Our team stirred up quite the debate when we discussed Billy’s choice to go up to the hotel room and hang the banner demanding Sukarno feed his people, in the emotional decision that led to him either being shot and falling out the window, or just falling out the window to his death (still to be determined). We questioned his leadership qualities in that we thought he should be able to separate his personal political beliefs from his professional duties. This brought up the term “advocacy journalism” in class, and to a certain degree, that is what Billy was doing — advocating for a change in a country he had become so connected to in a very public way.
Also we hypothesized about the metaphorical meaning behind Guy being “blinded” after Billy dies. Since Billy served as his eyes throughout the beginning of the film, helping him navigate while he ruthlessly pursued a story, it seemed natural that once Billy was no longer able to do that, Guy needed to have a moral awakening of sorts. He had so many conflicts between his personal and professional codes of ethics throughout the film. From breaking his love interest’s trust to go after the story to then arriving at the conclusion that he could give it all up to get on the plane with her, being physically impaled in the eye was a fairly dramatic way, fitting for Guy’s character, to have this self-actualization occur.
Of course, Sukarno failed to show leadership for his people throughout the film. But what raised the best questions in our ethical discussions were considering characters that were fairly likable on the surface, such as Billy Kwan, and looking at their behaviors through different lenses. We were surprised, and also intrigued, at the amount of debate it caused.