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On Principle
media ethics

Thursday, August 7 2014

‘The Purge’: Lawful, But Not Helpful

By grounding the violence of his barely veiled speculative fiction in the here-and-now, James DeMonaco risks inciting an audience beyond the walls of the cinema.


Wednesday, April 16 2014

Scorsese vs. Scorsese: Tales of Two Dreamers

The Wolf of Wall Street celebrates deception, whereas Hugo upholds the search for truth. Which worldview is Scorsese's?


Thursday, January 23 2014

The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them

Caesar Must Die and The Act of Killing are experiments that mix fiction and reality in distinct ways in order to investigate the relationship between freedom and violence.


Thursday, December 19 2013

How the Paparazzi Everyman Is Failing Our Entertainers, Failing Ourselves

Negative encounters with the media, which play out in the media, are the highly visible effects of broader cultural shifts that are occurring regardless of celebrity status.


Tuesday, August 6 2013

The End of the Beach Boys’ Summer

Then and now, the ethical questions that arise here involve the choice to turn this troubled phase of Brian Wilson's life and career into entertainment.


Thursday, June 13 2013

Warning! These Films Contain Madness

Attempts to update horror icons by recasting them as mere 'mistreated monsters' risk bringing them too far out of the paradoxical isolation that fuels their monstrosity.


Thursday, May 9 2013

‘Spring Breakers’, ‘Pain & Gain’ and Postmodern Folly at the Movies

Rather than exercise judgment or critical perspective on crime and punishment, Spring Breakers and Pain & Gain share their characters’ self-indulgence, making narcissism seem like a palatable or practical means to achieve goals.


Thursday, February 14 2013

The Ethics of Control: ‘Paul Williams Still Alive’

Having experienced decades in the spotlight, Paul Williams, a reluctant subject, is a more powerful opponent than his director suspects.


Tuesday, December 4 2012

A Show Divided: ‘Entourage’ as Satire and Misfire

Within Entourage's system of codependent relationships, individuals are treated as brands, women are treated as objects, committed relationships are discouraged, and one’s word means nothing unless a contract is signed and a check clears.


Thursday, October 18 2012

Dignity and Physical Drama in the Films of John-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

La Promesse and Rosetta treat seriously the ambitions and spirits of society’s most overlooked individuals, lest they be left by the wayside.


Tuesday, June 5 2012

Media Effects: Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and the Justice of Journalism

Justice, impartiality, and the editorial process have all practically become the headlines in recent months because of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin story. Meanwhile, justice seems more elusive and harder to define with each passing report.


Thursday, March 8 2012

Agitprop to Occupy My Time: ‘In Time’ for the Revolution

If fiction and reality could merge, the hero of the film In Time would benefit from listening to Real Time with Bill Maher, who said to the Occupy movement, "When you occupy anything for too long people do get pissed off."


Thursday, January 26 2012

The Tabloidization of Errol Morris

By the end of this film, the line dividing Tabloid from “the tabloids” thins to the point of imperceptibility.


Wednesday, November 2 2011

This Show Just Got a Little Too Real: Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’

Bravo’s schadenfreude is such a fundamental part of Real Housewives that every episode unavoidably concerns a tragic figure that never appears on screen and cannot defend the character assassination the show perpetuates.


Tuesday, August 16 2011

Weighing In: Fitness Films and Ordinary People

When fitness celebrities turn fat folks into fitness celebrities in their own image, self-preservation and betterment are eclipsed by the value of self-promotion. Remember the subjects undergoing these life-changing metamorphoses are “real” people.


Thursday, June 2 2011

“Kill Yourself for Recognition”: The Odd Future of Young Celebrity

When anticipation of death combines with the cult of celebrity, stars are pressured to literally give up the ghost -- or at least produce the effect through artistic means.


Monday, March 21 2011

Flash Over Substance: ‘Broadcast News’, Redux

As in real life, the TV news industry in Broadcast News looks less like a small pond and more like shark-infested waters.


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