Rob Edelman: Stephen K. Bannon, Filmmaker

Mar 27, 2017

To many, Steve Bannon, who appears to be President Donald Trump’s confidante and right-hand-man, is a mystery man. Now sure, he has been endlessly cited in the media but, still, the question of the moment remains: Who exactly is Steve Bannon?

Well, for one thing, he is a filmmaker. On the ever-handy Internet Movie Database, he is listed as “Stephen K. Bannon.” To quote from his mini-biography, he is “a producer and director, known for THE UNDEFEATED (released in 2011), IN THE FACE IF EVIL: REAGAN’S WAR IN WORD AND DEED (from 2004), and BATTLE FOR AMERICA (from 2010).” According to the IMDB, Bannon has 18 credits as producer, nine as director, and nine as writer. Most are documentaries, and here is a selected list of Bannon titles. By their subjects alone, as described on IMDB, one may get a sense of who he is: of his interests, his concerns, and the individuals with whom he is enamored.

TORCHBEARER, from 2016, spotlights Phil Robertson, AKA “The Duck Commander,” star of the reality TV series DUCK DYNASTY, who “makes a compelling argument on the absurdity of life without God.” CLINTON CASH, also from 2016, is “an investigation into how the Clintons have amassed millions in personal wealth through foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation, a supposed charity, in exchange for political favors...” DISTRICT OF CORRUPTION, dated 2012, “traces the arc of government corruption and secrecy from the Clinton administration through the Bush years to the current corruption and transparency crises of the Obama administration.” THE UNDEFEATED, from 2011, is not the old John Wayne film. Rather, it “chronicles Sarah Palin's pre-political life, her tenure as Governor of Alaska, and her time spent as John McCain’s running mate.” BATTLE FOR AMERICA, from 2010, is a “look at the ongoing conflict between ‘Constitutional Conservatives’ and an out-of-touch, arrogant, and ever-expanding central government.” FIRE FROM THE HEARTLAND, also 2010, is “the first-ever film to tell the entire story of the conservative woman in her own words” as well as “a powerful statement about America at a crossroads and the women who have awakened to the crisis.” And the woman at the center of the film is Michele Bachmann. GENERATION ZERO, also 2010, is “an examination of the causes of the global economic crisis which began in 2008, studying how decades of social changes have influenced financial systems and practices.” And so on...

The next question is an obvious one: Who watches these films, and what do they think of these films? Well, the last time I checked the IMDB, there were just 219 BATTLE FOR AMERICA viewers who rated the film. All told, they gave the film a 3.7 out of ten rating. THE UNDEFEATED had 1,769 viewers. They gave the film a 2.3 out of ten rating. And so on... However, there was one satisfactory number. Granted, only 994 viewers evaluated the film in question, but the rating was a respectable and revealing 7.5 out of ten. Tellingly, the film with the 7.5 rating is CLINTON CASH.

Now granted, Bannon’s worldview may be discerned from the subjects covered in the films he’s made prior to his rise on the national scene. So the question of who exactly Steve Bannon is may be extended to: How much power does he actually wield right now, and how much of that power will directly impact all our lives?

Rob Edelman has authored or edited several dozen books on film, television, and baseball. He has taught film history courses at several universities and his writing has appeared in many newspapers, magazines, and journals. His frequent collaborator is his wife, fellow WAMC film commentator Audrey Kupferberg.

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