Month: February 2016

The presence of media in a clip from The Machurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate does a beautiful in symbolism, strange camera angles, and sound to put power onto their characters and scenes. It serves well for a debate about how the role of media could affect a person and a nation, and you only need one person to roll the ball to cause a chaotic mess for the fight of communism.

The Manchurian Candidate, created in 1962 that revolved around the events of the Cold War, in which the paranoia for communism was at an all time high in America. Propaganda against the idea of communist or a critical comment about the silliness of it, the film is,overall, carefully crafted in every scene, speech, sound, and so forth to bring whatever message the director tried to impose. I will be analyzing a certain scene from the film that uses a couple camera shot effects and sound that makes the scene very intense. The elements used reflects a symbol of manipulation and force by one of the main villains to enact a domino effect and create an upper-hand for them for their next acts in the movie.

The scene begins with a public relations meeting with the Secretary of State surrounded by dozens of cameras and reporters, taken as a shot from above to show the entire room. The second shot is also of a man with a camera and the scene is film next with a camera pan of the room that shows camera’s focusing on the secretary talking. There is also one tv during the beginning of the pan that is showing the secretary, possibly live, and another tv near Eleanor Iselin at the end of the pan. Why so many camera’s and and tvs? Considering that the whole meeting must be important for many reporters to record the secretary, it also represents this very centered aspect of how media is heavily involved with politics within the film. There is barely any space without seeing a reporter or camera, possibly a metaphor for how there is no privacy within the legislation, especially if it is during an era where communism is considered the biggest threat by the United States.

Once the panning does stop, Eleanor gives the signal to her husband John to make his grand proclamation that he has found over two hundred communists in the government. The spectacle is taken aback by the secretary, and the camera shots at him again where he accidentally insults John. This results to a very quick camera shot of a zoomed part between Marco and the secretary, as he blocks the microphones and tells him that he could not do that, even if it was true. It is true though, because of the presence of the cameras he can not tarnish his image so easily. The scene continues in a back and forth shot between the secretary and John. The tvs are now recording John much more than the secretary, gearing the attention away from him to focus on a man and his ridicules. It is important to remember that this was an era in American history in which anything communistic, whether it was or not, was bound to be recorded and taken seriously by the media. This was a perfect transition of how this was captured and thus begins the domino effect.

Notice how Eleanor takes more of the shot when camera is supposedly shooting John, but really, you mostly Eleanor looking at the tv with John on the screen. This is a metaphor of Eleanor’s power amongst the ordeal. She had no lines and yet knew and controlled the situation by choosing when John should speak and starting the frenzy being recorded by several cameras and reporters. John is simply a puppet of Eleanor. John is certainly clear enough to be seen by the viewer to focus on but because he is blocked out by Eleanor and the tv showing him, it proves that only his voice and image are important, not his physical, actual self for the viewer. Eleanor used John to gain media attention, which is symbolized by her looking at the tv rather than her husband.

Another important feature to pay attention to is the sound, as we hear the faint buzzing noise of the tv in the first half of the clip which ends with people screaming. This only adds emphasis of the presence of the media everywhere in the room. The sound gets slightly louder and louder when John begins to talk which then ends with a mixture of arguing and screaming when he announces his communist findings. We can barely hear what he is saying anymore, putting more focus on the chaos between both John and the secretary, I also noticed a faster back and forth shot during the argument that came with the yelling sound.The sound of disorientation plays a role of how critical his statements are but also blocking what he is saying because anything else he says is not as important. He only needs to bring an uproar to the crowd about communism and everyone goes insane.

The point of the strategies used has always been to bring attention to John, in a media type of way. The camera angles, the sound, it helps emphasize his importance and lack of importance on how he is represented on television. He becomes important, for Eleanor in this case, as he is planning to run for president and if he does feed the audience of his knowledge to stop and arrest the communists he “found” it puts him in a strange positive light because of the heated and hatred view against communism by the public of America. Eleanor is shown to be the main perpetrator to cause the events, and her subtle and strong presence is shown by the way she takes up half of the shot when John speaks. She wants to feed the people of the U.S. what they actually want to see, which is a decrease of communism. John is insignificant because he is just a puppet, he only serves as recording for another voice.
The Manchurian Candidate does a beautiful in symbolism, strange camera angles, and sound to put power onto their characters and scenes. It serves well for a debate about how the role of media could affect a person and a nation, and you only need one person to roll the ball to cause a chaotic mess for the fight of communism.


Is Protesting The Key To Success For BLM?

There is no doubt that Barack Obama, the current president of the United States of America, is an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement. From sending representatives to Michael Brown’s funeral to creating a grant program for young black boys called My Brother’s Keeper, Obama has been an attentive audience and promoter for the BLM movement. However, on February 18, 2016, BLM Chicago co-founder Aislinn Pulley rejected Obama’s invitation for a meeting in the White House to discuss social issues and possibly create a stronger,unified movement with other leaders. She claims that it was a “sham” and a “photo opportunity” for the president rather than an intellectual discussion between fighters for social justice. Her personal reasons are understandable but this action she decided for her movement would created an additional obstacle to her Chicago’s BLM and create inefficient progress to reach their intended goals.

Exactly what are the goals of BLM in general? According to their website, under the section Who We Are, it involves reforming the justice system, erasing racism in America towards blacks, black female empowerment, stopping discrimination against blacks due to their disabilities, gender, or background of origin, and create a community for blacks in which education and love will flourish.

These ideas may look great for their movement but it is their own action that adds the credibility and power to these principles. Sadly, I personally believe that they have done little to enact any change. Chicago’s BLM is only a section of the movement but it is in itself a representation of why the BLM as a whole is more troublesome than good. Rather than meet the president of the United States, who invited important figures such as the president of the NAACP Defense Fund and civil rights activist Al Sharpton, she preferred to do what she has always done, protest. She had an opportunity to meet and talk to people who could promote and back her movement, thus having more members and most likely create direct political connections which will help her cause. Yet, she writes her rejection on as to why this is problematic in her own eyes, ignoring opportunities that might help her cause.

She does defend herself as to why she declined. She thought that the event was a celebration of Black History Month, but Obama has denied that it was. Additionally, she also writes that she would have gone to the meeting if they carried out “the simple demands of families” who want police to be held accountable and fired for killing the lives of black citizens, “A meeting arranged to carry this out is one that would be worthy of consideration.”. She continues on with both demands and questions for the Obama administration as to what constitutes as a criminal and wanting the housing for abandoned youth, and many many other propositions. In her point of view, it would be an act of betrayal to her beliefs if she were to meet the Obama, the same man in an administration that refuses to work on the problems she speaks about.

She does have the right to protect her own honor for the sake of protecting the integrity of her movement’s purpose, but at the same time she is a no more of a hypocrite than the people in the Obama administration. What major action has she taken upon herself in order to uphold these beliefs and ideas she strongly holds onto? Protesting only works to garner attention, it is the responsibility of individuals who are a part of the movement to help make demands meet, not entirely the government. I question this form of expression in the fact that it is mostly a nuisance at this point. It has escalated to areas in which they have become utterly annoying. Disrupting business who have done no wrong, rudely interrupting platforms and those of politicians who have supported BLM, violence against people that was never apologized for and completely ignored by BLM, promoting racism, and so on.

Pulley, you expect the government to do everything. You expect the government to create better systems for education but in reality, it is to push forward a racist, oversensitive agenda that has not helped anyone. Have you ever looked at a young black child and told them they could become the police chief to reform the police system, business owners to create more employment? What has BLM done to your people so they may grow and work hard for their future?

Famous black rights activist Frederick Douglass believed that education was important for blacks to succeed in life during the era of slavery. He did not just screech about his imprisoned status, he learned to read and he taught his peers how to read, he shared his story and was an active member in the abolition movement, helping his fellow men succeed and make them realize they are more than just slaves or blacks, but men with potential. If you want to complain, be my guest, but at least prove you can also try to do something, even if it is difficult, you need to be the model people want to become.

Is Torture The Answer for Terrorism?

Ken Roth and Alan Dershowitz

Ken Roth and Alan Dershowitz on CNN

The ticking time bomb scenario, a popular thought experiment that still stirs debate of whether or not torture could be justifiable. In this experiment, a terrorist is captured and has information about a hidden bomb and or terrorist attack that will kill many people, and it is only through torture that they would confess. The experiment is in itself simple and possibly improbable if one were to analyze the logic of it, but it is more important to focus on the point it is trying to make. If one were put in such an extreme situation, should torture be carried out or should ethics and morality overrule it?

In Dershowitz’s opinion, perhaps it may be best to go through with the procedure. Alan Dershowitz,a Harvard university professor in law, suggested this while adding that a “torture warrant” should also be created for that occasion. He became famous on his stance when he has written books and articles about his reasoning. On March 3rd, 2003, he debated with Ken Roth in Washington (CNN), it was then published on their site and titled “Dershowitz: Torture could be justified”.

I enjoyed reading the argument between both men, as they present both opposite sides of the spectrum in their opinions on the use of torture against terrorists. Ken Roth is an executive director of the Human Rights Watch, and he is very firm on his stance on the prohibition of torture. He connected his claim by comparing it to killing the innocent civilians during war, that there is a reason why international law prohibits it, therefore, torture is no exception. He also gives evidence that Israel’s use of torture on 90 percent of  their palestinian detainees resulted in the Supreme Court admitting the torture “isn’t working” when stopping terrorists. He ends his arguments by concluding that there are more effective methods of retrieving information to stop terrorism and that by allowing Dershowitz idea of “torture warrants” it opens the door to the ends justifying the means, or better said, that a person could perform any immoral, inhumane acts if it lead to a preferred end.

Dershowitz argument, on the other hand, can come off as less appealing and even irrational in comparison to Roth’s words. In the beginning of the interview, Dershowitz answers the interviewer’s question on whether or not Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s capture is a ticking time bomb scenario to allow torture, in which he responds that there is a lack of evidence to prove that it is and therefore, no torture should be applied. However, he quickly states that “low-level people” should not administer the torture unless given permission by a higher authority. It is strange how he added this comment in when it has no regard to the question in general. He also constantly barrages Roth that other countries have constantly violated the laws of the Geneva Accord, and tortured their prisoners and so it would be better if the United States were to allow torture instead of hiding it in the shadows about it. These responses make Dershowitz look very cynical and unreasonable if someone were to read this at first glance. In a way, it makes Roth look much better in comparison, as he would then be framed as a man with a stronger ethical stance and humanity than Dershowitz.

I understand Dershowitz’s point as to why he brings about the various violations of the international law about torture, in that it is not simply a black and white issue. It is like killing someone in self defense, everyone can agree that killing someone is wrong, but there are very special occasions in which killing may be a last resort and even then there are limitations of that. Sadly, Dershowitz has failed in his attempt to express more of his reasonings as to why he believes torture is like a resort. Roth gains the upperhand in the debate, especially since he has the last word for it.

If anything, the debate looks to either affirm the belief that torture overall is wrong. The lack of counter arguments on Roth only adds to this. He claims that a torture warrant will make situations worse by using Israel as an example of their failed use of their use of torture to stop terrorism. The problem with this is that Israel is a completely different country than the United States. Though Dershowitz very briefly talks about this, it is true Israel has directly confronted this issue and decided it should be banned. Worse is the lack of information of what were the warrants to allow torture, how they tortured, who they tortured, it is important to provide this in order to understand why it has failed. I can easily say that a republic-democratic government does not work due to the chaos created between states when America was first established. As of now, we have created many laws, limitations, and relationships to prove our system is not as horrible as it has first begun. Yes, there were failures and experimentation, but maybe that is what should be done.

I understand that torture has been used for entertainment, such as the incident in Abu Ghraib, but what if it was controlled as Dershowitz has suggested? There is no one arguing that torturing innocent lives is okay, but if there is a situation where some rapist and murderer has information that would be useful in saving lives, would the table turns?

On February 2nd, 2016, I was engaged in a debate on this same topic. It was in my Humanities class and the students were grouped and told which opinion they should of being against or for torture in the ticking time bomb situation. I was grouped with the for ticking time bomb, and it did align with my personal opinion. I admit, I was not the most prepared for the debate, and I regret my lack of participation and poor answers as to why Dershowitz’s ideas should be considered and right.
The whole process did not change my mind too much, but it did give me some clarity and diversity of opinions from other students about the subject. It was a nice change of pace and it was interesting to know that there some had very mixed feelings about it. I am not for torture but if the case is very extreme, and with correct supervision over the whole process to avoid a Stanford Experiment case, I believe that it could work, it just needs the right regulations.


Cited Works:

“Dershowitz: Torture Could Be Justified.” CNN. Cable News Network, 4 Mar. 2003. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. <;.