Monday, June 14, 2010

Back in the news

I'm sick of the media feeding frenzy surrounding Joran van der Sloot. (Of course, I very quickly tired of the endless stories about him the first time around, too.) This morning, I turned on the TV to watch the latest World Cup match, and found that he was the story one or another of the morning news shows was discussing.

My first thought was of the movie I Want to Live!. I said when I recommended it two years ago that I hated it for a whole bunch of reasons. Ironically, though, I think it got a lot of the media frenzy stuff right. We've had a lot of stories since then -- think husbands accused of killing their wives, or parents accused of murdering their children -- where the accused are made almost unable to get a fair trial because the media declared them guilty beforehand. Granted, the accused might in fact be guilty. But that still doesn't make the media frenzies any less ugly.

Then again, although I Want to Live! got the media frenzy right, that's probably in no small part because the concept had been already going on for decades. The movie Compulsion, made around the same time as I Want to Live!, and deals with how public exposure might make it almost impossible to get a fair jury trial. Say what you will about the movie The Fountainhead, but Ayn Rand wasn't that far off in her portrayal of a populist media driving the events of the day. And, the populist media goes back even further in the movies. Humphrey Bogart's One Fatal Hour was made in the mid-1930s and was a remake; likewise, His Girl Friday covers a good deal of the same ground, and was also a remake of an early 1930s movie.

Surprisingly, I've never done a full-length post on His Girl Friday, an oversight I'll have to correct at some time after the World Cup.

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