Hijacked Reality

Terror, real and blockbuster-inspired.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


“This ain’t no action movie,” warns the hijacker of bus 174 in Padilha’s riveting documentary. Or maybe, in a way, it is. In the summer of 2000, a young S&atildeo Paulo man held a half-dozen hostages — and untold Brazilian television viewers — captive for nearly five hours, sprinkling his threats with references to a popular blockbuster.

This real-life TV villain displays a certain brute ingenuity, banking on the standards and practices of prime-time news — the reluctance of network executives and police officers alike to broadcast a bloodbath — to prolong his performance. Padilha, for his part, remains true to the spectacle, extracting the maximum drama from the footage of the hijacking. (His climactic use of slow motion is sensational in more ways than one.)

Yet Bus 174 is most remarkable for examining how terror is bred by poverty and neglect. A sociologist in the film remarks that society’s “incapacity to deal with social exclusion” pushes the youth of Rio’s slums into violence. “We are nothing if someone doesn’t look at us,” he says.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate