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  Articles about Talk Radio

This is a list of a few of the scholarly articles that exist on the movie Talk Radio.  They address different aspects of the movie, which are summarized and follow the information about where these articles can be found.  Notable quotes from the articles are included.

 From Oliver Stone’s America by Susan Mackey-Kallis

The article on Talk Radio from Oliver Stone's America focuses a lot on the character as a messiah figure.  Because of this imagery the comparison between Champlain and Stone's Jim Morrison is often drawn.  It discusses the way in which Champlain interprets the world and his futile attempts to change.  Champlain is seen almost as a prophet: he sees the corruption and problems that others do not.  He is not afraid to speak the truth.  It also discusses Kent as the typical “mind-numbed drug-crazed ‘Generation X-ers’” eighties youth.

Notable Quotes
“ Barry Champlain, Stone's protagonist in Talk Radio is more than just a ‘calculated provocateur’ bent on shocking his audience; he is a lightning rod for our ‘national psychosis’, a prophet for the; ‘raw-nerved, solipsistic paranoid 80’s.’”

“In Stone's view Champlain is not the medicine we want, but the medicine we need.”

“Champlain is a voice crying out against the sins of the ego-driven greed-obsessed modern age.”

“He (Champlain) is telling America what it does not want to hear: that America is a deeply bigoted, hateful, stupid society.”

“Champlain is a voice crying in the wilderness telling society to make straight its crooked paths.”

  From Oliver Stone Close Up by Chris Salewicz

In this article Salewicz examines the national phenomenon of shock radio throughout the eighties.  It also discusses the relationship between Bogosian and Stone.  Stone's motivation for making the film was not solely artistic.  But was financially lucrative as well.  It wasn't the easiest film to make because it takes place mostly in the studio. This is the reason why they had Bogosian wearing a headset, which is atypical of radio show hosts.  The article also has comments from Bogosian and Stone on making the film.

Notable Quotes
“There is a clear link between the audience manipulations of and those of Wayne Gale in the later film [Natural Born Killers]”

“Talk Radio is the darkest film I've made, but I don't personally feel that way a lot America.  I have a lot more hope for America”[Oliver Stone]

“Champlain is the archetype of the narcissistic media star communicating with others because he is unable to communicate with himself, about whom he knows little”

 From The Cinema of Oliver Stone by Norman Kagan

This article discusses the technology that was necessary to make this film, as well as how Bogosian, who played Barry Champlain, felt about Stone.  It has many quotes from callers onto “Night Talk” and Barry's reaction to them. This lets one see how Barry deals with the many prejudiced people and half-insane people that call in every night.  Another aspect of the article is how Bogosian plays Champlain, and what Champlain’s character is supposed to be.

Notable Quotes
“We see endless skyscrapers and apartment buildings lit, but symbolically lifeless except for their telephone voices”

“Climaxing as all of Stone's heroes, in a final, hysterical, self-destructive, self justifying monologue”

“Bogosian and Stone is a dread naught combination: they produce enough anxiety to throw a ten-ton tank into depression”

“Champlain…he’s meant to be a curdled creature of the sixties-- a media-wise post-hippie, telling it like it is for fun and money, perhaps Stone's rancid self-parody”

“Otherwise put, despite all their titillating insults and innuendo, the only real message of Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and Barry Champlain is: the world is crazy!”

 From The Films of Oliver Stone by Don Kunz

Kunz’s article focuses on the process of adapting the movie from the play and mentions three major artistic problems that Stone encountered.  Bogosian’s original play is discussed to draw the contrast between the two.  The use of the camera was important in order to create the atmosphere Stone wanted in such an enclosed space.  The rest of the article discusses the symbolism of many small things evident in Talk Radio, such as when Barry lights a cigarette while telling the story about the concentration camp.

Notable Quotes

“Talk Radio is a disturbing little masterpiece of adaptation”

“Stone's protagonists; they tend to be narcissistic masculine artists whose self-obsession result in making them martyred patriarchs of dysfunction families”

“Champlain has in a sense already killed himself by sacrificing his personal integrity for a sham public image of a truth-telling crusader for reform”

“Talk Radio's paranoid, messianic, apocalyptic vision of America is given visceral immediacy by articulation it in sexual terms.”

 In James Riordan’s discussion of Talk Radio, a strong emphasis was placed on the relationship between Eric Bogosian and Oliver Stone, and how each contributed to the making of the plot of Talk Radio and it’s main character Barry Champlain.  Since Talk Radio is based on the late radio show host Alan Berg, Stone and Bogosian went to great lengths to preserve the personality of the original character.  In doing this Stone hired people who had close relationships with Berg, for instance his former producer.    Both Stone and Bogosian felt that it was important to not simply reiterate the life of Berg but, instead, highlight the eccentric personality traits within the character of Barry Champlain. “Champlain was a different personality than Berg was, ‘but some of his more interesting characteristics-- his ability to be outrageous, his playfulness and facility with words- remind me of Alan.”  The film was not only a look into the life of Alan berg, but more so a critique of society and the direction it was headed in the late eighties.  Riordan found that while Bogosian focused on the life of Berg, Oliver focused on the callers who symbolized the outlook of a corrupt and ill-minded society.  Together the men were able to create not only a synopsis of the life of Alan Berg, but, moreover, a film about the interaction between the man and “the voice of the people.”


 Like many Of Oliver Stone’s films, Talk Radio was a biting satire about America and the direction that society was heading.  Frank Beaver in his book, Oliver Stone’s Wake up Cinema, presented an interesting take on the film Talk Radio and what it said about not only American society but also Oliver Stone.  Beaver felt that Oliver Stone used Barry Champlain as a spokesperson for his own sentiment and thought.  In actuality, Champlain attitudes echoed Stone’s own attitude about American society.  Beaver explains that “perhaps Barry Champlain and Talk Radio gleefully signaled Oliver Stone willing to wear his artistic heart on his sleeve.”  However, Beaver felt that Stone’s attempt to voice his opinion through the character of Champlain incorporated too many ideas.  Since the character of Champlain was based on Alan Berg, Beaver felt that the film lost its focus by not only concentrating on the biography of a man but also American society.  He comments that while trying to portray the life of Alan Berg the film “lost its satiric edge as a statement about American consumer taste represented by shock radio.”  He also felt a bit of ambiguity about the character of Champlain who was “both hero and villain, both tormentor and victim.”  All in all Beaver felt that the film tried to accomplish too much; in his eyes, it’s loss of focus was a hindrance to the film’s success.