Movies,  That's Life!

On Broadcast Ethics, in general

Reflection on the Movie V for Vendetta.

It is an undeniable fact that media, especially the broadcast media, is pervasive and influential. This pervasiveness, specifically of the broadcast medium, is manifested in the movie where every citizen, whether in personal homes or in a public place like restaurants, has access to the media content. Not only do they have access but they also consume its content with much fervor. Consequently, people’s beliefs and mindsets are influenced by the media, whether they were aware of it or not.

In the society of V for Vendetta, it is apparent that the media is primarily used by the elite to control and influence the way of thinking of the masses. These elite people know exactly just how the media can be powerful especially in spreading ideologies to other people, and they are wise enough to utilize the media. This can be seen when Lewis Prothero, a member of the party and also an accomplice in the shady activities in Larkhill camp, became the very influential ‘Voice of London’ where he forwarded the party’s ideologies and at the same time making sure that every audience believed in the power of the high chancellor Adam Sutler, shunning or denying any threats to his power and society’s peace and order.

Whereas news shows and variety shows in V’s society were utilized to spread political propaganda and are generally political in nature, news shows and variety shows in the Philippines may be considered as something that entertains more rather than to inform. This is manifested in the kind of news shows we have in the Philippines. Although there are news stories that are political in nature and that are important to the social development of the Philippines, it cannot be denied that there is still a tendency for these shows to cater more to the entertainment needs of the people.

This can be seen in the proliferation and hyping of showbiz stories in the media like the present case of Vhong Navarro. If news shows in the Philippines incorporate entertainment elements in them, the variety shows in the country are also more entertaining than informative and discuss less serious topics and themes, as opposed to the variety shows in V’s society – like that of Deitrich’s episode on satirizing and impersonating Adam Sutler in his show. Variety shows in the Philippines, in fact, are generally focused on celebrities and their lifestyle like Kris TV, or performance shows like ASAP or Sunday All Stars. Although this may be the case, there are efforts to incorporate pressing topics and issues that the country is facing especially in talk shows. Generally, the usage of news shows and variety shows in V’s society is more straightforward as opposed in the context of the Philippines. The efficiency of such usage, however, may depend on the culture of the nation and society. It may be that such usage in V’s society may be more effective in their society but such won’t be the case if incorporated in the Philippines.

Since the Filipino people are fun loving people, they are prone to consume texts that are presented in a light manner. It becomes more effective, then, to incorporate political ideologies and issues of the society in a comedic (satirical) manner or presenting these issues (rape, violence, etc.) through a celebrity (like the big fuss over Vhong). Broadcast ethics are always needed regardless of what society the media operates in. The situation of the broadcast industry in the movie’s society and in the Philippines are very much similar where it is hard to go against the authorities even if you personally think that what you’re doing is not necessarily right, and this internal conflict is embodied by Evey Hammond. Evey is forced to conform to the industry’s practice of airing patronizing materials like Prothero’s commentaries despite not believing in the words herself.

Indeed, ethics are still needed, even more so in the movie’s society because of the party’s brainwashing that has been happening, but Evey is faced with the dilemma similar to what the media practitioners are facing in the Philippines against the authorities. As a media practitioner, one must always keep in mind that the real boss is the masses and as such stories should always serve the people and nothing or no one else, not the government (V’s society) and especially not profit (Philippine context). Although this may be, it is not always easy to do the right thing especially if the lives or the livelihood of the industry practitioners are on the line which is the case in both societies.

If I was a media practitioner in the film’s society, I would do what I would have done if I practiced in the Philippine broadcast industry where I would conform at first until I become influential and strong enough to stand on my own and have my opinions respected in the industry. I would have compromised but only to the point I deem acceptable. The danger is when I start to be consumed by the system but that can always be remedied as long as I stay true to my personal beliefs and values. I would only become ethical if my family or loved ones become threatened or endangered. As much as I would want to be ethical at all times, there is a limitation to just how I can stay true to my belief especially if is at the expense of people other than me.

Words are just words. They are not powerful on their own. They only become powerful when used properly and using words through a medium can definitely make words strong enough to make a statement to the audience. As such, the media practitioners are very important especially in the propagation of ideas, as well as setting the agenda by which the public should talk about. The words in the film are just as powerful as the words in the Philippines and may either be beneficial or harmful to the society depending on the utilization and usage of the medium and the words.

Written circa February 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *