Amy Stern (bigbrotherreads) wrote,
Amy Stern

A brief rant

I've been working my way through the Media Literacy Reader a few chapters at a time (It's 700+ pages- I'm around page 200), and I can't get over how much most people talking about media literacy seem to lack basic respect for both the media and the audience. It's so frustrating to recognize that implicit in so much of this is that part of media literacy is looking down on media without that depth, ignoring the fact that media literacy is supposed to bring depth to everything. The assumption that audiences don't get it is simultaneously self-aggrandizing and completely missing the point.

I haven't typed up my reactions to the chapter in Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture yet, largely because it's more about the fan culture than about the text itself, but I think everything he discusses (largely about Survivor Sucks) is a demonstration of the most basic kind of media literacy required to watch these shows, taken to extremes. The difference between "I hate how [X] is acting" and "I hate the edit [X] is getting" (not to mention "I hate how [X] is acting but the edit makes it look worse") is the heart of what I want to talk about with this project.

(I'm skipping a tangent right now about how people saying "I love/hate [literary character Y]" is sign the writing's good, but "I love/hate [reality contestant X]" is a sign that the audience is unaware of the inherent construction. I will just say that if I were not aware of how much this would not actually improve my chances of getting a job, I would be seriously considering a PhD in media studies right now.)

Basically, I'm frustrated at the structure of how academia currently functions with regards to all of the subjects I'm interested in. I am genuinely kind of afraid the rest of my life will be dedicated to going to PCA/ACA conferences to give talks on papers like "Race and Big Brother 6" or "What's the difference between a sociopath and a winner?" (short answer: clinical diagnosis vs. a large sum of money).

Not that any of this has to do with this project, except I guess to once again clarify my goals: to talk bout reality television in a way which neither acts like it's trash that's only good breeding grounds for sociological research, or a hidden work of genius only appealing to people who really "get it".

Sequentially going through all the commentary tracks, incidentally, I'm about 3/4 of the way through with Australia (season 2- I'm at the commentary during the flood episode). I seriously have a list of separate academic projects I'd like to do about reality television at some point. My basic perspective on everything, at this point, is "why is this a valid tool when looking at scripted media but not unscripted?"

I don't think this project is going to be able to bridge the gap between pedagogical approaches to scripted and unscripted media, but I'd like for it to be a step in the right direction.
Tags: convergence cuture, media literacy: a reader
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