Spotlight Reflections

Spotlight is a film directed by Tom McCarthy that comments on the Boston Globe’s coverage of child molestation within the Catholic Archdiocese and the cover-up.

Spotlight tells the story of Spotlight, an investigative journalist team that works for the Boston Globe, and how they covered and exposed a child molestation scandal within the Catholic church. The film comments on real life events and the characters are based on journalists still alive and working today in their respective fields. The viewer slowly gets to know the team of investigators and how they uncover the case, the viewer also gets to see the emotional impact these cases have on the journalists.

Viewing the film one gets a feeling for how much work goes into a story and how complicated it can be to get one published. This case especially is complicated as many of the victims have grown up, some don’t want to speak up and others have committed suicide. The story touches upon very strong believes just as the news story did at the time. This touches on some cases that many people feel uncomfortable talking about, child molestation and their religion.

Use of close up shots and focus on individuals as they speak give intimacy with the actor and makes the viewer feel as they are having a conversation with the actor themselves, making them feel involved in the story. To get a realistic account of how a journalist gets their work done might influence more people to believe that there is indeed a use for investigative journalists and more money needs to flow through news agencies for high quality news. It is also shown how emotionally difficult it can be to be a journalist in this situation, to work on a case that might deeply affect you and your family’s believe but not to be able to share it with them.

After the viewing we had the opportunity to listen to a reporters own views of a reporter that worked on the case that the film was based on. It was interesting to hear his perspectives on how the case and been taken and turned into a dramatization of the real life events. It was in a sense relieving that he believed that the film was quite an accurate portrayal of the real world events as that gives me hope that even though we do often consume our information through “infotainment” that we are still getting quite an accurate description of various events. It is always interesting to gain different perspectives on a film, piece of writing, as it can challenge your own views. Getting to hear especially the views of a person involved in a case turned into a fictional version of a story becomes an important part of ones understanding of the usage of fiction too describe real world cases.

Snowden Reflections

Snowden is a dramatization of Edward Snowden’s decision of leaking classified documents from the government into the hands of the public. The film is directed by Oliver Stone and was first released in September 2016.

The film starts out when Snowden meets up with the journalist and documentary makers that will later become his main support in the leaking of documents. The viewer then gains an understanding of Snowden’s backstory and how he came to became part of the CIA and how he came to meet his wife. The past then mixes into the future when the filming of the documentary and the journalists interviews where we learn about Snowden’s thoughts behind the leak. The view then continues to jump back and forth between the two time periods.

The film display’s the excitement that Snowden went through when he was testing to become a member of the NSA team as well as when he was building up a relationship with his wife, Lindsey. This plays on various emotions of the viewers, make them feel a personal connection to the character, Ed Snowden, both his romantic life, the friendships he builds and the excitement he finds in his job. The film romanticizes the story behind the leaks and makes in interesting for a crowd that would not normally pursue this type of knowledge.

After watching the documentary Citizen Four it is clear to me that they used the same sources and used by documentary makers Laura Poitras, potentially using her a source for their filming as well as most likely interviewing Snowden and the journalist’s that were in direct contact with Snowden. If a person chose to only view this film as a basis for their knowledge on this case despite having more sources available they would gain a quite accurate understanding on the case and Snowden’s decisions to publicize the documents.

Michael Quintanilla: Confessions of a Disco Maniac

Michael Quintanilla’s lecture on his work was inspiring. The type of work he has done, especially his story and perspective on the LGBT+ community and Aids hit close to home, as these are things I have a great interest in and would want to work with in the future.
I found his lecture very genuine and I felt that he was extremely true to himself and his stories. The little challenges he placed in front of himself during his careers such as the disco photo story was hilarious, yet inspiring, to me it meant that you should not always listen to other peoples criticism but rather to your own heart and your own believes.

Quintanilla’s view on writing “writing is about seduction” was especially interesting to me as I believe the same, you have to drag in your audience and make them want more, that is how you can keep your job in this field. If others do not find you “sexy” or interesting how can you expect them to go through, read or watch, what you produce.

One of the biggest lessons that I gained from this lecture is that it is important to stay true to yourself and do what you believe in. To not fall under the pressure that others might place on you to fit in a specific box, but if needed create your own, and do what you need to do to stay true to yourself.

My hopes are to keep this passion I saw in Quintanilla when he spoke of his work, within myself when I work on my own productions, and to be able to display it just as easily as he did on that stage. My goals are to, even though I might have to go into the commercial business to sustain a family in the future, is to always do something that I believe in. Today that means that I want to work with Non-profits, support groups and refugee support and to lend them a hand with my work. I believe in education as a force for change and I believe journalism is a great way to educate people. Just as through Quintanilla’s story’s of his friend dying from aids, I want to display the humanity in people that we might believe are different from ourselves but are indeed not as different as we might think.

Citizen Four Reflection

Citizen Four is a documentary about Edward Snowden and his life after he decided to give journalists access to secret documents that he acquired through his work for the NSA. In the documentary an insight is given into how he got in touch with journalists and how they together with him work to publicize the documents and keep him safe at the same time.

Within the documentary clips from different sources and emails are shown, these clips range from court room hearings, construction work, TV-interviews and clips filmed from when the journalists first met Snowden in Hong Kong and their interview process and conversations. In between these clips a black screen with email and instant messaging conversations are shown. These different sources are given to give more credibility to the information given, displaying that the same views come from people of different standing in the society. The documentary maker, Laura Poitras, also plays on the viewers emotional experience by displaying the struggle that Snowden goes through not being able to contact his wife or explain to her what is going on. When he then contacts her and sees how his decisions are affecting her he breaks down. This gives the viewer a basis for connecting to him personally. This is done as almost everyone will understand the effect that your own decisions can have on your loved ones and to show that Snowden was just a “normal” citizen, with a family and a job, that decided that he was going to do something about the corruption he saw in the world.

Despite the various different perspectives shown there is a strong bias in the documentary. It is very clear that the documentary makers and the journalists involved supported Snowdens decisions and they do not show counterarguments in a very positive light. The only counter arguments that we see are short clips, one comes from Obama at a press conference, but these arguments are not given much back up information nor are they given the time nor the exploration needed for the viewers to understand the governments stand on the national security threat they believe these documents behold. The rapid camera movements in the hand held shots from Snowden’s hotel room and the talk of how he is now a political refugee and how they are going to keep him safe also makes the viewer see Snowden as the victim and that there is a danger hanging over him at all times.

Over all I believe this was a very good documentary but I would have liked to see the opposing sides more clearly. This would lead me into thinking that the documentary displayed less bias towards one side than I do believe now.

Pom Poko on Environmental Issues

The Film Pom Poko by Studio Ghiblis director Isao Takahata and animator Hayao Miyazaki. The film comments on the environmental impact that urbanization and expansion of construction work in the Tokyo area has on the local raccoon dog population. The film is animated in three different animation styles, one being the typical Studio Ghibli style, one inspired by simplified manga drawings and the last being the realistic style. These different styles are used to trigger different emotions in the viewer. The realistic one is used when the raccoon dogs are among humans, this describes how we as humans see them, as animals, without particular emotions and personalities.

In the film, there is a narrator that narrates from a third person perspective and places in historical facts, there is also a second narrator, the main raccoon dog character that gives a narration in the form of a journal entry.The decision to make the perspective of the Raccoon Dogs prevalent throughout the film was most likely made as it gives the viewer a greater connection to the creatures affected by the situation. This connection might have greater impact on the viewer as they create an emotional connection towards the raccoon dogs. Emotional bonds with the raccoon dogs will make people more likely to act upon their feelings of sadness and want to work towards better environmental protection laws and less habitat destruction. While the other narrator’s perspective will keep, the viewers informed about different situations and what exactly is creating the crisis that the raccoon dogs are in.

Studio Ghibli is an animation studio known for its environmental focus and commentaries on environmental change, habitat destruction and human impact on the nature. Through a friendly animation style and humor they try and communicate the message of importance of environmental conservation to their audience. As the film goes on the viewer is fed with information of the impact of human interaction with nature can have on other organisms, with a great focus on mammals. The viewer is offered a different perspective to view this from than they might be used to from their day to day life. On the other hand, as the film was screened in the 1990’s Japan not all viewers felt that they were affecting their own environment in this manner, leading them to denial. This can be very problematic as their homes might need environmental preservation programs more or just as much as is portrayed in the film.

Striving for Understanding

Monday the 4th we had the honor of a visit from Josh Rushing, a highly inspirational journalist, during one of our “Introduction to Mass Communication” sessions. Rushing is working in what would be my dream position; he has the honor of interviewing and conveying the difficulties of the few to the many. His work leads to a better understanding of difficult situations that most people will never have to or hope to never have to. In his show Fault Lines he along with his co-host and production team follow stories of people in all walks of life, everywhere on the planet, from Syrian refugees to American’s in Oklahoma. This leads to his stories having an impact on people from all kinds of backgrounds. As Rushing said he tries to create a base for people from different walks of life to bond with the people in his interviews, i.e. a mother in Oklahoma will be able to identify with a Syrian mothers struggle and pain of keeping her children safe. It was inspiring to hear how he talked about the people he interviewed and how he really seemed to care about the cases he took on in the show. I believe we need more journalists like him, people that can show the public that they do in fact care about their work, social media platforms have definitely helped with showing the more human side of both journalists but also to show first hand experience from victims of different situations.

I believe that Rushing’s hope to strive for a better understanding of the world is a vital part that the media needs to play in the years and decades to come. The need for cultural understanding is great, the rise of racism and misinformation that seems to be present today, f.ex. in the police brutality against African American’s and Donald Trumps opinions on immigration. The media has a crucial role in trying to reverse this wave of misunderstanding with bringing out information that shows different cultures and ethnicity in a good light.

Propaganda: Bias or Just a Different Perspective?

What question drives your interest in media? What question(s) are you hoping you will find the answer to regarding your media world?

I have been lucky enough to live in more than one and more than two countries, in fact next spring when I turn 20 I will have lived in 4 countries. I would say that it is not a bad thing to have 4 different cultural and therefore media perspectives before the age of 20. When I was younger I did not realize how this would influence me but as I grew older, became a teenager and now, a young adult I have realized the implication that this has had on me and my media experience. Being able to read papers in 5 different languages, papers from countries bordering each other or countries across an ocean from each other, gives different perspectives. This has given me an interesting view on how the same “story” is reported on in different ways, ranging from in which format it is reported in and to which outlet is used to publish it.

Seeing a case such as the European “immigration crisis” being reported on from a Syrian refugee through a series of Instagram video’s has a completely different tone of voice than a reporter at the Guardian or a reporter working for Danmarks Radio (The national broadcasting outlet in Denmark) will have. The background of the creator gives a different voice and different authority to the content of the media piece. Who are we going to believe? Is there a reason for us to rather believe one of these sources? Will we choose the report that comes from our own cultural background or will we choose the report coming from someone that to us has a seemingly completely different view of life?

In today’s media culture, the walls of culture, socioeconomic and political backgrounds are being broken down. Nevertheless we often choose to ignore what is not created by people similar to us, again be it from someone with a similar culture, socioeconomic or political background. My hope is to see people break out of their niche, exploring opinions that are the polar opposite of their own, not necessarily to agree with them but to see that it is out there and why some choose to believe in them. But how can we do that? If people automatically look for the news they want to see how can we force them to look at the big picture?

I want to contribute to breaking these walls, I want to bring different perspectives to people, to show them what they wouldn’t usually see. I want to educate people on topics that they would have never thought off before. I want to break down the walls of cultural misunderstanding.

My hopes are to find the reasons for why people seek out a certain type of media, why people choose to stay in their comfort zone.I want to find out how I can tempt them out of their comfort zone without making them think that what they are seeing is propaganda with no relevance to them. I want to avoid people brushing different perspectives from theirs off as bias but rather display the possibility of another perspective to the pool of knowledge that they already have or create a new passion for a topic that they have never before explored.