When an influential and forward-thinking writer locks horns with a conservative author, things get a little intense. Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. made headlines when they were enlisted to debate the Republican and Democratic presidential ideals in 1968 for ABC, and subsequently found themselves in a controversial feud as they became more and more incensed by each other's opinions. With threats of violence and insulting jargon leaving a shocking mark on the legendary televised argument, it became a landmark moment in political media and, indeed, continued - albeit indirectly - with later publications and lawsuits from both parties. While there used to be an element of poise and dignity with political conversation, from this moment, things heated up considerably when it came to fighting about the government.
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In order to make a documentary about the shady world of brand integration in films and television, Spurlock decides to sell his new project to the highest bidders. And discovers that there's a parallel world of public relations, advertising, product specialists and neuro-marketers who make a lot of money doing this. After a slow start, sponsors climb on board, and Spurlock makes sure to keep their products on-screen as he conducts interviews with experts.
But does this compromise his journalistic or artistic integrity?
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Noam Chomsky, Jamie Walsh and Robert Fisk - Noam Chomsky, Jamie Walsh, Robert Fisk Dublin, Ireland - American intellectual Noam Chomsky is awarded The Gold Medal for Outstanding contribution to Public Discourse from The Historical Society of Trinity College and is interviewed by esteemed British journalist Robert Fisk. Tuesday 3rd November 2009
Kaye's ambition is daunting: He attempts not only to reiterate the dangers of a society where abortion is illegal but also give balanced criticism to the pro-life and pro-choice sects. The latter debate comes easy: Intellectuals from every imagineable background (Noam Chomsky and Alan M. Dershowitz amongst others) give well-thought ponderings on the freedom to control one's body even in the direst of times. It's with the pro-life argument that Kaye hits a brick wall. Of the dozen or so pro-life interviewees, only jazz historian and Village Voice contributor Nat Hentoff makes an intellectually-backed argument for the pro-life agenda, standing out among the plethora of God-wills-its. Beyond that, Kaye relies on his footage to discuss his subject.
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Nerenberg's Stupidity is a frequently fascanating but sometimes wandering work that provides some insight into the nature of dumbness. There's a history lesson here: "Idiot" and "imbecile" have specific IQ levels they correspond to, and "moron" is a whole other thing of its own. Talking heads like Bill Maher and Noam Chomsky describe stupidity in our current culture (with Jackass and George W. Bush taking the brunt of the heat), and some of the intellectual discussion here is fascinating. If nothing less, it makes you think twice when you call someone or something "stupid," because of the loadedness of the term.
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Few words have the baggage that the word corporate does. It's gone from the economic textbooks, dry and undistinguished, to a near anathema curse. No one, whatever their profession, likes to say they are "corporate." And yet the majority of workers in the United States work for corporations. These days you're most likely to hear the word corporate bandied about as a rallying cry. It's leveled at artists who "sell out," or go "corporate." Thrown like pies at politicians with "corporate" interests. Corporate goons are the lynchpins of countless cuckold and old boy jokes. And yet corporations are stronger now than ever, driven by favorable political winds, fed by a steady stream of willing workers, and nestled deep and safe inside the American psyche.
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For those unfamiliar with Chomsky's rhetoric (and I don't mean that pejoratively), Chomsky claims that -- in a nutshell -- we are being controlled by the government and the mass media, who are co-opted by business and interested in keeping us complacent through warmongering and scare tactics. This would all be dismissable as crackpot theorizing if Chomsky wasn't so erudite and didn't have the uncanny ability to footnote everything he says. Chomsky is simply brilliant, and many of the films about him make that apparent.
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