Friday, August 27, 2010

American Greed

Can you believe it?  There is a television program on CNBC titled “American Greed.”  I ran across it in the TV listings while searching for something else. 

I could write an entire posting about greed as an American affliction but many have already done that.  Since I focus on communication in this blog, I am more interested in what this program, or its existence, is communicating.

  • First, if one is greedy enough, one will be featured on a television program devoted to the behavior.
  • Second, greed is so prevalent in our society that the producers feel there is an audience for this programming.

Searching for more information, I learned that the program is a six-part series produced by Kurtis Productions.  Bill Kurtis is a Chicago journalism legend and is well-acquainted with political greed.  Now he is focusing on monetary greed. He is undoubtedly fascinated by what drives these people (primarily men) to lie, cheat, and steal their way to fortune and fame.  Since all great societies have suffered from the illness, I am not surprised that we have succumbed but I leave it to the sociologists to analyze why success breeds greed and why great nations ultimately become so avaricious that they create their own downfalls.

The network program directors and the producers of American Greed could claim this program is a deterrent. They might also say they are attempting to understand the behavior. I don’t buy that. All television programming is designed to attract viewers and thereby earn advertising dollars.  Bottom line, they are in for the money.  By itself, that is not a bad thing.  Like any other businesses, television programming provides jobs and income for those associated with it.

However, in a sense, those who produce and air American Greed are as greedy as the men they showcase.  In electing to celebrate the behavior, don’t they condone it and subsequently reward it?

What does that say about them...and those of us who watch? 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Taking Chances

Mega-spectacular movies filled with lots of explosions and car chases, buoyed by some kind of super hero, fill our screens with pictures that make millions at the box office but have little to say. Please don’t misunderstand.  I like Bumble Bee as much as anyone. Sometimes, however, I like films that ask me to think about things a bit.

I see it this way.  I read both Sherlock Holmes and biographies of historical figures. One is purely for entertainment; the other can be inspirational and educational.  I write mysteries and I wrote a non-fiction book.  Both serve their purpose. I treat movies the same way.  Die Hard was great entertainment.  Lewis and Clark: The Journey instructs.

I took a chance on Taking Chance.  I knew little about the film but any movie starring Kevin Bacon is apt to get my attention. I brought it home.

"Reflections" is about communication so I am writing about a film that did exactly that.  It spoke to me on many different levels, something that hasn’t happened with a movie in a very long time.

Kudos to Ross Katz, the director, who knew the importance of the long shot, giving me time to absorb the scene and react to it.  Praise to the editor who cut from one tight close-up to another, moving the audience between alternating points of view without jarring it out of the spell cast by the scenes.  Congratulations to Bacon, who conveyed more with his body than could be said in pages of dialogue. And finally, a special thank-you to Katz, the writer, whose bare-bones script said what needed to be said…and no more.

There are several significant messages in this film.  Although I think they are important for all of us to consider, the reason I recommend you watch Taking Chance is not just its thought-provoking story.  I advocate this film because of its artistry and the skill the cast and crew used to bring it to you.  This film tells its story in a whisper. 

This movie really communicates.