'Best of Enemies' is a documentary about the legendary series of nationally televised debates in 1968 between two great public intellectuals, the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. Intended as commentary on the issues of their day, these vitriolic and explosive encounters came to define the modern era of public discourse in the media, marking the big bang moment of our contemporary media landscape when spectacle trumped content and argument replaced substance. 'Best of Enemies' delves into the entangled biographies of these two great thinkers and luxuriates in the language and the theater of their debates, begging the question, 'What has television done to the way we discuss politics in our democracy today?'
A well-constructed must-see documentary for anyone who is the least bit interested in the politics of journalism. Don't worry that you won't recall/aren't aware of the background. The filmmakers do an excellent job of setting the stage, and an even more impressive job of avoiding the actual political issues in order to focus on the medium. If you want to know how we got where we are, start at the beginning. This is the genesis of punditry and personality-driven journalism. This is not to say that this little slice of evolution is necessarily bad. As the film points out, prior to 1968 the presentation of news was quite static, with little, if any, chance for anything out of the mainstream to make it out of the studio. Now the genie has been loosed from the bottle, and he has truly been feeling his oats for the past several years. It's up to us to rein him in, give him focus, and pray that we can find some common ground before the growing political mitosis reaches the point of no return.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this