Amazon documentary Mayor Pete came out on the streaming service on November 12, 2021.
Prior to the 2020 election, most Americans did not know who Pete Buttigieg was — let alone how to pronounce his name. That changed when he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. As an openly gay war veteran, Buttigieg made strides as one of the most diverse candidates to run for president. While he ultimately lost, he made such an impression that when Joe Biden eventually inherited the role, he was tapped to become a part of the new administration.For those who still don’t know who Buttigieg is, the new Amazon documentary Mayor Pete aims to change that. Following the young, political dark horse as he quite literally emerges from nowhere — South Bend, Indiana — the film is supposed to be a better picture at the man behind the podium, and the life and values that inspired him to pursue public service. It’s not though.
The film isn’t bad. However, I don’t know if it’s entirely necessary, especially so soon after the election. That’s something I kept thinking about throughout the film. Who is this film for? What’s its ultimate purpose? Those are questions that I found myself thinking about during National Geographic’s recent Fauci documentary too, which came under fire for coming off as propaganda. Even though this film doesn’t appear to propagandize Buttigieg, there’s an argument to be had that it’s mere existence suggests otherwise.
But the reason it can’t be propaganda is because the filmmakers aren’t interested in exploring all the positivity in Mayor Pete’s life. Rather than just put Pete on a pedestal, the film also captures the problems he faced while holding public office and while trying to push through the polls in the Presidential election.
For example, throughout his candidacy Buttigieg was notoriously scrutinized for his handling of his hometown’s police department. So in the film, when a deadly, police-involved shooting happens while he’s on the campaign trail, he’s forced to grapple with that criticism and his own humanity. It’s moments like that where this film truly shines because it proves that its subject isn’t perfect. That makes him more relatable than anything, however, it still doesn’t make up for some of the film’s foremost flaws.
As mentioned earlier, Pete Buttigieg is an openly gay politician who went from being a Mayor to running for President. That’s as much as I knew about him going in and, by the time the film finished, that didn’t change. The film serves as a wonderful chronicle of Buttigieg’s campaign and the 2020 election from his perspective, but it ultimately does nothing to really tell us who he truly is. By adding nothing new or meaningful about Buttigieg, there’s no real reason to watch the film as you’d probably get the same or even more information from his Wikipedia page.
What did you think of Amazon documentary Mayor Pete? Comment below.