I recently watched a documentary about Noam Chomsky, and it was remarkably dull. For someone who has been one the most controversial American figures in the 20th century he certainly isn’t the least bit enigmatic on any level. I can’t remember the title offhand, and that pretty much says enough considering I just watched it last night. Anyway, the movie sort of covers a few topics that Chomsky regularly speaks about; freedom of the media, dissent, lies, deception, government control, etc. All of these a fascinating topics and Chomsky is quite prolific in his written work about all of these and more.
However, if you can’t just point a camera at someone well known and expect it to be compelling. All throughout the documentary it is either alluded to or outright said how controversial he is, but when the actual footage of lectures are shown, it is not the least bit thought provoking. Aside from the lectures shown, we are given the standard of interviews of people who are close to Chomsky in order to gain insight. And just like the lectures, they are boring as well. Yes, yes there are many other more descriptive words to use in order to describe how dull the interviews are in fact are. But boring cuts to the heart of it despite how overused the word is. Most of people interviewed don’t really say anything insightful about Chomsky other than how he is ‘a man of the people’, he is a renegade for his dissent, or just outright seeming to guzzle the man’s sweat (metaphorically speaking). Late in the movie Chomsky outright says he’s a dull white-bread guy who’s lived a pretty decent life in the upper middle class having no problems getting into Harvard. It wasn’t anywhere near as glib as my sentence comes off, but that’s the gist of it.
If you’re going to put in the legwork to highlight a controversial figure, than you should actually give reasons why he’s controversial. Carrying his jockstrap isn’t that interesting, especially when the subject in question is incredibly plain outside of his books. Why wasn’t there insight given into the people that disagree with him? That alone would have given some weight to why there is such a divide rather than just saying so. Or why not have a montage or so of the things he claims as true, if one wanted to rally support. Instead of cheerleading the figure, why not actually get something of substance about him? Wouldn’t that be the best way to show that you support him? Why would you make a movie about a man who’s all about dissent and questioning the norm, but not cover any of things he talks about or how people for or against him care about in any depth. It’s popular and easy to play cheerleader for people like Chomsky who have a big fanbase, but if you’re devotion is actually worth a damn then you should dive headfirst into whatever contradictions the man has. Or if his targets are as faulty as he claims, challenge them and expose them. Give me proof that this man is worth the adoration, don’t expect me to take him at his word.