'Good Night, And Good Luck' Is The One Movie You Need To See Before Election Day
It's hard to believe, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election is just two-and-a-half weeks away (thank God). This election season has been anything but usual. On one side of the aisle, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton could become the first female president in U.S. history, as well as the first spouse of a former president to be elected. On the other side is Republican nominee Donald Trump, a man with zero public service experience who has said a number of controversial things previously thought unthinkable for a politician. His radical behavior has largely overshadowed the glass ceiling-shattering potential of Clinton, and has reminded me of a politician from the past. Which is why I recommend Good Night, and Good Luck as the one movie to see before election day.
Good Night, and Good Luck is a 2005 historical drama directed by George Clooney and is based upon a pivotal report conducted by legendary CBS news reporter Edward R. Murrow on Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy on his program See It Now, in 1954. The report has been called "television's finest hour," as it was widely seen as showing McCarthy for who he was and leading to his downfall. To better illustrate why this was important, one first must understand who McCarthy was.
The term "McCarthyism" describes the practice of making unsubstantiated claims against a group of people in order to be divisive. It's considered a dangerous force in American politics, and it derives its name from Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was chairman of the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the early 1950s, and led a number of attacks and accusations against people both in and out of government whom he claimed were communists. McCarthy's tactics were ugly, vulgar, and lacking in evidence. The subcommittee, under his watch, ruined a number of people's lives and reputations because of his baseless claims. He also had a habit of accusing anyone who criticized or disagreed with him as being a communist — including Murrow. It wasn't until Murrow and his associates exposed what McCarthy was actually doing, and gave him a platform to show the error of his ways publicly, that people's opinion on McCarthy began to change.
So why is this movie about a journalist and senator from over 60 years ago important today? Well, because there are a lot of similarities between McCarthy and Trump. Trump's divisive language surrounding certain groups of people like Mexican immigrants and Muslims is no different from McCarthy's scare tactics surrounding communists. And when things don't go well for Trump, his penchant for blaming the media and claiming that they're rigging the election in favor of Clinton is strikingly similar to McCarthy accusing Murrow of being a communist for criticizing him. At the same time, the film focuses on the media's role as the "fourth estate" of the government, sourcing the truth in American politics and being critical when needed. Many would argue that today's media, in its fascination with ratings and infotainment, have largely failed in this regard when it comes to coverage of Trump.
So before you cast a vote on November 8, give a look at Good Night, and Good Luck to see both the dangers of fear mongering in politics, as well as the importance of proper investigative journalism as a public service.
Images: Warner Independent Pictures