PART 2 of 3: CATHARSIS AND REVELATIONS
(Continued from PART 1)
Perhaps because I’ve personally known Nick over the years and my ultimate life path of being involved with a wide variety of organizations only to see a lot of them fall apart or not live up to their own professed standards was very similar to his story in the film, it was the scenes with him that struck me at the deepest level (not that Ben and D.J. didn’t impact me significantly as well). However, even for the most casual political observer, Nick’s intellectual and personal journey over the course of the film is something that everyone can relate to.
Through his young eyes, you see a young adult with both a deep love of public service and a true passion for government and involvement. However, you also see first hand the ambition and confidence that any potential leader has to have. It takes a certain type of mindset (and not in a derogatory sense, a certain sized ego) to believe you have what it takes to be the POTUS (editor’s note: that’s President Of The United States, if anyone reading this isn’t already a political junkie who’s known that since birth). With Follow the Leader, you see how issues like not getting recognized by your father (Ben), a need for a competitive outlet (D.J.), and a considerable desire to prove himself (all three subjects) pushes them to a path with the greatest public acknowledgement.
As I watched the film, I was constantly struck by a feeling as if someone had recorded the last five years of my life, changed some of the minor details, and cast different people to play me. That’s how true of an experience Follow the Leader is. As someone whose sole goal in life was to be elected to public office but found himself so jaded by the obstinacy of the right, and then the incompetence and “weak-kneedness” of the left, that he gave it all up, I found a reflection of myself in these film’s characters despite our complete lack of agreement on the issues.
My own neuroses and long dialectics with friends over the years had already helped me realize what it was that pushed me towards politics as a youth (ambition fueled by a need for power and recognition, after ruthless bullying as a child). But Follow the Leader still managed to help me open my eyes to how I was growing during my pivotal teen years, and point out that there are countless other kids across the country who experienced similar philosophical trajectories.
RETURN TOMORROW FOR PART 3:
SEE IT IF YOU DARE: A FILM TO IMPROVE OUR COUNTRY