This story was originally published on DocHouse.
“Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close” – Ronald Reagan
This Friday, director Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez bring The Reagan Show to DocHouse, their archival documentary of late Hollywood heartthrob and former president, Ronald Reagan. We travel on President Reagan’s White House journey from when he was elected in 1981 until leaving office in 1989. His charismatic persona captured the hearts of many Americans, while his unsteady political negotiations and rivalry with Mikhail Gorbachev allowed others to negatively dissect his presidency.
Ahead of The Reagan Show’s daily screenings beginning Friday 6th October, we look at how the actor-turned-politician’s presidency resonates today.
“How can a president not be an actor”? As President Reagan took to the highest seat in the land, many questioned whether he was being made to “look” like the president. His time in the entertainment industry forged a natural public relation stance, with his ability to stage a well-prepared message. But is this the legacy that we remember President Reagan by?
Reagan came into office in a time when technology was rapidly advancing, resulting in more footage generated of his presidency than the preceding five administrations altogether. The White House Television recorded President Reagan’s daily activities, and through Pettengill and Velez’s insightful film we gain a firsthand look at his trials and tribulations. Amidst them was Reagan and Gorbachev’s popular political relationship, which made for entertaining viewing as the two figuratively wrestled it out with prime-time television addresses. Reagan carried forward his “good guy” demeanour to all White House endeavours, which led to some wondering if he was tough enough to take on Russia’s frosty leader in a battle of global diplomacy, under the looming threat of WWIII.
The Reagan Show holds great significance in our time of political unrest, as we watch sitting President Donald Trump use his money and power to allure a nation looking for change. Like Reagan, Trump entered the political sphere through the entertainment world, staging his campaign using Reagan’s ‘Make America Great Again’ motto. Did America envision Trump in the same way they did Reagan? Was the political out-of-towner not going to let their nation down like Capitol Hill powerhouses might?
Gambling is always a risky game. If you want to learn more about President Reagan as the leader of the free world, book your tickets to The Reagan Show here.