“Show Dogs” is a movie about a cop and a talking dog who go undercover at a dog show. It has a nice message about not jumping to conclusions about others (whether dogs or people) based on prejudice or superficial factors. But many parents complained about another message as well, unintentional, but disturbing, and the movie is being re-cut and re-issued.
You can get a sense of the problem in the trailer.
I’m sure it was supposed to be funny that the cop dog voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has to submit to a physical exam when he is undercover as a show dog. But the filmmakers showed very poor judgement at best in making it into an extended “comic” bit, where he is repeatedly told to accept examination of his private parts and “go to his zen place.” The film’s production company has agreed to remove those scenes and the movie will be returned to theaters without them.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation said the movie “sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse…It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”
Clearly, this was the right decision, and we hope it will make studios more sensitive to these issues in the future.
The World at War This classic is considered the definitive history and a landmark of television reporting. It was created long enough after the war ended to have perspective but close enough in time to have access to the participants, with eyewitness accounts by civilians, enlisted men, officers, and politicians as well as historians. The 30th anniversary DVD set issued in 2004 has three hours of new material and additional documentaries.
GI Jews Fifty thousand Jewish American fought in WWII, often struggling with anti-Semitism in the military. They look back on their experiences and how it affected their lives.
Korea, The Forgotten War It was the Cold War era, but a real war was being fought in Korea that embodied the geopolitical conflicts. This documentary covers that story, from Inchon to Pork Chop Hill.
Vietnam War: America’s Conflict Many documentaries cover the politics and the protests, and that is covered here, too, but this series focuses on the stories of the battles and the men who fought them.
Hidden Wars of Desert Storm Interviews with General Norman Schwarzkopf, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former UN Iraq Program Director Denis Halliday, former UNSCOM team-leader Scott Ritter and many others help tell the story of the American response to the invasion of Kuwait.
Restrepo This is the award-winning story of one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military, covering the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The remote 15-man outpost was named after a platoon medic who was killed in action.
The War Tapes Three National Guardsmen (“citizen soldiers”) document their time in Iraq.
Tim Ortman, a former cameraman and producer for every major U.S. television news network and the Foreign Press Corps, believes that too many people, especially younger people, are making the mistake of relying on social media as trustworthy news outlets. His new book, Newsreal: A View Through the Lens When…, is filled with stories about his experiences as a newsman in the years when there were just four television networks, with enormous budgets and loyal viewers. And he addresses the impact of cable news and social media on the news, on us, and on our country. In an interview, he discussed fake news, social media, and confirmation bias, and the vital importance of objective, demanding news outlets in a democracy.
Is there more fake news now or are we just more aware of it? Or more able to make it go viral so that it reaches more people?
During the time period Newsreal, A View Through the Lens, When… takes place, there were only four major American news networks and the reporting was factual and straight-forward. Today, what is referred to as fake news is flourishing online. Social media sites often regurgitate news reports from legitimate news sources (IE: NBC News, NY Times, etc.). These reports are then redistributed, often times anonymously, by a mysterious network of trolls, bots and algorithms. With no journalistic oversight, the initial reports become so layered with opinion and conjecture that it no longer resembles the original real news story. This sort of delivery method allows for the viral growth, and subsequent distortion of stories that may have started as genuine news by a real news source but morph into little more than misrepresentation and opinion.
What are some of the indicators of a reliable news source?
Ownership. If a news organization assigns its own reporter or correspondent to write or broadcast a news report, both the company’s and reporter’s name are ‘on the line’, responsible for the validity and accuracy of that report. This ensures that a thorough vetting process is run where facts are checked and sources confirmed.
The President and many other public figures accuse the mainstream media of bias. Is that fair? What is the best way to evaluate those claims?
Donald Trump is the President of the United States (POTUS). It is the job of the news media to report on the President. Almost every President in our nation’s history has taken issue with some story, report or coverage they received. It is inherent with the job. And yet, almost every President in our nations history has recognized a strong and uncensored press is a cornerstone of our Democracy. Two term President George W. Bush (43) was the recipient of much unflattering yet honest coverage while in office. After leaving office, he said, “Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive. And, it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”
Is there a risk that relying on media sources, even reliable ones, can perpetuate echo chambers and confirmation bias?
We are fortunate to live in a free society that offers us a plethora of reliable media sources. I’ve traveled to numerous countries devoid of that privilege. With so many sources operating in a 24-hour news cycle, echo chambers are inevitable. As news consumers, it’s best to aim for a balanced diet of news and information as opposed to gorging on one site, paper or channel. This can help reduce the craving for conformation bias.
What is fake news, and is that term mis-applied?
I mentioned online fake news previously. However, my intentional misspelling of Newsreal was intended to address the all-too-popular use of the term “fake news” as it’s been applied to print and broadcast journalism. I don’t buy it. It is intended as a smokescreen; a diversionary tactic to distract the viewer/readers attention away from a story that’s not flattering or complementary, but at its core, factual and correct. By applying the label “fake news,” the aim is to lessen or totally dismiss a truthful report. Truth can be a bitter pill to swallow for some, but that doesn’t make it false or fake. As news consumers, we have become too quick to believe in this artificial labeling.
How has “liking” and “retweeting” affected the dissemination of news stories, both legitimate and fake?
I can only speak to legitimate news and the business of fact-based news should never be a popularity contest. Likes and dislikes have absolutely no place in the delivery of unbiased journalism, and for good reason. Reporters should be free to report the truth regardless of how it will be received. The search for truth can sometimes be a circuitous path. What may seem like an unpopular story initially can develop a ground-swell of support once all the facts are on display. Real news should not be packaged to appear more appealing or ‘liked’.
What is the biggest threat to independent news media?
The external criticism of the news media has little affect of true journalists. They louder the outcry, the more emboldened and dedicated the journalistic community becomes. The real threat comes from within when corporate policy dictates what is and what isn’t news. We saw this with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group scandal where the media giant, who owns 173 television stations, forced anchormen and women systemwide to read an on-air script prepared by Sinclair management. This blurred the line between the company’s beliefs and independent reporting.
Why do you call your time in the business the golden era? What did we have then that we no longer have?
The big-three networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) made their profits from their prime-time line-up with shows like Cheers and Seinfeld. Profitability wasn’t the guiding principle within the news divisions where news coverage was viewed as a civic obligation or “higher calling.” Anchormen were more trusted than Presidents and audience ratings were twice what they are today.
Additionally, each network had news bureaus in every major city and capital around the world. This made for very powerful yet very agile global news operations that could mobilize to cover news wherever and whenever it happened.
Where will our children get their news when they become adults?
Tough question as I have no idea what the news landscape will look like in the future. I only hope that as the next generation turns off the TV and turns on other devices, the content being viewed includes a healthy dose of news and information from around the world. We are the most powerful nation on earth. We owe it to ourselves, and to those Americans who came before us to be the most well-informed nation was well as the most powerful.
Coming to Netflix June 14, 2018 — “Set it Up,” the story of two assistants to highly demanding bosses who decide to “Parent Trap” them into falling in love so they won’t be so demanding. Cute idea and two stars from one of my favorite films from 2016, “Everybody Wants Some!!” — Zoey Deutsch and Glen Powell.
Lately I feel like for a lot of young people, at least let’s say millennials, there’s such a weird storm of 9/11 followed by economic collapse, followed by the Internet and social media saturation that serves to kind of douse youthful rebellion. It all kind of paralyzed them into thinking that nothing can really change. First of all, it was terrorism, then it was an economic rug being pulled out from under them, coming out of college, not having a job, suddenly feeling old because you have a $100,000 loan or at least $20,000 and then the Internet which gives you a false feeling of accomplishment because you’re zipping around on it but not doing a whole lot on it. Of course some people certainly use it as a very good tool but for a lot of people it is just an equivalent to worry beads, just to check, check, check and post, post, post and selfie, selfie, selfie. That’s the worst example, of course, and there are plenty of people who use it as a tool in a good way but it can serve to make young people not necessarily the vanguard of any change in the last 15 years. There might be rebellion but it isn’t directed rebellion in any way.
There’s no mass movement possible anymore because of digital culture. The last real musical movement was grunge. After that, everything was atomized; sliced and diced. Porn got sliced and diced into what fetish you were into and boys are saturated with porn before they have sex. So, when they have sex they are imitating it rather than just being it or trying it and girls are kind of just going along with it, and then sexualizing themselves whether they want to or not because that is currency. It is an imitation of porn and it didn’t feel sui generis, it felt quickly commercialized. Even sexual top or bottom became a capitalist kind of thing that you have to be if you’re on Grindr and it was important to decide so you can present yourself with all the things people used to find out about each other when they got to know each other established up front. So, everything started becoming quantifiable and sellable.
Capitalism does that but now it is done in a very efficient way because of digital media, so that serves to dampen the young person being at the vanguard of actual change as opposed to surface rebellion. The old people got scared about things changing became punk and they voted Trump in and they are welcoming him smashing all tradition. They don’t care anymore that he is inept. They are watching it burn. They didn’t believe that he wasn’t going to be corrupt and or that he’s going to drain the swamp. They just saw someone going in there like a child has got the controls. It’s like, “What’s been happening so far sucked, so might as well do this throw a monkey in the driver’s seat,” and some of them are still enjoying it; it’s kind of mindless punks as opposed to any focused punks.
The new possible kind of punk that I can see coming is like the Parkland teenagers. These are the post-millennials. They are coming up in high school with Trump in office and they can’t believe it and they’re getting shot up and there is one thing that they can do, maybe stop the NRA. That is one issue I think is going to hopefully be the beginning.
I think punk changes for every era but we know it when we see it and usually it’s about smashing up stuff so that new stuff can grow.