Thursday, September 14, 2006

Media 101

OK, everybody, our class in media studies begins now. Today's reading come to us from our friends across the pond.

"BBC did not know of 9/11 film's link to religious right"


David Leigh
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian

The BBC broadcast a controversial docu-drama, The Path to 9/11, this
week without realising that it had been made by a member of the US
religious right.

[Come on, they weren't wearing their "Members Only" tee shirts? They always wear those! Who are you kidding, BBC?]

The three-hour programme, shown over two nights on BBC2 to
commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attack on the twin towers,
was purchased from ABC, a subsidiary of Disney. At the last minute
the US television company was forced to re-edit sequences after
claims of distortion from former president Bill Clinton and members
of his administration.

[Plus the threatening letter from Bill's lawyer helped.]

A BBC spokesman said the organisation did not vet film-makers on
their political or religious beliefs...

[ is their usual practice."- oops. forget I said that.]

The film's director, David Cunningham, is active in Youth With a
Mission (Ywam), a fundamentalist evangelical organisation founded by
his father, Loren Cunningham. According to its publications, the
group believes in demonic possession, spiritual healing and
conservative sexual morality.

[Oh no. Not "conservative sexual morality!" The end of civilization is at hand!]

Last month David Cunningham addressed a conference in England
organised by the group at its UK headquarters in Harpenden,
Hertfordshire, on the making of the film. His talk was entitled
Christ-like Witness in the Film Industry.

According to one of the group's publications,"David and his wife Judy
are the nucleus of an association of more than 40 Ywam alumni who are
called to the communications industry in the Los Angeles area ... to
create an independent film company whereby he could both influence
the Hollywood film industry and produce major motion pictures that
would carry a Biblical, values-based message".

[40 people. My God. They're a regular army. Imagine the influence they must have in places like Hollywood! It's scary, my friends, very scary.]

Speaking from the Harpenden HQ, where would-be "disciples" pay more
than £2,000 for six-month courses, the missionary organisation's
international chair, Lynn Green, said that Mr Cunningham's influence
in the film was limited. "He was hired by Disney to direct. He was
not the screenwriter".

[1. How much is £2,000 in real money?]
[2. I have to admit it's fun to read that a director had "limited influence." Writers rule! Just kidding.

But in the US, protesting Democrats have seized on the involvement of
the religious right in the project to allege a political plot to
blame Mr Clinton for the triumph of Osama bin Laden.

["allege a political plot to blame Mr. Clinton"? So now theories are "plots"? Where are those damn thought police when you need them?]

One original fictionalised sequence depicted Mr Clinton's national
security adviser, Sandy Berger, refusing permission in 1998 for the
CIA to capture Bin Laden. Another showed Mr Clinton distracted by his
affair with Monica Lewinsky.

[And that bit about being distracted by Monica is total fiction! He was NOT distracted by that woman, Ms. Lewinsky! He was reading documnts the whole time she was-oh, never mind!]

In a letter to ABC demanding changes, Mr Clinton said: "The content
of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate." His
colleagues said it was "rightwing political propaganda".

[And you know how eager ABC is to broadcast that kind of thing.]

ABC originally gave the impression the film was a historical
reconstruction of the official 9/11 commission report, saying the
film "uses this historic document as the basis for a powerful story".

But yesterday, the BBC said it had warned at the start of the
programme: "The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and
narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalised scenes."

[They had to borrow the warning from Michael Moore, who was not using it that day.]

The film, as eventually transmitted, had been politically even-
handed, the corporation said. It drew a relatively modest audience of
up to 2.8m, but was seen in the US by 13m viewers.

[Now there's a buzzkiller for you. It was actually even-handed? After all that buildup? Talk about burying the lead, guys!]

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