April 26, 2009

"Journalists are still hot in Hollywood."

Writes Maureen Dowd (who's hoping newspapers won't die):
Russell Crowe, playing a messy and morally ambiguous Washington investigative journalist, teaches the self-regarding blogger, Rachel McAdams, a thing or three, including why a pen is necessary.....
Oh, there's a blogger in that movie? A "self-regarding blogger," eh?

Meanwhile, Patrick Goldstein writes:
When I was in film school, we were bombarded with all sorts of rakish visions of newspaper life, including "Nothing Sacred," "His Girl Friday," "Sweet Smell of Success" and "All the President's Men." Even in the darker, more cynical renditions of the world, like Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole," you knew being a reporter was where the action was.

But we now live in an era of diminished expectations, especially when it comes to newspaper dramas. In "State of Play," Crowe's investigative reporter manipulates everyone to get to the bottom of the story, which involves some good old government conspiracy. The film makes a halting attempt to introduce a contemporary story line -- his paper has an annoying young blogger on the same story -- but instead of pursuing the tension in that relationship, the film simply turns the character (played by Rachel McAdams) into a perky gofer for Crowe's big-shot journalist.
Annoying young blogger....

Well, at least there's a blogger in a movie, or are bloggers stock villains in a lot of movies these days?

26 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

"Absense of Malice" is a better depiction than any of those movies cited.

traditionalguy said...

The great irritation at pesky Bloggers is a corollary to the rule that there are no more Sin rules to judge our evolved human conduct. Except, that is the most vile type of horror that arises from Speaking the Truth In Public. Why it can start among a few Blogger outliers out lying and spread like the Great Flu killing off decades of careful investments of money and talent into the creation of a set of false facts from false scientific studies and myths from false histories.(This is like salting a mining claim to sell it to fools). Did you hear the newest line that all human misery in the world is caused by Capitalism. Some people will have to be killed to purify the world and make it safe for Socialism, but Obama is so kind that he will simply accept their surrender if they will turn to Him for mercy.

richard said...

read dowd's column. there are some terrific pull quotes in it but i love this one from sunset boulevard ..“And who have they got now? Some nobodies — a lot of pale little frogs croaking pish-posh.” it captures perfectly why the media elite hates the internet.

rhhardin said...

The death spiral Dowd refers to as a cliche is more apt than she knows.

It refers to a pilot making things worse by correcting what he incorrectly thinks is wrong, when he has no outside references to steer by.

He winds up in a tight descending high-g spiral into the ground, correcting all the way down.

As opposed to a tailspin, where the pilot knows what the trouble is and fixes it easily if he's had the tiniest bit of experience and a little bit of altitude left.

The LA Times seeing itself as unbiased is an example of a death spiral.

jeff said...

But if she is "self-regarding" wouldn't that make her fit in with the real reporters?

Paddy O. said...

Just watched Die Hard again on dvd the other night.

It struck me how the portrayal of the reporter in that movie is probably a lot closer to the general opinion about reporters.

A lot of people cheer when Mrs. McClain decks him at the end.

The Russell Crowe movie, by the way, is going to totally bomb.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

A reporter gets decked in Predator 2 as well.

I suppose I am self-regarding. If I don't regard myself, who will regard me? What kind of oblivious and insight-less person isn't self-regarding?

daredevil-66 said...

If I was trying to cast a typical reporter or op-ed guy I'd like to use a Peter Lorre type. Greasy,effacious,cloying voice, you know something believable. Russel Crowe? Not so much.

PatCA said...

Both movies enforce Teh Narrative and thus will bomb. Journalist Maverick Hero against the cabal of the Real Enemy, us! Savior Reporter rescuing a Noble Savage and learning from him!

At least they don't despise bloggers as much as they despise the military...yet.

John Stodder said...

No, the real New Villain in popular culture is Blackwater. Not just in "State of Play" but also this season's "24," where the focus has shifted away from the moral ambiguity of ticking-bomb torture to the moral clarity of Blackwater is the Real Enemy.

The journalist in "24" is an utter sleaze. But one must admit that the Blackwater-equivalent CEO in "24," played by Jon Voight, is a great, wicked character.

I saw "State of Play" the other night. It was playing at two theaters in my megaplex, and both were near-empty. Yeah, the blogger in it was depicted as a know-nothing who has to learn what reporters are really all about from Russell Crowe, who proceeds to behave utterly unlike any reporter ever has, and then turn around and stake his claim as the defender of a dying faith. It's kind of fun, though. Justin Bateman deserves a little Oscar buzz in his brief role as a metrosexual PR guy who combines arrogance, depravity and abject horror at being forced to spend a few hours in a crappy motel.

kentuckyliz said...

Sounds like the story line violates the audience's willing suspension of disbelief.

MSM was and is so in the tank for the Big O, and all have the same talking points straight off JournoList, and Roesgen's hacktivism blew the lid off it. No due diligence. No true reporting. It's advocacy.

So Crowe would be just taking his marching orders from JournoList and the saucy blogger would be digging deeper and linking to original documents and getting instalanched.

That would be more believable.

Maguro said...

Yep...moral ambiguity is so 2004. Now we can sit back and enjoy our splendid consciences while we rely on Obama's niceness and worldwide popularity to keep us safe.

William said...

It is significant that Bronstein, speaking on behalf of reporters, says that they should be allowed to "do their I.F. Stone thing". I. F. Stone was credibly reported to be a conduit for info that the KGB had researched and wished to bring to the attention of the American public. That Bronstein should think of such a man as a beacon to aspire to and not as a flashing yellow light tells us a lot about Bronstein's mind set. He walks barefoot among komodo dragons at his wife's suggestion and congratulates himself on his deep skepticism about the workings of goverment.

dave in boca said...

Bloggers are pesky to them elites who use the overwhelming liberal editorial departments to spread the zampolit party line in lock-step drill.

Once you get bloggers into the mix, something not in the socialist-tomorrow agenda like discourse or dialogue might occur, and then who knows how tyrannical minorities might have their legislative plots derailed.

Sully said...

Dear Ann,

more content--

fewer pictures of you.

kthx

Trooper York said...

Hey when are we going to have the Geraldo Rivera Bio pic. I mean he is the epitome of journalism as it is practiced today.

The only death spiral they should worry about is the one all of these rags are in. How much did the New York Times Stock drop? How many people are they laying off? How hard are they trying to break their unions?

It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of scumbags.

The only thing worse than a journaliist is a lawyer.

Revenant said...

"Absense of Malice" is a better depiction than any of those movies cited.

That movie is worth owning just to watch Wilford Brimley's scene at the end. :)

Silent_Majority said...

Myabe the dumbing down of the blogger in the movie is an unconcious acknowledgement that the "blogger" medium is outphasing traditional news outlets. While in the bloggoshpere rumors and inacuracies are abound it is no more so than with the MSM. I'm waiting for the movie that portrays the end of Newspapers and the rise of Blogging. Could have a happy ending.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

The best depiction of journalism ever was in the last season of "The Wire." There you could see a reporter make shit up and pretend he got a call from a serial killer so he could get ahead in his job. It is what they do. They make shit up. That's how you win a Pulitzer Prize.

The only thing worse than a journaliist is a lawyer.

MrBuddwing said...

They make shit up. That's how you win a Pulitzer Prize.Yes, I'd almost forgotten about Janet Cooke. She "made shit up" and won a Pulitzer Prize - and now, of course, she's regarded as one of the titans of print journalism.

AST said...

You left out Jon Podhoretz's review in The Weekly Standard.

As for Ms. Dowd's whistling past the graveyard, I would remind her that they still make movies about the ancient Romans, Greeks and other past ages.

traditionalguy said...

The great dichotomy is between a "reporter" of What, When, Why, and Where, and How which we expect from our News service, with the best story award at the scriptwriter's club, which we expect from the Oscars. If you remember, the pioneer and pathfinder in sucessfully Claiming Fiction to be a Non-fiction report was Truman Capote's novel called In Cold Blood. To this day it is listed as pioneering work of non-fiction writing. Of course it was made up by Capote after reading a few news paper stories. At best it was Historical Fiction imitating news reporting. But its complete acceptance as a true report opened the eyes of writers everywhere. Within 15 years the viewpoint in our culture became that the best told story is a cultural fact, while what actually happened has no relevance. That tipping point emerged 20 years ago. So what are the writers mad about today? They are mad about the success of Bloggers in publishing a cultural narative that recreates the basic distinction between what really happened from a great story told by talened writers for a Dan Rather network, or for the NYT,or for a Radio outlet called NPR.

William said...

Front Page, the archetype of all journalism movies, was written by two ex-reporters from Chicago....Here's an interesting, little known fact. The ballet used to be a working class job. The Degas ballerina was a blue collar girl making a sweaty buck, not a middle class aesthete creating beauty. In like way, the reporters of the Front Page era were hacks in search of sensation and not journalists in search of the underlying meaning of it all....I don't think the reporters of that era had any ideology beyond their own advancement. The Enquirer and the paps are probably closest to that romanticized group. The Enquirer will go after Edwards and Palin with equal ferocity. They really are impartial. Perhaps reporters should pursue sensation and leave philosophers to pursue the truth.

Data Schlepper said...

Why not a movie about a plumber? They meet all sorts of people in the course of their work. And their work could be exciting, maybe even dangerous. Imagine wading into a flooded basement with the electricity still on. Maybe plumbers are where its at

ak said...

"In like way, the reporters of the Front Page era were hacks in search of sensation and not journalists in search of the underlying meaning of it all...."

There's an old newspaper tale: Citizen A had insider info that the mayor was to be assassinated on the steps of city hall at 10:00 am. Too afraid to go to the corrupt police, Citizen called a reporter on the city desk of the local paper as a last-ditch effort. Citizen hoped that the reporter would blow the lid off the story and stop the assassination. Instead, the reporter grabbed a photographer, ran over to city hall, and waited on the steps.

I think that the change in journalism is often traced back to All the President's Men, in which reporters were heroic Robert-Redford-looking j-schools grads who were willing to brave dark parking garages and meetings with lawyers in search of the undying truth that would save the country.