Hillary Clinton's Presidential Run Could Change The Way Movies Portray Female Presidents
Up to this point, those many of us wishing to witness a female president take up in the White House have had to settle for seeing our dreams met in fiction alone. Now that Hillary Clinton has announced her campaign for presidency, though, we might no longer have to rely on films and television shows to undertake this huge step in civil history. And that’s a great thing for many reasons, not the least of which being the fact that most of our media’s fictional female presidents have been… well, not exactly great.
The general community of women who have ascended to the position of Commander-in-Chief in American pop culture has been marked by either abject inadequacy, bona fide villainy, or an ultimate disinterest in the job (usually in favor of exploring a romantic relationship, or raising a family). Sure. we’ve had some passable entries over the years — Patty Duke in Hail to the Chief wasn’t bad (she was, after all, Patty Duke) — but the vast majority of ladies to earn the POTUS title on the big or small screen have not quite lived up to the caliber of competence that we’d want for the leader of our nation.
Beginning with one of the earliest entries to illustrate an America led by a female president, we have the 1964 comedy movie Kisses for My President. More concerned with the challenges that the role of First Man imparted upon President Leslie McCloud’s husband’s masculinity than it was with anything to do with the POTUS herself, the film came out the gate with some misguided intentions...and that’s long before it concludes its story with McCloud resigning after finding out she is pregnant because she ultimately decides that she is better served to cater to her family than to the nation at large.
These disappointing portrayals of female world leaders continued on, even through eras less amenable to such an ostentatious embrace of chauvinism. More recent variations on the idea have given us Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica (undone more by her physical disease than by genuine incapability at leadership), Selina Kyle of Veep (intelligent, but wicked and insecure to the point of self-sabotage), and Sally Langston of Scandal (a good politician, but she murdered someone, so there you go).
As such, we could really seem to use a new perspective on female presidency. No longer should we be beheld to the insinuation that a married woman or a mother cannot devote full attention to governing the United States; and maybe we shouldn’t feel stuck parodying the Sarah Palins of the world, as seen in films like Iron Sky, when there might be plenty of more optimistic figures out there on whom to base our characters — especially now, with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign underway.
Images: Getty; Warner Bros; HBO