Corruption in Mr Smith goes to Washington Presentation

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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Questions and Comments 1. When watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I thought that the scene where Governor Hopper is at the dinner table and is arguing with his numerous children about how Jefferson Smith should be chosen as the new senator was inaccurate; all of the dialogue from the children sounds akin to a political ad that would be aired. I found it unrealistic yet humorous that all of the governor’s children, even the smallest and youngest, would be so articulate and forceful in their arguments and insistence that their father chooses Jefferson Smith be to be the next senator. 2. If I were to remake this film today, I would change a number of things. One of the things I would change would be to make the film more reflective of the way Washington D.C. and Congress looks in present day. When Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was released, the year was 1936 and as such the entirety of Congress was comprised of only white men. The only women that appear in the film are either secretaries, children, or beautiful women for Smith to pine over. Furthermore, since it was 1936, the only times African Americans appear in the movie are in places like the train station as workers who hold luggage, in a restaurant as a waiter, and as a butler in a senator’s house; they either have few lines or no lines at all. If I were to remake this movie in present day, the characters would be far more diverse than a film made in 1936 because the demographics of Congress, Washington D.C., and the entire country are far more diverse than they ever were in 1936. Another thing that I would change if I were to remake this movie in present day is that there would obviously be the inclusion of things like television and social media as a means of communication and reporting news. For example, when Smith is chosen as the new senator there would be news outlets reporting on it, it would be aired on television, and there would be a flurry of social media posts and reactions about it online. Another example would be the sequence where the press portrays Smith as a bumbling fool in the newspapers. If I were to remake the film in present day, the entire sequence would be different and would probably be much more swift and brutal with the use of televised news and social media. The images and idea of Smith being an idiot would spread everywhere within seconds instead of being in tomorrow morning’s paper and the clips would edited into quick bites that would be aired and circulated on TV and social media countless times for probably the entirety of my remake’s runtime. Smith would also not be able to punch all the reporters he can find since in my present day remake he would be portrayed as even more of a loon by the media and the rapid fire nature of the internet; by trying to physically fight back, Smith would make the situation far worse for himself. Lastly, the chaotic ending of the movie would involve the symphony of media, televised and social, reacting to Smith’s massive filibuster, Paine’s sudden attempted suicide, and his abrupt confession in the Senate chamber. It would be impossible to keep all the information from reaching Smith’s home state as everyone watching on TV or on a live stream would be watching and reacting the events in the Senate chamber in real time and the information would spread at lightning speed online. If I were to remake the movie in present day, Paine’s attempted suicide by shooting himself would need to be changed as it would be virtually impossible for the senator to gain access to a firearm with the amount of security within the Capitol. I would also expand more on the ending since the ending of the original 1936 film is quite abrupt; after Smith faints, Paine attempts and is stopped from shooting himself, bursts back into the Senate chamber, confesses to everything, and then the film just ends suddenly with a lot of unresolved plot threads. 3. In reading the article “U.S. House Members in Their Constituencies: An Exploration” by Richard F. Fenno, I learned that, depending on their seniority, members of Congress are allowed more or less time to make trips back to their home states. The more seniority one has, the more trips they are allotted back to their home state, which in turn benefits the electoral margins for that member of Congress. Another thing I learned from the article is that there are various constituencies and, depending on the type of constituency, they can hold a member of Congress more or less accountable for their actions and behavior in Congress when it comes time to vote. There are some constituencies that are dedicated and will vote for their member of Congress regardless of what happens while there are others that could be more easily swayed to vote against them. The support from the constituencies can be affected by allocation of resources and staff to the offices in the home states of members of Congress 4. What if Mr. Smith never exposed the dirty politicians in the senate? Could it be that he would’ve left to avoid being part of it? Or would he have remained, been manipulated into being like the rest of them? 5. Although the film is long, I enjoyed it. I thought it did a great job on demonstrating the legislative branch and how political corruption happens. I loved how in the film they believed Mr. Smith was going to be easy to use, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Mr. Smith did the right thing by exposing all the corruption that was going on. The article, “Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington,” also speaks about how the film’s purpose is to demonstrate how self-government can lead itself to corruption. Nonetheless, it compares the film to Steven Spielberg, noting of the lies and incompetence of presidents. With that being said, just how the article notes, it does seem to be aimed towards Richard Nixon. 6. The article “Speech, Identity, and Ideology in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’” was very interesting to read and learn how the focus of the films were the speech acts – makes a lot of sense for Mr. Smith’s stuttering. While watching the film, I was very confused as to why Mr. Smith was a bit odd in the beginning, and was easily distracted, yet fascinated by everything. When reading the article, it made more sense as to why his character is the way it is. 7. This movie makes me laugh so hard. It is so corny and weird. It is also very nostalgic as I watched it in my political science class senior year and my teacher had to pause after the kids got run off the road because we were laughing too hard. 8. It shocked me to read that the movie was pushed to not be released in Europe. It makes me wonder, how strong is the influence of movies on the general population? Considering this movie is decades old, would we see this influence of movies today, where a movie comes out on every topic from every angle. 9. I thought the perspective that democracy was “saved” by Mr.Smith using traditionally undemocratic means. Both Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Posthave a good guy and a bad guy even if they may not align with all of the audiences views perfectly or have complete historical accuracy, they still manage to make the audience believe in a certain right and wrong. 10. The scene where Jefferson Smith was being cornered by the other senators and politicians was sort of eerie and chaotic. The scene and the dynamic between the two reminded a confused and scared frat boy (Jefferson) and the hazing fraternity group (The group of senators). I wonder if this bullying and “hazing” has occurred in real life American politics. I personally couldn’t see it being as dramatized as it is in the film but I could perhaps see bully-like mentalities on Capitol Hill. The scene where Jefferson is having a speech where he is presenting his bill to the Senate is so heart wrenching. The body language and his voice cracking as he struggled to keep his anxiety down as he read off the bill pulled at my heartstrings. I feel like it impacted me so much because I can relate so much to the anxiety of speaking in front of people. On the other hand, I feel like this scene really made Jefferson vulnerable and therefore making him appear more human. I feel like Jefferson is at base level being portrayed as an average guy that loves his country, which is not the norm that we see in politics. 11. In the article titled Speech, Identity, and Ideology in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, Gallagher explains how different scenes connect to the central themes of identity and ideology amongst other themes. As said by the article itself, “The sequence in which Smith rises to introduce this bill is the first major turning point in the film, and it reflects , in miniature, the ideological suppositions about public speech which inform the thirty-five minute sequence at the film’s conclusion, wherein Smith, the lone and beleaguered hero with his “piece to speak”, fights off the attempts of various groups, corrupt or deluded, to deprive him of his voice (a voice we have already identified as speaking the truth, nearly absolutely).” (Gallagher, pg. 17). With this considered, do we believe that there is a voice of truth like Jefferson Smith? Who are they if there is? If not, then why? 12. When Mr. Smith first takes his position as senator, he meets with the press who then twist his statements to create more controversy and therefore boost their careers. How common do you think this situation is in today’s political world? Do you think there are politicians in the United States today that are universally hated because of how the press misrepresents them and their ideals? On the contrary, do you think there are politicians that are secretly corrupt but are praised by the media and therefore loved by the American public? 13. During the film, I took note of Mr. Smith’s unique tone of voice and behavior that changed throughout the film and wondered if the director specifically told him to speak in that manner or if that is how the actor regularly performs his roles. Since I do not watch many old films, I am not familiar with James Stewart and how he usually plays his roles. In the article “Speech, Identity, and Ideology in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’” by Brian Gallagher, it is mentioned that the reason why Mr. Smith’s voice is so distinct is because Stewart’s voice itself is distinct and the director wanted to make his character contrast with the rest of the cast while also showing the maturation of his voice as he begins to stand up to the rest of the Senate. 14. I honestly found this film a bit difficult to watch at times because it truly shows the ugly side of our country. At the beginning of the film, Mr. Smith is shown to be excited about making a difference and is very patriotic, taking walks around Washington and viewing iconic sights such as the Lincoln Memorial to “get in the mood” before his first day in the Senate. However, his mood quickly changes when he realizes that corruption is rampant in the United States government and a sense of hopelessness surrounds him, especially when Saunders discourages him by telling him that he is too innocent for the job. In the article “Mr. Capra Goes to Washington” by Michael P. Rogin and Kathleen Moran, it is mentioned that Frank Capra was aware that Hollywood was increasingly being used as a stage in which to critique society, so it is very likely that he would want to make the film as infuriating as possible for not only the entertainment value but also to present his political views to the Americans watching the film and therefore make them more politically aware. 15. It was interesting to see how this movie being released in 1936 how the United States government has always had political corruption and schemes. The movie showed a great deal of politicians seeking personal gains instead of doing what is best for the people. 16. If you were in the Governor’s shoes, would you have appointed Smith as senator over many qualified politicians and why? 17. In the article Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington it mentions “without an outside agent to penetrate it and cleanse it of its sins, self-government sinks into corruption and despotism.” In the movie it brings an outside agent to help stop the corruption in government. However, I feel as if we now see more corruption in government before and things aren’t being done as in bringing an outside agent to help end the corruption. 18. Throughout the film we see this corruption in the US government whether it’s with senator joseph pain or other government members. I think it is really intriguing the way the film brings to light the corruption and the process of trying to do things the right way and justly. It really shows the complication and the opposing views and how people think they may be right even if they are morally wrong. The corruption aspect of the film as well is what I believe made this film so insightful and good showing the real world of politics during that time. It is interesting as well how in the reading Mr. Capra goes to Washington, they show how the politician reacted to the movie and how they were against it and denounced the things being brought forth about politicians and what happens in politics. “Mr. Smith’s picture of Washington was ‘‘bitter beyond belief,’’ and the ‘‘great personages’’ forced to watch themselves on screen were not pleased by what they saw. House Majority Leader Sam Rayburn and Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley denounced the film. Barkley declared the film ‘‘as grotesque as anything I have ever seen!” I also really liked the development of Mr. Smith it kind of showed us the view of a common American when he was elected to the senate. He was shocked and not prepared because he wasn't a politician. So, when he first got to Washington, he did what every tourist does he went sightseeing and went for a tour. It was interesting to see how he had this cozy nice feeling about Washington at first. Then as things developed, he developed as well into a political fight for an issue. I liked how he grew into a politician. Kind of expressing that anyone can truly be a politician if they are willing to work hard and fight for what they believe in. I really liked that aspect of the film and the character development into a politician that they did with Mr. Smith it follows my own personal belief that there is no criteria or perfect person to be a politician anyone can if you're standing up for what is right. This is even expressed in in the article by Richard Feno about the U.S. House Members in Their Constituencies: An Exploration. He analysis ideology, seniority, ethnicity, race, sex,3 and in terms of safeness, of a group of politicians and still concludes that there is still no balance within the group. Showing that anyone can be a politician today but, there will always be conflicting views in politics. Throughout this film we see Mr. Smith do and say things his colleagues are not expecting from him. This ultimately leads to his demise, so if these fellow peers and leaders are surprised by his actions. Then what was the real reason he was elected to the senate? Mr. Smith is considered not a politician by his peers, and they inevitably try to get rid of him throughout the movie. So then why did they elect him in the first place? What was their reasoning for selecting someone that isn't a politician? In today's society and politics is there an example that you can give that is like this situation in which Mr. Smith goes to Washington? 19. Are there now systems in place for when a congressman dies or has to leave the position? I assume there are, but it may vary by state. I wonder if the new congressman is typically accepted by those they represent. At first I thought they would not be liked because they were probably not voted for, but I remember last week the reading said Vice Presidents who have to take over for presidents have high approval ratings so maybe they would be respected. 20. Ferguson makes an interesting point when he says, “In Capra’s telling, democracy can be rescued only by anti-democratic means.” I agree since the filibuster is not respected and Smith was not even elected, however the ‘disenfranchised mob’ seems very democratic. Well maybe not very democratic but very American since the country has a history of mobs and protests making changes. 21. Has technology lessened the importance of actual Senate meetings? While thinking about all of the work Smith did to track down the reporters and have them apologize I realized in modern times he would just release a statement on social media. Technology has given representatives the power to make statements to their constituents whenever they want when in the past they would have had to call a press briefing or something more formal. Since we hear from our representatives so often I wonder if we are less likely to care about what they say in the actual senate meetings, though I suppose there is a difference between promising something online and actually proposing it to congress. 22. Throughout the film there is an emphasis on nationalism, many of the remarks characters made were unnecessarily “patriotic” for a lack of a better term. Was this how people actually spoke in the 30s and 40s or was the patriotism beefed up as a morale boost since this was released during the Depression?2.During Jefferson Smith’s first time in the Senate, I found it interesting and ironic how all of these senators Blatantly violated the Establishment Clause when they all prayed together before moving forward with proceedings.3. Through the duration of the film I picked up on the emphasis on elitism. The moment that stuck out to me the most was towards the end when Smith and Paine are going back and forth on the Senate floor. Minor chaos broke out and the Senate President banged his gavel telling the spectators “you are guests in this chamber.” I found this to be quite a bold statement coming from a public servant who “works for the people.” 23. My most important question is why Senator Smith wants to introduce a bill that he plans on writing in one night. Why he didn’t take the advice of 3-4 days of writing is very surprising. Most senators or congress people write bills in months not in one night. What was even more surprising which continues to have me question the validity of this senator was that he has no idea of the process of presenting a bill. He was confused about presenting it to a committee. 24. The way that the rest of the senators and other people in the main room are making fun of Senator Smith, is not the best way to go about it. It seems that Smith is nervous about what he is doing. This is simply based on the way that he is speaking and the cracking in his voice. In the article “Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington” written by Andrew Ferguson, says that Frank Capra wanted this movie to show how democracy was viewed. He says “ In Capra’s telling, democracy can be rescued only by antidemocratic means. Continue to talk about how an appointed senator was put into a vacant senate seat and was hit was all of the duties and complicated ways of government. A direct quote that really shows this movie, is “An appointed charismatic savior...(the great fear of every democratic theorist since Aristotle) (pg10) I feel like this example is used to show how government worked and how a person, against all odds, is able to frighten them. 25. The land that Smith wanted to build his boys’ camp is the same piece of land that Taylor and Paine want to resell the land to the government to build a dam. He claims that they are thieves. This in-turn helped efforts of Smith to build a boys’ camp because it grew popular from the people and all the boys who would want to go to the camp; we see that when Smith introduces the bill and all the boys go crazy. 26. C.L.R James, mentioned in Rogin and Moran’s article, was an author of a variety of different books and was known for applying political themes to topics which at first glance may appear apolitical. A specific example is his book on the influence of post-colonialism and the sport of Cricket throughout the Caribbean, Beyond a Boundary. Through this unique lens, James found film to be one of the most poignant mediums for political critique with Rogin and Moran writing, “James quickly came to recognize Hollywood as ‘‘the most striking expression of the tensions and deep crises of American society” (213). Do you agree with James’ statement that film is one of the most effective ways to portray political and social commentary? What is the most effective medium for political commentary today and what was it in 1939? 27. I believe that the name Mr. Smith was used because it is such a common last name playing on the notion that Mr. Smith is the idealized American citizen and could beanyone. I believe that the way Mr. Smith is portrayed as being politically naive contrasts with the scheming nature of many of the politicians to further wedge politicians awayf rom the public. Last week we saw something similar with the president barely appearing in Wag The Dog to make it seem more universal and with the “media” being in control of everything much like the politicians control Mr.Smith in Wag the Dog. Do you believe these are common themes we will see throughout more of the political films we will see this semester? 28. Throughout the movie there are moments of satirical blind patriotism such as when they throw a “starsspangled banner” banquet and holiday to announce Mr.Smith’s appointment while also talking about Mr. Smith being a perfect patriot for simply quoting Lincoln and Jefferson (10:40-11:00). With this film being between World War I and World War II, do you believe this was an effort to satirize growing nationalistic tendencies in the United States and abroad? Below is a political cartoon showing how the intersection of alliances and nationalism were both key factors in World War 1 and would only become more relevant in World War II. 29. The fact that this movie was made in 1939, yet the themes are so prevalent today was really eye opening to me. Of course, corruption has always been around in politics, however, watching this film following the events of the last few years of political scandal was really mind blowing to me. Clearly, this film resonated with the corruption and wrongdoings within the Senate back in 1939 when it was released. As we read in “Mr. Capra Goes to Washington,” there were many members of the senate that denounced the film, and despised the ugly caricature of themselves they saw on screen. If the film came out today, I wonder how senators, and other politicians, would react to it. 30. Early in the movie, while Mr. Smith is being appointed as senator, a young child presents him a gift. At this point, the young child is stuttering and clearly over his head, while an older boy rudely and reluctantly guides him through the speech. At the end, the older boy scolds the younger boy for messing up the speech. I took this as a direct parallel to Mr. Smith and Senator Paine, as Smith is a naive man in over his head, and Paine reluctantly guides him through it, but clearly in the wrong way. I could be looking too deep into this, but I immediately caught that parallel. 31. This movie seemed like the perfect representation of politics, which I believe was definitely on purpose. We see a young man, who may not know everything, but overall wants to do good, join the Senate. In just a short amount of time, he is berated by coworkers, almost pushed into corruption, and framed. A young hopeful man is pushed through the system of corruption. However, this is where I feel the movie has an overall more hopeful tone. Rather than become changed by all the wrongdoing, Mr. Smith is able to remain good, and when pleading his case, he is able to change the mind of Senator Paine. The message is that even when the world is against you, remaining true to yourself, and a good person, is the most important thing. 32. Mr. Smith was elected into the vacant seat of the Senate under the assumption that he was easily manipulated. Instead, his truth helped exploits the use of the filibuster in which Andrew Ferguson’s Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington describes, “His filibustering floor speech rouses a populist outpouring from an army of alarmingly cute children. By the end of the movie, Mr. Smith has restored the nation to its democratic ideals.” Considering our nation currently faces the efforts of trying to abolish the filibuster, would Mr. Smith would be revered as a hero now as depicted in the movie? 33. At one point on the Senate floor, Mr. Smith expresses, “You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place.” I find using the word “licked” interesting because Socrates at the time of Athenian democracy used the symbol of the gadfly to signify Athenians being intrusively probed or questioned about their moral, political and ethical standpoints. Since flies lick things, I was reminded of Socrates and gadflies. Similar to the gadfly in Socrates’ time, Mr. Smith probes and causes a moral unease by revealing the vivid truths of the Senate. 34. Brian Gallagher’s “Speech, Identity, and Ideology in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’” describes that Mr. Smith was “...quickly bewildered, and eventually despondent, about the fact that there is evidently a corresponding set of traditional American vices - cynicism, materialism, political corruption, and devotion to a myopic personal vision - which hold sway in the nation’s capital.” Are Mr. Smith’s emotions of discouragement and bewilderment parallel to the sentiments we saw during the most recent Senate and Presidential elections? 35. I found it a little funny while reading the article, Mr. Capra Goes to Washington, seeing how senators and other politicians within Washington were not thrilled with how they were portrayed in the film. Do you think that such a push back and defensive reaction could be due to some accuracies within the movie that people in Washington did not want to be seen as true? 36. The article Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington had one sentence that brought me back to a part of the film, which brought me back to last class, which brings me to real life. It was in reference to the free press and obviously mentioned Former President Trump, and I thought back to the scene in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington when the Governor is calling the different newspapers of the state, telling them what stories to run, essentially making Senator Smith look bad. It made me think about our discussion last week about who controls what is in the news, and I also think something worth noting is that Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, so it would be interesting to see what stories about Amazon they run. 37. It’s odd that this movie seemed topically relevant, considering it came out in 1939. The most topically relevant component that stood out to me was the filibuster. There is a lot of talk coming from the political arena about the filibuster and whether or not it should be used or abolished. This movie depicts how a filibuster can be used for good, but do you think when it comes down to it, there is a need for it in today’s America? 38. According to Gallagher, why is Mr. Smith anointed as the voice of American Idealism? Considering Jeffrey Smith is a new naïve man in the world of politics, what factors led to a lot of support from the people? 39. In a world of power and politics, why did people surely believe Mr. Smith would be easy to manipulate? How was Mr. Smith introduced to such greed and corruption that goes on in Washington. 40. Why do you think Mr. Smith decided to stay and fight for his own campaign after nearly being sent back home? How did Saunders help him progress throughout his campaign? 41. When does politics and power corrupt, stripping away the hope and aspirations of once — ostensibly — well-intentioned individuals? Gallagher writes that,“...Smith innocently brings those traditional American virtues this newer region of the country has allowed... idealism, love of nature, democracy, independence... he is bewildered, and eventually despondent, about the fact that there is evidently a corresponding set of traditional American vices — cynicism, materialism, political corruption, and devotion to a myopic personal vision — which hold sway in the nation’s capital. Even his formerly idealistic secretary, Saunders, whose eyes were once ‘big blue question marks’ but are not ‘big green dollar marks,’ has learned that a glib line of patter and a cynical attitude are... requirements for survival in Washington,” (1981, 16).With this I wonder how a representative democracy, where politicians cannot be truly held accountable by the people that elected them due to a manifest of reasons — from time poverty to legislation preventing the populace from pursuing the government in court without its consent — is truly a system that can further the goals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 42. The film seems to serve both as an analysis for the political machinations of the 20th century, idealism, and personal development, whereby Mr. Smith assumes the role of becoming an adult. However, I would say unlike most, without being corrupted by the cynicism and dilapidation of political life. To this extent, what can we define “growing up” as and how does it impact political figures?“... Smith, from the moment he begins his filibuster, is enacting an identificatory ritual wherein he becomes fully himself by becoming the voice of American idealism, past, present, and, given the intent of his boys’ camp bill, future,” (Gallagher 1981, 13). 43. Comment: I don’t see the point in Clarissa Saunders’ interest in Mr. Smith, as it doesn’t really add much to the overall theme and story of the film. However, I it was necessary to keep the audience engaged as romance tends to do. Or, at the very least, I can concede to it being necessary for Saunders’ character development and for Smith’s development towards maturity in some fashion. 44. In Smith’s speech introducing his bill to the senate, he states that his camp will bring “together boys of all walks of life from various parts of the country – boys of all creeds, kinds and positions – to educate them in American ideals and to promote mutual understanding and to bring about a healthful life to the growing youth of this great and beautiful land.” I wonder how many Americans in 1939 embraced the idealism of inclusion, including the director Frank Capra, specifically because of the lack of “inclusion” in the cast of this film. While this film provides insight into the political machine in Washington, do you think that showing more diversity would have improved it and if so, in what way/ways? 45. Do you feel this is an accurate portrayal of media in the realm of politics? During the decade in which this film was produced, the main sources of media were the radio and newspapers. While both are still viable forms of communication, television and the internet have become the primary powerhouses and have taken political news/discussions to a different, but perhaps, not a necessarily better, level. Though loathe to admit it, it does appear that “fake news” was and does remain a staple of media for a variety of reasons. In 1939 and now, 82 years later, the line between tabloid reporting and professional journalism seems blurry and tethered. In the article “Mr. Capra Goes to Washington” the authors write that “Underneath the apparent war between contemporary politicians and founding fathers, politics and morality, urban sophistication and small-town innocence, the corrupt present and the virtuous past, lies the triumph not of traditional morality (as happens within Capra’s film) but the triumph of the modern mass media apparently targeted by the movie.” In discussing three of Capra’s films (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) they state that “Far from assuming a virtuous traditional public opinion that simply needs to be aroused, these films worry that the public is largely ‘‘created’’ by modern media and are reachable only through the questionable techniques of mass media itself.” I find this statement even more so evident now. What role did the media play in the January 6th insurrection? Did they deserve the criticism heaped upon them by former President Trump? The character of Jim Taylor was a political boss who controlled the media and used them to assassinate the character of Jefferson Smith for his own greedy reasons. In the current political climate in the United States, it appears that there are quite a few real life Jim Taylors. Do these latter day Jim Taylors control the media, dictating what should be reported, while at the same time, condemning the press for printing fake news? 46. Andrew Ferguson, the author of “Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington”, discusses Spielberg’s movie “The Post”. He hits on the subject of feminism, specifically on Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post. He writes of her “personal evolution from insecure Georgetown socialite to Master of the Boardroom.” In Capra’s film, we view the character of Clarissa Saunders. Filmgoers are privy to her “personal evolution”. When first introduced to this character, she is a single woman, supporting herself as a secretary to Senator Paine. She is savvy and smart and knows how to get things done. She has also grown cynical and weary from dealing with the political machine. Jefferson Smith reminds her of her long-missing idealism, and she uses all of her insider knowledge to assist him in fighting against the corruption designed to decimate his character. We are left wondering what happened to this character after the close of the film. Did she forsake her career for marriage, as many women did 82 years ago, or did she become a Katherine Graham? 47. It was clear that Jefferson was unsettled when he realized that his political peers were centering an important bill around the benefit of a single person when its intended benefit was supposed to be directed towards assisting the public. Not only was he blindsided by this news, he was also made to be the scapegoat to take the fall for this despite the fact that he was not involved. In reality, what would the repercussions be if a politician were to be caught in a similar matter? 48. I found it really interesting that former President Trump’s name was mentioned in the article “Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington” because although the movie was released in 1939, the film proves to showcase parallels in different avenues of inner-political workings even decades after its release. Like Donald Trump, Jefferson Smith assumed the role of an influential, powerful political power in the U.S. government despite the significant lack of political experience and knowledge of governmental structure and procedures from an insider perspective. 49. A quote that especially stood out to me in the reading, “Speech, Identity, and Ideology in ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’” was, “These Capra films resemble daydreams of the ‘common man’ (and, less centrally, the ‘common woman’).” The comment in the parentheses in particular reminded me of the scene where Mr. Smith was talking to Mrs. Saunders. At one point they were making some innocent small talk, straying away from the main topic to be discussed, and Saunders reveals to Jefferson that she had been working since she was 16 years old. In response to this, he makes the comment that Saunders is “doing really well for a woman.” It is clear that at the time of the production of this film, there was still a huge division and gap between the sexes where women were viewed as inferior compared to men. Obviously, our system of government was based around the founding of men (The Founding Fathers), so as a woman, it raises the question that although women are influential political powers in today’s society, could it be said that the structure of government has always centered around prioritizing the benefit of men? In other words, is our system founded and structured around a misogynistic framework to the point that in order to change it in today’s modern society, our entire structure of government would have to be entirely dismantled and rebuilt from scratch? 50. Initially, Jeff was very enthusiastic about all aspects of his new job as senator, however, throughout the movie that deteriorates over time as he discovers the disappointing side of politics. He realizes that the government’s main interest isn’t always aimed towards benefitting the general public. This is especially prevalent in the scene where he says “Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books, Mrs.Saunders”. His peers/ the committee isn’t acting just and fair - how he would prefer-, and he feels like they are being somewhat corrupt. Essentially, that this isn’t the true America he was once so passionate about. 51. As there are so many steps and people that a bill has to go through to be passed, would it even be possible to wrongly create a bill/deal in real life? Would this plot even be plausible with our strict processes in place? I understand it’s for entertainment purposes, but sometimes art imitates life, and anything is possible for a certain price. 52. This movie also highlights how the expectations were so different for women, as Jeff applauds Ms.Saunders for working her entire life. He then compliments her for “doing really well for a woman”. There is a clear hierarchy of gender presented in this movie, especially in this scene. 53. The article “Mr.Spielberg goes to Washington” simplifies the plot of the movie to -a country bumpkin becomes the sole reason the nation is restored to its former just ideals- and that it is interesting how someone with little experience, and a naive eye can be the savior. They highlight how he saves the democratic ideals, without even being elected- basically saving everything without even following the same ideals he restored in the process. Overall, it was a heartwarming plot, but with some very undemocratic points along the way. 54. The film’s plot hinges on the filibuster. Lately there’s been strong support for eliminating the filibuster. Do you feel that it should be eliminated, or can it still serve a positive purpose? 55. Do you think the film sufficiently explained the legislative process, at least on a high level? Is there any part of the process you wish the filmmakers spent more time on? 56. Do you agree with the view in the Ferguson article (“Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington”) that the film “seethes with contempt for the raw materials of democracy...all the tedious, unsightly mechanics that turn democratic ideals into functioning self-government?” 57. The influence of lobbying seen in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is nearly identical to the power lobbying organizations have in today’s government. Seeing a movie that is over 80 years old display the same kind of Washington, D.C. establishment that exists in current times is an example of how, regardless of the time period, politics doesn’t seem to change much. Should a film like this one be used to analyze the world we live in now and how we address issues like lobbying? 58. Mr. Smith’s character is one that fits the description of an ideal politician; he is a man of his word, has respect for his own constituents as well as his nation’s history, and does not back down when forces of evil come to ruin the government of the people. Characters such as Senator Paine, on the other hand, show the behavior of a career politician; there are those within the government who conspire either together or with outside forces to have things go their way, benefitting a select few and harming the masses. What would it take for there to be a shift in power where the honorable politicians are more abundant and powerful than their evil counterparts? Will there ever be a government without rampant corruption?3. Does this film drive you away from ever considering a career in politics? On one hand, this theatrical adaptation of what really happens in Washington could be motivating for someone who wants to enter the world of politics and shake things up for the greater good. On the other hand, if this film is anywhere close to reality (and there’s a good chance that it is), the sacrifices one has to make to partake in such a career might outweigh the successes that come with it. In my eyes I feel like this film is a sign that more everyday people should run for office... more people like Mr. Smith. This being said, a political career (especially one in Washington, D.C.) is a massive risk to take and I wouldn’t blame anybody driven away from pursuing this type of career. 59. Since the beginning of representative government, there has always been a negative connotation with political insiders and long-term politicians. In the United States, there is a general discontent with “Washington-insiders” from both major parties that are criticized for putting the interests of major lobbies ahead of those of their constituents and states that voted them in. In the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Senator Smith is purposefully portrayed as the ideal Senator because of his freedom from the influences of political bosses and Washington insiders. But even Smith initially struggles to be relevant and influential. In the same way, newcomers to Washington today like many progressives, tea party candidates, and even the former President struggled to pass legislation because of political inexperience. Is the romantism with political newcomers a positive change for Washington or does it risk obscuring experience over novelty? 60. Andrew Ferguson brings up a fair point when regarding films about the Washington establishment in his article “Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington”. He purposely points to Steven Spielberg’s film The Post because in the same way as the film we watched, it portrayed those in Washington as the corrupt examples of American Democracy. He explains how these films pushed this idea that only a few idealistic individuals can save our system of government from its downfall. However, I agree with him that this leaves a dangerous precedent of hostility toward those with experience and a history of governing. It can even be easily argued that President Biden, a by the book politician with decades in Washington, won against political outsider President Trump because the electorate finally realized the value in experienced individuals, regardless of our negative Hollywood image of Washington. 61. The ending of the film is iconic with Senator Smith using the filibuster in an attempt to stop a corrupt bill from passing and clearing his name. He spends hours speaking to stall the process of passing legislation. There has been much debate about how minority parties have used the filibuster to prevent legislation from passing in the US Senate and how those of majority parties claim this is obstruction. While Mr. Smith may have had a noble cause, not many see the filibuster as a means to prevent partisan politics anymore and have even called for its removal all together. Has the filibuster becoming an obstructing tool of partisan politics or is it a necessary tool to check the impulses of majority rule? 62. This film was interesting to watch because it accurately portrayed the corruption of politicians and the media, compared to Mr. Smith, who was presented as senator on purpose because he was naive (Rogin, Moran, 214). Mr. Smith portrays the American people who are kept out of the loop from politicians' deals, and shows that once these deals are in motion, they are hard to stop when tycoons control the whole state and its press. One man in the movie praised Smith for the job because he was “Never in politics in his life” and “wouldn’t know what it is about in 2 years let alone 3 months”, signaling they can use him for their benefit. 63. The movie also goes to show how politicians play the game to get reelected. The boy who showed Smith to his seat in the Senate told him, “Sit around and listen, that’s the way to get reelected”. Politicians have to portray that they are doing good for the people to get reelected, but then can make secret deals to their own benefit. 64. Saunders was quoted as saying “One man muzzling up a whole state? Freedom of the press,” about Taylor. People can be fed lies about a situation or person and not even know it which is terrifying. Without being there in person at an event, there is no true way to know what occurred so we have to rely on the press and social media and word by mouth, all of which can be inaccurate. 65. In the beginning of the film, Mr. Smith is specifically chosen for the Senate due to the perception other prospective appointees might create and for his honesty, integrity, and his potential vote-getting capabilities. Despite being honest and truthful, Washington chews him up and nearly spits him back out, but his inability to give up, in order to do what is morally right, saves his career. While politics is usually considered one of the few professions where honesty can be a negative, I enjoyed the film’s message that standing up for yourself and doing what is right will ultimately pay off. 66. While politicians are usually seen as corrupt and deceitful, this film does nothing to change that perception in the mind of the viewers with characters such as Jim Taylor and Senator Paine. Has anything similar to the Willet Dam land scam ever been perpetrated by a member of Congress? If so, what efforts were made by other members of Congress to oppose such scams? 67. Rogin and Moran mention in their article, “Mr. Capra goes to Washington” that, “Although Washingtonians did not appreciate Frank Capra’s version of politics, an actor who had made his Hollywood debut two years before Mr. Smith’s premiere did. Only one American president deliberately modeled himself on the Frank Ca- pra hero. That actor, who began his career in New Deal Hollywood and ended up in the White House, was Ronald Reagan” (Rogin and Moran 215). Do you believe there are more Jefferson Smith’s or Senator Paines in Washington today?
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Corruption in Mr. Smith goes to Washington
Institution Affiliation

 The

film is rife with corruption scenes

 It

provides a satirical picture of how a typical

 Corruption

comes into the limelight after Jefferson
Smith secure the appointment at the end.

 With

his appointment, it emerges that corruption
has great influence on politics.

Naïve to Corruption

Corruption is portrayed as a system.

From which it becomes difficult to escape

Mr. Smith is depicted a naïve scout leader who ends up
being appointed to the United States Senate.

He has no clue of what it is to be in the government. Once
he gets to Washington, he is entangled in a scandal.

He is too naïve about the new work environment and the
political environment.

Entangled by the System

Corruption cannot exist without the collaboration of various
powerful individuals in the system.
 This is evident by Mr. Smith’s nativity and the way he
becomes part of it.
 His participation is depicted through his compromised
 He is forced to filibuster on the Senate floor just to delay a
 But this happens because he has been naïve and honest.

Misuse of Public Resources

The film instrumental to highlighting the misusing
government//public resources.

Passing bills in the US Congress or Senate is not only difficult but
also costly.

It would be a misuse of resources to propose a bill for personal

It would even be worse if a Senator proposes a bill to district the
attention for a serious scandal.

Paine did the same to district the attention of Smith.

The Bill

The bill is a distraction.

Paine believes that Smith need to be kept busy.

They need to district him from the ongoing graft plan.

He persuades Smith to come up with a new bill.

The bill aims to authorize a federal government loan for
buying land in Smith’s home state. The funds are meant
for a national boys’ camp.

Graft in the bill

Proposing the bill means that he wou...

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