Film Review – The Joe Show
The Joe Show
The Joe Show is about the elected Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a controversial, conservative politician who has won all his elections since 1992. He is most known for his treatment of prisoners in his county’s jails. He makes them wear pink boxers, restarted “chain gangs,” and many of them sleep in tents outside versus cells inside. I first became aware of Arpaio after being featured on 60 Minutes due to his prisoner regulations. This documentary delves further into Arpaio’s background and fall from celebrated Sheriff to a troubled, power-hungry politician.
The first half of the documentary focuses on Arpaio’s early career and the numerous stunts he pulled that shuffled him into nationwide notoriety. What strikes me as odd is that the Sheriff’s department has its own media specialist. Lisa Allen, a former TV journalist, acts as his publicist and cheerleader of sorts. Allen is not just a person putting out press releases or addressing the media about recent arrests, she is publicizing Arpaio. She guides him to make his stunts look even more ridiculous. While this gives Arpaio nationwide media coverage, it begs the question why does a sheriff need to be national news? This is where being an elected official comes into play. Arpaio is constantly trying to keep his name on people’s lips, so he is more recognizable and thus more likely to win the next election.
Unfortunately, his notoriety becomes his downfall when power goes to his head. The second half of the documentary centers on his fall from grace and his tyrannical rule as sheriff. The film falls into a more biased presentation of Arpaio, the Mexican-hating, illegal-immigrant hunter. While this may completely be the case, it is hard to not develop a distinct disdain for the man and what he let fall by the wayside while he focused his resources on illegal immigrants.
The documentary reaches a climax with the subject of the 2012 election, when his approval rating had tanked. It was his first re-election where he quite possibly could have lost his office. Whether you cheat and look to see the results before watching the film, it is presented in a way that you find yourself rooting for the opponent, just because of recent controversy in the man’s career as sheriff.
The Joe Show is a documentary that is a little rough around the edges in the beginning in terms of quality, but improves greatly by the end. The timeline is a little wacky and unexplained, as interviews are used from different years. While the film is a bit biased and has a clear scope from the beginning, it should be a film that the residents of Maricopa County, Arizona should seek out before his election, if only to open your eyes to some of the major problems that Joe Arpaio continues to have. The Joe Show clearly depicts Arpaio as another example of a politician more interested in himself and his agendas, rather than the people he represents.