Can a Text Ever Be Neutral?

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Every text, written or visual, exists within a system of values which ‘underpins’ it. These values create a viewpoint, which is presented through the use of numerous techniques. Biographies use convention such as narrative and point of view, as well as language and selection of detail. Documentaries also use language and selection of details and conventions such as interviews, juxtapostion, camerawork and dramatic music. Since we all have different values, all texts will have a different viewpoint and therefore never be completely neutral. Theses notions will be discussed further with reference to the texts “My Place” by Sally Morgan, “Nothing to Spare” by Jan Carter and Sicko by Michael Moore.

The purpose of a text is a reflection of its producer’s values and viewpoint, and is evident within the text’s thesis and propositions. For example, if Jan Carter didn’t value equality, she wouldn’t have written about a woman in early Australian settlement who got married and fell pregnant due to her lack of education, services, information and concern. Similarly, Sally Morgan wouldn’t have written about the abuse in missions, which caused the Aboriginal children to run away, if she didn’t value equality and human rights. If Michael Moore didn’t think the American health care system was terrible compared to others in developed countries around the world, he wouldn’t have created Sicko. It is evident that our values lead to our viewpoint, which is conveyed by our texts purpose, but it is also important to consider our culture, which is the main influence of our values.

As culture changes, values change. This results in a different viewpoint from the producer and a change of purpose in the text. Therefore what one culture may consider ‘truthful’, another may consider completely wrong. We think of “My Place” to be an accurate text because, like Sally Morgan, we value equality. But in the time era “My Place” is set, it would have been considered inaccurate due to their...
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