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Ted Haggard’s Documentarian: Trafficking in Shlock


Alexandra Pelosi’s HBO documentary Right America: Feeling Wronged — Some Voices From the Campaign Trail, supposedly a place for John McCain and Sarah Palin supporters to commiserate together, is “drive-by journalism” according to one critic. Basically, it’s a bunch of yahoos on camera saying things that yahoos often say. How does that bode for Pelosi’s HBO documentary about a one Ted Haggard?

Opines the Washington Post‘s Michael Leahy:

It’s drive-by journalism, to put it charitably, a string of stupefyingly brief hit-and-run interviews with a bunch of unidentified people who we know are going to say nothing that will surprise us. By then, we’ve already figured out they’re going to be fried by Pelosi’s camera. We know they’re going to sound like yahoos, often goaded, always reduced to sound bites and caricatures.

All the conventions of the smirking, winking, belittling political documentary are abided by in this film. An inordinate number of the yahoos wear T-shirts and weird caps. There is the obligatory NASCAR tailgating scene with the requisite Confederate flags and some white guys saying they’ll never vote for any black man. There are a couple of campaign events sporting all-American schoolgirl choruses who sound like they’re right off the “Up With People” tour bus. There is a young guy whose T-shirt, meant to deride Obama, declares “Say No to Socilism,” and when Alexandra Pelosi tells him he’s misspelled socialism and asks him to define it, we know he’s not going to be able to, that he’s going to say something way wrong and stupid — which he does, offering that socialism is “basically, it’s like the views of Hitler. It’s between like communism and — I don’t know what the other word is.”

In short, it’s good yuks time.

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  • Spherical Time

    It seems that there is an easy defense for Pelosi to this criticism: She’s out there showing what people are actually saying. These people are reduced to sound bites and caricatures because that’s all their beliefs are. If there were something more substantive to offer, why is it that they still recite those sound bites time after time?

    After all, the people that can’t define socialism are the real people. It’s the glossy educated Fox News conservative commentators that make up the fractional minority that actually understand the views that they espouse and evangelize.

  • Sebbe

    This sounds like my kind of documentary, I will pay to see this if for no other reason than to see the “Socilism” guy. It’s like the people (often highlighted on wonkette) with their “muslin” signs. This sounds like a date night to me.

  • Sebbe

    oh even better it is free on HBO!!! SCORE

  • David

    I saw Alexandra Pelosi talking with Anderson Cooper about the Ted Haggard documentary a while back, I didn’t like her much I don’t think. I can’t really explain why lol

    As for the documentary described, it’s not something I’d watch. Mostly because If I want to see those kinds of people I just have to look out my window. I never really got into watching people make idiots of themselves.

  • Sebbe

    @David – for those of us that don’t live in those area’s its sometimes amusing and unbelievable and we often find ourselves explaining to our non-native friends especially.

  • David

    I’m sorry, but this woman is a hack. I tried to give her a chance with “Journeys With George” and then the Ted Haggard documentary, but she makes sloppy ill-conceived films that have little structure… and even less of a point.

  • atdleft

    @Spherical Time: True. Still, it’d be nice to go beyond the “what” of these idiotic soundbytes to examine the “how” and the “why”. It’d help start a good discussion on the constant misinformation from today’s corporate media. Is there any of that in Alex Pelosi’s film?

  • atdleft

    @Sebbe: Lucky you that you only have to experience our reality at the movies. ;-)

  • Sebbe

    @atdleft – It actually is a good thing sometimes, because it reminds us what its really like out there for you guys. It can be easy to forget sometimes.

  • Jude

    Anyone saw her on Rachel Maddow’s show? Is it just me or did it feel like the two had some history? I definitely pictured them having had some kind of prior relationship, especially considering Pelosi was somewhat defensive even though Maddow was very friendly towards her.

  • EJ

    Sebbe, “areas” (plural) has no apostrophe. Your ignorance is showing. Quite interesting how you make snide comments at some unknown guy and his misspelling of “socialism” when you are apparently no better.

    Pelosi is the worst kind of filmmaker. First, she has achieved her position strictly through nepotism. If her mother were not in the Congress, at best she would be serving doughnuts to HBO execs. Second, her films amount to little more than selectively edited agenda pieces bordering on propaganda (looking as if they were shot on a Sony Handycam at times). To call them documentaries is to do a gross injustice to that genre.

    But a couple of commenters here evince a nasty, bitter bigotry which is likely conducive to an enjoyment of Pelosi’s hand selected caricatures.

    “These people are reduced to sound bites and caricatures because that’s all their beliefs are.”(exempli gratia)

    Should a documentary come out that expresses a snide dismissal of those who supported Obama and includes only the most ignorant African Americans wearing NBA jerseys to Applebees, I highly doubt people like Spherical Time and Sebbe would welcome it with the glee expressed regarding this film.

    Such is the hallmark of the bigot.

  • Sebbe

    @ej – good point in regards to my punctuation. Personally I’m not a stickler for grammar or spelling in regards to comments on a blog post. I’m more interested in the dialogue. I know for myself (and probably many other younger readers) that I comment from a mobile phone probably 75% of the time and never proof read a blog comment. Sitting in front of a computer is soo last century btw.

    If I was protesting something, I sure as hell would proofread my sign though.

    Furthermore I must add that I do not pretend to be an expert on Pelosi or her films and do not believe that I have seen anything of hers to date.

  • Jim

    @Jude: Dude! Thanks for saying that. I thought I was the only one who noticed?

  • Jim

    Gah, hit enter too quickly…but yeah, I totally noticed that. My guess is that they run in the same sapphic circles.

  • getreal

    @Jude: Just watched the interview seemed like Rachel was giving her a little eye at the end but they don’t look like two people who have any prior relationship to me.

  • Gibbs

    I would imagine that Pelosi is well aware of the weight her name carries. There’s no pretense of objectivity here, and what’s wrong with that?

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