In on the chapter “Analysing Media and Cultural Texts”

In this essay, I will be analysing the film Selma into its use of representation, how the text is constructed and structured, what type of style of writing it uses and the importance of Black History. I will also be looking into the dramatisation of this text analysis and how the film expresses the political but thematic use in Selma. I will be using the chapter “Selma” in ‘Symbols, The News Magazines, and Martin Luther King’ by Lentz (1990) which focuses on the Selma campaign and within this, focusing on the chapter “Analysing Media and Cultural Texts” in ‘How to do Media & Cultural Studies’ by Stokes (2003) where it will support my understanding and approaches through textual analysis.  From watching the extract on Selma, the intention of the director Ava Du Vernay for her, it was important to direct the movie because her family came from Alabama. This then motivated her to show the actual facts because for her, there is nothing more fascinating than the real history but also to show Martin Luther King as a real man who had to deal with struggles just like everyone else. However, this idolisation was not Ava Du Vernay’s intended view for the audience, but alternatively the film’s humanising impression of its iconic central characters allows the audience to relate to them, rather than distantly venerate them. Ava Du Vernay also humanises Martin Luther King by placing him in settings familiar to the audience of Selma.  Initially, the portrayal of the Martin Luther King in scenes of every human activity allows the audience to relate to him emotionally in addition to supporting his approach. In order to say that Ava Du Vernay in her work Selma attempt to persuade the audience of anything, however, we must first establish Selma as a text capable of persuasion which then it is using rhetoric. This then shows the film using the intentional practice of intentional symbolic expression. Since films are intentionally directed and edited by individuals, every choice of scenery, music, actor and dialogue is deliberate. These designed choices are are intentional practice of effective symbolic expression, showing that films are rhetoric texts. Just as Selma uses King’s personality to humanise, it also uses his exterior situation to make him and his family more relatable. Extreme injustice, especially when it recounts factual moments from history, is an easy avenue of emotional manipulation. But “Selma” doesn’t rely itself on sentimentality or graphic mistreatment to force its sadness; it wisely uses affective montages, orchestral music, tight pacing, including the conflict between opposing viewpoints of protesting, the contemporary environment of Vietnam and high profile assassinations, large-scale demonstrations at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and notable deaths. As it highlights the influences of marching, uniting fronts, exploiting the media, and gathering victims to inspire sympathy and support, the film perceptively covers just the crucial events around “Bloody Sunday” and “Turnaround Tuesday,” without cinematising all the way up to King’s murder in 1968, which would have left his accomplishments obscured by such a disheartening scene. Bravely, “Selma” also sheds light on King’s character flaws, rather than choosing the uncomplicated route of showing breakthroughs alone. Intelligently scripted and perfectly balanced, the entire biographical production is a nearly flawless exercise in adapting powerful historical drama.