Monday, January 4, 2010
Has America entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for truth? The country's leading intellectuals discuss & examine the mix of businesses, politics & ideology that is the mainstream media.
Watch Now; Orwell Rolls in his Grave
Second viewing option
In addition to evoking a nightmarish vision of the future, George Orwell's political allegory 1984 introduced a lexicon of sinister catchphrases with which to describe big government gone haywire. Totalitarian states and Fascistic political parties are nicknamed "Big Brother"; censors are referred to as the "Thought Police"; and political double-talk is often derisively referred to as "Newspeak." But filmmaker Robert Kane Pappas contends that Orwell's worst fears have been realized in an even deeper sense. His two-hour think piece argues that Orwell's concern that "Big Brother" would one day be able to revise history on a daily basis, thanks to a monolithic, government-allied media and an apathetic and forgetful public, has come to pass. In Orwell's nightmare, people "could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality" and would be too uninformed about and uninterested in actual events to notice. Pappas poses a number of provocative questions about the current state of the media: Is there an underlying pattern to the stories that make it into print or onto TV and those that get killed? Has the ever-increasing power of media lobbyists and campaign contributors made it easier for the media to create the truth?
Have "official sources" become de facto assignment editors, determining what news is reported? Does the fact that an increasing number of media outlets are owned by fewer conglomerates mean that the public is privy to a limited number of viewpoints on a narrow spectrum of issues? Many of these questions have been posed before, most notably and tirelessly by Noam Chomsky, who literally co-wrote the book (Manufacturing Consent) on the subject. But Pappas gives these important issues up-to-the-minute immediacy by focusing on the way the contentious 2000 presidential election was reported, and how the war in Iraq was pitched and sold. To say that the conclusions of Pappas and his pundits — some of whom are too often drowned out by the unnecessary musical soundtrack — are grim is an understatement. Packed with more information than can possibly be digested in a single viewing, the film will be a bracing eye-opener to anyone who hasn't considered the full implications of recent Congressional debates advocating further media deregulation, debates that, unsurprisingly, have been strikingly underreported by mainstream news outlets.