Friday, February 24, 2017

CAPP Analysis of the Documentary “From One Second to the Next”

   Fair warning to all who read this blog while mobile; digital content while a staple of society today, must only be consumed in a safe manner for the good of everyone concerned. What, might you say, does that even mean? In a generation blessed with technological advances, the likes never seen before, responsible consumption rests on the shoulders of each and every one of us. Texting while driving is one of the most heinous violations of this responsibility. The documentary “From One Second to the Next”     (video link), directed by Werner Herzog, confronts this issue head-on. Different than those gory student driver videos, this work addresses the topic, using an unfiltered approach, directly from violators and victims of four separate incidences. Life/death, love/ hate, devastation/ guilt and the permanency of this act, create the impactful visual and message that will forever change those who view the documentary. Through the use of a literary analysis technique termed CAPP (context, audience, purpose and point of view), it will be shown that “From One Second to the Next” is highly effective and worthy of your serious review.
Most unfortunately, the dangers of distracted driving are real and in many cases catastrophic (web Page link 1). “Over 100,000 accidents involve drivers who are texting. The numbers are climbing sharply” (Documentary). Spearheaded by AT&T, as part of its larger public safety campaign “It Can Wait”, the documentary was created as the signature centerpiece to bring home the message that texting and driving is dangerous, should never be done and is as taboo as drinking and driving. This was the genesis of “From One Second to the Next”.
According to Michelle Knuckelman, AT&T’s executive director for integrated brand marketing, the documentary “is aimed at teens and adults from 16 to 25, people who text frequently but are inexperienced drivers” (web page link 2). There is no doubt that this group has been reached, in that, the video has been distributed to 40,000 high schools and has been widely shared on social media. While no large-scale audience demographics are available, a small sample from IMBd shows that there are many older viewers, as well. As for how this video has been generally received, Netflix viewers have given it 4 out of 5 stars. Of the 3,344,532 views on YouTube, there are 13,983 likes to only 779 dislikes.
The purpose of “From One Second to the Next” is simple and crystal clear. It aims to inform the audience that texting and driving is a dangerous practice with serious consequences. Werner Herzberg summed it up best, “The message is very simple. Don’t text and drive. It’s as simple as that” (NPR).This is a public service announcement documentary. The intent of all involved in this production is to present personal, relatable stories that are a call to action for viewers to consider making a change in their behavior.  It effectively accomplishes the goal to inform through the appeals of pathos, ethos and logos. In first looking at the pathos appeal, the documentary uses somber music to strike a chord with the audience. It then elicits a gut wrenching response in the viewer when they experience the emotions and details of losses caused by texting and driving accidents. As one example, a strong policeman had to choke back tears when describing what it was like when he turned over the body of a little Amish boy in a grassy ditch. It was heartbreaking to hear the mother of a boy who was ripped from his sister’s hand and dragged down the road, morn her shatter dream of seeing her son become a football star The documentary also enlisted an ethos appeal. By using a superstar documentary director, it gave credibility to the project. When asked by an AP reporter why he agreed to do this documentary, Herzog said, “There’s a completely new culture out there. I’m not a participant of texting and driving or texting at all but I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us” (web page link 3).The appeal of logos was also effectively used. Statistics about the scope of the problem, sentencing from a conviction and monetary costs of a hospital bill were presented. Another example came from one of the texting and driving violators himself. He could not remember the message he was texting when he caused the accident. Upon reflection, he wondered just how important could that text have been? A thoughtful viewer would logically conclude, is any text worth the life of another human being?
“From One Second to the Next” presents the issue of texting and driving by conveying the message directly from those individuals involved in four separate accidents, as well their family members. The four stories presented to the audience are direct, unfiltered personal accounts from each tragic event. As was previously discussed, Werner Herzog is an award winning German director with an impressive resume. The documentary debuted on YouTube where it received 1.7 million views in the first week. Because of the topic, the prominence of AT&T, the company who commissioned the work, and the stature and fame of the director, this project was picked up by all of the major news agencies and publications for wide dissemination to the public at large. It was also distributed to 40,000 high schools, as was noted earlier, and other public service agencies (CNN).
This review gives “From One Second to the Next” a 5 star rating. It is a powerful documentary that grips the audience by so clearly conveying the message, “Don’t Text and Drive”. Through the masterful direction of cinematic genius, Werner Herzog, the appeals are effective in touching the audience in a way that will stay with them forever. The takeaway from this analysis is that “From One Second to the Next” must be experienced. Your life and those you hold dear are at stake.

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