Bob Roberts

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Bob roberts poster.jpg

Bob Roberts is a satirical Mockumentary about a fictional American political figure, and the first movie directed by Tim Robbins, who also played the title character. It was released in 1992.

Bob Roberts is a rising star of the Republican Party. On the occasion of the campaign for the forthcoming Senatorial elections (which take place in the context of the Kuwait invasion by Iraq and US response from 1990), a British film crew follow him as he raises support in his home state of Pennsylvania. Roberts is young and charismatic, with a populist touch which he cultivates by playing folk songs at political rallies taking off Bob Dylan songs with the exact opposite messages (even with music videos like Dylan's). His message is one of social and moral conservatism, based on family values, faith in God, an overt rejection of the heritage of the 1960s (he was raised on a commune by hippie parents), and very pro-business policies. Running against an incumbent liberal Democrat (played by Gore Vidal), he projects an image of plain-spoken honesty and dynamism.

As the movie goes on, however, people start whispering about Bob's funding coming from sources that are significantly less wholesome than the image he's cultivating. About halfway through, he stages an assassination attempt on his own life, masquerading as a paraplegic from then on. The results of the election -- both political and personal -- come out less rosy than expected going in.

Tropes used in Bob Roberts include:

  • Author Tract: The entire film.
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Downer Ending: Bugs Raplin gets assassinated offscreen, and despite all of his corruption, Roberts wins the presidency.
  • Drugs Are Bad: One of Bob's songs is called "Drugs Stink," which goes so far as to threaten violence against not only drug dealers, but drug users. His extreme anti-drug stance only makes his opponents more eager to uncover his connections to a South American drug cartel.
  • Evil Counterpart: Bob Roberts is basically a corrupt Bizarro-Bob Dylan
    • His music videos even have Shout Outs to Dylan's work, and one of his most prominent songs is called "The Times Are Changing Back" (referencing The Times Are A Changin'.)
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Roberts songs include such wholesome messages as "Drug users should be killed" and "All those people who don't believe in our God? Yeah, they can die, too."
  • Hypocritical Humor: Define irony; a guy singing a song complaining about people who complain.
  • Intrepid Reporter: John Alijah "Bugs" Raplin, who attempts to dig out the truth about Bob Roberts.
  • No Party Given: Roberts isn't explicitly Republican, nor is his opponent explicitly Democrat, but it's pretty transparent anyway.
    • I'm pretty sure that, early in the film, some footage states "D-PA" for Sen. Paiste.
  • President Evil: Bob at the end of the film.
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: This guy has a lot of balls to be calling himself a rebel.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Far down the cynical end of the scale.
  • Straw Fan: Any Roberts supporters that are given even a bit role are all portrayed as gullible, homophobic and violent (to the point that a group of them led by Jack Black attack protesters at one of his concerts.)
  • Strawman Political: Ya think?
  • Villain Protagonist