7. Explain why some texts have a more significant and lasting impact on us than others, with reference to at least one text you have studied.
After watching a film I sometimes feel a bit blasé about it afterwards. Some films however, have a much greater and significant impact on me than others. They might move me or shock me, making them memorable. Food Inc. (2008) is one of those films. Director Robert Kenner and co producer Eric Schlosser’s documentary Food Inc. is an eye-opening film that reveals the truth behind food production in America. The film begs the question: What is in our food? Kenner manipulates a variety of film and documentary conventions to confront, shock, evoke feelings and in turn have more a significant impact on viewers than other films.
The film suggests that there is a veil of truth over what is in our food, that we as consumers aren’t supposed to know exactly what we’re eating. The use of old news footage and the inclusion of an interview with food advocate Barbara Kowalcyk are constructed in such a way to have an impact on the viewer. Kowalcyk is a food advocate, who throughout the film is portrayed as an intelligent and reliable woman. The audience is positioned to feel sympathetic towards her as we learn of the strain of Ecoli that killed her two year old son, Kevin. The interview features Barbara, who is scared to tell the interviewer about her eating habits. The audience learns that she, amongst others is fearful of speaking out for the fear of being sued and because of her reliability as an everyday person this is quite shocking. News footage of Oprah Winfrey’s story relating to food companies’ power over consumers is used. We learn that Oprah is being sued for having made a comment on live television that would potentially influence the sale of beef products. The film conventions are manipulated to instil fear, and belittle the viewer, shocking them with this idea that if these powerful, accomplished women cannot talk about or question what is in our food, how can the rest of us. It is these feelings that the film evokes that have a significant and lasting impact on viewers.
Schlosser suggests the notion that the government isn’t doing its job to protect us with the use of special effects, animations and music. At the beginning of the chapter “The Veil”, an animation is used. The image features Capitol Hill and the White House on the right. This symbolises the government and the parliament of America. On the left a factory is shown, representing industrialised America, and in particular the major food companies. Business cards zoom in and out of the audience’s view. On one side of the business card is the role of the person in parliament or government offices. On the other side is their role in major food companies such as Monsanto, for example: Clarence Thomas – Monsanto lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. Schlosser describes this as a conflict of interest. Viewers are also subject to music throughout this scene. The music is creepy, almost scary and it creates tension. It is very similar to that in the movies where something bad is about to happen. Viewers are positioned to see these people as the ‘bad guys’ as they realise that the government is in fact contributing to the poor health these major companies are pushing on consumers, instead of helping them. This shocking realisation is a result of the clever manipulation of conventions and it is this that has a lasting impact on the