"There is no such thing as objectivity," says David Zeiger, director of "Sir! No Sir!" "The idea of presenting one point of view that absolutely has to give equal time to another point of view is spurious. If you make a film with both sides, you are going to make a boring film. The [film] medium is not the same as journalism."
One problem with such "docu-ganda," say some media experts, is that the films risk limiting their audiences to those who agree with their premises.
Some media experts certainly have a point. But what concerns me is this phenomenon of rejecting the idea of objectivity as some sort of 20th century kitsch. There's absolutely nothing wrong with someone making a biased Op-Ed analytical documentary, but even an opinion piece has to abide by standards of accuracy when purporting to represent factual information assuming, that is, the author of the piece would expect not to be called a liar.
In my opinion David Zeiger should serve time in prison for selling crack to puppies. That's an example of an opinion and a lie all twisted together. My opinion is my own and is perfectly valid, but it's based on a lie. You can tell it's a lie because it isn't actually possible. But if you accuse me of having lied I can now complain that you're trying to censor an opinion piece (if I'm a moron, that is). That bit about selling crack to puppies, you see, is 'objectively' false. It can be demonstrated with a fairly good degree of certainty (though nothing can be proven or disproven 100%) that Zeiger's crack selling has never extended to puppies. Do you see what I did there? I presented another objectively false assertion -- that Zeiger sells crack, which I'm willing to guarantee he does not. But because I wrapped it all up in a fact I'm willing to stand behind -- that Zeiger has never sold crack to puppies, a fact you'll find that I have clearly stated more than once in print -- it would actually be scurrilously false were I to state it without qualification.
Do you see how I freely admit to you that I would be wrong to make any assertions about Zeiger's long history of wanton crack dealing (because I'm assuming he does not have one)? That's my commitment to objective accuracy in reporting, despite the fact that this is an opinion piece.
The truth matters. It matters enough that one should strive to represent it. Facts are the building blocks of truth, don't you think? That's another way of saying that facts are an important part of the truth. A desire to get the facts right is a good test of a person's desire to get at the truth, even in an opinion piece.
I should say that I have never seen a film by Zeiger and so I'm not bitching at him for any reason other than that I absolutely hate when people say there's no objectivity. It drives me nuts.
Oh...the title. I had a whole thing in my head about the left/liberal doctrine of 'framing' issues in order to do to things like 'shape narratives' and stuff, which is supposed to be the thing that will save the Democratic party. I would agree that the Democratic party could use some narrative shaping and maybe some paradigm shiatsu. But I have another piece of theory that might work:
Say things that can be demonstrated to be objectively true. If you have trouble jumping right in and doing that then you might take a step back, breathe deeply, and try to accept that there is such a thing as objectivity and it is your friend -- objectivity is like a nice doggie who just wants to lick your face but does not wish to harm you. You might get a little slobber on your lips -- and I'm not saying it couldn't get you sick -- but that doggie is your best friend and it needs you to walk it.