Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Essay: How Do Composers Influence Responders?

How Do Composers Influence Responders Essay

Composers use many different ways to influence responders, depending on the text. Each type of text has its own unique structure where meaning can be created. Three texts that will reinforce this include "The Hurricane" a film directed by Norman Jewison, an internet article written by Stan Isaacs and "Hurricane", a popular song by Bob Dylan. Each of these texts positions the responder a different way. They all refer to the boxer Rubin Carter and his imprisonment for a triple murder in 1966.

The text " The Hurricane" as released in 1999. It depicts the false imprisonment of the boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Though Carter was convicted three times for the murder of two people in a bar in Patterson, New Jersey. This text strongly portrays Carter as innocent and a victim of racism in America in the 1960's. The responder is positioned to believe that Carter is innocent and was wrongfully convicted. The composer, Norman Jewison, portrays Patterson as a racially biased community and that Carter was a victim of the "system". He emphasizes that an all-white jury convicted Carter and white detective De La Pesca, harassed Carter since Carter was 11 years of age.

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Norman Jewison has influenced the responders in various ways in order for the responders to believe that Carter was the victim. He uses a variety of film techniques to influence the responders. One crucial scene that highlights Jewison's approach is the arrest scene when Carter was 11 years old. Carter is seen running down a street with a group of his friends. The next shot has the group in a park overlooking a river and waterfall below. While the boys are playing, a well dressed white middle aged man approaches one of the boys and strokes the boy's hair. This underlining pedophilic notion angers Carter, who ends up hitting the man on the head with a thrown bottle. The man grabs Carter and holds him over the edge of the cliff, at which point Carter stabs him in the shoulder, and proceeds to run away. However, the cops haul the young Carter down to the police station by himself upon which he is interrogated by two white cops. One of which is the character of De La Pesca, the white cop who stays after Carter throughout the entire film.

The composer uses several techniques in this scene to influence responders. In the beginning shot, the one in which Carter and friends are running down the street, a very unique style of colour is used. The composer opts for an almost coffee coloured scene to give the impression of olden day times. This colour technique is coupled with playful, jovial music to give the impression of innocence, youth and lightheartedness. It makes the responders feel as if Carter and friends are harmless and only looking for some fun. However, when the shot of the attack scene is in progress the music and colour is no longer lighthearted. By changing just these two techniques the responders know the mood for this shot is very different from the one before. At first the children are just playing but when the man approaches the responders are made to feel anxious, aggravated and even scared, through the colour change and the lack of jovial music. When Carter is held over the edge of the waterfall a camera angle is used to show the height and depth of the waterfall compared to the struggling 11 year old Carter. So, when the man is stabbed the composer has made sure there is no doubt in responder's mind that it is self-defence.

In the next shot, at the police station, the composer uses very little lighting to give the impression of depression, fear and anger. The composer also uses a low angle camera technique facing up towards the detectives. This camera technique gives the impression of superiority, and exaggerates the size of the two detectives leaving Carter to look forlorn and much smaller. By using two detectives in this scene, and leaving Carter by himself without legal representation, the composer automatically has appealed to the responders sense of fairness because for Carter its "two against one". Another way the composer plays on the responders sense of fairness is by using dialogue in which the detectives are grammatically correct and articulated whereas Carter just mutters the same grammatically incorrect statement "I didn't do nothin'..". Responders are made to feel angry by De La Pesca's handling of the boy; he uses such phrases as "… Nail your black ass down…" This rude, mean and racist statement provokes the responders into feeling a need to protect the young boy.

Another text in which the composer influences the responders is Stan Isaacs internet article about the championship fight between Rubin Carter and Joey Giardello in 1964. There is much controversy surrounding this particular fight and who won it. Joey Giardello was awarded the fight. However, in Stan Isaacs article, Stan supports Carter and believes Carter should have one the fight. The composer uses a variety of techniques to influence responders and persuade them to his perspective. Before going into his views and opinions on the fight the composer mentions a prestigious award called the A.J. Liebling Award given by the boxing writers association, he goes on to say that he has on this award. By mentioning this particular fact the composer is influencing the responders to think his perspective and opinion is more valid and worth taking notice of. If the composer was to leave that part out, the responders would be less inclined to take notice of or be persuaded to his point of view. By including he is making a point that others have recognised him for his writing on boxing.

Another way Stan Isaacs influences responders is by informing us of Carter's attitude after the fight. He uses words such as "gallantly", "admiration", "graciously" and "praised Giardello". By including the latter the composer is making it known that Carter was a gracious loser and was not about to abuse his opponent this makes the responders respect Carter as does the mentioning of all the other words.

A third text in which the composer influences the responders is the song "Hurricane" performed and co-written by Bob Dylan. It is a song that is based on the autobiography of Rubin Carter called "The 16th Round". The song is very similar to the film, as they were both based on Carter's book. Like the film, the song portrays Carter as innocent and a victim of racial injustice.

One of the techniques Bob Dylan uses to influence the responders is his tone and the blunt, matter-of-fact lyrics. For example "In Paterson that's just the way things go. If your black you might as well not show up on the street less… you wanna draw the heat." By using this statement in his song he makes the responders feel as if Rubin Carter didn't even have a chance just because of his skin colour. Bob Dylan uses the line "Put in a Prison Cell, but one time he could-a been…The Champion of the world." By using this line Bob Dylan poses the question in responders minds "What if?" It provokes the thought that if he was not locked up that maybe he would be living the life of a champion, a superstar and how contrasting that life would be to the one in a tiny prison cell. He also includes the line "The D.A. said he was the one who did the deed…And the all-white jury agreed." By mentioning the all-white jury Carter was up against yet again brings in the notion that the case was racially biased and appeals to the responders sense of fairness.

Another way Dylan influences responders is by expressing his opinion on Carter's innocence. As an influential rock singer of the 60's if Dylan was to sing that Carter was innocent and openly displayed that as his opinion, then the majority of Dylan supporters and fans would follow that opinion as well. He uses the power he has as a rock star to influence responders.

In conclusion, in the three texts mentioned all the composers use different techniques to influence the responders. For example, tone or language used, music and colour, camera techniques, and influential power. They attempt to use these techniques to persuade responders to agree with their opinion or view. What links these texts together is the very controversial subject of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, and the composers desire to get a message across on this particular subject.


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