Head within a another looking out

Wine Glasses And Point-Of-View Guns

themedianet Coordinator, Paul Arnold, tries to get a sense of perspective.

‘Which box do the wine glasses go in?’ asked my wife, Pippa.

‘That one, there’ I replied, somewhat unhelpfully pointing at a pile of four boxes.

‘Which one?’ she persisted.

‘They’re labelled…’

‘Yes, but I can’t see the labels from here.’

She had a point. A good point, even, I am prepared to concede. Because, although I am, of course, generally a very empathetic person, I had, on this occasion, quite literally failed to see things from her perspective.

Some fun was had with this idea in the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ film. The Point-Of-View gun makes those fired upon see things from the shooter’s perspective. Marvin the Paranoid Android gets himself out of a tricky situation by firing at the Vogons, who then become too depressed to carry on fighting.

Turning to a slightly older compendium of thought-provoking stories, time and time again in his encounters with ordinary people, Jesus sees, and understands the point of view of each. From the woman about to be stoned in John chapter 8 to the soldier with the poorly servant in Luke 7, he doesn’t respond to them simply as representatives of a group with no individuality. They’re each unique, with their own perspectives.

Seeing things from someone else’s point of view should be something that’s familiar to those of us involved in the media. Whenever we write, record or film something for public use, we are (or should be) thinking about the perspectives of the people in our story, and also our audience. As an example, in all the recent coverage of the refugee crisis I’ve been frustrated at how little we’ve heard from those actually on the move away from fighting in the Middle East. And turning to our audiences, what do they know, what don’t they know, and what would be helpful, interesting, or entertaining for them? In radio we’re told to imagine we’re speaking to one person. Just one, at home or in the car. A personal conversation.

It’s clear, then, that we should try to understand our subjects better. And also our audiences, at work… and at home. In the meantime, Pippa is looking on Ebay for a Point-Of-View gun.

Paul Arnold
  • Naomi Smallwood

    How much richer our media would be if everyone thought like this!

    • Yes it’s king of akin to the conference theme ‘Them and Us’. Walking a mile in someone’s shoes etc.

  • I like the bit about the depressed Vogons!