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Friday, February 22

Art imitates life imitates art

This is pretty amaaazing.

Devotees of the West Wing have been talking about it for weeks: the uncanny similarity between the fictional presidential contest that dominated the final seasons of the acclaimed TV show and the real-life drama of this year's election.

Both the real and imagined campaigns have centred on a young, charismatic candidate from an ethnic minority, daring to take on an establishment workhorse with a promise to transcend race and heal America's partisan divide.

But there's a twist.

For what those West Wing fans stunned by the similarity between the fictitious Matthew Santos and the real-life Barack Obama have not known is that the resemblance is no coincidence. When the West Wing scriptwriters first devised their fictitious presidential candidate in the late summer of 2004, they modelled him in part on a young Illinois politician - not yet even a US senator - by the name of Barack Obama.

The parallels are spooky.

"Some of Santos's insistence on not being defined by his race, his pride in it even as he rises above it, came from that," West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie said.

"After [his 2000 Democrat] convention speech, Obama's life changed. He was mobbed wherever he went. He was more than a candidate seeking votes: people were seeking him. Some of Santos's celebrity aura came from that."

And more:
  • Santos was an outsider up against a national figure
  • Began political career as a community organiser
  • Question about his inexperience,
  • Would Latinos identify with him?
  • Campaign theme of change, change change and ending old divisions
  • A maverick, Western, Republican opponent who'd beat a Pastor to the nomination
And then there's 'the soaring power of the Santos rhetoric'.
"It was always an inside joke on the West Wing that the show had a prophetic quality," recalls Attie, now a writer and producer of House, starring Hugh Laurie.
You don't say!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous23.2.08

    The West Wing was the only honest commentary on President Bush and it is the best revenge on his eight years of shame that America is voting on its conscience.