REVIEW: Citizen Koch

24 03 2015

Citizen KochDirectors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin sell their documentary “Citizen Koch” as an exploration of the effects of the 2010 Citizens United case, which allowed an almost unlimited flow of corporate money into electoral politics.  The lawsuit, which began with a piece of propaganda disguised as a documentary called “Hillary: The Movie,” radically altered our democracy.

“Citizen Koch” attacks the decision reached in Citizens United yet is not all that different from the film at the center of the case.  It claims to be a piece of journalism, but it is really just a thinly-veiled partisan attack.  Poorly researched and selectively presentative of the facts, Deal and Lessin commits what is, in my mind, a cardinal sin of documentary filmmaking.  Rather than elevating the discussion to move beyond party divisions, they simply work to entrench partisan-infused rhetoric.

“Citizen Koch” crosses its wires on indignation for Tea Party’s racially charged rhetoric with the power of Citizens United.  They have every right to be angry, and I’m probably just as scared as they are of the prospect of “President Ted Cruz.”  But going after them for their oratory technique seems erroneous, and it detracts from the integrity of their argument on the whole.

Furthermore, Deal and Lessin make an overly simplified claim that Citizens United created the Tea Party.  I know for a fact that such an assertion is incorrect, as I knew parents of friends who started attending their rallies in 2009.  They also ignore the fact that Democrats are benefitting just as much from Super PAC spending, which became essentially unlimited as a result of the decision, as Republicans.  But based on the amount of time they devote to attacking the Koch Brothers’ puppet Scott Walker, anyone watching the movie with no knowledge of the issue would assume it was only the GOP exploiting the groups.

If Deal and Lessin really cared about ending the role of big money in politics, they would have made a film that did more than just preach to the choir and pander to the left.  Instead, they veer wildly off message to take potshots at Republicans for easy points.  This sham of democracy in this country will only continue to get worse if more films like “Citizen Koch” continue get a free pass for their ridiculous masquerade of non-fiction cinema.  C-1halfstars



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