Breaking from the B-movie routine to review a documentary
The documentary Hoaxed has, in just the last few hours, been the subject of some controversy. Amazon, it seems, has taken it down without reason, justification, or notification. They’ve been taking away purchased digital access from customers without notice. This is highly unusual and I hope they reconsider. In light of this, I put my tablet in airplane mode so that my downloaded copy wouldn’t be deleted before I could finish it.
Full disclosure: I like Mike Cernovich, and I’ve known (of) him for a long time. We’re not best buds or anything, but I’ve followed him from the days of Danger and Play, and “Juicebro”, through to present, and we’ve interacted (infrequently) via Twitter and his blogs. I’m not trying to hoax anyone here, and I’ve got no financial stake in Hoaxed.
While Mike is involved as producer, and also one of the major subjects of focus, he is not even close to the only person they talk to, nor does he monopolize the time. This is about hoaxes perpetrated by the media, and includes people who have been on the receiving end of fake news ranging from James O’Keefe, to Black Lives Matter, to a feminist documentary filmmaker (Cassie Jaye) who dared look at the Men’s Rights Movement with a fair eye.
It starts with Mike, though, and he is open about his former trolling, that he’s been mean, and so forth. But — and this is important — that isn’t all he is. I’m not going to do a play-by-play of the film, but it was an interesting point he made about people’s perceptions, and likening it to wrestling: if you’re going to be the heel, leaning into it is the best way forward. This plays well with something Scott Adams says (paraphrased): if we think someone is evil, everything they say comes across through that lens.
A lot of the film focuses on how the media covers topics based on how they view the subjects, and how it fits into their narrative. This should be eye-opening to anyone who hasn’t paid attention to some of the truly epic screwjobs perpetrated by the media. The example about showing dead kids is not only obvious, but it is powerful. The difference in how they handle things is stark. But then they get into the reason I think Amazon has banned them: criticizing the media coverage of wars.
Skipping around for the quote, toward the end it’s mentioned that the media wants to keep people divided, paranoid, and hysterical. This is obviously true: aside from anything or any examples mentioned in this documentary, think about how the media covers things in the day of multiple 24-hour news sources. Does anyone remember the missing intern supposedly killed by Gary Condit? It was everywhere, constantly, because it drew eyes. This congressman might have been having an affair and rubbed out his mistress!
It went away on 9/11/2001.
The OJ trial: a divisive moment in American history that received a bananas high amount of coverage relative to how important it actually was to the American people. Why? Salacious and eyeball popping. Media corporations are out to make money, and anyone who doesn’t realize that is priority number one is naive.
Where the documentary gets into trouble, is when they start talking about wars, and the media coverage therein. Media companies make gobs of money when there is a war. The CIA likes to start wars. Guess who Amazon has contracts with? Who owns the Washington Post? Am I being a crazy conspiracy theorist here in the middle of my review, or am I pointing out some pretty stark facts that should be a little scary? How many media people are former intelligence agents?
This is just my speculation, it doesn’t appear in the film. But the film does highlight how much the media loves to push conflict of all types, including fake conflicts. They’ll run with any ball given to them if it might get clicks, or views.
Hoaxed goes through several prominent examples of this sort of thing, and how the media covers different people based on how they feel. One easy to point out, and one they do well, is the coverage of the health of presidential candidates. In 2016, it was a horrible thing to suggest Hillary might be sick. You were a nutty conspiracy theorist. But in 2008, what did they do to John McCain? How many people diagnose President Trump from afar now? And what happens if you ask questions about Joe Biden’s mental fitness?
They react based on how they feel about the subject, and how they feel about the narrative the story might shape. It isn’t just a left-right thing: Hoaxed gives plenty of time to Black Lives Matter leader Hawk Newsome, and he talks about how there are moments the media won’t cover with him because it might bring people together.
Again, I’m trying not to do a play-by-play, but it’s hard to write a review of non-fiction without kind of leaning into that. This is an informative, well-made documentary. At just over two hours long, they don’t waste any time: everything, from the visuals, to the music, helps build on the point being made about media malfeasance.
Without giving anything away, the ending of this documentary is quite well done, with a powerful scene about Plato’s Cave featuring the subjects of the documentary. Everything about it was artfully done at the end there, and sends the message home one last time.
Overall, I think that was one of the best made documentaries I’ve seen. It covered a lot of different angles (seriously, from Cernovich himself, to wars, to BLM, it covers a lot), and it was very fair to everyone involved. The media might not feel the same, but the documentary treated them better than the media ever treats those it decides to chew up and spit out. See it while you can, because as Amazon and endless trolls on Twitter have shown, a lot of people want to snuff this light of truth right out.
Links are from Cernovich.com — Hoaxed Movie has been Banned by Amazon! and I get nothing from anyone clicking on them, no affiliate links or anything else.