With Paterno-Sandusky doc 'Happy Valley,' unsettling cultural questions

December 2, 2014 1:06 PM

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Around their Brooklyn home, the documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev and his wife have developed a kind of code phrase - a "thumbnail," they call it - for how commentators talk about the Jerry Sandusky affair. "Rhythmic slapping" is the term, and it describes people's reflexive need to lament or condemn aspects of the case, almost as a way to make them feel better about it, to make them feel as if it's something that happens far away from their own lives and consciousness.

"I think one of the things that really stands out about Sandusky is how everyone thinks that someone else was culpable," Bar-Lev said in an interview here last week, returning home after weeks on the road with the film. "And really we're all responsible in some way."

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