The level of subtlety expressed in the title of this video broadside about media consolidation continues into the rhetoric deployed by its talking heads, who provide references to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and of course Orwell’s 1984. Pappas’s thesis is that, through deregulation and other trickery, Republican administrations have defanged and manipulated print and television news to the point that Americans now live under, in Vincent Bugliosi’s words, “the dark ominous shadows of totalitarianism, despotism, fascism.” Orwell offers little that is not also explored in current agit-docs like Fahrenheit 9/11, The Corporation, or Outfoxed, and draws from the same talent pool of leftists like Michael Moore, Mark Crispin Miller, and Bernie Sanders (one assumes Noam Chomsky called in sick). But unlike these better-crafted films, Pappas’s message is one of relentless hopelessness: 1984 is happening now, American citizens are powerless, and we’re all fucked. In its attempt to diagnose a problem, it ends up serving more as a symptom of the left’s current, and sadly warranted, anxieties.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 2004