I Want Your Money Dir. Ray Griggs

[RG; 2010]

Styles: demagoguery, propaganda, animation
Others: Triumph of the Will, Fahrenheit 911, Super Capers

The first and most egregious flaw in I Want Your Money is its failure to mention the four (four!) times Ronald Reagan raised taxes between 1982 and 1984, the first of these being the largest tax hike Americans had seen since WWII. It also casually omits the gigantic financial windfall that US citizens with aims toward investment enjoyed at the hands of… Jimmy Carter, when he cut the capital gains tax in 1978 — a cut that Reagan-era Republicans were only too happy to completely take credit for. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I Want Your Money’s stated aim is to educate the American people about the two supposedly completely incompatible and morally polarized forces that are currently vying for control of America’s future — Reaganomics and Obamanomics, respectively. The Gipper himself personifies one side, representing a free-market paradise where taxes are laughably low and regulation is virtually nonexistent (though somehow society remains socially conservative and “value”-centered). The other, and in the opinion of the filmmakers, more dangerous side is personified by President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. This malevolent force aims to turn us all into socialists who are not allowed to succeed in business and whatnot, while giving special privileges to minority groups that we’re supposed to secretly detest. This is the dichotomy that Griggs sets up within the first few minutes of the film, and he spends the rest of it completely missing the point.

The way in which Ray Griggs, the director of this interesting piece of propaganda, goes about proving his point is sometimes infuriating, though often hilarious. A majority of the film is comprised of interviews with leading conservative pundits, whose economic insights sometime rise above the talking-point level, but mostly fail to admit the Republican Party’s hand in creating the current economic state of affairs that they so thoroughly abhor. But the truly salient feature of I Want Your Money is the cartoons. Griggs, who cut his teeth making computer animations and children’s entertainment, includes within his critique of the powers-that-be a couple of CGI sequences that detail an imaginary conversation that takes place between a cocksure Barack Obama and a humble and patient Ronald Reagan. These hypothetical meetings between Reagan and Obama are mostly very thinly-veiled racist caricatures, and do their creators no justice. The dialogue is horribly wrought and completely devoid of historical context, serving ultimately as another example of why many people (wrongly) consider the intellectual base of the Republican Party to be all but nonexistent. On the one hand, I have to hope that this film is geared towards children, as the arguments presented within it are asinine to put it mildly, but on the other I hope to God above that it isn’t, because I’m pretty sure children are the only people who’d be hoodwinked by Griggs’ sophomoric attempts at reasoned political discourse.

I Want Your Money presents its audience with dumbed-down, horribly trite cause-and-effect arguments that completely insult the intelligence of anyone who has paid attention during the last two decades of American history. I get the feeling that Griggs and the coterie of main-line conservative pundits who supply him with their economic opinions in this documentary were banking on the fact that people forgot a lot of what happened in America before Barack Obama became its prez. In an unbelievable segment towards the end of the film, Griggs leads us down the garden path, convincing us that the deficit left by the second Bush Administration was actually Obama and the Democrats’ fault… for real.

By driving a wedge into the already firmly entrenched divide between America’s two major political parties, Griggs et al. do nothing to help remedy what they see as a deeply troubled nation; they’re merely getting people more angry than they were already. People with a working knowledge of modern American history on both sides of the political spectrum will definitely see much to take issue with in this film. Sadly, I’m pretty sure those kinds of people don’t fall within the confines of Griggs’ target audience.

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