Monday, 28 September 2009

WARM UP: 5-8 minutes —

  • Have this quote written on the white-board and ask the student to discuss:
    • Once local culture was created by social rituals; today culture is created by media.”
      • Is that a change for the better or for the worse? Why and why not?
      • What does that say about the power of media and its affect on community, the people you live and work with?
        • Are we still unique or are we all the same?
        • Does media threaten our individuality?
        • Do we still have real communities; can we still have real communities — where we have unique breads, cheeses, music — or has everything become the same?
        • If we all share the same media and the same culture can we still maintain our freedoms or have we become easier to control and manipulate?


  • Please collect film review from the movie “The Pianist.” If they give you an excuse for not handing it in, ask them to write me a brief note in place of the review and I will consider their comments when I return.


  • Section One — 15 minutes — as long as it goes if the discussion is good… (Note: the Fourth period class completed the film, whereas the second period class did not.)

    • Please collect from students their reviews of the film “The Pianist.”
    • Have the students open their textbooks, Media and Culture, to page 19. Remind them of the tower of culture and that it represents culture change from “high culture” to “low culture.”
      • Ask them to take 30 to 60 seconds to consider each of the following questions:
        • Where does the film “The Pianist” reside in the hierarchy of culture — high or low”
        • The piano player — played by Academy Award Winner Adrien Brody suffers through Nazi rule. Where would you say his music reside in the hierarchy of culture?
          • Ask them to defend and explain their point of view
          • Call on students randomly from around the room. Everyone will have a thought.
        • I know that the students have not seen the end of the film, but here’s what happens — At the end of the film, a Nazi officer hears Adrien Brody play music and spares his life. Why would he do that?
        • It is said that great art and culture humanizes us and reveals that we each have our rightful place in the world.

          • Is that true? Why or why not? Please call on students to get their responses. Try to promote a discussion.
          • How is it that well educated Nazi officers who had an appreciation for high CULTURE and probably were imbued with high culture could reduce themselves to ignorance and murder?
      • What other film that we have seen in class has a similar theme of man’s inhumanity to man?
        • Can you compare the film “Mississippi Burning” to “The Pianist”?
        • How was the predicament of black people in Mississippi in the 1960s similar to the Jews in Poland in 1939-1945?
        • How is/was the predicament of these two minorities different?
        • Neither the Jews (but for a few, in the brief, bloody Warsaw uprising) nor the blacks — who outnumbered their oppressors — did much to protect themselves? Discuss.

          • Why didn’t they take arms against their enemies?
          • Why didn’t they fight back?
      • This film did not have any cuss/curse words. It had no nudity. Yet it received an “R” rating. Why do you think that is?
        • “Dark Knight” which many of you have seen was more violent and certainly ugly, yet it received a GP rating. Why do you think that is?
        • Comparing the two movies take a moment to consider whether you think the movie rating system is

          • a) useful
          • b) fair or accurate
          • c) how might you change the rating system –or would you just throw it out?


  • Section Two — Article from Wired magazine “Live in the Moment.” 15 minutes or more

    • Take five minutes and read the article that has been passed out to you.
      • Are Google and Bing the search engines you want to turn to when news is breaking, say, for example, when Michael Jackson died?
        • What about Google News and Bing News — Do you think they would have given you the latest news? Why? Why not
        • Has the author treated those sites fairly or has he overlooked them?
        • What does the article tell us about Google or Bing that keeps them from being up-to-the-minute search engines? [TEACHER: BECAUSE THEY JUDGE THE IMPORTANCE OF A SITE BY HOW MANY SITES LINK TO THEM. WHEN NEWS BREAKS, THOSE LINKS HAVE NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED. ALSO, MAJOR SEARCH SITES USE LOGIC THAT TENDS TO OPPOSE A FLOOD OF NEWS AND PREFERS TO JUDGE SITES ON TRENDS, THE RATE AT WHICH POPULARITY BUILDS. SUDDEN POPULARITY IS SUSPICIOUS TO A MAJOR SITE.
        • Has anyone tried out any of these new search sites discussed in this article? Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Topsy, Scoopler, Collecta?
            • Collecta says, “The web is alive with real-time information. So why search a stale archive? Collecta monitors the update streams of news sites, popular blogs and social media, so we can show you results as they happen.”
            • Have you ever thought the results you got from Google were “stale”? What does that mean?
            • OneRiot offers a lot of celebrity and style information. Is that really news? What makes some event newsworthy?
            • Scoopler’s page offers a list of topics — “Follow Sexy Megan,” “Iran,” “Paranormal Activity,” “wii,” and “Windows 7” in that order. What does that order tell you about “Scoopler’s” search engine?
              • How does it rank news?
              • In your view — and no joking around; be serious — is a nuclear Iran as important as or more important than “Sexy Megan”?
            • Tweetmeme ranks breaking news according to the number of tweets flowing through the servers at Twitter.
              • Is that information newsworthy?
              • Can that information be newsworthy — think of the election riots in Iran?
            • Is news becoming more personal and less professional?

              • News you want as opposed to news you need?
              • What does that say about the power of media over culture?


  • Section Three — I have left a documentary for the class to watch entitled, “Guns, Germs and Steel,” by National Geographic Films. The second-period class has not seen this film and they should watch it from the beginning.Use the TV set top show the film. The fourth-period class has watched much of this film. It is divided into chapters, and you should begin the film on chapter nine, which is where they left off, more or less. Remind them that they should be thinking about this film and comparing it to the documentary “Sicko.” How are these films similar (both are arguing a point), and how are they different (“Sicko” only presented one side of the argument).

    • This should take you to the end of the period.


THE THIRD PERIOD CLASS IS WORKING ON THEIR FILM PROJECTS. THEY ARE SENIORS AND WILL TRY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU. THOSE WHO ARE PREPARED TO FILM MAY BE EXCUSED. THE OTHERS SHOULD BE WRITING FILM TREATMENTS. TELL THEM THAT I WILL COLLECT AND GRADE ALL OF THEIR TREATMENTS ON TUESDAY WHEN I RETURN. HALL PASSES ARE IN YOUR FOLDER. FOR THE REST, SHOW THEM “GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL.”

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