Media refers to a single medium that can be used to communicate any type of data for any particular reason. As the world seems to progress and become consumed by new social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, texting, and the always evolving Television, it seems to also slip into a naïve state of mind (Gitlin, 2002). This new thinking is a malfunction in mental processing and can often lead to flawed perceptions of reality. The role that media should play in the lives of its audience is a newly created and controversial topic. Should media have the right to express its opinion, or does it exist only for facts and unbiased information? Despite where you personally find yourself on this spectrum, it is no argument that Media, without a doubt, plays a role in every person’s life. Conceptions of social reality can be constructed though a particular social media that every person in The United States comes into contact with on a regular basis; television and or movies can play a vital role in not only divulging information to its audience, but also manipulating, changing and forming its audience’s ideas of social reality (Chandler).
This blog is specifically going to target the topic of science and its portrayal in movies through a specific movie called The Happening. To be able to understand the themes behind The Happening a synopsis of the plot must first be determined.
The Happening is a grim and apocalyptic tale about a group of family members and friends try to escape the demise of a natural disaster that poses a grave threat to all of humanity. Philadelphia high-school science teacher Elliot Moore played by Mark Wahlberg is discussing the disappearance of bees with his students when the staff is summoned for a conference and is briefed about a mysterious event that is currently unfolding in New York City. According to the news reports local citizens surrounding Central Park have suddenly and inexplicably begun seizing up and killing themselves with or by any means necessary.
As the phenomena begins to spread and talk of terrorism becomes the main suspect, Elliot finds his wife, Alma played by Zooey Deschanel, his friend Julian played by John Leguizamo, and Julian’s daughter, Jess played by Ashlyn Sanchez. They all board a train that is going for the supposed area of safety within the targeted area. Surprisingly, the train screeches to a halt before arriving at its final destination and the frightened passengers are forced to fend for themselves as each consecutive news report paints an increasingly bleak outcome of the disaster. Noticing that the phenomenon is not targeting areas of virtually no population, the group decides to head for an area of few people. Many theories are proposed by people in the movie, however, the only consensus of what could be causing the unexplainable rash of suicides, is that it’s some kind of airborne contagion that is carried in the wind (Buchanan, 2008). Ultimately, the audience finds out that plants were the culprit behind the mass deaths in the North Eastern part of the United States. The Happening was directed by M. Night Shyamalan and is a merciless account of the attack on humans by plants.
The flaws in science are the byproduct of creating perfection in entertainment. Like when plants conduct photosynthesis they create sugar, and when a producer conducts a science film they create scientific flaws. If we want to rid ourselves from false information or unrealistic depictions from movies, we have to realize there is a tradeoff. Completely realistic movies may be boring. However, we need to also realize that we face forms of social media every day, and that movies plays one of the biggest roles in information sharing. Because of the amount of information that movies can depict, it also has a tendency to affect the lives of its audience in a negative way. False perceptions of reality can be formed from naiveté, and it is up to the viewers to be knowledgeable of the information that is being transduced. In all, The Happening was not scientifically sound. It lacked in depth research of the way plants evolve, communicate, reproduce and act. Shyamalan was more concerned with creating the next blockbuster hit, rather than creating a realistic depiction of the retaliation from plants on humans. Honestly, the idea of the movie is interesting and with a few fixes in the overall plot, it could be a relatively profound movie in terms of environmental awareness. Plants can hear us, they cannot talk to one another, they cannot evolve in the matter of months and they cannot target enemies, they can however, do small variations of all of the aforementioned flaws. Because of this The Happening should be labeled as a scientifically hyperbole and be viewed as a horror film with little scientific underpinnings.