Freedom to depress

So there I was, scratching around the web looking for a little perspective on how the hell our expectations of journalists fell so far that Glenn Beck gets to use the same job description that Walter Cronkite used on his tax returns, without getting sued for defaming the entire profession.  My guess is, half the population don’t notice and other half don’t give a shit.

I used to think it was pretty cool that Comedy Central were doing their bit in the name of journalism. And, to be fair, Jon Stewart’s beatdown of Tucker Carlson on CNN’s now deservedly-extinct Crossfire was pretty badass. But really, once you think about it, it’s just another reason to hop on a barstool and stop thinking about it.

Fair and balanced?

How did we get here? In lieu of mine own hazy ponderings, enter Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Giving the 2009 Stuart Bullion Memorial Lecture in Journalism, Chris tells it like it is…

We live in an age of moral nihilism. We have trashed our universities, turning them into vocational factories that produce corporate drones and chase after defense-related grants and funding. The humanities, the discipline that forces us to stand back and ask the broad moral questions of meaning and purpose, that challenges the validity of structures, that trains us to be self-reflective and critical of all cultural assumptions, have withered. And this assault has been a body blow to a free press, which is, like the humanities, designed to promote intellectual and moral questioning.

But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of cake!

We are cleverly entertained during our descent. We have our own version of ancient Rome’s bread and circuses with our ubiquitous and elaborate spectacles, sporting events, celebrity gossip and television reality shows. Societies in decline, as the Roman philosopher Cicero wrote, see their emotional and political passions subsumed by the excitement and emotional life of the arena.

*sigh*

Hollywood and Booze – The Good Old Days

We have often poked fun at the modern hysteria surrounding the use of alcohol here at The Notes.

I can’t remember the last time I read or watched a news story involving booze which didn’t also include some overly simplistic moral subtext wagging a disapproving finger at our inability to be anything other than reckless, impulsive infants while under the influence. And while I’d love to write a screenplay which involves an adult, and comical, relationship with the bottle I can’t see the possibility of any modern television or film production doing so without feeling it also has to show the consequences. Consequences which, in our modern cultural climate, could only be portrayed as bad.

Which is why I’d have loved to have been writing in an era when booze was celebrated in the way it was in The Thin Man series. Great gags. Fabulous on-screen chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy. And, boy, did they sink a few…

Wizard Prang…

I mentioned the other day I spent some time researching and writing a script about Keith Park and the exploits of the RAF during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Whilst writing, the classic RAF accent became stuck in my mind. I started using expressions such as “Tally Ho” and referring to my producer as “Red Leader”.

Perhaps that is why this sketch from Armstrong and Miller left me fair weeping with laughter….

Another Gorgeous Short

From time to time I come across a short film that simply must be passed on…

The Archive, Sean Dunne’s documentary short about the impending fate of Paul Mawhinney’s astounding vinyl archive was the first (and can be viewed in full at the post Tragedy in Vinyl). Another was the Rauch Brother’s animated tribute to Battle of the Bulge veteran Joseph Robertson (which can be seen here at Story Corps)

Todays offering is Nuit Blanche, directed by Arev Manoukian. (and, by the way, watch it in the highest definition you can…)

Incidentally, I posted a couple of weeks ago about the Oscar nominated animated short Logorama. The link I posted was swiftly taken down, perhaps due to the impending Oscars, but, subsequent to the film winning the award, I’ve now found a new link to it. Take a look here – Logorama Link. It’s well worth the watch…

Soft porn ad break: Megan Fox for Armani

Megan Fox is the new face and body for Emporio Armani Women’s Underwear. She takes over from Victoria Beckham who is probably too old, too scrawny, or both.

Tony Blair and the culture of fear: a video essay

Last week, we looked at the Iraq War Inquiry and the way in which Tony Blair was motivated more by fear than by rational thought.  This video essay takes up that same argument.

This is a worthwhile watch as it demonstrates the way in which individuals can use the tools of new media to create and distribute their own political rhetorics. Commendably professional construction with only a couple of minor lapses. Grade: 9/10.

Australia’s Biggest Loser (Spoiler Alert – Winner Revealed)

Australia’s Biggest Loser premiered here last night with the usual tearful contestants confessing that overeating is making life miserable. Each contestant gravely outlined what the saw as “their journey” and talked about how the show was their last chance to change their lives. The show’s new host, Olympian Hayley Lewis, writes in her Continue reading

A beginner’s guide to news reports

A satirically incisive look at the formulaic nature of television news reportage.

Dirty Harry Vs Rain Man

It’s cartoons like this that make xkcd required reading for me…

What’s that youngster?

Who’s Dirty Harry?!?!?!?

Sigh… only the greatest movie cop to have ever graced the silver screen, young’un…

Slacktivism: Click here to feel better

Yesterday I noticed a friend on Facebook had become a member of this Facebook group. Titled, For each member who joins, we will donate $0.50 to Haiti earthquake victims, the Group’s founder, Joseph Christopher Samuel, claims to have found 50 companies… Continue reading

More Ad Outrage: Prowling Cougars Under Attack

We’ve looked at a number of ad campaigns here at The Notes.

In the modern cultural environment, where advertising images and viral campaigns are ubiquitous Continue reading

A letter to Pat Robertson from Satan

Wrinkled God-botherer, history buff and champion tool, Pat Robertson caused a wave of revulsion after his remarks on the earthquake in Haiti. For the few who missed them here’s a quote… Continue reading

2009 Popular Music Report

Nielsen Research has just released  a fascinating amount of information in its year-end music report. This report provides a detailed look at music sales in the last year, the last decade, and even further back Continue reading

Cape Horn Dead Ahead – Jessica Watson Update

It was back in November, the 23rd to be precise, when I took a look at Jessica Watson’s attempt to become the youngest solo round the world sailor. (The original, Jessica Watson: The First Leg Complete can be read here)

At that point, Jessica had just Continue reading

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

Now that we have plunged back the swamp of fear, propelled by the fizzling underpants bomber, let’s take a quick rewind to Franklin. D. Roosevelt’s inaugural Continue reading