Sunday, January 30, 2005

I ♥ Chomsky

Thanks to Netflix, I spent part of this weekend watching Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. Chomsky is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, and until the other day was a member of my brain’s embarrassingly large “I know the name, but I don’t know who he is” file. Who he is, is a MIT linguistics professor, author, scholar, rabble-rouser and bona fide badass. He describes himself as a “libertarian socialist and a supporter of anarcho-syndicalism.”

The title of the documentary is taken from his seminal work that he co-wrote with E.S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. The book is an explanation of how the media and the press are manipulated by the powers that be into shaping the social agenda of the country. The 2 hour and 47 minute doc is worth the investment, unless that is you would rather keep your head in the sand about how this country really works. I think the filmmakers knew they were working with some seriously heavy content, so they employed a lot of interesting devices to make their points. Instead of just showing the statistic that the New York Times is 40% content and 60% advertising, they demonstrated it by separating the ads and the news from one issue and laying them out side by side. Little visual touches like that helped to make this 7-course meal of a movie go down a lot easier.

Combine that with a Sunday matinee viewing of Hotel Rwanda—2 thumbs of from the wife and I—and you’ve got the makings of one angry black man.

My wife bought a copy of The Chomsky Reader at a used bookstore some time ago, and I was tempted to dive into the day after watching the documentary. After a lengthy internal debate, I’ve decided to put the book to good use this weekend when we make the trek from Tucson to The Bahamas for my best friend’s wedding. Unless, of course, the in-flight movie is Shark Tale. I’m not a total idiot.


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