Shattered Glass is a film that’s based on a true event. Hayden Christensen plays college student, Stephen Glass, interning or at least working part-time at a high class magazine called the New Republic. Glass has a real talent for writing; unfortunately, he tends to lean more towards fiction then fact. The main premise of the film is the fact that he writes articles for this prestige magazine that are untrue. “He handed us fiction and we printed them as fact because we found them interesting.”
He provides fake stories that are printed as fact. The story delves into how he got away with such a con and how it all fell apart in the end.
I empathize with Glass in the beginning. He is working on a piece that he hopes to get published in the Times magazine. He’s afraid it isn’t good enough despite the praise he gets from his fellow journalists who read and review it for him. As a writer myself, I am aware of the fear that your work will not please everyone. It is a cruel reality of writing anything. However, if you can’t please the right people, then the piece won’t get anywhere.
Throughout the film, Glass’s personality reveals itself through his actions and his interactions with other people. In my opinion, the analysis of Glass and his interactions are the vocal point of the film.
When the New Republic editor is replaced with another one, Chuck, Glass and everyone else treat him with disdain. They valued their previous boss and seeing him replaced with someone else didn’t sit well. Upon first viewing, I wondered if there was a father-son bond between Glass and the previous editor. From the way he acted and the way Glass went to him when he was falling apart due to his con starting to fail later in the film seems to imply that Glass saw him as a parental figure. However, one gets a sense of brownnosing or genuine regret when he then goes to Chuck to apologize for their behavior. Is he a brownnoser or someone who feels genuine regret? Unfortunately, time and time again he displays brownnosing traits more than anything else.
He also shows traits of being a people-pleaser by being extremely complementary of other people, past the point of being merely polite and dismissing himself in times where people would disagree and think he’s the best guy anywhere. His habit of always apologizing or asking child-like questions such as, “Are you mad at me?” or “Did I do something wrong?” also displays his people-pleasing personality. It’s as if he can’t stand being thought as anything less than the little perfect puppy that would cry if kicked and needs to be protected.
In addition to brownnosing and being a people-pleaser, Glass seems to crave attention. This could be the primary reason he concocted his fake stories. Fiction is always much more interesting than reality so he came up with stories that would stand out and receive praise from his adult colleagues. This desire could also stem from having a low self-esteem. Being 24 and a college student with a real job yet still living under the thumb of his parents could be responsible.
Stephen Glass almost single-handily destroyed a professional magazine through his lies. His con, while brilliantly set up and defended (except for a few instances), was knocked down by excellent work and through Chuck and others through research and catching the holes in Glass’s con. They caught the threads and pulled the whole thing apart. Truly magnificent on their part.
Shattered Glass is a film perfect for analysis on the main character as well as being amazed on the rigorous fact-checking news sources must undergo and will undergo if there is the slightest doubt in the reporters’ claims. Lies may hide for some time but sooner or later they will shatter like glass.