art-and-empathy

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Shaping Narratives: Navigating the World through Media, Reviews and Critiques

Man engrossed in a book, headphones on, with a film playing on a laptop; a newspaper near.
Kaia Thonul, Friday, June 7, 2024, 07:03

As the train rattles towards Oslo, I'm getting warmth from the humming heater, which is generously defying the 6°C outdoor temperature. My mind reflects, however, a desolate landscape, mirroring the outside world, only gloomier. I flip the pages of last night's borrowed book; a source of escape weakened by reality. Books, movies, music- utterly besotted I am by the realms they create, a soothing shelter from the hard-hitting narratives of our era.

Yesterday, I reclined back and watched a film. A dark, thought-provoking creation that left me pondering well into the night. The cinematography developed a profound unease, reflecting the grim reality of our world with unflinching honesty. Yet, it also presented countless perspectives where people's actions, often pernicious but sometimes positive, were led by circumstances and their understanding of them.

Allow me to also confess my passion for songs that carry melancholic melodies, almost as if spreading a blanket for my desolate thoughts. Last night, I listened to a track with haunting lyrics and a low, resonating bass line. As the tune flowed, it whispered tales of loss, of unfulfilled dreams, striking a chord with today's gloomy world. The beauty, however, lay in its ability to impart solace, a testament to art's ability to heal, to connect, to console.

But the desolation isn't only in my alcove of media retreat. It spills over, intrudes into the black and white pieces of daily journals, and in distorted narratives that play out on screens. I recently read a news article, a critique of the portrayal of the Israel-Palestine conflict in Norwegian media. I found it spinning an intriguing yarn about narratives being manipulated to incriminate.

The premise? That a condemning narrative - accusing one party of genocide - might be the result of skillful misdirection. The author laid bare the possibility of civil shields being utilized to gain global empathy. The article was undoubtedly controversial, sharp, yet it urged to dig deeper, to be critical, to not blindly consume but analyze and question.

This is the essence of reviews and critiques - to question, dissect, to understand wants from needs, truths from falsehoods. It’s about balancing personal experience and the bigger picture, objective facts, and subjective emotions. And it’s these reviews and critiques in books, in films, in music, that offer a contrasting lens to view the narrative that surrounds us.

Isn't it, then, incumbent upon us as consumers of media, not to swallow the presented stories without scrutiny but to question, to challenge, to understand from different perspectives? This way, we become not merely passive receivers but active participants in shaping narratives, in striving towards a world that echoes less of desolation and more of shared comprehension and empathy.

Tags: Media Consumption Critical Thinking Art and Empathy

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