It's a short list. Female vice presidents in the movies. Two. Joan Allen in The Contender in 2000. Glenn Close in Air Force One in 1997. Can anyone think of others? Watch this trailer for Air Force One, and revel in popcorny pre-9/11 nostalgia.
The Contender, my favorite movie ever about politics, has more serious things to say about the Woman-as-VP concept. Or does it? Watch below.
Sarah Palin has received some of the same criticisms that Gary Oldman lobs at Allen here. People just think Palin is a "groovy chick," and selfish because she wants to assume a gigantic responsibility she knows she's not ready for. Sexist? Yeah, probably...even though Allen's Laine Hanson could run circles around Palin.
Let's not discredit the subtlety of Air Force One. (Yes, I used "subtlety" and "Air Force One" in the same sentence.) The movie presents Close as VP, simply and without fanfare. She commands F-15s. While Harrison Ford is held hostage, she is the president. But no big deal is made about it. She is not a woman; she is the vice president. In The Contender, it's all a big deal. A woman is ascending to the nation's highest office and -- gasp! -- she may have had some fun sex in the past.
Which movie was, at the time, more healthy for our collective perception of a Woman in Power: a movie that agonizes over a woman's hurdles even as she clears each one, or a movie that shows a woman deftly commanding a nation without distraction or doubt?