Recommended Viewing: June
Hollywood is notorious for being a propaganda machine, and if you don’t know where to look, it can be tough to find quality independent films and documentaries (especially with the mounting big tech censorship campaign in recent years). But every once in a while, if you dig hard enough, you can find some enlightening content online — and much of it for free. As I gear up to polish off and publish the final installment of my Big Media series, I thought I’d share some of the documentaries, films, and interviews I’ve been enjoying lately. (And if you feel inclined, please feel free to post your viewing recommendations in the comments below.)
Shadows of Liberty
I’d been long on the hunt for a documentary that encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the mainstream media when I stumbled upon this extraordinary gem by Jean-Philippe Tremblay. Even though it was made in 2012, every issue it explores is still relevant — if not more so — today. The film examines consolidation, censorship, cover-ups, and every other element threatening the media’s ability to support our democracy, with interviews from so many legendary media critics and insiders.
I rented it on Amazon, but you can also stream it online for free here.
Terms & Conditions May Apply
Real talk: When signing up for a new service, how many times do you *actually* scroll through and read the absurdly long privacy policies before clicking “I Agree”? If you’re like most, you barely skim it before signing your name — and much of your data and privacy away. This documentary exposes the who, why, and how in regards to big tech companies collecting your information and providing it to third parties. Trust me: after watching, you may just start taking the time to read those terms and conditions.
Watch it on Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV.
Counter-Intelligence: Shining a Light on Black Operations
It’s no secret that the CIA has engaged in criminal activities around the world for decades… but do you know the extent of it? This eye-opening documentary lays out all the historical events that have set the stage for the modern surveillance state. Over the course of the five-part series, it covers everything from the history of false flag operations used to justify war, to the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, the “deep state,” prison profiteers, and drone attacks. The film also explains the ways in which the U.S. government can and has avoided responsibility for the agency’s activities.
In 2003, British intelligence officer Katherine Gun received an NSA memo that shed light on an illegal spying operation: Essentially, the U.S. was enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on U.N. security council members so they could blackmail them into approving the invasion of Iraq. This film, which is based on that true story, follows how and why Gun leaks that memo to the press in an effort to expose the corruption and prevent the invasion — and the consequences she must then face for being a whistleblower.
In an article about the film, FAIR’s Sam Husseini wrote that Official Secrets is a “remarkably accurate account of what has happened to date” because “the wider story still isn’t really over.”
Watch it on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
Kill The Messenger
It’s strange to me — and at the same time, not so strange — that this powerful biopic did not get more press and recognition. Not only is it a stunningly accurate portrayal of Gary Webb’s life, but it also happens to be the first producing credit for Jeremy Renner, who plays Webb. It also boasts a star-studded cast, featuring Ray Liotta, Oliver Platt, Andy García, and Paz Vega.
Webb is most well known for “Dark Alliance,” a journalistic series he published in The San Jose Mercury News in 1996 (more on that in the next installment of my series). This investigative work revealed how the CIA was looking the other way as drug dealers smuggled cocaine into the U.S. and then using the profits to arm Nicaraguan rebels called the Contras. It instantly triggered outrage among the crack-ravaged communities around L.A. After he risked his life and career by revealing his findings, his peers at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other legacy media swiftly attacked him, attempting to discredit his work and downright destroy his reputation.
Kill The Messenger solidified my respect for Webb — his integrity and tenacity. It’s the most heartbreaking film I’ve seen in a while, but a must-watch that sheds light on the strategic silencing of investigative journalists seeking to expose corruption.
Cancel Culture and Polarization in the Age of COVID: How To Agree To Disagree
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s become next to impossible for many people to have a conversation with anyone who disagrees with them. I’ve watched in horror daily as people engaged in more and more verbally abusive social media battles about divisive issues. I know people who are still dealing with family rifts relating to conflicting attitudes around the COVID-19 pandemic and safety protocols. And I’ve been saddened to see friendships eroded solely due to a lack of understanding about where the other person is coming from.
We’re not listening to each other. As a result, we’re making incorrect assumptions about each other. And we continue shutting out the voices that make us uncomfortable, or conflict with our own beliefs and values — creating these ever-tightening echo chambers for ourselves, thus further contributing to the misunderstandings and widening the divide. So it should come as no surprise that we’re never able to come to any kind of consensus on anything.
In this incredibly insightful and important convo, Project Censored Director Mickey Huff and media scholar and lecturer Nolan Higdon talk to MintPress News’ Alan MacLeod and Mnar Adley about why this extreme polarization has progressed via an “us versus them mentality.” They also share how to engage in dialogue with people you have opposing views and perspectives, and why that's so needed — especially when it comes to nuanced topics.