Good night and good luck is an interesting film which deals with the advent of broadcast television during the “Golden Age”. The film deals with the plight of Edward Murrow in his quest to bring down the fear mongering senator McCarthy. The film is based in the 1950’s during the Cold War. During this period Communism was seen as a great threat to the American Capitalist state. An interesting point which I drew from this film was that Communism is used as a broad stroke statement to convict and stigmatize anyone who challenges the state. By this I mean that anyone who did not conform to the ruling of the current draconian government of the time was marked as an “Un-American” pariah. Anything un-American in this film is seen as being Communist. Communism is a universal template to quash dissent and those who spread it. The basic message which I read from the narrative of this film was, Conform or be stigmatised.
There are many musical inserts throughout the film. The lyrics tied in with the overall narrative of the film. Although, in saying that, I found these inserts to be quiet annoying and unpleasant to listen to. But this in its own way did well to strengthen the message conveyed in the musical pieces. As a listener I found the songs to be upfront and bombarding with the messages and themes being hard to escape.
Another point which I drew from the film was that the persecution of the Communists bore strong resemblance to the witch burning of the 16th century. Strangely enough there seems to be a link between factual hard hitting journalism and Communism. And as Communists are condemned so are factual television programmes. I thought this was a strange link as there are no real connections between Murrow CBS or Communism.
It is also interesting that America is associated with entertainment television. At one stage in the film I think a remark is made stating that entertainment programs and celebrity culture is what the American people want. This seems demeaning and goes on to classify an entire population as mindless and openly subversive to the dangerous mass control implemented through television. Television programmes are brought into the home. This makes it the perfect infiltration tool. With the push of a button a mass of mediated information can have global reach over a population. Alfred Hitchcock summed up the power of television when he said
“Television is like the American toaster, you push the button and the same thing pops up every time.”
The film opens and closes on the same stark warning from Murrow. He warns that the “Golden Age” of television is coming to an end at the hands of popular entertainment television. When he makes this warning he is addressing a room full of television executives who are fuelled by profits at a black tie event. It is obvious that Murrow’s warning has gone unheeded. Television, especially in America, has truly dwindled in quality and now in my opinion the television is not much more than a means to broadcast advertisements in millions of homes. It is difficult to say if advertisements are the filler for television programs or if the programs are indeed the filler for advertisements.
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