The anti-political conspiracy

Taking the lead ... Michael Sheen, left, as Tony Blair in <em>The Special Relationship</em>; and George Clooney as Presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris in <em>The Ides of March</em>.
Taking the lead ... Michael Sheen, left, as Tony Blair in The Special Relationship; and George Clooney as Presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris in The Ides of March.
Donald Sutherland as President Snow in <em>The Hunger Games</em>.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow in The Hunger Games.

A few morons on the far right in America have condemned the latest Batman movie as left-wing propaganda, because the name of its chief villain, Bane, must have been designed to embarrass the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who once ran a company called Bain Capital.

A few morons on the far right in Australia have embraced the latest Batman movie as a parody of the left, because some of its villains use the rhetoric of the Occupy Wall Street movement. One commentator thought the film was saying the French Revolution had been a bad idea.

Clearly both sets of morons think The Dark Knight Rises is a political message film. But is it really? The Bane name appeared in Batman comics long before Romney was in business. And the film's invasion of the stock exchange is not motivated by ideology - it's a cover for a plot to ruin Bruce Wayne. The Dark Knight Rises is an action film about good v evil, but it's not part of the conspiracy that I'm about to expose.

Now here's a theory: could it be that the reason we hate pretty much all politicians at the moment is that we've been subjected in recent years to a propaganda campaign that portrays them as liars, hypocrites, cheats, fools, perverts and murderers? In The Hunger Games, the president arranges sadistic TV reality shows to distract the populace from their oppression. In Wag the Dog, the president gets his spin doctors to create a fake war to distract attention from his sexual excesses. In Green Zone, US government officials plan to kill American soldiers who suggest there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In The Ides of March, a friend of the poor and oppressed turns out to be a sexual predator. In The Campaign, which opened this weekend, businessmen manipulate a dumb conservative to stand against a slightly smarter candidate who has been caught in a sexual indiscretion.

This plot to humiliate the finest body of men and women money can buy is the work of a small cabal of writers, directors and actors, and I'm going to name them.

George Clooney co-wrote and performed in The Ides of March (about the hypocrisy of idealistic political activists) and Good Night, and Good Luck (which uses the anti-communist paranoia of the 1950s as a metaphor for anti-terrorist paranoia in the noughties). Clooney's co-writer on both films was Grant Heslov, who wrote Enemy of the State (about how governments spy on us and ignore our legal rights).

Matt Damon starred in The Bourne Ultimatum, which exposes government excesses in the war against terror, and Green Zone, which exposes the US government's ruthless ineptitude in Iraq. The director and co-writer of both films was Paul Greengrass, who told The Guardian: "It's quite clear that the secret parts of our governments have profoundly let us down. The consequence of that is a great tide of mistrust coursing through our cultures now."

The co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatum was Tony Gilroy, who wrote and directed The Bourne Legacy, which opens here next week. In it, a CIA recruiter tells the hero: "We are the sin eaters. We take the moral excrement that we find in this equation and we bury it down deep inside of us, so that the rest of our cause can stay pure. We are morally indefensible and absolutely necessary.''

Michael Sheen has played former British prime minister Tony Blair in three films, former US president Richard Nixon's interrogator in Frost/ Nixon and a Muslim terrorist in Unthinkable, which had such horrifying torture scenes (performed by US government operatives) that it went straight to DVD.

They are just a tiny part of the conspiracy by the entertainment industry against politicians and their representatives. Unless, of course, another theory applies: that the reason we hate pollies is that most of them actually are liars, fools, cheats, hypocrites, perverts or murderers. No, that would be unthinkable.

For more details on the best political films of the past 20 years, and to nominate your favourites, see

This story The anti-political conspiracy first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.