Utilizing visual semiotics and performance theories as a backdrop to inform a discussion regarding entertainment education and community dialogue, this study explores a unique case of compassionate communication being enacted at the most crucial moment – facing a school shooter at the height of a critical juncture. Through narrative film techniques and dramatism, a recreation of the real-life event was re-framed and distilled into a documentary-style film to showcase to general audiences for the purpose of dialogue catalyzation and elicitation. The film acts as a provocative statement for the process of conducting a Civil Dialogue® with the viewing audience. Qualitative analysis of 12 dialogue groups and 15 individual interviews (primarily college students) explores the impact film has on viewers’ perceptions, their participation in dialogue, and the role of affect when it comes to communicating with others. Findings suggest a positive correlation between film, emotional engagement, and dialogue participation, with significant impact on viewer’s perceptions and indications of influencing anticipated future behavior. Additional findings and analysis reveal a cultural master narrative of “fight or flight” syndrome, and a tendency toward spectacle or doing things “for show.” Novel concepts such as visual capital and performative cognition emerge to inform a new arts-based method and the development of a theory referred to as the Tuff-Hill Phenomenon.
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