Broadcast News

Within certain jobs there is a line that needs to be tip-toed in order to keep things running smoothly.  The entertainment business straddles the line between style and substance constantly.  Broadcast News is supposedly about a love triangle between three people at a television news station in Washington, but it is actually about straddling the line.

Jane (Holly Hunter) is one of the best writer-producers that the company has.  She’s smart and knows exactly what she wants, when she wants it, and how to get it.  Early in the film she gives a speech about how the news has turned into more of a side-show than actually reporting world events.  It irritates her because she believes that the news can make a difference in peoples’ lives and is not just there to entertain them.

Tom (William Hurt) is an anchor who has just been hired by Jane’s Washington television program and meets her at this speech.  He openly tells her that he is not very intelligent and is unqualified for the job, but he is handsome and well-spoken, so he is on the fast track to success. 

Aaron (Albert Brooks) is a veteran reporter at the TV station and is also very much in love with Jane.  They are best friends and talk constantly about how to keep the news from falling into the traps of entertainment.  He, like Jane, is all about substance over style.

The three main characters in the story all have goals with regards to their job and do whatever they can to attain them.  If the story were just about that, then it would not be a story at all because Tom gets everything, Jane gets what she wants, and Aaron gets nothing.  When it comes to love, however, none of them know the first place to start.  Tom is the most charismatic man in front of the camera and can win any woman that he wants for a one-night stand, but cannot say the right things to get Jane.  Aaron is too close of a friend and not handsome enough for Jane.  And Jane has no idea what she wants out of love.  She just knows that Tom is handsome and Aaron is her intellectual equal.

It’s funny how looks usually get first notice in relationships and lose their steam once the personality comes out, but so it goes.  Love is about finding out who people are.  Unfortunately for the three characters in this film, they don’t know how to slow down enough to figure that out.  In life they are forced to see style over substance because that is the way their life moves.  Jane even falls for Tom’s reporting style and loses her idealistic view of ‘real reporting’.  The proposal for a week away from it all on an island near the film’s end reveals so much about both Tom and Jane.  If she goes with him, she will get to know him for who he is.  If she stays, he will always be the guy who looked and spoke well enough to win her heart for a short while.  It is the ultimate test of style over substance.

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