February 23, 2012 / Media - Entertainment, Opportunity, Sexism

“Game Change” Proves to Be Yet Another HBO Failure


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda.

On March 10th, cable network HBO is scheduled to air their movie, “Game Change”— a hit piece in cinematic form taking aim at Governor Sarah Palin’s run for Vice President in 2008. This film becomes yet another avenue by which the network disparages women—specifically Sarah Palin in this case. After all, it this is the network which still gives so called comedian Bill Maher the platform to denigrate women– from Hillary Clinton to Michele Bachmann to Sarah Palin (and her daughter Bristol).

The movie is based upon the book of the same name which was written by political journalists John Heillman and Mark Halperin and was published in January of 2010. The book itself focuses on the totality of the 2008 presidential race including the both parties’ primaries and the general election. However, the book, and its anonymous sources, seemed to take particular aim at some of the women in the campaign, including Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin. Joanne Bamberger at the Huffington Post called the book “sexism at its worst” and noted that the book is a cross between “political commentary and US Weekly,” also stating:

Game Change isn’t journalism; it is gossip-mongering at its worst. Why do I say that? Well, essentially the whole book was written on “deep background” — meaning that none of the sources would agree to be directly quoted and the authors would preserve the anonymity of the sources. No one is accountable for what they said. The sources could say or make up whatever they wanted. Campaign staffers who were miffed or bruised over their treatment could vent about anyone with abandon and not suffer any backlash.

The New York Times also noted the book’s sexism by stating that the book was a “mean spirited (and possibly sexist) farce.” The Times’ review of the book notes that the authors describe Hillary Clinton as “bitter,” Sarah Palin as “mentally unstable,” and Elizabeth Edwards as “condescending crazy woman.” With Game Change, the objectivity supposedly required journalism has become nothing but anonymous sexist subjectivity. When the book hits the screen, however, its hackery reaches a whole new level.

The book is twenty three chapters in length, and only two of the chapters (40 pages) include Sarah Palin’s time in the campaign, yet this was sufficient for HBO to shape a whole movie around. Why? The movie will air on March 10th, shortly after “Super Tuesday” when a number of GOP presidential primaries will be held. Sarah Palin was long anticipated to be one of the GOP 2012 presidential contenders, but opted not to run this election, and those involved in the film—from the director to the supporting actors—have donated generously to Democratic candidates. When a sexist book is turned into a movie by a network known for promoting denigration of women, what can one anticipate when the movie is produced, directed and performed by those with a less-than-objective point of view? This is a brief snippet of what you can expect:

The above trailer of the film has already been panned by Palin’s allies. Former Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton notes, “looking at the trailers alone, get’s my blood boiling.” Stapleton also called the image in the trailer where Palin, portrayed by Julianne Moore, is in the fetal position surrounded by notecards “sinful.” The Treasurer of Sarah Palin’s political action committee says that the film “distorted, twisted, and invented facts to create a false narrative to attract viewers,” and her PAC offers this collection of photos from the campaign noting those photos depict the “game change that really happened.” Current Palin adviser Jason Recher, who was also part of the McCain campaign staff, also notes that the “’Game Change’ trailer doesn’t reflect anything that I recall.” Recher also notes that although the film’s writer promised him a copy of the script when he questioned the purported “facts” in the trailer, the writer did not fulfill his promise.

Although the book does not name sources, former McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt has essentially come forward as one of the sources for both the book at the film. The movie portrays Palin as unaware that the Prime Minister, not the Queen, was in charge of the British troops in the Iraq War, a false tidbit apparently spewed by Schmidt, which only appears in the film not in the book. This charge, of course, is laughable at face value, but is easily disproven by video from one of Palin’s first interviews during the campaign where she expressed her admiration for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“Game Change” proves to be yet programming attack against women for HBO. It is billed as a “docudrama,” but proves only to be an anonymously sourced and false attack on an intelligent, successful woman. Thankfully, cable viewers may have a positive alternative. Airing on the Reelz channel, just a day after “Game Change”, is the documentary “The Undefeated” which chronicles Governor Palin’s political career from a successful mayor to formidable leader in the conservative movement. You can read a review of the film from The New Agenda’s very own Amy Siskind here. Instead of watching HBO’s “Game Change”, how about a channel change?

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  • Kimble

    What bothers me about the release of Game Change is that for the next 2 weeks or so, the news cycle will be focused on three male candidates (Romney, Santorum, Obama) and one female non-candidate (Palin).

    The 2012 elections will be another vitally important year for women candidates. 2010 was the first time in something like 50 years that we lost ground in terms of numbers of women serving in congress. We have so many interesting and qualified women running–Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Mazie Hirono, Lydia Lingle, Martha McSally, Tammy Duckworth… to name just a few.

    I’m interested in looking forward, not back.

  • Thank you Miss Zahnd for your astute vision and perspective.

    I am afraid that Mr. Jefferson’s “informed citizen” has not been well served for quite some time, so it is good that you and others are providing Truth to offset the other.

    The first sentence in the last paragraph does seem to be crying out for “another,” between ‘yet’ and ‘programming.’

    I hope you are having a terrific day.


  • Bes

    I don’t pay for HBO and I can’t imagine sitting through this POS but I think an analysis of “Game Change” would say a lot more about the Liberal male minds that created it as an alternative “reality” than it would say about Palin or women candidates. They are really really frightened by women in power. Why do they project their distorted and irrational thoughts on Palin?

    The good news is people are not forced to support HBO with their basic cable subscription, unlike MSNBC and so many other misogynist programing channels.

  • speppers69

    Kimble….”The 2012 elections will be another vitally important year for women candidates. 2010 was the first time in something like 50 years that we lost ground in terms of numbers of women serving in congress. We have so many interesting and qualified women running–Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Mazie Hirono, Lydia Lingle, Martha McSally, Tammy Duckworth… to name just a few.”

    2010 had a record number of republican women elected to congress most of whom Sarah Palin backed. Sarah Palin is also lending her support to an all-woman PAC called ShePAC that will help to promote and elect women candidates and address women’s issues. THAT is what I call looking forward. And who exactly made the movie Game Change to open the week after Super Tuesday? Both men and women democrat supporters.

    And that is LINDA Lingle and not Lydia Lingle.

  • hispanicmom

    you have GOT to be kidding me. By the looks of the trailer, this movie is pathetic. (But I did actually laugh out loud at the scriptwriter’s portrayal of Sarah Palin whispering how she’s got “to win this–I so don’t want to go back to Alaska.” Uh, yeah. Right. I guess that’s why she’s been living there since the election ended, her husband is in the Iron Dog 2000 mile race that he does every year, and all her big, glorious family still lives there. Oh yeah, AND she produced a popular and beautiful travel documentary celebrating the state of Alaska for TLC.

    Does HBO REALLY want me to believe that Sarah Palin was in a fetal position on the floor, surrounded by notecards and papers strewn about? Have Hanks, Roach et al even bothered to look at the hundreds of thousands (if not millions by now) of photographs taken by Sheileagh Craighead, the campaign photographer? In them, Palin is poised, looking like she’s enjoying every minute of being with the people all across the nation. How embarrassing for Hanks, HBO and company.

  • Boycott!

  • Anita Finlay

    Great piece, Whitney. Regardless of one’s politics, we have to stick with fact, not smear. Even a cursory look at Palin’s accomplishments would make it impossible to believe she is the ignorant hysteric that this film pretends…

  • Juliette

    There must be a kind of tyranny in Hollywood as far as what actors and others in the industry are allowed to think and say. I mean, is it really posible that everyone in the film industry thinks with the same brain, that there is no diversity of thought, that they all really love Barak Obama and detest all who oppose him? I think this is imposible. What I think is that we have an industry of cowards, who cave to adolesant peer presure and flock together like sheep. They are controlled by money and power brokers. I work in classical music and I know that we have conservatives as well as leftists among us and we are comfortable in being true to ourselves. However, there is not nearly as much money at stake in my business. Perhaps that is the problem with Hollywood. Dignified decent people who work hard for their sucess and won’t take a cigar in any orafice for a job at Max Factor are boring to the leftist who live for the Golden Glitter of Hollywood. Those who work in this industry are slaves and have no freedom of thought. They dare not rock the boat and stand up for a champion of the people like Sarah Palin. They are cowardly sheep and for this reason I have boycotted all of Hollywoods crappy movies and T.V. productions for some time now. They are all a sad pathetic joke.
    Support real artist not sheep.

  • Juliette

    Hollywood loves vagina opportunists and Sarah Palin is not one. That is why they hate her. She has the kind of integrity that comes from working for everything you have; from being in a stable loving marriage with a wonderfully supportive husband, and from having children and the sucessful career. Women like Sarah Palin have managed to have large families and wildly sucessful careers without selling out to anyone. This makes Hollywood types quite uncomfortanble with her in my oppinion. They hate her because they are nothing compared to her. They are projecting their own self loathing on her.

  • Jen the Michigander

    That trailer makes “Game Change” look like a high budget Saturday Night Live skit. But unfortunately, it’s not a comedy and people will watch this and take it seriously.

  • banjo

    Look at all those wrinkles around the actress’s (who is she, anyway?) mouth. They should have at least given her some injections to disguise how she’s at least over ten years older than Sarah Palin was in 2008…and they shouldn’t have hired an obvious smoker and someone with a long-time eating disorder. However much the left hates Sarah, they should admit that she’s beautiful, full of life, certainly lots more than this wrung-out, bloodless dishrag.

  • Alison

    I have no issue with an older actor playing Sarah Palin. Moore is a beautiful and talented actor. But I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Moore and honestly, her performance is nothing but a bad SNL skit, as someone had previously mentioned. I think vitriol has obviously gotten in the way of her acting abilities here and this movie definitely makes me take her, and all the other actors in this movie, a little less seriously. Too bad Palin isn’t actually running for office now which I am sure was the purpose of this movie.

  • BevWKY

    Well, there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel on this one because apparently it’s not even a popular movie in Hollywoodland. Check out this:

    ‘Game Change’ Loses Choir: ‘L.A. Times’ Readers Choose ‘The Undefeated’ Over HBO Hit-Job

  • Alison

    It would be interesting to compare this with Streep’s Margaret Thatcher movie. I’m sure Streep disagrees with many of Thatcher’s decisions as PM but was Streep so mocking in her movie? I am guessing no and that she went instead for empathy and realism in her portrayal, which is the way a real actor should approach working with a biography.

  • Good point, Alison. I haven’t seen Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher yet, but I think that she has handled herself with class in interviews when discussing Thatcher, even though they disagree politically. I wish I could say the same for Julianne Moore.

  • Susan

    Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher was amazing but I’m sorry that she appeared in the film. My politics are very different from Thatcher’s but she was a powerful female leader who is now suffering from dementia. I don’t know if she’s aware enough to know about the film but it seemed disrespectful to me. In the majority of Streep’s scenes, Thatcher was deep in her dementia and talking to her dead husband. I gained no understanding of Thatcher from the movie. Most disturbing is that the film was written and directed by women.

  • Juliette

    The writers producers and Julianna Moore are all major contributors to Barak Obama and the DNC. Thier pathetic way of carrying water for Obama the woman hater will back fire. Just as Oprah’s career was severly damaged because of her devotion to the ONE, so will suffer the proveyors of Obama hatred against strong self made Christian women.