[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Medium_Cool_2870.jpg]]

->''"Mama! Mama! / Someone said they made some noise.''
->''[[NobleBigotWithABadge The cops]] / [[MoralEventHorizon have shot some]] / [[CheerfulChild girls and boys]].''

->''[[YouBastard You'll sit home & drink all night]].''
->''[[WhatMeasureIsANonCute They looked too weird]] ... [[DoNotDoThisCoolThing it served them right]]."''
-->-- '''[[Music/FrankZappa The Mothers Of Invention]]''', [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne4gncvE57A#t=3m0s "Mom & Dad",]] from ''Film/MediumCool''

''Medium Cool'' is a critically acclaimed and [[CultClassic highly obscure]] film from [[TheSixties the 60's]] about the unhealthy interaction between a [[CorruptCorporateExecutive corporate media]] in search of {{spectacle}} and violence and a [[TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized restless and angry populace]]. It predated the film ''{{Network}}'' by about [[SpiritualSuccessor ten years]].

It's also famous for a simple reason: it's just about the only {{Mockumentary}} fictional film ever to be deliberately shot and filmed '''''during''''' the course of a historical event: [[TheSixties The 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention]] and police riot, during and after the assassination of [[FolkHero Robert F. Kennedy]] which [[FromBadToWorse preceded it]].

That's right: [[RealLifeWritesThePlot they filmed all the scenes "in real"]],[[labelnote:*]]:as Creator/JamesCameron might incredulously put it[[/labelnote]] with the scripted actors and cameramen wandering through historical events. AluminumChristmasTrees abound for contemporary viewers, since as we all know, RealityIsUnrealistic.

The film stars a young cameraman who is basically TheLastDJ within his news organization, struggling to get the word out about what's actually going on in the streets. Fans of media criticism will note that the subsequent [[GovernmentConspiracy whitewashing]] of his reports is largely accurate. When we meet him, he's apolitical and driven, [[{{Cowboy}} with his own code,]] seeing the role of the journalist as a quest to "capture" the moment on film as it really happened. As he accidentally gets to know some of his subjects, CharacterDevelopment ensues.

Interestingly, when the film was first scripted, it wasn't intended to be about the [[NewAgeRetroHippie Movement]] versus TheMan at all. The director wanted to shoot a piece [[ShakyCam in docu-cam]] about the indifference of the media towards the problems of the poor in inner-city Chicago, focusing on [[DecoyProtagonist an Appalachian family]].[[labelnote:*]]Chicago and Baltimore once had large Appalachian slums.[[/labelnote]] After all, [[CivilRightsMovement Martin Luther King]] was promising a major march on poverty in lieu of racism that LongHotSummer, similar to his March on Washington in '63, to urge the next administration (which [[WhatMightHaveBeen he hoped would be RFK]]) to take the money from TheVietnamWar and use it to re-fund Great Society programs.

However, after both MLK and RFK [[ChandlersLaw got shot]] during the course of initial filming, director Haskell Wesker had made friends in [[OnlySaneMan Fred Hampton]]'s Chicago Black Panther Party during the course of making the film (one of the scenes is an interview with the Panthers basically playing themselves). They informed him that a massive demonstration was underway for the summer of '68 and Wesker decided to center the climax of his film ''[[RealitySubtext around that]]''.

The title is from a famous {{Postmodern}} thesis by media critic [=Marshall McLuhan=], ''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Medium is the Message]]:'' namely the idea that there are [[MediumAwareness "hot" mediums]] such as theater that are highly interactive, and then there are more "cold" mediums, [[TVTropes like television]], which [[strike:lull the audience into a stupor]] require little interaction from the audience.

TheInternet, which has room for huge amounts of interactivity but mostly confined to correspondence with [[{{GIFT}} ill-informed people]], would thus be an example of a populace that prefers its Medium Cool. With lukewarm spots [[WikiTropes such as wikis]], like the one you may be editing now. The Situationists like Guy Debord would probably ask why [[TVTropesWillRuinYourLife you are in here on the computer]] when you could be out forming a [[FlashMob flash-mob]] or impromptu theater, of course.

The film was rated "X" by the MoralGuardians for ''political content'' on its release (the film contains little sexual content or swearing), the first film to do so (swiftly followed by ''MidnightCowboy''); thus making the title reference all the more meaningful.
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!!Tropes featured in this film include:
* AluminumChristmasTrees:
** The popularity of Roller Derby.
** The journey of the {{cowboy}}-like motorcyclist in the opening scene to deliver reels of film to the studio (this was before TV cameramen had satellite hookup) chronicling some random car crash. Film at 11.
** The fact that most poverty in America at the time, including inner-city poverty, was (and still is, in many places) white.
** The depiction of the DNC protestors, being footage of the actual protest, features few {{New Age Retro Hippie}}s; the crowd is mostly [[BombThrowingAnarchists clean-shaven radicals]] and college students.
* AnarchyIsChaos: The protestors.
* AsHimself: The crew were somewhat nervous shooting the "Black Panther interview" scene, since the Panthers were basically playing themselves doing a TV interview and [[YouBastard accusing the media]] of indifference to the problems of the inner city.
* {{Cameo}}[=/=]ActorAllusion: The guitarist who is the "Indian of the group" in the rave scene is Mike Nesmith of Music/TheMonkees.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: In the climax of the film, the female protagonist is shown wandering through the midst of [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome the actual police riot]] (with the real camera-men in tow behind her). To avoid losing her in the crowd, she is dressed in a bright yellow dress.
* DeadpanSnarker: The TV reporter.
* DecoyProtagonist: The hero's LoveInterest, an impoverished Appalachian woman and her child, who he meets during the course of reporting on a story.
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing: As mentioned, the message is about media exploitation of real life violence for entertainment. The medium is... a film that uses a police riot as a stage for actors to walk around in.
* EnforcedMethodActing: ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MydIOnH5ac0&feature=related "Look out, Haskell. It's real!!"]]''
* FrankZappa: Music by him and the Mothers Of Invention is used on the soundtrack.
* {{Hipster}}s: The protagonists visit a (real, of course) psychedelic rave,\\
[[SnarkBait very dry-ly]] scored to Music/FrankZappa's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywPan19kvyI Who Needs The Peace Corps]]:
-->What's there to live for...? Who needs the peace corps?\\
America Is Wonderful! Wonderful wonderful wonderful...\\
Hi, I'm Jimmy Carl Black and I'm the Indian of the group!\\
Every town must have a place where phony hippies meet!\\
Psychedelic dungeons popping up on every street!
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: The film is hard-to-find, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WtsIyDf-o0 except online of course]].
* TheLastDJ: Our journalist hero, who is an up-and-coming correspondent in his [[CorruptCorporateExecutive monolithic media]] organization.
* TheMan: The cops and TV reporters.
* {{Mockumentary}}: Filmed documentary-style ''during'' the course of actual events, with RealLife passerby.
* MoodDissonance: Goes with the territory of being shot live on-location.
* NewAgeRetroHippie: UnbuiltTrope and thus, surprisingly averted. {{Discussed| Trope}}, however, by Music/FrankZappa on the soundtrack:
-->''[...]'' First I'll buy some beads,\\
And then perhaps a leather band to go around my head.\\
Some [[BraidsBeadsAndBuckskins feathers and bells, and a book of Indian lore]].\\
I will ask the Chamber of Commerce how to get to Haight street,\\
[[MushroomSamba And smoke an awful lotta' dope]].\\
I will [[DoesNotLikeShoes wander around barefoot]].\\
I will have a [[CloudCuckoolander psychedelic gleam]] in my eye [[EnforcedTrope at all times]].\\
I will ''love'' everyone. I will ''love'' the police as they [[LyricalDissonance kick the shit out of me on the street]]...
** Most of the demonstrators in Chicago '68 were members of the New Left and not hippies, although Abbie Hoffman got all the attention in his famous "incitement to riot" trial. Hippies were there, however.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: The police turn on journalists filming them and some DNC delegates.
* ParentalSubstitute: The protagonist softens up when he becomes a surrogate father figure to the kid.
* PinballProtagonist: Taken to a literal extreme.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot
* RealitySubtext: The director considered ending the film at MLK's planned Poverty March on Washington in 1968 and have it be how [[DoNotDoThisCoolThing the media will only cover violence]]. Then MLK got shot. Then the director was told about the Chicago demonstration by the people the actors were interviewing for the film. Then RFK got shot...
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized
* RomanceEnsues: Between the protagonists.
* [[spoiler:ShootTheShaggyDog]]
* SpiritualSuccessor: ''{{Network}}''. For a similar film in the same year, but [[HilarityEnsues more farcical]], see ''PutneySwope''.
* YouBastard: The film's message.
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::''Look out, Haskell. It's real!''
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