Upton Sinclair's The Jungle: Film Analysis

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In 1906, author Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, changed the course of history and led to the reformation of Chicago’s meatpacking industry, which was plagued by managerial corruption and unsanitary conditions. Shortly after the novel’s release, the federal government took legal action against the entire industry (Hevrdejs). The Jungle demonstrates the power of fiction to create social change. However, since the early 20th century, society has transitioned from a reliance on the written word to a visual culture, where images posses more meaning than prose. Film has become the dominant form of visual storytelling for large audiences, and like literature, it has been part of the discourse on social and environmental issues for some time. Although …show more content…
Message transmission can facilitate persuasion, and film remains the preeminent form of mass media communication—communication with a large audience (Dainton and Zelley 194). Therefore, filmmakers will be able to use film more effectively if they have a firm understanding of the field. One fundamental theory of communication studies, Elaboration Likelihood Theory (ELT), focuses on changing audience’s attitudes, which possess two characteristics worth noting for the purpose of persuasion. Firstly, attitudes are evaluative, determining if we have a positive or negative feeling towards something. Secondly, attitudes predispose us to behave in ways that logically follow from our beliefs (Dainton and Zelley 119). For instance, one’s attitude towards carbon emissions can be positive or negative—though, ideally, the latter is true. This attitude can lead to behaviors that reduce carbon emissions, such as utilizing public transportation or biking. If the goal is to promote sustainable behavior among the masses, it is vital to create correlating attitudes using media. ELT presents an effective means of doing …show more content…
Audiences with low ego-involvement typically do not possess strong attitudes towards a subject, positively or negatively. If presented properly via peripheral persuasion cues (e.g. credibility, visual stimulation, etc.), arguments either for or against a topic can be effective persuasion. However, any attitude change is not long-lasting and can be reversed with an equally believable argument in favor of the opposing side. In contrast, highly ego-involved audiences are firm in their positions and are not easily persuaded; the central persuasion route must be taken because peripheral cues appear transparent and flagrant to the highly ego-involved (Sereno). Nevertheless, if attitude change does occur with the central route, it is long-lasting and unlikely to change in the future. It is easy enough to identify ego-involvement levels in an audience based on their attitudes, but the challenge arises from a large audience—such as those targeted by a mass medium, like film—that possess a mix of high and low ego-involvement. Fortunately, film can use of both routes of persuasion simultaneously; peripheral persuasion emerges from the film’s visual storytelling and central arguments are embedded within the story’s plot and themes. This is especially beneficial when approaching audiences of varying age

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