The Disney “Phenomenon”

Belous, T. (2013). Tatyana’s Blog [Online image]. Retrieved from http://tatyanabelous123.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/gender-stereotypes-in-disney-movies.html
Belous, T. (2013). Tatyana’s Blog [Online image]. Retrieved from http://tatyanabelous123.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/gender-stereotypes-in-disney-movies.html
 Children all over the world watch Disney movies, adults too – let’s not lie, but is Disney subconsciously teaching today’s youth to behave within a certain gender bracket? Is this reaffirming gender inequality?

Although people like to think we live in a world of gender equality, the sad fact is women are often still seen as being the weaker sex. Through looking at male and female characters in Disney animations, it becomes apparent how the two different genders are portrayed differently in terms of their roles. England, Descartes and Collier-Meek (2011, p.555) further claim that Disney and its well known princess phenomenon is a powerful influence on children’s thinking and consumerism as it is a main contributor to the consumption of traditional gender roles. The Disney princess phenomenon is such a powerful machine that the franchise includes 25 000 products that increased from $300 million from marketing sales in 2001, to $4 billion in 2008 (Setoodah &  Yabroff, 2007, p.66). With the market being this saturated in the ideal Disney princess, no wonder today’s youth are feeling a necessity to conform to this ideal.

Male characters in Disney roles tend to be assertive, athletic, competent, intellectual, accountable and far stronger than the female characters. An example is Tarzan, he was raised by one of the most strongest animals on earth, killed a sabre toothed tiger with a stick and throughout the whole film his ripped, masculine body was scantily covered with a piece of cloth. In contrast, female characters are portrayed as weaker, easily influenced, sensitive, frail, complaining and domestic. Sleeping Beauty is an example of an attractive, feminine, domesticated lead protagonist, whose main ambition is waiting for a man to come and rescue her. Further gender stereotyping is also shown through Disney’s femme fatales characters. Interestingly the powerful women in Disney films are often middle aged and quite commonly the villain, think along the lines of Cruella Devil, Ursula and the wicked Queen (England, Descartes and Collier-Meek, 2011, p.557).

Sdasdgw. (2013). Walt Disney’s Tarzan [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/walt-disneys-tarzan/images/20329729/title/tarzan-photo
Sdasdgw. (2013). Walt Disney’s Tarzan [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/walt-disneys-tarzan/images/20329729/title/tarzan-photo
How do these processes and underlying connotations influence children’s gender role acquisition and expression? The constructivist approach proposes that children form beliefs about the world around them based on their experiences and observations, therefore viewing material with strong depictions of gender roles will influence children’s ideas (Graves, 1999, p.710). England, Descartes and Cllier-Meek (2011, p.566) further add that constantly reinforcing this perceived gender role will allow these images to be conceived as “normal,” as children will deem this behaviour socially and behaviourally acceptable.

These gender stereotypes are definitely seen within the schooling cliques. It is so engrained that young girls who prefer short to long hair are often identified as butch or being tomboys. Girls who prefer pants to skirts, or sport to shopping are not classified as feminine. A quick survey of my Year 8 English class revealed that all students had watched at least three Disney films and a survey of the girls showed that even though they know being a princess is a storyline, they would still like to be a damsel in distress to an attractive male. Students also made me aware of the newest Disney hit, Frozen (which I ashamedly haven’t seen yet)but state that the main character only relies modestly on the male protagonist. The main character searches for sisterly love rather than romantic love. Well done Disney!

As we grow older these stereotypes are often broken down as people tend to become more confident in who they are and what they want to portray, but within a high school these barriers definitely do exist.

WaltDisneyConfessions. (2012). Privilege in the Happy Ever After [Online image]. Retrieved from http://feministdisney.tumblr.com/post/13250073610/privilege-in-the-happily-ever-after
WaltDisneyConfessions. (2012). Privilege in the Happy Ever After [Online image]. Retrieved from http://feministdisney.tumblr.com/post/13250073610/privilege-in-the-happily-ever-after
Reference List:

England, E., Desccartes, L. & Collier-Meek. (2011). Gender Role Portrayal and the Disney Princesses. Sex Roles, 64(7), 555-567. Doi: 10.1007/s11199-011-9930-7

Graves, S. B. (1999). Television and prejudice reduction: When does television as a vicarious experience make a difference? Journal of Social Issues, 55(4), 707–725. doi: 10.1111/0022-4537.00143

Setoodeh, R., & Yabroff, J. (2007, November 26). Princess power. Newsweek, 150, 66–67. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/214255116?pq-origsite=summon

Images:

Belous, T. (2013). Tatyana’s Blog [Online image]. Retrieved from http://tatyanabelous123.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/gender-stereotypes-in-disney-movies.html

Sdasdgw. (2013). Walt Disney’s Tarzan [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/walt-disneys-tarzan/images/20329729/title/tarzan-photo

WaltDisneyConfessions. (2012). Privilege in the Happy Ever After [Online image]. Retrieved from http://feministdisney.tumblr.com/post/13250073610/privilege-in-the-happily-ever-after

Should the Future of Learning be “Gamified?”

There is an apparent trend developing that suggests future classroom learning should be digitised into gaming formats, therefore disguising learning. Could this be a viable pathway for students to learn important skills and would it really be effective?

少しゾンビ. (2014). Gamer Boy [Online image]. Retrieved from http://viewpointofdreams.tumblr.com/post/91646586398
少しゾンビ. (2014). Gamer Boy [Online image]. Retrieved from http://viewpointofdreams.tumblr.com/post/91646586398
Statistics from Williamson (2009, p.8) reveal that 97 per cent of teenagers aged between 12-17 play computer games in the USA, with 78 per cent of teenagers between 16-19 years regularly playing in Great Britain. More closely to home, the Sydney Morning Herald (Dominguez, 2012) stated that 94 per cent of children aged 6-15 play games regularly, admittedly this statistic shows a larger testing range. This data reveals that video gaming is an integral part of teenager’s lives today. If something is this significant to their everyday social experiences, surely its inclusion within the classroom makes sense.

More contemporary views of education explore video games as necessary emergent cultural forms in the classroom. Beavis (2014, p.435) believes this can transpire through understanding how video games work as texts, the kind of literacy’s they call for, and what players need to know what to do in order to manipulate their play. The term video games can encompass console games, iPad games, Wii games and also phone applications. It must also be realised that video games represent a form of popular culture and by tapping into the eminent pleasure teens feel when playing video games, learning can also occur. Although Williamson (2009, p.10) argues there is significant ambiguity about the appropriateness of computer games as educational tools, citing that there is little evidence to actually substantiate if it’s beneficial in the classroom.

Utilising computer games within pedagogy is something I have only ever marginally acted upon in my English and History classes, but mainly as a revision tool before important exams. When preparing for knowledge based exams I’ve uploaded a preformatted PowerPoint Jeopardy style presentation, where students can create their own questions and answers. Following this their game is uploaded onto the drive and everyone has the opportunity to complete each other’s quiz. Students have generally found this activity quite enjoyable and often remember information through using the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy to rephrase and represent the information in a new form. A double edge sword is that the questions get repetitive, but the repetition actually helps them recall facts (my students aren’t the go home and study type).

Thomas, J. (2013). Reading, Writing and Video Games [Online image]. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/sunday-review/reading-writing-and-video-games.html?_r=0
Thomas, J. (2013). Reading, Writing and Video Games [Online image]. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/sunday-review/reading-writing-and-video-games.html?_r=0
Beavis’ study (2014, p. 436) suggests using a computer game as a English literacy to be studies, exemplifying the multi literacy’s required as students need to break down characters, understand stories, face challenges but also the consequences that comes along with passing or failing them. This is a pathway I would have never previously considered to assimilate. I feel cautious as to how this would work with majority of my class, as computers are generally either left at home, flat and oops they forgot their charger, or in need of major repairs. Although I do have four to five avid gamers in most of my classes, who would definitely engage with this concept more than texts or movies. It could definitely be used as a differentiation and scaffolding tool, which might also build some strong rapport on the side.

I personally feel that video games should not replace genuine instructional teaching, although they can be great extension and revision activities, and also allow differentiation through textual forms. Video games should only be used as another way of learning not the most dependant form of learning. Anything beyond this jeopardises the integrity of genuine instruction.

Reference List:

Beavis, C. (2014). Games as Text, Games as Action. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 57(6), 433-439. DOI: 10.1002/jaal.275

Dominguez, J. (2012, August 2). New statistics reveal the face of Australian gaming. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/games/blog/screenplay/new-statistics-reveal-the-face-of-australian-gaming-20120801-23g49.html

Williamson, B. (2009). Computer games, schools and young people: A report for educators on using games for learning. Futurelab, UK. Retrieved from http://archive.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/project_reports/becta/Games_and_Learning_educators_report.pdf

Image References:

Thomas, J. (2013). Reading, Writing and Video Games [Online image]. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/sunday-review/reading-writing-and-video-games.html?_r=0

少しゾンビ. (2014). Gamer Boy [Online image]. Retrieved from http://viewpointofdreams.tumblr.com/post/91646586398

Cyberbullies

Between mobile phones, social media websites and online gaming children today seem to have more outlets for interacting with each other virtually, than they do person to person. As a teacher I deal with students’ mostly trivial arguments weekly, if not daily, which are caused by comments on social media sites. It’s exhausting for both parties and sometimes I wish they would refrain from social media all together, so everyone’s life can be easier, but this wish is never going to be fulfilled.

Weber, A. (2014). The Bully Chronicles [Online image]. Retrieved from https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-bully-chronicles
Weber, A. (2014). The Bully Chronicles [Online image]. Retrieved from https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-bully-chronicles
Cyber bullying is proving to be more harmful than normal bullying due to its ambiguous nature. Kowalski, Limber and Agatson (2008, p.44) define cyber bullying as bullying through email, instant messaging (IM), chat rooms, websites or digital messages sent through mobile phones, but also insist that coming up with a single sentence definition is difficult. Kids Helpline (2014) further adds that its complexity includes:

  • Posting and sharing nasty, angry or rude messages, known as harassment.
  • Cyber stalking, which is repeated harassment usually containing threatening messages with the aim to intimidate and create fear.
  • Sending personal information about others that has been shared privately which may include sensitive personal information or images, often of a sexual nature. This is known as outing.
  • An extremely heated online argument using rude and offensive language. This is called flaming.

Technology… has all but erased the reflection time that once existed between planning a silly prank (or a serious act) and actually committing the deed. 

                                                                                             (Franek, 2006, p.39)

I personally think people are more inclined to use repulsive language and offensive comments online than they are in person. The internet allows a faceless gateway, where their comments barely have any repercussions. The Amanda Todd story is quite well known, it’s the story of a young teenager who posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell her experience of being blackmailed into exposing her breasts on webcam. Almost one month after the video was posted she committed suicide, causing her video to go viral. Instead of providing a synopsis of the video, below is a YouTube video of teens reacting to her story.

The most insightful part of the video I found was that these teens from all different race and religious backgrounds could empathise with what Amanda Todd was going through. They too had experienced bullying, although not the persistent nature that Amanda was faced with. They also showed distain to the comments being left on Amanda Todd’s video suggesting she should just hurry up and kill herself, an action often referred to as ‘trolling.’ I have personally experienced this in my teaching career, where a student was ruthlessly attacked on Facebook after a peer committed suicide. People were posting that it was her fault, blaming her for this other individual’s actions and suggesting she too should follow the same path. Her parents took away her phone and disabled the homes Wifi to try and separate their family from what was happening.

Uknowkids. (2014). Top 10 Cyber Bullying Infographics [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.infographicszone.com/other/top-10-cyberbullying-infographics
The questions begs, as educators is it our responsibility to diffuse cyber bullying? I personally think yes, I would rather deal with the issue before it happens than the consequences. Kowalski, Limber and Agatston (2008 p.127) research concluded that cyber bullying isn’t frequently discussed by teachers or schools, a key reason being that it often occurs at home rather than at school, therefore placing the responsibility on the parent. I am by no means suggesting that teachers should be solely responsible for cyber bullying but surely an informative chat can’t hurt. Many educators already discuss Internet safety, but a discussion of correct “netiquette” would help define cyber bullying and threats, whilst creating educational discussions (Kowalski, Limber and Agatston, 2008, p.128). Franek (2006, p.40) further supports cyber bullying education by stating that schools needs clear policies and acceptable use of technologies, so students are aware of the seriousness of such activities. Creating a safe space for discussion about any topic is just one thing we can do as educators.

Some useful websites for further information are located below:

Kids Help Line

Cybersmart

Bullying No Way

Digizen

 

References:

Franek, M. (2006). Foiling cyber bullies in the new wild west. Educational Leadershihp, 63(1), 39-43. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ745474

Kids Helpline. (2014). Cyber Bullying. Retrieved from http://www.kidshelp.com.au/grownups/news-research/hot-topics/cyber-bullying.php

Kowalski, R., Limber s. & Agatston, P. (2008). Cyber Bullying [EBL Version]. Retrieved from http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/(S(vht2k1ex4ccxxjn5mlruemvd))/Reader.aspx?p=320066&o=96&u=ul5KVhav6WeZ21aCp%2bd9kQ%3d%3d&t=1411784462&h=1FC07A39DEB5BCC624DE4071044DF4D6D0B96175&s=15667119&ut=245&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=1#

Image References:

The Docket. (2014). Legal Ramification of Cyberbullying [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.dbadocket.org/social-media/legal-ramifications-of-cyberbullying/

Uknowkids. (2014). Top 10 Cyber Bullying Infographics [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.infographicszone.com/other/top-10-cyberbullying-infographics

Weber, A. (2014). The Bully Chronicles [Online image]. Retrieved from https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-bully-chronicles

What’s Trending With Today’s Youth?

Already being an avid user of Pinterest, mainly for pinning fashion images and pictures of cute dogs, this week saw me create my first Pinterest board and become a more interactive user. To me Pinterest is a lot like Instagram, a way to spend endless hours scrolling through pictures and ending up several different tangents away from what your were initially searching for. You can find my completed board here.

Livingston, D. (2014). Kylie and Kendall Jenner Might Have Raided Their Sister’s Closets for Billboard Awards [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/kylie-kendall-jenner-billboard-music-awards_n_5350823.html
Livingston, D. (2014). Kylie and Kendall Jenner Might Have Raided Their Sister’s Closets for Billboard Awards [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/kylie-kendall-jenner-billboard-music-awards_n_5350823.html
Some images and quotes I already knew were trending but I did do some research on what else is popular with teens. Perhaps the thing that surprised the most was the obsession all teens had with particular YouTube channels. A group of girls told me they would spend hours upon hours watching Nash Grier, an American teenage boy, who has rose to fame through creating vines. He is also helped by his piercing blue eyes and charming smile. Of course there any many young stars also featured, I could have predicted Jennifer Lawrence and 5 Seconds of Summer but others like Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Ariana Grande were left field bolters for me. These starlets seem to walk that fine line of having young females idolise them, whilst the boys admire their beauty. What’s trending in fashion is always important for teens, with Triangl Bikini’s and ridiculously thick eyebrows are in for young females. If you’re not blessed with naturally bushy eye brows, there are many tutorials on YouTube to get the Cara Delevingne look.

When asked about television this group raved about Dancemoms, a reality show that follows talented young dancers and their overbearing mothers on their journey to fame. Their infatuation of this show spread to all forms social media; they followed the young dancers on Twitter, Vines, Instagram and YouTube. I regretfully decided to watch a couple of episodes, and a wasteful day later I had powered through four addictive seasons. Procrastination at its finest!

I will have to admit my Pinterest board is largely influenced by what’s trending with young females. I did try to include a male’s perspective on what’s popular today by including images of video games like Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin’s Creed and Red Dead Redemption, all of which are drenched in violence and thievery. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is most definitely a preferred music genre, with artists such as Deadmau5, Skrillex, Hardwell and Tiesto being a necessary iPod addition.

Deadmou5. (2014). Deadmau5 Vs Arcade Fire [Online image]. Retrieved from http://edmvip.com/deadmau5-vs-arcade-fire/
Deadmou5. (2014). Deadmau5 Vs Arcade Fire [Online image]. Retrieved from http://edmvip.com/deadmau5-vs-arcade-fire/
Despite my initial hesitation and eye rolling at finding thirty images that represented teens today, I have actually quite enjoyed it. It reminded me of one of the main reasons I decided to become a teacher, which was to keep afresh on what is current with youth today so I could avoid becoming that old, outdated adult. It also prompted me to realise that today’s youth obsessions mostly make them savvy and intelligent, rather than brainwashed and shallow.

Image Reference List:

Deadmou5. (2014). Deadmau5 Vs Arcade Fire [Online image]. Retrieved from http://edmvip.com/deadmau5-vs-arcade-fire/

Livingston, D. (2014). Kylie and Kendall Jenner Might Have Raided Their Sister’s Closets for Billboard Awards [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/kylie-kendall-jenner-billboard-music-awards_n_5350823.html

 

My Anaconda Don’t… Butt What is it Portraying to Teenagers?

Nicki Minaj recently released her new music video single for “Anaconda.” I encourage you to watch the video below, but be warned , it is not suitable for the workplace, the bus ride, any public place nor would you want any other human to know you are viewing it. Language warning!

My initial reaction involved me removing my jaw from the keyboard of my laptop and reattaching it to my upper mandible. The video was full of butts. So many butts. If the musical lyric sounded familiar, it’s because she’s remixed Sir Mix-A-Lot’s song, “I Like Big Butts.” Intimate interactions are abound, clothing is scarce and in my opinion musical talent also.

Yet this controversial music video is garnering record breaking attention, Minaj’s video received more than 19.6 million views on YouTube in the first 24 hours since its release, surpassing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” (Peterson, 2014). But is this content appropriate? The sheer volume of hits on this music video suggest many teenagers are watching, but is this woman an appropriate role model for our next generation? I looked to Twitter to gather peoples thoughts and reactions.

The sarcastic nature of this tweet is uncertain

This person is unaware of the real purpose of the ice bucket challenge.

This person seems to be more sensible

YAY! Another person that gets it

The sheer volume of publicity it’s receiving implies teenagers are being impacted by this content, decisively or passively. Yes I’m sure many teenagers view this video with contempt and judgement on her scantily clad sexual innuendo’s, but I’m also sure just as many people view this video as desirable, replicating her image and behaviour to fit in or gain attention. The video’s intention is also seen quite differently. Nicki Minaj states that the chorus of women showing their rear ends is exactly what she had envisioned in a recent interview with ABC News (Smith, 2014).

“I wanted to reinstate something,” Minaj told ABC News. “Because of the shift in pop culture, even hip-hop men are really glorifying the less curvy body. I wanted to say, ‘Hey ladies, you’re beautiful,’” Minaj said. “Hopefully, this changes things and maybe it won’t change things, but I love it.”

This statement implies her intentions of this music video were completely honourable. Love your curvy body ladies, because if you look like that you too can star in an almost pornographic film clip. Not surprisingly parents have responded with a different opinion, Chuck Creekmur, father and CEO of Allhiphop.com, responded with, “The most popular, current black female rapper starts overtly pushing her hyper-sexualized image again? Just my luck. I’m trying to raise a young girl that will eventually grow into someone greater than the both of us,” (Peterson, 2014).

It leaves one at wonder with how to process the music video for myself and for the children I teach. Many of my classes made reference, both positive and negative, to the “Anaconda” film clip, which leaves me to ponder how I as a teacher should approach it. Should I just ignore it until the next new fad song comes along or should I make time for a class discussion on how that video symbolises women and certain ethnic groups? Never one to shy away from current issues, particularly those that relate to popular culture, the latter seems like a necessary route. Especially when research from Burgess and Green (2009, p.51) suggest that music videos are central to the formation of the identity of its user, particularly teenagers. By making teens aware of what they are viewing, including the subliminal connotations as well as the many messages it portrays, they will be informed enough to make their own decisions on how to view it.

Now cleanse your mind and reaffirm that at least someone writes their own music with Taylor Swifts “Shake it Off” music video.

 

Burgess, J. & Green, J. (2009). YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press

Smith, R. (2014). Nicki Minaj Explains Racy ‘Anaconda’ Video. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/nicki-minaj-explains-racy-anaconda video/story?id=25084030

Peterson, S. (2014). Parents Respond to Nicki Minaj’s ‘vile’ music video that’s breaking records. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865609740/Parents-respond-to-Nicki-Minajs-vile-music-video-thats-breaking-records.html?pg=all

I Mean That’s Just Like the Rules of Feminism!

Calautti, K. (2014). Gentlemen: Emma Watson Needs Your Help to Fight Gender Inequality [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.mtv.com/news/1937802/emma-watson-gender-equality/
Calautti, K. (2014). Gentlemen: Emma Watson Needs Your Help to Fight Gender Inequality [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.mtv.com/news/1937802/emma-watson-gender-equality/

The world is at a high tide for feminist commentary on popular culture, but is it yet transparent in today’s teaching? To what degree is it needed and how is it used?

V.M. (2014). Man-Haters and Bra-Burners; How Feminism is Portrayed in Popular Culture [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.criticallacclaim.com/uncategorized/122/
V.M. (2014). Man-Haters and Bra-Burners; How Feminism is Portrayed in Popular Culture [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.criticallacclaim.com/uncategorized/122/

A recent interview with one my Year 9 English students revealed her favourite book character is Katniss Everdeen, as she stands up for what she believes in without being mean to other characters, earning her the “strong female character” seal of approval. Katniss is fiercely independent, contemptuous of feminist frills, and elusive of any emotion that would render her vulnerable; effectively she is the anti Bella Swan, she has something more worthwhile to do than choose between two men (Team Edward by the way!).

Despite her ferociousness and hatred towards an oppressive government, to me her most feminist quality is her ability to recognise, value and embrace her emotional feminine strengths. What ultimately kept her alive in the game wasn’t her power, speed or her ability to wield a bow, but her gift of finding strength in other women and becoming a nurturing role for them. While playing an almost surrogate sister for Rue, she forms a feminist archetype of women who support each other in the face of tyranny, which later to led to her life being spared. Ultimately, Katniss learns to maintain strength while opening herself to the power of mutual support and empathy, these qualities make the girl on fire a true feminist.

Upon reflecting on Katniss’ most admirable attributes, I find myself reflecting on what makes a “good” teacher. Yes students love the cliché PE teacher who wins the 100m sprint, albeit against other teachers who clearly place less emphasis on physical prowess, and who is constantly surrounded by the schools sporting elite but in my experience students often create a very special bond with a teacher who’s nurturing towards them. As a young female teacher my students often query me for advice, from family to academic issues and even relationship guidance, the later being quite ironic considering my lack of success in that area. They aren’t seeking or wanting a female who is powerful in the physical sense or outspoken about worldly issues, but they are searching for that strong role model who stands up for their own beliefs and values in an uncompromising fashion.

The Afictionado. (2012). Kicking Ass in Pink High Heels [Online Image]. Retrieved from https://theafictionado.wordpress.com/2012/11/
The Afictionado. (2012). Kicking Ass in Pink High Heels [Online Image]. Retrieved from https://theafictionado.wordpress.com/2012/11/
90’s Reality. (2014). The Reason You Watched Baywatch [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.90sreality.com/television-shows/the-reason-you-watched-baywatch/
90’s Reality. (2014). The Reason You Watched Baywatch [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.90sreality.com/television-shows/the-reason-you-watched-baywatch/
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alyson Bardsley (2006) writes a reflection on her teachings of a feminist course entitled, “Grrl Power and Beyond: Third Wave Feminism and Contemporary Popular Culture,” at an American College. The course was approached through analysing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and making a comparison to Baywatch, noting the contradictory representation of women on television (Bardsley, 2006, p. 192). Due to the diverse nature of her students and interesting turn of events was discovered when then question was posed, “Who is the strongest woman you know and why?”  Every student not surprisingly responded with their mother, although some reasons varied, all responses stated that their mother’s personal and emotional strength, ability to succeed in adversity and their continual desire to do what is best for others represented the epitome of a influential woman (Bardsley, 2006, p. 201). This notion of nurture provides evidence for my personal findings that students seek relationships with teachers that are based around emotional needs and the qualities they desire to portray themselves. These connections are what transcend into their everyday lives and what they inherently aspire to be.

Further support is garnered by Carillo (2007, p.29) who discusses her teaching reviews from students. It is claimed that strong teaching isn’t necessarily represented through a traditional firm classroom hand, but through a personal connection made with students, particularly one that offers guidance (Carillo, 2007, 31). Carillo (2007, p.31) also claims that a teacher must walk a fine line between warm, nurturing and domestic, whilst maintaining the social expectations of being competent, knowledgeable and professional. This is a hard cross section to manage but one that leads to a memorable connection with students.

Illusional (2014). The Hunger Games [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://iillusional.tumblr.com/
Illusional (2014). The Hunger Games [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://iillusional.tumblr.com/

This role of strength required by a teacher is ultimately similar to that of Katniss. She is idolised through her strength and ability to open herself up to the mutual support of others, comparatively many female teachers are idolised for the same reason. Although I pertain many feminist beliefs about societal issues, my greatest influence is what I can offer to students on an emotional level, as this is currently more consequential to them.

 

Bardsley, A. (2006). Girlfight the Power: Teaching Contemporary Feminism and Pop Culture. Feminist Teacher, 16(3), 189-204. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?sid=5e1149a4-4cfc-45b8-944d6fefd67ed03640sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4104&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=eue&AN=507860299

Carillo, E. (2007). “Feminist” Teaching/ Teaching “Feminism.” Feminist Teacher, 18(1), 28-40. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/stable/40546051?seq=4

Images:

Calautti, K. (2014). Gentlemen: Emma Watson Needs Your Help to Fight Gender Inequality [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.mtv.com/news/1937802/emma-watson-gender-equality/

Illusional (2014). The Hunger Games [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://iillusional.tumblr.com/

The Afictionado. (2012). Kicking Ass in Pink High Heels [Online Image]. Retrieved from https://theafictionado.wordpress.com/2012/11/

V.M. (2014). Man-Haters and Bra-Burners; How Feminism is Portrayed in Popular Culture [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.criticallacclaim.com/uncategorized/122/

90’s Reality. (2014). The Reason You Watched Baywatch [Online Image]. Retrieved from http://www.90sreality.com/television-shows/the-reason-you-watched-baywatch/

Vampires are Overrated and Mutant Birds are IN!

From Disney to YouTube to Facebook, youth today navigate a range of popular culture and media in their everyday lives. A recently conducted interview with a year nine student I teach revealed some interesting insights into what teenagers today are reading and viewing, who’s popular and who is on the way out.

Official Maximum Ride [Online image]. (2014). Retrieved from http://official-maximum-ride.tumblr.com
Official Maximum Ride [Online image]. (2014). Retrieved from http://official-maximum-ride.tumblr.com
Perhaps an obvious question but one that needed to be asked regardless, what is currently your favourite book series and why? This young individual, who describes her passion as reading, expressed her interest in a series of books called Maximum Ride. I responded with an acknowledging nod as though I was up to date with her passionate description of these storylines and characters. Thankfully my familiarity wasn’t questioned so I was able to conduct some further research. Maximum Ride is a series of young adult fantasy novels written by James Patterson, it also has a Manga adaption. The series consists of eight books and is centred on the adventures of Maximum “Max” Ride and his five friends, who are 98% human and 2% avian, after they escape from a lab facility known as ‘The School.’ My interviewee commented one of the main reasons she liked this series of novels is that the author tells of real life issues, that all species are facing today, such as global warming. This insight denotes generalised perceptions that current popular texts are mindless toward today’s youth, as this individual manages to connect the themes of the novel to real world issues. This notion is affirmed by Shultz and Throope (2010) who claim that current social projects are contained within popular culture, it is all dependant on the ways in which it is taken up and utilised and employed.

Breebree446. (2013). Maximum Ride Banner [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/maximum-ride/images/8619779/title/maximum-ride-banner-photo
Breebree446. (2013). Maximum Ride Banner [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/maximum-ride/images/8619779/title/maximum-ride-banner-photo
An interesting comparison was revealed when asked the question, what is the most overrated book and why? The answer proved to be predictable for most avid readers, Twilight, followed by the explanation that the series is hard to follow, vampires and wolves are stereotypical, and vampires that sparkle in the sun are just weird.  When quizzed about who your favourite character from a novel is, my young participant answered Katniss Everdeen. She faces difficulties and tragedies, yet still manages to stand up for what she believes in. I found this character choice particularly interesting as another question revealed that my participant disliked any book series that has been transformed into block buster movies, yet Katniss from The Hunger Games remained her most favourite character. Further conversation revealed that not too many books have a female as their lead protagonist and Katniss’ strength and courage provided inspiration for this young female student. I sense a future topic for a blog located in this discussion!

Thelionprincess. (2013). Jennifer Lawrence Animated GIF [Online image]. Retrieved from http://thelionprincess.tumblr.com/post/58503625262
Thelionprincess. (2013). Jennifer Lawrence Animated GIF [Online image]. Retrieved from http://thelionprincess.tumblr.com/post/58503625262
Breakingtwilight17. (2013). Perfect Couple [Online image]. Retrieved from http://breakingtwilight17.tumblr.com/post/70695730569/perfect-couple
Breakingtwilight17. (2013). Perfect Couple [Online image]. Retrieved from http://breakingtwilight17.tumblr.com/post/70695730569/perfect-couple
 

This discussion leads perfectly into the next question, how do you feel about people who only watch the television show or movie without engaging in the text? The irony in the response I received was quite humorous. My interviewee answered that everyone has their own preferences and that’s fine BUT, and I quote, “I can’t stand it when people say they are the biggest fan after watching the movie but not reading the book.” In terms of finding out what will be the next big hit or the new ‘must read,’ strolling the aisles of the local book store reading the blurbs on the back of the novel is still the most effective and rewarding way of finding a book, although sometimes social media and talking to friends reveals some new titles.

A final interesting insight was how the young individual defined herself through the popular culture texts she read. For example, texts such as The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars are described as inspirational, pushing her to become a better persona and do more with her life. Although it is noted that some texts have no personal effects at all, most texts have at least one character that you are able to and draw motivation from. This answer is supported by Hall’s (2010, p.299) conclusions that students interpret social texts to shape their understanding of themselves, as well as larger historical events. This was further affirmed when the interviewee stated that when she has trouble understanding class work, she often refers back to texts that a similar to gain an understanding.

Questionnaire:

– What is your favourite book or series of books? Why?

– Who is your favourite character in a novel? What do you like about that person?

– What do you think is the most overrate book? Why?

– What is your favourite television series/and or movie? Was it based on a book series? If yes, did you read the book first?

– Do you prefer watching the television series or reading the book? Which one is more entertaining?

– How do you feel about people who only watch the television show or the movie without engaging in the text?

– How do you find out what is popular? Or the next new book series to read?

–  What is the current book you are reading? Why did it appeal to you?

– Do you ever use popular culture to inform/aid your understanding of texts taught in school?

– How much per month do you spend on books?

– How often do you use social media to source new reading materials?

– Do you think popular culture texts help define yourself? Is it a positive or negative phenomenon?

 

Hall, Leigh A (2011). How popular culture texts inform and shape students¿ discussions of social studies texts., Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 55 (4) pp.296-305. Retrieved from Queensland University of Technology Course Materials Database.

Shultz, K., & Throop, R. (2010). Popular Culture. In P. Peterson, E. Baker, & B. McGraw (Eds.), International Encyclopaedia of Education (Vol. 1, pp. 318-323). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/1370023/popular_culture_and_curriculum

Images:

Breakingtwilight17. (2013). Perfect Couple [Online image]. Retrieved from http://breakingtwilight17.tumblr.com/post/70695730569/perfect-couple

Breebree446. (2013). Maximum Ride Banner [Online image]. Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/maximum-ride/images/8619779/title/maximum-ride-banner-photo

Official Maximum Ride [Online image]. (2014). Retrieved from http://official-maximum-ride.tumblr.com

Thelionprincess. (2013). Jennifer Lawrence Animated GIF [Online image]. Retrieved from http://thelionprincess.tumblr.com/post/58503625262