My first hand-in assignment for English class was due today. It was a very straightforward one: write a 500-800 word review on something as if the review was going to be published. Accordingly, we had to specify what publicication the review was intended for. The whole idea of targetting a publication was an exercise in considering our intended audience.
I’m always terribly critical of my own writing, and I certainly have my own list of things to change if I could rewrite it. Alas, there was limited time and now the assignment is done and there is no turning back. I would appreciate any positive, or critical comments you might have about my composition. Feedback of any kind will be useful as I continue to improve my writing—and believe me, I’ll be doing a lot more writing as time goes on!
Here’s what I handed in:
MOVIE REVIEW | ‘OUTFOXED’
Outfoxing Fox News
As media consolidation has seeded growing concern over journalistic bias, Outfoxed forcefully attacks Fox News Channel (FNC) by questioning their “Fair and Balanced” motto as dangerous doublespeak. Director/Producer Robert Greenwald’s new movie is part of the growing list of independent political films gaining popularity in America today, but smartly avoids the brash staging and showmanship that can detract from an effective argument.
Fox adopted its slogan to declare its goal of balancing the reporting of other news organizations which it accuses of holding a left-wing slant. Greenwald presents an exposé that questions whether Fox has gone beyond just trying to balance its competitors by reporting the Republican party line – a fair question to ask of an organization that reaches a total audience of 4.7 billion people (roughly 3/4 of the world’s population). While the film itself it neither fair nor balanced, it effectively uses Fox’s own broadcasts to make his case while allowing audiences to draw their own conclusions.
The movie begins making connections by reminiscing Francis Ford Coppola’s classic ‘Godfather II’, where Simon Roth is cutting up a Cuba-shaped cake for his mob-buddies while saying, “Isn’t it great to live in a country that respects private enterprise.” The thesis is clear: powerful corporations are controlling the publics right to know, behind closed doors, and without the ethics of traditional or independent journalism. The best punches are thrown in the first 5 minutes as cheesy title sequences, and calm interviewees juxtapose Fox’s trademark fast-paced segments – (urgent sounding music) “Breaking news: Martha Stewart met with her parole officer today…”. Has the line between reporting facts, been blurred by entertainment? The audience seethes as ex-Fox employees accuse anchors of blurring the line by various means, such as injecting opinion by cleverly using “some people say,” as in, “some people say Kerry is a flip-flopper.” Former Fox news contributor John Cohen describes being forced by management to engineer Ronald Regan’s birthday, in 2003, from a small quiet event, into a grand celebration by the American people for a Republican hero.
While perhaps those hits come hard and furious at the beginning, Fox’s own clips do the real work to continually keep viewers at a steady boil. The essay-like presentation leads gives viewers plenty to chew on, but avoids telling you what to believe; a leftist agenda could have easily reduced this picture into a simple, one-dimensional anti-conservative film. The scope, however, remains on Fox’s impact on journalism and news reporting, until the very end when Outfoxed closes with a simple call to action.
Although Robert Greenwald may not be a household figure, he has produced and/or directed 53 television movies, miniseries and features, and is quite accustomed to launching movies on the small screen. Recently, as the Executive Producer of the political “un-” series – ‘Unprecedented’, ‘Uncovered’, and the soon to be released ‘Unconstitutional’ – Greenwald formed strong relationships with grassroots political organization, MoveOn.org. Through MoveOn.org, Greenwald assembled volunteers from around the country to monitor Fox News and report back when they spotted examples of certain behavior; meanwhile, his production team was recording FNC all day every day, for the better part of a year.
Outfoxed was never destined for Hollywood cineplexes. The movie was launched at house-parties, organized by MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress. Volunteers invited their neighbors to launch the low-budget film in living rooms across the nation, and has only been shown in a handful of theaters. The production team took its guerrilla distribution methods further by authorizing downloads of the interview segments and encouraging individuals to remix the footage for non-commercial activist purposes.
Overall, Outfoxed will leave an impact on any person who cares deeply about their right to accurate information. With the election on the horizon, it couldn’t be any more timely to be reminded of our responsibility to look past distortions. Outfoxed reminds us that it is always a good time to question your sources, regardless of your ideological views.
Produced and directed by Robert Greenwald; directors of photography, James Curry, Will Miller, Glen Pearcy, Richard Pérez, Luke Riffle, Bob Sullivan and Eugene Thompson; edited by Jane Abramowitz, Douglas Cheek and Chris Gordon; music by Nicholas O’Toole; released by the Members of MoveOn.Org and the Center for American Progress. Running time: 77 minutes. This film is not rated.