A trip to cover the royal wedding in Britain gave Sam Armytage lots of time to catch-up on her historical dramas.
A trip to cover the royal wedding in Britain gave Sam Armytage lots of time to catch-up on her historical dramas.

How Sam survives flying long haul

LAST month I flew to London to witness an historical event: the joining of two great last-century superpowers, the United States and Great Britain. AKA the royal wedding.

And those 23 hours trapped in an aluminium tube in the sky should give a shiftworker plenty of time to catch-up on sleep. But if you're a nocturnal creature like me, it gives you a lot of time to catch-up on movies.

I had intentions of watching the arty ones, the niche-appeal films I'd never dream of actually parting with $21 to watch on a rainy Friday night at the cinema. But instead I found myself bingeing on historical dramas. Political-historical dramas, to be more precise,

You know you're getting old when you start listening to talkback radio and watching political-historical dramas.

A trip to cover the royal wedding in Britain gave Sam Armytage lots of time to catch-up on her historical dramas.
A trip to cover the royal wedding in Britain gave Sam Armytage lots of time to catch-up on her historical dramas.

This shouldn't be a surprise - as I was the 19-year-old who selected a university minor in American politics, while all my friends chose marketing or PR (because it was only 13 hours of tutorials per week).

But I love history and for some strange reason, I love politics. And I make my living from the media so I indulged in three such movies in a row (which only left me about 14 hours of non-screen thinking time … ugh).

The first was The Post: the merging of my two favourite topics - a rebellious, protagonist press (always the good guys - ha, ha) taking on crooked politicians (Nixon!) delivered by the fabulous Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks combo.

Followed by LBJ, a behind-the-scenes look at the man who took over after the Kennedy assassination: the old "work horse" politician Lyndon B Johnson (confusingly played by Woody Harrelson) taking the reins from the young "show pony" (LBJ's words, not mine) President Kennedy.

“Where’s the brilliance” in our leaders, ask Sam? Picture: Adam Head
“Where’s the brilliance” in our leaders, ask Sam? Picture: Adam Head

And my movie chaser, Darkest Hour, a gripping look at my beloved Winston Churchill in the May of 1940.

The themes were obvious: powerful, brilliant, terribly flawed men, driven by ego and inner demons at some of the great crossroads of history. They were far from perfect (who of us are?) but their actions changed the world for better or worse and led them to legendary status.

It got me thinking about our present world leaders. Sure, they are all still seriously flawed and ego-driven and waging wars … But where's the brilliance? And Obama aside, where are all the great orators?

It's been a bit thin on the ground recently, like the past 30 years or so. And I'm not going to state the obvious. Oh, OK, I will. Trump. It's actually getting boring to bag the man these days (and you know I loathe a pile on).

But, honestly, who could be surprised that the country that gave us The Kardashians has now delivered us a reality TV-star President?

It all just seems so not sexy. Can we have less of the "little rocket man" jibes - and more of the "you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth"? Let's tone down the "Mediscare" mocking - and ramp up a bit of the "Ask not what your country can do for you …"

I'm not sure what we world citizens need to do to achieve a better style and standard of leadership, but I worry for the future film industry. What will be their fodder? (And please, no more Fast And Furious movies!)

But in the immortal words of Churchill: "If you're going through hell, keep going."

This interview appears in this week's Stella magazine.

Samantha co-hosts Sunrise, 5.30am weekdays, on the Seven Network.



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