Saturday, March 17, 2012

How do movies or television shows affect my decisions, values, and behaviors

Most people, including Christians, consume media without processing its purpose, goals, and message. We don’t ask challenging questions about its authenticity. Therefore we become sponges absorbing everything we see and hear.

How do movies or television shows or any media affect my decisions, values, and behaviors? Have you ever thought about it? Have you assumed that they don’t? Do you think it is something we should consider? These questions could be answered in a media literacy program.

What is media literacy? In the past three years, I have taught media literacy to over 100 students. Only five students had ever heard of the subject. Media literacy teaches and unlocks the language of media. It contains five elements. (1) It helps to define the message media communicates. (2) it reveals the purpose behind the message, (3) It identifies how the message impacts the individual. (4) It identifies how the message influences behaviors and shapes perceptions in society. (5) It offers resources on how we can take control of our response to the message.
We should be teaching media literacy in children’s church, junior and senior high school classes, as well as to small groups in every church in America. It is essential curriculum. Most of us have no idea what the real message is in today’s media. For example, I often use Starship Troupers in my media literacy classes because it seems like an innocent sci-fi, action thriller. The film is set in the future with earth battling an alien species of bugs on a faraway planet. Seems harmless. Or is it?

Could the film be communicating a political message that casts doubt on our very way of life. It can even be an anti-American film. Director Paul Verhoeven weaves an interesting tale in which he believes government is misleading and lying to its citizens. They are convinced that war is good and just. But the people are being misled and are unaware of the government’s true intentions. The government is only interested in their agenda. They want the natural resources of the alien planet. Some believe Verhoeven’s real purpose was to criticize America’s political and military objectives not only in the Middle East but globally as well. Is America becoming a new totalitarian and fascist state?

So is this innocent science fiction or political commentary? How do we know? Could this movie have an impact on your beliefs? I’m sure your first answer would be an absolute No! But what about on a deeper, subconscious level?

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