Friendship, honor and the media

I’ve just watched The Insider for the second time (I first saw it almost 1 year ago). I had remembered about the honest, truthful relationship forming between the characters played by Russel Crowe and Al Pacino, but I rediscovered today another (less beautiful) idea from the movie: discrediting a man through media. Russel Crowe’s character had worked for a big tobacco company and knows how they deliberately ignore consumer health (and even take measures against it) in order to increase their sales. The company is afraid of the information he might give to the media, so they try to discredit him by publishing an article in the newspapers with everything they can dig up about him (which is mostly false).

The power of the media

When a man has something to say, the fact that he has done something bad before (like robbing a bank) doesn’t mean that what he has to say is wrong or useless. Any of us can say just about anything and it can be true or false. Yes, generally people with a bad reputation don’t show up on TV and give you useful information, but surely this is not always the case.

Watching the movie raised the following question: if such actions (attempts to discredit a person with false information) do succeed, maybe it’s because we (the public) let them succeed. Maybe we should try to be harder to convince (as long as there is no evidence) and we should try to employ more common sense and logic into our thinking (while still remaining humans, and not some lifeless machines). Another thing the movie made me think about is the fact that the general public is a little hasty in jumping to conclusions based on what they see on TV or read in the newspapers (or at least the media seems to treat us as such). Besides these discrediting campaigns (which in some cases succeed and use false information) the modern, open-minded and anti-discriminatory attitude sometimes produces the exact opposite effect – presents us an individual from some social class / ethnic group / professional area which we might have prejudices about, and imposes a seemingly correct but actually forced attitude towards him: we pretend not to see that characteristic difference he has from others.

After reading this and another recent post, you might think I am some kind of racist or intolerant person. I assure you I am not at all like that. I believe in respect and correctness, and I do think we should think more before we let ourselves influenced by the media and the shifting tendencies in attitude we see today. I do not believe in discrediting a man without strong evidence. About the other extreme of imposing a forced attitude, I will try to clarify what I mean with the next example: If I walk past some people with red and light-green hair, or a group of rockers dressed in leather and metal, I will surely notice them and maybe admire their outfits differently then I would look at other neutral-dressed people walking by.

I don’t think this is discriminatory or wrong. Just like you play some music on the stereo for your grandmother when she is visiting and some other music when you get together with your friends, you might have a different smile or look in your eyes when you meet people who express themselves in different ways when they walk on the street.

Let us unify in respect for each other and celebrate diversity. That’s what I understand by non-discrimination and correctness.

Friendship and honor in the 21st century

Another interesting thing this movie presets us with is the friendship that develops between the two characters: the scientist (who cares about the health of the customer) under the pressure of the tobacco company (pressure felt by his family as well) and the journalist who is honest, correct and does not wish to publish false information. The bond that forms as the movie progresses is fueled by their honest nature and way of doing things. Though not under the best circumstances, this kind friendship is quite rare and watching it on film gives us hope of finding it in real life.

It’s a good movie, and if you want a film with less action but interesting subject, The Insider is a good choice. From what I saw at the end of the movie, it is based on real facts.

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