True Enough

Friday, September 25, 2009

Transcript

Documentaries are supposed to represent the truth. But who decides what the truth is exactly? Patricia Aufderheide, professor and documentarian, explains a new effort to interview documentary filmmakers anonymously about their ethical lapses. She hopes that by understanding the extent of the problem the documentary community can come to some consensus on where the truth lies.

Comments [37]

Brianna okamoto from SRHS

Although it may say documentary it is still made to show the most dramatic and interesting point of the world. Most documentary's are very subjective and show only the point they are trying to get across. Nothing in the film industry can ever been 100% the truth. Everything has been edited and fixed to show what they want you to see.

Feb. 15 2011 10:38 AM
Kayla Fisher


Yes documentaries can be extremely boring at times; but if the events are "set up," like the example of crew breaking the prey's leg to make it easier to catch, your ultimately defeating the purpose of the meaning of a "Documentary." Why must the media world make “Reality TV” into a bunch of untrue, rehearsed, recorded lies? What deception!? A true Documentarian would wait for the REAL, Naturally prone action to occur on its own and capture it then. Its like believing that the movie Paranormal Activity was a REAL home film, and having your bubble burst when the DVD becomes available with 3 different optional endings! What disappointment and total buzz kill!

Dec. 02 2010 06:39 AM
Patricia Aufderheide from American University

On another point, commenters have provided several viewpoints on Michael Moore. Although Moore has been documented rearranging chronology in ways that misrepresent history (in Roger and Me), mostly he provides polemics and regularly uses stunts, often funny ones. He makes sharply pointed arguments, and uses humiliation and sarcasm to make them. All of this doesn't mean he deceives; viewers usually react strongly because they understand he is presenting an argument, not a claim to objectivity and balance. Moore's box-office success is pretty much unique; there is no runner-up (Morgan Spurlock was trying for a while but the numbers didn't ever come close). So for industry watchers his example isn't nearly as important as the wildlife films, which less controversially condition audiences to think of documentaries as acceptable entertainment.

May. 26 2010 08:31 AM
Patricia Aufderheide from American University

NPR's listeners are amazing--well-informed, thoughtful, reflective. Thank you to all who pointed out the error in March of the Penguins. The larger point about anthropomorphic storytelling was lost with that failure! And thanks too for noting that Winged Migration carefully documents, in the making-of part of the DVD, the bird conditioning. This is of course a very different thing from including that information in the film. Many noted that Garfield shouldn't have been shocked at deception (although this was, to my surprise, the reaction of many journalists). The reaction outside the documentary community to our report--Honest Truths, which I urge people to read, it's here: http://bit.ly/4EdFOC--was often surprise at deception, but this was not the way the filmmakers who were kind enough to share their deep concern over the best way to represent reality, or their peers to who read the study, saw it. They understand that they are not merely a window into reality, and they do see themselves as responsible agents. They described, often with anguish (including the filmmaker who allowed the animal's leg to be broken), making hard choices. Some of those hard choices were between two strongly held values--e.g. protecting subjects and providing an honest portrayal to audiences. They currently wrestle with these problems alone and unsupported. They lack safe places to dialog with peers about best choices. This is an unhealthy situation for makers, subjects and viewers. Since the study was released, some filmmaker organizations have begun quiet conversations on ethical choices.

May. 26 2010 08:31 AM
Diane from NYC

Interesting that your article starts off with the sentence, "Documentaries are supposed to represent the truth." I disagree. That is what we have been led to believe, but what documentaries really set out to do is express the viewpoint of the filmmaker (or a sponsor).

Moore is very upfront about doing that. In the opening scenes of "Roger & Me," his story of growing up in Flint clearly sets the tone that the film is his personal viewpoint. Yet critics focus, for example, on the cash-register-stealing comment he makes in the film, saying that because it didn't happen the way he said, Moore is dishonest or untrustworthy. Again, his commentary in the film is his point of view. Also, Aufderheide is wrong in saying that the growth in popularity of documentaries in this country is thanks to "Winged Migration" and "March of the Penguins," and not Michael Moore. How can anyone deny that Moore paved the way by having created a phenomena? His docs were given theatrical release and received wide reception like no other before.

The most important statement made by Aufderheide about documentary filmmakers is: "You are never simply delivering it to people unfiltered." This "issue" of honesty goes back at least as far as 1922, when Flaherty staged most of "Nanook of the North." Even ethnographers construct their films to express a point of view, though it's "supposed to" be an "objective" record of a particular culture.

Yet, she then calls for a set of standards and practices. Are documentarists now required to produce the kind of mainstream pablum that Hollywood does? We should not demand that the creativity of the artist, who is also a documentary filmmaker, be squelched. THERE IS NO ONE TRUTH. Aspiring to something that doesn't exist is futile. Instead, we should stop fueling the public's idea that "documentaries are supposed to represent the truth," and instead celebrate the filmmaker's right to express a point of view, whether it is in narrative or documentary form.

Nov. 07 2009 01:07 PM
Mariam Touba from New York City

They never did acknowledge their mistake, did they? Pretty creepy for a show and a segment on accuracy in the media, especially since it was not harmless to the reputations of the "Penguins" film producers.

Oct. 20 2009 03:01 PM
chris Fleisher from Canaan, NH

Apologies if you've already owned up to this, but as other readers have pointed out, you both were wrong on the March of the Penguins reference. The film made quite clear that it was a seasonal relationship, not a lifetime partnership. Easy mistake, but acknowledge you made it.

Oct. 12 2009 08:59 PM
Jerre Sortland from Carmel NY

On the Media is a favorite show of mine, & Bob Garfield is usually an engaging, interesting host. This segment, however, sickened me with the lighthearted, laughing discussion between Bob Garfield & Patricia Aufderheide re a filmmaker's cruelty of breaking rabbits' legs to enhance realism in his project. Deplorably, any number of atrocious acts have been committed in the blind pursuit to achieve some goal or another. Should that excuse the indifference exhibited here to the inhumane treatment of helpless beings? I think not. For shame, Bob Garfield.

Oct. 08 2009 03:12 PM
John Lloyd from Chicago

Suppose I want to learn about WWII, or lions, or the Brooklyn Bridge. If I want to be educated in these matters, a good place to start would be reading. But if I'm watching television, then I'm not reading. If I'm watching a show about lions, I don't want to see 40 minutes of people talking about lions and 10 minutes of actual lions. I want to see lions, because they are interesting. I know that people like stories that form complete narratives, with beginnings, middles and ends: stories to which they can ascribe meaning. I also know that real life rarely follows a script, and as far as I can tell is not meaningful, apart from the meaning we make of it. Well, if someone wants to cut a lion show to make a story, that's okay with me. Maybe the scenes are not always shown in chronological order. Maybe there are editorial decisions intended to present a certain point of view. That's fine. Maybe the leopard being filmed by the Jouberts likes to hide out from the rain under their truck. They own up to that, even though we never see it in the film. Everything we see on television, we see through a lens, and inevitably, someone was behind it.

If I see a show about the B-17, I know there will be stock footage of B-17s, which probably won't be footage of the particular mission described. But it's sort of like when you watch the news. Say, there's a story about health care, and they show the stock footage of the pharmacist counting pills. What does that have to do with anything? How did the bikini-clad women show up there? Who cares? These things all follow certain formulas. Sometimes the implementation is artful, even brilliant. Sometimes it is incredibly repetitive and dull (Deadliest Catch). Sometimes it really is reckless and dishonest (Zeitgeist). But I wouldn't put your run of the mill natural history show in that category, not by a long shot.

Oct. 06 2009 05:36 PM
John Lloyd from Chicago

As I was listening to this story, I thought about a program, which I had just recently watched, about North America's wild cats. It featured a scene in which a bobcat sneaks into a henhouse, and comes out carrying a dead chicken in its teeth. Now, I don't know if this was the same program featuring the hobbled bunny, but it may well have been. As I saw the bobcat with the chicken, it occurred to me that either the cat and the human behind the camera were both trespassing (and both in danger of being shot), or else the scene was staged. I think the latter explanation happens to be far more likely. I suppose then, this raises a question: was the footage a misrepresentation? I would say that it isn't, necessarily. It is a representation, but no claims were made that the scene was not staged. One may argue that the viewing audience is likely to believe that the scene was not staged, but if that is the case, I think the audience is being far too credulous. Now, it certainly is the case that a large portion of the population tends to believe anything they see and hear (or, more precisely, anything they see and hear, which agrees with what they were already predisposed to believe) with an imprudent lack of suspicion - and this can be a problem, at times, when it comes to certain things. I would say that the bar for factual representation ought to be pretty high, when it comes to things like politics - what people see on TV influences how they vote, after all. Portraying 9/11 as a Jewish conspiracy, for example, or President Obama as an alien, are pretty irresponsible. But a lot of the examples in this segment are really trivial. Simply cutting a film to make it more interesting hardly rises to the level of malevolent mind control. Most of the time, that's all that is really going on.

Oct. 06 2009 05:35 PM
Rose Martin from Santa Monica, CA

To quote Bob Garfield, “Oh, my goodness!” I too was shocked -- that he could be so shocked. To any student of documentary film this story would come as no surprise. The revelations are hardly “extremely troubling.” There exist so many famous examples of tampering behind the scenes to tell a story going back to documentaries as early as Eisenstein. The famous Spanish civil war documentary “Land Without Bread” made by Luis Buñuel in 1933 presents a great example. A crew member crouched on the other side of the ridge of a mountain and pushed a donkey with a large stick to force the animal to trip and fall down the steep slope for one of the films famous shots. Buñuel said he had seen a donkey fall like this before, and he thought it would be a great statement for the film, so he staged it. Such examples in documentary filmmaking are endless. The point is, seeing shouldn’t necessarily be believing. Documentaries are not, and have never been, narrated and structured to be a chronological exposition of un-manipulated data, free from editorializing. The very presence of the cameras and crew alter the story, foregrounding the question of ‘truth’ in the very act of creating the film, not to mention editing it. Just like print journalism, there persists a spectrum of available voices, from incredibly biased and manipulative, to exceptionally veracious and of great integrity. We must approach all that we watch, hear and read with a healthy dose of skepticism, without becoming cynical. Isn’t this what On The Media is all about? ‘Truth’ and Documentaries is a fascinating topic, but I find Bob’s piece to be a wasted opportunity.

Sep. 30 2009 07:31 PM
Terry from Silver Spring, MD

Here's one example: F9/11. Quote from the film:

"George H.W. Bush is a man who has, obviously, incredible reach into the White House. He receives daily CIA briefings, which is the right of any ex-president but very few ex-presidents actually exercise that right. He does."

(There are pauses for dramatic effect to imply Bush is somehow wrong or up to no good in getting these briefings... because nobody else does.) What does this sound like? It sounds like Bush (the elder) is somehow staying involved in government despite his being elected out of office. It sounds sinister.

What Michael Moore DID NOT say was that Bush for one year was Director of the CIA. He used to deliver NSC briefings to Jimmy Carter even. Heck, go find an old retired college science professor why he still reads the science journals even though he stopped doing research long ago. I know a guy who kept his IEEE membership even though he quit doing research after just 4 years. It's a habit, a hobby, something to ground you. Oh wait, then it's NOT as sinister as it appears... which is why Michael Moore does not tell you that Bush head the CIA in that segment.

No, Michael Moore tells you that Bush was head of the CIA in a different segment when the aviation business of some distant associate of his son (another rich boy) sold a plane to some guy who was a relative of Osama bin Laden, who was not a terrorist at the time, so unless the CIA has some seers I'm not sure how they would have known or cared about these degrees of separation (anyone want to find out how to connect Kevin Bacon with Osama bin Laden?). Let's get this straight: Michael Moore hints that Bush (the elder) was at fault for not having the CIA stop the sale of a plane from a business owned by an associate of his son to a cousin relative of a man who would become a criminal in US eyes 14 years into the future???

Sep. 30 2009 05:25 PM
Eric Mesa from Baltimore, MD

NPR often finds itself in a very weird place, doesn't it? Right-wing people are often calling it leftist. People here are accusing it of being too conservative because it criticized Michael Moore. It seems that NPR is on the opposite side of whoever it criticizes.

I have to say this piece disheartened me. I'm currently watching Ken Burns' documentary on our national parks and wondering what, if anything, is misleading. Especially when footage from the early 1900s is shown, I'm now skeptical. I know some shows on channels like Discovery sometimes recreate the footage and they make it look like it came from that time period. That sometimes blurs the line a little too much for me.

I really like documentaries and it is sad to think that I can't trust what I see there. I think there are times where you can perhaps expect a little more playing fast with the truth such as when it's in the movie theatres. After all, if it isn't entertaining, people won't show up. Drew mentions what Moore did with Roger and Me. And you also have to realize that anything political will slant towards the politics of the film maker. It is against human nature to look hard for points of view that disprove us. Also, a documentary, like an essay, has a point to prove. It would be complete garbage if it flip-flopped back and forth between the film maker's view and the opposing view. A good film maker will anticipate what the other side will say and will answer it. But this may mean not selecting the other side's best arguments. Another good example would be a debate. When talking about whether guns are good or bad you can find stats and studies to support each side, so you will probably only mention the ones that apply to you.

Sep. 30 2009 12:44 PM
KPNY

I agree with most of the comments about Michael Moore, though I would point out that, far from giving Aufderheide a pass, Bob Garfield was actually the first to mention Mr. Moore's name. What is it that OTM has against Michael Moore? This is the second time in 3 months that he has been gratuitously attacked on the show without a shred of back-up, though in fairness, last time it was a guest that brought his name up first. Could it be that Mr. Moore's message all too successfully exposes the truth about corporate America and makes NPR's underwriters uncomfortable?

Aside from this particular segment, OTM should go back to the drawing board. It becoming increasingly part of the media crowd which it purports to critique.

Sep. 29 2009 05:19 PM
Scot Stelter from San Jose, CA

I was disappointed in you and the one-line indictment and conviction of Michael Moore in this piece. You gave Aufderheide a pass in allowing her to make such an unsupported statement. Without a doubt, Moore invokes strong feelings from almost anyone who knows his work. But for an "expert" to tear him down on your show without being required to justify her point of view reflects poorly on you as an unbiased source of information. Not good for a show that takes a close look at the behavior of the media.

Sep. 29 2009 09:40 AM
Conor from Massachusetts

After listening to this story, I returned to March of the Penguins on Netflix and found the portion of the movie where penguin mate selection is discussed (about 12:20 into the film). Here is what was said:

"They begin to pursue their journey’s purpose: finding a mate. We don’t really know what they’re looking for in a partner. We only know that they are, in fact, looking. We also know when they’ve found what they’re looking for. [Two penguins stand close, belly-to-belly. Their heads tilt upward. One appears to nuzzle the other with its beak.] Emperor penguins are monogamous, sort of. They mate with only one partner per year. Which means every season all bets are off."

In my opinion, the film is as clear as possible that emperor penguins are NOT monogamous for life. At the very least, OTM owes an apology to those who produced March of the Penguins and to listeners of the radio broadcast. We expect better from you.

Sep. 28 2009 03:22 PM
Adeline Sire from Cambridge, MA

As many other listeners have already pointed out, "March of the Penguins" did not say penguins mate for life but for one season only. The only recent film about penguins that may have insinuated that penguins mate for life is the animated children's movie..... "Happy Feet."

Sep. 28 2009 03:20 PM
Mike Mills from Boulder, CO

I was perplexed by your September 25 interview with Patricia Aufderheide, who in running down a list of questionable "facts" presented by documentaries implied that "March of the Penguins" claimed that penguins mate for life, when in fact they only mate for a season. This issue gained some attention when conservative film critic Michael Medved praised the film for promoting conservative family values, and others, including the film's own director Luc Jacquet, pointed out that the penguins are serial monogamists. Jacquet told the San Diego Tribune, "It's amusing, but if you take the monogamy argument, from one season to the next, the divorce rate, if you will, is between 80 to 90 percent... the monogamy only lasts for the duration of one reproductive cycle."

As a result, I was aware that penguins do not mate for life when I went to see the film at a local theater, and I found nothing in the film that did claim otherwise. Can your guest point to any part of "March of the Penguins" that claimed that penguins mate for life, or is she guilty of conflating the film with the reaction from conservative pundits, and generating her own questionable "facts"?

Sep. 28 2009 01:43 PM
Beth Krajewski

I see others have corrected you on the March of the Penguins smear. Bob. if you're so worried about other people's accuracy, you need to be sure your own facts are straight!

Sep. 28 2009 09:36 AM
Andrew from Tucson, AZ

Regarding the remarks on 'March of the Penguins':

I also watched this documentary again recently, and the narration is quite clear that the birds mate for a season, and that, IIRC, 90% will choose another mate the next year.

The confusion comes in because the documentary was misrepresented in the press by conservative commentators. They claimed that the film was evidence of a biological imperative for the particular brand of moral philosophy to which they subscribe (and would like, in some cases, to prescribe legally for the rest of us).

If nothing else, an apology to the filmmakers is in order.

Sep. 28 2009 03:55 AM
Drew

To everyone above who's addressing the Moore comment in the piece...in a word, yes. Yes, the speaker is assuming anyone listening to the piece is well aware that Moore's films are filled with not only manipulated, but at times completely figmented content. This is not some weird, conservative snark or unsubstantiated idea. If he didn't follow it up with an exhaustive list of evidence, that's not because there isn't any...

...start right at the beginning? During the production of Roger and Me, the PR people at GM actually allowed Moore access to interview Roger Smith (his avoidance of Moore being the premise of the film) not once, but TWICE. Moore conducted two interviews with Smith, and there is no mention of them, let alone inclusion of them, in the film.

Moore's work isn't "mostly true with a dash of humor" it's dangerous, dangerous to documentarians and dangerous to progressive causes, which his work hurts more than it helps. I encourage anyone wondering about the "claim" in this radio piece to go back, starting with his first film, and start learning about Moore's life and his works.

You will be shocked by what you find (and chances are you'll feel a bit gullible and self-conscious, but don't let that stop you).

Sep. 27 2009 11:00 PM
Dan Bul from Pittsburgh

Potentially interesting story. Very poor journalism.
For example, on the DVD of Winged Migration, a lot of the "tricks" are explained.
You've damaged your credibility as far as I'm concerned.
Do your homework next time.

Sep. 27 2009 10:34 PM
Chuck Miller from San Diego, CA

Quite frankly, I'm a little surprised that Bob Garfield: a media analyst and media critic, is so shocked by this study. This implies, to me, a problematic faith in the relationship of any media to "truth". While film and video are mediums of communication, they are also always mediums of myth making (as also described by Jon below). Could the OTM people have taken a cue and learned a bit from a segment earlier in this very episode? A simple photographic framing technique can either amp the myth of Detroit as a post-industrial wasteland, or as a standard issue American urban center. It has been noted by critics and film makers (JP Gorin comes to mind) that the most interesting form of "fiction" is that which presumes not to be. Simply, my point is that media is not a perfect conduit for truth: its own logistics will always deny, and simultaneously challenge our presumptions of authenticity. More practically, the story fails to underscore a distinction between "documentary" and "journalism". The former in process is often similar to the way an illustrator approaches a literary narrative (in which the rabbit leg-breaking, while deplorable in itself, is not at all surprising from a film maker's point of view) the latter should be the subject of ethical scrutiny: what in fact happened is what in fact has been documented.

Sep. 27 2009 09:49 PM
ann m stock from smithtown,ny

This segment is the most disappointing of anything I have heard on "On the Media". You make allegations of ethical misconduct, yet do not name names, except for Michael Moore and even then, nothing specific. How is anyone interested in the subject to do any research or follow up on your vague and troubling allegations? This whole thing was not informative at all. Shame, shame; I expected more from you. This is media?????

Sep. 27 2009 09:30 PM
Andrew Kilian from Hamilton, Montana

Like many in the above comments I was stunned to hear Bob Garfield state in regards to Michael Moore, "He Cheats!" I couldn't help, but, think of former Cigna Executive Wendell Potter who was sent to view Sicko for the exclusive purpose of coming up with a narrative to attack and discredit Moore. This same executive later stated on Bill Moyers that everything Moore had said was true. Every time Moore puts out a new documentary the media, in lockstep, discounts him as a loon. Movies are put out to challenge Moore yet no one tests the veracity of their statements. If one side is lying it is not considered equal time to air their views as balance. I expect OTM to back up such statements as, "he cheats" with actual proof and not just give into bias that Moore is somehow dirty. I expect context and perspective from OTM. Lumping all minor flaws of documentaries together as one group for the express goal of conflating Moore with bad behavior is at best irresponsible. I am offended!

Sep. 27 2009 09:28 PM
Vicki Benton from Brooklyn, NY

I actually JUST watched "March of the Penguins" a few nights ago coincidentally, and near the beginning of the film they do make very clear the fact that penguins mate for only one season and often choose different partners in the following seasons. I understand the point that was attempting to be made and have no doubt that certain documentarians lie or cheat, but this story would have had more impact if it were actually accurate...

Sep. 27 2009 09:20 PM
Brian Burke from Santa Monica, CA


Tisk, tisk, you scold certain documentary films for the very lapses of journalistic ethics you exemplify in your report. You scold them for a failure to adhere to reality—but you fail to cite any specific real incident that could illustrate and thus prove your proposition, except perhaps for monogamous penguins and trained birds. Your broadsides against Moore and others may be based on the study of third parties, but if they too fail to use specifics, then you should hold THEM accountable.

Sep. 27 2009 09:11 PM
Arnold Pritchard from New Haven, Connecticut

I have just checked with two family members who saw "March of the Penguins" with me, and all three of us have very clear memories that the film makes it quite clear that the penguins mate only for a season.

Sep. 27 2009 09:06 PM
martha mcnelly from Tuscaloosa,Al

Well, I came to read the comments to see if any others were turned off by this story-yes, I see-I enjoy "On the Media" but found myself turning it off at the comment about breaking the other leg of a rabbit-asking the question "what could the producer do" when asked that question-How about edit it out, maybe? -to tell that story was reaching-I felt.
Too, Michel Moore was right about GM n Detriot-years before anyone else noticed the problem we just paid for-in "Roger n Me". He uses subtle shock to get your attentiion; to make his point-even when it offends- mm

Sep. 27 2009 05:13 PM
Susan from Phoenix, AZ

Along with the other similar comments, where is your evidence that Michael Moore is lying?? That is a strong statement for you to present without any supporting facts.

Sep. 27 2009 05:08 PM
B.H.

I enjoyed this piece, but echoing Mr. Richard H Reddy's comment, I would have really appreciated a specific example of what Mr. Garfield considers an instance of Michael Moore's "cheating." I think that there's plenty to criticize about Mr. Moore's filmmaking, like any filmmaker, but I would have appreciated something concrete in his one of his films to which Mr. Garfield objects. Without a specific example, Mr. Garfield's accusation seems like, well, cheating.

Sep. 27 2009 03:55 PM
Gloria Corrigan from Philadelphia, PA

I wish that a documentary filmaker would make a documentary about documentary filmakers! I believe that if viewers knew the stories like that of the leg-breaking wrangler and the filmaker who condoned it, there would be a outcry among those who watch documentaries. Michael Moore's opportunistic editing may border on "unethical", but agreeing to have an animal's leg be broken so that a preditor can kill it is barbaric and truly inhumane. How did that filmaker's behavior differ from what sent Michael Vick to prison?

Sep. 27 2009 03:12 PM
Andy Daubenspeck from Lebanon, NH

I watched Winged Migration in the theater and then purchased the DVD wherein the techniques used to capture the spectacular sequences were well explained in the additional material provided. As long as the information is in the public domain, provided by the film makers, where is the ethical issue with Winged Migration? There is no political agenda presented and no advantage or disadvantage to a theater viewer's impression of the work. You need to be a little more discriminating in your judgements (Bob Garfield's great "concern" stated right after the WM discussion). That is, it is either naive or manipulative to cast all documentaries in the lights of Michael Moore and the like. Doesn't an ethical breach require purposeful manipulation of an audience reaction for some underlying purpose more malevolent than impressing them with natural beauty? If not, then most artwork would be found guilty--Renoir did not include normal facial defects in Two Girls at the Piano.

Sep. 27 2009 11:14 AM
Ethan Bernard from New Haven CT

Mariam Touba- I had the same impression from March of the Penguins and I find it odd that the show used their presentation of monogamy as an example of a documentary half-truth.

I do remember the Christian right / family values crowd getting very excited about March of the Penguins because they saw it as promoting the virtues of parenthood, hard work, perseverance and monogamy, if only for a season.

Sep. 27 2009 12:23 AM
Jon Kuniholm from Durham, NC

This problem is not unique to documentaries. As a US Marine arm amputee and engineer working on prosthetic arms, I've encountered a pretty consistent media bias in the same direction that Bob referred to both here and in the earlier segment about Detroit: toward the most entertaining story, either in its horror or joy. For the war wounded this has meant stories like the Washington Post's about neglect at Walter Reed, and a huge number of stories about the restoration of lives with advanced prosthetic appliances. The true story, if it does not fit one of these two molds, is rejected as being too complicated. I too, was pretty horrified to hear about the animal wrangler breaking the rabbits' legs, and I've not seen anything like that. However, in the spectrum of the gray area that Bob mentions, where the truth is presented incompletely to tell a more compelling story, either in its joy or horror, we still don't hear the truth. But if the truth is boring, or too complicated for a sound bite, does it need to be accompanied by a spoonful of entertainment? I don't have the answers, but thanks to OTM for having these necessary discussions.

Jon Kuniholm

Sep. 26 2009 10:28 PM
Richard H Reddy from Geneva, Fl

you said that Michael Moore cheats, but you did not offer any evidence to support that claim. are we supposed to just take your word for it ?

Sep. 26 2009 09:38 PM
Mariam Touba from New York City

I do not, in fact, recall the “March of the Penguins” telling us that penguins were monogamous for life. I did not walk away from the theater with that impression. The film covered only a season. It is true that the documentary encouraged its viewers to anthropomorphize, but it may be unfair to accuse the filmmakers of outright deception. Can anyone shed light on this?

Sep. 26 2009 09:57 AM

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