Conflicting Perspectives

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.The study of conflicting perspectives is revealing:
it stimulates thinking and promotes varied and challenging viewpoints.In contemporary society, the media is integral to the functioning of the political process in order to inform the public, yet simultaneously, it can also present corrupt and falsified information which misleads public opinion. The film Wag the Dog, communicates this paradoxical impact of the media by showing how it can both expose issues for the benefit of the public, and also manipulate the representation of information to manipulate people. The article ???Political Spin Checklist??? interrogates the spin used to alter public opinion, and recognises the need for the public to be aware of this when reading or viewing reports. Both texts communicate the role of the media, and emphasise the necessity for members of the public to realise that media releases are constructions of reality.Wag the Dog presents the role of the media to inform the public about national and international issues, however it contradicts this through hyperbolising corruption within the industry. By using film as the medium of production, Levinson appropriates a contemporary issue to popular modern culture. Wag the Dog targets an educated audience with an understanding of American politics due to the film??™s genre as a political satire. This audience brings with it preconceived ideas, such as faith in America??™s democratic system, which are then challenged by exposing ???backroom politics??™. Through election, Americans seek to safeguard values such as democracy and freedom, and it is legitimate that information regarding their leaders should be published. The construction of the song ???American Dream??? evidences the high levels of patriotism attached to the process of election. The media??™s responsibility to keep people updated is shown in the initial reporting of the purported sexual misconduct by the President. This demonstrates the important role of the media, particularly prior to an election, because it allows the public to make informed decisions. In the opening of the film, the intertextuality of a political campaign advertisement containing the aphorism ???don??™t change horses in midstream???, evidences that politics is an issue of concern for everyone. The media is further seen to be providing information in the frequency of press conferences and the popularity poll shown on a blackboard. The media is necessary in these circumstances to act as a mediator between political parties and individuals in order to inform them about actions of the government.Levinson??™s film, in conjunction with showing positive influences of the media, also demonstrates the power of it to manipulate through levels of construction. The film uses humour in the form of satire and hyperboles to show how information can be represented by the media in a way which misleads the public. This is seen in the construction of a fake war to deflect public interest away from purported sexual misconduct of the President, and focus on a supposed inter/national crisis. As the media takes hold of the stories it is presented with, the truth becomes irrelevant because the issue is already plaguing the minds of individuals. Through moral flaws which underpin the film??™s protagonists, corruption within the media is further hyperbolsied. Conrad Brean is presented as an unkempt mercenary, shown through costuming, for example his scruffy suit and hat, and by introducing him to the audience via a security camera, suggesting he is involved in dealings which need to be watched. The mise en scene of Stanley Motss??™ home hyperbolises a luxurious and egotistic Hollywood life. This shown through objects such as his solarium, and his wearing of a bathrobe and oversized glasses. The irony of Schumann, ???the war hero??™, being an Army prison convict, further contributes to the hyperbolised presentation of media falsities and cover-ups. The film shows how the media can be used by those in positions of power to manipulate public opinion through false or inaccurate information. ???Political Spin Checklist??? evidences that the public requires assistance when analysing political information, and further shows the necessity to be aware that reports are composed to reflect the view of a particular individual or group. The article is in the form of a web-based article, and has appeared on the ABC website since 11th May 2010. This medium enables it to convey the issues raised by spin doctoring in a more informative and succinct manner. The ABC typically appeals to an audience seeking informative rather than sensationalised reports. By constantly using the address ???you???, the article suggests that spin in the media is relevant to all readers. Through presenting the tactics used by spin doctors in an accumulative list, the article is also successful in maintaining interest from the reader and allowing it to be easily read. Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian-British philosopher, has attributed the lack of impartiality in language to the fact that we can only know the world through language, and are unable to perfectly recreate events. By this, we can see that simply claiming that the only effort of the media is to promote falsities is unjustifiable because a completely balanced report is unattainable due to the variation in understandings of the modality of words and their connotations between different people. This shows the paradoxical role of the media as it is impossible for journalists and reporters to evaluate the actions of politicians without the perception of some impartiality. ???Political Spin Checklist??? attempts to rectify the problem of information being a representation of reality. This is achieved by providing readers with a list of the techniques used by spin doctors and journalists to manipulate information in order to have it appeal to the public in a particular way. An example of this is ???the diversionary tactic,??? which is where a party announces something new in order to divert attention away from a less popular issue. Other examples given by the article are to ???tell the partial truth??? and to ???drip feed??? parts of documents that show the government in a positive light, and ignore the rest of the record. The article assists the public in deciphering representations put forth by the media, and reiterates the need for individuals to consider the art of construction when being politically influenced by information.Both texts evidence the need to be skeptical about media releases, and to question what representation is being made before accepting the report as solid fact. Wag the Dog presents the paradoxical nature of the media by exploring both its informative and manipulative abilities. This is primarily achieved in the film through the use of hyperbole and humour to exaggerate the need for the public to be more aware of spin doctoring. ???Political Spin Checklist??? serves the purpose of both alerting the public to political manipulation of information, as well as attempting to assist people in deciphering spin tactics. It is important to consider that the media continues to be a part of the political process, and events such as elections, however through these texts it is evident that the public needs to be aware that the media can also be manipulated for political gain.Thankyou.

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