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Last night, I watched Broadcast News for the first time in nearly 30 years. What a trip down memory lane! Those clothes! That hair! VHS tapes! Brought me right back to high school.
The movie lacks a plot line, but the characters are likable and believable. The dialog was honest and engaging. The thing as a whole was funny and touching and sweet. But the main thing that stood out to me was its shocking moral innocence—naiveté, almost.
I was about 20 when it appeared and very religious in the Catholic-evangelical mode. So, to me, then, morality was all about no sex, no drugs, no drinking, no swearing. The rest—things like kindness and honesty and integrity—I took completely for granted. I don’t think “innocent” would have been my prime impression of the movie in 1987. The female lead is clearly “sexually active.” She drinks. She swears. I wouldn’t have approved at all.
Now what stands out is how kind she is, how considerate toward her friends and colleagues. She’s ambitious for success, but she’s completely principled—utterly dedicated to the integrity of journalism. She’s brainy and gutsy and tough, but totally feminine at the same time. All the characters come across as incredibly decent and well-meaning.
That kind of moral goodness seems to me to have practically disappeared from our common life in the decades since. A broadcast news station full of sincere, kind, mutually considerate and respectful people committed to journalistic integrity is almost unthinkable today, isn’t it?Published in