Tuesday, November 25, 2008

existential journalist mannifesto

I met a journalist today from Bosnia. He drives an old white Thunderbird and wears a Seattle Supersonics jacket.

In his country, he worked in radio. His job was to navigate the corruption of a shattered nation. He left in 1993, when was war was beginning to get ugly.

In this country, he used to work an online news source. He compiled news articles for people like himself, former Yugoslavians who want to keep in touch with the old country. He was trying to draw connections and maintain relationships between people, scattered around the world. They are connected by their past lives.

He recently decided that he does not want to write about Bosnia anymore. He will never forget Bosnia, but his relationship to it has changed.

Now, I want to talk about existential journalism.

In my life, I have a collection of characters. Strippers, war veterans, authors of cabalist meditation, drug addicts, professional sailors, homeless orphans, wealthy successful artisans, members of the fattened proletariat, all sorts of people. And I want to share them with you.

These are people who have at some point in their life, lost their minds. The universe, as it presents itself to them no longer makes sense. They must deconstruct it and put it back together. Something happened which they do not understand.

They dwell upon that moment of survival. It is that time in their life which they came face to face with their mortality. They got in touch with the part of their human nature that produces both great acts of goodness and acts of great evil.

Am I interested in any specific culture? No. Am I interested in any specific world event? No. I am interested in people who look at the character rolls that the global theatre makes available for us, as humans. I am interested in the people who reject the rolls that the casting director is looking for.

Talk to everybody. There is no single place where these people may be hiding. The key to finding these people is exposing your self to as many people as possible. Be vulnerable.

I am able to relate to these people because I am one of them. And this course has given me opportunity to reflect upon my identity as a writer. What do I want to write about? I want to write about the things I love to read about. I want to write about the things I love to experience.

My mind is very simple. Do not be fooled by my unorganized appearance. I look this way because I am having difficulty fitting the world into my mind. It doesn’t fit in there. In turn, I look at the world as a very surreal and mysterious thing. My world view is that of an 8-bit computer generated graphic.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

two developments

two developments in kosovo:

first, america wants to send assistance to developing kosovo. the serbs continue to reject the notion of kosovo as an independent nation. the bush administration managed to put together an assistance proposal for kosovo which serbia could agree with. funny how kosovo rejected this proposal. what were the conditions of this proposal?

second, serbia accuses separatists of terrorism. as an american, i am always skeptical of such accusations. as an american, i am double skeptical because, despite the persistent claims of terrorism, the us wants to help kosovo's separatist movement.

what is the point of following a new story, when all information is subject to question? Balkan sources are dubious and American sources are incomplete.

a kosovan article here describes the story. again, there seems to be something missing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

how to build a country

i would imagine that the process of developing a fully functional country is similar to the development of a fully functional adult. the difference is this: countries are vaguely composed of thousands of adults. therefore, developing a country is 1000 times more complicated. right? and we all know that developing an adult is a task of quantum absurdity.

the concept of this article is interesting. it is about kosovo.

as you read the artilce, you should be thinking of iraq.

clothes for revolutionaries

what can i say about this article?

i'll outline it:
1) republicans in ohio
2) gather 14 bags of clothes
3) send them to kosovo

those poor defenseless impoverished kosovians will be so grateful for the generosity from the powerful nation of america!

i think we should bake ourselves a cake and congradulate ourselves on a job well done. we are so progressive!

obama wins the heart of bosnia and kosovo

the triple door was packed and there were only two servers tending the bar. there was a band on stage, awkwardly holding their instruments. the audience was looking at the television set above their head.

"this is the best day of my life," a girl told me. her boyfriend was standing in the corner, unable to do anything about his deliriously drunken lover.

downtown seattle was erupting with a sense of community that has never been expressed before. high fives and hugs between strangers and people happily honking their horns. everybody was filled with so much joy.

i saw a parade of ten cars, filled with young black teenagers, armed with video cameras, poised to capture the spectacle that they had created.

this feeling is apparently shared around the world. bulgarian newspaper printed this article today about bosnia and a balkan newspaper printed this article about kosovo. the titles of the articles are more important than the content.

then i found this article. skip ahead to the last paragraph where it talks about the non-partisanship of the public news media. there are a number of different reasons why this paragraph may have been written.

america is very polarized. you must not confuse the polarization for passion because the feelings are fleeting. i will wait until valentines day, when president obama opens all of his seasonal greeting cards. will we still love him six months from now? from my experiences, the american people love to set themselves up for disappointment.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

interpritations of a photograph

this is not a picture of women practicing good posture.

i wish it was such a photograph.

in this photograph, they are victims of civil war. in another photography, they might find a new metaphor to fill but in this photograph, they carry burdens which i do not understand.

it is impossible to talk about this story without falling under one of two pitfalls.

racism: the poor africans are at war. ever since western imperialists bestowed the word of god onto them, they've been in a constant state of war. we blew their little minds and its all our fault!

boring: ...why would i waste your time with an example of something boring?

the war in bosnia

i knew a bosnian. in high school, my classmates gave him a nick name. sputnick.

i'm not fucking russian! he told us. and we laughed.

the simple version of this story would be of white middle class americans making fun of the foreign kid. it would be a simple moral dilema.

bosnian kid was popular.

white people love to get offended on the behalf of people like bosnian kid. but this is not my point.

it is this: why do americans trivialize the experience of the refuge? when we make a mockery of it or when we defend it from mockery, there is a level of trivialization that takes place. but i ask this: why shouldn't we trivialize it?

war and genocide are large issues. much too large, you might say, to put in your briefcase and bring home.

in some ways, these issues are as relevant as yesterdays news. ten years ago news. before it even happens, it is in a history book. so last century.

Monday, October 27, 2008

no football. no poverty.

as i type this, i'm getting ready for a political science final. i'm reading a lot of hobbes. personally, i think that hobbes's ideas go downhill after man leaves the state of nature.

the balkans are having an equally difficult time emerging from the state of nature.

as i see it, there is a hidden story to the balkans. its full of adventure and excitement. you don't see the full story in the news.

some news stories cover events. these events are often fragmented, seperated from the ideas that inspired those events.

other news stories, like this one, cover ideas. seperated from the events that shaped them. seperated from the events that are to come.

this information reflects reality but it also shaping a new reality. its not even subtle. i want to know, is it effective? how progressive has the balkans become, honestly?

in search of balkan people

its easy to get lost in big cities. paradoxically, in big cities, it is easy to find small communities centered around your internist.

if you are into balkan dancing, you should check out this website.

two weeks ago, i went to see what it was all about. i also mistook this as a perfect opportunity to bring a date.

as it turns out, balkan dancing was popular in the 70s. all sorts of ethnic dancing was popular in the 70s. and the hobby survives today because of people who did it in the 70s.

to my slight surprise and to my date's tragic discovery, no alcohol was served at this dance.

to my surprise, there were much more non-balkan people than actual balkan people. a young bulgarian couple came later in the evening and they told me that in their country, young people do not care about traditional folk dancing. but when they come to america, they said, they are drawn to it because it reminds them of home.

this nostalgia for a time that never existed is fascinating. isn't it?

these last two weeks, i have been exploring other chanels. i have yet to find my person. at this point, i'm a bit frightened for myself. i am running out of time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

history of kosovo

after reading just a few articles from balkan newspapers, i noticed that journalism is done quite differently out there. primarily, they don't even attempt to give any event context. there is a greater expectation on readers to figure things out on their own. of course, i could accept that balkan citizens probably (most definitely) know more about the whose who of the balkans than i do.

lucky for me, there are great websites full for information.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

kosovo declares independence

nothing is so fragmented as international news coverage. it makes sense because there is just too damn much ground to cover. the relationship between kosovo and serbia is a mystery to me and it should be a mystery to you. if it is not a mystery, please give me your phone number so we can talk about it on the telephone.

as far as i can remember (and that is not very much) serbia always wears the black hat. from the first world war and onward, the serbs have been the bad guys.

the latest installment into the great balkan spagetti western, the ethnic albanians of kosovo have declared their independence. the entire globe seems to be happy for the albanians. the entire world, except russia and serbia.

as the back story goes, the albanians were victims to a great genocide.

is there more to this story? or is this a case where the world really is as unilateral as it appears?

see these articles:
Serbia: Kosovo's independence not in accordance with international law
Serbia challenge to Kosovo independence goes to U.N.
Gates says U.S. forces will remain in Kosovo
UAE recognizes Kosovo's independence
Montenegro Government not to withdraw recognition

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

on the road with the enemy

giddy as a hipster who just discovered the next big thing in music, i called up all my friends and enemies to spread the news.

two photojournalists spoke sunday at the university of washington about their experiences on the road with the iraqi resistance.

they showed us photographs of weeping mothers, dead children and men with guns. we saw anti-american slogans juxtaposed with the most inspiring optimism. iraq is in shambles but there is something happening there. there is a spirit that the mainstream media often overlooks.

i always knew there was more to the story than meets-the-eye but i am the type of person who needs someone to spell it out for him in big bold refrigerator magnets.

outside the auditorium lecture hall was a long table offering additional perspective. various political leftists gave away pamphlets like advertisements for their own version of the truth. they have reviewed the facts and they are ready to tell us what they mean.

i was looking for a book or something i could buy and take away from the lecture. a quiet young man with buzz short hair and a rusty beard aproached me and asked me questions regarding my awareness. i don't remember what he asked me because he wasn't offering me anything i was looking for.

then he dug his hooks in. he was a veteran, like myself. he served for a short period of time in the military but decided it wasn't for him. we had something in common.

he joined to be a cook. then they wanted him to learn to shoot a 50 cal. he didn't want anything to do with that, he said. those guns are designed to pop people like water baloons.

a fat woman congradulated him. she admired him and he enjoyed her admiration.

i had no sympathy for the man. i probably would have said something but i was quite dissapointed by my failure to find what i wanted. also, his story was boring.

i had too much empathy for his situation. i joined the navy as a journalist but i never really found my place. i was moved around a lot and i never really felt like anybody wanted me around. my girlfriend's mom didn't want to see me around, either.

when i got to feeling down and sorry for my situation people would remind me that i joined the military. you're in the navy, now! what did you expect?

there is part of me that could relate to him. this is a very complicated part. i'm not so ashamed of that part but it certainly is not a source of pride.

i took my seat in the auditorium between my ex-girlfriend and an older gentleman who i did not know. i told them about the people outside.

if i was talking to that man right now, i would tell him that his sudden flash of nobility was bullshit.

everybody in the military is in the business of killing people. it does not matter if you shoot the gun or not. if you clean the gun, if you feed the man who cleans the gun, if you photograph that man receiving an award for all the other men he's killed, it does not matter. you are a wheel or a cog in a machine and you volunteered yourself to do it.

when you join the military, you condone the war. there is no weasiling out of it. you may have joined for college money. maybe some judge cut you a deal to keep you out of jail. nobody joins the millitary because they love the idea of war. they've been bought and sold on some abstract idea. like family heritage.

the older man next to me was with a group called veterans for peace. he went to high schools to talk to kids about not joining the military, that there are other options. often, these options are not as attractive. certainly, there are few people out there who will try to market them to you. except this old man, sitting next to me.

this is the media landscape. there is a lot of noise out there and you have to get wise to sort through it all.

there are significant evens happening out there and these events are like bright lights that attract moths. each individual media outlet is drawn to these significant points of interist and they each bring their own agenda.

their photographers provided the singlemost significant perspective that i have yet to witness. there agenda is simple. look at what i have seen, they told us. and think about it. how does the world mannage to, time and time again, push people into these circumstances?

i encourage everybody to visit the website. look at the pictures. pass them on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

everything i know about the balkans, i learned at a dive bar

i am typically a shy person and will not talk to strangers, especially attractive young women. i mostly keep to myself. i can recall very few situations in which i have managed to successfully engage conversation with strangers without pretext.
one situation happened last winter. i was on the bus, returning to capitol hill from ballard. two girls got on the bus in fremont and sat in the seats across from me. one of them was quite the vivacious little number with short dark hair and small features and the other was a tall bookish type with long hair and a rather vertical face. both of them were quite attractive.
when they started to speak, my interist could only grow. such a white person i am, a sucker for girls with cute accents.
"where are you ladies from?" i asked them, using my phoney mochismo voice.
croatia and macedonia. exotic, isn't it?
the punky girl (was she wearing glittery tights?) was not very comfortable speaking english and she let the bookish macedonian girl do all the talking.
"i regret to confess that the only thing i know about croatia is from when bill clinton sent troops into your country. do you remember that?"
of course they remembered that.
"i am very impressed that you know about that," the macedonian girl said to me. "most people don't know."
i suspect that she was just being nice. none the less, i felt that i had accomplished something spectacular on the bus with the two women and built up the courage to get their phone numbers.
we talked then about things to do in seattle and they both complained that people in seattle do not know how to party. people go to bed too early here, they told me.
i suspect that dance parties in the balkans go all night.
if i was wise, i would have gone home and compiled a comprehensive history of both croatia and macedonia and of course their relationship to the united states. i did not do that. i don't know very much at all about the balkans.

here are some recent articles published in the new york times regarding bosnia:
feb 2007: a group of people from serbia have been convicted of genocide. it is important to note that the country of serbia itself is not responsible for the genocide. this distinction is subtle and debatable. some people feel that serbia should have a better handle on its people. i think this killing happened in bosnia?
marh 2008: hillary clinton went to bosnia. the first lady said people were shooting at her when she got off the plant. hollywood comedian sinbad said nobody was shooting at anybody. its good to know that bill isn't the only one who lies in that relationship. i wonder if sinbad would have taken a bullet for the first lady?
august 2008: remember the genocide? let me tell you something about the military genius behind it. he's had a rough life. at a young age, his father was murdered. he was raised by his poor mother. when he finally had a family of his own, his daughter took his favorite pistol to kill herself. things are pretty crazy out there in bosnia.

here are some stories about serbia:
may 2007: remember the genocide? serbia is sorry. now, they want to lead the anti-genocide counsil of europe. lots of people don't understand how this is possible.
feb 2008: kosovo declared indipednance from serbia! the albanians are sick and tired of the genocide (see contradiction above). the western world is happy for the albanians and for that, the serbians are resentful. naturaly, the land of kosovo holds some religious significance to the serbians. america is caught in the middle, somewhere. we want to be friends with everybody!
sept 2008: remember the military genious behind the genocides? the serbians caught him and he will be punished. somehow, this completes the twelth step of the genocide anonymous program and serbia is ready to join the european union and possibly lead in anti-genocide counsils. the netherlands are not convinced.

this is some news about montenegro:
dec 2006: the russians are coming! this seems to be a motif of balkan history. did you see when this article was posted?
1981: its not just a movie!

there seems to be a theme here. the new york times cares about foreign affairs when they involve one of three things: 1) the president or his wife 2) genocide 3) sweedish women

the weekend after meeting the balkan women on the bus, i met up with them at the bar. i tried to take them both to the symphony with me because i felt that would be the appropriate white person thing to do. they didn't want to go because it was too early.
we met up at a dive bar where it was too loud to talk and it was too crowded to dance, which might have been for the best because i'm a terrible dancer. it would give you nightmares.
the bookish girl said they had to go home early to do homework and get rest before class in the morning. the crazy girl wanted to smoke pot and go dancing at the gay bar. it was quite the eurotrash moment and i was reveling in it. but the bookish girl didn't want any of that.

i never saw or heard from them again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The proof that shock sells is in Bumfights. Four men are responsible for the controversial video series. Two of them are film students. One of those film students is from UCLA. Ironically, these men and their videos are now famous, primarily through the publicity provided by people who have strived to silence them. These efforts were not only self-defeating but unnecessary.

Look at Ty Beeson’s 2006 appearance on the Dr. Phil show. This show should be studied in communications classes. First, Dr. Phil introduces his guest as the man you must warn your children about. After he gives the parental warning, he shows the audience clips from the Bumfights video. At just the right moment, he cuts the tape and he performs his rehearsed display of indignance.

Dr. Phil has seen this video before but his goal is to make his own feelings accessible to his viewers, who are just now seeing the video for the first time. He uses his therapist voice to order his guest off the stage and once his guest is gone, the doctor makes an appeal to the audience and their sense of dignity.

His message is to his audience is thus: I am a guiding light for intelligent and moral people. In contrast to me is Ty. He is a role model for fools. If you are intelligent, you will listen to me. If you are a fool, you will buy Ty’s video.

Dr. Phil might act degusted but his intent was never to silence the Bumfights videos. His goal was to use Ty as a boogieman by which to make himself look good. Despite criticism from bloggers, it is fair to say that Dr. Phil succeeded.

Talk show hosts such as Dr. Phil go inadvertently inspire the Cosmeticians to write their congressmen in hopes that the government might step in and override The First Amendment and apply prior restraint in the name of obscenity. These motions have enjoyed minimal success.

This objection to obscenity has been most successful on a capitalistic rather than legal level. Merchants reserve the right not to carry a product for any reason. Most traditional and online stores have opted not to carry Bumfights.

Other enemies of Bumfights have sought to silence the videos on basis of Bad Tendency. Several incidents of violence targeted at the homeless have been vaguely connected back to the entertainment videos. These motions have enjoyed less success than the former.

The most effective motions against the makers of the Bumfights videos have not been related to The First Amendment at all. Rather, legal action has been taken against the creators for staging the illegal fights. In 2004, the city of San Diego sentenced two of the four creators to jail.

Freedom of speech and capitalism go hand in hand. In many ways, they keep each other in check. When freedom of speech comes into question, as in the Bumfights issue, capitalistic principals are there to do what government cannot and should not do. That is, to shut down offensive speech by making it unprofitable.

Most importantly, the two depend on each other to co-exist. The free flow of ideas, no difference how absurd or offensive, is closely tied to the free markets. To silence any speech, even Bumfights, would be to make silent the life force that makes America great.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

westboro baptist church

It is difficult to discuss the first amendment rights of the Westboro Baptist Church because, before we may do so, we must separate the content of the message from the offense. Of course once we do this, our argument against the church begins to fall apart.

The first thing we must agree upon is that our sensationalized corporate media landscape paints a distorted image of the funeral protests. That is not to say that I agree with the message of the church, nor with the tact with which the message is delivered. My point is simply that it is difficult to maneuver the maelstrom of hate and outrage that our subject creates. It is difficult to look through the opinions and find the facts, to see the objective reality of the situation that we feel so objectionable.

We are here today to discuss the law and it is not the function of the law to decide which is obscene or in bad taste. So let us discuss the facts.

The protests occur on public property. Technically, the Westboro Baptist Church does not protest at funerals. They protest near funerals, at pre-designated spaces that have been permitted by city counsel prior to the event. Although a landslide majority of the public would like to silence the church, we must also recognize the church’s legal right to peacefully assemble.

There are no documented accounts of violence on the church’s behalf, physical or otherwise. The church may have a message of hate, but they do not direct that hatred at any specific individuals. The church paint their portrait of hate by drawing on abstract concepts.

Fagots are to blame, they say, for God’s hatred. It would be a different situation if the church was to address someone like Snyder by name. But this is not the situation.

For those who are not familiar with Snyder’s case, he is the man from Maryland who was initially awarded $11 million by a jury for emotional distress caused by the church. This ruling has since been reduced in half by the judge on grounds that the jury’s decision was both unreasonable and unconstitutional. Experts on the first amendment expect the ruling to be reversed entirely as it ascends to the Supreme Court.

I would like to bring to light information that I scoured, cited to an article in the Baltimore Sun. The city permitted protest of Snyder’s son’s funeral was 1000 feet away from the funeral. Snyder did not see the protestors on the day of the funeral and did not see them until he saw the report on the television news. Unfortunately, I have been unable to acquire this article because it is no longer hosted on the newspaper’s official website. If this fact is true, it would ruin the prosecution against the Church because it would remove the offense away from the site of the funeral and onto media airwaves.

In closing arguments, I must convey that I disagree with the church on many levels. To say the least, the Westboro Baptist Church is off the mark. We would almost be better of if only the church had never formed. Unfortunately, they are here and we cannot silence them on basis of content because there is some truth within their fallacious arguments. That is not to say that there is any truth in their faith or vulgar commentary on American culture. But if I could rewrite the wording of the Westboro Baptist Church message, I would say that soldiers, foreign and domestic alike, are fighting and dying to preserve an American way of life. The Westboro Baptist Church identifies this American way of life as homosexuality. You and I might identify the American way of life in a different light. However, I believe that we can all agree – you, me and even Fred Phelps - that we have fallen onto challenging times and we should take this opportunity to reflect upon our American way of life and decide which values are truly worth fighting for. I believe we can come together here, that freedom of speech, no matter the consequences, is one of those values.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

assignment: neil horsley

neil horsely himself posted this video on youtube.

i told neil, " news and rhetoric should not be confused. news does not cast moral judgment. rhetoric does and also calls for action."

he replied to me right away: The very subjects chosen as "news" proves a moral judgment is being made by the news media. Why report when a law is broken? A moral judgment has been made by the news media that breaking the law is bad. Every news report telegraphs a moral presupposition that is obvious to people with eyes that see and ears that hear. Oh wait! Now I see why you didn't understand that news DOES cast moral judgment.

my statement to him is, "the idea of news and the application of news are arguably two different things. for practical purposes, the lines between news and rhetoric are fuzzy. but the idea of news and the idea of rhetoric are different."

"news does not report violations of the law because it is bad but because logically, it violates public safety and compromises the integrity of the marketplace. its goal is to bring attention to conditions. the analysis of those conditions is up to the viewer.

"rhetoric is different from news because it overtly dispatches a call to action. the news tells you that your neighbor has been robbed. the manipulative rhetorician tells you to buy a gun because you are next. you could argue that the news also encourages you to find means to protect yourself but this is only through inductive reasoning on your behalf."

i am curious how he will respond to this but i do not expect it to be very insightful. neil is the type of man who relies on violence to get his point across.

if you follow this link read the description that he gives his video, you will see: "This provides a good overview of the abortioncams project as well as the kinds of media attacks the project creates."

Look at the last part. This video is a good overview of the kinds of media attacks (Neil) creates through his videos.

This is fascinating to me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

assignment: who gave me my rights, p1

i want to reflect on the idea of rights because those ideas are strange. a right, such as the right to free speech, is a legal guarantee. and a legal guarantee is an agreement between two parties. one party makes a promise to another party that some property shall not be removed nor shall its quality be compromised.

we might not give it enough thought but common sense would tell us that there must be a third party to ensure that fairness plays out. that referee must also be detached enough from the situation enough to make an objective and fair judgment. but also, he must be involved enough to make an informed and educated decision. there must be a balance between two conflicting extremes.

when we talk about the first amendment, who is making the promises and to whom are those promises made? the promiser and the promisee. when the bill of rights were drafted, the us government made a promise to the american people.

this is an important distinction to make because legal guarantee is issued, it creates an exclusive relationship between the promisee and the promiser. no third party should ever be held accountable for this promise.

for example, if you purchase a product with a lifetime guarantee, you are buying a promise from the company that manufactured that product. that company has made a promise to you that if that product fails under any circumstances, they will either refund your money or replace the product. under no circumstances would that company go to your neighbor to cover the cost. even if your neighbor was the one who broke it.

likewise, free speech is most effective and least controversial when applied to situations that are exclusive between individual american citizens and the government. it ceases to make sense and is most controversial when applied to situations that do not involve the government and the government is called to act as a third party.

in other words, just as your neighbor did not make the lifetime guarantee on the product, your neighbor never granted you the freedom to speech.

so should the bill of rights be reworded? your freedom of speech does not mean "say whatever you want about whomever you want" but "what whatever you want about me"

further, in what forum are you guaranteed the right to free speech? in the newspapers? in the streets at night? when you are drunk and incoherent?

who upholds these rights? how is a referee selected? is it up to the government to police themselves into following through with these promises, when it is most often in the government's best internist to break those promises?

the bill of rights for example, is a promise between the us government and the american people. how can we select an objective third party, who is neither the us government or the american people and yet qualified enough to reside as the authority and involved enough to care?

oil! by upton sinclair

i was so impressed by the movie, there will be blood. i started reading the inspiring novel.

i have been trucking through it little by little and i suppose that a better reader would be done with it by now. a friend has been giving me a hard time, claiming it to be a testament to the quality of the book rather than my inability to read and for some reason i feel hurt by how he gives me the benefit of the doubt because i really enjoy the book.

i suppose that i must take my time to appreciate every development and nuance in this story much like a good christian would approach a romantic relationship.

contrary to what the title might suggest, the oil industry is more of a setting than a subject. oil! is a story of internal conflict and political values.

there are many differences between the book and the film. but paul thomas anderson never intended to make a film adaptation of the book. for example, the film focuses on mr. plainview with sort of a citizen cane story structure.

the book focuses on his son bunny, the idealist, more as a lense by which sinclair critiques the capitalist aristocrats. there is a recurring theme of privileged who, in their nativity and pride, take their wealth for granted and turn their nose up at the hard work that endowed them.

this theme is introduced subtly but early on in the story.

first, a boy named paul runs away from home because he disagrees with his father's evangelical beliefs and practices. later in the story, paul returns from world war 1 russia, having lost faith in his country and embracing communist ideas.

second, the oil king's daughter criticizes her brother bunny for sympathizing with the working class. she insists that the oil workers are filthy and godless creatures and not fit company for people of privilege.

and most of all, bunny's sympathy forms friendships and political brotherhood. when the oil workers go on strike, bunny's integrity is in check. he must choose between loyalty towards his friends and his family.

i do not feel it is too much to say that oil! is equally as important and relevant as huxley's brave new world.

every serious journalism student should read this book. sinclair is like the godfather of investigative journalism. he's the first muckraker authors and arguably just as relevant today as he was, seventy fives years ago when the book was written.