- The guys behind "Won't Back Down" stand to profit from education privatization. No wonder the movie hates on teachers unions
- The right’s pop-culture problem
- 5 Biggest Lies About America's Public Schools -- Debunked
Alexander Zaitchik, Salon
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Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Won't Back Down"
September 29, 2012 | The first thing to know about Friday’s opening of the school-choice drama “Won’t Back Down” is that the film’s production company specializes in children’s fantasy fare such as the “Tooth Fairy” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series. The second thing is that this company, Walden Media, is linked at the highest levels to the real-world adult alliance of corporate and far-right ideological interest groups that constitutes the so-called education reform movement, more accurately described as the education privatization movement. The third thing, and the one most likely to be passed over in the debate surrounding “Won’t Back Down” (reviewed here, and not kindly, by Salon’s own Andrew O’Hehir), is that Walden Media is itself an educational content company with a commercial interest in expanding private-sector access to American K-12 education, or what Rupert Murdoch, Walden’s distribution partner on “Won’t Back Down,” lip-lickingly calls “a $50 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.”
Walden Media is unique in Hollywood in possessing the will and the expertise to effectively promote the cause of education reform. Its conservative Christian CEO, the billionaire donor and strategist for right-wing causes Philip Anschutz, has built what may be the only media empire ideologically inclined and powerful enough to assemble an all-star, all-union cast to carry water for an anti-union crusade on 2,500 screens in wide release (though apparently not strong enough to get that cast to admit it). “Won’t Back Down” is, as even teachers’ union leader Randi Weingarten admits, an emotionally charged and well-crafted piece of propaganda. For neophytes to the debate — and Walden executive Chip Flaherty has described these people as the film’s target — “Won’t Back Down” will send warm “Stand and Deliver”-meets-”Free Willy”-style fuzzies fluttering around the otherwise cold phrase “school choice.” The company hopes the film’s emotional wallop will linger long enough to drive downloads of the film’s activist tool kit and enlist new foot soldiers in the education reform movement. But the thing is, “Won’t Back Down” is no more useful in understanding the real politics of that movement than Walden Media’s adaptation of “Charlotte’s Web” prepares audiences for careers in chicken farming. Of course, that’s not the point — Walden is aiming for the heart, not the head.
The right’s pop-culture problem, Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
From Clint to "Won't Back Down" to "October Baby": A recent history of embarrassing right-wing culture moments
5 Biggest Lies About America's Public Schools -- Debunked, Kristin Rawls, AlterNet
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