Much Ado About HBO’s The Newsroom
I finally saw the first episode of the new HBO hit, The Newsroom. The acting is great. (Yes, I did count up the brown people; I noticed actors Adina Porter and Dev Patel.) I like the script and the pacing of the conversations. I love the set! I also watched the “behind the scenes” video on how they created/filmed the show (sorry, photography nerd duties).
But of course, most of the conversations about The Newsroom are about the monologue that character “Will McAvoy” gave (in response to a college student who asked what did “McAvoy” think made America the greatest country in the world). He’s a news anchor used to not voicing an opinion. The truth is, anchors have always had opinions. It’s just that we’re in a cultural shift (through changes in media itself, and more) where opinions tend to matter more than facts (because they $ell), and opinions on more superficial matters (i.e. celebrity wardrobe and divorces) tend to matter more than opinions (or facts) on clear and present dangers (i.e. Israeli detention camps for Black Africans, marches in Mexico, death threats against Michelle Obama). I think we need conversations about both. We can’t only dwell in pestilence and pain—but, the superficial shouldn’t be privileged over the significant.
Most people think that the ”whole” monologue is good. I don’t…not completely. I think the first half is factual and compelling in the way that it was delivered…the fact that it was delivered at all. I think the second half is White-washed ahistorical tunnel vision political nostalgia that doesn’t connect to the actual past experiences of Americans of colour. However, it’s still delivered well. Jeff Daniels is a phenomenal actor. The problem is that the second part is “truthy” at best, but most certainly is NOT ENTIRELY TRUE.
More truthful part:
It’s not the greatest country in the world professor, that’s my answer.
**speaks to Liberal pundit**
Sharon, the NEA is a loser, yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes, it costs air time, it costs column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?
**speaks to Conservative pundit**
And with a straight face you’re going to tell students that America is so star spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world that have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, BELGIUM has freedom.
So, 207 sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
And you, sorority girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day there’s somethings you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, Number 4 in labor force and Number 4 in exports.
We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending where spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25of whom are allies.
Now none of this is the fault of a 20 year old college student, but you none the less are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?
Even though the character “McAvoy” is speaking to is 20 and I am 32 (so I am not “that young”), I didn’t like the age-bashing part because there’s always this illusion that people were “better” “before,” but that isn’t totally accurate.
White-washed ahistorical tunnel vision political nostalgia part:
It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chests. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men, we aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it, it didn’t make us feel inferior.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. Enough?”
I honestly could dissect every line in the second part…the patriarchy, disregard for HOW such an economy was built on slave labor, the fact that immoral laws wouldn’t have to be struck down if they were never created etc. But, why bother? My readers know what’s up. And, I am NOT writing this blog to “educate” White people on racism.
Just as I mentioned in my post on The Hunger Games, “I think it is perfectly possible to enjoy (or not enjoy) art AND still examine what’s behind the art through a sociopolitical lens.” I don’t have to turn my brain off to enjoy television. And, I can critique a show and still enjoy the show. It’s a good show (at least the first episode that I saw), despite the flaws.