Though being disturbingly accurate in their sarcastic attack on the deceit and hypocrisy of the media, the producers of Frontline use wit and parody to challenge the reliability of the media and such concepts are explored through a number of film techniques in episodes such as ‘The Siege’ and ‘Add sex and stir’ The commercial nature of the media dictates that the content of the broadcast must rate well and be profitable. The episode ‘The Siege’ exemplifies the commercial nature of current affairs programs and re-emphasizes the media’s potential to regard the truth as a subjective commodity to further gain higher ratings.
Frontline seeks little more than authenticity to convince their audience that they are a credible resource. In ‘The Siege’ Rob Sitch blurs the boundary between fiction and reality, through illustrating a story based on a real incident which occurred in 1994 making it harder to discern the truth. Frontline pursues a story about a father who has held his children hostage during a custody battle. This episode exposes the true nature of journalism and the unethical practices that the media undertakes to win the ratings war.
Marty ironically says ‘you’ve crossed the line mate’, this pretense of ethics is juxtaposed with ‘you beauty’ when he realizes that it was the Frontline team itself that got through to interviewing the gunman. Marty further sensationalizes and exaggerates the truth by wearing a flak jacket and crouching down to make it appear that he is in a dangerous situation, when in reality he is five kilometers away from the danger zone. Through the use of dialogue ‘How about if I crouch down like this? To make it look like I’m in danger’ Marty illustrates his blatant disregard for the truth thus emphasizing the importance of appearance and ratings over the depiction of the truth within the media. Brooke further epitomizes the media’s motives through the use of incongruity in the dialogue ‘Mrs. Forbes do you have any nine volt batteries? ’ Such dialogue accentuates Brooke’s superficiality as she is not at all concerned about Mrs. Forbes feelings. The camera close up of Brooke’s exceedingly concerned facial expression when she interviews Mrs. Forbes is juxtaposed with Mrs.
Forbes misery and Brooke’s deception when she asks - ‘would you be able to cry again Mrs. Forbes? ’ The on and off camera persona evidently shows that the truth is subverted by the media to construct a desired representation, portraying the truth to be a subjective commodity. The media’s relentless pursuit of higher ratings to ensure commercial success plays a significant role in determining the representation of the truth they present to their audience. The episode ‘Add sex and Stir’ epitomizes the media’s selective dissemination of information to construct a desired truth, thus exemplifying truth to be a subjective commodity.
Frontline pursues a story about the unfair dismissal of a sportswoman who is supposedly dropped from the team because she is not gay. Although Brooke acknowledges that the sportswoman was dropped from the team because of poor form, she decides to portray the misleading sex angle of the story in the pursuit for higher ratings to ensure Frontline’s commercial success. Frontline’s clean crisp picture quality, still camera and immaculate sets gives a sense of professional respectability and authority to create a sense of credibility.
Rob Sitch employs caricature to emphasize the potential for the media to regard the truth as a subjective commodity to gain more ratings. Sitch satirizes the limited value that the media places on the truth through Brooke’s satirical comment ‘Well there’s a lead story, Stu, lead player dropped due to bad form, out breaking. ’ The truth is further manipulated through filming Brooke’s nods separately and out of context which further amplifies their falsity, emphasizing her lack of integrity.
Brooke completely distorts the truth through creating a re-enactment, in which the story is further exaggerated through the steamy atmosphere in the girls change rooms, demonstrating that it is sleaze that sells rather than the truth. The dramatic background music in the re-enactment further satirizes the media’s pursuit for higher ratings, portraying that the media’s ‘essential objective is profit, rather than saving the world’ Chris Masters (ABC correspondent). Through this it is clearly evident that the truth to the media is a subjective commodity that can often be manipulated, fabricated and sensationalized for a number of reasons.