July 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm #106919
There was a pretty awesome Friday article in govexec which focused on a study of how the government is portrayed in movies.
While the government itself is always getting ragged on the study says that individual government employees, AKA you, are actually shown as pretty sexy smart people. All I can say is AMEN! Glad they got it right.
So with all that in mind who will play the government you when the movie about that awesome project you are working on right now comes out?
July 30, 2010 at 8:05 pm #106941
Some 20 years back, I read an excellent academic book on the psychology of media, and the author had a chapter entitled something like “What do we know about hookers?”. The theme and premise of the chapter was that there are many social roles we may think we know about, but have no direct knowledge of, only 2nd and 3rd hand social information, relayed by media. Virtually any adult can summon up a rich detailed image of a woman involved in the sex trade (or pick just about a million other social roles), yet precious few have actually ever met or, um, “employed” one. So where did we learn what we know about them? Irma La Douce. Pretty Woman. Etc.
A student of mine at the time was a police officer, and told me he wished that “Adam-12” was still on the air. His explanation for that sentiment was that 80% of the difficulty he had in dealing with troubled youth was that their primary knowledge of police came from media images of individuals gripping a pistol with both hands, yelling “Freeze!!”, something actually done by most officers quite rarely in their careers, let alone on a daily basis, and certainly not in the municipality where we lived. In his case, his day consisted of filling out reports on stolen bicycles, checking to see that seatbelts were worn, patrolling, ticketing, or quelling domestic disputes. Real policing was more Martin Milner, and rarely, if ever, Bruce Willis. The media-derived assumptions about what those people are like led youth to treat him with apprehension and hostility, and poison his interactions with them before he could even be helpful.
So what do people know about “government”? Where did they learn it from? What do they think we do, and how do they think we get things done? Do they know just how many human-gears need to be cranked for something to happen? Are their expectations about responsiveness realistic? Do they believe they can vote for someone, who then strolls over or phones someone “in government” and stuff just happens? Are they restless and impatient because they think they know who we are and what we do, but really what they know is what they’ve seen that can fit into an hour or 30 minutes?
I suppose it’s okay if people want to think we’re sexy or smart, but there are plenty who aren’t, and plenty who THINK they are but aren’t. People who get stuff done, but it takes a long time and they don’t talk about it. People who talk about it and make a lot of noise, but nothing really gets done. People who flit from job to job to job and never commit to anything, and people who are still in the same job 23 years later, and do it dutifully each and every day. I’d rather have the public think the latter type is sexy, than the former.
In reading an obituary of the great actor Maury Chaykin who passed away the other day, I learned that the part of Pres. Bartlett was first offered to Chaykin, who turned it down. As much as I loved the show, and thought Sheen did a terrific job, the idea of someone frumpier doing it appeals to me more. I don’t want to sex it up for public service to be ET/TMZ-ready. I want to make it more real to more people.
July 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm #106939
I have to agree with you on this one…not only does the silver screen make the government sexier, it makes it much more efficient and up-to-date. I’m not saying the federal government is an antiquated and highly inefficient machine but it surely is not the way it’s portrayed on the silver screen.
Take for example one of my favorite shows, “Criminal Minds”, which is supposed to portray an FBI Behavioral Affairs Unit. Their office is not that far out of field, like the all chrome and glass office in “CSI – Miami”, but they have the most outrageous ability to access computer data (and open sealed files), killer computers, their own jet and you rarely see anyone but the head guy doing paperwork. “NCIS” is another show that goes way out on a limb in portraying what a real government office and employee would be like. “X-Files” made us all look like it was back to the Nixon era and “Deep Throat”; we all had something to hide…but at least they made the offices look like a normal government office.
I suppose the public would rather think we work in buildings that shimmer and shine, gleam with chrome and always have everything to do the job we are hired to do. That would make the taxpayers feel good about their tax dollars. They don’t want to know that some offices are still using old desks, hand-me-down furniture/cubicles because our budget didn’t include furniture; hand-me-down computers because our budget isn’t big enough to buy a new one for every employee and so on. The public wants to know we get the job done and if the “sexier” image helps…so be it.
August 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm #106937
August 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm #106935
August 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm #106933
Mark D. LombardParticipant
Steve Martin would have to play me.
August 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm #106931
When I lived in DC, I got mistaken for Nicholas Cage.
But my wife says Matthew McConaughey would be better…
August 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm #106929
August 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm #106927
I’d like to believe that I am as seductive as a young Sophia Loren, but the job would go to a less goofy Ellen DeGeneres.
August 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm #106925
Figured it out (thanks to the 19-year-old film expert): James Franco to play Steve Ressler (see for example http://www.jdmfilmreviews.com/images/james-franco-glasses.jpg).
I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of comments like those by Mark Hammer and Jenyfer Johnson. It just bugged me too much to give up on the resemblance to an actor I knew I’d seen and I spent my mental energy tracking that down.
August 4, 2010 at 12:26 am #106923
Zoe Saldana from Avatar would play me.
August 4, 2010 at 4:22 am #106921
Angelina Jolie here…
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