Angry. That’s the most accurate word to describe Jeremy Taylor’s short film “Priorities”. A reactionary piece to the Bush administration’s failure to follow through on campaign promises, “Priorities” resembles a fourteen minute uninterrupted Kerry rebuttal during the debates. Slamming President Bush on issues ranging from health care to the economy to education Taylor seeks to show the audience that President Bush has not only neglected to fulfill campaign promises but has been a corporate pawn all along.
With archival footage of the President and Washington as his backdrop Taylor goes point by point through what he considers the President’s mistakes. His enthusiasm for the material is ever present and gives the film its strength. After months of watching wealthy politicians and political analysts feedback upon the presidential race it is refreshing to see an average citizen so concerned. Taylor’s attempt to make a difference is commendable and one wishes more Americans were able to summon this much interest in the state of their country.
However, as well meaning as the film is, there are several inescapable handicaps. In summation to every point brought up by Taylor, an animated image of a huge scale representing the current topic is shown. In one such instance blue collar workers in need of health care fill one side of the scale while the rich and powerful with their tax cuts fill the other, toppling the scale. With every point addressed in the film using the scale analogy, only once is the Iraq war seen as a major misstep whereas tax cuts for the rich are used every other time. While many food for thought issues are brought up it seems as if the solution to most of our nation’s problems would come from higher taxes on the wealthy. This solution is simply not enough and with no other alternatives presented the film comes off as repetitive. Of course, taxing the rich would provide some monetary relief in a few of the areas concerned but not all of them. With the war and the economical ramifications of the war not being taken into account as influencing all these issues, the film uses taxation as too large of a crutch. Also, at the films conclusion, in front of a waving American flag, Taylor pleads with us to make the right choice this election season followed by footage of John Kerry and John Edward. While his enthusiasm is admirable, this comes off as Democratic propaganda, ignoring the fact that Kerry’s plans to balance the budget and help fix many of the issues addressed in the documentary have been found to have gaps in logic.
It’s been said the first step to solving a problem is identifying that there is a problem in need of solving and Taylor has successfully done that. It would have been stronger thematically to leave his choice of a better President out of the film or else shown evidence that Kerry could address the changes Taylor feels are necessary.
While Taylor is not 100% effective in getting his points across, a film such as this being made illustrates why America is such a great nation. More people should give this much effort.