Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ebert is dead-on, yet again

I'm a frequent reader of Roger Ebert's film reviews as well as his blog entries, so I was surprised to find I had missed this last one long enough for it to accumulate over 700 comments by the time I'd found it. It's no secret Ebert nurses a healthy dislike of Bill O'Reilly and wingnuts in general (both left and right), and this time he uses the hatred-spilling TV troll to exemplify the growing problems of America's increasingly worthless media and news industry and coverage.

You really should read the entire thing: it's a magnificent piece told from the viewpoint of a sane, eloquent and highly-intelligent individual who's made his life's work out of finding the good and bad in both the material and the intangible, and it truly illustrates just how far the U.S. has strayed in the last few decades.

But for all the brilliance of the rest of the post, the two paragraphs below truly describe with perfect precision and accuracy, just how bad things have gotten:

O'Reilly represents a worrisome attention shift in the minds of Americans. More and more of us are not interested in substance. The nation has cut back on reading. Most eighth graders can't read a newspaper. A sizable percentage of the population doesn't watch television news at all. They want entertainment, or "news" that is entertainment. Many of us grew up in the world where most people read a daily paper and watched network and local newscasts. "All news" radio stations and TV channels were undreamed-of. News was a destination, not a generic commodity. Journalists, the good ones anyway, had ethical standards.

In those days, if you quoted The New York Times, you were bringing an authority to the table. Now O'Reilly--O'Reilly!--advises viewers to cancel their subscriptions to a paper most of them may not have ever seen. In those days, if the wire services reported something, it probably happened. Today the wire services remain indispensable, but waste resources in producing celebrity info-nuggets that belong in trash magazines. Advertisers now seek readers they once thought of as shoplifters. If nuclear war breaks out, the average citizen of a Western democracy will be better informed about Brittny[1] Spears than the causes of their death.

Once again, Mr. Ebert, I raise my goblet to you. Bill O'Reilly and others of his creed (Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) serve no other purpose than to spread fear, lies and paranoia throughout the nation. It's no stretch of definitions to call them "borderline domestic terrorists" – it truly is what they do.

[1] A commenter pointed out Ebert had misspelled the "Brittany" (though there are a few little typos throughout the rest of the entry, so it could be an accident). Ebert's response: "When the Bomb falls, I'll die not knowing how to spell her name. That will be some consolation.". Indeed.


  • BuffaloWilder

     There's a comment or two of mine, in there. I got quite a lot of traffic at The Filmist, because of it, actually.

     Smart marketing is where it's at.

  • BuffaloWilder

     <span style="text-decoration: underline;">TheFilmist. </span>

  • Joé McKen

    ... You sure? I tried searching (Ctrl+F) the terms "filmist", "thefilmist" and even "film" (owch) and couldn't find you. =(

  • Melissa

    Ask ANY film person. His reviews and ratings are the worst they've ever been. But you wouldn't know shit about that. You- Wall e. BW- happy feet. PATHETIC.

  • Melissa

    Where have you been? Did your mommy make you get off the computer =/

  • Joé McKen

    // Not all the time. Just *when I comment*. \\

    FTFY ;)


  • BuffaloWilder

     Internet service problems. Big, big middle finger to Time Warner. All that good stuff.

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