Many texts borrow ideas and repeat issues that are already present in other texts. This is referred to as intertextuality. Intertextuality is used in order to entertain or persuade the audience as anything that succeeds in doing so will be re-used or copied. Between the DVD covers of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, such intertextual links can be discovered. Both texts raise the same issue of global warming, reflect common values, and reproduce attitudes in viewers.
They both use similar codes and conventions to construct meaning.
The purpose of the DVD covers of An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about global warming, is to attract audience and give some information on its content, mainly the key points. DVD covers also have illustrations and pictures to paint images in the audience’s heads. The purpose of The Great Global Warming Swindle is to argue against the scientific consensus that global warming is caused by the man-made greenhouse gases.
It also attempts to change people’s views and beliefs on the global warming issue, leading people to believe that it is all a lie. The most likely audiences for the two texts are mature people who are aware and are interested in the global warming issue, environmentalists and people of science backgrounds.
Both An Inconvenient Truth and The Great Global Warming Swindle reflect the same social values. In our society, people value truth. One of the reasons as to why people would be interested to pick either one of the documentaries up will be that they are seeking truth in them, even if it is “inconvenient”, although convenience is the preferred.
The Great Global Warming Swindle challenges the assumption that everything reported on global warming is true. Therefore the audience would want to be informed about a great “swindle” in order to be led to the truth, because the audience does not want to be lied to.
Another common value that our society holds would be the value of the environment, the planet. On one of the DVD covers of An Inconvenient Truth is a quote “What if…you were destroying your planet for future generations…” Evidently, this DVD cover is attempting to appeal to the audience’s values and attitudes towards our planet, using direct address such as “what would you do?” etc. A large image of Earth being the center of attention is really emphasizing on the importance of our planet and this image can be seen repeated in the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. “A Global Warning” dramatizes the global warming issue even more because it is warning us about the danger of global warming.
The value of humanity is another social value that is reflected in both of these texts. On the DVD cover of An Inconvenient Truth, the blurb starts off with “Humanity is sitting on a time bomb.” which is saying that humanity is in great danger and it is really important that people are informed about it. It challenges the assumption that global warming is not an important matter and does not affect humanity. This indicates that our society is actually concerned about humanity. In The Great Global Warming Swindle, they are also concerned about humanity, up to the point where scientists and environmentalists are accused of being anti-human by preventing the development of some countries. These are words coming from the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, saying “The environmental movement has become the strongest force there is for preventing development of the developing countries. I think it’s legitimate for me to call them anti-human.” Humanity and the environment are some of the common values that link both texts intertextually.
The attitudes that the documentaries reproduce in individual viewers can be quite varied. In The Great Global Warming Swindle, some groups of people may have been convinced that the man-made global warming issue is a swindle, and will continue seeing it as that way. They may also change their attitude towards scientists and environmentalists, losing trust and respect for them, considering the fact that the documentary was very biased against them, challenging the assumption that everything that scientists say are factual. On the other hand, An Inconvenient Truth may have an opposite effect on the audience. It can be a wake up call to those who are unaware about global warming, or motivate the people into saving the environment. Either way each text will have an impact on the audience, reproducing certain attitudes towards something.
In order to construct meanings, the use of codes and conventions is very important in both the DVD covers and the documentary. Firstly, on the DVD covers, there are images of the Earth, hurricanes and dark skies and they all relate to global warming. These disaster-representing images can also be found repeated in the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle to create emphasis. This is another intertextual link that can be made between the two texts. Also, like many other texts, emotive language is used throughout both the DVD covers and the documentary to create an emotional response. For example, words such as “time bomb”, “major catastrophe”, “epic destruction” and “disturbing corruption” can exaggerate matter and convince audience into believing that something is more serious that it actually is.
Expert opinions and statistics also play a great part in convincing the audience. The documentary contains many scientists’ and environmentalists’ opinion, to reassure the audience because we assume that everything experts say have got to be facts. Statistics such as graphs, which can be found on the DVD covers as well as in the documentary, provide evidence. This is reassuring to the audience because we assume that the statistics have not been manipulated. Both texts employ the same codes and convention, which is another form of intertextual link, in order to convince and reassure the audience.
A viewer’s context is a major influence in shaping his understanding of texts. A person without the basic knowledge of global warming would have found both the DVD covers and the documentary meaningless as he would not be able to make any connection or be able to relate to it. He would not be able to make up his mind whether to accept or reject the messages, as the contextual understanding is not present to help determine his response. Another example is the image of a factory producing a cyclone. Audience need to be able to recognize that it is a cyclone to be able to make the connection that the images is representing that the effect of pollution is as disastrous as a cyclone, that global warming is a disaster.
In the end, all texts come down to one purpose, which is to promote messages. The DVD covers of The Inconvenient Truth promote the message that global warming is real, potentially catastrophic, and human-caused, which is a total opposite of the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle’s message of global warming being real but not human-caused and barely harmful. This is achieved by appealing to the audience’s values and attempting to change their attitudes with the aid of codes and conventions. Intertextual links are also present and they rely greatly on the audience’s contextual understanding in order to create a certain response.
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