common with ordinary Black people than they do with rich people.

When Bulworth came out in 1998, Beatty told interviewers, “The real issue is the disparity of wealth in this country. And that gets unattended and unacknowledged. Traitors to their class are marginalized in political discourse. They’re seen as nuts. Their motives are weird. They’re antithetical to our stock portfolios.”

In the years since, this hasn’t changed and neither has something else Beatty told reporters at the time: “You can say things in a movie: You can say Black people are treated badly in the United States. It’s an oversimplification but it needs to be said. You can say rich people control politics. It’s an oversimplification but it needs to be said.”

This is definitely one worth checking out. Bulworth delivers his message and gets you crying with laughter. As Beatty put it: “I have a lunatic in this movie who has a nervous breakdown, runs around in short pants, acts like an adolescent, talking in a voice that’s not even his own. He oversimplifies the message pretty drastically, but he’s funny.”

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