FULL DISCLOSURE: I personally subscribe to a socially liberal platform. This post is written with an enormous amount of personal bias. My language is condemning. I’m not pretending to be “fair and balanced”. If I tried to tell you that I was just breaking down the artistic merits of a video, I would be lying. You have been warned.
I’m sure that most of you have heard about the ACORN scandal. If not, you can read the “liberally biased” version of the story at CNN: ACORN Scandal. I tried to find a link from FOX News so that I could be a bit more fair, but the only articles I could find were FOX complaining about how they were the only media outlet covering the ACORN scandal… which is clearly not true seeing as how there is a link right there to the CNN story.
The short version of the story: James O’Keefe posed as a pimp and recorded two ACORN workers without their permission. The ACORN workers gave tax advice to the “pimp” and a “prostitute” (both are actors). The ACORN workers say a lot of really incriminating things that are both illegal and immoral. For fairness sake, here is a link to the video: ACORN Baltimore Prostitution Investigation
In an attempt at making a new video, James O’Keefe (the brains behind the ACORN video) recently targeted a CNN reporter. You can read that story here: O’Keefe Tries to “punk” CNN Reporter
He tried to lure CNN correspondant Abbie Boudreau, who was working on a piece about Conservative guerilla filmmakers, onto a boat filled with sexual props. He planned to make awkward sexual advances toward her. Here is his explanation of the plot:
“…I’ve decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I’m going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I’m going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she’ll get seduced on camera and you’ll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.”
I’ve heard people refer to James O’Keefe as a “documentary filmmaker”. I think that this term is a ridiculous misinterpretation. O’Keefe bastardizes the concept of documentary. He’s setting up fake scenarios and trying to capture people making mistakes. If the government did this it would be called “entrapment”.
The beauty of documentary is that the filmmaker can capture stories that are already taking place. For the filmmaker, the challenge of producing a documentary is that a factual story must be told as it is and still be interesting. This can be done with interviews, observational video, or a combination of the two.
What O’Keefe does is pull stunts and video tapes them. What he does is not documentary. What he does is illusion. He’s just trying to mind-freak you. His videos are much more akin to “The Blair Witch Project” than they are to legitimate documentary. James O’Keefe is little more than a conservative Michael Moore that lacks the talent to actually tell a compelling story.
Had this situation been real I would say that yes, the ACORN workers should not have given tax advice to a pimp that was conspiring to traffic children. That’s just messed up. However, there is no hard evidence that they would have committed this act without first being placed in a hypothetical situation. There is no justice here… only editorial.
On top of the lack of ethics of the ACORN entrapment video, the video was also edited heavily. I’m not talking about cutting out the “umms” and “uhhs” to make someone sound like a cohesive speaker. There are solid cuts to black and several cover shots. Anyone who has made a home video on iMovie can spot this tactic. With enough editing you can make someone say anything.
…I know that I’m like a year behind on this, but I got really fired up by the story of O’Keefe trying to “punk” the CNN reporter.