Political agendas are complex, reflecting myriad perspectives. Examination of these texts heighten our understanding of the representation of political debate, and reveals how composers shape political perspectives for their audience. This is evident in Reynold’s polemic combination of historical monograph and memoir, Why Weren’t We Told (1999), in which competing representations of European settlement are conveyed in the campaign for reconciliation, serving to inform the audience to reassess their misguided perspectives. Similarly, Martin Luther King’s demotic speech “I Have a Dream” (1963) engages with the dynamics of representation to draw social unification regarding race relations, evoking an emotional catharsis within his audience. By examining the deliberate acts of representation within each composer’s textual form, responders gain a deeper appreciation of the power of language in shaping political aspirations.
Reynolds’ political purpose in his monograph is to argue for the reconciliation of indigenous and white Australia, as well as to advocate the progress of native title. By drawing upon two competing political views, Reynolds allows the reader to question their previous perspectives to create greater intellectual acknowledgement of Australia’s past. The memoir structure enables Reynolds to create an intimate appeal to the audience by drawing upon personal anecdotes. He conveys a violent usurpation in which the colonial settlers have imposed upon the indigenous population: “That time of pioneer settlement- frontal assault and bloody expropriation of land.” The imagery captures the brutality that colonisation established, as well as depict the orthodox attitudes under which Indigenous sovereignty was violated. This is further enhanced by contemporary anecdotes, exemplified through the hyperbole: “two Aboriginal brothers… attempting to break into a car,” resulting in a pursuit that, “resembled the Ku Klux Klan chasing a black man.” The deliberatly volatile historical analogy creates a powerful undertone which positions the audience to recognise the continued trend of institutionalised racism in Australia. Through the persuasive use of language specific to Reynolds’ historical monograph and memoir, Reynolds positions the responder to question their previous perspective and acknowledge his political position.
Similarly, but conveyed through the power of oration, King exposes the hypocrisy of a society in which African Americans continued to be victimised mercilessly in lieu of civil rights advancements. To elevate the urgency of his political purpose, King deliberate draws upon the paradoxical dichotomy of progress and regress, exposing the irony that “One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” The antithesis between “poverty” and “prosperity” evokes a sense of indignant anger and injustice, stressing the urgency of achieving civil egalitarianism. Through this powerful ethos and pathos, King advocates the nation’s potential for change, reminiscent of the ‘American dream’. The anaphora of “I have a Dream” creates the vision of a racial utopia in which “black boys will be able to join hands with little white boys”. The recurring motif of a ‘dream’ acts as a manifestation of King’s incentive, personalising the political through the use of first person. The accumulative effect of his anaphora as well as the reconciliatory imagery creates an profound impact regarding the reality of the Negro’s condition, which instills his audience with an emotional catharsis. Whilst Reynolds engages his political motives through historical allegories and personal anecdotes, King seeks to imbue the audience with the motivation to engage in political action by the moral force of his argument.
Reynolds further draws upon the construct of ‘national guilt’ in contemporary Australia to create a powerful political drive, advocating the necessity of reconciliation through the acknowledgement of a violent history. He aims to educate his misinformed audience regarding the distortion of historical evidence to hide the injustice of the past, in order for a re-evaluation of his audience’s perceptions on people and politics. Reynolds conveys his personal perspective in which ‘national guilt’ and ‘saying sorry’ are an obligation and advocates his didactic objective through: “European men virtually had power of life and death over Aborigines.” The simple hyperbole demonstrates the inherent superiority of Europeans who had an “intellectual drive for establishing a White Australia.” However, he also acknowledges the competing perspective that Australians should disregard the bitter past as a result of improved current conditions through the anecdotal allusion: “Eddie Mabo was to be forever linked with one of the most important legal decisions in Australian History… a turning point after which nothing could be the same again.” The high modality of his statement is a powerful acknowledgement of how individual composers are capable of influencing societies perceptions of the past. Therefore, Reynolds uses the two competing perspectives to represent the various ways politics can influence the community and advocate the sustaining legacy of healing and restoration.
Likewise, King uses emotive language to illustrate the discrimination of African Americans and argue for reconciliation. He emphasises this disparity through the extended metaphor: “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.” His analogy demonstrates a personal, yet formal tone which champions his political motivations, impacting his audience’s perception of their role in society and the political actions they can take. However, he elevates the modality of his political purpose by drawing upon the contextual faith of the Christian God where “hills and mountains shall be made low…. crooked places will be made straight.” The metaphor of God’s act conveys an allusion in which a divine power supports King’s reforms, promising that “mountains” such as entrenched racism in “crooked places” will be rectified. His utopian dream targets a wider audience to advocate his message of social unification, where “all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles will be free at last.” Complementary to Reynolds, King advocates a conciliatory resolution regarding his political discussion, and also achieves his motivations through his visions of evoking ethos from the audience.
The representation used by each composer explores multiple perspectives regarding their political situations and establish their own motivations and purposes in shaping the debate and outcome of their political acts. By examining the deliberate acts of representation and the way they shift individuals and societies political perspectives, the responder gains a deeper appreciation of the power of language in shaping political aspirations.
Cowperthwaite’s documentary film “blackfish” (2013) advocates for the freedom of orcas in captivity by demonizing SeaWorld and its cruel policies towards the intelligent species. By exposing the lies and dishonesty of SeaWorld’s practice upon two shared perspectives, the audience gains a renewed perspectives on the horrors of captive orcas and the hubris of keeping such animals in captivity. The super cut footage of SeaWorld’s old commercials with upbeat non-diegetic music illustrates a magical experience with SeaWorld’s whales. The deliberate use of CGI and charming animations of whales around children infantilise the wild and dangerous animals into ‘cute cuddly plush toys.’ However,