You’ve probably heard at least a little bit about the movie Spotlight.
Here’s the IMDB summary: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.
It’s intense. You should watch it. Here’s why:
- Least seriously, as a journalist, I am contractually obligated to tell you to watch movies about journalism (see also: All The President’s Men and His Girl Friday)
- It won Best Picture at the Oscars - so keep up with culture and feel hip and happenin’ for having seen it.
- The subject matter (sexual abuse) is very, very important. It is not just the Catholic church that struggles with addressing this issue. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of abuse before they reach age 18. If our churches don’t have ministries for these populations, we are tragically missing out on ways to serve 25% of girls and almost 17% of boys.
- The subject matter (investigative journalism) is very, very important. In case you haven’t noticed, the newspaper industry isn’t doing so hot. Investigative teams take a lot of resources, so they are quick to be cut. The idea of journalism as a watchdog for the government and other institutions doesn’t work if you fire the dog. And these teams cover incredible stuff:
- Reuters reported that adoptive parents were advertising their unwanted children on the internet, and those accepting the children were sometimes dangerous guardians (including pedophiles and others accused of sexual abuse) - leading to new legislation in Wisconsin.
- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Watchdog team showed how delays in newborn screening at hospitals across the country can lead to disability and death for the babies.
- The Guardian took an expansive and impressive look at the number of people killed by police
- The Tampa Bay Times’ center for investigative reporting wrote an expose on America’s worst charities
- And on that note, check out the Pro Publica article with the self-explanatory title: How the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars for Haiti and built six homes
Call me crazy, but these seem like things America needs to know.
5. It’s very sedate for an Oscar-winning movie. The subject matter is full of drama, so they don’t need to jump up and down to make it interesting. Plus, investigative reporting is not often thrilling. Yes, All The President’s Men is pretty dramatic -but it’s more of an exception. From what I understand, a lot of investigative reporting is digging, digging, digging for information - and this painstaking work is portrayed in the movie.
6. One of the most powerful lines in the movie is, “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” As the investigation in the movie goes on, it is astounding how many people knew about the abuse but either told active lies about it or passively did nothing. To watch the movie and feel nothing but righteous anger at the Catholic church would be to miss the entire point.
Before seeing the movie, I went to a talk where the speaker stated, “This movie asks us, if the spotlight were on us…” Here I thought he was going to say, “...what would we be guilty of?” Which would be a legitimate question - after all, we’re all guilty of something; it’s our common humanity. But instead, he said, “...what do we know about that we’ve done nothing about?”
I’m sure you’ve heard the Edmund Burke quote, “All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” History -- most obviously, the Holocaust -- has proven this to be true.
I know one thing the spotlight would expose in me is how much I know about racial injustice and disparities, and how little I have done about it. I don’t know what the spotlight would expose in your life, but it’s worth watching the movie to find out.