Concept Week 5: Documentary

By Austin M.

Documentaries focus upon realities that exist in the world. They dissect the topic, whether it is informational, historical or social and make it public to the masses. Documentaries can be fun to watch and are supposed to represent the truth and not just a fiction story. We may know documentaries today as 60 Seconds or the movies we watch in class about various subjects. Documentaries may include interviews, stories, specific facts or interesting information that the producer wants the viewer to know. Documentaries have been known to make awareness for different situations. For example, there is a thirty-minute documentary, Kony 2012, which talks about a warlord named Kony. It goes on to describe what Kony is doing in his country, and, also, the producer’s opinion throughout the documentary. Documentaries are useful tactics to raise awareness for a situation in society or just relay information. Documentaries were first introduced to television through a man named Edward R. Murrow. Murrow was a bold man, standing up for what he believes in, and attacking problems head on through documentaries. He is a well-known name in a communications study of documentaries. In the 1950’s, Murrow attacked a Senator accusing people of being communist agents. He made a documentary that attacked the Senator head on. In the 1950’s America entered the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and the “Red Scare” had entered the minds of many Americans. People would accuse others of being Communists, and jail them for it. No evidence was truly needed. It was a hostile time in American history. But not all documentaries have to be about something sad, they can be exciting. There is not a strict guideline to documentaries. You need only to raise awareness through facts. A light-mood documentary could be about how Mount Rushmore got its figure. Even though I used examples for more serious topics, documentaries are not limited to just that cause. They can be exciting, fun, informational or serious.

My example is about a man who is a Texas death row inmate. The 22 minute excerpt gives a short briefing shows a documentary behind the death row. It shows the housing of inmates, the death chamber, and contains interviews with multiple people. I use this example to demonstrate what a documentary can obtain and how it is used. In this case it is used to describe a crime of one man, and the process behind what other inmates go through while on death row.

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