As adults, we learn some important truths:
1. You don’t always need to do what you’re told.
2. You have the freedom to pass on your vegetables, but there are consequences.
That first lesson is central to the plot of “All the President’s Men,” which outlines in sometimes obsessive detail what the life of a journalist entails … both in the sexy appeal of breaking the rules to get the scoop, but also in the mundane minutia of calling, and typing, and research, and calling, and typing, and…
(You get the idea.)
Just as the mundane parts of being a journalist are the equivalent of eating one’s vegetables, I might argue that watching this film is much the same. There is payoff to breaking the rules … but only when you eat your veggies. And to understand cinema and its relationship to the political process (as well as journalism), this movie, a nominee for the 1976 Oscar for Best Picture, is simply required viewing (whether some might consider it dry or not).
For this episode of the Pursuit of Crappiness podcast, I am once again joined by David Lee Simmons of PopSmartNola, who previously lent a great deal of wisdom and insight in our podcast on “Spotlight.” This film, like that one, is certainly one of Hollywood’s greatest efforts at understanding the press and the media at large (though this movie takes a more mechanical look at things rather than the philosophical/moral approach of “Spotlight”).
But there’s no denying the political aspects either … which is where new guest Peter Athas comes in. He contributes to the left-leaning blog First-Draft.com under the handle “Adrastos,” once lived and worked in Washington D.C. in several political capacities, and is an unabashed Nixon hater. What this means for our purposes is few people have as thorough an understanding of the Watergate scandal as he.
In our podcast, we try to put the film in perspective for its time, but we also try to relate it to modern times. How would a scandal like this be treated today? What about a film about said scandal? Those are just some of the questions we attempt to answer.
Please note: My kids can be noisy. We must all deal.
Please also note: Sound quality suffers at times this episode. 🙁 Apologies.
3:20 — A classic journalism film
8:00 — Capturing a moment in time
20:55 — Deep Throat and tension
26:20 — Good reporting vs. bad
31:58 — Does the ending fit?
37:35 — How is it relevant today?
51:00 — Closing thoughts
Here are some links of interest: