¶ … Shattered Glass
Stephen Glass, the protagonist of the film, played by Hayden Christensen, works for The New Republic as a reporter. His use of colorful stories to draw attention from readers earns him a solid reputation amongst his peers and his employers. Michael Kelly, an editor that backs Glass' eventually discovered false stories, gets fired for standing up for himself. Glass then writes a hacker story that he himself did not check and is therefore caught in the first real instance of the movie of corruption. A reporter, wishing to earn or maintain a good reputation, fabricates a story.
How it was discovered, was when Charles Lane becomes weary of the so called, "credible sources," of Glass' piece. When he discovers that Glass never went to the restaurant he said he did and never went to a hacking convention, and only relied on online, false sources, Glass gets suspended. Many times reporters will and have used false or unconfirmed sources to report on entertaining but false stories.
When these kinds of things happen in the media, it trickles down to society. Glass gained a good reputation from his entertaining stories. He at some point, became corrupted and felt the need to essentially fabricate things or use bogus sources in order to create an entertaining report. Because he is so entertaining, instead of getting fired for his actions, he got suspended, outraging Caitlin Avey. Later on in the film Lane discovers Glass' brother posed as president of Jukt Micronics. To add insult to injury, he also finds that most if not all his stories were fabricated, resulting in Glass getting fired.
"The War Room"
This film also has instances of corruption, but this time in politics. One of the scandals Bill Clinton, at the time a presidential candidate, was facing was the Gennifer Flowers scandal. Presidents are often seen as supposed beacons of justice and morality. Here people are clearly showing the flaws of a man eventually elected as president, and the public does not seem to mind that he was unfaithful to his wife.
Most often than not, America and other countries see the dark side of politicians and even the government, and fail to do anything serious concerning their inappropriate actions. Mayors get caught smoking crack, presidents get caught in torrid affairs, and people still like and care for them as if they did nothing wrong. Politics is an area that holds a steady supply of corruption.
Throughout the movie, it can be clearly seen that although the scandal was discussed, it was more about the campaign events and the statements by Stephanopoulos and Carville, the film's stars. So many times in media, it tries to show the colorful side of things rather than focus on the corruption. This in turn makes even morally wrong actions pale in comparison to the action and suspense of the dramatized events of competition. The same can be said of government actions like the huge bank bailout. Although these negative actions or perceived negative actions are shown and discussed in media, it is not given as much attention nor importance as they should be.
2. "A Face in the Crowd"
The first instance of humor is seen in the beginning of the film. Larry Rhodes, an inebriated drifter gets taken from jail at a rural Arkansas town to perform a song on a radio show. The person who took him was Marcia Jeffries. Much like the man with the golden voice on YouTube, he's shown as having a certain charm, raw voice, and unsophisticated humor that not only wins him opportunities, but generates a fan following. His jabs at his sponsor, a mattress business, only adds to their sales revenues causing them to become his ability to persuade...
People often use certain events or people to popularize something. What is perceived as negative press or negative media attention, actually turns into something positive. A good example comes from American politics with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Although they had an affair, Clinton continued being president and Lewinsky ended up getting paid deals. The negative attention actually propelled them into infamy instead of the anticipated knockdown of such socially unacceptable actions.
Another instance in the film, when Rhodes goes on a rant about how stupid his audience of guinea pigs are, Jeffries turns on the mic letting the audience hear what Rhodes truly thinks of them. Although it's funny to watch his stupidity and error, this "whistle blowing" action is often seen in the media and politics when people become too arrogant or greedy. The Watergate scandal is prime example of this. People feel so comfortable with their actions, they slip and commit a big mistake. This film does a great job of showing that.
"Wag the Dog"
The film's president, who forms a scandal from attempted advances towards an underage girl is very similar to the "War Room" in the sense that there is a scandal revolving a politician and it is the job of the people around him to take attention off from the scandal. The film is a black comedy so it is meant to sort of parody or exaggerate the actions of politicians in these scenarios. The spin doctor used to generate buzz on a fake Albanian war with America, the orphan and the crazy prison convict are all great uses of exaggeration to give a deranged and funny interpretation of how politicians and those who assist politicians try to cover up scandal. Added to that is the Mottss' need for credit for his ability to get the president re-elected and his subsequent, "heart attack" death, it provides a level of comedy that truly not only shows the point of the film, but also the darkness of politics. People can and will take advantage, or even worse, dispose of people they may consider a threat.
"Anchorman" is a hilarious comedy that focuses on an anchorman by the name of Ron Burgundy. He is a horrible reporter but his team and himself are very successful and achieve high ratings. His subsequent romantic interaction with Veronica Corningstone creates not only the plot's main conflict, but also the source of negative media attention. It is in the scene where he tells America to "f off" that he experiences a negative backlash from his audience and receives negative media coverage. The reason he said that line was due to his need to read from the teleprompter and Veronica rewriting the line.
People and especially news stations do attempt to vie for high ratings. This keeps the advertising money coming and helps the station remain afloat. When they brought in Veronica Corningstone due in part to her good looks, it became very successful. In fact, towards the end of the film, the audience discovers Ron and Veronica remain successful co-anchors.
However, going back to the backlash experienced by Ron Burgundy, this was good for Veronica, but also bad for her as well. She got more successful after his leave, but also got more hate from fellow reporters. It seems any one person getting a lot of attention within the media can have possible negative consequences as seen through Ron and Veronica's struggles.
"Wag the Dog"
The media played a role in revealing the negative scandal concerning the underage girl and how the president was able to deal with it. The use of the media to cover the scandal by bringing attention to a fake war with Albania was a great way to receive and use media positively. It also was able to spring forth an actual or fake reveal of the news about an actual war with Albania towards the end when Motss' gets assassinated.
Motss' assassination is fueled at the same time due to the media's coverage on how the president won re-election. It is shown through the media, the president won through his campaign slogan, "Don't change horses in mid-stream," which in reality was not the case, it was the coverage on the war with Albania. This fabrication was negative for Motss but positive for the president and anyone associated with him that had no interest in revealing anything related to the cover-up.
4. "Citizen Kane"
This film displays the relationship between a powerful individual, Kane, and the masses, quite well. To begin with the man has quite a bit of influence as he is wealthy and owner of a newspaper publishing company. He also builds an estate called Xanadu that offers work to several people who maintain the establishment. Kane has such an influence, he is able to not only wield power over strangers, but also his significant other. As seen with his mistress turned wife, Susan, he forces her to continue with an opera career for his satisfaction even though she does not want to nor possess the talent to perform. Lastly, when he says his dying word, "Rosebud" it causes a media uproar as people do not know…
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