Movie Review: Shattered Glass (2003)

He'll do anything to get the story. Shattered Glass (2003) reviewed by Wyatt Bancroft.

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He'll do anything to get the story. Shattered Glass (2003) reviewed by Wyatt Bancroft.

Wyatt Bancroft, Contributor

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Adviser’s Note: Wyatt is a Senior at TJHS and is in Introduction to Journalism. For one of our tasks, we were to do a movie review. This was his completed assignment.

Imagine a guy who cheats the journalism system by manipulating coworkers and colleagues, producing fake stories to fool the public, and all to launch his career forward. Stephen Glass (acted out by Hayden Christensen) was this person: a journalist in the magazine of The New Republic featured in the movie Shattered Glass directed by Billy Ray. Taking place in 1998, the movie, in my opinion, would be a psychological thriller as it equates the damage caused by a singular person to the minds of many with little and no less than some spilled tears and an ink capsule.

Christensen portrays Stephen Glass as a neatly dressed skinny college student with round thin metal spectacles who portrays an air of uncertainty, frailty, and honesty. In the movie, and mentioned in the Vanity Fair Magazine article (which this movie was based), this was nothing but a charade to convince others that he can do no injury to anything or anyone. Glass used this aura of helplessness to convince others and especially his early editor Michael Kelly (portrayed by Hank Azaria of Simpsons fame) to showcase his false stories in the magazine of The New Republic

Glass’s first mistake was caught in an article titled “Hack Heaven” when he made up Jukt Micronics, a company that didn’t exist. His new editor Charles “Chuck” Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) oversaw the investigation and got Glass to admit that he faked the story, but promised that it was the only one. Chuck suspended Glass for two years and thought that was done with but it, was only the tip of the iceberg for Chuck to discover the inaccuracies. 

Glass made these stories seem very plausible as he took real life inspiration from nearby objects: a drink in someone’s hand turns into five and an empty bar. Glass manipulated his coworkers by faking emotions like crying, panic attacks, threats of self-harm, and fabricated notes for his stories. Chuck caught these lies and went all the back to his first piece and discovered more than half of the almost 50 stories written for the The New Republic were fake.

The movie only validated and showed that you shouldn’t trust what someone says just because they say it with conviction and passionately. It’s best to fact check things even if they seem absolutely credible.

This movie stands out as the wolf among sheep in journalism. The lie hidden behind an honest face is the worst. And though it takes one party to be at fault, both are liable for the damage afflicted.