Friday, April 24, 2009

The Soloist

The national and international media have published a whole world of misleading, uninformed crap relating to homelessness in Sacramento – since late February when the Oprah Show misrepresented* the homeless situation here and in our nation.

The Sacramento Bee, that once noble newspaper, has been fully as bad as any news source in writing about the homeless. The Bee, SN&R and the local TV stations have all done a great disservice to the subjects of their stories and their readers.

But the last words in a review of The Soloist, a movie that premiered today, says something that is right [about homelessness, anyway – I don't know if it's right about the movie which I haven't seen]. Here's the last paragraph of the review, written by Carla Meyer.
Successful as a portrait of an unlikely friendship and as a look at the modern world of newspapering, "The Soloist" truly distinguishes itself in its thoughtful depiction of homelessness as a problem impervious to quick fixes. To the passer-by who sees a homeless person and wonders why he or she cannot just get it together, "The Soloist" offers this answer: It's very, very complicated.
UPDATE 4/24: Looking at the reviews of The Soloist at Rotten Tomatoes, it appears the film is getting mixed – if not polorized – reviews. Roughly, 40% of "Top Critics" say it is sentimental slop while 60% find the film is a deep "empathetic exploration of mental illness," homelessness and the newspaper biz.
* One can't really blame the Oprah Show for the tsunami of misinformation. Oprah's show targets a specific audience that it crafts and slants stories for. Thus, the Oprah Show's narrowed emphasis on the interests of well-off women and families is legit. The fact that general-news sources, following in Oprah's wake, also crafted and slanted their stories, focussing on women and families to such an exclusive extent that it led the public to misunderstand homelessness, is where things went kerflooey.

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