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Jen Senko, a documentary filmmaker, looks at the rise of right-wing media through the lens of her WWII vet father who changed from a life-long, nonpolitical Democrat to an angry, right-wing fanatic after his discovery of talk radio on a lengthened commute to work.

2 out of 4 stars

Title
The Brainwashing of My Dad
Directed by
Jen Senko
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2015

When Jen Senko was growing up, her father was a fun, funny, non-political Democrat. Something changed when he moved and took on a long daily commute: He became hooked on talk radio. What he heard from Rush Limbaugh and the like changed his political thinking – and altered his personality. When Senko began crowdfunding for a documentary to explore her dad's transformation, all kinds of people contacted her with similar stories (including the founder of a support group for "People Who Have Lost Loved Ones to Fox News"). Senko's film traces the rise of right-wing media and its ties to the Republicans – and explains "brainwashing by stealth" – both of which are fascinating. But – in addition to an overreliance on Skype and silly effects such as laugh tracks – the film's examination feels shallow. And it misses a huge opportunity by stopping short of the current election campaign – and how the rise of the current crop of GOP candidates has been aided by truth-skirting, rage-inducing, right-wing media. How do you show a Ronald Reagan poster with the tag line, "Let's make America great again" and not deal with Donald Trump?

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