Saturday, May 1, 2010

Danny Schechter goes after Wall Street in PLUNDER: THE CRIME OF OUR TIME

Anyone who saw investigative reporter Danny Schechter's documentaries Weapons of Mass Deception or In Debt We Trust will know that Mr. Schechter has a problem with our national media.  He finds it wanting: too easily misled by the powers that be (read government and money).  Many other of us, inclu-
ding TrustMovies, agree with him. In his new documen-
tary PLUNDER: THE CRIME OF OUR TIME, Schechter again blames the collusion of media, government and money for the current crisis regarding Wall Street.

In fact, this filmmaker, as does many others, calls the place and its product criminal and wants the perpetrators brought to justice. From his 100-minute documentary -- full of interviews, talking heads, protests and more -- two themes emerge: that the current crisis (which just keeps growing, with more Goldman Sachs revelations daily) was indeed criminal, and that the media, in their usual, closed-ranks manner has approved the official and untrue line of something accidental happening and being then made worse by the happenstance of a "perfect storm" of problems.
Bullshit, says Schechter.

Further, he tell us, the national media has been much harder on the people who have defaulted on their loans than on the lenders who came up with the "crooked" deals.  One of Schechter's most salient points is that, our media is very bit as embedded with the financial industry (and its government counterpart) now as it was with the military (and its government counterpart) at the start of the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars.  In both cases, truth is the inevitable casualty.

There is plenty to make you angry here, although some of it has been seen else-
where (Leslie Cockburn's American Casino and Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, for instance).  Because Schechter (shown at right, with the golden calf -- whoops -- bull) is indicting Wall Street as criminal, it would have been good, I think, if he had stayed on-message a bit more and acted as a prosecutor might in piling up more and better evidence of criminality.  Instead he is all over the place -- from protesters out of work (and banks that will not honor their commitments) to homeowners evicted from their homes and Wall Street professionals talking about how they do their jobs.

Most of this will appeal to progressives, all right, and it's important that we hear it.  Particularly succulent are the filmmaker's points about our media -- which seem to be currently under attack from all sides, including the ever-strengthening internet -- being all too often in lockstep with power and money. Plunder is worth viewing, even if, on balance, you feel that Schechter might have put these 100 minutes to somewhat better use.

In his Q&A that followed the film's premier "theatrical" screening last Thursday, April 29, at the prestigious and lovably old-fashioned National Arts Club in Manhattan, the filmmaker reminded us that a major demonstration of thousands of protesters had taken place on Wall Street that very day. It will be interesting, he suggested, to see what the media makes of this.  TrustMovies could find nothing about this in the following days' edition of  The New York Times or The New York Post.  Maybe you had better luck.

Plunder: The Crime of Our Time is available now for purchase from its distributor, Disinformation Films, or via Amazon and elsewhere.  For rental, you can find it on Netflix (as of today: long wait) and Blockbuster (as of today: short wait) if not from your local video store (if that one's still around: We here in Jackson Heights just recently lost another). I believe the film is also available for download via iTunes.  In any case, you can click here to access the movie's official site and go from there....

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