Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)

Noam Chomsky is a world-renowned linguist, philosopher, political activist and professor. His best-selling book, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” written in 1988 with Edward S. Herman, speaks to how the media and propaganda marginalize and control the public. In 1992, Chomsky joined forces with Canadian directors Mark Archbar and Peter Wintonick to bring this compelling research to film in Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media.

The documentary examines Chomsky’s philosophy on life, how he grew up, how his views on propaganda were shaped, and he explains how the powers-that-be perpetuate deceit in the media. Chomsky is followed to interviews, debates and public speaking engagements where he discusses the dangers of indoctrination and the creations of “necessary illusions” to hide the truth from the public.

Controversy is no stranger to Chomsky, too. He takes on the media’s omission of the conflict in East Timor in the 70s. That region received close to no coverage of the massacres and genocide occurring, while the Cambodian War was deemed newsworthy. He points out that advertising outnumbers news in large publications and that sports are a deliberate distraction to take the public’s focus away from important world events. Chomsky also received major criticism after his writings on freedom of speech were included in the preface of French professor Robert Faurisson’s book, an academic known for his Anti-Semitism and denial comments about the Holocaust.

Most of Chomsky’s radical thinking still holds weight today. His philosophy pushes people to organize against the media machine, pursue the truth, and for the regular person on the street, develop “intellectual minds” and practice “intellectual self-defence” with alternative media to speak out against the oppressive nature of corporate-run information sources.

Review by Carolyn Mauricette

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Free to Watch

Canadian connection

Directed by Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick
According to the University of British Columbia archives, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media was the most successful Canadian documentary in history until the release of The Corporation in 2003.