Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Deceptive Documentaries

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Deceptive Documentaries

Article excerpt

Directors create two very different types of films. The first is analogous to fictive literature. A novel may be based in reality and it may even follow the lives of real, named people, but the overall thrust is imaginative; this is mirrored in the Hollywood and art film. One may derive fictive truth from these works, but they are not reflective of real, untarnished, historically confirmable events. They mirror an imagined reality, and in the most extreme cases, say Buñuel's surreal, multi-layered complexities, they are as difficult to follow rationally as a convoluted nightmare. The other possibility is a film that describes at least a portion of shared reality, confirmable by those who experienced it or historians, who have discovered truth through textual analysis, interviews, or archival research. The documentary can purvey information (Holocaust experiences, the history of jazz or baseball), describe and inform (animal or mountaineering overviews), advocate a position (abortion or marijuana abuse), argue a point (information overload), propagandize (Nazi sports superiority); and they can combine purposes which results in a hybrid but one that still presents verifiable truth. …

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