The Insider Essay, Research Paper
The movie, The Insider, is about Jeffrey Wigand, a former tobacco executive of one of the largest tobacco companies in America. He is fired from his job, and is soon contacted by Lowell Bergman, the producer of 60 minutes. Bergman, played by Al Pacino, asks Wigand, played by Russell Crowe, to make sense of some papers about fire statistics, which belong to, tobacco company, Wilson Phillips These papers mysteriously show up on his doorstep. Wigand lets it drop that he has some inside information about Big Tobacco, a group of the seven biggest tobacco companies. The information pertains to a chemical put into cigarettes that the CEOs of the seven dwarfs are aware are addictive. Big Tobacco has never lost a personal injuries case because their defense until then has been that they aren t sure if cigarettes are addictive. Bergman convinces Wigand to tell his compelling story, and allow it to be circulated throughout the media, by telling Wigand that it is for the good of the country. Bergman and Wigand grow a bond throughout the movie, but are showered by disappointment when all the different types of media refuse to air the story because of the consequences that come along with it. Finally, they get the story into the newspapers. Based on a true story, The Insider s Bergman and Wigand put their lives, careers, reputations, and family at risk by standing up against Big Tobacco. In this movie, it was apparent that the bottom-line was important when deciding on whether or not to air the story. But you can t rule out the headline. After all, the headline effected the bottom-line immensely. It was because the headline was so dangerous, and controversial that the directors of the network decided they wouldn t allow the story to be aired. They would have been sued, and would have lost their reputation as a respectable show, because one of Big Tobacco s defense has been to out spend their opposition. The money that would have been spent on court cases effects the network s bottom-line. In The Insider the ultimate power of decision appeared to lie, not in the hands of the producer, but in the hands of the network the show aired on. When the department that deals with legal actions told the business department of the effects the story will have, and how the story wasn t worth the consequences, the network demanded that Bergman not air the story. Censorship plays a large part in the story. In the movie, Wigand is put through a rehearsal before the actual show. The most important parts of his confession are censored. He wasn t told about the changes until after the show is aired. Legally, the network didn t have to tell him, but by giving out a small portion of his story, he was subjected to ridicule because the show didn t give any of his evidence. He seemed unsupported with his accusations. Overall, I felt the film was a fair and balanced representation of how things work, at least in this situation. On the DVD version of The Insider the real Jeffrey Wigand and Lowell Bergman are interviewed. In their interview they say that the film is an amazing representation of what they lived through, and that not only was it accurate, but incredibly made, as well. I don t believe this way of doing business will ever change. Why would it? The big companies will always have the power, if not legally, than forcefully. Throughout the movie, Wigand and his family are subjected to the fear of finding bullets in their mailboxes, and threatening notes on their computers, and the worst of all, people, with guns, walking on their property at night. The smaller people in the world have to fight a hard and nasty fight to compete. Also, companies have so much more money than individuals. One person alone could not take on a major tobacco company, and six others who are supporting your opposition. There is no chance of a win. Also, in terms of the media s part in this story, the network s directors are the ones who decide what is aired on their channel. They would not put their lives, along with everyone else who works for the network, on the line for a major story. As major as a headline is, it effects the bottom-line, which is too important to overlook. There is nothing one can do about it. There are many businessmen in the world and none of them are going to put a good story ahead of their paychecks. At best, they ll sell the story to someone who is willing to take the risk.