Sean and investigative genre

Last Sunday, if you watched 60 minutes, you would have learned about “Three Cups of Teas”.

I am sure the network legal council department did its due diligence before allowing the segment to air.

The reluctance to go after these stories struck a familiar chord: nobody would be interested, we don’t want to shake the bush, it would harm future genuine efforts etc….. In  a 35th anniversary of All the President’s Men piece, we learned that Robert Redford had gone ahead with his hunch.

“let history falls where it may” he said, but he was interested in a “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” type of collaboration (who else could play that better than Dustin Hoffman, having paired up with maverick Steve McQueen in Le Papillon).

That leads to the emergence and evolution of Sean Penn, from playing “bad boy” roles, to taking up the mantle as our generational conscience in Fair Game.

Sean Penn started out facing off Michael Jay Fox in Casualties of War playing villain, to his latest role as independent investigator of “yellow cake” (as compared to Watergate, his spouse-and-source got exposed immediately, not as Deep Throat which had laid low for decades).

For a moment there, in 1976, everyone on campus, especially the Journalism School, rushed around, and recreated a feel of a newsroom (the sound of manual typewriters and AP-wire churning out news lilke factory churning out Campbell soups). My dormmate, as an Editor of the Collegian and his friend, all bearded (Coppola’s look), would “run” with each story with all they had.

Deep Throat was shown on campus, sponsored by the Student Union (perhaps justified as an educational background to understand Watergate).

Then came Mary Hart (an educator) later co-starred with John Tesh in Entertainment Tonight.

She announced her retirement after 29 years of “giving us what we want” e.g. infomercial, infotainment, celebrities watch (as opposed to bird watch) which led to the tragic death of Princess Diana. In the wake of her son’s wedding, we shouldn’t forget how journalism has evolved, from  “just the facts mam”, to “just the dress mam” (we just want to see what Kate is wearing.)

We now have Twitter (reminds me of AP wire, except this time, triggered by pro-am movement) and Facebook. We can have information at our finger’s tip and on the go (google is improving with every search, self-evolving algorithm). Yet we stop being skeptic due to data deluge.

America needs to prove itself again that it won’t default on its promise or its debt. We can begin with the frontier spirit, circling the wagons. Where else, and when else can a few percent working in agriculture feed the rest , with surplus to export (roll over Malthus). It’s unprecedented in world history. And it’s also unprecedented in the eyes of the founding Fathers that their descendents would argue about how much debt they should incur. Ben Franklin (a penny saved a penny earned) would roll over just reading today’s headlines, well, except for the royal wedding plan. Talking about certain things which never change. In Fair Game, Sean gave a speech about never stop asking for “our future depends on it”. The Inauguration balls back in the 90’s played Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”. I think they both urge us to stay alert, be critical in our thinking, but compassionate in our giving. That’s what the head and the heart are for.


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