I showed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to my mass media class last night. They spoke vigorously among themselves in pairs, but were hesitant to speak to us all – shyness or were they overwhelmed? The emotions named were mad, sad, and scared.
We spent the most time discussing the link between Enron and the (manufactured) California energy “crisis”. How deliberate was coordinated planning between Bush’s political allies and Enron’s economic motivations? Speculation also arose about the timing of September 11. Were the attacks coordinated on purpose to distract the public from the upcoming scandal? I don’t personally think so but certainly the media’s agenda-setting function kicked right into gear (not to mention the dialectical response of Bush et al which has escalated more tensions than it resolved).
I asked students about the actual presentation of the documentary – is there a “liberal” or “conservative” bias? A few speculated liberal, but I wonder if that is simply because the obvious thrust of the film is overtly critical of a political and economic process that permitted such extreme abuse. I do not know the ideological leanings of this film’s producers to be able to make such a claim, however a kneejerk labeling of them as “liberal” would seem to me to discredit all the conservatives who are also appalled.
I found an (incomplete?) review by VariaGallery (whoever that is) that ends with an intriguing comment about Martha Stewart. I kept thinking product placement.
Anyway, I’ve been pondering the collective response of the class since I was very jazzed up thinking that the timing of showing this was perfect as we’ve just been really getting a handle on the interplay of social/cultural, economic, and political dimensions of national and global human organization. But it could be that my anticipation was “ahead” of where they could be, since they needed a cushion of time to integrate all the information.