Opening Days Again!

Slide1Perhaps school started for you recently or you are in the first days of a new school year — here’s a reminder that I have posted earlier pieces for starting off the year, including ones that feature links to media literacy coursework slideshows with linked videos, activities, and other useful resources.

Generation LikeMeanwhile, I was recently reviewing trending topics and reference points for new media, and I laughed when I saw the opening video to Tyler Oakley‘s YouTube page in which he gushes about the wonderful year he’s had  and that PBS “did a documentary about me!”  I guess it says it all about “Generation Like” that he declares it’s a documentary just about him when Douglas Rushkoff and the FrontLine producers create a new, insightful piece about “how the perennial teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media — and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with these young consumers.”  As Alissa Quart adds, “today, coolness is … like you have to be constantly selling yourself, showing yourself and marketing yourself… Instead of turning your back to the audience or wearing sunglasses at night, you’re taking off those sunglasses and you’re smiling into the camera.  The currency now is one of constant approval and a constant hum of self-assertion…”  Get it, Tyler?

Brothers Quay at work

Brothers Quay at work

Stop Motion is one of the most accessible and productive ways in which young filmmakers can explore visual communication and storytelling.  This is clearly demonstrated in the popularity of Brickfilms (for some particularly inspiring Lego work, check out Fell in Love with a Girl directed by music video maverick and eternal kid-at-heart Michel Gondry for The White Stripes) and the continued success of such studios as Laika and Aardman.  Right now at Film Forum in New York, a surprising partnership has emerged in the realm of stop-motion: Christopher Nolan, director of mega-blockbusters including the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, has made Quay, a short documentary about the Brothers Quay and their films, and curated a touring program showcasing their groundbreaking, influential, thematically challenging*, and technically astonishing body of work.

Still from Street of Crocodiles by Brothers Quay

Still from Street of Crocodiles by Brothers Quay

Earlier posts on this blog have highlighted the work of PES, Kirsten Lepore (see Stop Motion Restarted), Karel Zeman, Tim Burton, and other stop-motion creators, and another post presents a short documentary by one of my students, Frame-By-Frame, which provides an original, compelling introduction to stop-motion (and 2D animation, by extension).  In addition, for interested educators, The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation by Ken Priebe is an excellent resource for classroom use.

(*Or “extremely creepy,” as many of my students would say — although I have noted that for many kids today, anything in 3D animation that isn’t from the slick world of CG is almost automatically “creepy,” which is even more disturbing, I think.)

157641-161843In a recent blog post on the National Council of Teachers of English message board, NCTE Council Historian Paul Thomas discussed the topic of the degree to which false ideas persist in popular perceptions of scientific “truths” despite their having been thoroughly debunked, or never even been shown to be demonstrably true in the first place.  He wrote about the quite widely accepted but totally false idea that humans supposedly “only use 10% of their brains” and its use in the movie Lucy, directed by Luc Besson, as a reference point.  In a post from earlier this year — Getting All Black and Blue Over Media Literacy I discussed the degree to which falsehoods and distortions become accepted as fact by movie viewers, even if there is copious evidence — whether historical, social, scientific, or otherwise — that these false perceptions are indeed untrue.  Funny enough, the standard line of “it’s only a movie” should be more aptly referenced as “well, it’s in a movie, that’s why they believe it.”


Utterly false. Even in French.

There are few goals that must be more important to educators than tackling these ideas: how to seek out truth, how to ask questions of what is being presented to viewers or readers, and how to evaluate and produce material so that truth and authenticity are readily addressed and apparent.

For my own take on Luc Besson’s Lucy, please check out my earlier post Hi there, writers! 

Learning Centers

New York Mag Cosby WomenThe necessity for media literate citizens and creators continues to evolve at an astounding pace.  Most recently, the intensely developing story of the accusations against iconic comedian Bill Cosby has played out through a highly complex web of media platforms: scant coverage of allegations dating from about a decade ago; recent live performances from the comedian Hannibal Buress that were then uploaded to streaming video platforms; snowballing revelations through social media by victims of Cosby’s alleged abuse; and a major multimedia report in New York magazine that utilizes Internet interactivity to explore accusations against the performer by many women whose corroborative evidence has shocked people from across the globe.  The resources stemming from the New York article and more sources will serve as invaluable materials for social studies coursework, media literacy analysis, and a wide variety of evaluation of American values related to the legal system, sociology, women’s rights, and psychology in the months and years to come.  Finally, as direct primary resources that utilize digital media to express ideas, the streaming video testimonials set up to accompany the article by Noreen Malone and Amanda Demme are examples of profound uses of direct interviews to enhance stories already told through print and images.

Teaching Center!

jordan-peele-kegan-michael-key-key-and-peele-teaching-center-sketch  Just because.

(And, yes, if you want a lesson in nailing every nuance, gesture, cut, transition, and graphic in a parody — look no further.  Key & Peele continue to hone their genius at short-form filmmaking with their provocative mix of social commentary and media savvy.)

kreosansachaOr, “what exactly is that movie?”  – which was the title to an earlier mediateacher.net post, so we’ll be returning to that phrase again today to explore the ever-evolving 21st century media creation landscape.  (At least that’s what Google translate gave me, so it’s probably a ludicrous translation.  If appropriate, Russian readers can send along a good translation and I’ll add it to this post.  See: that will be 21st century collaborative media in action.) (O.K., here’s the P.S.: О чём этот фильм is a better translation, I am told.  I’ll take your word for it, Marta — Thanks!)

Today, we will be visiting the groundbreaking media event known as Kreosan.  Two young men from war-torn Luhansk, Ukraine, Pavel Pavlov and Aleksandr Kryukov, began conducting home science experiments and posting them to their YouTube channel.  They started to attract a following, and the political and historical contexts of their work provide powerful examples of the ways in which the creation and dissemination of media messages produce new outlets for communication and expression as well as the sharing of information, discoveries, and perspectives across cultures.  A part of that process is also the written expression of ideas through comments by followers and responses by the creators themselves, who have acknowledged the effect of feedback on their output.

kreosanFor an introduction to their work, please check out this Saturday Profile piece by Andrew Roth for the New York Times.  There is a video to watch as well as a print article.  Like many media literacy stories today, this is a richly cross-curricular tale, from the geopolitical situation between Ukraine and Russia for social studies classes to their experiments (such as with the magnetron or with lightning) for science and tech ed coursework.  Watch out for that ray gun!

copyright-culpritIf you a learner or educator looking for thorough information on guidelines for fair use of media in educational contexts, this page on the Center for Media & Social Impact site has a wide range of resources to explore, including copyright and legal permissions.  You can also go directly to Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts (funded by the Mellon Foundation for the College Art Association).


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