PMA Proposal #1: Cheer (A Netflix Series)

For my first Persuasive Media Analysis, I would like to talk about Netflix’s documentary series, Cheer. It reveals the perspective of each member of the Navarro College cheerleading team. For my explicit argument, there are different types of people placed on the same team, whether they came from a troubled home or they wanted to escape from dark pasts. My implicit formation implied that they are all on the same team because of their matching practice attire and uniforms. I want to learn more about the atmosphere of the competitive college cheer squad, while each cheerleader is being interviewed about their personal lives and the team’s progression. This Netflix series is similar to Errol Morris’ documentary film, Thin Blue Line, due its gritty appearance, but with the actual footage of the Navarro College cheerleaders practicing and performing. I also want the audience, including myself, to learn more about the backstories because I had the experience of being a cheerleader back in high school and here at Austin College. This relates to our class discussion on realism and documentary series. The Navarro College documentary series gives a lot of details about how the school’s competitive cheerleading team prepare for games and competitive cheerleading events.

Here is the trailer of this original documentary series, Cheer.

2/25: Morris Facilitation

Morris’ article, The Anti-Post-Modern Post-Modernist, is set to be an interview between Errol Morris and Homi Bhabha. Errol Morris, a film director, is a producer of numerous documentary films that are based on non-fictional stories, such as In Cold Blood, Dr. Death, and Thin Blue Line.

One of Morris’ most notable documentary films was Dr. Death. This film talks about a physician who was sentenced to death by electric chair after being suspected for the murder of his private patients. The most interesting part of this article was that Morris interviewed the titular “Dr. Death” and was intrigued with the fact that this physician was claiming innocence, even though there were five witnesses who testified against him. Unsurprisingly, “Dr. Death” was convicted of capital murder, which further intrigued Morris to create a documentary about such a scandal.

The next documentary produced by Errol Morris was Thin Blue Line, but it was criticized by numerous film reviewers because they thought that film was more of a re-enactment of Randall Adams’ conviction rather than an actual documentary. According to Homi Bhabha, an interviewer who grew up in Bombay (home of traditional pioneering documentaries and Bollywood), Morris’ films were described to be non-fiction feature films instead of a documentary, which explained the reviewers’ criticism.

The trailer for Thin Blue Line tells the story of a man by the name of Randall Adams who shot and killed a DFW police officer, Robert Wood, and was convicted of that horrific crime. The true motive for the murder was when Adams got pulled over by Wood, he shot the officer out of fear of being confronted by the officer. So, Randall pulled out his gun and shot Officer Wood multiple times and drove away from the scene of the crime. During the introduction of the interview, Bhabha mentioned that Adams was released from prison after serving more than 12 years on death row. It was very surprising to the Dallas community, including the assistant district attorney, that Randall would be the first on death row to be released from prison because of the film’s release.

In The New York Times, Morris quoted that “if you want to believe some things, then we often find a way to do so, regardless of evidence to the contrary. Believing is seeing and not the other way around.” The film director wanted the audience to believe what they see onscreen, while watching the film. Bhabha described the director’s films to be his “disturbing works of truth, history, and art” because of Morris’ habits of wanting to produce non-fictional features onto the big screen and his idea of using cinema verite (truth cinema). For example, there are actually some people who gave up their limbs in order to collect their insurance policies, while filming Vernon, Florida. Mutilating people to look the part as a person without a limb is one step too far for a film director, which was a long time before many film producers began using green screen and CG effects. As punishment, Morris got beaten by the son of a mutilated person, thus teaching him a lesson.

Response: Rhetoric and Culture

As I was reading about the difference between rhetoric and culture, I found a few interesting facts about this comparison as I drew a chart about it, while taking notes. “Rhetoric had its beginnings in classical Greece 2,500 years ago, whereas cultural studies had its current roots in Great Britain in the 1970s” (O’Donnell, 2007, p. 137). The most interesting part about reading O’Donnell’s Rhetoric and Culture, while thinking about the comparison between those two terms, is how they each have a different origin. For example, the rhetoric is actually Aristotle’s definition as he viewed persuasion as “an instrumental of social adaption” (2007, p. 140). When I saw the word, logos (“words” in Greek), this term reminded me of the various logos that I was familiar with, such as the mermaid logo for the “Starbucks Coffee Shop” and the 31 logo for “Baskin Robbins.”

Starbucks logo
Baskin Robbins logo

On the other hand, cultural studies have major concerns over television, which is a form of communicating with the audience and it is a source of social understanding. This means that numerous TV shows and films have the ability to tell the audience the story and send a message to the viewers about what is going on in our society. For example, we would watch or listen to the local news that is broadcasted on TV every night. Otherwise, there are most recent TV shows that give the audience the message about the real serious issues that are actually happening in reality. There was one episode from the TV show, Black-ish, where an African American family was watching the news about police brutality and racism still existing in our world.