Be a Critical Viewer: Questions to Ask Yourself

Posted: December 9, 2011 by Becky in Becky
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Written by Becky Hutchens

It can be easy to remember to think critically about essays, books, editorials, opinion pieces, and other forms of writing. Thinking critically is what helps us develop our own opinions and beliefs, and is what helps keep us from being easily persuaded into believing everything we read. But it’s important to realize and remember that we shouldn’t just be critical about writing; it is important to ask questions about the media we see and hear.

When watching wildlife documentaries, it can be hard to remind yourself to think critically, especially if you’re watching the film mostly for entertainment. But in order to gain a better of understanding of what you’re seeing, it would benefit you to ask questions:

What is the point of this documentary? Is the purpose of the film to spread awareness about wildlife conservation? Is it to convince the audience to appreciate nature? Is the purpose to teach audiences about scientific research and the field of zoology? Or is the documentary more for entertainment purposes, such as a film of dramatizations on shark attacks?

What are the filmmakers trying to achieve? What are their motives?

Is this film influencing (or attempting to influence) its audience?

Why would a filmmaker choose to stage a scene? Think about possible reasons: the filmmakers wants a winning shot; the situation would otherwise be too dangerous for the crew; wildlife are secretive, hard to find, and work on their own schedules; a filmmaker is under pressure to get great shots to gain higher ratings; a filmmaker wants their film to be more exciting…

Stay critical!


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