The Playgoer: "Extreme Subject Matter"

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Extreme Subject Matter"

From today's Arts, Briefly:

CNN has rejected advertising for “Death of a President,” and National Public Radio will not accept sponsorship announcements for the fake documentary, the film’s distributor said yesterday. The movie, directed and co-written by Gabriel Range, features a fictional assassination of President Bush. The distributor, Newmarket Films, said it had been told that CNN “has decided not to take the ads because of the extreme nature of the movie’s subject matter”; NPR, it said, cited a similar reason. Chris Ball, a founder of Newmarket, said, “To refuse to accept ads for a movie is tantamount to saying it shouldn’t be seen, and this runs counter to everything we are supposed to believe in as a free society.” Some large theater chains have refused to show the film, which opens nationwide on Friday.
"Extreme subject matter"? That's the new standard?

Look, I'm fine with broadcast companies having the right to pick and choose advertising. (I myself am beginning to experiment with Blogads, which will give me such veto power.) But own it, for god's sake. We all know there's been plenty of more ideologically "extreme" products advertised on both CNN and NPR. Why don't they just come out and say, "We don't believe anyone should make a film about the assisination of the current president. We don't think such a story should be told."

Or, to be more truthful, they should just say: "We don't want to be boycotted and picketed by the truckloads of Karl Rove and James Dobson's armies who will demand we drop all advertisements for said film."

And by the way--NPR??? I could sorta understand a tv network not wanting to broadcast the movie's controversial CGI-generated images of Bush being shot. But, first, I believe the 'R' in NPR stands for radio. And, second, they don't even have ads! So, what they're saying is, they won't even risk having one of their announcers intone in that smug monotone something as innocuous as, Car Talk today is brought to you by Death of a President, the controversial independent film for people who really, really hate Bush. Not like that would be you, or anything...

I'm not an NPR member. But if you are, let them know how you feel.

PS: In the Reuters story, NPR elaborates further:
"The movie is fairly likely to generate significant controversy and we'll cover it as a news story," said spokeswoman Andi Sporkin. "To take a sponsorship spot would raise questions and cause confusion" among listeners.

So, let's get this straight: NPR never accepts sponsorship from any product their news division may cover?

Funny, their own ethics guidelines, seem to already have a perfectly reasonable rule in place to do so...
4. If NPR reports on an organization or individual who funds us, we will disclose that relationship on air if the subject of the report is directly related to the thrust of the grant we received.


J. Kelly said...

I'd like to see a longer article explaining what kind of ads CNN, etc., rejected. Here in London, when the film aired on TV, the producers took a big ad out that wrapped around one of the free dailies. Essentially, what you got was a newspaper that looked real with a picture of GBW and his birth and death dates. (Death date was "Today.") Not even an "advertisement" anywhere.
You figured it out eventually, but people were confused. One guy stopped me in the bathroom of an internet cafe -- before I saw the free daily -- and said, "Did you hear Bush is dead?" I didn't believe him, but still immediately went to check online if this was the truth...
Anyway, that was an ad that I would not have taken if I ran a reputable newspaper... A normal movie ad? Sure. But not one that tried to "trick" the reader like that.
Given that and the ads they tried to run in Canada before, I'm not sure if the DOAP folks are particularly responsible advertisers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am not an NPR member, although I have been in the past. I think NPR is probably afraid of looking like subversives!

I do remember this film making quite a stink in the UK, where some people thought it was "real." I don't think NPR or other places want to get tainted by that in a big way.

Maybe if Michael Moore was doing it and the film looked like it was sure to make a lot of money...