Saturday, September 19, 2020


 Anybody else here familiar with the 1982 Oscar nominated "Missing" starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek? 

For those who aren't, the story takes place during the Chilean coup of 1973 and the US' involvement. It focuses on a man who disappears and the efforts of his father (Lemmon) and wife (Spacek) to find him. 

SPOILER ALERT. At the end of the movie, they find the body of that individual. The father tells the embassy that he's going to sue the US government over it, where a worker replies, "That's your right."

"No," the father replied, "it's my privilege."

The first thought that crossed my mind was "Good for you, standing up to those bullies." My second thought was "And that's what the movie's director wanted me to think." I left the theater feeling manipulated.

True, the director was on the left end of the political spectrum. However, my ideological opponents don't have the monopoly on playing emotional puppet master. I've seen some videos recently which are promoting a message I whole heartedly agree with that are poorly written and unashamedly try to play on one's feelings.

Many sermons are designed to trigger an emotional response. There's a popular Christian song that left me feeling my feelings were used. I've read a couple of Christian novels recently where the faith element seemed to be included for the sole purpose of the book being for the Christian market.

Can you get a message across without that manipulation? Yes. I read the novel Jurassic Park. By the time I finished it, I got the strong feeling that author Michael Crichton had written the story as a warning against genetic engineering. But his appeal went to my mind, not to my emotions. It made me think; it did not make me react.

I am an artist, but I'm also a preacher at heart. My creativity is channeled through my Christian worldview and has a purpose to communicate as well as to be quality product. So I do have the concern of trying to get the message to the brain as opposed to tugging and playing with one's heartstrings.

In the novel I'm writing, I have characters with different viewpoints. One way to keep from manipulating is to present more than one perspective and to avoid to stereotypically have the good guys agree with me and the bad guys disagree. 

Are there examples where you feel manipulated by a work of art or a non-fiction book or reporting? Are there examples where your thinking is challenged but where you don't feel manipulated?

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