The New Trailer For A24's 'Boys State' Lifts The Lid On Teenage Politics

Olivia Ovenden
Photo credit: A24

From Esquire

Every summer across America thousands of students vie against each other to form a government in a competition run by The American Legion called Boys State, with two representatives from each state selected to go forward to Boys Nation where a President and Vice President are selected.

This is not your average model UN or student government, with competitors sponsored to take place and, as the eligibility rules state: "only those who illustrate leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service in their schools and community" considered.

What do James Gandolfini, Bruce Springsteen, and Dick Cheney all have in common? Boys State.

Photo credit: A24

This mixing pot of adolescent hormones and political ploys is the stage for the latest documentary from A24 which follows the Machiavellian manoeuvres of one Texas Boys State.

The week-long program sees thousands of high school seniors from the Lone Star state battle for elected positions, with one particularly close gubernatorial race offering a tense highlight. It follows teenagers such as 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."

There is something intrinsically funny about teenage boys pretending to be politicians, with the trailer showing competitors delivering lines such as, "he is a fantastic politician, but I don't think a fantastic politician is compliment either" and, with a straight face, "a message of unity, as good as it sounds, is not winning anyone any election."

Photo credit: A24

But directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss have struck on something which is funny in a way that also feels frightening, with the documentary painting a portrait of modern masculinity at a time where it feels in flux.

It also highlights the problems with representative democracy as the competition, while intended to be a microcosms of society, actually more accurately mirrors the white and middle-class world of politics.

As teenager Rene Otero says in an alarmed voice at one point, "I have never seen so many white people, ever."

Boys State is released 14 August

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