Essay on Morality, Freedom and Public Opinion

Essay on Morality, Freedom and Public Opinion

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The protagonists in the films Kinsey by Bill Condon and Thank You for Smoking by Jason Reitman are two men who are cut from very different styles of cloth. In Kinsey, the titular character uses logical discourse and gathered statistics in an attempt to remove the shackles of moral prudery from the subject of human sexuality for the betterment of humanity. On the other hand, the central character in Thank You for Smoking is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry who uses logical fallacy and rhetoric to obscure the health risks of tobacco use because he is extraordinarily good at it, and additionally he gets paid handsomely. As divergent as these two men are in their intentions, they both show passionate skill in asserting their claims against tough opposition. Moreover, both characters argumentative styles reveal their mutual apprehension of the power that morality and rhetoric hold in shaping public opinion.
To be sure, Alfred Kinsey and Nick Naylor are different men with dissimilar intentions, however, they both possess, albeit for differing reasons, a driving passion to work at achieving their ambitions. In an early scene from the film Kinsey, we glimpse some of the grounds for Professor Kinsey’s passion. We see a young Kinsey witnessing one of his tyrannical father’s sermons on the evils of lust. His father exaggerates the connection between commonplace items and sexual deviancy, even going so far as to condemn the zipper as it provides, “ speedy access to moral oblivion” (Kinsey). Alfred Kinsey wants to make the sexual world a less shameful place for people. On the contrary, the foundations for Nick Naylor’s ardor are not so noble or complex, as he unapologetically tells us in the first 10 minutes of the movie. Naylor works to s...


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...and bureaucracy, I cheered at their victories and was saddened at their setbacks despite their personalities or choices in career. I believe rooting for the underdog is part of my American cultural inheritance. There is something delicious in watching a person struggle against the opposition to change the minds and hearts of the masses, even if I don't believe in their cause. I think that we as a culture love it because while watching characters like Alfred Kinsey and Nick Naylor, we are reminded that with passion, skill and a thorough knowledge of what we am up against we can change the world, or at least talk it into to agreeing with us.




Works Cited

Kinsey. Dir. Bill Condon. Perf. Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. Fox Searchlight, 2004. Online.

Thank you for Smoking. Dir. Jason Reitman. Perf. Aaron Eckhart and Maria Bello
Room 9 Entertainment, 2006. Online

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