Al Gore, "An Inconvenient Truth," and Environmental Discourse in the Public Sphere
Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006, created a lot of publicity about environmentalism and global warming. Gore won an Oscar and, along with the IPCC, a Nobel Peace Prize for the work. "An Inconvenient Truth" reinvigorated the environmental movement, which had long gotten anemic and inconsistent attention from the public sphere, and brought environmentalism into mainstream acceptance where before it had been seen as a fringe movement. This study is designed to determine what made "An Inconvenient Truth" so powerful. Through a rhetorical criticism and news media analysis, I show how Gore's film transformed the environmentalist movement into one that changed attitudes and enabled collective action. Previous environmental works had focused too much on scientific uncertainty, specific events not related to a broader environmentalist theme, and hard, complex data. An analysis of the film's rhetorical techniques and arguments will indicate how the work differed from previous environmental coverage, showing that the use of a narrative to connect isolated image events to the larger scope of global warming moved audiences and united environmental discourse in a way that had not previously been seen. To reinforce its influence on the public sphere, I analyzed news media coverage of these rhetorical devices before and after the film's release to determine the extent to which global warming became a top agenda for the news media and the public sphere as a whole.
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