Do you understand movies and TV?
It seems like every day I see an argument on social media about a movie or TV show, and every day I see the argument being made in bad faith through a basic lack of education to the media. If you want to speak competently about movies and TV shows, you need to learn media literacy, and you need to learn it today.
Today I want to go over the term, provide the definition, and teach you how to make a persuasive argument that doesn’t make you look like an idiot.
I know that’s a lot, but I really think if you want to be a better filmmaker, you should learn this very basic idea. If only for nothing else, it will allow you to understand what you are watching and create a much larger network that you can cast while writing or creating movies and TV shows.
So let’s dive into it.
Media literacy is the most important part of film and television education
We are here because the general public has failed to develop the critical thinking skills needed to discuss the media. This is detrimental, mainly because people can be easily manipulated into misconceptions or false readings of movies and TV shows if they don’t have the wherewithal to craft the message themselves.
The definition of media education
Media literacy is the ability to decode media messages combined with the graphic representation of the influence of these messages on the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of viewers.
Media literacy allows you to create, think and act. You can use the power of information and communication to make a difference in the world.
What are the “five questions” of media education?
The secret to mastering the media is to ask the five questions after watching something:
- Who created this message?
- What creative techniques are used to grab my attention?
- How might different people understand this message differently?
- What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented or omitted in this message?
- Why is this message being sent?
Once you have asked the five questions, you can get to the root of what you are analyzing. It takes a few steps, but through this you can completely map out the message of a movie or TV show. There are so many interviews and reviews available that you can usually even hear the intent of the post straight from the source.
Why is media literacy so important?
According to the definition of the Fundamental Principles of Media Literacy, “the aim of media literacy is to help individuals of all ages develop the research habits and expressive skills they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world”. world.”
Besides not looking like a doofus in your next Twitter dust, I think it will make you a better filmmaker. If you understand where your thoughts and ideas are coming from and have an intention behind them, you can communicate better with the audience.
If we have a more literate audience, we can progress in art and society. We can eliminate toxicity to repel messages that might be meant to corrupt or compel. We can also engage with each other in ways previously unattainable.
The thing is, we process messages from an early age. The average kindergartner sees about 70 media messages every day. By the time they are in high school, teenagers spend more than a third of their day using media. This means that you are inundated with ideas and representations that need to be critically analyzed.
With media literacy tools, you can examine patterns of media representation and detecting propaganda, censorship and implicit bias in entertainment. You can also hold creators accountable at all levels.
Media literacy in film and television
Think of your favorite movies and TV shows. Who made them? Do they have an agenda? Do they teach you certain aspects of the culture?
We saw an increase in the need for this in the age of “fake news”, where people were forced to analyze which stories came from where and why. But even before that, we’ve seen movies selling us ideas. Like advertisements, which use these tactics to reach us. Or “very special episodes” of television, which use airtime to preach to us.
Think of a movie like zero dark thirty, which shows a more effective use of torture by terrorists than what we know actually happened. All it takes is a little extrapolation of how torture is shown in the film, and then some research into its actual effectiveness in the real world. This film was made with a diary, to tell the most thrilling version of the capture and murder of Osama bin Laden. It was made by people who wanted to highlight the role of the main character, but twisted some facts to make the film version more convincing.
You can also do this with less political films. Like when people choose Disney princess movies to show the real-world negative stereotypes of the women they portray on screen, and how those stereotypes might unconsciously shape generations of women.
These are really important things, and things we should all know by now, as more and more communication is becoming visual.
Media Literacy Summary
I hope this article has put you on your way to media literacy. Take the ideas and pillars explained here and start applying them to what you watch in your daily life. Map lessons that can extrapolate your deeper understanding. Start with your favorite TV shows and movies, then work on new releases.
It should deepen your understanding of the world and allow you to make an argument that resists basic digging.
I can’t wait to see what you discover.