Ten: The Contender, Politics, and The Matter of Character

You hear the word “character” pop up often when it comes to major elections in the US. It’s a weighty word, and if you choose to use it there’s an awful lot of unpacking that must occur, especially in a political context. You run into questions such as how is it defined? Can “character” mean something different to opposing parties? Does it mean something different to every individual? Does it signal something aside from its typical use when applied to the government? How, exactly, do we demonstrate “good character” vs. “bad character”– can you have either and exhibit behavior associated with the opposite? Finally, and vitally, does character matter, and should it matter at all to leaders and voters?

  • The Contender’s ranking on the Oldometer: 8/10
  • Gary Oldman character quality: There’s so much to say about Runyon, the forceful Republican Senator that Gary portrays here. On the one hand, he is utterly the villain to the idealized Democratic Hero of the story, but on the other hand he is far, far from being one-dimensional. Runyon believes in his course of action and his definition of integrity as fervently as his opposition does, and I imagine if the story were flipped Runyon could be perceived as the hero who sticks to his guns. That said, in the finale of the film the screenwriting falls short and Runyon practically starts stroking his mustache and cackling, which is unfortunate, but he’s still highly memorable, and one of Gary’s most formidable roles.
  • Does Gary die in this one? No.

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