自1935年以来，美国退伍军人协会已运行男孩州，进行为期一周的演习自治利用政治制度的州政府层面。高中学生被接受进入程序，在那里它们被分割成几个职位，包括总督的头把交椅运行政治运动两方。正如名义新款Apple TV +贴膜Amanda McBaine和Jesse Mossopens, we see several famous politicians and pundits who have partaken in the event, fromBill Clinton和Cory Booker to Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. Attendance doesn’t guarantee success on the same level as these men, but if this entertaining documentary is any indication, it will definitely prepare one for the highs and lows of the American political system.
If you’re thinking this will be one of those movies where the kids show they can be bigger and better than the adults who run the system they are emulating, “Boys State” disabuses you of that notion with its first image, which bears a quote from George Washington. Washington warns that political parties can be used by “undisciplined men” to “subvert the power of the people and usurp for themselves the reins of government.” As the film progresses, the two originally undefined parties have become left and right-wing based and, since this is Texas, the big issue is guns and the 2nd Amendment. Washington’s statement starts to play out amongst the candidates and their parties, albeit in a far less sinister fashion than real-life. After all, what happens in Boys State stays in Boys State.
Steven and Eddy are guided by their district chairs, René Otero and Ben Feinstein, respectively. Feinstein is a conservative who loves Reagan. He’s also a very good spin man who happens to be a double amputee. Otero is a Black guy originally from Chicago who confides to the camera that he’s “never seen so many White folks before!” Both are formidable opponents who are boisterous and completely committed to their candidates. They both seem older than their teenaged years would indicate, especially when they have to control a room filled with their fellow 17-year olds.
Moss and McBaine wisely focus on Otero, Feinstein, and Garza, but they also allow for a few other memorable characters to offer up commentary, some of which is thematically relevant. Robert MacDougal is another Nationalist candidate who runs off against Garza. He’s so impressed by his opponent’s ability to command the crowd that he briefly considers forfeit before allowing party delegates to vote for a winner. MacDougal’s campaign strategy is simple: Since the room he’s reading is conservative, he lies about his own pro-choice ideology. The conclusion he draws after losing is as darkly ominous as it is true: “Sometimes you can't win on what you believe in your heart,” he says to the camera. “It's a morally questionable thing to lie in politics.” He then imparts the lesson he’s learned. “It gave me a new appreciation for why politicians lie to get in office.”
Like its subject, “Boys State” is a microcosm of real world politics. It doesn’t go unnoticed that Garza, the son of Mexican immigrants, and the African-American Otero align with the same party, nor is it a surprise when racist propaganda is used against Otero, who is irritated yet unfazed. Though he’s a strong speaker who really connects with the people he’s trying to win over, Garza is still subject to his outside gun control activism bleeding into his Boys State campaign. After all, this is Texas. Yet his willingness to listen to anyone who’ll discuss issues with him, even if they disagree, is noble in that “they go low, we go high” philosophy that doesn’t work in the real world. Whether it works here, I’ll leave you to discover. Suffice it to say, he leaves the most lasting impression on the viewer.