The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's All in the Presentation

Do you remember The Wicker Man, and I don't mean the 70's-era film starring Christopher Lee, ya'know the one that was actually good, I mean the recent remake starring Nicholas Cage. This one:

Now, remember that the same film served as the same basis for this one as well:

I just thought that this was a great example of how the presentation and editing of information can lead to two wildly different conclusions.

One of the things that dogs people who are concerned about how information is communicated to the public is the amount of misrepresentation that occurs when those who have an agenda are the ones most likely to present information. This may mean someone who is moved by a political or social cause to exaggerate or downplay particular information. It may mean someone who is representing a particular religious or anti-religious group is distorting information to make their point.

Regardless of motivation, when confronting a complex issue, someone who is savvy can easily present a very distorted (or even a completely false) view of reality by cherry picking what they tell you, and choosing the context in which information is presented, all without ever making a truly false statement. Remember, if The Wicker Man can be made to look like a slapstick comedy (as opposed to unintentionally funny), then anything is possible.

Or, if you'd like another example:


Joshua said...

My personal favorite of this sort of movie trailer is the one for The Shining:

This sort of thing happens in movie trailers sometimes accidentally. See for example the recent move adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia where many people complained that the preview depicted a fantasy film. Apparently some people who had not read the book actually went to the film expecting that and were quite put out by what it turned out to be.

Anthroslug said...

Thank you, Joshua. That is a good one.

I love these things primarily as goofy entertainment, but as soon as I saw the Wicker Man one, it dawned on me that they were also a great illustration of how someone with an agenda could fool us while telling (carefully selected) truths.