Starsuckers is a feature documentary about the celebrity obsessed media, that uncovers the real reasons behind our addiction to fame and blows the lid on the corporations and individuals who profit from it. Made completely independently over 2 years in secret, the film journeys through the dark underbelly of the modern media. Using a combination of never before seen footage, undercover reporting, stunts and animation, the film reveals the toxic effect the media is having on us all and especially our children. Chris Atkins presents Starsuckers as a series of five lessons on fame in the modern world: how children are persuaded that fame is something they want, how television and the media reinforces the importance of celebrity and the efforts to attain it, how the mind and body reinforces our need to follow the activities of well-known people and strive to join their number, how the press became addicted to celebrity coverage, and how the art of promoting fame has led to celebrities and their handlers controlling the press instead of the press having say. Along the way, Atkins demonstrates how celebrity news with no basis in fact gets into print, why newspapers will run press releases almost verbatim, how parents will eagerly sign away the image rights to their kids, how certain mass scale charity events end up helping the performers far more than the causes they designed to support, and how publicists keep accurate but unflattering stories out of the news.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Journalism vs. Commentary

Alec Baldwin, HuffPost

A lot of huffing and puffing here about my last post. The reading comprehension here can be rather surprising at times.
I said I was a fan of both Keith and Rachel. Watch them all the time. I suppose I hold them to a higher standard as I feel that now is our time. A time for real change. I didn't vote for Obama to savor the thrill of having our first black president. I did so because I thought he was smart and tough. I want Obama to undo much of what was done these past eight years by the crypto-fascists in the Bush administration. And a good part of that would involve a press that was on the ball. On the case. Keeping an eye on what is going on. Making sure that Americans are properly informed about what our government is doing. Something that was scarce during the Bush years.

Journalism is what is required now. And, yes, some commentary. But more journalism than commentary. That's what a newspaper does. That's why newspapers are quoted so often as the sources of actual news on this very site. Newspapers are about journalism. The internet, and sites like this, are about commentary. People sign on and give their opinion. But that is not journalism. That is commentary, internet style, whereby most people are not trained as journalists and the comments of many posters here are anonymous. You can piss on anyone you want, say anything you want, and so long as it is within the boundaries of HuffPo politesse, you are in.

The sine qua non to understanding the garbage barge of the internet is the AOL home page. The AOL home page, which makes Us Weekly look like Paris Match, wants its readers to focus on the latest unflattering photos of stars or their DUIs. The AOL home page is where polls rated George W. Bush as one of the ten greatest presidents, even as late as last fall. The AOL home page is where they wrote that I had "picked a fight" with Maddow and Olberman.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise, but there are never, ever any names that appear as authors of the monstrously boring and mind-numbing content on the home page of this popular server. Never. Ever. AOL just keeps churning out all of that trash on their digital welcome mat, and you never find out who is responsible.

That's the Internet. Some great, serious, lofty thinking, one click away. The AOL home page, like a filthy dinner plate, just begging to be scraped and washed, another click away.

I'll take the Times any day. Judith Miller, or no. As for Keith and Rachel, I would never pick a fight with them. You think I want Keith Olbermann gnawing on me on national television? You haven't been gnawed till you've been gnawed by Keith. And Rachel? I love Rachel. Doesn't everyone? But just as I don't want root beer for dinner, I like my "news programming" a little straighter, at least during these times.

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