Spotlight: The Value of Journalism
Spotlight is an amazing film due to how it tells the story and how well it represents journalism. It stems from the idea that if you don’t clean a carpet periodically, it’ll start building up dust.
The “carpet” that the Boston police is dusting off is one that seems spotless: the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has a huge influence on the community of Boston, Massachusetts, where the story takes place. It’s what holds the community together. Since it has such an important role in society, many believe it’s best to turn a blind eye when it commits a crime, including child sexual abuse.
The actors of the movie are incredible, the screenplay is amazing, the shots are well-planned, and the scenes flow flawlessly. Spotlight has no secondary stories and just focuses on the main plot.
Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2015, competing against other great films such as The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and Room. It was also awarded Best Original Screenplay. These awards tell us that it’s a film worth watching.
“When you’re a poor kid from a poor family, religion counts for a lot. And when a priest pays attention to you, it’s a big deal. … How do you say no to God, right?”
The starting point
The movie focuses on a team of investigators from The Boston Globe called the Spotlight team. This team is comprised of the editor (Michael Keaton), who leads Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James). The assistant editor (John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr.) and a new editor (Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron) also play important roles.
Newcomer Marty Baron is the one who shifts the team’s attention toward the sexual abuse perpetrated by some Catholic Church priests. From here on out, all the cameras focus on those who could’ve done something about it but didn’t, those who kept quiet or helped keep the secret.
From a psychological perspective, a specific detail stands out. The film is a great example of how sometimes external elements ignite the fire and change it all. For example, in abuse cases, this element is usually a personal experience. In the movie’s case, the new editor, a person who wasn’t influenced by the Church during his childhood, sparks the fire.
Spotlight: A movie that changed the course of history
“They have an archdiocese and they have a major newspaper. … If we’d been more open to the notion that such an iconic institution might have committed such heinous crimes I think people would have got on to this sooner.”
-Walter “Robby” Robinson, Spotlight–
There are about 100.000 cases of clerical pedophilia, without counting the cases where there’s reasonable doubt or cases that haven’t come to light yet. The worst part about these cases is the silence, complicity, and tolerance that characterize so many of them. The Catholic Church is afraid of being held accountable for its own sins, to admit that its members are human.
Although we’ve come a long way, there are many cases left to expose. We need to do this not out of revenge or lack of faith, but instead so that it doesn’t happen again, the victims feel supported, and no institution believes they can gain more from hiding unlawful acts than denouncing them.