Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Media Rumors and Misinterpretations

The funny thing about media is that rumor's can spread fast by just a few lines that you write. For the most part we have to censor what we say now or it can be taken out of context. Even if we do not censor what we write, in the real world people can still take a few things that we have said and spread the words around. Have you ever heard of the telephone game?

When I was a child we would play the telephone game. The game was relatively easy, you take a group people, lined them up and take a phrase. You whisper that phrase in to some ones ear and then that person whispered the phrase in to the next person's ear. By the time the message hits the very last person,  it is an entirely new message. Media is the same exact way and this is the reason why it causes so much havoc in lives.

You may think that you set your privacy setting on your blog or Facebook, you write something only meant for your very close family to see and then suddenly in the wrong hands this message spreads. Once a rumor goes viral, forget it. There is no turning back. For the record and clarification- I have a sister Ipuna Estavillo Black who responded to one of my posts. She is a Professor in Las Vegas, Nevada. She teaches nursing and is currently a PHD nursing student. I said to her "Ipuna, thank you as a PHD student and a Professor I value your opinion." When read by others, this sounded like I was saying that I was a PHD student and a Professor, thus lying about myself. I was not speaking about myself. I was referring to my sister. There was confusion with phrasing from people that were reading and interpreting what I wrote wrong. Again, the telephone game- it is now viral.

People can think we are lying about ourselves when we are really being misunderstood and the interpretation of the media is incorrect. All it takes is one person to take what we write, say or do and spread it to other people and suddenly one word turns in to a totally different and twisted lie.

We can say- "I have got the best car in the world!" We can say this in an excited way, not meaning anything by it but simply delivering it with sheer enthusiasm. Then suddenly, the entire thing is taken out of context and spread around. All the sudden we are arrogant, stuck-up, and we think we have the best car in the world and we are materialistic. However, what we might have intended was to say the phrase more "tongue and cheek."

That is how easy misinterpretations can form. That is how easy media can be misunderstood, taken out of context, and spread viral for all to skew. You can have the best intentions, but if your audience interprets the media and film completely wrong then the end result is the only thing that matters to them and nothing else. Media can cause biases, allowing the audience to skew one way or another.  In the same way, when a film is evaluated and interpreted by a critic that gives it a negative review. The audience reading the review will automatically have a negative bias of the film before even watching it or they may choose to not watch it at all. There is no right answer as to how to fix misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and prejudices based upon skewed media interpretations and readings. However, a thorough analysis of the media or speech prior to launching it out in to the viral world for all to see or read is necessary above all else. Without careful consideration of the words we are choosing to write or the message we are choosing to send to our audience, we might send an entirely different message to our audience- one that we regret and have a difficult time retracting once it is out in viral space. 

But, one thing that is important to keep in mind just because some people in your world does not like something you've written or directed does not mean that a different audience might not respond differently. My short film that I recently directed over the summer for example, may not have won the hearts of its original audience when first shown, but it certainly won the heart of Comcast which will now be airing my short films in two different cities in Virginia. In my book, as long as I have impressed the connections that matter and those that will not only like my filmmaking, but air it on television. Then my goal is accomplished and everyone else that never cared for my film does not need to. We agree to disagree and part ways with the freedom to have our own taste of what is aesthetically "good" according to our own personal definition.

Media rumors, biases, judgmental critics and negative media interpretations based on either poorly interpreted information or the "telephone game" can be toxic to the actual message that is trying to be presented. In the wrong hands, a message can take on an entirely new meaning at the end of the day and that's how rumors are spread and falsehoods are created. 


Thomas / Richard Morgan said...

The obligation of the filmmaker is to be true to the film itself. We're now living in a world where too many artists are only looking at what the audience might want and in the process, something precious is lost. While we need to keep in mind our audience, we really need to focus on what it is that we are trying to say. After all, we might find ourselves providing the audience with an experience that it didn't want -- but it wound up needing.

Lee said...


Thank you so much for your insight and knowledge. You have always given me so much of your wisdom over the years. I respect you from one writer to the next- you having much more experience in film & screenwriting. Thank you for opening up my mind to a whole new perspective.

Ipuna said...

Congratulations on your Comcast! Keep pursuing your dreams. You always have! School is going well. I just finished my first year of my PhD in Nursing. It hasn’t been easy, but I have to get it done!