Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck

Day four, still sick.

I adore Edward R. Murrow, and I absolutely can't wait to see this movie. During a time when questioning authority in private could cause your neighbors to ring the (highly corrupt) FBI, Murrow bitch slapped Joe McCarthy on national TV, inviting folks to look past their paranoia to the insanity of pre-emptively impinging on ye old bill of rights, especially rights to free speech and association.

My elation is deflated somewhat by those who complain that the release of the film is "pointed." It is pointed only in that Hollywood occasionally takes its head out of its ass long enough to realize, in a self-serving way, that they do not want to once again face the Blacklist. They've come a long way from the late nineties, when Elia Kazan was awarded a lifetime achievement Oscar for a career that included destroying the livelyhood of many of his colleagues.

It is not cheeky or pointed to release this movie during a time in which "terrorism" has replace "communism" as our verbal panic button. I view it instead as atonement. Those in tinseltown were so very giddy at working under a "liberal" administration for the first time since the alleged end of the Cold War that they celebrated by attempting to forget that the blacklist had ever happened. They deified Kazan, poo-pooed those who frowned at the decision, and partied as if Clinton was god's gift to freedom of expression.

With all of this good feeling, those who make movies easily became more enmeshed with those who make money and those who make government. And then a bunch of assholes flew planes into national landmarks. Suddenly Hollywood liberalism was once again poorly received. Entertainers who dared to repeat what inquiries found -- that there was ample warning about 9/11, that the current administration literally did not know intelligence when it saw it -- were publicly mocked, their endorsements threatened. It's enough to make anyone develop a sense of history.

And lest you think it's all smoothed over now, rumors last week had Kanye West losing a Pepsi endorsement over his post-Katrina claims that a certain leader of the free world doesn't care about black people. (NB The claim is not without merit; that same intelligence report that was ignored prior to 9/11 contained a warning about potential disaster due to levee breach in NOLA. This strangely led to a decrease in funding for programs to shore up levees. I'm not saying they tossed that security report out completely, I'm just saying I'd like to see what the White House uses for toilet paper.) The rumor didn't pan out, but one has to wonder how much was rumor and how much was reversal due to fear of public opinion -- it's a lot harder to yank endorsements and hide your reasons these days.

So the entertainment industry is newly reacquainted with the prospect of censorship in the name of "national security," and we get a movie about the Murrow-McCarthy smackdown. The timing's only pointed if you fail to consider that it's coming out at a time when it will affect no elections or legislation and generally have minimal direct effect, except on public opinion, which is fickle at best. I'm more inclined to wish they'd released it in 2003, then head to the theater and enjoy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snopes recently confirmed that Pepsi's HAS NOT DROPPED Kanye. He will continue to work as their spokesperson.

Silly internet rumors.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

Yeah, you'll notice the point where I note this, and speculate whether it was ALWAYS a rumor, or a mind changed based on new PR tactics.

The commercials began airing the other day. They're kind of weird, but I have a great big celebrity crush on Kanye, so I'm not complaining.

12:12 PM  

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