PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

'Hating Breitbart': No, Not Really

You have to give Hating Breitbart credit. No other film on the subject would be as slavishly non-objective as this one.

Hating Breitbart

Director: Andrew Marcus
Cast: Andrew Breitbart, Orson Bean, Dick Armey, Michelle Bachmann
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Rocky Mountain
Year: 2013
US date: 2013-05-17 (Limited release)

There's a fine line between genius and insanity. There's an even finer one between revolutionary and terrorist. Sitting somewhere in between these various definitions is the late political pundit and media crusader Andrew Breitbart. Adopted by the so-called "Tea Party" as their primary advocate against big, intrusive government, the former firebrand and current source of sacrosanct documentary treatment by Andrew Marcus sure knew how to stir things up. His goal? Bring more transparency and accuracy - and as a result, truth - to the clearly left-leaning liberal press machine that kept conservatives down for decades. Sadly, like the film featuring his often insightful diatribes, his 'assertion equals fact' foundation grows tiresome and very one sided.

The title doesn't really tell you about Marcus's modus. The intention here is not to bury Breitbart, but to portray him as the caped crusader for a cause few except Fox News will take up. The Left, both as an idea and as a persona, is consistently condemned as wrongheaded and anti-American, montages highlighting the hate they feel for those in Breitbart's camp. Without a clearer eye, without any critique whatsoever, the viewer is left with the notion that nothing the man says or said...NOTHING...is reproachable, worthy of further discussion, or capable of being countermanded. Perhaps it's a necessary position, given that Breitbart is often painted in a similar fashion from the media, but a compelling documentary it doesn't make.

No, this is a love letter, a lament for a dead patriot who pulled up alongside the constant blather of boring political speech and inserted his F-bomb laden corrections into a debate that was conspiratorially plotted against him. There's no doubt the man was intelligent. Numerous times throughout the film you can see where his loud, loutish bravado is actually exposing a well thought out and considered opinion. He also has a point about the one sided structure of the media. Of course, he doesn't consider the continuing commercialization of the news as a factor, nor does he explain how using a single example of a single situation in a singular circumstance (as with his expose - ? - on ACORN) can suddenly define an entire enterprise.

Indeed, by holding Breitbart up as the gold standard - and he very may well have been - the documentary attempts to legitimize everything else his cause stands for. After all, why would anyone follow someone flawed, who may actually be overreaching in his assessments about the current state of partisan politics? The answer, of course, is that no man is fallible, just as no argument is without refutation. But Hating Breitbart wants to have its neo-con cakes and keep them away from the rational as well. By following the man around for two years, by gaining the kind of access that causes journalism to lose sight of the subject, Marcus becomes his biggest fan. He fetishizes Breitbart, essaying a passionate display of propaganda that would make Third World despots smile.

Naturally, you may question this critics politics as part of your reaction to such harsh words, but a movie like this demands such a reply. In the past, when Breibart was mixing it up with Bill Maher as part of a panel on his HBO series Real Time, or plying his particular trade across this great unwashed media landscape known as the Internet, yours truly has found him engaging if irritating, the biggest problem being something we in the trade call the "Oh? Really?" Factor. Just like Oliver Stone's overly complicated theory about the assassination of JFK, Breitbart's fears about the government, and its sitting African American leader, have a requisite amount of viability. Then he goes overboard, and all you can think is...


Besides, Marcus' movie isn't out to alter the enemy. This is preaching to the converted time amplified by the latest in insular PR promotion. Breitbart wanted to craft a people's movement. What he got instead was a grassroots gang that utilize intimidation and blind allegiance where a bit more thought might help. Should we be concerned about the government trampling on our civil rights? Absolutely. Should an ACORN employee caught on camera doctoring applications to support prostitution be prosecuted? Yes. But when it was later revealed (in the courts, not this film) that "citizen journalist" James O'Keefe edited the footage to infer crimes that were never really committed, does Marcus or anyone else comment? Nope. As with most smear campaigns, the damage done initially cannot be retracted later.

Still, you have to give Hating Breitbard credit. No other film on the subject would be as slavishly non-objective as this one. As a tool to bring more membership into the Tea Party fold (complete with a PG-13 version to keep the F-bombs from fretting the soccer moms) it is without parallel. As an attempt to paint a thorough and in-depth look at who Breitbart was and how he came into prominence, it's lacking. In fact, it's hard to imagine the motives behind this project as being nothing short of a preparation for future political campaigns. Had Breitbart not died suddenly (a fact given cursory consideration by some last minute onscreen text), one could easily see him showboating the movie around the country, sitting down for sold out Q&As which, while perceptive, will also just incite.

Sure, the inherent racism and homophobia on display will make a 2013 mindset bristle, but something like Hating Breitbart doesn't exist in our contemporary cultural zeitgeist. Instead, it follows its own antiquated notions of power being innate in the people. While our Constitution may have been founded on such a principle, said precept has long been abused and overthrown by politicians who only now how to serve self, not their constituency. Had he stayed within this obvious violation of the public trust, Andrew Breitbart would be more than a Conservative champion. Thanks to this film, that's all he'll ever be.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.