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Frank Capra on Populism and Pop Culture

Friday, November 11, 2016 7:17
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A few days ago, I published a piece here praising Frank Capra’s 1941 film Meet John Doe, one of the best movies ever made about mass politics and mass culture. Doe is both jaded and hopeful; it damns the hollowed-out phony populism that shady figures use to seize power, but it also imagines that something authentic and valuable could grow out of even the most factitious crusades. Capra made some better pictures, but I don’t think he ever made another as politically complex as this one. “What it anticipates,” I wrote, “is a world where media deceptions aren’t just ubiquitous; they’re a landscape of mutating memes outside anyone’s control.”

One more thing about the movie: It’s in the public domain. If you’ve never watched it before, you really should:

For my full article about the film (warning: spoilers), go here. For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.


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