Thursday, March 08, 2012

Exaggerating Truth To Be Effective?

...and another thing...

I was reminded of another video that got me a bit unsettled last year. I refreshed my memory and came across another thoughtful piece in The Guardian: Unwatchable: should charities use shock tactics to get attention?

It speaks about when it is and isn't OK, in the writer's opinion, to exaggerate, shock and make the general public uncomfortable. I'd guess there will never be a right answer to this. I agree with this statement: "Sometimes it can be tempting to prioritise effectiveness over truth. I know of campaigns that have deliberately exaggerated statistics and claims to provoke a reaction. It has sometimes worked, but in the long-term an untruthful strategy may well lose support and legitimacy."

How you convey "the truth" matters. In my last post on Kony 2012, I guess I was saying that I didn't like their message, but it provoked me to act (not buy posters, but get to work in my own way).

The makers of "Unwatchable" state:
We know we’ve made something which many are going to find disturbing and thought it was important to explain why we went to such lengths. The issue that hundreds of thousands are targeted by weaponised rape as a tactic of destroying communities to control mines has been with us for over a decade and still continues.

The last sentence doesn't answer an important question: who is using rape as a weapon? So the awareness-raising "truth" will make people more anti-mining rather than think about who uses rape and why they are able to get away with it. Mining companies have a huge responsibility to prevent their complicity, but the truth is that such violence doesn't just disappear if you even could set up a programme to mine only "rape free" minerals so tossing out your iPhone won't do anything. In short, this is a less effective campaign than Kony 2012, in my opinion, especially as it makes people less open to thinking about ways that natural resources present an opportunities for development.

And, the assumption that if you see wealthy white people getting raped means we should care seems like an "effective" tactic, but makes my stomach turn. Maybe that's just my displeasure with the way of the world rather than a comment on the film.

This video on "Why we made this?" is really worth watching. But I still don't change my opinion. And if you ask me, nothing can be more horrific than the story itself, told in graphic detail with no professional directors and filmmakers.

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