Everyone sleep easy. Earlier this week, the New Yorker let us know that the outrageous events in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satire Dr. Strangelove aren’t terribly far from the truth, and the “risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated.” Decades after its release, Roger Ebert noted that the black comedy is still “clear-eyed, irreverent, dangerous satire” — and it’s not alone. We’ve highlighted ten other political spoofs that came uncomfortably close to the truth. Many remain relevant today.
As strange as its title, Brian De Palma’s anarchic 1970 film, Hi, Mom!, is a semi-sequel to the director’s X-rated Greetings. Robert De Niro reprises his role as Vietnam vet Rubin — this time pursing a career as a “peep artist,” spying on his neighbors in a nearby apartment. The premise is full of De Palma’s familiar Hitchcockian fascination with voyeurism, the personal and sociopolitical kind. The director takes things a step further when he spoofs liberal naiveté, white middle-class disconnect, and extremism in the movie’s most lunatic, brilliant set piece, known as the “Be Black, Baby” segment. A guerrilla theater troupe of black actors (in whiteface) shows a white audience what it’s like to “be black.” The vérité scene is disturbing, but the closing gag reveals the audience loved it — and the moment is just as startling. “It was a great show,” one man smeared in blackface says.