Film Review: Deflating The Elephant – Framed Messages Behind Conservative Dialogue

"You will learn more about language than you ever thought was possible. Language isn’t just words, words also carry meanings which are often subconscious. It is a phenomenon known as 'framing.' How it works is that when something is repeated often enough in a cultural setting, simply hearing those words brings to mind the specific framework that the sayers have been intending to transmit. Lakoff contends that through billion dollar marketing campaigns and the far reach of the right-wing think tanks, the conservatives have created a great deal of framing which has trapped a nation of independent thinkers into a false set of suppositions."

May 30th, 2009

The political world is full of messages and it seems as though people are able to say whatever they want without every having to prove a thing. What does “pal around with terrorists” even really mean?

If Obama truly is a socialist, then why is minimum wage not $15 an hour and why are we saving the very capitalist machines that keep the means of production out of the workers’ hands? Doesn’t the death penalty stop a beating heart too?

Intelligent people are able to shake off these lies, but what most don’t realize is that repetition of an idea and the way it is framed creates a framework of untruth which most people will simply take for granted. Now you can bring home a film which will help you to see and dismantle that framework that prevents the free flow of truth.

Starting this May 19th, now available on DVD from Uneco Productions and Cinema Libre Studio comes a fantastic and essential tool to understand the concept of framing and the true power of language and cultural repetition. Deflating The Elephant – Framed Messages Behind Conservative Dialogue is ready to show you how to understand so much of what Conservatives have been saying lately and combat it with the truth. The Left has sat silent for far too long and allowed the Ultra-Right to control the messages in society. Bring home this groundbreaking documentary and instructional film to learn how to take back the truth that belongs left of the center.

George Lakoff

Starring UC Berkley professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science and author, George Lakoff, and Academy Award winning actor, Sean Penn, this movie is all about language. Sean Penn provides introductions and short vignettes which serve a purpose I’m still not quite aware of, but the star of this documentary is George Lakoff. In this head-on style, where he’s looking right out of the screen at you, you will learn more about language than you ever thought was possible. Language isn’t just words, words also carry meanings which are often subconscious. It is a phenomenon known as “framing.” How it works is that when something is repeated often enough in a cultural setting, simply hearing those words brings to mind the specific framework that the sayers have been intending to transmit. Lakoff contends that through billion dollar marketing campaigns and the far reach of the right-wing think tanks, the conservatives have created a great deal of framing which has trapped a nation of independent thinkers into a false set of suppositions. Some of Lakoff’s example of this include the phrases “free market,” “common sense approach,” “tort reform,” “tax relief” and “war on terror.” He also says that much of what is taken for granted as being good arguments against a liberal government are falsehoods that everyone has taken to be true because they are repeated so often. With information spreading as quickly as it does now, people just use soundbites and don’t need to offer proof. Lakoff says that it is time for liberals to fight back and dismantle these horrid and repressive frameworks.

This disc doesn’t have any special features and it is so enthralling that it doesn’t need any. I know, that sounds strange, but it’s completely true. The film didn’t look that interesting when I got it, so I just popped it in before I went to bed, thinking I would watch for a few minutes and then shut it off. I watched the whole two hours all the way through and never looked away from the television once. It is fascinating and a completely incredibly documentary.

I was very impressed with this documentary and it made a lot of sense. I had never read anything that Lakoff had written, but I had read some Wittgenstein and some Derrida, both of whom dealt with the meanings behind language and the meaning inherent in language itself. Whether you think framing is a good or bad thing, this movie will convince you that it is a real phenomenon, something I was shocked by. I’m certainly left of center myself, but I thought this was a pile of rubbish when I was reading the PR treatment of th documentary. But as I watched it and Lakoff asked question after question about some of our biggest assumptions, I was forced to admit, quite against my will, this he was correct in nearly all he was saying. We have become a nation which is afraid to think for itself and we need to start making up our own minds. In calling for a return to that, Lakoff is a modern prophet in the style of Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman.

You don’t want to miss Deflating The Elephant.

This DVD is available from Cinema Libre Studios.

Nathaniel Jonet