Misulonas: Here are the Romn-inees for Best Picture

Joseph Misulonas

There are two important races going on in our country today. One is the Republican presidential primary, and the other is the Oscar Best Picture race.

Both of these have seen a front-runner emerge: Mitt Romney and “The Artist,” respectively. Even though Mitt Romney is a former Massachusetts governor and “The Artist” is a silent, black and white French film, they have many similarities: some people perceive them both to be boring, they are supported by elites in their respective communities and all their money is overseas.

In any other year, it’s likely neither would be considered front-runners in their respective races. It’s hard to imagine “The Artist” going up against “No Country for Old Men” or “The Hurt Locker” and coming out victorious. Romney lost the 2008 presidential campaign to John McCain, a man who himself ran an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2000.

Even their competitors are similar. There are traditional figures in both races, Newt Gingrich and Steven Spielberg, who are long past their glory days.

Ron Paul and “The Tree of Life” both have very small but devoted followings and rarely get the media attention they deserve.

Then there are Rick Santorum and “The Help,” which both perpetuate misconceptions about blacks in order to make white people feel better about themselves.

But they do each have one opponent that could be an obstacle. For “The Artist,” it’s the George Clooney vehicle “The Descendants.” For Mitt Romney, it’s Barack Obama.

These opponents do have their weaknesses – both Clooney and Obama are more downtrodden and less cheery than they’ve been in recent years, and they’ve both gotten a lot more gray hair. But they appeal broadly to the American people and are charismatic leads with respected speaking skills.

As it stands, “The Artist” is still widely considered to be the favorite, while most polls show Romney and Obama running about even. Is there anything Mitt Romney can learn from “The Artist” in order to win November’s general election?

First, Romney has to learn to be honest with himself. He can’t pretend he’s a hardcore conservative or maintain he isn’t far wealthier than the average American.

The makers of “The Artist” don’t promote it as a Judd Apatow-esque comedy. They are upfront and blunt that it’s an homage to a bygone era, and Romney could benefit from a similar candor. People respect honesty.

Romney also has to play to his strengths. “The Artist” indulges Hollywood’s longing for the Golden Era of film. It plays to our nation’s collective nostalgia. Romney has to learn that being a popular, moderate Republican governor of a liberal state is a strength.

His bipartisan record while governor is what will get him elected in November, not his phony conservative stump speeches. When Newt Gingrich calls Romney a “Massachusetts Moderate,” it’s meant to be an insult, but it’s exactly what will get him elected.

Most importantly, Romney has to take risks. Before “The Artist” came out, would anyone have thought it possible that a silent, black and white film would be able to achieve commercial and critical success in the United States? The director of the film, Michel Hazanavicius, said that initially no one took the idea seriously. He kept pushing it, and now it’s likely he will win an Oscar for it.

Romney has to be risky as well. It’s not enough that he talks about jobs and the economy in order to get elected. He can’t just re-hash Republican talking points about cutting taxes.

He has to think up some radical new ideas that voters have never heard before. He should also avoid placating the Tea Party. Its members will vote for him no matter what because they hate Obama. Instead, Romney should worry about convincing the blue-collar worker who has voted Democratic since Clinton to vote Romney.

Obviously though, these situations are very different. “The Artist” will be chosen Best Picture by a select group of Hollywood bigwigs, studio heads and movie insiders. Romney will have to convince millions of people that he’s the right man to lead this country. But perhaps Romney could learn a thing or two by watching the Academy Awards on Feb. 26.

Unless “The Descendants” wins Best Picture, in which case Romney’s screwed.

Both of these have seen a front-runner emerge – Mitt Romney and “The Artist,” respectively. Even though Mitt Romney is a former Massachusetts governor and “The Artist” is a silent, black and white French film, they have many similarities: some people perceive them both to be boring, they are supported by elites in their respective communities and all their money is overseas.

In any other year, it’s likely neither would be considered front-runners in its respective races. It’s hard to imagine “The Artist” going up against “No Country for Old Men” or “The Hurt Locker” and coming out victorious. Romney lost the 2008 presidential campaign to John McCain, a man who himself ran an unsuccessful presidential bid in 200.

Even their competitors are similar. There are traditional figures in both races, Newt Gingrich and Steven Spielberg, who are long past their glory days. Ron Paul and “The Tree of Life” both have very small but devoted followings and rarely get the media attention they deserve. Then there are Rick Santorum and “The Help,” which both perpetuate misconceptions about blacks in order to make white people feel better about themselves.

But they do each have one opponent that could be an obstacle. For “The Artist,” it’s the George Clooney vehicle “The Descendants.” For Mitt Romney, it’s Barack Obama. These opponents do have their weaknesses – both Clooney and Obama are more downtrodden and less cheery than they’ve been in recent years, and they’ve both gotten a lot more gray hair. But they appeal broadly to the American people and are charismatic leaders with respected speakign skills.

As it stands, “The Artist” is still widely considered to be the favorite, while most polls show Romney and Obama running about even. Is there anything Mitt Romney can learn from “The Artist” in order to win November’s general election?

First, Romney has to learn to be honest with himself. He can’t pretend he’s a hardcore conservative or maintain he isn’t far wealthier than the average American. The makers of “The Artist” don’t promote it as a Judd Apatow-esque comedy. They are upfront and blunt that it’s an homage to a bygone era, and Romney could benefit from a similar candor. People respect honesty.

Romney also has to play to his strengths. “The Artist” indulges Hollywood’s longing for the Golden Era of film. It plays to our nation’s collective nostalgia. Romney has to learn that being a popular, moderate Republican governor of a liberal state is a strength. His bi-partisan record while governor is what will get him elected in November, not his phony conservative stump speeches. When Newt Gingrich calls Romney a “Massachusetts Moderate,” it’s meant to be an insult, but it’s exactly what will get him elected.

Most importantly, Romney has to take risks. Before “The Artist” came out, would anyone have thought it possible that a silent, black and white film would be able to achieve commercial and critical success in the United States? The director of the film, Michel Hazanavicius, said that initially no one took the idea seriously. He kept pushing it, and now it’s likely he will win an Oscar for it. Romney has to be risky as well. It’s not enough that he talks about jobs and the economy in order to get elected. He can’t just re-hash Republican talking points about cutting taxes. He has to think up some radical new ideas that voters have never heard before. He should also avoid placating the Tea Party. Its members will vote for him no matter what because they hate Obama. Instead, Romney should worry about convincing the blue-collar worker who has voted democratic since Clinton to vote Romney.

Obviously though, these situations are ver
y different. “The Artist” will be chosen Best Picture by a select group of Hollywood bigwigs, studio heads and movie insiders. Romney will have to convince millions of people that he’s the right man to lead this country. But perhaps Romney could learn a thing or two by watching the Academy Awards on February 26th.

Unless “The Descendants” wins Best Picture, in which case Romney’s screwed.

Joseph Misulonas is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]

All opinions expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the columnist and do not reflect the views of The Daily Northwestern. If you would like to respond to the column, you may comment below, email the columnist or submit a 300-word letter to the editor to [email protected]