So why is Gyllenhaal's character converting her public school to a charter, which will inevitably serve only some of the kids in that community? Are only some children allowed to get a quality education, and participate in democracy?Barnz, Gyllenhaal and Davis all stressed they are pro-union but hope people see “Won’t Back Down” as a film about seemingly powerless individuals working to improve schools for the children’s sake. National union leaders have objected to its depiction of their organizations.“I didn’t expect any of the discourse and friction that happened as a result of this movie coming out,” said Davis.“I’m pro-education and pro-child,” she said, adding that “teachers alone can’t turn around failing schools. It absolutely takes the support of the community, parents, unions and the board of education. Oftentimes, I think way too much pressure is put on teachers to solve all the problems of the schools.”Gyllenhaal, stressing that “I’m sure I’m much less informed than many, many other people,” said that working on “Won’t Back Down” did lead her “to learn as much as I could about education policy.”On top of that, the actress pointed out that “we live in a democracy. You can’t function in a democracy without an educated electorate. Otherwise, what tools are you using to choose your leaders?” [emphasis mine]
Some more spin:
So these stars are saying all they want to do is start a conversation. I have some news for them: many of us have been having a conversation for some time. Making a movie based on false pretenses was not necessary for us to have a serious talk about our schools. You could have joined this discussion any time you wanted without riding in on a wave of propaganda.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis and Rosie Perez may be fine actors, but they are also movie stars. And movie studios hire movie stars not just to act in their movies; studios also hire stars to promote their movies. All these stars have a coterie of people around them whose job is to promote their brands as celebrities, and not just their work as actors.
Rosie Perez has been around Hollywood long enough to know that when she signs on to a film like Won't Back Down, she'll be going around to a bunch of media outlets to promote the project. She knows that a script like this will require her to go on TV and blithely proclaim that, "We have the worst education system, K through 12," as part of her job as a salesperson for the film.
Well, if she's going to make a statement like that - completely out of context and with no acknowledgement of the relationship between poverty and achievement - and there's pushback, she has no one to blame but herself. If Gyllenhaal's fans find her hypocrisy on unions to be troubling, she has no one to blame but herself. If Davis didn't think things through enough to see that she was going to anger teachers with this film's cartoonish portrayal of their unions, she has no one to blame but herself.
These aren't struggling actors looking for their big break; these are established stars who should know how their industry works. If they are going to use their celebrity to make statements about public education and teachers unions, they ought to be held responsible for their proclamations.
When Matt Damon stood up for teachers last year, he caught a load of crap for it - and he wasn't even promoting a film. But he didn't whine when a reporter from Reason tried to debate him (and failed). Damon understands that if he is going to use his celebrity status to address policy issues, he had better be prepared to back up his claims (of course, it helps if you have your mom, a nationally recognized expert on education, next to you).
So I have very little patience for the whining of the stars of Won't Back Down. If you didn't know what you were getting into, you should have. And if people have less respect for you because your critics have organized a response to you...
Welcome to the world of teaching.