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The popular political documentaries : case studies of magnetic media


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McIver, Damian John 2010 , 'The popular political documentaries : case studies of magnetic media', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The last decade has witnessed an astonishing increase in the popularity and
profitability of documentary film. Nine of the top ten grossing documentaries ever
have been made since 2002 and a common feature across many of them is their
distinct political focus. These films, which include the likes of Fahrenheit 9/11, Super
Size Me and An Inconvenient Truth, offer a provocative blend of entertainment and
political advocacy while also achieving unprecedented levels of commercial success.
This thesis investigates how these popular political documentaries contribute to
public knowledge.
Utilising methods drawn from textual analysis and media sociology, this research is
structured around three case studies focusing on the films listed above. It analyses the
production of these films, their textual qualities, and the way they interact with other
media, particularly the Australian press. Such an approach brings both a trans-media
and trans-national perspective to these films which is sensitive to the increasingly
chaotic and convergent media environment we now experience (Jenkins 2006;
McNair 2006).
The findings of this research suggest that the contribution popular political
documentaries make to public knowledge is defined not so much by what the films
themselves contain, but by the type of discussion and debate they trigger within the
broader media environment. The commercial success of these films and the way they
interact with other media encourages new ways of thinking about the relationships between popular culture and political culture, between audiences and media, and
between different media forms. In this thesis, the term magnetic media is introduced
to describe the complex and ambivalent ways that these films have come to occupy
prominent and influential positions within our culture.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:McIver, Damian John
Keywords: Fahrenheit 9/11 (Motion picture), Inconvenient truth (Motion picture), Super size me (Motion picture), Documentary mass media, Documentary films, Popular culture
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
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Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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