Sunday, September 20, 2015

What's On TV?

Especially in Academia, where intellectual snobbism runs rampant, often the Popular Arts are overlooked as a forum for study.  Academics tend to favour texts which speak to deeper meanings and speak to “the human condition”.  These texts often seem to sacrifice excitement and storytelling in favour of a cerebral theme.  The perception is that popular arts have little to say to us as individuals and are only good for escapist purposes and function as an “opiate for the masses”.  
In fact, the popular arts are worthy of study in a number of ways.  Will Romanowski in his book Eyes Wide Open, postulates that popular arts fulfill a number of roles for our culture.  First, they communicate culture.  By looking into a popular media text, we can see a map of our reality.  We see what our culture views as important and unimportant, what is beautiful and ugly, what is right and wrong.  We can see our culture’s behavioural norms, social and gender roles and cultural values by watching popular art.  Another role for the popular arts is social and cultural criticism.  Often a popular art text holds a mirror up to society for us to see ourselves critically.  Popular art can also function as a medium for social unity and collective memory as shared experiences unite us and aid our collective memory of events.  
To a certain extent, academics need to get over themselves.  The fact is that the popular arts have a profound impact on our society.  A popular text may have much to say about how we live and how we should as well as speaking to who we are.  In our schools, we should be studying plays, novels and poems but we need to recognize that we also need to be looking at Films, Comic Books and Songs.  All of these have things to teach us as well.  


  1. Don't forget to put your name in this space. Can you give us some examples of how you would use these materials to communicate culture?

    1. Absolutely, When I was teaching Grade 11 College English, we looked at archetypes in literature and the Hero journey by studying The Matrix. Another example is through looking at songs as narrative poems such as "Travelling Soldier". Similarly, we looked at satire and parody by examining Simpsons and Tim Hawkins Youtube videos ("Cletus take the reel" is genius!)

  2. When I was in school the academic grade 10 class had to just read the traditional Shakespeare text while the applied class was able to read the comic version, extracts from the original and the movie. I feel that they got more out of the experience than we did, even though we read the whole "pure" text.