Public Discourse Film Review

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For this assignment, you will review a mainstream film (or television series) that takes a stand
on an issue of public discourse and analyze why and how it may have influenced public
debates on the particular issue. Examples of such films include: Philadelphia, Rent,
Moonlight, Boys Don’t Cry, Milk, The Butler, Mississippi Burning, Black Swan, Zero Dark
Thirty, American Sniper, Spotlight, Blood Diamond, Schindler’s List, Thank You For
Smoking, Orange is the New Black, etc (the library has many of these available for check-out).
Think creatively and feel free to choose a film or series that is not on this list, but please run it
by me first. Don’t forget, this assignment is not to write a traditional movie review; it’s an
exploration of how the entertainment industry can influence public dialogue, and even effect
change in our society.

Be sure to:

  • Identify the public discourse issue and the movie/show that you are analyzing (include the
    year it was released, the director and executive producer, and the studio).
  • Briefly describe the plot/theme of the movie and major characters.
  • Examine how the filmmaker(s) communicates his/her perspective and identify specific
    examples from the movie that address the public discourse issue/debate. Demonstrate how
    the examples supported one position or another.
  • Think in terms of emotion, logical information, images/scenes, and characterization of the
    “good guys” and “bad guys.”
  • Explain whether the film was successful in educating the public, and whether society has
    addressed the issue since the making of the film. Explore the media coverage surrounding
    the film to determine how it sparked public dialogue or even created societal change.
  • Use at least two communication theories/concepts from class readings to analyze how/why
    the examples from the film would influence public opinion about the topic. Some examples
    include: Entertainment Persuasion, Social Cognitive Theory, Use of Satire, Cultivation
    Theory, Mean World Syndrome, Agenda-setting, Framing, Uses & Gratification Theory,
    Word of Mouth, Two-Step Flow Theory, Third-Person Effect, etc. Please choose
    theories/concepts that you haven’t already used in previous assignments, and be sure to
    define and explain each one before applying it.
  • Use citations from the class readings, reviews of the film, and other outside research to
    support your conclusions (APA or MLA format, please). Citations should be included
    within the text and also at the end of your paper.

Guidelines: Please be sure to check spelling, grammar and punctuation carefully. Limit your
paper to 2-3 pages double-spaced. Due Nov. 16. Please submit a hard copy in class.

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