VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: ‘American Selfie’ Director Alexandra Pelosi Explains How She Can Relate To Conservatives
Alexandra Pelosi, director of the new Showtime documentary American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself revealed how she talks to people with different opinions, how she doesn’t let her last name affect her job and how social media has changed politics.
“American Selfie is an artifact of how America looked in 2020,” Pelosi said, explaining the premise of the film. “The whole idea was to take a selfie of America in an election year so that we could look back. It’s like the first draft of history. How did we look? I was traveling across the country taking the temperature of Americans in an election year to try to get an idea of how America feels in 2020.”
The 50-year-old veteran filmmaker said that while making her 13 films she has gone out of her way “to go try to make friends in places where I shouldn’t be finding friends.”
“I always get people to invite me over to dinner or let me spend a night in their house,” she said, “you know I’m always trying to make friends out in what they call ‘real America.’ The idea being that you know I’m from a ‘Liberal bubble’ and everyone I know agrees with each other, so the idea is let’s go talk to people who maybe we wouldn’t necessarily agree on things.”
But, Pelosi said that the way people identify politically has changed due to social media.
“And what I found is that, and I’ve been doing this for decades now because I’m a really old lady, and over the course of the years that I’ve been making these films, the thing that’s changed is that people have these social media feeds that are feeding them this toxic noise that tells them what to think,” she said. “And so, I used to be able to find people who would have really nuanced positions, like now if I walk into a place I can say, ‘Well how do you feel about guns?’ and if they tell me that answer I can tell you how they feel on every single issue that’s up for debate in America right now because there are only two feeds you can get you can only be on the Liberal feed or the Conservative feed. And there’s not really a feed in between for everybody else.
“There’s an algorithm that’s feeding people ‘this is the menu of what we believe in.’ And it feels like people are really, even in my ‘Liberal bubble’ where I live, people are just adhering to this menu of beliefs. And there isn’t much room to negotiate around that. So, when I start having conversations with people I’ll say, ‘well, just because you’re pro-gun or you’re pro-life doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re against same-sex marriage, which is legal in this country.’ But now, it’s uniform. That’s what I found has really changed over the course of these conversations that I’ve been having over the years.”
She said that although she is the daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she isn’t “any kind of big supporter of any candidate.”
“I’ve never joined the cult of the Democratic Party,” she said, “I was indoctrinated at an early age, never drank the Kool-Aid; I have always been a journalist/documentary filmmaker because I know when you’re raised with one perspective there’s another perspective, and people are raised in that perspective, right?”
Pelosi said this outlook on perspective influenced the way she raised her own children.
“So, I’ve always said to my kids, I have teenage boys and I’ve always said, ‘What if we’re wrong? What if we’re wrong about everything? Have you ever thought about that? What if we were raised in a family where we were taught the exact opposite?’ So that’s why I go out to meet people and talk to them and understand where they’re coming from,” she explained.
The director also said she doesn’t use her last name when she talks to people in ‘real America,’ though she does reveal some details about her life.
“I don’t really advertise my last name, I should’ve taken my husband’s name in hindsight if I’d known I was going to pursue a career as a documentary filmmaker for this many years I probably should’ve taken my husband’s name, but I don’t advertise that, let’s just put it that way.”
“But I do advertise the fact that I’m from New York, and that I’m working for Showtime. So, people automatically assume anyone with a camera is fake news, so you have a lot to overcome regardless of your name or your outlet that you’re working for nowadays everybody is suspicious of a person with a camera. Unless you say Fox News, then you’re okay.”
Pelosi ended this uInterview with a grim statement on the public perception of media: “Nobody trusts the media. Period. And that’s sort of a new thing that in the last four years it’s really changed. They automatically don’t trust you if you have a camera in your hand.”