This writing was written in 2007 after watching this movie in my country, Indonesia, and this writing is republished for the purpose of sharing only. Please do not plagiarize.
Shattered Glass (A Movie Review)
Distributed in Indonesia by Prime Movie Entertainment. Production of LIONS GATE Entertainment Corp. SLS Number (Censored Number): 153/VCD/R/2.2007/2005. Date of SLS: February 28, 2005
- Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen)
- Charles “Chuck” Lane (Peter Sarsgaard)
Overview to the Movie
After watching this movie, the only thing that came up in my mind is “a lie in journalism”. Every writings that are written by a reporter should be based on facts. In fact, a fact is seen as a lie story in this movie. In journalism, there is also another division that is closely related to the work of the reporters. The division is called editor. This division is obligated to recheck all the written materials before they are published in the magazine, television, internet or other public and media in the society. This movie has shown two different figures of an editor and a reporter who write news and articles ‘just for entertaining’ to the readers and for ‘his own good sake’.
The reporter who only write out-of-facts stories for an article in the New Republic
One of the reporters in the New Republic, a prestigious magazine in the United States, is Stephen Glass played by Hayden Christensen. In this movie, he is presented as a hard-work reporter in the magazine. During his work times, he has written several different articles to the readers that the articles are largely considered as entertaining by some other reporters in the magazine.
At the end of the story, there is a turning point where he has to choose to be fired due to his own bad mistakes in writing ‘a lie’ in the magazine. The mistake is issued and discussed in the internal division of the New Republic since the other competitor of this magazine has ‘assumed’ that the article written by Stephen Glass entitled Hack Heaven has many questions to be answered and it also has ‘blurr ideas’ or ‘out of real’.
In this stage, the Forbes magazine tries to follow-up the article written by Stephen Glass. They asked many questions to him until Stephen feels that he has been put on the corner. His editor, Chuck, tries to approach the editor of the Forbes magazine. Unfortunately, they have not reached the same decision. By knowing this situation, Chuck rechecked the facts written in the Glass’ article, that is Hack Heaven, by himself. What he has figured out is that Stephen Glass has written many out-of-facts stories in almost fourteen editions of the New Republic magazine.
From all things that Stephen has done in the magazine, there are only a quarter of all the articles are correct. The rest of them are lies. Therefore, a punishment for Stephen Glass is to be fired and to stop working in the New Republic.
The two figures of the editor in the New Republic
There are two editors presented in this movie. They are Charles “Chuck” Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) and Michael Kelly (Bill Rowatt). Both of them has a distinctive differences each other. Chuck is considered as a silent-man but well-organized and has an ability to see ‘facts’. He is quite seldom to intermingle with his friends in the office. Meanwhile, Michael, or Mike, is seen as an easy-going person. He has an ability to approach his staffs so that he is always liked by the other staffs, even for all the staffs in the office, except by Chuck.
Mike has declared that he will quit himself from working in the office because he thinks that the instruction from the editor-in-chief is not making sense. However, he finally does. Then, when Chuck is asked by Marty to replace Mike, everyone turns to be cold, even as cold as ice. No matter what, as a saying says, life goes on. The staffs are working again and all things get back to normal as usual.
When the time Chuck handles the case of Hack Heaven, he tries to find the truth from what Stephen has written in his article. Chuck finds that there are many lies in the article. He does not have a choice to give any punishment to Stephen unless to retire Stephen for two years for the miserable thing that Stephen did. When the movie almost reaches the end, Stephen continues his study in the Law School and lives in New York. He writes his own novel, which tells a story of a young man as a reporter who makes many out-of-facts articles to the readers for his own career. He finally realizes that success never comes from doing a lie, especially lies.
Things that can be learned from this movie
In general, this movie is good to be watched by students of journalism. Being a reporter is not as easy as writing a short story. Even writing a short story is not as easy as writing a letter to a friend. A reporter has an obligation to tell the truth and should be honest in all the words he or she mentions in the article. A tiny mistake sometimes can be so big when the mistake has touched a wider impact in the society. At last, failure always comes from an insincerity in life.
Thanks to my reporter friend, whoever and wherever you are in this world.
Without you, a news won’t be as spicy as a chili, but, it tastes good if you do it well and honestly.