Frederick Wiseman James Wolcott - Essay

James Wolcott

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

To reverse the Faulknerian rhetoric, the people in ["Welfare"] (as in "High School," "Juvenile Court," and "Titicut Follies") don't prevail but endure—barely. Anger hangs in the air and not all of the anger belongs to the welfare petitioners…. It is Wiseman's most tendentious film, hard-bearing and bitter-edged, and those who expect comprehensiveness or balanced-scale fairness are going to be infuriated.

And they'll have a good case, for Wiseman makes no attempt to show the Other Side (e.g., welfare chiselers, or people who escape from poverty because of welfare assistance); he's interested only in the victims … that Wiseman is unfair to the welfare system is like complaining that Charles...

(The entire section is 546 words.)