Tailored from The Media and Me: A Information to Vital Media Literacy for Younger Individuals by Undertaking Censored the Media Revolution Collective
Possibly whenever you hear the phrase “crucial,” you consider destructive stuff: to be crucial should imply that you simply dislike one thing, proper? Not at all times! “Vital” can be utilized in quite a lot of methods, together with pondering fastidiously about one thing (crucial pondering), asking questions of one thing (crucial inquiry), and training media literacy (crucial media literacy).
So, what’s crucial about crucial media literacy (CML)? Belief us, that is not an order to “eat your spinach!” or to disregard media that deliver you pleasure and happiness. As an alternative, what’s crucial about CML is taking a little bit of distance from our media decisions to look at them extra totally. As an alternative of wanting solely at our screens, we need to look behind the screens (or behind the scenes) to know how the content material received to us.
Many U.S. colleges educate media by way of a protectionist place—that’s, educating us that the media are unhealthy for us. Protectionists are sometimes involved with media content material they discover harmful, akin to representations that glamorize violence, intercourse, or drug and alcohol use. They assume that after you study that the media are unhealthy, you’ll select to show them off.
One other means of finding out the media in the US is the celebratory place. On this view, you might be thought-about an energetic agent and your data and media use are rewarded. In apply, advocates of a celebratory strategy to media literacy have targeted primarily on interactive media, akin to laptop video games, or materials chances are you’ll create in your social media profiles.
The protectionist and celebrationist positions look like opposites of one another, however they really have a good quantity in widespread. Each expend quite a lot of vitality on the content material of the media—what’s on the display screen—with out a lot consideration, if any, on how that content material got here to be. Each consider that younger individuals should make “higher” media decisions—however every place presents solely a partial story concerning the media you employ. Each are lacking a critical investigation into the technique of manufacturing—that’s, how that media content material got here to be. Neither place addresses the political economic system of media evaluation—the research of media possession, manufacturing, and distribution.
Regardless of their variations, protectionism and celebration share an vital commonality: they each focus totally on content material and illustration.
For each protectionism and celebration, media content material is commonly approached as particular person merchandise, and these are sometimes explored in isolation. For instance, you is perhaps concerned in a dialogue a few explicit scene in a film the place chances are you’ll speak concerning the dialogue between the characters or the lighting or sound results. Whereas that’s vital, it shouldn’t be your complete dialog. Vital media literacy will ask you to consider how that scene suits into the film as a complete. It’s going to additionally ask the way you accessed that film (did you watch it in a movie show? on a streaming service? on a specific machine?). CML will even ask you to consider when the film was initially launched, which can embody a dialogue of present occasions. CML will ask who wrote, produced, and distributed the film—and, by extension, may ask what else these individuals and manufacturing corporations had written, produced, and distributed. CML, due to this fact, fills within the gaps in illustration.
As you possibly can see from all these questions, CML is inquiry-based. What we do in CML is ask a lot of questions on our media use. We ask questions on many matters, together with gender, race, class, and sexuality. Most significantly, we ask questions on energy: Who has it and what they do with it, in addition to who doesn’t have it and why not. That’s one motive why we ask questions on possession, manufacturing, and distribution: as a result of that’s the place a lot of the ability of media originates.
One of many many inquiries that CML urges us to take up entails analyzing stereotypes, that are overgeneralizations or fastened beliefs a few sure group. These embody xenophobic stereotypes, such because the “Arab terrorist”; sexist ones, such because the “dumb blonde woman”; and racist ones, such because the “Black felony,” to call a couple of apparent examples. The modern use of this time period tracks again to Walter Lippmann, a large of twentieth-century journalism and a pioneer of up to date media research. Taking a look at stereotypes critically may also help us notice how media form our notion of others and the of the world. Contemplate the next questions.
- What kinds of stereotypes have you ever encountered, on-line or in actual life?
- Are there any stereotypes that have an effect on you as an in particular person?
- Are you able to consider any stereotypes which might be useful or optimistic?
- Whom do these stereotypes profit?
- Who do you assume is in command of producing these messages?
- How do you assume the messages find yourself taking a lot house on-line?
CML is a liberatory strategy to creating sense of the world. CML seeks to equip individuals with the instruments to be impartial media customers, free from oppression or restrictions by others. We acknowledge that misinformation, disinformation, stereotypes, and problematic representations exist, however as media customers we do not have to just accept or internalize them. As an alternative, we will expose, query, and oppose them.