Tag: entertainment

“Citizenfour” Wins Documentary Feature Oscar

Tonight the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature to “Citizenfour” directed by Laura Poitras.

Congratulations to Ms. Poitras. Thanks to Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian who went to Hong Kong with her. But most of all, thank you to Edward Snowden for his sacrifice that we might know what our government is doing in our name.

"Citizen Four" Wins Oscar photo 1000_zps75519101.jpg

Left to right: Producer Dirk Wilutzky, Director Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills and Editor  Mathilde Bonnefoy.

The Intercept’s Laura Poitras Wins Academy Award for ‘Citizenfour’

By Peter Maas, The Intercept

Laura Poitras, a founding editor of The Intercept, won an Academy Award tonight for her documentary “Citizenfour,” an inside look at Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower.

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” Poitras said in her acceptance speech. “Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers.” Snowden, in a statement released after the award was announced, said, “My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

The film, which has been hailed as a real-life thriller, chronicles Snowden’s effort to securely contact Poitras and Glenn Greenwald in 2013 and meet them in Hong Kong, where Poitras filmed Snowden discussing the thousands of classified NSA documents he was leaking to them, and his motives for doing so. The film takes its title from the pseudonym Snowden used when he contacted Poitras in encrypted emails that were revealed in her documentary.

“Citizenfour” will air on HBO Monday, Feb 23, 9 PM EST. As soon as it’s available, it will be featured here and at our other site, The Stars Hollow Gazette.

Drifting Over the Edge 2

We can blame “them” all we want but as my first teacher in politics Walt Kelly had his main character Pogo say “Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Leaders and media personalities all have their own motivations and little cabals and interests and careers but in the end they reflect who we are. It isn’t just because we are, a democracy (more or less) but that the cultural ambience always has an effect at least for those who interact on various levels with the world. The more rarified and wealthy a person, of course, the more likely they will be out of touch with everyday interactions. But even then there are influences of the media, the music, the arts (both good an bad) and even the language itself. In fact, as an aside, language itself carries inherent values not only in the meanings but in the rhythms and sounds as well. We are, also, influenced by each other in other ways, body language, facial expressions, clothing, hair styles even moods and “vibes.” We are far more connected than we think. Yet, part of that connection involves a culture that is focused on what I describe as narcissistic isolation. To be more precise, the culture encourages people live separate lives focused on fulfilling fantasies. Work life and “personal” life are largely segregated-a person has to put on a work mask and take it off and be “real” when they home. Work is, usually, a place where arbitrary and often inexplicable goals and values are pursued where mysterious and all-powerful hierarchies largely frame your work life. When we get home we play, like children, at life-play fantasy sports, watch porn, shop for clothes so that we can be our very own dolls, and “unwind” (does anybody wonder why we have to be wound up in the first place).  

Book Review: Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion (2009)

This is a critical review of Chris Hedges’ book Empire of Illusion, with further discussion of its relevance in a society with no future.

(Crossposted at Orange and at Firedoglake)

15 Minutes

Watch CBS News Videos Online

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, Americans are engrossed in earthquake coverage.  The tremor in Haiti bought unimaginable death and destruction just south of our borders.  Events related to the recovery and rescues emerge as banner headlines.  Haitians Seek Solace Amid the Ruins. For a week now, the struggle to survive, revive the injured, and retrieve the bodies strewn on the streets of Port-au-Prince was also the central theme of most every broadcast.  In the midst of the misery, many Americans, felt desperate for a reprieve from the devastation that emotionally drained them. Millions took time to escape in a welcome distraction.  Sassy, former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin Made Her Debut appearance on Fox.  Tomorrow another reality will replace these stories, just as each superseded the hoopla over Harry Reid’s reference to race.  Metaphorically, the tales provide persons, policies, and, or practices fifteen minutes of fame.  In actuality, these  fade from our mind quickly.  

What ever happened to the News?

Media Reform Information Center

In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S.

in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world’s largest media corporation.

In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.



Utopia 6: Night Out

“TV is sometimes accused of encouraging fantasies. Its real problem, though, is that it encourages-enforces, almost-a brute realism. It is anti-Utopian in the extreme. We’re discouraged from thinking that, except for a few new products, there might be a better way of doing things.”

Bill McKibben

Pony Party/Open Thread: Allan Sherman, Dean Martin and Vic Damone

This Pony Party should be treated as an open thread!  Please do not rec the Pony Party!

Transgression, “Pineapple Express”, and the Socialization of Young Men

(Mild spoilers for “Pineapple Express” appear in this post)

Via Andrew Sullivan, Martha Bayles on the impact of entertainment on young men in America:

consider that the problem facing American society these days is not that it neglects the education of young women but that it screws up the socialization of young men.  The most powerful shaper of popular attitudes is the entertainment industry, and what is it doing?  This short article in today’s New York Times sums it up very effectively — all the more so because it is so bizarrely uncritical.

This mentality can be summed up simply: Young men have no minds, souls, or characters worth bothering about; they care about nothing, respect nothing, and aspire to nothing.  They are pure appetite and aggression, just waiting to be pandered to for money.  So may the best panderer win.

Already I am tired of the fuss over Michael Phelps, who has won eight gold medals but seems to have less charisma than a carp.  But at least he aspired to greatness and achieved it.  Without sports — and, of course, war — what other challenges are presented to young men?  Being the biggest gross-out on the block?

Sayles makes two serious errors here.  The first is that this particular (and particularly lucrative) sort of filmmaking is by any stretch the sum or even the principal output of the “entertainment” industry which is aimed at young men.  It is interesting to pretend for a moment as if the entire genres of science fiction and fantasy don’t exist, as if “Lord of the Rings” didn’t make a pile of money off of teenaged males.  Further, it grossly misunderstands what those movies actually are about.  Many of those films, particularly those which originated from producer-director Judd Apatow (Superbad, Pineapple Express) are particularly about the dangers of resisting maturation and socialization.  

Take the recently released “Pineapple Express”.  This movie could not be more explicit in rejecting the anti-social and immature impulses of its characters.  The character of Seth Rogen begins the film an unrepentant pothead who is dating a high-school girl seven years his junior.  Over the course of the film, Rogen will both reject the prospect of continuing to date a high school girl and renounce smoking pot.  Rather than encouraging the immature behavior of their characters, films like “There’s Something About Mary” and even “Animal House” are unremittingly negative on the implications of the arrested behavior they revel in.

But the second error is in my opinion the more serious one.  The entertainment industry is not the “most powerful shaper of popular attitudes.”  Popular attitudes are the most powerful shaper of the entertainment industry.  And, from literally as long as entertainment has existed, a major aspect of it has been entertainment which is intentionally trangressive against popular attitudes.  

The impulse to transgress against the forbidden is a human universal.  The ability for a word, image, or action to shock and to violate is what grants it mass appeal.  Entertainment is, as much as anything else, escapism.  We cannot do the sort of vile things that Ben Stiller shows us.  Our inability to act that way is what causes our desire to see others do it.  Seeing the activities in the context of an explicit fantasy frees us to revel in those suppressed desires.

What insults the intelligence of the young men who enjoy these films is not that they are treated as young people with only aggression and appetite.  What is insulting is the idea that they are not aware of the distinction between reality and fantasy, and that what they are willing to pay ten bucks to watch for a couple hours is the sum of their being.  It is an excuse to say that we don’t understand today’s youth, and we have no interest in trying.