Kevin Costner had a great deal to say about the political system in this country, both in his film SWING VOTE, which he also co-produced, and when I talked with him on July 18, 2008. The film posits what would happen when a presidential election comes down to one vote. Costner was philosophical about celebrity interviews, using comedy to make a larger point, and why the eternal struggle between art and commerce isn’t quite what most people think.
No, it couldn’t actually happen, but that doesn’t stop the plot of SWING VOTE from being an irresistible idea. A presidential race comes down to one vote, and that vote belongs to a guy who isn’t quite sure who’s running for office. As a matter of fact, voting not only wasn’t his idea, it wasn’t even him who attempted to cast a ballot. It doesn’t matter. Both parties swing into overdrive to woo one befuddled voter, lavishing attention, parties, celebrities, and television commercials with higher production values than medium-budget feature films. A metaphor for national apathy? A savage indictment of the cynicism of party politics? A sharp satire about the chimera of media and politics as practiced in these United States in the 21st century? You betcha.
SWING VOTE shows the American political process at its worst and at its best. It’s hopeful without being naïve, inspiring without being didactic, illuminating without being alienating to any political philosophy except apathy.