Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe said in a new interview that tabloid journalism's expansion into traditional news operations, along with social media, has played a role in adopting a "hunt-to-kill attitude" around reporting and commentary.
"We're just pointing out that this ultra-violence in our society," Crowe told The Hill during a Zoom question-and-answer session ahead of the release of his new movie, "Unhinged." "My theory, when you're talking about social media, right about the 70s, the language of tabloid newspapers started to drift into the larger national broadsheets. Started to drift into television news. Started to be part of everybody's mornings when they woke up. These extreme reactions and us talking about whatever a particular event that happened in such extreme ways. And that tabloid hunt-to-kill attitude when they believe they have found somebody who has committed a quote-unquote sin. And then that inability of the same tabloid language to apologize to that person when they say, 'Oh dear, we've got the wrong target.' "
"That type of language has come into social media, where people feel a need to have this hugely angry response straightaway," the 56-year-old actor said. "Or they think the way to solve this problem is by having the neatest, zappiest, zingy-est putdown that deconstructs somebody else's image of themselves. And all of this is not taking us anywhere good."
"The problem is actually the argument in itself," Crowe added. "The fact that we feel the need to have such a strong opinion on things, when if in reality we broke it down, we are having an opinion of something that has already been told to us as a biased opinion."
"Unhinged" will hit U.S. theaters on Aug. 21, marking Hollywood's first theatrical release since the coronavirus pandemic shut down theaters in March.
The film about an unstable man driven to the brink by road rage comes in a year when Americans are more angry than ever before, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted earlier this summer. Overall, 71 percent of U.S. adults said they were angry about the state of the country, while 66 percent expressed fear.
A 2018 study by Pew, meanwhile, found that people were having difficulty telling the difference between fact and opinion. Those who participated in the Pew study were provided five statements, including “spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid make up the largest portion of the U.S. Federal budget,” and five opinion statements, including “Democracy is the greatest form of government.” Just 26 percent of the adults surveyed correctly identified all five factual statements as factual, according to the study.
"Unhinged" comes as U.S. cinema chains have suffered unprecedented losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, with AMC reporting a $561 million loss in the second quarter.
Enthusiasm for fresh content is strong, however, according to AMC CEO Adam Aron, who shared on an earnings conference call last week that he's optimistic for his company and the industry "for the long-term."
A recent survey of American moviegoers by U.S. digital ticketing platform Atom Tickets found that 77 percent of respondents said they are ready to return to theaters once they reopen, with just 1 percent saying they never plan to return to theaters.
Crowe, considered one of the best actors of his generation, has been nominated three times for Best Actor Oscar and captured the award in 2000 for "Gladiator."