Conflicts That Arise from Particular Ways of Seeing the World Are Made Evident Through the Shaping of Texts-Barry Levinson’s Film “Wag the Dog” and Michael Moore’s Documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11”

Topics: Michael Moore, Documentary film, President of the United States Pages: 3 (1023 words) Published: September 15, 2013

Conflicts that arise from particular ways of seeing the world are made evident through the shaping of texts. In Barry Levinson’s film “Wag the Dog” and Michael Moore’s documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11”, it is clear that the perspectives in which the audience views the world create particular conflicts. In both texts, the conflicting perspectives arise from the way the naïve public views the world and the way that the government and media view the world through their particular agendas.

In “Wag the Dog”, the plot relies on the alleged sexual impropriety of the president and the way in which particular political powers and the media intervene. In the film it is clear that the audience is seeing two perspectives, that of the public and the private. Though, in the film, Levinson draws the audience in to the political powers. Through the motif of the omnipresent television screen and the use of double images and sounds, the audience is able to see the media and government’s manipulation. Though this is sidelined by Conrad Brean’s rhetorical question of “what difference does it make if it’s true?”. This question further allows the audience to understand the manipulative techniques of certain power players and the way in which they see the world. The characterisation of Brean and his costuming of a ratty jacket, battered hat, bow-ties with striped clashing shirts, gives him a misleading appearance of incompetence and harmlessness. As a figure he would go unnoticed. The dramatic irony is that the audience knows that he is not harmless, but in fact that he is more powerful than the ambiguous President himself. Levinson juxtaposes this character with the character of Winifred Ames to show that even those who seem to be in power, even to themselves, are in reality blind to what is really going on. The use of extreme high-angle close-up shots indicates Brean’s superiority and power as an authoritative figure. Here, the audience is able to see the “spin-doctors”...
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