For the second professionally created digital mentor text, I will focus on Dove’s Evolution Video, part of their Campaign for Real Beauty. (This version posted is from the director, which doesn’t allow for embedding; the version below is another one that does allow embedding, although it isn’t as high of quality, despite the name. Sorry).
As with many topics, Wikipedia offers some interesting background and critical analysis of this video specifically, as well as Dove’s campaign for real beauty in light of the many products and advertising campaigns of their parent company, Unilever. On the surface, a feminist reading/viewing of this digital mentor text might suggest that it is, indeed, a powerful message for women about the construction of beauty and the pervasive influence of advertising. Yet, a critical approach would force us to look deeper at the larger corporate interests behind the Dove brand and question whether or not the real message is something different. In either case, a great follow up to this video is Jean Kilbourne‘s documentaries, such as Killing Us Softly 3. At any rate, the video.
Of course, a video like this invites both imitation and parody, also forcing us to think about critical media literacy and the effects of advertising. There are a number of great resources on these issues including AdBusters, Renee Hobbs’ work with the Media Education Lab, and Common Sense Media, to name just a few. This also invites me to think about how students can use Hackasuarus to create hacked versions of websites in order to create critiques and parody. Three particular points about the production of this video that I find interesting:
- Time lapse/showing a process: Clearly, there hundreds if not thousands of videos that show time lapse photography and demonstrate the way in which a process occurs. For instance, my children absolutely love watching “How It’s Made,” and the plethora of nature films and cityscapes that show clouds, cars, and people moving by have a strong appeal to us as viewers. When Bill presented at NCTE, he talked about time lapse is one of the ways filmmakers can show a story, or at least part of the story, and I think that this short, effective film does a great job of doing just that.
- Screencasting: When The film shifts from the model and the photo shoot over to the computer in the graphic design program, it moves from becoming a live-action film into what essentially amounts as a screen cast. Now, at the end, it does go back to live-action shot to show the true nature of how the image was constructed. Yet, it is this added effect of demonstrating the process (with time lapse) on the computer screen that is interesting. What might it look like if we asked students to take screenshots along the way as they construct their own projects and then use them as a way to reflect on the process? Or, what if we asked them to imitate this video, and to try showing some kind of transformation on the screen in relation to some image, website, or other digital writing?
- Deconstructing through constructing: In some ways, the short commercial reminds me of the film Memento, at least in the sense of time is represented. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, yet I do recall that it moves forward sequentially, yet not that sequence which readers and viewers normally expect because the main character experiences some sort amnesia and is retracing his steps backwards. In this commercial, the process is shown as a construction of an image. Normally, with media literacy, we are asking students to deconstruct existing images and videos, yet this one shows the process of construction instead. How might we have students to create digital writing that explicitly shows them constructing an advertisement, or critique of advertisement?
Again, I find myself thinking about how we can invite students to look just slightly below the surface on some of the videos that they have probably seen and even shared, both to help them become critical consumers of the media as as well as to become digital writers and composers who think carefully about topics and techniques.
I need to do some reading to find out what everyone else is thinking today, and I look forward to sharing more tomorrow.
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