Nighcrawlers and other concrete jungle beasts

Thursday, 13 November, 2014

Going to see Nightcrawler this evening. Summary: Jake Gyllenhaal plays an amoral practitioner of “citizen journalism”, who sells footage of violent “user generated content” to a Los Angeles TV station, which pays top dollar for visual clickbait. By the way, both clickbait (“the sound a worm makes when it is successfully attached to a fishing lure”) and journalism (“a fancy word for the industry in which stock photos are resized”) are included in the Gawker poll, “Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?

By many accounts, the Lou Bloom character played by Gyllenhaal is a version of the legendary concrete jungle photographer Weegee, who captured late-night life and death in New York City 80 years ago. Like Lou Bloom, he listened to a police scanner, and often arrived on the crime scene before the cops did. After snapping the gore, Weegee would develop the film in an improvised darkroom in the trunk of his car. The technology has changed, but the imperative — “If it bleeds, it leads” — has not.


The media business is notorious for its sleaze. Names such as Stephen Glass, Johann Hari, Andy Coulson and Fareed Zakaria form the infamous tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, lots of Lou Blooms are lurking. Looking forward to the film.

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