Friday, 30 November 2012

Slander and Libel

Slander and Libel 

What is Slander and Libel?

Slander is the false judgemental charge on somebody's reputation with a malicious intent. The person who has had their reputation charged upon has the right to sue whoever originally caused the accusation. There have been many slanderous cases recently that have reported on within the news. One such recent case would be one that BBC news actually generated themselves. This was based on the idea that an MP for the British government of being a pedophile, which there was no fact whatsoever on this subject. So the director of the BBC left and many other employees were left jobless. Libel is similar to Slander however the result of slanderism is being Libel. If you are found to be slanderous then you are Libel. Once somebody is Libel, they can be sent to court. Usually people who are found Libel for the misjudgement of somebody's reputation are fined a large sum of money. Or even if this Slanderism is continuously presented by a group or a person, they can in fact be sent to prison depending on how damaging the information that is placed out publicly.

Slander within documentaries

Many different documentaries can be seen as having slanderous elements within them. For example Fahrenheit 911 has some slander within it where the director accuses the former president of America George Bush of having connections with the Bin Laden family. Even though the director has no evidential facts towards this slanderous thought. However Michael Moore was never convicted for slander on this matter. Another example of a documentary being seen as potentially slanderous would be Supersize me directed by Morgam Spurlock. He does present many facts in order to stress his opinion of Mcdonalds being terribly unhealthy for the human body. The way he presents this information with interviews with experts makes it seem less slanderous towards the company however if he didn't present this documentary on this way he possibly would has been Libel for Slander.

Another example of a documentary that was seen as slanderous was one by an Uzbek director named 'The Burden of Virginity' this was based around the idea of difficulties for women in Uzbekistan. The director Umida Akhmedova was actually convicted of slander towards the Uzbekistan people. After admitting to this she was allowed to go free however narrowly avoiding a 3 year prison sentence. The Third Jihad was another documentary that was seen as potentially slanderous towards Islam and it's religion. The subject of this documentary was about radical Islamic laws living in the United States. The director Wayne Kopping wanted to present Islam's war against the West but this upset the Islamic people living within America, however Kopping luckily escaped being convicted of being slanderous, but this is most likely because of his documentary being 'potentially' slanderous.    


Ethics are another extremely important fator that should be taken into consideration when producing a documentary. It is the simple preinciple of right or wrong, many documentaries can be seen as right or wrong. One such subject on a documentary that doesn't seem correctly ethical is the recent Jimmy Saville investigation into the allegations that he was a paedophile. Firstly this could not been seen as ethically right seeing as he has passed away and secondly it is not exactly a subject that needs to be publicised on television. Another example of a director who has been seen as unethical is Louis Theroux, he has done many unethical documentaries however one that I found whilst researching was 'A Place for Pedophiles' he had somehow gained access to a mental hospital in California. This could be seen as unethical as he has chosen a subject to report on that doesn't seem suitable to show to an audience. Another unethical documentary example would be Martin Bashir's 'Secret world' documentary based on Michael Jackson's private life, which also touches upon the idea of him being a pedophile. This could be seen as unethical because it invades itself into Jackson's life acusing him of being a pedophile which wasn't fully proven in the end. One other documentary that could have been potentially unethical was aired on TV, this documentary was based on the story of a girl who was kept as a sex slave for most of her life by her school security guard. This could be seen as unethical because this subject doesn't really need to be documented as it may seem quite a delicate subject for some people including the actually person this happened to.

How documentaries can avoid being slanderous or unethical?

In my opinion I feel that documentaries should always avoid being slanderous due to the outcome it produces. However I think that the best way to avoid this would be to stick to the official facts of a particular event that happened. Don't make large judgements onto other people and allow the audience to make up their own minds at the end of the film. Also when choosing a subject to make a documentary on, make sure that the subject is not too sensitive to whoever is involved,and make sure the the documentary actually reaches a conclusion or a point that can be made. Otherwise you could be accused of being unethical by just reporting on a subject.

1 comment:

  1. Grade: Distinction

    Why: You have critically evaluated issues relating to documentaries. Well structured and good opinion shown.