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TMS on Documentary Panel Discussion at Montclair State University


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Rhys Daunic of The Media Spot was on a panel moderated by Dr. Vanessa Domine at Montclair State University back in February to discuss the 22-minute documentary special Eyes Wide Open: This is Media.

The event was part of a series of screenings made possible through a joint effort between the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) and Participant Media’s Pivot TV.  Other panelists included MSU Professors Harry Haines and Charity Dacey, and Gregg Festa Principal of Panther Academy in Paterson, New Jersey.  Below is one reason why TMS thinks the film is an effective conversation starter for media literacy education.

THE FILMMAKERS PULL BACK THEIR OWN CURTAIN TO PROMOTE MEDIA LITERACY

The producers of this film use transparency as a tactic for inspiring people to keep their minds active while consuming and producing media — e.g. to become more media literate.

“WE ARE GOING TO SHOW YOU WHO’S MAKING IT, HOW ROLES ARE BEING ARRANGED, AND WHO MAY BE LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER.” …(BUT) IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE.”

This was a digestible judgement-free way to nudge to the audience toward the need for thoughtful media consumption and production habits. They point out that even when they do us the service of TRYING to pull back the curtain, it’s difficult to convey. We all need to cultivate media literacy skills and develop the habits of mind to pick up on all that’s at play within the media landscape. They go on…

“WE (THE PRODUCERS) HAVE MOTIVES, AGENDAS, WE CREATE WE CURATE, WE INCLUDE AND EXCLUDE. WE PRESENT A VISION, WE ARE GOING TO ALTER THE WAY YOU THINK.”

Even the self-proclaimed good guy filmmakers are still trying to seduce, provoke, share, buy, manipulate. Marketing tactics like these are at work in all of our exchanges, even interpersonal social media posts, everyone has a bias, and increasingly we’re all crafting meaning using media for one reason or another. We have to learn how to decode to be aware of that bias as makers and consumers. Rather than trying to unravel the veiled motives of advertisers, news producers or corporate media giants (like manufacturing consent or a century of the self), which can be daunting, purposefully confusing and more than the average joe wants to contend with, they invite us to look behind the their own production curtain to expose their bias and motives. Through this clever structure, they draw a connection between themselves to the media giants, and then connect us, the average citizen media producer, to the same processes.

“CONSIDER THE SOURCE, KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN, CONSIDER US: DO YOU QUESTION ME? DO YOU TRUST ME? DO YOU TRUST YOUR FRIENDS? SHOULD YOUR FRIENDS TRUST YOU WHEN YOU’RE PUTTING SOMETHING OUT THERE?”

Positioning us alongside the history of other producers out there, and outlining the powerful privilege it is to be an author of content is a nice way to approach teaching self-awareness when adding to the media stream, and to helping people develop critical thinking skills around citizenship, identity, and privacy in their media interactions.