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					Mr. Velasco
Eng. 10 GT.


                                  The Control of Information:


                                      Propaganda, Power, and the Media

Assignment:
        We live in an era of unprecedented access to information. From traditional information outlets such
as newspapers, television, and radio to more modern technology such as the internet, blogs, and even cell-
phones; the average American is subject to hundreds if not thousands of pieces of information on a daily
basis. However, most people do not consider what the information is or why it is there. This is where the line
between passive living and critical thought begin to blur. Having an open, critical mind with a healthy dose
of skepticism is an important tool in becoming a thoughtful citizen. However, if one goes too far down the
“rabbit hole” you can end up being cynical, jaded, or even worse, turn your back on the whole thing and
pretend you never knew any of this stuff in the first place.
     Your task is to watch at least one film from each category (Films and Documentaries) and write a
thoughtful critique on the films in light of our class discussions on propaganda, power, and the media
and what they say about the current state of affairs in our own country. Are they relevant? With the
exception of the films 1984 and Brazil all the films have an American slant. This was done so as to focus the
assignment on the American use of propaganda, power, and the media. The world itself is huge and the
perspectives that are in it are too numerous to even dwell on, so I focused on American propaganda since that
is most of what we are exposed to.
     Use as evidence for your essay your own personal experience, connections to real-life events, the media,
any notes from class, and any research you conduct on your own. Read newspapers, magazines that deal with
real world issues like politics, the environment, the economy, or even entertainment. Check in with yourself.
What do you view as important to know about the world going on around you? Does any of this matter? So
break out the popcorn and take a look at some films that do more than just entertain. You might learn
something. Remember this: “A mind stretched never goes back to its original proportions.” Happy viewing.

Films:
    1. Citizen Kane (1941) **
        Orson Welles reinvented movies at the age of 26 with this audacious biography of newspaper baron Charles
        Foster Kane (in essence, a thinly veiled portrait of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst), who rises
        from poverty to become one of America's most influential men. A complex and technically stunning film, Citizen
        Kane is considered one of the best movies ever made. Rated PG
        .
    2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
        In director Stanley Kubrick's blackly comedic send-up of the nuclear age, deranged American general Jack D.
        Ripper (Sterling Hayden) leads an attack against the Russians that sets the stage for Armageddon. In a series of
        virtuoso comic performances, Peter Sellers plays an impotent U.S. president, a harried British captain and an
        ex-Nazi bomb maker in this classic Oscar-nominated satire. Not Rated

    3. The Candidate (1972)
        Robert Redford stars as Bill McKay, a California lawyer urged to run against the seemingly unbeatable
        Republican incumbent in a senatorial race. McKay is a well-meaning innocent, but as support widens for his
        open platform, the sellout begins. With an Oscar-winning script and appearances by real-life reporters and
        politicians, The Candidate takes a biting look at the nature of politics. Rated PG
4. Network (1976)
   Paddy Chayefsky predicted today's rash of trash television and shock-laden news broadcasts. The writer of
   Marty created network news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch), who loses his mind on the air. Unfortunately,
   his outrageous rants boost the ratings and intrigue cutthroat network executives Faye Dunaway and Robert
   Duvall. William Holden contrasts their avarice as an old-school TV journalist hopelessly out of step. Rated R

5. All the President’s Men (1976) **
   The film that launched a thousand journalism school students, All the President's Men chronicles how reporters
   Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) brought down Richard M. Nixon. The
   duo connected a Washington, D.C., hotel break-in with a Nixon "dirty tricks" team assigned to discredit
   Democratic rivals. Rated PG

6. 1984 (1984)
   George Orwell's eerie tale follows the "reeducation" of two people who break the law in a totalitarian state by
   falling in love while Big Brother is watching. Not only was this highly watchable movie adaptation filmed
   during the year it's named for, but specific scenes were also shot on the exact date the novel specifies. An
   intriguing touch in what turned out to be Richard Burton's last film. Rated R

7. Brazil: Director’s Cut (1985)
   Part social commentary, part outrageous fantasy, this black comedy presents a future where society is
   completely controlled by an inefficient government. Sam Lowrey (Jonathan Pryce) is a daydreaming civil
   servant who spots an error in a sea of paperwork, leading to the arrest of an innocent man. While Lowrey
   attempts to right the wrongful arrest, the state incorrectly assumes him to be terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De
   Niro) and goes after him. Rated R

8. Guilty By Suspicion (1991)
   Suspected of Communist ties, movie director David Merrill (Robert De Niro) is told to name names in director
   Irwin Winkler's look at McCarthy-era Hollywood. Once on top, Merrill finds that no one will hire him after he's
   blacklisted. The strain brings Merrill back together with his estranged wife (Annette Bening), but he must still
   appear before the House Un-American Committee and respond to questions about his friend Bunny Baxter
   (George Wendt). Rated PG-13

9. Bob Roberts (1994)
   In this goofy mockumentary, folksinging right-winger Bob Roberts (writer-director Tim Robbins) hits the U.S.
   Senate campaign trail. Roberts' bizarre mix of down-home homilies and catchy melodies make him look like a
   joke, but as he inches closer to his goal, the laughter fades. Packing cameos by stars, journalists and
   politicians, Bob Roberts is a pointed satire that mixes parody and prophecy. Rated R.

10. Wag the Dog (1997)
   When the President is caught in a sex scandal less than two weeks before the election, White House spin-master
   Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) creates a phony war with the help of Hollywood producer Stanley Motss
   (Dustin Hoffman). A biting look at American politics and its relationship with the media that we have all come
   to embrace. Rated R

11. A Civil Action (1998)
   In this true story, John Travolta stars as a personal-injury lawyer who sues a major corporation for big bucks
   when the drinking water in Woburn, Mass., is found to contain high levels of industrial solvents. Believing the
   contamination is responsible for the large number of leukemia deaths among the town's children, the citizens --
   lead by a woman (Kathleen Quinlan) whose child has died -- hire a lawyer to take on the corporate polluters.
   Rated PG-13

12. Bulworth (1998)
   If a politician spoke his mind, he'd either be a former wrestler or unelectable; Bulworth digs into this ripe
   premise. California Sen. Jay Bulworth (Warren Beatty), reduced by years of compromise and scheming, hires a
   hit man to put him out of his misery. Kicking off an election campaign with nothing to lose, Bulworth lets his
   mouth get his butt in hot water. Rated R
    13. The Insider (1999) **
        One man told the truth. Another reported the story. Both paid the price. The Insider -- a true tale about a Big
        Tobacco scientist (Russell Crowe) who exposed industry secrets, and the newsman (Al Pacino) who fought
        corporate forces that would have squelched the story -- offers a glimpse into power, media and money in
        America. A thought-provoking and thrilling film. Rated R

    14. The Pentagon Papers (2003)
        This compelling political drama is based on the true story of high-ranking Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg,
        who, during the Nixon era, strove to preserve American democracy by leaking top-secret Defense Department
        documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post. The documents in question would eventually
        become famous as The Pentagon Papers. Rated R

    15. Good Night and Good Luck (2005) **George Clooney's Oscar-nominated docudrama pits TV newsman
        Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) against Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his single-minded crusade to quell
        the red threat at home. Despite corporate pressure to back off, Murrow and his CBS staff are determined to
        examine the lies and fear tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his Communist witch-hunts. Rated PG


Documentaries:
    1. The Merchants of Cool: Frontline (2001) **
        The award-winning "Frontline" television show trains its investigative lens on marketing moguls who conduct
        endless surveys and focus groups sampling the tastes, attitudes and aspirations of American teens to determine
        exactly what they want. As Hollywood and Madison Avenue craft tailored versions of teenage life in movies, TV,
        music and advertising, just how far will they go to reach the hearts -- and wallets -- of American youth?

    2. The Party is Over (2000) **
        Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman hosts this documentary that closely follows the 2000 Democratic and
        Republican conventions, exploring U.S. politics and policies and featuring segments on "radical political
        movements" around the country. This documentary takes a mostly non-partisan look at the various groups and
        people, allowing them to say their piece - GOP, DNC, Green Party, Conservative Coalition, Shadow
        Convention, Jesse Jackson, local people in various cities. It also sheds light on the stranglehold that the news
        media has on our information.

    3. Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2004)
        Documentary filmmaker Robert Kane Pappas presents a riveting argument for his theory that America is under
        an Orwellian watch with the rise to prominence one party, an ascent aided, unwittingly or not, by the
        mainstream media. Here, Pappas interviews an impressive roster, including Center for Public Integrity director
        Charles Lewis, legal analyst Vincent Bugliosi and liberal filmmaker Michael Moore.

    4. You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)
        Author of the pivotal A People's History of the United States, historian and activist Howard Zinn has been at
        the forefront of progressive thought in America for decades. Through archival materials, interviews with Noam
        Chomsky, Marian Wright Edelman, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden and Alice Walker, and commentary from
        Zinn himself, this documentary chronicles the influential thinker's inspiring commitment to social change. Matt
        Damon narrates.

    5. The First Amendment Project (2004)
        How the entertainment industry tackles the subject of civil liberties and free speech goes on trial, so to speak, in
        this documentary by The Sundance Channel and Court TV. Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and Mario Van Peebles
        team up for this entertaining and educational project, which includes New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka
        reading his controversial 9/11 piece; footage from protestors at the 2004 Republican National Convention; and
        more.

* Notes on films edited from www.netflix.com

				
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