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Melodramatic Media

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by

Paloma Bloch

on 1 October 2014

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Transcript of Melodramatic Media

Anker
“Melodrama is a mode of popular culture narrative that employs emotionality to provide an unambiguous distinction between good and evil through clear designations of victimization, heroism, and villainy” (pg. 23).


Media Event #1 - Sandy Hook Shooting December 14, 2012
Victim
: schoolchildren and faculty
Villain
: Guns and Adam Lanza
Hero
: Teachers and faculty who risked their lives to save innocent school children.
Through the use of images, videos, and interviews, the media was effectively able to evoke pathos.
Just as Anker says, "an ambiguous situation was made to appear clear." Viewers were made to feel as though they could sympathize with the situation.
"We're not doing enough,"
the president said.
"And we will have to change,"
implying that retribution will occur.
Media Event #2 - Columbine High School massacre
Victim: Innocent high schoolers, teachers, and civilians.
Villain: Guns, violent video games, bullying, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
Hero - Teachers, students, and janitors were all praised
Was a characterized as a "massacre" by the media.
The media clearly depicted to the audience through the use of images, sounds, and videos who the victims, villains, and hero's were, and who the viewer should be sympathizing with.
President Clinton made it known that there would be retributive action when he said
"But the problem which came to the awful conclusion you faced here is a demon we have to do more to fight."
Media Event #1: George Zimmerman Trial
Zimmerman's team presented him as the innocent man who was brutally attacked by, as like what Williams says the, "black beast" (256).
Televised media made the trial into a soup opera, with people waiting anxiously to hear the verdict.
In the end, the jurors did not find Zimmerman innocent, only that the prosecution had failed to prove Zimmerman guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The jury was made up of six women, only one being of color, in an attempt to reduce the likeliness that race would play a part, however as Williams says, "race became legible as a mute melodramatic sign" (266).
The verdict, watched by millions, caused much controversy and race riots did occur. Many people did believe that, "if put in the position of jury [they] can be certain that [they] would judge more fairly" (259).


Media Event #2 - Amanda Knox Trial
Williams
"We must equip ourselves as a culture with the tools to understand the melodramatic stories of race gender, and class that do, inevitably, sway both audiences and juries" (294)
Melodramatic Media by Paloma Bloch
5 Characteristics of Melodrama
1. Moral virtue.
2. Villain, victim, heroic savior.
3. Hyperbolic polarizations of good and evil.
4. Cyclical interaction of emotion and action.
5. Use of images, sounds, gestures, and nonverbal
communication to encourage empathy for victim and anger towards the portrayed villain.

Dangers of Melodrama
Anker believes that the coverage of September 11th and the use of melodrama took power away from the people.
citizens were encouraged to think that state power is all-powerful and correct
retribution not up to debate.
“State power became politically unaccountable to citizens. The most dangerous implication of the melodramatic national identity during September 11 was that it took power away from citizens by encouraging them to assume that state power was an unquestionable moral imperative in fighting the eternal battle between evil and good” (Anker, 36).

The point of trials is not to find the truth, but to instead find the story that is in fact more believable.
"It is never the job of the jury to prove innocence" (264).
History of race in trials is so ingrained in melodrama that if we try to ignore it, as the defense did in Rodney King, it would be a mistake.
Sympathy is necessary when trying to win over juries.


The Jury did not prove Knox innocent instead they could not find her guilty.
No murder weapon. Faulty DNA. No motive. Even the time of death was wrong by nearly an hour. The Italian appeals court that cleared Amanda Knox in the killing of her roommate explained its ruling on Thursday: The evidence just didn't hold up.
As Knox is now on retrial, the trial has become more than just an issue of murder, but also an issue of women.
As on women says, "I am making an appeal to all feminists and people of rational thought: We need to speak out, regardless of our beliefs. Beyond the fact that no credible or realistic evidence places Knox or her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito at the scene of Meredith Kercher's murder..." (Hunnigton Post). A quote that will undeniably sway the audience.

When is Melodrama Justifiable?
Case #1 - Abortion/Pro-choice/Women's rights
Case #2 - Aurora Shooting
I believe that in the case of the Aurora Shooting, Melodrama is justifiable because it's a way to help audiences grasp the severity of the situation. I think that in this kind of situation, where innocent people are being killed, it almost becomes inevitable for the use of melodrama to be introduced by the media, just because of the nature of the crime . While it can definitely be argued that the media may overdo the melodramatic techniques that they use, I think that the use of melodrama helps unify us as an audience, as well as gives us a chance to sympathize with these innocent families.
While Abortion is no doubt a controversial issue, I still think that the use of melodrama is justified. Melodrama, as Anker says, makes , "an ambiguous situation appear clear" (35), and because there is so much drama circulating the issue, I think that melodrama is the only way that organizations can get through to audiences. I personally am an advocate of pro-choice, and if you look at the melodramatic techniques used by planned parenthood, the NAF, political leaders, and others, it is clear that their use of melodrama is what gets audiences to react. I think that a topic that is as emotional, and complicated as abortion invokes a need for melodrama. In addition, because both sides of the issue have such strong stances, it becomes necessary for them to use melodrama in an attempt to denounce the other.
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