Band 6 – Justice Game – Bible Talk – Dead Poet Society

Differing opinions on any issue in actual fact highlight a more powerful and complex clash of values and ideals. Views upon an issue are dependent on the perspective to which it is observed. Exemplars include Robertson’s essays of The Trials of Oz and Michael X on Death Row from the Justice Game; in which the author demonstrates against the injustice of the justice system. The conflict is also explored by the BBC panel program Is the Bible still relevant today?; in which agnostics and catholic contest through emotive arguments their take on an ancient script. Finally this conflict is also explored in Weir’s 1989 film, Dead Poets Society, where the issue of free will opposed to conservatism is contested.  As such through examining the ways in which conflicting perspectives are presented we are able to understand the representation of texts in society.

In Trials of Oz, Robertson presents the opposing views between himself and Judge Argyle on the issues of censorship of obscenity and freedom of expression.

Judge Argyle is described by Robertson to employ a variety of tacit techniques to sway the jury to his cause. Employing slogans such as the rhetorical anecdote “would you want your neighbour’s children to see this…?” Utilizing inclusive pronouns, reinforce the view that ‘obscenity’ is morally unacceptable. The harsh plosives in ‘scathing and contemptuous’ and ‘infinite toxicity’ are an example of adjectival reference, which serves to persuade the audience in formulating an imagery of the ‘Oz’ magazine. Yet as readers we are positioned by Robertson to disenfranchise Argyle, and support Robertson’s assertion of miscarriage of justice. The excerpts of cherry- picked transcript are employed to shock and ridicule. Lines such as “Why is Rupert Bear equipped with a large organ?” serve to create humour and cast the irony of imbecility upon the prosecution. Deliberate showcase of slang on part of the prosecution such as   ‘fucking in the streets’ ‘make Rupert Bear Fuck?” creates images of anarchy and immorality.  Through vilifying the opposition and asserting himself as an ally of justice, Robertson positions readers to support the right against censorship.

The same conflict of interests surrounding an issue with two sides is evident in the panel program ‘The Big Questions’ by Nick Campbell, debating the question “Is The Bible Still Relevant Today?”  In the Big Question, the affirmative showcase the Bible as relevant by appealing to humanistic values such as, faith, goodness, and Samaritan-ism.The metaphoric “myths contain truths that will always resonate with us as human beings, ” align the audience to perceive the Bible as a fundamental part of Human history. The biblical references and interjections of parables such as “we see our own human natures… we find a truth that endures.” Appeal to the viewer’s personal faith through anacoenosis. In contrast the opposition, reply with negative retorts using rhetorical techniques such as anadiplosis in “The great cop out, the great excuse to evade the need to think… is Faith. Faith is because of the lack of evidence.” Here, the British Atheist Richard Dawkins re-emphasizes his stance through an imperial tone of mockery to appeal through prestige and rational credibility to a contemporary audience.  The use of strong vocational language by Dawkins through exaggerated hand in the air gestures is coupled with a tone of cynicism, when he says “Much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird.’  Dawkins bewildered postulation and sarcasm, rhetorically persuades the viewers to see his perspective through voice and action.

Similarly in Michael X, Robertson presents the Trinidad’s Capital punishment law as an unjust political tool against its supposed role as an enforcer of law and order.

For the state of Trinidad, the legality and legitimacy of the capital punishment comes from their representation of Michael X as a criminal, an insurgent, and a source of racial hatred as prescribed by its constitution. Despite his opposition, Robertson admits through the use of humour and hyperbolic Jargon that, “habeas corpus” appeals to arcane points of law. Yet Robertson creates a conflicting perspective against constitutional legislature; outlining a fraudulent political sphere biased against Michael X. “Fingers scratching… screeching and shouting…” Here Robertson’s use of sibilance as well as torture imagery, confronts the reader by evoking sympathy. “Centuries ago… judges drew the line… at hanging village idiots…”, Robertson uses colloquialism and disorder jargon to evoke a feeling of injustice. Thus through construing an empathetic feeling of injustice, he debunks the case through portraying the Michael X case as both inhumane and unjust.

Likewise, Weir’s Dead Poets Society presents the clashing views of the pursuit of personal aspirations against conformity and traditional ideals. Ironically the premise of rebellion is only possible because of the bulwark of tradition the film initially trumpets as prestige and hegemonic. From the establishing shot the audience is overwhelmed by the opening ceremony, with the use of traditional costuming in starched suits and uniforms while close up shots of the word ‘tradition’ on the banner extol the virtue of conservatism.   The central message of the film however is the destruction of this superficial utopia; Weir employs the characterization of Keating to explore the need for personal expression. Monotonous Latin classes are juxtaposed to Keating’s class with close-up shots highlighting the students’ faces filled with enthusiasm. Keating whispers “Carpe Diem” with the use of dramatic silence, an allegorical archaic phrase, ironically implying the students’ own choice to live their own lives.  The final scene in which students symbolically rebel against tradition by standing (literally) up against the headmaster is a metaphorical act that positions the audience to support Weir’s message of personal freedom and self-determination.

 

Therefore, it is evident that the perspective of the author that reflects a far more significant clash of values, influences the representation of an event, personality or situation.

 

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