8 films to help you fight the system in Trump times
Inauguration is looming, and many of us are dreading the day when the new president-elect officially unseats Obama. A Wealthy Cheeto with fascist ideals is about to be our leader – what can we do?
Resist, obviously. Email elected representatives, make calls, sign petitions, go to protests, share information on social media. Oppose the Trump agenda. And if you need a break from all that revolution, here are eight great films about anti-establishment battles, fighting the system, and resisting the powers that shouldn’t be. Watch and learn.
The Hunting Ground (2015)Remember Brock Turner, the star athlete and Stanford student who raped a girl, felt no apparent remorse, and got away with minimal consequences? This documentary explores the commonality of such justice miscarriages. “The Hunting Ground” reveals the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, tailing survivors who report the crimes against them, only to be met with blame or skepticism. Universities cover up instances of assault for fear it will taint their reputations. Several students in “The Hunting Ground” file a Title IX anti-discrimination complaint against their schools, and later found the nationwide organization End Rape on Campus.
Office Space (1999)We gotta have a lighthearted comedy on this list, for the sake of our sanity. “Office Space” is a cult flick every 20-something can quote from. The film satirizes America’s excess of soul-crushing office jobs, following the work life of several dudes at a ’90s software company. White-collar existence can be tedious and meaningless, so, in protest, the co-workers hatch a revenge scheme to steal money from their company. Ironically, when Peter (Ron Livingston) finally gives up on trying to impress his idiotic bosses, he’s suddenly management material.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)This classic dramedy directed by Frank Capra (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) stars the ever-likable Jimmy Stewart and tells the tale of a U.S. Senator taking on our country’s corrupt political system. Stewart plays an idealistic young senator who doesn’t expect his older colleagues to be so crooked. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was criticized by members of Congress for being anti-American after its release. Of course, it merely portrayed the frequent immorality of the American government – but it wasn’t flattering for those politicians in power.
Citizenfour (2014)Edward Snowden contacted this documentary’s director Laura Poitras and The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, eager to blow the whistle on the U.S. government for spying on its citizens. As a private security contractor for the National Security Agency, Snowden knew all the classified details; so Poitras and Greenwald traveled to meet him. The resulting doc is a thriller capturing Greenwald’s unveiling of the NSA scandal to the media. As of now, Snowden is hiding in Russia; if he returns to the U.S., he will be imprisoned for espionage, though many Americans consider him a true patriot.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)If you’ve never seen the legendary Paul Newman in action, this is a good place to start. Here he plays Luke, an inmate in a Florida prison camp. Luke is routinely tortured by the sadistic wardens in charge, but refuses to play by the rules or surrender to the system. All Luke did to earn himself a place on the chain gang is drunkenly cut the heads off some parking meters. Despite the physical punishments and psychological cruelty Luke endures, he doesn’t lose his spirit of defiance and continues to make desperate bids for freedom. Fun fact: The famous line “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” comes from this film.
Spotlight (2015)“Spotlight” depicts the true story of the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, a small investigative unit responsible for uncovering the Catholic church sexual abuse scandal in 2002 (their reporting won a Pulitzer). The journalists reveal not only that Roman Catholic priests have molested children in the Boston area, but also how duplicitous the church became in helping cover up the allegations. The reporters are hesitant at first, afraid to go up against the formidable Church. They come to realize this comforting, influential religion is in many ways a “culture of secrecy,” almost the ideal breeding ground for pedophiles because no one questions those in power.
All of Michael Moore’s filmsDocumentarian Michael Moore is a polarizing cultural figure. Many consider his docs (“Bowling for Columbine,” “Fahrenheit 9/11” among others) biased or dishonest, and they are certainly laced with Moore’s own particular political agenda. But he is bold and unapologetic, demanding answers to our country’s toughest questions. His films have criticized U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the Iraq War, the American healthcare system, gun ownership, big corporations, and capitalism. His recent “Michael Moore in Trumpland” is about the 2016 presidential election; and Moore has consistently disparaged Trump, encouraging Americans to stand against him.
V for Vendetta (2006)Set in a dystopian future version of Britain, “V for Vendetta” is what our American future might look like if Trump and his allies remain unchecked in future years. A nasty totalitarian government has risen to power, and a caped vigilante named V stirs a rebellion marked by destruction and anarchy. He gets help with various terrorist acts from Evey (Natalie Portman). Government oppression is exaggerated here – but never say never. Let’s not let it get this far.
Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO Staff Writer