Boys State is an Eye Opening Political Documentary

boys state review

When you step up to the polls this fall, you may wonder what drives someone to go into politics. It certainly is a certain type of personality that is drawn to the positions, and it usually isn’t something someone just wakes up one day to deciding to do. The reality behind politicians, and even the politics we see every day playing out on our television screen and at the voting booth is something that is practiced, studied and even passed down between generations.

While post political documentaries focus on the current politicians we are currently aware of, Boys State gives us a real look at the young men who may become the political leaders of our future. Following a few young men who plan and hope to be leaders within their communities and states, Boys State takes you from their application process with the American Legion to their week at Boys State – a political intensive camp held yearly.

The film follows the boys as they are split into groups and have to make their decisions on what type of politician they wanted to be. If their personal beliefs were strong enough to carry them onto a party ticket or if they were willing to promise one thing in order to win an elected seat to get the position they want, even if it goes against everything believe.

While the film focuses on mock elections and the type of relationships that are formed throughout the young men’s time at Boys State, it’s an eye opening look at how often political decisions may be made, or promises candidates make may fall flat. The boys features in the show range in ethnicity, ability and family they come from. But you can easily see the stereotypical politicians showing through their personalities and the values they portray.

What is startling about Boys State is the echo chamber of politics that seems to be highlighted. The same broad statements are being made about important issues that the teenage boys may not have enough life experience with to actually make those decisions. Racism is shown on full scale and how easily the boys can turn to technology to create a smear campaign. It may be the perfect example of how the views of the parents are handed down to the children and how their views (whether right or wrong) and be pushed through generation and generation.

While it seems not all of the 1100 boys that attend Boys State take it seriously, plenty do. And you can see true friendships and possible political partnerships being built between the attendees. The camp appears to be a starting point for many political figures, it will be interesting to where they young men end up in a few years within their communities.

‘Boys State’ premiered in select US theaters on Friday, July 31, ahead of its global debut on Apple TV+ on Friday, August 14.

ABOUT BOYS STATE: (streaming on Apple TV+) 

The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Boys State is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben, a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often-dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. An Apple Original Films and A24 release.


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