Friday, July 24, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - Media Darkness

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  This week, a look at Media Darkness - what makes news, what makes entertainment and what's the dif?  Brought to you by White Ford Bronco Wine.  Keep your mask on.  It muffles your complaining about having to wear a mask.

Newsmakers aren't always news.  Think about Donald Trump.  He is angered when he feels underappreciated and takes to an early morning Twitter rant to air his grievances.  That is his default state, so is it really news?  Cops use their police cars to chase suspected criminals.  It happens all the time.  Is it really worth live coverage simply because a TV station was able to get a helicopter overhead?  Think about Joe McCarthy.  If the name doesn’t ring a bell, he was a senator - but don’t hold that against him.  He ruined people's lives by making false accusations without offering evidence.  THAT you can hold against him.  TV journalist Edward R. Murrow helped bring him down by doing what TV news should do - put ugliness in the spotlight for all to see.

George Clooney directed, starred in and co-wrote 2005's Good Night and Good Luck.  Those were the words used by Murrow back in the early 1950s to sign off his news broadcast.  If only he had known how much good luck we would someday need in order to have a good night.

The movie shows how politicians use fear as leverage against their opposition.  McCarthy made headlines by doing that in the infamous subcommittee hearings on trumped up charges of communist influence in government.  Just 15 years ago, test audiences reportedly thought Clooney's film depicted McCarthy as too outlandish to be believed.  However, the film used archival footage of the actual raving lunatic.

Murrow warned that if television didn’t embrace its power to inform and educate, it would end up being nothing more than "wires and lights in a box."  In more modern terms, TV could become nothing more than a police chase elevated to the status of  "breaking news." 

Need a drink?  Casamigos tequila shots are in order here.  Clooney co-founded the company before selling it to a conglomerate for a billion bucks.  Keep in mind that the Senate wasn't then, and isn’t now, a "house of friends."

In the 1976 film, Network, Howard Beale is a newscaster who is about to be fired.  He promises to kill himself on the air, but ends up being shot on camera in a terrorist attack planned by the show’s producers to save flagging viewership.  As such, Beale becomes the first person to be murdered "because he had lousy ratings."  Maybe television would be better if the consequences were so severe. 

Beale’s "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" tagline spawned plenty of semi-humorous mad-as-hell take-offs.  Food: not going to bake it anymore.  Meat: not going to steak it anymore.  Leaves: not going to rake it anymore.  Authenticity: not going to fake it anymore.  Discontinuation: not going to make it anymore.  You get the picture.

A wine for a fallen newscaster?  Easy.  Muscadine wine from Atlanta's Chateau Elan Winery.  I love the way they do without the Frenchified diacritic which so often trips up Muscadine drinkers.  Chateau Elan is where a real-life newscaster took an on-air tumble about eleven years ago while stomping Chambourcin grapes, becoming something of a YouTube celeb in the process.  The catastrophe was apparently enough to put them off that grape altogether.  Besides, nothing says "epic fail" like Muscadine wine.

1957's A Face in the Crowd has Andy Griffith in his film debut.  By then he had become known for the comedy recording, "What It Was Was Football" and the role of folksy Will Stockdale in the Broadway presentation of "No Time for Sergeants."  This was a darker turn.  The character of Lonesome Rhodes was Will Stockdale on cocaine.  It illustrates how a shot of fame, to an egomaniac, is like a shot of bourbon to an alcoholic - it's never enough.  It is an especially worthwhile film today, with stardom coming cheaper by the dozen on the multitude of oxymoronic "reality television" shows. 

In honor of Lonesome Rhodes' heritage, let's get a wine from the Land of Opportunity, Arkansas.  At Circle T Vineyards and Winery, John Trickett did wonderful things with Syrah until shutting down the business a couple of years ago.  So how about a bottle from Chateau Aux Arc?  You at least have to admire the pronunciation pun - and that missing diacritic.  If you can get it, enjoy their Arkansas Cynthiana wine while watching Rhodes' life take the swirling route down.

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