Lucy in the Sky
“Spotlight” has the usual structure we find in similar docudramas about journalists discovering and whistleblowing major scandals, like “All the President’s Men” (Pakula, 1976), “业内人士”（曼，1999年），后来在“华盛顿邮报”（Spielberg, 2017). Meaning, many scenes are meetings about plans, findings, courthouse adjudication, juxtaposed with scenes of characters discussing those meetings. There are sequences of quiet research in cellars, the search for a golden-fleece-like set of documents that reveal all the secrets, interviews with experts, witnesses, victims, mixed with scenes about the struggles of personal and professional life, mixed with ethical questions about the whole system.
Dirty preachers target young people who are easy to silence: lower socioeconomic class, broken family structure, and an eagerness to please the Divine. They lure them in, step by step, with a mixture of praise, pious gestures, and the steady crossing of taboos, until they trap their victims. You are trapped when you are too frightened to say “no,” too frightened to run, and too frightened to tell anyone anything. I have worked on cases involving as many adult victims as children, and the formula that predators use to pursue adult prey is the same.
In the film, the attorney Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) comments that it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to abuse a child. The most common statement from victims in my work has been, “I told [X] and they did not do anything.” In the movie, one victim comments that his mother made cookies for the preacher.
Circles of people around the perpetrators recognize that something is wrong. Some ease their consciences with, “I am just doing my job;” some ignore the hints of corruption; some hide it behind pleasantries. The end result is a long trail of survivors struggling to live long enough to see sunlight the next morning, knowing they might destroy themselves as a way to cope with has been done to them.
Then, the self-appointed pundits haunt you.
In any community of believers, most worshipers are upright, humble people seeking ways to navigate what the world hits them with. All religions provide a well-tread path of healing for wounds. News of a corrupt preacher, thus, paralyzes a community. On top of that, you have to deal with politicians and sycophants.
If the only problem of exposing misconduct was that autodidacts decided to conduct their own investigation, it would be manageable. That happens, but so many others become political activists, using your case, using the victim’s story, using their own personal ambitions as the soapbox upon which they pontificate. Some of these people are sincere, trying to cope by pointing fingers. Others, however, are heartless, using any stepping stone they can—even if those steps are abused children—to elevate their own selves.
As I type this piece, we see the same happening with the Epstein case. Numerous articles claim to provide inside information either to his life or to his mind. Some are seeking another stake to pound into the heart of the President. Some are linking celebrities to him. Some are critiquing the lifestyles of the wealthy.
In my cases, there were those who argued that religion itself is the problem, even though people of religion were conducting the investigations. There were those who pushed conspiracy theories. In “Spotlight,” Marty Baron’s Jewish bachelor identity became fodder for some to question his integrity. There are those who are convinced that I have an agenda to produce a “reformist Islam” by wiping out the carriers of our sacred traditions, even though I am a leader in the community and my teachers and mentors are immersed in tradition. In fact, it was the conservative scholars who gave the most support in investigations, risking their own reputations.
所有的最常见的，然而，这是道德的含糊其辞：从这些结构和别人的好处超过了自己的错误。你会记得这贝恩斯借口马尔科姆“马尔科姆X”（斯派克·李, 1992) to rationalize Elijah Muhammad’s behaviors. Further, some were of the belief that the sins of a fellow believer should be kept hidden, which means that the victims are to be thrown under the same rugs.
伟大的一部分“聚光灯”avoids the low-hanging-fruit of painting the Church as an evil entity, the likes of which we find in many other films. It wrestles with faith, when it could have dismissed it. Instead, the film focuses on the discovery of a systemic problem that has allowed for the destruction of numerous lives. The very real humans in the film, not realizing that they were endorsing inhumane stances by seeking to keep things quiet, were the exact humans I dealt with in my work. In contrast to the monsters, these attorneys, courthouse staff members, and other laypeople in the middle were not bad people as much as they were shortsighted, afraid to identify ogres as ogres, afraid to discover that the world can be as dark as their own scriptures dictate.
The truly vile response, however, came from Cardinal Law himself giving Baron a courtesy call: explaining he would not be commenting. I had a similar experience. One preacher I was able to get to confess and apologize for his crimes took a moment to praise me for conducting a fair investigation. Later, however, he was saying very horrible things about me. Such people are masters at using manners and pleasantries as a mask for demonic behavior.
Once I sat in front of a preacher who ran such circles around me with logic that sounded almost rational. We were sitting with a victim and her mother as he tried to dominate the conversation by spewing a narrative painting himself as a compassionate man wanting to reconciliation as a favor to the victim. In the work of religion, I had seen many people do evil things. Here, however, I felt for the first time in my life that I’m in the presence of the Devil himself. He later took a deal with the State, pleading guilty to some horrible charges. Even later, he claimed he pleaded guilty for the sake of peace in the community (and not because of the overwhelming evidence that would be ensuring a long prison sentence); meaning, he lied under oath, something foul in every religious and secular tradition.
The movie’s exploration of the dynamics of faith and loyalty are fascinating. All the journalists identify as lapsed Catholics. Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams）试图维持通过她的祖母的信仰她的信心。迈克Rezendes（Mark Ruffalo) left the church always having the hope he would return. Richard Sipe (Richard Jenkins) kept to faith in a way that superseded human intervention. But, as Pfeiffer gets deeper into the case, should could not continue. Rezendes has a moment—reading letters confirming the corruptions—in which he “cracked.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sometimes, Roger Ebert is exposed to bad movies. When that happens, it is his duty -- if not necessari...