Saturday, October 17, 2009

State of Playing on public perceptions

I just happened to see this All the President's Men (ATPM) look alike recently. This is quite a dangerous film. The central message seems to be that the traditional print big media are the guardians and saviours of the nation. And the point is not made subtly either. Brecht is all nuance and allusion in comparison.

Mind you, it is a good film, and highly watchable. Excellent acting, stark lighting, nearly seventiesesque grit. But from the very start, the emphasis is on the demonstration that blogs and other grass roots journalism are inherently bad, and even dangerous. Cleverly, the film tries to ride the wave of disillusionment with government and the growing fear of corporate malfeasance and collusion to glorify one of the main organs of government and corporate control. That's very gutsy, and I fear it works very well on most viewers.

The film seems to do exactly the same thing as ATPM, for exactly the same reasons, and in a very similar political context. The period from 65 to 75 saw repeated assaults on public trust in government and corporations, in the form of constantly broken promises on Viet-Nam, the overt use of domestic surveillance, and government and corporate abuse of power. Likewise the period since 9/11 has seen the increasing domestic use of intelligence and military forces, corporate scandals such as Enron that cost large numbers of people their livelihoods and retirements, and increasing involvement in two unpopular wars.

Just as ATPM, State of Play tries to show how the corporate and government controlled big media are in fact our guarantee of freedom from abuse by government and corporations. The added element in State of Play is the attempted murder of big media's growing competition on the internet.