Film Review: A teenage political experiment in ‘Boys State’


Future candidate for elected office. Look no further than the new documentary called Boy State. It's about an annual event in my government for high school students sponsored by the American Legion. By the way, Bill Clinton and Cory Booker went through the program. Boy state begins streaming Friday on Apple, Plus our film critic Justin Chang has THISS review. Since they were founded in the 19 thirties by the American Legion, the boys, state and Girls state programs have been giving high schoolers a practical education in how government works. Students in every state are chosen to take part in a weeklong summer experiment in which they must form their own representative democracy. As we learned from the opening credits of the terrific new documentary Boys State. Will Clinton, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Cory Booker are just a few of the program's famous alums. A film, directed by Amanda McBain and Jesse Moss, focuses on the Texas Boys state event that took place in June 2018. We see the roughly 1200 participants arriving in Austin. Where they are randomly divided into two political parties, The federalists and the Nationalists. Those names carry no agenda. It's up to both parties to hammer out a platform, choose their leaders and then run against each other in a week long election campaign. McBain and Moss throw us into this mark government exercise without much preamble or explanation of the rules of the game. Like politics itself, be action can be a little confusing. Unlike politics, it's never boring, mainly because the movie wisely focuses on a select few participants. Either. The filmmakers were extremely lucky and their choice of subjects or they shot so much footage that they were able to isolate the most compelling personalities. In any event, the four young men we spend the most time with all in that playing key roles in the experiments, nerve wracking outcome. Most ambitious of the bunch is Ben, the Federalists Party chair who's willing to do anything to win votes, including smearing the Nationalists on Social media. Venice. Politically conservative. He has a Ronald Reagan action figure to prove it. And he despises what he sees as the liberal tendency to divide people along lines of race, gender and disability. Then speaks from some personal perspective. He lost both his legs to meningitis when he was three. Care of the Nationalist Party hails from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Progressive black teenager originally from Chicago. Renee knows he stands out in this mostly white, conservative Texas field. He also stands out on merit. He has a seasoned politicians command of rhetoric and can deftly out argue any opponent. It is also capable of calling for party unity, as he does in an early speech. My grandmother told me a few things you have to have faith.

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