Matt Forney
Spread the Word!

Election: The Greatest Manosphere Movie You’ve Never Seen

1999 was the year that the two most influential movies in the manosphere, The Matrix and Fight Club, came out. The Matrix obviously begat the red pill/blue pill analogy for the dichotomy between underground truth and mainstream lies, along with the manosphere’s general view of itself as being a band of rebels fighting a tyrannical society. Fight Club won over men precisely because it confronted the sheer emptiness of being born a man in a world that’s been crushed beneath the iron stiletto of consumerism. Given that the mean age of the manosphere is probably somewhere between 20 and 30, it’s not surprising that these two films became our cultural lodestones; they came out when we were young and impressionable, yet old enough to understand what was going on. For example, I was eleven when both movies came out, though I didn’t see them until years later.

But there’s another movie from 1999 that arguably captured the zeitgeist better than either of these favorites: the black comedy Election.

I’m not surprised that Election doesn’t get much love in the manosphere; it’s not the kind of movie that inspires you to do anything, except maybe shoot yourself. Audiences rejected it because the film’s lead stars—Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon—led them to think it was a harmless, family-friendly teen comedy. “Oooh, I loved that guy in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! Wow, Reese Witherspoon was so adorable in Legally Blonde!”

What they got instead was a gallon of ipecac straight to the soul.

No film so accurately satirizes and skewers the wretched post-feminist culture of the 90’s better than Election. The 90’s was when the Baby Boomers, the hippie generation, reached their zenith of power, destroying everything they touched. The end of the Cold War pretty much screwed America; without an external enemy to hate, the Cathedral trained its guns on the rest of us. Political correctness became the law of the land; school became social engineering labs, with boys doped up on Ritalin for the crime of being bored in class; the Democrats and Republicans dropped any pretense of being separate parties, both equally eager to sell out the country to China and Mexico as quickly and cheaply as possible.

And the culture, my God. Seriously try and argue that the 90’s wasn’t one of the worst decades for American culture. The books were terrible, split between unreadable post-modern vomit like Infinite Jest or treacly tear-jerker porn like A Child Called “It.” The music was mind-numbing commercialized dreck: Radiohead, the Backstreet Boys and Barenaked Ladies. And the movies… don’t even get me started on the wave of indie hacks like Kevin Smith and Harmony Korine that the 90’s produced.

This was what Election so savagely trashed: the peculiar mix of prudishness, venality and stupidity that was Bill Clinton’s America.

There’s another good reason why moviegoers rejected Election: it’s not didacticAmericans, being secular Calvinists, are utterly incapable of enjoying a work of fiction unless it has a moral or life lesson at the end. Shysters like Walt Disney have built whole empires on exploiting this infantile obsession; even today, if you want the public to lap up your runny bullshit, you need to stick in a moral of some kind, no matter how retarded. “Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?” “Sex is bad, mmmmkay?”

Election has none of that. Redemption may be a possibility, but the sad reality is that most people are too foolish to take it. None of the characters in the movie are likable in any way. None of them learn anything from their mistakes. They end the film as small-minded and miserable as they were at the beginning: just like life.

As you would expect, Election revolves around a high school Student Council presidential election and its aftermath. When the overachieving, arrogant senior Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) declares her candidacy, history and civics teacher Jim McAllister (Broderick) conspires to make sure she loses, first by recruiting popular football player Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against her and later by tampering with the election results. When Paul inadvertently steals his lesbian sister Tammy’s (Jessica Campbell) girlfriend, she decides to enter the race as well to get her revenge. At the same time, McAllister falls in love with Linda (Delaney Driscoll), the ex-wife of his best friend Dave (Mark Harelik) and conspires to make her feel the same way.

Each of the four main characters—Tracy, Jim, Paul and Tammy—represent the various states of degeneracy that both the American male and female are in. I shouldn’t even have to describe Tracy Flick, because most of you already know someone like her. There’s at least one Tracy Flick in everyone’s life. She’s the career-obsessed, feminist platitude-spouting Strong, Independent Woman that forms the backbone of Jezebel and xoJane’s readership. She has no moral compass and no shame. She spends her twenties trying to make partner at Dewey, Cheatham and Howe while riding the cock carousel, marries a schlumpy beta at age 35, and blows thousands of dollars on in-vitro fertilization so she can have a deformed designer baby.

After a decade of third-wave feminist Butt-Kicking Babe propaganda, Election gave us the first honest depiction of what these women are like, how bloodless and cold they are. Raised by a single mother who filled her head with grrl-power slogans, Tracy Flick ruthlessly tramples on everyone she comes across in her quest for power and status, from seducing one of her teachers and leaving him to take the fall to destroying her opponents’ campaign posters. She justifies her every action by claiming she’s “earned” what she has, oblivious to the social power that she possesses by mere virtue of being young and pretty.

And yet, her nemesis—Jim McAllister—is equally loathsome in his own way.

Broderick’s character is the apotheosis of the post-feminist male: gelded, beaten down, passive-aggressive and cowardly. McAllister heavily involves himself in school extracurricular activities and is popular among his students, but does this to mask his failing marriage and lack of motivation in life. Unable to stay hard long enough to impregnate his unattractive wife, he instead sneaks off to his basement and jacks off to porn. McAllister’s infatuation with the horse-faced Linda is darkly humorous, right up to when he starts visualizing her when he bangs his wife, even though she only fucks face down ass up. His resentment of Tracy Flick is rooted in part in envy at her popularity and drive to succeed.

Paul and Tammy represent the other archetypes of modern masculinity and femininity: the dumb jock and the bi-curious slut. Paul is good-natured but stupid as a bag of bricks; bullied into running for president by McAllister, he’s so weak-willed he can’t even vote for himself come election time. Tammy is a pot-smoking, antisocial slacker who schemes to get herself suspended from school, yet wins the school’s praise when she declares the presidential election to be completely pointless.

These are the choices you get if you’re born today. If you’re a man, you can choose to be a masculine dumbass or an intelligent loser. If you’re a woman, you can be Lady Macbeth or a stoner slag.

Man, don’t you just love America?

The film ends pretty much how you’d expect. After his machinations are discovered, McAllister is forced to resign from the school. Divorced by his wife and disgraced, he moves to New York and becomes a tour guide at the Museum of Natural History, deluding himself into thinking he’s somehow stepped up in life. Tammy’s parents transfer her to a strict Catholic school where she finds a new girlfriend. Paul gets dumped by his girlfriend and moves on to the University of Nebraska. Tracy Flick graduates from Georgetown and becomes a Congressional aide; the film’s finale is marked by McAllister’s one last act of petty defiance against her, which is hilarious in just how pathetic it is.

Election gives you a lot to chew on, but it never feels like the movie is force-feeding you a conclusion; the way movies should be. The acting is fantastic: when I first saw it, Witherspoon’s severe bob haircut and squeaky voice gave me unpleasant flashbacks. For his part, Broderick absolutely nails the ennui and hopelessness of the average middle-aged white male in modern America, probably the best performance of his career.

Election is an absolute must-watch for manospherians, but be forewarned: it’s not for the faint-of-heart. It’s not a “feel-good” movie. (If you have any sense about you, you should run screaming from “feel-good” movies anyway.) Election is a pitch black journey into America’s heart of darkness and may well be one of this country’s finest films.

Click here to watch Election.

Read Next: “Gangster Squad” and Leftist Solipsism