Election (1999) Film


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Election (1999) Film

How Election 1999 film portrays a world that is post Gender and Sexual Revolutions

Election 1999 is an America film that is directed by Alexander Payne. This literary oeuvre presents a story of politics in high school where female students seem to dominate the top seat in the student leadership. The film’s protagonist is Jim McAllister, a teacher at Omaha high school. Central to this film is the aspect of gender dynamics and sexual revolutions.  When Tracy qualifies to run for the president, teacher McAllister dislikes her and does not want her to be the next president of the student body.  According to the teacher Tracy is incompetent and a trouble maker.  While gender inequality and patriarchal prejudices have continued to see women being subjected to social injustices, the contemporary epoch has seen major developments especially in regards to the position of the woman in the society.

Tracy Flick is revealed as a highly secretive person and intelligent.  The reason why Jim Macalister felt that Tracy did not deserve this position is that some point in the past, Tracy had an affair with Dave, a teacher at the school who was then fired upon the management realization of the affair. At the same time, Linda his wife divorced him on the grounds of infidelity. However, Tracy was never punished in regards to the issue and moved on with life as if she had not broken up Dave’s family.

After Tracy declared her bid to run for the highly acclaimed student president post, Jim is unhappy, and since he heads the affairs of the student government, he cannot stand the fact that Tracy is even unopposed for the seat. Jim, therefore, introduces Paul Meltzer to run for the same post. The climax of the film reaches at the point where Tammy, the younger sister to Paul breaks up with Lisa whom they had an affair.    Lisa then becomes the girlfriend to Paul as well as his campaign manager . Lisa does all this to embarrass and humiliate Tammy.

Tammy immediately launches her bid as well to run for the same post of presidency.  Evident in this film is the battle between female and female gender as well as the male, female struggle for survival to live. The post of the school body president is the source of conflict and battle between the characters. Unlike in the past where women were view as second-class citizens who could not fight for the position of power with their fellow men, election 1999  reveals self-assertive women who is courageous and committed to going beyond the ordinary and acquire male-dominated positions such as the president of the school body. This is a depiction of the gender and sexual revolutions whereby women have acquired their sense of identity and worth, and it is from this personal identity that they have sought autonomy and independence.

Tracy despite the criticism and hatred of teacher Jim she is able to remain strong and fifth for what she believes she can achieve irrespective of the predicaments and barriers along the way.  The assertive nature of the female characters in the literary oeuvre demonstrates the shift is social prescriptions and ideologies about the womenfolk.  It should be understood that the film was created in the late 1990’s when sexual and gender revolution was at its apogee.  Feminism had brought the rights of women to a new level, and women had acquired the necessary education and insights about their freedoms and entitlements.  The film is, therefore, a commentary on the social changes that have taken place over the years especially in regards to the women subjugation and torture emanating from patriarchy.

It is worth noting that patriarchal prejudices have always perceived women as inferior beings who should submit to the men and live under the strict authority of men.  However, the women folk in election 1999 are outgoing, and the fact that three ladies are vying for the student body president against one man is evident that the women are even overtaking their male counterparts regarding social change.

Incomplete nature of both gender and sexual revolutions

Despite the assertion that womenfolk are working hard to acquire a new role and orientation in the society, it is evident that both sexual and gender revolutions have not yet matured but are still incomplete.  As such, the women who should come together and work as a team to overturn the numerous patriarchal injustices, they are conflicting and fighting against themselves. For instance, the ensuing fights and conflicts between Tammy and Lisa indicate that the women are not just fighting their male counterparts but they are their enemies. Consequently, the rift between the female characters suggests that the female characters have not yet comprehended their position and aspirations in the society. There is, therefore, a gap that is yet to be bridged if the gender and sexual revolutions is to be actualized.  It should be understood that any revolution is only achievable if the people seeking the change unite and work towards a common goal.  As it appears in election 1999, the female characters are isolated and do not work together. It is astonishing to note that Lisa and Tammy have to enter into a lesbian relationship.  This is a violation of the social norms since it is an abomination for a woman to have an intimate relationship with another woman.

Whether the film sympathizes more with male or female characters

The film director uses the aspect of reductionism as a major literary device to portray the sexual and gender revolution in the contemporary epoch.  The portrayal of Paul as a presidential candidate whose votes have to result from the students’ apathy because he has a fractured leg indicates that the male gender cannot fight firmly for positions in the society as opposed to the past. This indicates that female gender is always taking over the roles that were believed to male-dominated. At the same time, the entire male characters in the film ending up as losers. Jim for instance even after opposing Tracy’s candidature and fighting to see that Tracy does not secure the seat; Jim ends up on the wrong side after he cheats on his wife with Linda.  He then ends up moving to New York where e has to start a new life.  The same happens to Dave who is even dismissed by the employer and Tracy whom he has an affair with goes without any punishment. This reveals that the film tends to sympathize more with the female characters at the expense of the male characteristics. The film gives the female characters an upper hand in terms of both portrayal and achievement in life. All the female characters end up winning over the male counterparts.












Payne, A. (Director). Berger, A. (Producer). Election [Online video]. Retrieved from


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