Sometimes, it Really Isn't About You

So, the wonderful and half-trashy 2003 BBC journalism/politics/murder/sex miniseries State of Play has, inevitably, crossed the pond to become a Washington-based, Halliburton-referencing thriller starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck (with, in a crime against Art, Helen Mirren replacing the heroic alcoholic tabloid editor Bill Nighy). The original was nobody's idea of All the President's Men (hard to be, with your journalist-hero covering up for his politician friend when not fucking his wife), and yet the L.A. Times headline about the new movie adaptation is the following: "'State of Play' pays homage to print journalism's role."

The first few grafs of that curious interpretation:

"What happens when journalists aren't there to ask the difficult questions of politicians?"

That's just one concern Kevin Macdonald, the 41-year-old Scottish documentary filmmaker turned director, is raising with his new political thriller, "State of Play."

The movie, which stars Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren and Rachel McAdams, is set during these tumultuous times for the fourth estate. The backdrop for this tale of inside-the-Beltway conspiracy and intrigue is a Washington, D.C., newspaper, similar to the Washington Post, except without the benevolent Graham family as the owners, and it does capture the feeling of an industry in transition, perpetually under economic pressures from the outside, while inside a battle for supremacy reigns between the brash but unseasoned young bloggers and the traditional hard-charging gumshoe reporters.

As the email correspondent who alerted me to this story (cough *Cavanaugh* cough) put it, "Dinosaur kisses own ass hard enough to cause extinction event."

Bonus Ben Affleck metaphor-bender about newspapers:

Even Affleck, who saw the worst of tabloid journalism during his days dating Jennifer Lopez, sees the value of traditional news gathering organizations devoted to public service. "It's the horse and buggy thing," he says. "Newspapers are the horse and buggy, and they're now making cars. But I think the bigger danger is letting go of the horses and buggy entirely while not making sure we keep from them the things that were valuable to this culture -- the history of excellence in journalism."

Um, maybe he means making newspapers like those horsey carriages in Central Park?

As garbled as that might be, Affleck as media analyst makes tons more sense than me as...Ben Affleck.

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  • ||

    "I just can't take it anymore, you guys. All the dancing, singing, the late night parties...the Ben Affleck splooge...it has to stop."

  • Dello||

    "What happens when journalists aren't there to ask the difficult questions of politicians?"

    Um, Obama gets elected?

  • ||

    "What happens when journalists aren't there to ask the difficult questions of politicians?"

    Seriously? No one has pointed out that Obama has declared War on Fiscal Responsibility. No one pointed out that Bush's mind-numbing executive power grab was the least bit problematic until about 3 years after it happened. And I'm still waiting for Bill Clinton's middle class tax cut (butit'sokay,heONLYeverliedaboutsex).

    PHENOMENAL job of asking the hard questions and maintaining accountability, guys. I will now slow clap until I die.

  • ||

    Um, maybe he means making newspapers like those horsey carriages in Central Park?

    No. I'm pretty sure he means to make them like the Amish. With orange triangles to alert people to the potential hazard of a slow moving vehicle.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "...sees the value of traditional news gathering organizations devoted to public service..."

    LOL

    devoted to "public service"!

    That's a good one.

  • anon||

    the ben affleck/welch story is pretty crazy. how come i've never heard of this before?

    (besides that i...hadnt read it before)

  • Paul||

    "What happens when journalists aren't there to ask the difficult questions of politicians?"

    Um, Obama gets elected?


    Come on, we walked right into that one.

  • ||

    They filmed one of the scenes outside my office window last year. It was kinda cool to watch all that go down, but dear god! there were about 3 dozen people staffing this shoot. It had to have cost about 300 grand to shoot this 40 seconds of dialog, assuming that it even made it into the film.

  • Granite26||

    Affleck quote makes perfect sense to me. Make sure the Bloggers drive on the right side of the road... I.E. Make sure that print media doesn't go away so fast that the GOOD things about it disappear with the obsolete.

    Now if he'd just explain what those good things are...

  • Eric Haskell||

    I'm not sure I want to think about what this means, but mattwelch.com is blocked here at my workplace for "pornography."

    Been making a little money on the side, Matt?

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