On May 1, a group of students from Wagner's Government 3.0 class had the privilege of participating in a discourse by Professor Richard Sherwin on the application of visual storytelling in court. By manipulating the sequence of story frames, the audience may be led subconsciously to the desired conclusion. The genres of such stories include, association, anticipation and suspense, reinforcing an argument, raising queries or simply camouflaging the real issue.
Professor Sherwin deployed many video clips to illustrate the persuasiveness of such storytelling. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to obtain the links to those videos. The recollection and plain words do not do justice to the discourse.
An example of association is the case of United Bank vs. PriceWaterhouse in 1985. PriceWaterhouse was compared to Titanic in visual display, leading to the conclusion that even the mammoth may not escape misadventure that may or may not be the result of human error. In the case of O.J. Simpson, while the horrendous crime scene was described, a jigsaw puzzle was being assembled on the screen. By the end of the description, the face of O.J. Simpson was displayed.
In the case of Rodney King beating, the video of King being beaten up by the cops was played in slow motion that time the down stroke of a baton with the rising up of King’s body, implying that cops were merely enforcing the command for King to lie down instead of a malicious intent to beat him up. A similar video is http://youtu.be/4OauOPTwbqk.
In the case of Oklahoma City Bombing, prosecution used a clock to intensify emotion and heighten suspense.
In the case of Scott vs. Harris, the car chase video http://youtu.be/qrVKSgRZ2GY was displayed to show that the decision of the police to force Scott off the road (resulting in his car hitting a pole and causing him paralysis) did not violate the constitution.
In the trial of Michael Skakel (2002) for the murder of Martha Moxley (1975), powerful uncanny video reenacting the sequence of thoughts in Skakel’s mind led to his conviction. I could not find the video but the link http://www.americanbar.org/publications/criminal_justice_magazine_home/crimjust_cjmag_19_1_skakel.html leads to an article written by the prosecutor on the video.
Professor Sherwin also displayed medical malpractice trials in which video storytelling is prevalent. “Scientific magic” is deployed to show internal workings of organs that demonstrate “Christmas light effect” whereby the more colorful the video the more believable the story is.
In summation, Professor Sherwin advised that in any political action, it would be wise to determine the genre of a storyline and make sure that it fits the circumstances. I believe the same advice applies to business and social actions as well.