Regardless of which side of the political spectrum one is on, it’s clear that passions are high, and anger is higher. While there are many causes for this gridlock in political discourse, a common cause is confirmation bias. With each side assuming the worst in the other without consideration for background or context, it often feels like people don’t know how to communicate ideas to others. While the passions behind the ideals can be justified, there is a skill for actually communicating and structuring those ideals in order to garner support and produce tangible legislation. These skills, challenges, and issues are all effectively explored in the documentary Boys State.
Boys State follow attendees of the American Legion (AL) Boys State program in Texas. These high school participants have the opportunity to elect their own mock municipal officials, representatives to the mock state legislature, and mock state officials such as governor. The film follows a diverse group of participants as they formulate their party platforms and run for governor, along with other challenges they would face navigating such waters.
The documentary is incredibly entertaining, both as a political drama and intrigue into the program. While the boys have definite political positions, the central conflict of the film are their efforts in creating a platform rather than strictly issue advocacy. Everyone’s political leanings are clear, showcasing which issues the campaigns focus on, how they appeal to supporters, and how compromises form between opponents. The filmmakers focus on the challenges behind rallying support and building bridges. This makes the film more relatable to a wide audience, regardless of one’s political preferences. The challenge of garnering support is universal, especially when one accepts the truth that opposition won’t just go away. As such, the goal of every participant is to either change minds, compromise, or grow a following. The focus on building bridges makes this film unique, often challenging their audience as to how they would act in similar situations.
Boys State will be released on digitally on August 14th via Apple TV+