Good Night, and Good Luck

Thanks largely to Memoirs of a Geisha being sold out, I caught this little gem with SC and two of her college friends before I headed to Singapore. Unless one is a student of history, sociology, politics, or something along those lines, Joseph McCarthy is probably a name that wouldn’t register. In the 1950s, the Cold War era being in swing, this senator took it upon himself to remove all traces of communism from American soil, a political and ideological approach named McCarthyism (here’s the wiki article – I don’t know how accurate it is) after him. In 1953, CBS news journalist, Edward R. Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly, examined McCarthy’s actions on Murrow’s ‘current affairs’ program, “See It Now”, with far-reaching consequences.

George Clooney may have gotten his start as resident heartthrob in ER, but unlike many others famous for their charm, he’s only gotten better at that which is most important in his field – his acting – something he has now been rewarded for with an Oscar nod for Syrianna. Even more significantly, he has also successfully added another string to his bow, having become a very competant director with an eye for stories which should be told. Strange as it was, I enjoyed Confessions of a Dangerous Mind because it was different a few years ago (I even remember that it was in NZ that I saw it!).

Good Night, and Good Luck is more of a comment on television news journalism than on McCarthy, thanks in part to Murrow’s efforts in the 50s which set the stage for the senator’s downfall. Clooney does show how choice of footage may certainly be used to present a particular view of a person or situation, something which Michael Moore (amongst others) is notorious for today. However, despite the biased nature of the presentations (in the film, Murrow directly accused McCarthy of “confusing the public mind”), and even though the accountability of Murrow’s team is questioned, their approach involving fairness (they allowed Senator McCarthy to respond) and verified facts is presented in a positive light. The journalist’s 1959 speech, which frames the rest of the film, presents the main message of the film:

	"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do 
so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is 
merely wires and lights in a box."

I highly recommend GN&GL for an interesting look at McCarthyism and at how the broader spectrum of ignorant and intolerant opinions threatens humanity, and especially, to learn that one can, and must, fight them, whatever the cost turns out to be.

Footnote: the trivia on imdb is quite interesting.

——————–

Oh yes…and somewhat in relation to this, something that was mentioned about the abortion drug debate strikes me as being untrue. Senator Gary Humphries of the Liberal Party said something along the lines of ‘the best way to get (community input) is through debate in elected parliaments, in my opinion’. I disagree, not that allowing an unelected body to decide whether the drug should be allowed is better.

Jet Li’s latest film should be next.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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