Thoughts on Bias in Documentary Films

In the course of any kind of education, whether it is formal or otherwise, one needs to make sure that the information they are consuming is accurate, fair, and complete.  As anyone who has ever done or assigned research assignments for school would know, it is important to know several things about the sources of information for the assignments.  One needs to know where the information became from, the person who is giving the information, and how they reached the conclusions that they reached.  Failing to do one or all of those things may result in a paper with lots of inaccurate or biased information.

Documentary films are important tools.  They have the power to educate people about things that they might not otherwise know about.  They can offer different perspectives.  Documentary films can even be the catalyst of a movement that could change the world for the better.

However, any source of information can be prone to bias.  Documentary films are of course no exception.  Many documentary films and filmmakers have been accused of being biased against and/or bias towards certain people, subject matters, and the like.  They may also be accused of misrepresenting issues in order to “prove” their point and justify why their viewpoint is right and why whatever agenda they have should be followed through with by society at large.

For this paper, I will talk about bias in documentary films, including whether and how it can be avoided and if it can be good and/or bad.

I feel that bias can have lots of effects on documentary films.  It can, of course, misrepresent an issue, preventing such an issue that could.  Such forms of mis-representation might include things such as factual inaccuracies, over-simplification of a complex issue, and unbiased perspective and on and on, as we have mentioned several times in class.  Not only that, if an issue is biased it may lead to people being unwilling accepting the message of the film.  Failing to present one both sides can also be dangerous; the conventional wisdom is that there are two sides to every story.  I think that it is important to let people know both sides of an issue.  I have learned that in making arguments, one can strengthen their case if they respond to and attempt to refute the other side.

In conclusion, I have discussed how bias might affect documentary films.  In depicting issues, I feel that it is paramount to make sure that one accurately and depicts the topic in the documentary.  Even if one has a specific agenda, they still need to be sure to back their views up and to present each side in order to show why they are right.  Documentaries can change the world, but care must be taken to be sure that the change is for the better.


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