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Morality, Freedom And Public Opinion Essay

1000 words - 4 pages

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 save the face of the most unethical and hated corporation on the planet because he is good at it. “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”(TYFS). Regardless of the motives, it is obvious that both Kinsey and Naylor go about their work with an eagerness and devotion that invigorates and aggravates those around them.
Great passion empowers both of these men, but it is their mutual ability to present themselves and their ideas clearly that puts them into the limelight. Naylor and Kinsey share a mastery in making and defending their claims to a skeptical audience, each man in his own way manages to remove potential challenges with there own respective argument style. While Naylor juggles rhetorical styles intended to confuse fact and disarm the listener, Kinsey's approach is to let the science speak for itself, he confronts moral piousness with cold fact, which occasionally leads to humorous results. As in this scene from Kinsey, the professor uses this aptitude to defuse priggishness in a female student. When asked if she knows what part of the human body could enlarge one hundred times, she becomes uptight and prissily tells the professor that he has no right to ask her in...

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