Sochi 2014 is here! There are so many topics to discuss, whether concerning cultural perspectives, world languages, geography, human rights and equality, world history and international relations, and, of course, sports, among many other angles. For media literacy perspectives on the Games, I am posting right here a new lesson activity that works with Chapter 5 of Moving Images: Critical Notebook 5b. This exercise encourages students to apply principles of media literacy to the images that they see as they watch the Olympics – from the personal interest pieces to direct sports coverage to commercials to power outages.
As we discuss or write about how we “experience” these Winter Olympics (or any similar event) from afar, it is particularly useful to raise questions about concepts that are at the core of the Olympics themselves: how does one interpret these events differently in another country or through contrasting media sources and visual traditions? Students should be encouraged to seek out media from across the globe in relation to coverage of specific sporting events or ceremonies, sports figures, and commercial interests. It can be highly enlightening to discover new perspectives on familiar institutions, events, or phenomena. Including commercials.
P.S.: I have to add that, on a personal note, whenever I watch an Olympics opening ceremony in the USA (and I have seen them from the vantage point of other countries, where the coverage is so very different), I am reminded of the lines from the Grim Reaper in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life: “Shut up… You always talk, you Americans. You talk and you talk and say ‘let me tell you something’ and ‘I just wanna say this’.” Couldn’t we ever just watch the actual ceremony in America with its actual soundtrack? Do the commentators really need to be blabbing on about whatever comes into their heads while these amazing images from out of Tarkovsky and Hedgehog in the Fog are gorgeously floating by on the screen? It’s really maddening at times.