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The opening scene of the movie provides a case study for one extreme form of listening – that in the operating room, which has definite needs and interesting power imbalances which stem from several distinct sources of responsibility and power which operate in the rom. A close examination of the opening scene of The Doctor can demonstrate an extreme setting and system of listening, which creates a significant power imbalance and could be rectified through small changes in environment and participation. One of the most commonly analyzed listening environments is the listener-focused on. This kind of listening environment focuses heavily on the listener’s perspective and opinion of the interaction (Brownell 40). This kind of environment features such things as school presentations, speeches, business presentations or marriage proposals. The opening scene of The Doctor features the polar opposite of this listening environment – rather than focusing on what the listener hears, this scene nearly entirely concentrates on what the speaker says significantly discounting other voices or perceptions. The opening scene takes place in an operating room, where there is essentially only one speaker who completely dominates the speaking and listening environment. The main surgeon controls everything about the environment – frequently changing what kind of ambient noise is occurring (telling others to turn music on and off, for instance) and communicating based solely on his own perceptions of need. The listeners in this environment are supposed to be completely passive in terms of communication, and simply react silently to orders barked by the main surgeon – in the only instance when someone tries to make him the listener, by telling him that he has a time limit, the doctor fails to respond, or acknowledge that he has heard what is being said. This pattern continues in doctor-everyone else relations throughout the entire course of the movie, and one of the most interesting aspects of the film is the shift the main character, Jack MacKee, experiences the shift from being solely a doctor to also being a patient with cancer. He experiences the degree to which doctors control all speaking and listening dynamics, often cutting him off, only listening to the amount that they think is necessary, and not taking his experience as a listener into account. The doctor’s insistence on creating such a speaker-focused listening environment has significant consequences to the power dynamics that occur in the operating room. He alternates between barking orders that will presumably save someone’s life and giving unwanted advances to one of the nurses, Nancy, who must, because of the power dynamic in the room, and the seriousness of the system, listen to each with equal weight, but respond to neither verbally. The surgeon’s choice to control the ambient noise level in the room creates an even more stark power dynamic. Though he is not expected to be able to hear or listen above the noise, being the only person in the room who is not a listener, he sets the ambient noise level which controls the amount of focus that the listeners have to use in order to do their job properly. This creates an uncomfortable ...Show more


Systems of Power, Expertise and Their Relation to Listening in The 1991 Film The Doctor As described in Listening: Attitudes, Principles and Skills by Judi Brownell, there are many forms and methods of listening, and the expectations of both the speaker and the listener are vastly different depending upon systemic elements that influence the course of the speaking and the listening…
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Systems of Power Essay
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