Tuesday, May 8, 2012


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“Television dramas explore a number of issues to which we can relate and they comment on theses issues using verbal and non-verbal language.” Discuss how two television dramas explore and comment on issues prevalent in the real world using verbal and non-verbal techniques. Highlight how these texts position you to respond to these issues in a particular way.

The guardian produced by David Hollander and the secret life of us produced by Kate Dennis are great examples of a TV drama where by they explore and comment on a number of relative social issues. The Guardian explores and comments on such major issues as institutionalisation, representation of drug addicts and their families and the role of lawyers in society. A vastly different The Secret Life of Us explores and comments on such current social issues as Representation of doctors, their relationships with patients and friendship between different races. Both these texts allowed me to respond and comment in different and significant ways through its different uses of verbal and non-verbal techniques.

The guardian has a certain episode that appealed to me. This episode dwelled heavily on institutionalisation, it implied the attitude that prison institutionalises its inmates and does not help them cope or adapt to the growing outside world when released. The text uses such techniques as character construction to portray this message. Mr Grey, a black gentlemen just released from prison reflects this idea. He is revealed to the viewer as having a lack of social skills and that he won’t accept his wife’s desires for a divorce, he is shown as unable to hold down a job as he assaults a fellow worker. His slight madness, which a naive viewer may perceive is actually a lack of social skills, is highlighted when he physically abuses his lawyer who in fact is trying to help him. Low camera angle shots depict him as powerful, however foreshadows that he could be threatening. His facial expressions change frequently and his voice slowly increases from calm and controlled to aggressive and irritated. Mr grey has body language that conveys him to be neurotic, at one point he appears attentive and calm as he sits and listens to his lawyer explain a particular situation. Yet at other times he paces the room, revealed through a pan shot, raises his voice and intimidates the lawyer by pointing his finger at her. This is a sign of his uncontrollable anger and lack of social skills. This issue of anger is very prevalent and relative in society today. With a man being ‘falsely imprisoned’ for twenty years he is bound to come out of prison with a lot of stored up anger. I responded to this by feeling sorry, compassionate and understanding towards Mr Grey, I believe he should be treated with some kind of tolerance and leverage in order to regain his social skills, this will help him to function.

Representation of drug addicts and their affected families is also a key issue in the guardian. It takes the attitude that drugs in parents tear apart families and homes. Although drug addiction is self-destructive it also destroys the people around the addict. Camera closes in on Jon’s daughters and deep music is played in the background to heighten the tragedy of Lucy’s experience in helping her father (Jon) buy and inject drugs. Body language of Jon is used to show the destruction and emptiness of his life, his head is hung low, he sits very slouched and his co-ordination is poor. Jon is constantly sniffing, coughing and breathing heavily. He is very anxious all the time. His verbal language shows his shame as he shifts the blame “I got sick… My wife got cancer… I can be a better man.” This shifting of the blame and making empty promises shows his incapability of being a parent, especially a single parent. This whole issue allowed me to think that it would be unfair to allow two girls to be under his control and supervision. I would think that the ‘Burkes’ applying for custody of the children should gain this role in order for the best interest of the children. However with a solid and successful rehabilitation Jon should be able to be a frequently be apart of the children’s life.

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Lawyers are represented via the protagonist name, the title of the TV drama and the soundtrack. Lawyers are presented as understanding and protect the vulnerable. Fallin (the blonde lawyer) comforts his client. The camera frames the girl on Fallin to reveal the small space that exists between them. The camera is placed behind Fallins’ head and then switches to shoot the scene behind Lucys’ head. This illustrates that they are listening and absorbing each other. Fallin attempts to confront her, he says “I know and I agree,” this was in context to her disappointment of her father. However this is quite a strange thing to say and do as it blows the ‘real’ job of a lawyer out of proportion. Lawyers do not go to police crime scene funerals or self investigate, lawyers are presented with evidence and use it to their best ability in order to help their client. Therefor I am positioned only to take no notice and view this particular issue as fictional and frivolous.

The Secret Life of Us explores the idea of doctors an their relationship with there patients. It adopts the attitude that doctors can develop a close relationship with their patients. Doctors are presented as people whose patients and the people around them are clinically detached from them. Tony forms a close relationship with Fergus (a young aboriginal boy) suffering from severe pneumonia. Tony addresses Fergus using colloquial language and a friendly tone, “How are you feeling Ferg…How are you little man.” He buys him a present to help him cope with his illness and comfort him, this is shown through the mid shots of Tony next to Fergus’ bed. He constantly rubs his forehead as a sign of affection. His language is positive, optimistic and encouraging. “I want you to get well… you’ve got to use your energy and get well.” Tony says to Alex (a female associate doctor) “I still have hope.” Alex is negative about Fergus’ operation. She says using negative language “it doesn’t look good,” yet Tony returns a strong sense of hope “yes, but the central lines in and its working.” Tony runs to Ferguses bedside during Alex’s wedding. Juxtaposition of the two settings (wedding and hospital0 highlights Tony’s devotion and love towards his patient. Tony is also filmed discussing Fergus at home and on the way home revealing his concern, he also develops a close relationship with Fergus’ parents, and breaks the news to Fergus’ mother that the pneumonia is severe, he also answers all questions posed to him by Fergus’ uncle. This shows that Tony goes beyond his required duty. This allowed me to take a high regard for the medical profession, as I would want a doctor who is actually interested in the welfare and care of his patient.

It is shown that the medical is profession is not always fully professional. The representation of doctors shows this. Alex receives a poor report from a doctor who hasn’t even worked with her before. It is evident that the doctor is unprofessional and sinister through his lack of etiquette in evaluating Alex’ way of duty. When Alex passes him in the hotel corridor slow motion is used to illustrate and exaggerate the tension which exists between them and delineate the doctor as sinister and deceptive as he meets Alex’s eyes and sharply looks away. This made me view and respond in a negative way, how could a senior worker mark you if they had never been exposed to your work. This is very unfair and shows me that there are holes in society and the workforce that need to be patched.

Through The Secret Life of Us it is known that interracial relationships are around us and able to function. The friendship between an Aboriginal (Kel) and a white Australian (Alex) shows this. The text takes the attitude that Aborigines are not separate from white Australian society. They are a part of it. The text proposed that aborigines and white Australians could live and operate in a single society and form close relationships. This attitude is propagated via the construction of the character Kel and Alex and their interaction. Kel is deeply saddened that Alex is going to reside in London, the middle shot of her in her car slouched against the window, and weather is overcast to add to the tragic mood. Music playing highlights their friendship. A voice over is used to convey Kel’s note she leaves to Alex. “I don’t want you to go, you’ve been and inspiration and guide to me, I don’t know what ill do with out you.” This whole issue is very strong and I was enlightened and responded to think that there is a hope for an anti racist country, also if friendship is this strong in our world there is no need for destruction, war and violence.

All TV dramas are supposed to explore and deal with certain prevalent issues in the current society. However some have greater effects than others do. The Guardian and The Secret Life of Us are excellent they deal with many significant issues and allow the viewer to be affected and respond in many ways. This would show the quality of the texts. Throughout both texts I was positioned in many situations which allowed me to respond in different ways and absorb the message and importance of the TV dramas.

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