Truth – College Essay
And yet the consequence of lengthy imprisonment is a high probability of institutionalisation. Many texts explore this issue, such as the documentary Who Killed Malcolm Smith? irected by Richard Frankland, which uses the idea of institutionalisation as a vehicle for persuasion in order to convince the udience of racial inequality in Australian custody. Frankland employs significant use of selection of detail which supports his argument. The feature film The Shawshank Redemption is another text that explores this issue, with the director Frank Darabont using effective visual techniques that successfully convey the damaged emotions of Brooks, a character that has trouble adjusting to society after being let out of Jail.
A different view of institutions is presented in Tell Me I’m Here by Anne Deveson, which is shown through her use of first person point of view and powerful descriptive anguage that convey her desperation when faced with her schizophrenic son whom the authorities refused to ‘put away, even though it was clearly necessary. By studying these and other texts, I can clearly see that there are many different versions of reality and there is no absolute truth.
Our perspective is dependent on the way the truth is presented to us, and we are continually influenced by texts which employ various techniques to present and persuade their views. Institutionalised is a hardcore punk and trash metal song by Suicidal Tendencies that ses colloquial, descriptive and emotive language to convey the subject, Mike’s, depiction of the society we live in and our nonsensical dependence on senseless institutions that do nothing but crush our individuality.
The lyrics relay Mike’s initiation into a mental institution and encourage our empathy by presenting the world from his point of view in a rational and familiar manner, creating a situation which many can relate to, if only regarding a lesser topic. When his parents try and tell him he ‘needs help’, he reasons “l went to your schools, I went to your churches, I ent to your institutional learning facilities, so how can you say I’m crazy? “, which is an understandable argument, as it seems ridiculous that his parents are labelling him as crazy when he was shaped by the life they made him lead.
The band uses colloquial language for effect, which brings the reality of the situation into sharp focus. The rhythm of the lyrics is another technique that captures the listener’s attention and the roughness of feeling that the singer is expressing is revealed. Towards the end of the song Mike sums up his view of institutions, as he sings; They Alleviate my suffering and my pain. But by the time they fix my head, Mentally I’ll be dead. This song makes a strong statement and is different to most texts in the point of view it is written in.
Mike’s thoughts offer an insight into someone who is facing the idea of institutionalisation knowing fully what he is about to experience but unable to do anything about it. The band Suicidal Tendencies use rhythm, language and compelling words to persuade people to agree with Mike’s point of view. Their truth is that of mistrust regarding institutions and the fairness and agreeability of society n general. This song is clearly a construction of their feelings towards the topic of institutionalisation, which presents a rather unusual, yet still persuasive perspective of truth.
It is evident upon viewing the documentary Who Killed Malcolm Smith? that the director Richard Frankland has employed dynamic visual techniques and specific detail selection to present his views to the audience. Frankland uses the case and life story of Malcolm Smith (1953-1982) as a vehicle for persuasion in order to convince the viewers of the general truth of the bad treatment of Aboriginals in Australian ustody. He conveys the desolate isolation of Smith when he left Jail the first time by showing interviews from family members and cell mates, people who knew the real person that he was.
His cell-mate at one point said “when he got out, he wanted to show his love for his family, but he didn’t know how – he didn’t know them anymore. ” He was institutionalised from age seven when he was taken away from his family, and had forgotten how to express emotions and relate to others. Smith’s story profiles the vulnerability of institutionalised people when catapulted to ndependence and because of the way his case is presented, this comes across as a reflection of the bad treatment of aboriginals in Australian custody.
Frankland emphasises this problem by Juxtaposing the official documents of the state that describe Smith as ‘Lazy and ‘Slow against personal interviews with respectable people such as the Jail physiotherapist who knew the ‘real’ Malcolm – she, as opposed to the ‘authority, described him as friendly, sporty and talented’. From this the logical conclusion of the viewer is to find the Australian Government guilty of impersonal reatment towards Malcolm Smith, and, through him, Aboriginals in general.
This is a clever design of Franklands that draws the viewers’ attention to the maltreatment of Aborigines in Australian Custody through the case of Malcolm Smith by answering the rhetorical question in the title of this documentary; society and government institutions killed Malcolm Smith with their unfeeling impersonality. They led him into institutionalisation so that all he could do when he was out of Jail was reoffend, so that he could return to a familiar place, the only place he knew.
Frankland used arefully placed information and effectively persuasive techniques to present his truth’ and convince the audience of its validity. Institutionalisation in this case is clearly seen as a deleterious. This is a recurring technique in texts over a wide range of genres, and reinstates the idea that our perspective of truth depends on the way it is packaged. The Shawshank Redemption, directed by Frank Darabont, and based on the book by stories of the main characters Red and Andy, and the problems they face. One such problem is institutionalisation, which is a common occurrence among the inmates.
After their long-time friend, Brooks, gets set free, he is shown through effectively dizzying techniques walking through the town that he has not seen for over forty years. Wild camera shots and angles present the ‘outside world’ as a frightening, unknown place in which Brooks feels utterly helpless and isolated. Darabont pairs these with a depiction of Brooks’ last moments before he hangs himself, where his voice can be heard reading a letter that he has written to Red and Andy in the prison. He writes “l can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile nce when I was a kid, but now they’re everywhere…
I have trouble sleepin’ at night. I have bad dreams like I’m falling. I wake up scared… Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway so they’d send me home. ” Brooks’ is a classic case of institutionalisation, and Darabont effectively conveys his opposition to this problem by presenting it as the reason for the loss of a loved character. He further explains this idea through Red, who sheds light on the matter when explaining to another inmate; “These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. After ong enough, you get so you depend on ’em. That’s ‘institutionalized’. Darabont supports the dominant view of institutionalisation by using heart-wrenching effects such as high camera angles that depict the frailty and vulnerability of Brooks as a clearly harmless and good hearted man that has become the victim of a cruel and impersonal Justice system. He plays on the human emotions and by his direction a version of reality is presented in the movie. This truth is the construction of belief that he has, through various techniques, striven to convey, and the purpose of every ffect in The Shawshank Redemption is to persuade the audience of the reality of this truth.
The expository novel Tell Me I’m Here by Anne Deveson is an example of how different perspectives of the truth can be presented in various ways. The dominant view of institutionalisation in our contemporary society is negative, and this view is extended into Deveson’s book – with one considerable difference. In most texts, the very idea of an institution and being put into one is shied away from, as if it is the worst possible thing that could happen, and that it could only be damaging.
Yet in Tell Me I’m Here, we are exposed through first person point of view to the trials of Anne Deveson and her family as she struggles with her Schizophrenic son Jonathon. Throughout the novel Deveson uses frank, descriptive language to relate the horrors of having to face her son when he was going through a rough patch, and how her desperate attempts to get help from the authorities were continually brushed off. The only calm phases in her life were when she knew Jonathan was safe and being looked after – but she could not achieve this herself due to his unpredictability and er incapability.
The events of Jonathon’s beleaguered life are important, as they give a first-hand perspective of what it’s like to closely interact with a schizophrenic, which creates sympathy for the Deveson family and strengthens them as characters. Deveson uses a cyclical structure for her novel, as foreshadowing Jonathon’s death at the start allows her to explore deeper into the crucial flaws in Australia’s health system, which seems to be on her agenda while recounting her story. She also lashes did not help her son. Jonathon’s story is not entirely focused on institutions, but they layed a major part in his life.
Deveson uses her experience with him to make a point about the Australian health system. In this way, Tell Me I’m Here presents a different view of institutions and institutionalisation – as the two terms are almost always paired, given that in most other texts the latter is seen as unavoidably inseparable from the first – but in this novel, although the idea of the institution is frequently viewed as an escape, institutionalisation is never even considered. Perhaps because in comparison to what she was dealing with already, Deveson could hardly think orward enough to be worried about it.
Through this first-hand recount and the flowing nature of her writing, Deveson weaves an authentic tale that presents readers with her version of reality. Her perspective of truth seems absolute, as she has experienced it herself, but the construction of her story and selection of detail is unavoidable. Even such a text is a construction of the truth. The unavoidable truth with regard to texts in any society is that there is no one truth. People, groups, societies have different versions of the truth as part of their lives, and ith each new text a new perspective is put forward.
Texts use techniques that will enhance the presentation of the truth they want to impart – depending on the genre these techniques will vary. Institutionalisation is an inescapable issue in our society, which is explored in a variety of texts. Almost always, it is seen as something that one wishes to avoid, because it brings sadness into our world – such as in The Shawshank Redemption, where it results in the death of a loved character, Brooks. Some texts, though, offer an appealing view of the pathway to institutionalisation, because for hem it seems there is no other way to live.
This view is evident in Tell Me I’m Here, as Jonathon could not live by himself and then only way he could be safe was to be in a government institution – whether a hospital or prison. Either truth may be correct, but our perspective of the original reality is dependent on how the respective directors and authors chose to package it. Whichever way they are argued, perceptions of the truth can never be wrong, because, in terms of context and perspective, there is no absolute truth. There is only construction.