After seeing the trailer, no, I still don’t want to watch the new Joe Paterno film
I have no idea.
Oh, wait. I thought you asked me a question. It’s a question that’s been asked before and it’s going to be asked again in the coming months.
Who in the world is going to watch HBO’s new film “Paterno?”
I’m surely not alone in wondering that. If that wasn’t a widely-held opinion before, it had to be after seeing the 30-second teaser trailer that HBO released the other day:
Somehow, HBO got Al Pacino to play the late Joe Paterno for the film. If you’re under the impression that everything Pacino touches turns to gold (you obviously missed “Gigli” and “Jack and Jill”), be my guest and watch his portrayal of the former Penn State coach.
Go ahead and give up some awkward minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.
I’m not one of those people who believes there needs to be an obvious protagonist and antagonist for a film to be worth watching, nor am I the person who thinks the news should be puppy videos and hugs. Lord knows “Paterno” will be far from both of those things.
The reality is that “Paterno” will document the horrifying, tragic story of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. For those who lived it, it will yank the bandaid off the wound they’ve been trying to heal for the past several years. That wound may never heal, but certainly HBO didn’t need to try and cash in on this tragedy so quickly.
That’s maybe the thing that I have such a problem with. We in the news business have a right to cover the fallout of this story. In my opinion, it’s the most stunning and tragic sports story of the 21st century. If we turn a blind eye to it simply because the subject matter makes us uncomfortable, we’re not doing our jobs to inform the public.
However, nobody would’ve been in the wrong had HBO or any other production company elected not to recreate this story. There’s a reason that this is the first film about this extremely sensitive subject matter. Even the Tonya Harding and O.J. Simpson stories got a couple decades to breathe before they were recreated into films (side note: “I, Tonya” looks incredible).
It feels like the goal is to capitalize on that market. The public couldn’t get enough of those stories, and they changed the tabloid nature in which we consume scandals in pop culture.
But who honestly feels like they need more of the Sandusky scandal? I wonder who actually watched the trailer and saw that terrifying grin on Sandusky’s face (played by Jim Johnson) with the boy in the elevator and thought, “man, I NEED to see how that plays out.” And if you did, why?
This isn’t some thrilling horror film that keeps you guessing because of the suspense. You already know how “Paterno” ends.
Spoiler alert: Paterno wrestles with his decision to protect the longtime Penn State assistant and dies soon after he’s fired for his role in the coverup. That creepy guy in the elevator doesn’t fare so well, either. It sucks for the victims, it sucks for their families and it sucks for anyone associated with Penn State.
And no matter what anyone from HBO or any actor says, this film wasn’t made to “shed light on the dangers of child molesters,” either. This ain’t “Spotlight.” Everyone and their mother knows about Sandusky’s acts and what was done to cover them up. Don’t let anyone spin this film as anything other than a money grab.
This is not some plea for people to boycott “Paterno.” As long as it abides by the law, we as Americans have free will to consume whatever entertains us. If people wish to watch something that makes them more uncomfortable than entertained, then that’s their prerogative.
I just have no idea who that person is.