Frontline

    Frontline: Background and Context # Santo Cilaro claims that the immediate impetus for creating Frontline was spawned by a 60 Minutes program entitled Has the Media Gone too Far? The major issue was that in a ratings war between Channel 7’s Stan Grant and Channel 9’s Ray Martin were resorting to robust, unscrupulous, cynical and invasive means to exploit human tragedy for an increasing voyeuristic audience. The first show was aired on the ABC in 1994.

    Frontline # For detailed analysis go to: link Introduction to Frontline # The Frontline series is a send-up of current affairs programs such as A Current Affair, Sixty Minutes or Today Tonight. As a satire it shamelessly imitates, parodies, subverts, exaggerates and ridicules the infotainment industry. Mike Moore, coiffed, manicured, air brushed with cosmetics, parodies Ray Martin or Mike Willesie. From the opening montage with its rapid upbeat urgent music, through to its high packed melodramatic, often ironic endings, with the shuffling of papers and the pensive“mmmm…” the presenter, Mike Moore, like an actor, everything written for him, even down to the nods and winks is caricatured as articulate, well-informed and knowledgeable.

    As a satire it shamelessly imitates, parodies, subverts, exaggerates and ridicules the infotainment industry. Mike Moore, coiffed, manicured, air brushed with cosmetics, parodies Ray Martin or Mike Willesee. From the opening montage with its rapid upbeat urgent music, through to its high packed melodramatic, often ironic endings, with the shuffling of papers and the pensive “mmmm…” the presenter, Mike Moore, like an actor, everything written for him, even down to the nods and winks is caricatured as articulate, well-informed and knowledgeable.

    ** Truth and the Media** # **The Media and Truth ** In order to create false impressions, media uses numerous methods deliberately deceiving their audiences by sensationalising news in order to compete for higher ratings. Plain news events can be predictable, flat and boring and expensive, so tabloid and infotainment resort to spicing up the news with spectacular footage, beat-up stories and tacky, sleazy and cheap dramatic conflict. As Brian tells Marty, three things television needs is “good vision, good vision, and good vision” When Mike warns Brian “don’t underestimate our audience”, Brian’s quick retort is a cynical “ I’ve built my whole career on it”.

    Frontline # The Language of Satire Satire and the Media # John Clarke, renown for “The Games’, believes that Satire is an antidote to being lied to. Satire is the great leveller, the democratic means of smirking at pretension and power. Roy and HG use their skills of mockery to trivialise the serious and treat serious subjects trivially. Satire is an attempt to tell the truth about situations and people however as Jonathan Swift said,”It is a kind of glass wherein the beholder sees everyone but himself”.

    Frontline # Style and Language  There is a stark contrast between the live broadcasts and the behind the scenes or in the backroom. On camera, the presenters and reporters generally stick to a formal polished performance with formal language and dress. The exceptions to this are scenes where they attempt to shock, alarm or frighten their audience the language can become inflammatory, exaggerated or extreme. Ex: In The Siege, Mike calls the gunman “Rambo” and speculates about the stereotypical image of deranged Vietnam veterans.

    Frontline Issues: # ** ** Episodes: The Siege (TS), ** We Ain’t Got Dames** (WAGD), Playing The Ego Card (PEC), Add Sex and Stir (ASS), Smaller Fish to Fry (SFF), and This Night of Nights (TNN).  The issues in the Series Frontline can be identified by the re-occurrence much as motifs work in music or literature. The prevailing concern is whether the media tells it as it is or whether in commodifies the news to profit from higher ratings.

    Frontline # Summary of six Episodes  The Siege # Based on a actual 1983 *A Current Affair * segment where the anchor Mike Willesee conducted a phone interview with two children held hostage by a killer, Leonard Leabeater, during a siege at Cangai in northern New South Wales. The scene has been transposed to Victoria and the man is Gavin Forbes.  This episode depicts the intrusive and invasive media at its most insensitive and inconsiderate grab for sensationalism and ratings.

    When we were young we were told to always tell the truth. The search for truth is an ideal all genuine scholars aim for. But in the real world things are different; most people evade telling the truth for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. In the credibility stakes, car salesmen, politicians and journalists rank near the bottom. Nurses and teachers reign supreme. We need to assert the principle that there are no higher values in life than truth, honour, individual freedom and balanced justice; striving for these is the essence of human existence.