Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anchorman - A look back at the hilarious Ron Burgandy

There's no denying it: "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" is a genuine, laugh-out-loud funny movie. With humor ranging from crass to absurd, it shocks and amuses. Will Ferrell's arrogant anchorman "Ron Burgundy" spearheads the Channel 4 Nightly News gang, a group of buffoons whose ignorance infiltrates the homes of San Diego. Steve Carrell depicts a, presumably mentally retarded, weather man, who describes Iowa as the "Middle East." His facial expressions threaten to dominate every scene he's in, his talent as a comedic actor is unquestionable. The plot itself doesn't shy away from the heights of critical satire or the lows of sexual innuendo. But unlike a vast majority of modern comedies, this film doesn't unintelligently exploit easy laughs. Anchorman may resist a serious interpretation, but the film genuinely has something to say about the state of entertainment and media in America.

Most visibly, the film addresses sexism in the entertainment industry. Veronica Corningstone, Ron Burgundy's simultaneous rival and lover, struggles through the male-dominated world of the nightly news. She is constantly slighted and objectified, despite her confidence and talent. She is forced to work twice as hard as Mr. Burgundy to establish herself as an anchor, and is given his spot only when he proves his complete incompetence. Her attempts to break the glass ceiling are entirely relatable to women who sought equal employment opportunities in the '70s. And the way she is regarded in the media is unfortunately still pertinent in today's news world, as women strive to succeed because of their talent, rather than be valued only by their appearance.Cover of Cover via Amazon

The film also mocks the triviality of the news industry, with its easy sensationalism and warped priorities. For instance, at the end of the film, every news anchor in town races to the zoo to get a shot of a panda giving birth. The event is lauded as a winning story. This sequence is, of course, blatant mockery of the news stories that are, inappropriately given enormous weight by the media. The film mocks the replacement of facts and serious news with trifles and cute animals.

The treatment of the nightly News Gang, in their gross incompetence and ignorance, also suggests that the media does not exist as a forum for the most informed individuals to update the masses. It exists as a money generating machine. The ruthless quest for higher ratings, rather than better news, dominates every decision the television station makes.