The Movie Narrative

I see, from a brief news release, and the subsequent minor bloggerly hyperventilating about it, that the story of the 60 Minutes-Dan Rather-faked TANG memo is going to be made into a movie, starring Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchette as Mary Mapes, his producer. If it were a cautionary tale about what happens when those who report our news content so desperately desire items of dubious provenance to be the genuine article and so skip merrily past every warning signal in their hurry to broadcast a nakedly partisan political hit piece on the eve of an election … well, I might be tempted to watch it. No, not in a theater – are you insane? I might opt to pay a couple of bucks to stream it through Amazon and watch it at home … but alas, likely I will give it a miss, altogether. It’s going to be based on Ms Mapes’ own account and defense of the indefensible, and frankly I am not all that interested in someone engaged in a lengthy justification of their own gullibility and/or willingness to wink at obvious forgery in service to a partisan political cause.

A larger issue does interest me, though – and that is how very often of late movie producers are willing, eager and generous when it comes to bending recent events, political personalities, and certain so-called scandals. Degraded as Hollywood has become lately, with box office receipts dropping like anvils on Wily Coyote, people still watch movies – and movies have an incalculable effect on mass culture. The personalities involved in making movies – producers, directors, the top stars; they are all part of – or see themselves as – a vital part of what Angelo Codevilla called the ruling class. People still watch movies, follow fashions in everything from hairstyles to hobbies which feature in movies, and sad to say, in the long run most people glean what little they do know of history from movies. I am almost certain that most people under the age of forty or so have taken everything they think they know about the John F. Kennedy assassination from the Oliver Stone movie about it, and most people who know anything about slavery in the US have taken their understanding of it (for good or ill) from the Roots miniseries. Never mind that much of the content of both is … questionable, at the very least.

For movies and other pop media bend the national narrative one way or the other (and increasingly of late, to the leftwards almost exclusively). Of course this particular project will be seen as a means of rehabilitating Dan Rather’s battered reputation and pounding again on GWB’s alleged AWOL status while in the Texas Air National Guard five decades ago. Consider how the movie Fair Game put a certain slant on the so-called outing of Valerie Plame, and Game Change trashed Sarah Palin; one might be forgiven for a belief that this is just another means of bending perceptions – now and in the future – in the direction that the ruling classes wish to see it go.


11 thoughts on “The Movie Narrative”

  1. Robert Redford is a dyed in the wool socialist, possibly a communist. He’s never done a role in which a businessman or capitalist or self made anyone or anything is admirable. They’re always villains and America and is always waiting for the Great Revolution, with him and his cohorts at the vanguard.

  2. Mike and Mike … pretty much, yeah. This is a movie that will go down in flames at the box office, but clean up in the awards that the Establishment Media give to each other… for mostly being so awesome and stick-it-to-the-manly.

    Sarah Hoyt at According to Hoyt had an essay a couple of weeks ago about how the death-spiral of establishments first involves a decided turn to the left … because their Good Intentions excuses all disasters – including the management cadre who led them into the Death Spiral. Because … Good Intentions! And the responsible parties can usually hop to another well-paying establishment, before they can auger that one into the ground. (I am looking for the link to that specific post … but anyway – her website is full of bloggy goodness.

  3. These leftist looser-movies do well in Europe and elsewhere explaining to the world what we are like as seen by the left. It does us no good.

  4. The movie ends in the newsroom with Redford as Rather. He is wearing an eye patch, war paint and a bright red ribbon around his forehead. There is a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the desk in front of him and what appears to be a quiver of arrows strapped to his back. He turns slowly to face the camera and as the screen goes dark says COURAGE in the Navajo language.

  5. I don’t mind that these movies get made; however, is there nobody in Hollywood to tell a good story? I just got done reading about the American re-conquest of the Phillipine islands. The low drop on the Rock is extremely interesting. Are there any good books on the subject. Iris Chang was working on one, but met an untimely death. I don’t understand why this subject is left out of history.

  6. Ronald, I’ve been told that the reason for so many lackluster theatrical movies being made is that the big theatrical features cost a lot to make, and everyone involved wants to be assured that it will be a sure thing. So they depend very much on doing what was done before … which is a guarantee of a big expensive wad of blandness and predictability.

    The way it was explained to me was that – in the old big-studio days, they would churn out a hundred pictures a year, and spend an average of $10,000 on each(just a figure I pulled out of the air, don’t know what the actual cost or number was)per picture for an total expense of $1,000,000. Some of those 100 movies would loose money, most would break about even, but some of them would hit the jackpot, pay for themselves and all the others plus profit. So the studios could afford to take chances with material. (Besides, they had actors, directors, writers, technical support and sets all under contract, day in and day out.) But with 10 movies a year, and each of those 10 budgeted at $100,000 (and having to assemble the stars, directors, techs etc for each project from scratch) … movie producers can’t afford to gamble.

    My two cents is for good storytelling – go to made-for-cable movies and series.

  7. >>Some of those 100 movies would loose money, most would break about even, but some of them would hit the jackpot, pay for themselves and all the others plus profit.

    Off topic, buts that’s true for many design-MFG-production businesses that produce original product. As an example, it’s costs a company like Ford more than a billions dollars to develop an all new vehicle. When one is a big success (like the Taurus in the 80’s-90’s) that income pays the bills. Similar products were the iPod then the iPhone for Apple. I seem to recall hearing the iPod saved Apple from bankruptcy and provided the seed money to develop the iPhone. It helps hugely to have talented and even visionary people on staff as well; a Steve Jobs or an Elon Musk can make all the difference.

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