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Thread: What's the Matter With Kansas?

  1. #1
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Jul 2006

    Default What's the Matter With Kansas?

    Review: 'What's the Matter With Kansas?'

    The virtue of the documentary "What's the Matter With Kansas?" is that it allows its subjects - conservative and Christian Kansans - to speak for themselves. These people are generally the objects of puzzlement, and often derision, for blue-staters, and if the movie opens some minds and hearts, that's good.
    Or maybe I'm being optimistic. It's also possible that liberal viewers will simply find their prejudices confirmed.
    The film is based on Thomas Frank's 2004 best-seller with the same title, which examined why poor white Kansans have, in the author's view, ignored their own economic interests to vote Republican, motivated by emotional issues like abortion and gay marriage. The assumption that something's "the matter" with Kansas indicates the book's perspective.
    The state's conservative reputation is ironic because in the 19th century, Kansas had a radical streak - suffragists, socialists and populists were drawn to the state, and their values were given a platform in an outspoken newspaper called the Appeal to Reason.
    Director Joe Winston ("The Burning Man Festival") homes in on a handful of subjects, the most compelling of whom is Angel Dillard, a mother of two who suffered through an abusive marriage and now has a farm with her new husband. She's a devout Christian, writing and performing her own religious songs, and a pro-life activist. She has one particularly heart-rending story to tell.
    She's also a member of a church in Wichita run by firebrand pastor Terry Fox, who is eventually pushed out because of his inflexible views about subjects like homosexuality and tries to start a new church at a theme park (an effort that collapses under possibly shady circumstances).
    We also meet Donn Teske, a bluff and pleasant guy who runs the Kansas Farmers Union, and Brittany Barden, a young woman who works for Republican candidates and who is headed off to Patrick Henry College (motto: "For Christ and for Liberty"). She was homeschooled.
    Author Frank also makes a short appearance.
    Much of what we see is revealing, but I was unable to quell an occasional sense that the dice were being loaded, that the subjects were being given just enough rope to hang themselves. We're shown a family's visit to the Creation Museum in Kentucky - a place tailor-made for progressive mockery - and we see footage of the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" when activists aggressively tried to shut down the Wichita abortion facility run by Dr. George Tiller (who was assassinated earlier this year, a fact not included here). The implication of these segments is that these conservative rural Christians are unsophisticated, fanatical, weird.
    It's finally a very sad movie, because it speaks to the profound depths of the political division in this country.

  2. #2
    Elite Member azoria's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    far and away


    Quote Originally Posted by celeb_2006 View Post
    Review: 'What's the Matter With Kansas?'
    Director Joe Winston ("The Burning Man Festival") homes in on a handful of subjects
    Burning Man???? Pfaff! Cheap poseur. I trust the average Kansasian with my life but I wouldn't buy a melted popsicle from some Burning Man huckster. You can kiss my grits Mr. alternative lifestyle imposter.

    I like Kansas. My mother lives there and I love visiting her. The people are real, the air smells wonderful, and you can see forever and ever. Kansas is beautiful.

    Two thumbs up for Kansas, and one thumb up the butt for self-promoting hotshot Joe Winston.

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