Frontline

How have the texts studied in this elective challenged your ways of thinking about ???Telling the Truth??™
Truth is a concept that exists throughout the cross-section of society. Telling the truth is extremely complex as an individual or a firm will base its representation of the truth on its commercial and self interests. An example of such is the media, who determinedly manipulates and distorts the representation of truth. The satirical television series Frontline directed by Rob Sitch humorously mocks a typical current affairs show and their daily pursuing of ???news??™. Sitch employs Frontline to portray the distortion of truth and the empowerment of image over honesty and truth. Through the episodes ???We Ain??™t Got Dames??™ and ???Smaller Fish to Fry??™, Sitch cleverly allows the audience to see that truth will be misconstrued and manipulated in order to claim ratings and power.
The audience??™s perception is critically valued by the media. The concept of image empowering the honesty and truth of an individual is explored in both episodes, through different issues that approach the Frontline team. In ???We Ain??™t Got Dames??™, the Frontline team are faced with the issue of encouraging more of a female audience to their show. In response to this, the team develops a ???promo??™ of the show??™s host, Mike Moore, in an attempt to create a perception that Moore is ???female friendly??™. Throughout the promotion, Mike is portrayed through different scenes with women such as playing the guitar and picking up a teddy bear. During these scenes Mike is shot in close-ups, bathed with artificial soft light with vibrant music in the background. The use of the lighting and non-diegetic music creates an atmosphere around Mike that is joyous and tranquil, suggesting that Mike is caring, compassionate and credible. Sitch uses these cinematic techniques in the ???promo??™ as a hyperbole, exaggerating a romanticised and cliched image of Mike. Mike??™s artificial construct on air is juxtaposed to his natural behaviour off the air. Throughout the series of Frontline, Moore is portrayed as a self-absorbed, idiotic figure. When Mike reads the script to his next segment, he asks ???What??™s ???insipid??™ mean??™. The grammatical error and his asking of the question reveal his true personality. The comparison between off-air and on-air personalities of Mike conveys how media is more concerned about its image, creating an artificial image of Mike to appeal to a broader audience. The fact that the media focuses more on its image rather than the genuine ???behind-the-scene??™ personality shows how the media is willing to offer a perspective that is limited to gain commercial and self benefits. The nature of ???telling the truth??™ is shown to be misconstrued here, due to self-obsessed notion of image in media.
The concept of image is further emphasised in the episode ???Smaller Fish to Fry??™. The audience is able to see the difference in personalities between public and private times. When Brooke and Mike are paired up to host the Frontline show, the audience visually comprehends with Brooke??™s inner thoughts towards Mike. This is evident in Brooke??™s ending lines, ???…you dumb bastard (to Mike)…Hi I??™m Brooke Vanderburg from Frontline, wanting to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas??™. Her juxtaposition in dialogue convey the importance of her image in the public. The contrast between Brooke??™s expletives to Mike and her warming messages to her intended audiences portray Brooke??™s truthful personality, how she is evidently irritated at Mike Moore. Brooke has hidden her true image and hence covering the honesty and truth of her, due to her aspirations commercially, specifically her reputation with the public. The complexity of ???Telling the truth??™ is apparent here, as it is extremely difficult to be informed of the inner truth that the media hides from its audiences.
The media??™s distortion of the truth is a theme that is continually present in Frontline. Specifically, in ???Smaller Fish to Fry??™ the modifying of truth is evident, through the issue of journalistic integrity. The honesty and the truth behind journalism is questioned when Martin and his camera crew seek their daily story. Martin, a second rated journalist, deliberately stages a story concerning the dry cleaners stealing money. In this scene, the use of a hidden camera that shoots in a point-of-view angle exemplifies the authenticity of the situation, emphasising the ???crimes??™ committed. The fact that Martin uses entrapment, an illegal practice, portrays the blindness of media. It shows that the media will go to drastic measures, in this case, completely distorting the truth, to find a story that will claim better ratings. This is further emphasised earlier when Emma says ???That??™s entrapment??™ to which Brian replies ???No, it??™s a current affairs??™. This again shows how the media will blindly perform any task to seek their commercial and self interests, claiming that nothing is illegal when it relates to current affairs. This relates to the notion of ???telling the truth??™ as it shows that media will sensationalise and in some cases, completely distort the truth, for their own profits by promoting a false and biased perspective to the audience.
Like all episodes, ???We Ain??™t Got Dames??™ again portrays the distortion of truth by the media. Mike proposes a sweatshop story that targets ???illegal textile factories in Australia employing migrant women, paying them below award wages??™. The obsession of ratings is shown when Mike plays the tape and Brian responds: ???Five seconds in I completely lost consciousness.??™ The deliberate hyperbole by Brian emphasises his automatic response that concerns appeal and ratings. When it is finally played during the Frontline show, it is shown to be extremely edited. The editing of Mike??™s voiceover to Brooke voice and the vibrant music and colours conveyed by the fashion models exemplifies the drastic sensationalisation of the story, from a potentially serious news item into a ???sexed-up??™ fashion story. It is evident that Brian has deliberately distorted the truth behind this story because of his approach to current affairs, how his decisions are only based on ratings.. Through the sweatshop story, Frontline is able to satirically convey the complexities in ???telling the truth??™ as the media??™s primary concerns are for its own commercial interests.