Boys State: A Reflection of a Polarised Society

Boys State: A Reflection of a Polarised Society

Today is a special US presidential election edition of Factual America. Americans are heading to the polls. Will they re-elect Donald Trump? Or will they opt for a change and vote for Joe Biden? We can’t say either way with any certainty.

What we can say is that America is a polarised society. And whatever the result, the politics of division are here to stay, so it seems. That division and polarisation are captured brilliantly in Boys State, the Sundance Jury Prize Winner from filmmakers Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss.

The documentary shows what would happen if you put a thousand teenage boys together and put them in charge of the political landscape of America. 

Despite the hand-me-down politics of their parents and grandparents, can a bunch of Texas teenage boys provide hope and point the way ahead?

We found out when we caught up recently with Amanda and Jesse from their home in California.

“It’s a little bit like the Stanford Prison Experiment, but for the Government.” – Jesse Moss

Time Stamps:

03:18 – The extent of polarisation in America.
04:03 – How Jesse’s feeling about the upcoming election.
05:45 – What it’s been like being so immersed in the presidential election.
06:53 – A brief synopsis of the film and what ‘Texas Boys State’ is.
09:22 – Why Boys and Girls State are so influential.
10:44 – First clip from the film: the forming of the two Boys State parties.
13:57 – The performative nature of the boys and how their political ideas mature over time.
15:31 – Different leadership styles and how this reflects back on US national politics.
21:24 – The logistics around making a film involving so many different subjects.
23:28 – Second clip: an inspirational speech from one of the candidates.
27:05 – The ways youth see the world differently from adults.
29:51 – How the boys have changed since the filming of the documentary.
31:44 – Third clip: the boys’ passion for politics.
33:34 – Different responses people have to the film.
38:18 – How involved some of the boys become in the programme.
40:35 – What the main takeaway from the film is.
46:44 – What the directors think of the Boys State project as a whole.
49:32 – The dynamic nature of documentary filmmaking that’s emerged in the last few years.
51:42 – Other projects Amanda and Jesse are working on now. 

Boys State (2020)
The Texas Boys State
Alamo Pictures

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Episode 35