Monday, March 27, 2006

L'Orientalisme du Monde

Technically, this post would be The Oscar Race, Part the Seventh, but I choose not to make it so because I am expanding further. Two Sundays ago Bri and I saw Tsotsi, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film this year. As Bri and I spent three months in South Africa while we were in college, the scenes and culture portrayed by the movie were somewhat familiar to us, and once we'd recovered from any novelty that might have been present, the film became simply trite. Violent criminal reformed by accidentally stealing baby, the end. We dismissed it, barely even spoke about it as we left the theater (this, as you can imagine, is extremely unusual for me). However, as I've let it digest and thought about it in conjunction with my book club's recent selection Assata, the autobiography of a former Black Panther currently living as a fugitive in Cuba, I've become more alarmed and insulted by the creepy orientalism present in Tsotsi's win.

Spoilers include the above, in addition to Octavia E. Butler's Wild Seed and a bit of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Tsotsi tells the story of a young street criminal, known only as Tsotsi (the term basically means "thug"), living in the townships outside Johannesburg and leading a small gang of other street criminals. One night, walking in a wealthy neighborhood, he spontaneously shoots and cripples a woman in order to steal her car, in the back of which car it turns out that her baby still sits. He takes the baby home, tries to diaper him with newspapers, tries to keep his friends from finding out about the baby's existence, and one night follows a beautiful young mother home, holds a gun to her head and forces her to breastfeed his baby, whom he carries in a shopping bag. All around her (exaggeratedly spacious, given the townships in South Africa) home are mobiles she has made--one out of rusted metal because "she was sad," another out of brightly colored glass because "she was happy." They develop some kind of tentative relationship, albeit not romantic yet, and she first encourages him to leave the baby with her, then, when she finds out the true story, encourages him to give the child back. In the end he returns the baby to his family; redemption and probable martyrdom ensue.

Let's all just pause to imagine the American reaction were this an American film. Certainly Hollywood's into reformed criminals; a good enough such movie with a black protagonist allows us to think we as a nation aren't racist. It is, after all, hard out here for a pimp. But I'd say the mainstream media's portrayal of the black female savior who rescues the black man and sacrifices at least aspects of her life for him is, if not beyond us, certainly subject to regular challenge. The sexism in the portrayal of the woman would be abundantly clear. However, because the character is an African woman, the Academy found that her portrayal as the origin of life--the goddess, a source of breast milk and aesthetic pleasure--entirely reasonable.

Perhaps I exaggerate. When I first saw Courbet's painting L'origine du monde, when I was seventeen, in Paris with my high school class and spending an evening at the Louvre (in the gift shop; the real painting's in the d'Orsay, where I didn't go), I was blown away by the very concept, that a man had painted a woman's vagina in such detail and called it the origin of the world. And somewhere there still exists an undeniable, primal truth to it. We, genetic females, give birth; no one else gets to do that. There's something astonishing about the very idea, and there exists a to-some-degree reasonable social fear of losing connection to that idea--it's a fear that Huxley, for example, exploits in Brave New World. But loving birth is not the same as limiting to it. (The invisibility of the clit in Coubert's painting, for example, from this perspective strikes me as conspicuous.) Through this worship of birth, we've become attached to the idea that it is for men to plant, for women to grow and nurture, and for men to cultivate.

Even our Ms. Butler, whom I adore, falls prey to this difficulty. That was ultimately my problem with her novel Wild Seed, that the conflict between its characters was ultimately between Anyanwu, a strong, nurturing female who could change her body intimately and therefore could not be killed (except by herself) but nor could she kill (except for herself) and Doro, a strong, cultivating male who could not die but was ruthless in his killing of others, until his love for her forced him to show tenderness. I'll go almost anywhere with Octavia Butler's prose, intellectual thoroughness and storytelling, but this seemed to me to fall victim to the same ridiculousness as Tsotsi did, down to the near-immortal Anyanwu's African origins. Certainly Anyanwu can fight, and does, but her fights are self-protective or protective of others, an extension of her nurturing instinct. Doro's an aggressor, as well as a social Darwinist and genetic engineer; he tends toward the stereotypically unnatural. One might also interpret the conflict as one between intelligence and hierarchy, a conflict Butler discusses more explicitly in the Xenogenesis serial, but it reads, inevitably, as a conflict between the primal male and the primal female. And given the frequent militance of Western feminism, its complete disregard for any notion of the primal, of l'origine du monde, portrayals of African women have gone to the opposite extreme, and because Western females of any race (to make a grotesque and sweeping generalization) can still regard African females with both orientalism and impunity. Because we need to keep l'origine du monde somewhere. I cannot say I'm a fan.

Assata Shakur, for all her focus within her autobiography on her African origins and her failure to make the distinction between different regions of Africa--I raised my eyebrows when she'd relentlessly and justifiably scorned white Americans but then went on to say that her identity was connected to "African rhythms"--does not subscribe to this orientalizing of her femininity. I could go into my difficulties with reading her, because I had plenty, but I want to emphasize her sophisticated storytelling, her strong prose and, centrally, her female strength. She orientalizes the birth of her child just a bit, but then in the narrative allows her child to become human, not the savior of the Black Liberation Movement or the Child Raised Thereby, but someone who longs for and does not get a mother, does not grow up as the center of any political activity. She strikes this delicate balance in her writing extremely well, while in Tsotsi a mother--a real, African woman, however young--is who can nurse and keep a child, while Tsotsi himself feels no option but to leave the baby with her, having only the skills to steal stuffed animals from the child's former home. Nor can he even return the child to its waiting father until the wheelchair-bound mother is present on the scene. And we accept that as Western audiences, because it's Africa, even industrialized Africa in a setting of Western-esque urban poverty.

I don't intend for this post to be dismissive of the contrast between African philosophy and lifestyle and Western philosophy and lifestyle, to the extent that either can be generalized. There's much to ubuntu that should make every Westerner stand up and pay attention. (Ubuntu is a tenet of the new sub-Saharan African humanism; the word is used to embody the Zulu phrase "umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" and the Sotho phrase "motho ke motho ka batho babang," both of which mean "a person is a person because of other people.") But let's look at ubuntu for what it can do, instead of primitivizing it, and let's look at where and how it's a response to the negative effects of Western influence. Let's not just assume and honor the idea of the primal woman, who acts only on instinct rather than thought, and feels naught but simple emotions that she can create with her cunt and nurture with her hands.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why I Love My Job

In my class yesterday, Kiheria read a play by Jasmine, at the end of which every character turns out to be gay. The main character's boyfriend and father of her child, in fact, was having an affair with his professor the entire time. Kiheria could not stop laughing. My teaching partner, Gaby, decided to quiet her, and the following exchange ensued.

Gaby: "Kiheria, no one laughed at your play."
Kiheria: "I'm not laughing at her play, I'm laughing with her play."
Jasmine: "My play ain't laughing."

Friday, March 17, 2006

In Memoriam

What with all the Oscars and Blogs Against Sexism and so forth, I neglected to post on Octavia E. Butler, who was born in 1947 and died on February 24, 2006.

Ms. Butler is a writer of astounding science fiction and fantasy. By most reports, she was the first, and for a long time the only, African-American woman to work in the genre. Always her books focus on feminine strength, on exploring and challenging cultural conceptions of distance and fear, love and otherness. Always they do so with astounding imagination, specificity, and intimacy.

Nearly two years ago, Tyromaven handed me her copy of Wild Seed; she's a longtime fan and advocate of Octavia Butler, and aims to get all of her friends on the bandwagon. I was frustrated by the ending of the novel, but beguiled by the plot and the prose. I looked at Butler's books in bookstores, and several months later picked up Parable of the Talents (which, I would later find out, but not to the novel's detriment, was the second in a series), which led me on a quest that still continues, to read everything Ms. Butler ever wrote. I've since consumed Mind of My Mind, the sequel to Wild Seed, several of her other more independent novels, and the first two books of the Xenogenesis series, which studies the results of humans interbreeding, both physically and emotionally, with an alien species called the Oankali.

My particular favorites among the books I've read are the pair Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. I'm working on a post that includes a great deal about them, so I won't go too far into it now, but in a mildly dystopic 2030, they follow the story of a young African-American woman, Lauren Olamina, and her attempts to found a new religion, Earthseed, which preaches in its Books of the Living that "The only lasting truth/Is Change./God/Is Change." The books are stunning, thorough, upsetting, honest, and in interviews published shortly before her death, Ms. Butler revealed that she was working on another addition to the series, Parable of the Trickster, and hoped to add several more in the coming years.

For this, and for her declaration in her author biographies that she could "imagine being an 80-year-old writer," I mourn her passage. And I encourage everyone to read her books, both in her memory and because they are stunningly fabulous.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Getting Your Gun

Today is both International Women's Day and Blog Against Sexism Day. I hope someday to be an International Woman; now let's Blog Against Sexism.

I was raised on the musical theater of every era since the genre's inception; it is mostly through this that I know the lyrics to more than two hundred songs. One of the songs whose words remain etched in my head is this one, from Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, based on the life of legendary markswoman Annie Oakley and sung by her love interest, Frank Butler.

The Girl That I Marry
The girl that I marry will have to be
As soft and as pink as a nursery
The girl I call my own
Will wear satin and laces and smell of cologne
Her nails will be polished, and in her hair
She'll wear a gardenia, and I'll be there
'Stead of flittin', I'll be sittin'
Next to her and she'll purr like a kitten
A doll I can carry,
The girl that I marry must be.

'Stead of flittin', I'll be sittin'
Next to her and she'll purr like a kitten
A doll I can carry,
The girl that I marry must be.

Why do I recall so vividly such an insipid song, you may ask? Because it was how my father first taught me about the concept of sexism, when I was six or seven. I'm the child of two feminists, so the word had probably been in the household since my birth--certainly I had learned over and over that a girl could be anything she wanted when she grew up, and sweet lord did I have plans. But my first recollection of the word "sexist" is when my father told me that this song was sexist, and when I asked what that meant, he explained it to me and explained what about the song was sexist. Sexism, my father told me, is when a woman is judged solely by her appearance or femininity rather than the substance of her character. He offered another song from the musical to prove his point, a song that is musically lovely and even a great deal of fun in its ideas.

Who Do You Love, I Hope
I've got the question
I've had it for days
You've got the answer, dear
I'll put the question
In one little phrase
Say what I want to hear

Who do you love I hope
Who would you kiss I hope
Who is it going to be
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me

Who do you want I hope
Who do you need I hope
Who is it going to be
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me

Is it the baker who gave you a cake
I saw that look in his eye
Is it the butcher who brought you a steak
Say that it is and I'll die

Who do you love I hope
Who would you kiss I hope
Who is it going to be
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me

I heard your question
The answer you know
Love is my middle name
You asked a question
That worried you so
Mind if I do the same

Who do you love I hope
Who would you kiss I hope
Who is it going to be
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me

Who do you want I hope
Who do you need I hope
Who is it going to be
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me

Is it the blondie who acted so shy
I heard the things that she said
Is it the redhead who gave you the eye
Say that it is and you're dead

Who do you love I hope
Who would you kiss I hope
Who is it going to be
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me
I hope, I hope, I hope it's me

Here, he explained, the salient characteristics of the men are their professions, the women their hair color.

All this seems oversimplified, and at this particular time in my life, it certainly is. But it was a firm foundation for my thinking in the future. And speaking as someone who recently had to explain the concept of anti-Semitism to two Jewish eight-year-olds, I feel strongly that such a foundation is not to be underestimated.

I have never lived in a place where a woman is not expected to do the things I do: to write, to direct, to teach, to lead. I've never considered my independence, my status as a single woman living on her own without "belonging" to her family or to her husband, to be unusual; such is the case for most of my friends and acquaintances. It would be years before I knew that there were real places, places relevant to the way I choose to live, where that was not normal, not the case and not the philosophy.

I was not to see a production of the musical Annie Get Your Gun until I was thirteen, when my views about girls and women and their strength were firmly in place. Since the climactic decision of the musical is made in dialogue, not song, I didn't learn how unpleasantly the piece betrayed its female heroine until that point. Early in the musical, Annie Oakley sings a song that is not itself sexist, but a reflection of the sexist society she inhabits.

You Can't Get a Man with a Gun
Oh, my mother was frightened by a shotgun, they say
That's why I'm such a wonderful shot
I'd be out in the cactus and I'd practice all day
And now tell me what have I got

I'm quick on the trigger
With targets not much bigger
Than a pinpoint, a number one
But my score with a feller
Is lower than a cellar
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun

When I'm with a pistol
I sparkle like a crystal
Yes, I shine like the morning sun
But I lose all my luster
When with a bronco buster
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun

With a gu-un
With a gu-un
No, you can't get a man with a gun

If I went to battle
With someone's herd of cattle
You'd have steak when the job was done
But if I shot the herder
They'd holler bloody murder
And you can't shoot a male
In the tail
Like a quail
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun

If I shot a rabbit
Some furrier would grab it
For a coat that would warm someone
But you can't shoot a lover
And use him for a cover
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun

The gals with umbrellers
Are always out with fellers
In the rain or the blazing sun
But a man never trifles
With gals who carry rifles
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun

With a gu-un
With a gu-un
No, you can't get a man with a gun

A Tom, Dick or Harry
Will build a house for Carrie
When the preacher has made them one
But he can't build your houses
With buckshot in his trousers
For a man may be hot
But he's not
When he's shot
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun

Annie struggles with competitive Frank Butler, who cannot bear to be outdone by a woman yet to whom she is ruthlessly attracted, throughout the musical. During a climactic shooting competition, Annie's surrogate father, Chief Sitting Bull, reminds her of her revelation that "you can't get a man with a gun." (I've omitted the lyrics to both "Anything You Can Do" and "I'm an Indian Too" here, as they're not entirely germane to the discussion at hand, but it's worth looking them up, in one case for amusement and in the other for absurd, amusing datedness.) And so Annie Oakley, legendary markswoman, deliberately misses a shot in order to win the heart of her beloved, in order to let him win. And lo and behold: it works.

In being against sexism, what am I, then, against? I am against subversion of a person's character to a preconception--being a woman I see this mostly from a woman's perspective, and the difficulty is certainly more pervasive for women, but I've seen it cause substantive problems for men as well. I am against the treatment of a person as an object all of the properties of which can be known and quantified. I am against the teaching of limitations by artistic or advertised means, through cultural saturation without explanation, discussion or critical thinking.

This post stands both as a tribute to Berlin's lyrical mastery and as the acknowledgment of an era that I hope, and mostly believe, has gone by. I have learned to watch for sexism in my life from these lyrics, which lie under most sexist behavior, no matter how subtle or insidious the behavior may be. One form of critical teaching and crticial thinking inevitably leads to another, and critical thinking, rather than gazing, is therefore the most valuable skill we can teach. I was fortunate to have it even in my childhood, and I support vociferously the training of all others to do so.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Oscar Race, Part the Sixth: Hell Hath No Fury

Having given myself some sleep and a morning to recover from last night's upset, I remain FURIOUS at the Academy. I arrived at the Oscar party I attended last night announcing that should Crash win Best Picture I would personally go on an assassination mission to Los Angeles; apparently I'm going to have to eat my words. I think I'm going to start with hate-blogging, then move on to hate mail and take it from there.

My reasons for loathing Crash I have already written, but it needs to be emphasized once again that THIS FILM IS NOT HONEST ABOUT RACISM. In fact, THIS FILM IS NOT HONEST, PERIOD. Racism is much deeper than an open exchange of racial slurs and racially motivated violence. Racism is not about one-to-one correspondences of value between your good and your bad actions. Racism doesn't get neutralized because other people are also racist, or because you also love other people. The state of race relations in America is far more complex and far more insidious than that film is, and even if one attempts to take it as a parable, even if one chooses to ignore the idiocy of there being two cops on patrol in the entire city of Los Angeles and one Asian couple in the entire city of Los Angeles, even if one believes that the film was trying to show us the "essence" of American racism rather than a realistic portrait thereof, one still find the problem of neutralization. Actions exist in context, contexts like character or social life that extends beyond 48 hours of one's life, and without a true understanding of context there is no motivation, and without motivation any isolated act is as good or as bad as any other.

Bottom line: a film without characters cannot be honest. And anybody who thinks Crash had characters is projecting and deluding themselves.

Especially Roger Ebert.

Brokeback Mountain is an honest film. It may not be honest about Homophobia-with-a-capital-H, but it is honest about the story of its two characters, about the time and place and situation they live in, and how that changes and changes for each of them. I am not about to claim it as a perfect movie, though I think I found it the best of the nominees. But I'd rather honor a movie that made amazing artistic choices and succeeded with many of them that a movie that people who live in L.A. and sometimes experience racism voted for because it was set in L.A. and is about racism.

Friend upon friend, before and after the ceremony, has told me that the Oscars don't matter. And it's true that they take themselves far too seriously in the public eye, as evidenced by the inability of most members of the Academy to laugh at Jon Stewart when he mocked their elitism. The Oscars are fundamentally a system in which you're honored by your peers, and for some reason a lot of other people are interested in it too. But I'm ashamed of those peers, and they *do* have a responsibility to the other people who are watching for whatever reason. To reward Crash not only excuses but honors sloppy artistry and sloppy thinking. We should all have higher standards, even for a circle jerk.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Oscar Race, Part the Fifth: The Contender

***NOTE: I wrote this before the Oscars, but was unable to post it due to Blogger being a pain in the ass. My vociferous reaction to the actual outcome will be posted tomorrow.

At long last, a few hours before the ceremony, here is my installment on Brokeback Mountain. I am assuming it will be the front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar, because the only other real option is Crash, and should that happen I am liable to personally slay every member of the Academy. At the very least.

Last night, Sarah-Doe and I saw the movie, my second time and her first. Several weeks ago, I saw it with Megan, and between those two viewings I read Annie Proulx's short story, upon which the movie was based. It is an astonishingly loyal adaptation, capturing almost all the dialogue (with the notable exception of Jack Twist's gasp, "gun's goin' off," during the men's first sexual encounter) and most of the details of the journey. It shows us far more of Jack's life than the story does--the true protagonist in Proulx's piece is Ennis, not the relatinoship between Ennis and Jack, as is the case in the film. But the simultaneous tightness and expansiveness of the plot, the painfulness of the stretching years, and the factual delivery of every element of the story are present in both the film and the story.

After the second viewing, I think I like the story better than the movie.

I saw Brokeback Mountain long after the hype had overrun the country. Being of the liberal slant, I was inclined to support the movie, but being of the hypercritical slant, I didn't think it would be nearly as good as kneejerk liberals said it was--among other things, it couldn't be. I heard a number of homosexual friends and acquaintances attempting to excuse their desire to see the movie or their affection for it after seeing it based solely upon their sexual orientation--Sharon said the film was for gays what romance novels are for straights, which was why she intended to see it, and Jay's expansion of his post-viewing opinions began, "Well, I'm a gay man, so . . ." and ended, "But again, I'm a gay man." I'm never able to decide how much faith I place in that. I'm a bisexual woman who has thus far mostly been involved with men, but my sexual perspective aside I can't help, somewhere, believing in an absolute standard of quality. I think some movies are good and some movies are bad, and this qualitative judgment is not altered by their social significance, or their emotional resonance based upon one viewer's (or a percentage of viewers') personal experiences, which also exist independently. Standards of quality have to do with measurable qualities that do not relate to the viewer's perspective. You may like some kinds of movies better than others, your emotional reaction is not debatable, but your emotional reaction is not always related to the quality of the movie--I've wept over horrible books and films before, knowing they were horrible and still moved by concepts and projections. I knew, however, that my projections were projections. I'm not sure yet how true that theory is, though I'd love to get a few opinions.

So when I entered the theater for Brokeback Mountain, I didn't really know what to expect. I found a stronger movie than I'd thought I would. The cinematography is truly stunning, as is the scoring (Gustavo Santovalli is now on a par with Thomas Newman in my personal hierarchy of film composers--I was startled on my second viewing to find that Santovalli had composed a very authentic-sounding country song that I assumed was an old standard, in addition to his amazing themes), and Ang Lee times his storytelling with astounding delicacy. Heath Ledger's performance is out of this world--I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman will win the Oscar and I'll be happy if he does, simply because Ledger will be recognized on other occasions, but nevertheless it's an astounding accomplishment. I didn't cry at the end of the movie, but I left shaken, left feeling as if the film had dug into me.

My mother and my sister were not fans of Jake Gyllenhaal's performance; my sister said she simply didn't believe him as a cowboy. After my first viewing I argued with her, from a position I still support somewhat: Gyllenhaal's character Jack Twist, who honestly does see himself as a homosexual (unlike Ledger's Ennis Del Mar), has a hard time believing himself as a cowboy. He consistently feels inauthentic, pushes himself to points of dishonesty to compensate. I thought very highly of him, and felt Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway also did excellent work, Williams in particular. The difficulty, for all three of them, was aging. Brokeback Mountain spans twenty years in the lives of its characters, and only Ledger, who has the least makeup or concrete physical change, is able to embody that change successfully. Jake Gyllenhaal, even as he succeeds at conveying the changes and maturing in his relationship to Ennis, remains a young man with a mustache, a fake paunch and age makeup; Anne Hathaway, who gave a better performance than I would have expected, is laughable in her attempts to be a forty-year-old beauty beyond her prime. She's younger than I am, which makes me think it's ridiculous to expect her to be capable of realistically aging twenty years, but my sister disagrees--perhaps rightly in that if she couldn't do it, maybe she shouldn't have been cast. It does take you out. Michelle Williams does a passable job of aging, but she still feels youthful. Her portrayal of the character is beautiful; her inability to age is not something I want to fault her for, even less than I do Anne Hathaway.

Obviously these difficulties aren't present in the story. I also found that its ending, a repetition of Ennis' most memorable and oft-quoted line from the film, was stronger than the ending of the movie. While the visuals are stunning, it doesn't match up to the delicacy and expansiveness of the prose in Proulx's story. Still, McMurtry and Ossana deserve to be honored for their adaptation.

In my second viewing, I saw my family's point about Gyllenhaal, even as I still stand by my own interpretation, and the fissures--in the writing and the acting--were much clearer to me. Watching beyond the hype, on the second viewing, I felt like I saw more flaws than I had watching within the hype.

Nevertheless, I'd be content with Brokeback winning the Best Picture Oscar, both as a cultural touchstone regarding homosexuality--not to be undervalued even in the forest of liberalism that is ostensibly Hollywood--and with regards of respecting filmmaking and the act of putting together a real and wrenching story.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Oscar Race, Part the Fourth: Containment

Today's installment regards Good Night, and Good Luck.

This is a movie defined by, and in some ways about, its containment. Its characters (but for Joe McCarthy, and calling him a "character" in this context is questionable, as all the movie's other characters are played by actors and McCarthy is played by film and television clippings from the '50s of the real Joe McCarthy) are the very model of restraint: even when they have passionate beliefs, as have David Strathairn's Murrow and George Clooney's Friendly, or passions for one another, as have Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson's secretly married co-workers Joe and Shirley, these passions are as muted as the coloring of the black-and-white movie.

It's a very intelligent artistic choice in many ways. In the 1950s, McCarthy's compatriots were the models of hysteria and directness, fearing anything that was below the surface (the opposite of the political style of the right today in some ways). Yet the lifestyle of the '50s is more often than not about keeping things below the surface; that in fact defines the very concept of the Cold War, or at least the concept of calling the Cold War a war. It was about what was below the surface, what was happening in secret and not in open combat, and yet the dangers of what was below the surface were openly acknowledged and treated as threats. The same might indeed be said of household life in the fifties, at least as portrayed in art and the stories of older people I know: what was below the surface was wordlessly acknowledged as important, in fact as a guiding force of the household, but for the most part remained below the surface. Murrow as played by Strathairn is a man of integrity, passionate and yet restrained, saying what needs to be said and nothing more, and saying it with focus but not force. The program is both contained and constrained, constrained by its advertisers and its political scope and contained simply by its format.

Ultimately, this containment also applies to the film itself, and is both the film's greatest artistic asset and what makes it a limited work. Good Night, and Good Luck tells one story in a lovely, disciplined, artistically honest fashion, but we see nothing beyond the scope of Murrow's immediate world. We see nothing of the repercussions of his actions beyond the immediate--which choice is presumably intended to allow us, as an audience, to reflect on what those repercussions might be for us. I honor that choice, but perhaps the limitations come from not seeing the world outside the television studio at all. We have no idea how it might have really changed the world beyond television even in that moment, have no sense even of who Murrow's viewers are. A choice that feels deliberate and considered, and probably benefits the movie as much as it harms it.

I imagine that this film will win few, if any, Oscars, perhaps because of this containment, and given that I wish to honor it artistically in this essay. It is a well-made, well-thought-out, well-acted, well-executed film. It inspires no passion because it exhibits none, even though it was clearly made out of a passionate driving impulse, but it has tremendous artistic integrity and tremendous artistic talents.