Tag Archives: media

You Are Ruining My Country. Stop It.

This might actually count as a “Part One” but who knows? It’s an open letter to Terry Jones.

To: Terry Jones
FR: Teaching TV
RE: Please Stop Ruining America

Dear Mr. Jones,

The whole world is atwitter over your little publicity stunt concerning the Koran and some matches. Congratulations. You have finally made it to the big leagues and the entire world knows who you are. A backwoods, hick pastor who preaches intolerance and hatred. A sad, desperate, little man who is seeking attention no matter the cost. Again sir, my congratulations.

And what about those costs? As if the job isn’t dangerous enough, you have managed to put the lives of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in the Middle East at an even greater risk. You managed to make American Christians look like a bunch of xenophobic buffoons. You have managed to turn a day of remembrance into a pathetic publicity grab for yourself. And you have managed to turn the nation’s attention away from real issues and got it to focus on your personality disorder and your Chester A. Arthur mustache.

Sir, you profess to be a Man Of God. I am sorry but I have to question that. But as you read your bible, look for the words of Jesus and read what he had to say about our enemies. Here’s one of my favorites:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…

Just a suggestion, I am sure. But a suggestion from God should probably carry more weight with a Pastor, don’t you think?

You see, I love everything that America is supposed to stand for. It is why I served in the Navy and it is why you have made me so angry. How dare you deal with intolerance by preaching intolerance. How dare you deal with with hatred by preaching hatred. How dare you do that in MY country. What gives Terry Jones the right to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and the final sacrifice of thousands of fine young Americans by holding an old-fashioned book burning? Have you EVER read the Constitution? Have you ever been a student of history?

And when the entire weight of world opinion has turned against you, you come up with a proposal that involves the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” Some things might have slipped your mind, sir.

  • There is no Ground Zero Mosque. It is a Muslim Community Center.
  • We have a thing called the Constitution. Read it.
  • Extortion is illegal.
  • Threatening an entire group of people with a violent act unless your demands are met is called terrorism.

I don’t like the fact that we have to live in fear because some religious fanatics get their feelings hurt. But if we “hurt the feelings” of Islamic fanatics, it had best be for a good reason and we had best be prepared for a long, bloody war with many, many dead people on both sides. But to stir up the anger of a million or more primitive nutcases for some hick’s 15 minutes of fame is beyond insane. If one extra American, if one extra human being has to die because of your little stunt, then I hope you go to jail forever.

Sincerely,

Teaching TV

Final Thoughts

The real tragedy here is that on some level, Terry Jones is correct. There should be no reason that America should cower in fear when it comes to dealing with these fanatics. Isn’t anyone left who has what it takes to say “Bring it on”? And all that talk about shock and awe? We can really do that you know. But instead, we look at the grizzly bear sleeping in the corner and tell people to tip toe past instead of shooting it in the head.

Someone has to be the grown-up here. I get that. But that doesn’t mean kowtowing to terrorists. 50 people say they want to burn a Koran and entire countries ignite? No sense of perspective, no sense of humanity and no sense of humor. All the hallmarks of a primitive society. But do we have to lower ourselves to their level every single time? “They did it first” is no argument for an adult. I didn’t let my 5 year old get away with it so why should Terry Jones and his ilk?

That one hate-filled person with a tiny following can disrupt the world is a testament to the fragility of the American Spirit, the power of stupid people in groups and the ability of the Internet to lend credence where it is neither due nor welcome.

Terry Jones? You are ruining my country. Stop it.


The Internet Sucks And It Is Ruining America…Part Two

How To Write A Stupid Comment Without Looking Completely Stupid

I am not an English teacher. I do not write in a technically proficient way. I don’t like to grade papers on anything but content because I write as I think…sort of. I qualify that statement so that I can separate myself from the great sodden masses of Internet Commentators.

Let me rephrase that. Not Internet Commentators. Internet Commentors. A commentator is generally a person who is seen as an expert in aCourtesy of The Internet certain subject like politics or sports or video games or something. A commentor is just that. A person who posts a thought (I use the word “thought” in the loosest possible connotation) at the end of some story or blog entry they read on the Internet. And that is the biggest problem with the Internet. Everyone gets a turn. There are no signs that say, “Your IQ must be this high to ride.” That is why we get gems like this:

How many more must we loose…

And this:

We should just nuke aghgan y not it doesn’t seem like they wanna change,so what the hell get ride

And let’s not forget this gem…

Im sure there were not to many mexicans hurt in mexico, their all here..
They have a big skimmer to pick up oil, do they one for Mexicans?

So what can we learn from these posts? Racism is fun again, people REALLY don’t like Mexicans and there just might be a correlation between hatred and education. More hate equals more dumb.

A Guide To Posting Stupid

Anyone can post anything and I am not a thought cop. And I also know that some people simply post horrible thoughts on the Internet for kicks or to compensate for virginity. But some of what I am reading these days is SO poorly written, it’s laughable. I mean who can really take the poorly scribed rantings of a semi-literate Internet troll seriously? But what if the same rants were written in actual English?

Im sure there were not to many mexicans hurt in mexico, their all here..

becomes…

I am certain that there were not too many Mexicans hurt in Mexico…They’re all here..

Literate hatred is, somehow, far more frightening than illiterate hatred. So how do I rant like a frightened child without sounding like I never finished the sixth grade? It’s all in the vocabulary. Get control of the most basic parts of English and the silly troll becomes…uhmmm…I don’t know…Glenn Beck? The biggest problem stems not from the ignorance of the Commentors but, rather, from the unbridled pride taken in such ignorance. As I wrote earlier, racism is fun again. Xenophobia is all the rage and the have-nots now look at middle-class with disdain, as if a lifetime of fiscal management and pension plans now makes them a bunch of socialist slaves sucking at the teat of the mainstream media. And we know this because guys like Beck tell them so.

So here is my short but sweet guide to posting stupid stuff while not looking like a stupid person.

  • Loose doesn’t equal lose.
  • Then doesn’t equal than.
  • There doesn’t equal their which doesn’t equal they’re.
  • Are doesn’t equal our.
  • To doesn’t equal too.
  • Punctuation matters. Always has, always will.
  • Text Speak makes you look 13 years old.
  • Typing in all caps makes people angry and the writer look crazy. Crazy people are easily dismissed.
  • Spell check. That red squiggly line under your word means you can’t spell. Right click and fix it.

It really is easy. Just a nip there and a tuck here and you go from raving, backwoods lunatic to a literate person with an actual idea. And an actual person with an idea like,

“Most of these racist comments are not from Americans. There is a company in Asia that hires people to make these comments. I followed the money trail and it came back to a company in Florida. This company is owned by Rush Limbaugh.”

becomes just a little bit scarier.

Next: Dumbing Down America One TV Show at a Time.


The Internet Sucks And It Is Ruining America…Part One

I found this comment on ABC News Dot Com:

We have long been fed the line that teachers and police are underpaid and work incredibly hard for little reward. Yet these are people who could find no other way to make a living and only went into their so-called profession by default. If they weren’t doing what they do, what else would be available to them? Perhaps the Postal Service or garbage collection, but these jobs actually require real labor. As teachers and police they are fantastically overpaid when benefits are figured into their share of the public dole. The propaganda continues to be fed to us by unions that dedication to the welfare of the public drives these individuals in what we laughingly refer to as their “work”, when it is the security, easy money, and lack of qualifications that actually attracts them to jobs where they can enjoy an inflated sense of self-important authority as a side benefit. Their pay could be cut by 80% and there would still be plenty of teachers and police because some people are unqualified for anything else and have a pathological attraction to power, however pathetically limited it may be.
Posted by:
phdinresidence Aug-1

It was in response to an article entitled, Civil Servants find themselves Cast in Unlikely Roles: Fat Cats. Hear that Mom and Dad? I’m a Fat Cat! Never mind the fact that just four days later, ABC News ran a story that listed teachers as one of the lowest paid positions that require a college degree. Never mind the fact that the gist of the story is that the government is offering some cash to keep teachers at work. Never mind the fact that most of the commentators never actually read the article and were, in fact, simply commenting on the comments of others. No…the thing to pay attention to is the tone of the comments.

We have long been fed the line that teachers and police are underpaid and work incredibly hard for little reward. Yet these are people who could find no other way to make a living and only went into their so-called profession by default. If they weren’t doing what they do, what else would be available to them?

Have we sunk so low as to start hating teachers and cops for how much money they make? And, “If they weren’t doing what they do, what else would be available to them?” Are people predestined to become  “Fat Cat” cops or teachers? Are they all failed astronauts or Formula 1 drivers? Or does a person wake up one day and just say, “I am not cut out for the life of a fry cook. I guess I’ll just have to become a teacher.” And who says “Fat Cat” anymore?

It is a brand new class war that is sparked by a brand new movement and fueled by an aging technology. But this time the class war has a bit of a twist. The “Haves” are not looking down at the “Have-Nots” anymore. The “Have-Nots” are looking down at the “Haves”. There is a growing sense in America that the once admirable middle class is somehow the enemy with their hoity-toity savings accounts and their in-your-face retirement plans. Mr. or Ms. phdinresidence seems to think that the only thing lower in life than a teacher or a cop would be a Postal Worker or a “garbage man.” Take that Mr. Postman.

It gets worse folks. The Internet is making us dumb as hell. It is giving a forum to anyone who wants it and many who simply don’t deserve it. The most frightening example of the dumbing down of America is the comment section of any story on Yahoo News. It is easy to surmise that there are people out there who have a Yahoo home page and can merely click on the links. Any advanced web navigation would require WAY too much thought. Seeing is believing…

From Yahoo Comments:

  1. Does level the playing field mean whitie works while blackie collects welfare?
  2. The Tea Party is gonna spank that liberal democratic a$$.
  3. con bush and his republicon party allowed 911 to happen even when they knew these saudis terrorist could not land a plane. 911 happened on the republicons watch and allowed to happen. hence wmd lies, iraq invasion, and trillions of american dollars wasted on republicon lies and misinformation. dump con republicons for a change. [sic][Honestly..I couldn’t make this stuff up]
  4. In other news, Barack Obama shot a course record 66 at Agusta, and Michelle ate two racks of baby back ribs.
  5. how do you not see a big @#$% trian comming at you!!!? or hear it for that matter!! there should be a mass murder of all stupid people in the world!. and show it on pay per view lol[Also sic]
  6. There may be a war abroad but there is one here too…AMERICANS vs liberal americans who just don’t get it! {sic but I actually worry about this kind of stuff…]
  7. And here we see the liberals for what they truly are. Social anarchists without a moral compass. Remember that come November.

Can you match this brilliant comments to their headlines?

  • A – Glen Beck’s Speech
  • B – NJ schools chief fired after Race to the Top Gaffe
  • C – Political Ads Surpass Levels as Attacks Mount
  • D – Ground Zero Mosque Boundaries
  • E – S. African girl Survives Attack and Dies in Crash
  • F – 2 Cars Explode in Mexico Where 72 Bodies Found
  • G – Bikini Clad Strippers Protest Church

I’ll add the answers at the bottom of the page.

The lunacy continues and we all have a front row seat. Everyone who has ever hated anyone now has a way to shout it at the top of their lungs and no one seems to notice that our country isn’t really sliding right or left. It is circling the drain. We are becoming dumber and as we are becoming dumber we are becoming more and more proud of that fact. Blame the Internet. Or Glenn Beck. Or Fox News. Or American Idol, The Real World, Trading Spouses or any silly, pointless “reality show.” Blame whoever you want but just stop it. You’re ruining America.

Next Time: How to post an idiotic comment without looking like an idiot.

Answers: 1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-F, 5-E, 6-A, 7-G.


Short Films: Day Two

Another great short film called Ascension. It is an experimental piece using what are basically After Effects Plug-Ins. But it is done so well and so seamlessly that I, at first glance, thought I was looking at something rendered in 3D on Maya or Blender.

Hope you enjoy it.


Bring in The Cat and Bar the Door! The President Wants to Talk to Our Kids!

On Tuesday September 8, 2009, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, will address the school children of America. And so far, I have received three different official reminders that some parents will be upset about this. Upset. About listening to the President. The President of the United States. Needless to say, I am stunned. But across the nation parents are keeping their children home rather than letting them become exposed to the words of the President. These are the same parents who will happily send their kids to school with the flu.

I Don’t Get It.

“Gang…You have a system that is wildly out of control. And they are capturing your kids…” Well that is what media mad-man, Glen Beck said on his radio show. He was talking in response to a caller’s shrill opposition to the very idea that the President would speak to her kids without her being there. Wow. That must be some message. Is it on AIDS? Birth control? Is the POTUS going to talk about the New World Order or the conversion of all Americans to the new national religion? It must be a heck of a message for people to get so worked up over it. Right? I mean the conservative whack jobs from the FAR right are calling it an “indoctrination”. Oooo…That sounds scary. So. What are we all worked up over?

Here It Is!

OK, brace yourselves people. Here is the essential question in Barack Obama’s speech. A quote from the actual transcript released from the White House prior to the speech being delivered. You might want to shoo the kids out of the room…

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Gasp! Wait…what? Everyone has a gift and staying in school can help you succeed? That commie!

Radio talker/big-box-of-crazy Michael Savage said, “Hitler had the Hitler Youth, and Obama would like to have the Obama Youth.” Really? The President said that? No, of course not, but the followers of Savage don’t know that. And Savage knows that they don’t but he keeps feeding people this crap so that his fearful audience will remain fearful and turn to him for guidance. And the occasional commercial message. You see, Hitler had an amazing propaganda machine and Michael Savage wants to be the Propaganda Czar for the next American Reich.  (Cool huh? Anybody can do it. You can try it at home too…Just subscribe to my new course “Be a Media Hack in 12 Easy Lessons or 6 Hard Ones.”)

The Great Communicator.

Ronald Reagan spoke to students once in 1988. I don’t remember a lot of weirdness surrounding it, even though he went on about taxes and the need for tax cuts. He also told the children, “I would say that the most important thing you can do is to ground yourself in the ideas and values of the American Revolution.” Can you imagine what would happen on conservative talk radio if Barack Obama said those exact same words?

My Problem With The Speech.

I have a minor problem with the President’s speech. Remember the quote from above? “Everyone has something they are good at?” Very, very true. however, No Child Left Behind won’t really allow that to happen. It is all about math and science. If you are artistic, you are considered “left behind”. How can teachers teach problem solving skills when they are teaching “the test”? How can they teach math when they are teaching “calculator” instead? In his speech, President Obama lists occupations for young people. Innovator, inventor, lawyer, mayor, Senator, soldier, nurse, doctor.

“We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.But where does that leave the poets? The painters, the filmmakers? If a child wants to be an actor or a singer, that child is “quitting on his or her country”? I beg to disagree. Why are the arts the first thing to go in a bad economy in spite of all the research indicating that a grounding in the arts actually makes students achieve at a higher level?

Anyway…

I still don’t get it. If this were a message from the Pope, I would get it. But this is the President of The United States of America. The whole thing strikes me as being a bit unpatriotic.


Adding Some Real World Experience. (With a little help from the community.)

Two years ago I was approached by a local artists group about making a documentary. The idea was to create a film using students and allowing them to control every aspect of the film. The group, The Association for Visual Arts (AVA), wanted to bring in several local filmmakers and let them work with the students to guide them through the creation process and, ultimately, to the first screening of their own movie.

Even the most well-intentioned group can’t just walk into a school and borrow some students. Since I have a series of media production classes and teach at a certain type of school, AVA called me to ask if I was interested. Of course I said, “Yes.” So we started with some meetings, had some more meetings and then, just as we were about to start, the whole thing fell apart. I can’t remember if it was funding or lack of interest from outside of the school or whatever. So a year later we started all over again. More meetings, more false starts and one more total shut-down. This time because the person at AVA who was heading up the project from their end changed jobs. I thought that would be the last I heard from AVA and, gladly, I was wrong.

Golden Grillz, The DVD.

Golden Grillz, The DVD. Cover Design: J. Colbert

The new person involved with the Education Outreach program at AVA had heard of the project and liked it. He decided to start all over again. And to shorten the story, we started pre-production with 13 students and two filmmakers. And me, the Project Coordinator. The kids worked on concept and decided to make a movie on “rap, rock, the individual and the group.” A movie about how the music we listen to impacts the way others see us and the way we see ourselves. It was called “Golden Grillz & Satan Likes Puppies.”

The movie was well received and was shown in several locations around town and a copy is on file at the Mayor’s office. Not a bad result for a group of first-timers. The results were actually far greater than we had hoped and it set the stage for what is happening today. The second documentary film is starting today. The first day is always the slowest but the AVA filmmakers know how to make it work and we have some good kids and I can’t wait to see what this year’s subject is going to be.

The best thing I see out of the students is a new sense of commitment and ownership. We are asking two days a week, two hours each time for almost four months. And the kids show up, they get excited about what they are doing and they take pride in the final project. It makes all the extra time worth it and it makes the whole thing fun.

So…nothing major here. No new educational processes, no major insights, nothing to change the world. Just ten or so kids making a movie and learning a little bit about going to work, dealing with adults and meeting deadlines. Stuff they need and stuff we neglect.

I’ll keep updating…


Teaching Advertising: The Concept of Image.

Just like every year, we are just starting out with our advertising simulation. The way it works is the students in my high school media class break into groups of three and form advertising agencies. They are given a letter from a fictitious company asking the newly formed ad agencies to submit samples in order to be considered for a new campaign contract. The letter is included in a student packet of information and the exercise is the culmination of somewhere around two weeks of exercises including seminars, lectures, web search safaris and a PBS video on advertising to teens called “The Merchants of Cool.”

The letter from the fictitious corporation has this paragraph in it:

“Of course, I should not have to mention that we will be looking for a sophisticated agency able to offer us a new corporate image, to suggest target markets for our products, and to incorporate effective advertising design and technique into the sample advertisements submitted.”

The problem I am having is the idea of corporate image. There is nothing I can do to get all the kids to “get it” at the same time. Too many are stuck on the definition of image as a picture. But image in terms of advertising is so much more than just a picture.

Finding the correct definition of image can be difficult for a kid growing up in a mediated society. Our students have come to expect the answers to be delivered to them in some form. The desire to search and learn is difficult to access. Reading comprehension is on the decline. If I could rap these definitions or write them into a comic book, TV show, podcast or sportscast, I might have better success. But I’m not that multi-talented.

Image: From a Google Search, “Define:image.”

  • An iconic mental representation.
  • A personal facade that one represents to the world.
  • Picture.
  • A standard or typical example.
  • Double, as in “the spitting-image.”
  • Visualize, as in creating a mental picture.
  • The general impression that something presents to the public.

Image in advertising is a way for a corporation to promote the positive aspects of a product or a company rather than dwelling on the “nuts and bolts” of that product. Image advertisements like those that represent Nike’s “Fitness Lifestyle” image, for example, do not mention price-points or particular Nike products.

Nike image advertisement.

Nike image advertisement.

But it can be hard to impress on some students the differences between the definitions of the word image. I have had three student groups, so far, bring me a picture and ask, “Is this a good corporate image?” Others are keying in on corporate images that are easy, like “comfortable.”

I am not certain why this group of teenagers are finding it difficult to accept the concept of image advertising. At best estimates, these kids see 3,000 ads every day and many of those are aimed directly at them. Image advertising attempts to usurp their need for self-identification by offering them the quick and easy solution of a pre-packaged corporate personality. Sprite did it a few years ago when they aggressively went after the hip-hop market. Their sales went up and their “Q-Factor” as a soda quadrupled. Sprite has since moved away from this marketing strategy but it was undeniably successful.

Now, how does Sprite equal hip-hop in anybody’s mind? It takes an advertiser to make the connection. I imagine the thought process went some thing like, “I have a product without any real identity outside of the fact that it’s a lemon-lime soda. I also have a lifestyle that is sweeping across all demographics and doing very well in crossover markets so…1+1=2.” Cynical? Sure. Did it work?? Without a doubt.

This is the first time I have had this much trouble getting this particular concept across. I want to blame myself but one class gets it, the other doesn’t. What I need to do is to find some way to distinguish the small differences between the classes in terms of educational demographics and start teaching to the differences. It could mean more PowerPoints, fewer PowerPoints, more hand-outs or seminars or something. All I know is that the answer is out there. I also know that, while this is an abstract concept to some, the notion of image in advertising isn’t all that abstract. Especially not when compared to what is to come after graduation.


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