I mostly liked the take “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” took when depicting the Fourth Estate. At the Daily Planet, money is a concern; there’s an allusion to corporate control of the media (Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne drunkenly asks Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent, “Do I own you guys, or is that the other guy?”); and not even a Pulitzer Prize can get Lois Lane (Amy Adams) her own office. I even felt sympathy for Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) because, try as he might, the man writes the worst headlines in history. And I say that as someone who is so terrible at headlines that if I could I would make every single one “HERE IS A STORY.”
The movie gets a lot right about journalism. Unfortunately, a lot of journalists got something very wrong about the movie.
I am of the firm belief that real-world journalists should not appear as themselves in works of entertainment. And in “BVSDOJ,” a lot of journalists — including Anderson Cooper, Soledad O’Brien and Charlie Rose — do. Moreover, CNN is apparently the Official Cable News Provider of the movie, as its logo and crawl appear over the movie’s events as if they are real. It’s pointless, it’s tasteless and it’s wrong.
Of course there is some corporate synergy going on here; Cooper, O’Brien and CNN are all tied to Time Warner Inc., which also owns DC Comics. But this isn’t your usual product placement; Anderson Cooper is not a grande Americano and Soledad O’Brien is not an iPad. Journalists and journalism should not be commodities, and to treat them as such is a danger to the profession.
I sometimes hesitate to call myself a journalist. I don’t cover hard news, I don’t have “sources,” I’m terrible at remembering AP style. But what I do is still journalism. Other than in this space, I try my best to keep my opinions and biases away from my byline. Because I want you to believe that when you see my name above a feature, what appears below it is, above all, true.
Of course no one — I hope, but who knows today? — is going to watch “BVSDOJ” and believe that Anderson Cooper is actually reporting on [spoiler spoiler spoiler]. But Cooper and his colleagues belong to an honorable profession that is now seen as less than honorable (to put it nicely), partially because of the blurring of the line between news and entertainment. You have to get the news right, and that means it has to be true. Putting your name on something that is completely and entirely made up is doing a disservice to your name and to your profession. We can be entertaining — I try to be — but we are not entertainers. Let the actors handle the live feed from Metropolis; we traffic in truth.
More Reelists from Kristen Page-Kirby