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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
JC and Good Night, and Good Luck
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1944  Thursday, 25 November 2005

From: 		Richard Burt <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 23 Nov 2005 10:53:14 -0500
Subject: 16.1935 JC and Good Night, and Good Luck
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1935 JC and Good Night, and Good Luck

Wow.  What bizarre responses to my post.   For the record, I simply 
described the film.  Unlike Quiz Show, where ethnicity is front and 
center (a Wasp competes with a Jew), Good Night, and Good Luck has an 
all white cast and is about a time--the 1950s--when television news, 
like television programming in general, was reported by all white 
newscasters.  Duh. Why saying that "Shakespeare is the token of 
high-minded civic debate conducted by whites" should be considered 
racist or distasteful is beyond me.  (By the way, there is one passing 
reference in the film to a character who is Jewish.  The reference is 
not anti-Semitic.)  Similarly, I did not misinterpret Cassius's line. I 
simply described the plot.  Soon after Murrow uses the line to turn the 
tables on McCarthy, Murrow's show is cancelled.  He thus turns out to be 
a loser, not to McCarthyism but to the corporate limiting of television 
to entertainment at the expense of civic debate and education. 
"Liberal-minded' is similarly descriptive.  Clooney is openly liberal 
off-screen and has frequently been attacked by the McCarhyesque Faux 
News commentator Bill O'Reilly.  Another similar kind of loser film 
related to Shakespeare is The Emperor's Club, though it is quite 
racially self-conscious.

Here is my original post, in case any one wants to see what elicited 
such hysterical (is there a Shaksper equivalent of McCarthyesque?) 
attacks on me:

In the liberal-minded Good Night, and Good Luck (dir. George Clooney, 
2005), reporter Edward R. Murrow (Davd Strathairn) tells Fred Friendly 
(George Clooney) that Murrow's closing on his show attacking McCarthy 
"is Shakespeare." On the show Murrow cites McCarthy's own citation of 
Cassius's line from Julius Caesar, "Upon what meat doth this our Caesar 
feed, / That he is grown so great?" And then he recontextualizes the 
line, saying that McCarthy should have read a few lines back in 
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to Cassius's line, "The fault dear Brutus 
lies not in our stars, but in ourselves." Murrow repeats the line at the 
end of his broadcast. As in Quiz Show (dir. Robert Redford, 1994), 
Shakespeare is the token of high-minded civic debate conducted by whites 
and opposed to the degrading, merely entertaining and profitable 
television shows, also implicitly addressed to white viewers. And as in 
Quiz Show, the high-minded quoter of Shakespeare turns out to be a 
loser. After taking down McCarthy, Murrow is told his show will be 
cancelled.

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