Amy Stern (bigbrotherreads) wrote,
Amy Stern
bigbrotherreads

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Wow, there is really no point in reading theory about media literacy that's more than ten years old, is there? It's been so revolutionized- by the growing internet, by a much tech-savvier culture, and yes, by things like reality TVm which stretch the idea of what a narrative is- that older analysis largely looks dated. It also raises the question of, well, who IS teaching media literacy? Assuming you have to be media literate to pass it on, who has the qualifications? I'm pretty sure I don't, and I'm a computer geek four months from two graduate degrees, one of them in information science.

How exactly am I learning media literacy? I'm assuming it's equal parts research and osmosis, but if I'm approaching this through the methods of "old" literacy, am I missing something incredibly obvious?

(These are, in fact, the questions that keep me up at night.)

Because as much as I can accept judgment for unabashedly watching a lot of this crap (and let's be honest, some of that judgment is earned), I also find that I've learned a lot from it, and the only real question is whether or not learning at this point while the technology is changing is a benefit or a liability.


It's obviously not entirely analogous, but I find that studying reality TV editing has made me much more aware of the way that narratives are constructed. I pay closer attention to the chosen point of view, and the specific events chosen to emphasize a plot point, and the thematic ways different pieces tie together. This, I think, is where I can make a legitimate argument that the editor on a reality show essentially has the role of a writer on any other program. Choices like that are really what make the story. I mean, looking at the ALA winners and honor books- voice and tone and perspective really are everything.

Watching Big Brother live feeds, it is impossible to not have favorites, and those don't necessarily match up with who the editors think are the protagonists/antagonists of the season. I have been known to spend whole episodes ranting about the editing not being fair. In other words, I have my favorites, I see their behavior as rational given the information I have from watching them, but the way the narrative is framed by the professionals condensing it into a 42 minutes three times a week have chosen to focus on a different narrative thread, which makes their behavior look out of line or makes other people's behavior look completely acceptable even when I found it, in real time, unacceptable. This makes me spend a lot of time while I'm reading books wondering the other perspectives on the stories, and trying to figure out how "fair" the "edit" is.

Which is crap, obviously. There's no such thing as a fair edit, any more than there's such thing as an unbiased story. But reality television has helped me see that much clearer, and I think that's the main point I want to pursue with this project.

(I still haven't decided if my focus is on the games or the people. But this is helping me hone in, I think.)

So basically, I spent years wanting to be a writer and devouring every book in sight, I took four years of college-level creative writing courses, and I end up grasping more about the framing of a narrative from watching TV shows where they force people into close quarters and have them systematically pick off the weak members of the herd.


I don't really know what the point of this post is, actually.
Tags: reality: edgic, research: media literacy
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