Movie Review: "Split: A Divided America"
As I was watching Split: A Divided America, a political documentary directed by Kelly Nyks, one word came to my mind almost immediately. Labels. Within the first few minutes of the film, labels are thrust upon the viewer: red, blue, right-wing, left-wing, religious, Jesus-freaks, liberals, conservatives, rednecks, crazy, radical. I heard these labels and more before the first 10 minutes had elapsed. If the title hadn’t thoroughly assured me of what I was about to watch, the first few minutes did.
Throughout the documentary, Nyks sets out on a journey cross-country to try to identify where some of these labels come from and how they’re affecting this country. His idea was pretty simple, and interestingly, it’s exactly what we need our politicians to do: talk to the citizens.
Nyks conducts interviews with citizens from all over the country, starting at one end and working his way to the other. Along the way, he manages to portray the extremely different ideas and conceptions people have about our country’s political system. In one community, the citizen being interviewed is convinced that wealthy is synonymous to Republican and in another, the citizen is equally convinced that it’s the Democrats who make up the rich, upper crust.
Split manages to cover a broad spectrum of people, most of whom have very strong, opinionated thoughts on the topics covered, which ranged from religion, the mass media, political discourse and of course, money. One citizen proudly admitted that she would “rather be put out of a job than vote for someone who was for abortion.” Another says if Fox News doesn’t report something, he doesn’t believe it. Unfortunately, this extreme, no-compromise attitude has become far too common, and it’s exactly what’s causing the problems in our political system today.
I appreciated Nyks’ attempt to highlight the very real differences that exist among everyday people. However, in a documentary that’s meant to criticize the political polarization, I would’ve loved to hear from a few more people who are real problem-solvers, working to promote progress.
One scene in particular stuck out to me as a perfect example of what Nyks is attempting to portray in this film. One person is screaming at another at a rally: “You’ve got to find a side and take it!” And the other yells emphatically back that he has taken a side.
It’s a sad reality that people feel they must pick one side or the other and never waiver from that side. Nyks is right. We need to have the courage and will to work together to create the change this country desperately needs.
Watch the trailer below and click here to get more details on the film.