GOOD

Waiting for Superman's Staged Scene

Did the re-enactment of a scene in Waiting for Superman purposely mislead viewers?


Waiting for Superman and its director, Davis Guggenheim, are currently embroiled in a discussion about whether or not the staging of a scene purposely misled its audience.

The scene occurs near the end of the film when Maria, Francisco's mother, (both are pictured above) tours the Harlem Success Academy, a charter school whose long waiting list requires that she enter her son into a lottery so that he might attend. Wandering through its hallways, she remarks: "I don't care if we have to wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning in order to get there by 7:45, then that's what we're going to do."

Today's New York Times reveals that when the scene was actually filmed, the lottery had already taken place and Maria knew that Francisco hadn't made the cut, a re-creation that Guggenheim defended since his cameras hadn't been able to accompany her the first time around. His response:

“In the case of Maria, we met her at the school but the cameras weren’t there, so we asked her to go back and tour the school. And as a filmmaker, I wanted to see her reaction to the school, and her genuine emotion. So that scene is real; her reaction, her talking to kids touring the school, is how she would play it.”

\n

Recently, A.O. Scott recently explored the changing landscape of documentaries, by asking:

How much voice-over? How much vérité? To re-enact or not? — have a way of opening thorny ethical and philosophical problems. Is the documentarian’s job to show stuff happening or to listen to people talking? To disclose, faithfully and without overt artifice, the way the world is, or to try to explain why it is that way?

\n

Scott argues that as a documentary, Waiting for Superman falls into yet another category by virtue of compelling its viewers at the end of the film to do something, to act upon the injustice of failing schools. "But it is only if they are movies first, attentive to the integrity of their stories, the cogency of their images and the coherence of their ideas, that they can hope to be anything else."

Granted, in some ways it's a minor betrayal of trust—an ethical lapse in service of compelling storytelling. But does it make you lose faith in Guggenheim's role as narrator? And do we expect documentarians in general to be more explicit about the re-enactment or re-ordering of a scene?

Image via Waiting for Superman.

Articles
via Jason S Campbell / Twitter

Conservative radio host Dennis Prager defended his use of the word "ki*e," on his show Thursday by insisting that people should be able to use the word ni**er as well.

It all started when a caller asked why he felt comfortable using the term "ki*e" while discussing bigotry while using the term "N-word" when referring to a slur against African-Americans.

Prager used the discussion to make the point that people are allowed to use anti-Jewish slurs but cannot use the N-word because "the Left" controls American culture.

Keep Reading
Politics

Step by step. 8 million steps actually. That is how recent college graduate and 22-year-old Sam Bencheghib approached his historic run across the United States. That is also how he believes we can all individually and together make a big impact on ridding the world of plastic waste.

Keep Reading
The Planet

According to the FBI, the number of sexual assaults reported during commercial flights have increased "at an alarming rate." There was a 66% increase in sexual assault on airplanes between 2014 and 2017. During that period, the number of opened FBI investigations into sexual assault on airplanes jumped from 38 to 63. And flight attendants have it worse. A survey conducted by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA found that 70% of flight attendants had been sexually harassed while on the job, while only 7% reported it.

Keep Reading
Travel