Propaganda Tactics used in “The Dancer Upstairs”

The Dancer Upstairs

Movie Poster

Propaganda Tactics used in The Dancer Upstairs

From the Original Post written by Dr. D.E. Clark:

This film, directed by John Malkovich, demonstrate propaganda tactics that are typically unethical communication practices with a very rich and robust history!

Historically, mediated propaganda dates back to the first penny press newspapers of the late 1800s and then formative and famous propaganda communication research of the 1920s and on…that focused on war rhetoric and propaganda employed by the USA and Hitler. The bulk of the research was led by Walter Lippman regarding the effects of mediated propaganda…they concluded that mediated propaganda had limited effects regarding behavior modification.

However, this led to the diverse body of research studies we still write and publish about today. Due to concerns about propaganda tactics and previous mediated disasters…ready the history, and because the USA had the First Amendment, news producers and editors are self-regulated. The propaganda studies led to the news formats we see practiced today with delineated sections for specific news stories so as not to confuse or mislead the reader. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutchins_Commission)

Choose an example or incident (ONE) from either movie that illustrates one of the propaganda tactics and explain how this type of communication can lead to terrorist acts as demonstrated in both films. (Terrorist acts are broadly defined and can be overt, or subtle…I will leave it up to you all, via what you learned from your readings and what you now know about propaganda to decide.)

In your comment, be clear about the propaganda tactic you are discussing and the terroristic act you are discussing. To further elaborate your point, bring in a recent news event (anywhere in the world) that is similar to the point you are making.

There are four aspects/parts to your blog comment. Try to go in order of what is being asked so the following students can follow and we can all read different opinions and information is similar formats.

My Response

The Dancer Upstairs has examples of communication practices that make viewers question the messages ethical value. The film’s ideologies follow the fascist bourgeois government who are opposed by fanatical marxist rebels. Both sides are violent and use propaganda to further their causes. Historically, this communication device has been used to by political entities to foster their causes and gain support (Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda on March 27, 2014).

PROPAGANDA TACTICS

According to the psychology wiki on wikia.com, propaganda’s aim is to influence people’s opinions actively, rather than to merely communicate the facts about something. The subtle and emotional aspects of the message of propaganda is what make it influential. There are numerous tactics in the creation of propaganda. The message, method and volume are all important aspects of a propaganda agenda. One persuasive device involves oversimplification; or using generalities to provide simple answers to complex problems. This tactic explains the terrorist’s use of message and method through the film. The terms are defined below:

TERRORIST ACT DEPICTING TACTICS

The simplest act of using a dead dog’s is explained by one of the investigator. “In China, a dead dog is symbolic to a tyrant, condemned to death by his people.” The messages on display with the dogs are oversimplified give a farther reach. The first dog seen in the film has a sign that reads: “The point of the next century will be for man to rediscover his god. Long live President Ezequiel.” The another dead dog has a sign that reads” Equal Strategy: only two things fill me with wonder. Stars in the sky and moral law in my land.” Using these simple messages gives the propaganda a longer reach.

CORRESPONDING RECENT NEWS EVENT

In Pakistan, there is a war on terrorism and they are calling it the Irregular War. This is because there is no uniformed enemy or specifically drawn battlelines. The country is using an inter-agency three pillar framework to keep control based on Security, Political and Economic. This counterinsurgency (COIN) theory of oversimplification is helping keep control. This three pillar framework is “a brutal oversimplification of an infinitely complex reality” (Haider, E. Irregular War. Retrieved from http://newsweekpakistan.com/irregular-war/ on March 27, 2014).

Oversimplification has it’s place in propaganda in that complex issues are made easy to understand; giving the message a better chance at reaching the targeted audience.

“Babel”: The ties that tie us to terrorism rhetorically… Cross-Post

babel movie poster

Movie Poster

Original Post on Blogger.com

Blog Instructions

After carefully watching Babel and taking insightful notes on the film’s context, differing ideologies and political infra-structures (hegemonic influences), please list only one example from the film of a particular cultural stereotype. Then, discuss how this example you chose might have (potentially) been received by an American audience versus the actual same ethnic/culture audience the incident took place (in the film).

..

My response

Babel’s plot is dispersed among several countries and portrays the characters in a way that illustrates how global communications is flattening our world.This film is truly an international work, from the production people to the writer and the cast.This film examines the varying perspectives of the characters in the aftermath of a tragic accidental shooting. I will focus on the Japanese character, Chieko. She is the daughter of the hunter, who gave the rifle to his former guide in Morocco. The emotionally challenged deaf/mute teenager has recently lost her mother to suicide. This character expresses her grief through extreme sexual acting-out. Another frustration relates to hegemonic attitudes of the hearing teenage boys that hang out where she does. I will focus on the scene in which she enters the disco with her girlfriends and the new acquaintances.

These new acquaintances have fed the girls whiskey and mind-altering substances. This forges instant friendships. Chieko feels accepted in this group. One of this guys, Haruki, shows an instant attraction to her. The sequence leading to the entrance of the disco shows the fast pace of Japanese culture through fast-moving citizens, subway, wide-shot of the busy streets and her drug-induced enjoyment of the simple things in life, like swinging and playing with the boys in the water. For once in the movie, Chieko is enjoying life. Haruki has his arm around her and she can sign with him.

The Japanese teenager enjoying herself.

The Japanese teenager enjoying herself.

The scene’s music transition before they enter. Shot of the subway, travelers, and the chaotic motion of the traffic segue into the bright lights, lasers, smoke and the mass of bodies dancing. Haruki takes her purse and stuffs it into a locker and drags her to the dance floor. September/The Joker by Fatboy Slim is moving the crowd. The audience hear what she hears intermittently. NOTHING. At first she seems overwhelmed but finally she smiles. She observes the people around her. She feels the energy and starts mimicking the movements of dancers. The audience can see her self-confidence and she laughs for the first time in the film. Unfortunately, this feeling does not last long.

The composition of the shots range from extreme close-ups of Chieko, unfocused features giving the effect of the drug wearing off and the crowd enjoying themselves. As the song changes, Bootsy Collins can be heard making the statement, THE JUNGLE S GETTING WILD, BABY. This is the counterpoint of the scene. The music speeds up, the composition of the shots get weirder and she shuts her eyes closed for awhile. When she opens them, she notices her girlfriend and Haruki making out.Her smile disappears and she stops dancing. Once again the audience experiences her auditory POV, no sound. She waves and leaves. From my experience, I can say that she was more depressed and confused than before she took the drugs.

 I believe that Chieko represents a stereotypical teenager, in either America or Japan culture. I understand these two cultures are different. In my opinion, all teenagers want acceptance from their peers and feel self-confident.

As far as audience reception of this scene, I believe that the impact has to do with experiencing the disco through her perspective of silence. I would guess that most of the audience, either Japanese or American, have not experienced a silent disco.

“Don’t Make Me Think” Reaction Paper I

September 18, 2014DMMTR cover 77x99

Steve Krug‘s book title, “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability“, means users do not want to take time to learn or invest in abstract design on the web. It is just common sense when you think how simple it is to design for the audience, ha. Krug differentiates between the actual design and the reality of the user on the web. The first time I heard the title of his book, I laughed. It is a funny title but it gets attention and draws in the reader.

The first edition of the book was published in 2000. I read the book in 2004. I recently purchased the third edition which includes mobile website usability. I found enjoyment reading the other chapters but found the assignment focused on the Chapter Two, How We Really Use the Web: Scanning, Satisficing and Muddling Through. I like Kruger’s methods. They are easy to understand because reasonings of “why the user does what he does” is give.

 Krug covers three fact of “real-world” web use. The first “fact of life” is that we don’t read web pages; we scan and we’re good at it. A learned behavior is that we don’t need to read everything. “Fact of life” number two is that we suffice and find the first reasonable choice and go with that. The remaining “fact of life” is that web users will muddle through without learning how things work. Understanding is not as important as finding what you’re looking for.

 He goes on to explain why this happens he states that it’s not important to the audience or they find something that works and they just use that over and over. On the other hand if the user understand what’s going on there’s a better chance of finding what they are searching for which is a win-win if they understand the full range of what is offered and just not parts they stumble across.  Also having them understand gives you a better chance of steering them to the parts of the site they want to see and so both feel smarter and more control when using the site. The rest of the book goes on to explain how to get to this point and different ways of doing it

 Brings us to the bottom line which means that we need to design as if we were on the “super information highway”. Krug’s closing tells us that “if your audience is going to act like you’re designing billboards, than design great billboards” this is true and I have learned a lot from reading his book I have enjoyed it again.

 Krug is a genius. He has taken usability and brought to the forefront of design and building web sites. I look forward to reading the rest of the Third Edition, which includes the following new chapters:

  • Mobile: It’s not just a city in Alabama anymore
  • Usability as common courtesy
  • Accessibility and you
  • Guide for the perplexed

An Auteur Study of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Style

Title Screen

The objective…

of this study is to use the auteur model to examine Alejandro González Iñárritu’s two films: Babel (2006) and Biutiful (2010). An explanation of why Iñárritu films are truly auteurism works of art will be discussed. Techniques used in these films portray fear, human suffering, and stereotypes. Iñárritu called his films “emotional geography that the viewer can roam and relate to as a human” (Bouchaib 2011). The topics of analysis derived from this objective will cover the use of narrative structure, sound and silence, filming techniques and characterization themes that challenge the audience illustrating tragedy, changes and terror of the characters. Themes include reactions to consequences or fate and fear through sickness, injury, or loss; universal to all humans. Iñárritu presents these themes with clarity of realism that results in empathy. This study aims to prove that an Iñárritu’s films create an emotional landscape to show that there is light and beauty in the darkest human experiences that leads to transformation. The relationships with his creative personnel brings continuity between Babel and Biutiful.

Auteur criticism…

dates back to the 1920’s with French art cinema claiming as the filmmaker being the auteur (Hayward 2012). Over the centuries, many debates about others involved with the film as being auteurs. This study provides exemplary explanations why Iñárritu films are distinct and visually compelling. The creative personnel that worked on both Babel and Biutiful including:

● Director of Cinematography Rodrigo Prieto
● Score Composer Gustavo Santaolalla
● Sound Designer Martín Hernández
● Film Editor Stephen Mirrione
● Production Designer Brigitte Broch
● CoProducer Ann Ruark
● Producer Jon Kilik

Rodrigo Prieto says Iñárritu allows a lot of room for proposes ideas. “It makes you feel like it’s your movie, too, and that empowers you to contribute as much as possible” (Bosley 2006). Even though the narrative structures on these two film are entirely different, many techniques and stylistic traits can be seen in both films.

Contrasting structures…

of Babel and Biutiful show that Iñárritu is not locked into a mold. His first three films, including Babel were nonlinear storylines consisting of several interlocking narratives of people affected by the actions of others. These stories were shot and disassembled and recomposed to give the narrative more sensation. Biutiful looks at a single linear story focusing on the daily actions of one character to drive the story. Iñárritu delivers both with great precision.

Babel’s hypernarrative and intertwining plot is dispersed among several countries and portrays the characters in a way that illustrates how global communications is flattening our world. This film is truly an international work, from the production people to the writer and the cast. This film examines the varying perspectives of the characters in the aftermath of a tragic accidental shooting. This film is considered the third in a trilogy and final work with writer, Guillermo Arriaga. Each story within this film focuses on the individual’s plight but their experiences become insignificant to the overall perspective during the final segment. Amelia is forced to voluntary deportation and her son, Luis, meets her. She in the same dress she was wearing at the wedding and it is only hours after she left him. Her desperation and terror can be seen in their embrace. She sees her whole world as she knows it disappear, as a consequence of one decision.

From there, the viewer is transported back to Morocco where Yusset has surrendered and his brother’s dead body is carried away. A closeup of his face reveals the terror he feels from this loss. He reflects through the only flashback of the film showing the two sharing a moment of sheer happiness. Their arms are spread against blowing on wind a mountainside. This image is mimicked earlier by the Japanese teenagers during their ecstasy trip.

This segment leads to the evacuation of Mrs. Smith by the Red Cross helicopter, producing a very different kind of wind. All the villagers are curiously looking on. Mr. Smith offers the tour guide a wad of cash; which is rejected. Mr. Smith does not understand the refusal of money and realizes that hug they just shared was a viable replacement for the nonmaterialistic man.

This scene is consistent with the other stories’ ending where the characters show signs of transformation. During these three segments, the nondiegetic musical score, discussed later, replaces dialogue because words cannot convey the emotions that Iñárritu conveys. The final emotional charge comes with Chieko and her father embracing in an understanding of empathy for each other’s loss. The final shot zooms out from the father and daughter until they are specks in the Japanese sky. Iñárritu calls this shot the “El Abandonador; in which starts with closeups of the characters, almost able to smell their skin to giving them some space to breathe and looking at them from a distance… like pulling back from a beehive” (Deleyto 2010 P. 135). This is the point where the stories all converge into showing a common theme of love overcoming obstacles and hardships. There are many open-ended situations that Iñárritu leaves to the viewer’s imagination.

Biutiful…

is a departure from Iñárritu’s previous offerings. The story was shot in chronological order by scene and focuses on one main character. Uxbal finds out he’s dying of cancer and tries to set his affairs in order. He works in the Barcelona criminal underground. His actions create chaos, terror, arrest and even death of people that trust him. His illness changes his perspective and his outlook. Even though Biutiful is linear and does not intertwine more than one plot, the narrative follows a circular story. The film’s plot is booked-ended and of the main story consist of a flashback.

The film begins with Uxbal and his daughter discussing his mother’s ring and remembering the sounds of a radio show he listened to when he was young. He gives her the ring and you can hear her saying “Papa, Papa?”. The viewer is then transported to a snowy forest where there is a dead owl. A young man appears. He discuss the fact that owls spit up hairballs when they die and tells Uxbal to take his ponytail down because it frightens the owls. The man talks about the salt water that used to be there.
Then he makes the sound of the water, then the sound of the wind and then concludes with the sounds they make together; which makes Uxbal genuinely laugh. They share a smoke and the man walks off. Uxbal asks “What’s over there?”, he follows him and the snow begins to fall.

The audience is then transported to the flashback, or the major part of the story. At the end of the movie, we see Uxbal and Anna in bed talking. After he gives her the ring, the audience sees him outside his body and knows that he has passed and the snowy sequence begins again as Anna says “Papa, Papa?” Now the audience now knows that the man is his father and he leads him into a new world.

Sound…

Iñárritu states that “sound is 50% of a film or sometimes even more” (Deleyto 2010 p. 132). The musical score is part of that percentage. The use of sound and silence to provide an emotional element that adds to the visual images onscreen. According to Routledge’s Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts states the function of music should provide a framework for the film and seal the spectator-screen relationship (Hayward 2012). “Deportation/Iguazu” from Babel begins when Emilia is told that she will be deported, continues with a flashback of the two brothers enjoying themselves and accompanies Mrs.Jones while she is being loaded into the Red Cross helicopter and ends with the doctor coming out to talk to Mr. Jones about her condition. “Composer Gustavo Santaolalla was drawn to an instrument called the ude, an ancestor to the lute and guitar, and sounding much like the Japanese instrument koto, to connect the Arab, Spanish and Japanese locations” (AFI n.d.).

The Sound Designer, Martín Hernández, provide silence as technique to garnish an emotional response to the characters. The use of silence punctuates the Japanese teenager’s, Chieko, frustration as a deafmute. There are several scenes where the audience experiences her auditory point of view, silence. The a nightclub segment provides her experience while in utter silence as sweaty dancers writhe erotically to the pounding beat. The audience relates to her terror of never being able to hear.

Biutiful’s “Meditacion#9” provides the soundbed for the strongest imagery in the film. Fretting from the deaths of the Chinese immigrants, he tells Marambra to go out of town without him. As he ends this conversion, his fate become clear to him. The image of the birds changing direction in flight provides the counterpoint image with the soundtrack. Another of Iñárritu‘s stylistic uses of sound is to show emotion without words. By providing Uxbal’s subjective perspective, the viewer can pick up on the emotions felt by him.

Babel and Biutiful’s Director of Cinematography, Rodrigo Prieto….

uses different techniques to provide emotional content through composition, camera movement, color and aspect ratios. Prieto’s use of these techniques in both films with different results to portray terror, anxiety and loss of control. Babel illustrates an example this right after Susan is shot. “The handheld camera swings wildly around the bus while framing becomes decentred and unclassical when bodies of panicking tourists obscure Susan; leading the audience confused as to what happened” (Tierney 2009).

Biutiful’s visual palette is extraordinary because it changes as the character Uxbal changes. In the beginning, the character is wound tightly. First, the handheld camera work is shaky and unstable to illustrate his anxiety and need to be in control. Once he digests the fact that he will die, he surrenders. This sets his soul free and the the way the images are captured and portrayed illustrates this freedom.
“Stability creeps into the handheld camera movements, Uxbal’s mind has expanded and is shown through use of aspect ratios” (Slater 2011). The colors of Uxbal world also morph into a pleasant palette as he nears death. The bookended segments are full of light; a contrast to his home that he just left in Barcelona.

This study of Iñárritu’s auteur style…

from Babel and Biutiful proves that his creative team is very much part of this creative output. Uses of structure, technique and sound will impact audiences and film studies for years to come. Reviewing his latest and future films will be a pleasure for this writer.

Works Cited


Authority on American Film (AFI

Read the rest of this entry

Blog 4: Point of View & Attachment of Meaning, “The Sins of My Father (aka. Cartel)” Cross-Post

Original Post

Instructions

In reference to the movie we watched this week, Sins of My Father, pick a victim’s point-of-view (POV) regarding the film, and address the attachment of meanings per this film for the chosen victim. Remember, there are many different kinds of victim’s portrayed in the film and pertaining to the issue of drug cartel terrorism.

Think beyond the main characters or the obvious, especially if they are already taken. Police, community, media, family members, financial institutions, film-makers, global institutions…

Then, in reference to Global Communication, Chapter 9 “Frames of Reference,” use the theoretical argument about attachment of meanings (essentially the whole chapter) as your contextual framework for your brief, yet concise, discussion of the film, the victim and meanings associated within this mix. (The mix: communication theory, issue, victim and meaning.)

First come, first-served. I would prefer you all to choose different victims and different aspects of meaning related to the film’s communication efforts regarding drug-cartel terrorism. You can even pull in links to current mediated stories as this is an ongoing issue.

Take time to research your POV and how you will comment touching on all three aspects of this comment. Your communication counts too!

My Response

Sins of My Father illustrates the direct narrative documentary film style. The family provided archival photographs and footage to document the outrageous life of Pablo Escobar. This point of view is seen through the Colombian kingpin’s son, Juan Pablo; who changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin. Using the direct narrative, Marroquin connects with the audience showing his values and beliefs are separate from his father and his past. Others are interviewed but his point of view is the most interesting and powerful.

What puts the power in his story is his wanting or needing forgiveness for his father’s sins. The south American culture follows the patriarchal social system where men have the greatest authority. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he has been an instrument of peace. Marroquin reached out to the son’s of two men that his father ordered assassinations of; former Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla and presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.

Beside these men, many unnamed victims gave up their lives by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to Time, Escobar cost Colombia the lives of an Attorney General, a Justice Minister, three presidential candidates, more than 200 judges, 30 kidnapping victims, dozens of journalists and perhaps 1,000 police officers (Retrieved from “Tales of the Drug Lord’s Son”, TIME. Retrieved on March 9, 2014).

I believe the Colombian Society as a whole is victim of Escobar. When he entered politics and was challenged by honest men, he killed them. It was believed he had influenced a constitutional change to fit his needs. But the biggest influence was on the poor. He worked hard to cultivate his Robin Hood image, and frequently distributed money to the poor through housing projects and other civic activities, built sports arena, hospitals, schools and churches (Retrieved from Pablo Escobar on Wikipedia on March 16, 2014). This brought Escobar “Hero Worship” from the poor and their protection of him. Escobar brought unsurpassed violence and a government that could be bought. Even though Escobar helped the people of Columbia, his legacy is rooted using and abusing his power that made him one of the richest men in the world. Unfortunately, the average Columbian’s frame of reference of Escobar is that of a man that supported the people.

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