A couple of things have happened this last month that I really want to talk about. The first is the Brian Williams tumble from his prestigious anchor position at NBC News. The other is the release of the movie, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Brian made the mistake of enlarging some personal stories and being nailed for it.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” has broken every record for movie attendance and sparked every kind of comment and concern, from parents and church leaders, to those who say there’s a story beyond the sex.
About Brian. He made more of his personal involvement in incidents tied to actual news items than happened. (I remember him telling about the body floating below his New Orleans hotel window, and I was watching when he recounted the helicopter story. I was also watching the next evening when he apologized, saying he “mis-spoke.”)
Now he’s fodder for snide remarks by some who’ve forgotten that business about throwing rocks (Jim Carey, for one, former NY City mayor Rudy Giuliani for another. You remember the Biblical story about he who is without sin throwing the first stone?)
Should Brian Williams be held responsible for magnifying his personal role in major news stories? From my perspective, yes. Should he be villified? No. Enriching the ego seems a normal trait of human beings.
A more important question is did he ever distort the facts of a news story? Again, from my observation as a daily news viewer, no.
But here is the sticky wicket. Brian Williams has been an entertainment figure as well as a respected journalist. We’ve gotten to know him as a funny man, able to hold his own with the best of them, a story teller outside his role as NBC anchor.
When I watched him interact with David Letterman or Matt Lauer, I expected him to be entertaining. And when I watched him at his news desk, I expected truth and unbiased reporting.
So to the point: Can one person wear both hats? Should one person wear both hats? Are the corporate network leaders who bow to the ratings god responsible at all? Should journalists be kept in journalistic boxes instead of chasing an audience wherever it can be found? Seems to me that’s counter-productive and on a fast track to exactly where Brian Williams is, today. As to his future return to the news desk, I hope he does, though I don’t believe the network will allow it. Second chances and loyalty don’t seem to be part of their vocabulary.
And now to “Fifty Shades.” I admit, up front, I have not read the books nor have I seen the movie. Not because I’ve been told not to, but because I don’t want to. However, now that the movie is in theaters (bringing in more millions than any movie in forever) it has stirred a pot of controversy. Psychiatrists and psychologists are voicing concern about young people who see the movie and get the wrong idea about love, church leaders are advising congregations to stay away, and some parents have requested an age ban for those younger than seventeen.
I know the books were world-wide best sellers, and I’ve listened to some great conversations from friends who did read them and thought them worthwhile, not because of the eroticism, but because of the why behind it. The movie, however, has been panned by almost every critic who reviewed it, and by some outspoken movie goers, as well.
So, is this that tempest in the teapot, a worrisome thing that will go away as soon as people find another topic? Or will “Fifty Shades of Grey” develop a cult following among young adults still trying to decide what love is? And what happens when the second and third movies come out? (I’m assuming, here.) Repeat conversation?
Good grief. Maybe I shouldn’t even be talking about this until I read the books for myself and sit through the movie.