Dirty Books (Short)
“Dirty Books” starts with a school administrator, Dr. Bradley (Timothy J. Cox) talking to a student. The student is David Burroughs (Noah Bailey), and he’s the editor of the school paper. Dr. Bradley is telling him that the cost of printing the paper is such that it would be much better if they transformed it into an online blog. It sounds like a great idea, but David is crushed. “Your trying to kill the printed word,” he tells Dr. Bradley, and he is set on keeping the paper in place. If only he could figure out a way to boost readership. His staff at the paper is enthused about the transition, so David goes to a friend with a black book of secrets, and that meeting gives him an idea. Suddenly, pranks begin to occur around campus, and the paper has the scoop. We know what’s going on, but how long will it take the faculty? And how will they figure it out?
As I watched Zachary Lapierre’s short film, I couldn’t help but think about the present state of our media. Could there be a better metaphor for the disgusting sideshow mainstream journalism has become then what David does for the sake of saving the school paper, even though it probably would be better served online? It’s like the famous (supposed) quote from William Randolph Heart, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” except this time, the journalist is doing both jobs. Granted, journalists and editors haven’t fought for the printed word the way David does, but the idea of turning to desperate acts for the sake of a news story is timely at a time when a buffoonish real estate mogul/reality TV entertainer has ridden a tide of free press to the pole position in a major political party’s race for the Presidential nomination. Even if the reality of Trump wasn’t going on, though, our scandal-obsessed, controversy-driven media age would still exist as inspiration for writers Lapierre and Ian Everhart to draw from for their satirical tale. The question is, are we going to do the right thing and put a stop to this, or just let it go until, we hope, they hit rock bottom? In “Dirty Books,” the hero turns out to be a Sports writer named Charlotte (Ansley Berg). Will we be so lucky in real life? At this point, I’m concerned we won’t be.