Hot Docs 2014: Mad as Hell
“News Entertainment” is a bit of an oxymoron. Media conglomerates care more about ratings than fulfilling journalistic obligations. Andrew Napier’s interesting and often funny documentary, Mad as Hell, chronicles the rise of talk show host and political junkie Cenk Uygur, a man disgusted with the state of politics and news media. Described by his own friends and law school peers as “annoying,” “argumentative,” a “loudmouth,” and a “jackass,” Uygur has a great many opinions. And he’s not shy – or even polite – about voicing them.
Bored with his promising law career, Uygur tried his hand on a local Virginia cable news talk show, and relentlessly pursued his dream job with a single-mindedness that one has to admire. After some highs and lows on cable access and local television, Uygur moved to radio to create The Young Turks, eventually launching the first online video news and political talk show.
Mad as Hell reveals a man who is (deliberately or not) at the intersection of fundamental changes in American politics and news media practices, the decline of network television, the growth of the Internet, and rapidly changing consumer demands. Uygur’s controversial style, and pesky habit of telling the truth, made him a trusted name for millions of online fans. Eventually, the news media establishment came calling.
To host a regular news program on MSNBC would be the pinnacle of achievement. But how can a man who has contradicted, railed against, and worked to expose the hypocrisies of the establishment work within it? Short answer is, he can’t. And despite my frequent discomfort with his brash style, I’m grateful that he can’t. Someone has to be committed to telling the truth, and Cenk Uygur and his crew should keep doing that.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Hot Docs website.
Screening Times for Mad as Hell
Tuesday, April 29, 7:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Wednesday, April 30, 3:15 PM at Hart House Theatre
Friday, May 2, 4:00 PM at Scotiabank Theatre 3