After introductions, we went through the syllabus. Jaap explained how the blog works and told us about our assignments. We’ll each have to do a ten-minute presentation on one of our readings.
We reviewed the questions Professor Zinman asked us in Lecture on Tuesday, the ones that concerned the use of satire, deep space, flashbacks and Abe Lincoln in Frankenheimer’s Manchurian Candidate. With these in mind we took a look at two documentary clips, asking ourselves what role the media plays in “brainwashing” citizens.
The first clip was footage of the first televised presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. T.V. changed the nature of campaigning drastically as candidates had to “perform,” in a way, and affect a kind of personal appeal. Considering how new the whole the whole thing was, both candidates were in a sort of uncharted territory, and it’s said that Kennedy worked the medium better.
The second clip was from Robert Drew’s Primary, which chronicled the Wisconsin primary of the same year between Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. The clip showed the two candidates in completely different contexts, which basically highlighted how the film medium could be used to manipulate reality and guide viewers to certain viewpoints.
In a brief discussion following the screenings, we talked about how funny it was that Kennedy immediately invoked Lincoln as a model president – a typically American idolatry that The Manchuran Candidate kind of parodies in its imagery of Lincoln. As far as political leanings, we posited that Candidate was opposed to all forms of authoritarianism, be it communism or McCarthyism or the like.