Manufacturing Consent

Manufacturing Consent

Manufacturing Consent is a 1992 documentary about Noam Chomsky's institutional analysis of the media in the United States. It's available on Google Video albeit with a sound delay for the last hour. The content is interesting enough to bear it though.

His speech is incredibly precise, concise, clear. And that makes it stunningly obvious when someone is trying to twist his words or his argument. When they do, he stays calm and explains again. Many of the interviewers try to change the discourse by setting up faulty premises and trying to get him to agree to them - it's fantastic to see when he doesn't.

I particularly loved his reply to a stupid, ignorant fuck of a frat boy in a Phi Delta Theta shirt. As soon as the kid realises he hasn't got the rise he was hoping for he looks around for support and pretends he doesn't understand. Also good is Chomsky's treatment of an angry protester in the audience bringing up his involvement in the Faurisson affair. Spoiler: he stays after the show to talk reasonably to the guy, and a mob of people.

Apparently Chomsky has mixed opinions of the film because it portrays him as the leader of some sort of movement people should "join up" to. And yeah, I can see that - the last hour or so of the film did remind me a little too much of the credits to An Inconvenient Truth. Anyway, here are two good extracts; one from the end of the speech that bookends the movie, and another from His Right to Say It:
The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must – namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena. The question in brief is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved, or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.

In the Italian left-liberal journal Repubblica, Barbara Spinelli writes that the real scandal in this affair is the fact that even a few people publicly affirm their support of the right to express ideas that are almost universally reviled -- and that happen to be diametrically opposed to their own. My own observation is different. It seems to me something of a scandal that it is even necessary to debate these issues two centuries after Voltaire defended the right of free expression for views he detested. It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the holocaust to adopt a central doctrine of their murderers.


Got an overdue notice for one of his books yesterday....
That was good. Liked the Laurie Anderson clip. Sound delay _was_ annoying. Was cool to see/hear him: you're right, Dom; his style is admirable.

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