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Truthiness Is Stranger than Fictition

The “New Biopic”

4. 1976 to the Present

4. 1999–Present

  1. Michael Sicinski

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470671153.wbhaf088

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

How to Cite

Sicinski, M. 2011. Truthiness Is Stranger than Fictition. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 4:4:82.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011


Before turning to a consideration of the odd prevalence of “biopics” (or biographical films about well-known historical or cultural figures) among recent Hollywood and Indiewood prestige pictures, it may be useful to consider some aspects of the larger cultural landscape into which they insert themselves. Filmmaker Michael Moore, who in many ways has revitalized the documentary form precisely by adopting the stylistic mannerisms of sketch comedy and specious reasoning by montage one finds in every bit of propaganda from Eisenstein to Fox News, took the podium at the 2002 Academy Awards to loudly declare that “we are living in fictitious times.” In some sense this contention is fairly obvious, although whether the period from 1999 to the present represents some unique nadir of deceit is highly debatable. Still, from Bill Clinton's minor obstructions of justice through the fraudulent 2000 election and the seemingly limitless, deadly prevarications of the Bush forty-third presidency, one can easily say that the public sphere is one governed by falsehood and fabrication (or, as Moore misspoke that night, “fictition”).


  • biopic;
  • Pollack;
  • Frida;
  • Capote;
  • Ray;
  • Ali;
  • Malcolm X;
  • i'm Not there;
  • Bob Dylan;
  • Ghandi