By Cory Doctorow at 9:15 am Tue, Jan 3, 2012
Charlie Brooker presents an insightful, 5-minute mini documentary by Adam Curtis on Rupert Murdoch: how did the media baron come to be, what drives him, and where is he headed?
Adam Curtis on Rupert Murdoch
Rupert “Fox” up everything he touches. He is a one man turd-in-the-punchbowl convention. Every market he enters is degraded by his companies presence, and he knows it, and his son is going to lose it all for him. As it should be.
I will not dance on the man’s grave, but I might bring the stereo for y’all.
From what I’ve read about Murdoch (The Man Who Owns the News), nothing actually drives him more than a juicy bit of gossip and scandal involving celebrities or competitors. The private conversations quoted in the book seemed more petulant than progressive against the “establishment”… and I don’t buy his methods—he’s still putting the same people in the spotlight when he trashes them and it’s shit like that which causes bumping news about real humanitarian problems and science off the front page…
The doc seems to indicate it’s that he doesn’t want anyone to be seen as ‘special’. After his Parliamentary questioning, how can the director believe that? Murdoch sees himself as special. He just doesn’t want other famous people to get airs like he has. It actually seems like he’s motivated by deep insecurity about how important he himself is, and the bad boundaries that come with such failed psyche’s.
Aussie inferiority complex? He comes from a generation who thought they could only find global success and be heard back here in the UK and not in Australia. They were not necessaily wrong in that. The Australia of the 1950’s was a very different place. Perhaps the resentment of the British establishment derives from this.
This is a perfectly reasonable thesis and I’m sure it has some merit.
A simpler, even more meritorious thesis is that Murdoch succeeded not because his personal philosophy just happened to yield unbelievable profits and influence, but because he set out in search of unbelievable profits and influence and found that faux-hyper-populism was the way to get them.
This was originally posted on Adam Curtis’ BBC blog a year ago, a much nastier and incisive version – and so much more to enjoy…
Are we cutting down Murdoch because he’s a tall poppy, or talking about his career of trying to cut down tall poppies? He doesn’t seem like a tall poppy.
Five minutes? Hell I can do it in five words: The man is a shitbag.
But why is he a shitbag?
Adam Curtis is a great documentary filmmaker. You can find ‘The Power of Nightmares’ and ‘The Trap’ online for free viewing. Check him out.
Fairly boring video, I must confess (maybe the full version linked above is more interesting?). I just don’t care that much about Murdoch’s motivations – I care about his douchey actions.
I also found the part about Google at the end to be a wild veering-off into some quite strange territory. For starters it singled Google out like they’re the only people collecting information about people (far from it!) and secondly, it made it sound like Google was going to use, say, Angelina Jolie’s browsing history to fuel lurid tabloid articles about her supposed proclivity for kinky Japanese pornography. As if.
An very interesting little film, but the payoff was unsatisfying, to say the least.
I guess I assumed that all the mulling over the nature of celebrity was gonna lead up to, say, John De Mol and his patented way of making brand new exploitable celebrities out of people who haven’t actually achieved anything. Instead the final punchline turns into an disassociated old man rant about kids today with their Googlebooks and their Social Netmapping. I mean, really?
The man is old, I’d wager he’s headed for the grave. Any comeuppance between now and then is just well-earned karma.
Yeah, maybe. His mother’s still alive at 102 and sharp as a tack. (And often chides him about some of his stances.)
But (to start the post off with a Curtis-ism) how does this fit in with Murdoch’s pandering to the Republican elite in the US?
For some reason I had it in my mind that this was going to link to a GWAR music video.
“How do you sleep, you c*nt?” – John Lennon
As an Australian who has spent some time in Britain I can identify with early Murdoch. Australia is very egalitarian, while England is very much class driven – probably a little less now then it was back then. It’s easy to imagine the discrimination he would have faced and him using the tabloids as tools to even the playing field. I guess the question is how did he end being the man behind the likes of Fox, something obviously corrupt and bordering on evil.
Side note: I only just discovered Charlie Brooker, and he’s WONDERFUL. A breath of fresh air.
Who narrates this? Same fellow as “Century of the Self,” yes? (Is it Adam Curtis?)
I believe so. His Google dig at the end might be something he explored in his recent series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
I must admit I have been educated and my image has changed about Murdoch a little bit.
He is still a c*nt, and saying ‘it’s what the public want’ which is definitely NOT true now. Authorising skaggy scandles and howling stalking press is NOT a way of conducting your business, let alone the lives they destroy. ‘I doubt very much that it would get into big circulation’ – well look at the fact that in current day, there is little media you DONT own and therefore regardless of individual circulation because the combined amount IS big circulation.
I do like the idea of establishmentarianism but only if your in it. I will be honest I have been trying to find a way into it, but not having cash backing or the ‘right tie’ does prevent a lot of things – such as joining the game of business with a heavy hand. So I do respect him hitting the outer wall of something which he was obviously invited too, but he does not like and publicly refuting it.
But today, the media that is sent out is the same for everyone. Even the great websites report on the same feed of news which just so happens to come from reuters. Murdochs news is dull and reports on crappy things like the X factor like our lives depended on it, they advertise gadgets as news stories and they bring out old stories to seemingly directly influence politics.
And thats the bit I hate – when you lie to get your news out and you become political when your original intention was to simply break the ‘old news’ way of doing things. Then you sit on a massive pile of cash which afaik barely goes anywhere when the people reading your papers are slipping into poverty.
Boo too you. Your now the estabishment and it’s now time for a new attempt, let someone else have a go at a different idealogical principle. If when you die in your will you pass on your cash to every reader – giving them £1million each – that would really go with your original goal and I would forgive you (Except I don’t read your sh1tty news so doh!). But I don’t think that will happen – so just f*ck off somewhere and end up dead at the bottom of the hill like most people who go against the system do…. who you never report on….
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