Conflicting Reviews of ‘Blade Runner 2048’ Fuel Discussion of Audience

blade-runner-box-officeBlade Runner 2048 opened to generally good reviews.  For example, Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service calls it “a meditative and moving film, sumptuously photographed by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins in the finest and most astonishing work of his career.”  Yet, 2048 did not do well in theaters. Lauren Jernigen of The Mary Sue tries to explain why:  “Throughout the nearly three-hour philosophy lesson [of the film], we are presented with the idea that women are only there to help move the story of men forward, rather than act as protagonists in their own right in a story very much about oppression against them.”  Simply put, suggests Jernigen, many women didn’t like the film, and some men didn’t like the film’s treatment of women. 

Analyzing two conflicting review of the same film creates the opportunity to discuss how two writers can have such different perspective on the same topic. Moreover, the contrast fuels an analysis of audience.   In addition to discussing the two reviews, students might examine other articles and reviews posted by the two publications.  Likely, readers of the Tribune News Service have characteristics that differ distinctly from that of The Mary Sue, and articles in those publications will reflect the writers’ audience awareness. 

Sources:

“Blade Runner 2049: Bad Representation Is Not Representation,” https://www.themarysue.com/blade-runner-2049

“Blade Runner 2049 is a Wondrous Spectacle,” http://host.madison.com/gallery/entertainment/movies/movie-review-blade-runner-is-a-wondrous-spectacle/article_abd0ad42-a899-5fa4-845c-856f0129525b.html

 

Bret Stephens’s Suggestions for Op-Eds

New York Times’s Op-Ed writer Bret Stephens offers tips for aspiring Op-Ed that he’s learned over the years as an editor, op-ed writer and columnist.  He begins with this one:

“1) A wise editor once observed that the easiest decision a reader can make is to stop reading. This means that every sentence has to count in grabbing the reader’s attention, starting with the first. Get to the point: Why does your topic matter? Why should it matter today? And why should the reader care what you, of all people, have to say about it?”

These suggestions may be useful for writing Activity 5.7 Write an Op-Ed Argument on page 171 in Praxis 3e.

For 14 more tips, see Stephens’s essay at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/opinion/tips-for-aspiring-op-ed-writers.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

 

 

Letter Convinced Schultz to Add the First African-American Peanuts Character

FrankliinIn 1968, schoolteacher Harriet Glickman wrote to Charles Schulz about the lack of African-American characters in the popular comic strip Peanuts.  Glickman, concerned about the racial tensions in the United States, urged Schultz that an African-American comic character could influence public opinion.  See Glickman’s first letter to Schultz below:

Peanutsletter1

Peanunts Letter2

Schulz and Glickman exchanged several letters, discussing Schultz’s desire not to offend people of color by seeming to trivialize racial tensions by adding an African-American character. Glickman solicited opinions from some African-American friends and relayed their ideas to Schultz.  The two stayed in touch, and Schultz notified Gluckman when the new character would appear in 1973.

Read the article, “How a Schoolteacher Helped Create the First Black Peanuts Character,” for more of the correspondence between Schultz and Gluckman.  Identify the arguments Glickman used to convince Schultz.  Why do you think she was successful?

Source: http://mashable.com/2014/11/26/franklin-black-peanuts-character-history/#OtYyrQ8_Fmq1

 

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2014/11/26/franklin-black-peanuts-character-history/#OtYyrQ8_Fmq1

Read a Variety of Opinions, Not Just Those You Agree With

Supreme court hearingAnna Dubenko, in the New York Times, reminds us that, as critical thinkers, it is important to find well-respected voices on both the left and the right of any particular issue.  Because of  today’s fast-paced and divisive news cycle, that isn’t always easy.   So, she has provided links to recommended articles from both sides of current issues, as well as a few from the center:  Go to the article to read Dubenko’s complete rundown.

From the Right

• From National Review on the Supreme Court hearings: To smear Neil Gorsuch, the Left has created and attacked a straw man.”  [Remember that a straw man is a logical fallacy.  See the explanation in Praxis.]

• From The Weekly Standard on immigration:  “It is easier to decide who we don’t want here than who we do.”

• From The Federalist about the alt-right movement:  “You thought Bane was a movie character; turns out he’s a political avatar.”

From the Left:

• From Jacobin on the Supreme Court hearings:  “Originalist textualists are no less activist than their peers. They’re just less open about it.”

• From In These Times on the Trump administration:  “Heritage isn’t an appendage of the Trump administration’s radicalism. It’s the heart of it.”

From New Republic on Trump’s relationship with the media: “In declaring the media the ‘opposition party,’ Bannon may have actually done it a great favor.”

From the Center

From Lawfare on various judges who have offered responses to Trump’s immigration ban:  “Why are so many judges being so aggressive here?”

Some things to do/to discuss after reading the articles Dubenko suggests:

  • Why would one want to read editorials and articles written by credible writers you disagree with?
  • Pick another issue and find a conservative, a liberal, and a centrist opinion on that issue. Discuss the differences in their arguments.  Are the writers at stasis [see the section on stasis in Praxis.]

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/23/us/politics/right-and-left-partisan-writing-you-shouldnt-miss.html

 

Apply the CRAAP Test to Evaluate Possible Fake News

In an era of fake news, students need a standard way to evaluate sources they find on the Internet. Many librarians recommend using the CRAAP test, which was created by Meriam Library at CSU at Chico.  CRAAP is an acronym for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.  The following graphic is a short-cut reminder of the criteria.  A fuller explanation of the topics follows:

CRAAP

————————– from Buford Library, http://libguides.library.ncat.edu/content.php?pid=53820&sid=394505—————————-

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

By scoring each category on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = worst, 10=best possible) you can give each site a grade on a 50 point scale for how high-quality it is!

45 – 50 Excellent | 40 – 44 Good | 35 – 39 Average | 30 – 34 Borderline Acceptable | Below 30 – Unacceptable

_____________________________________________________________

Sources:

http://libguides.library.ncat.edu/content.php?pid=53820&sid=394505

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/after-trump-librarians-develop-new-fact-checking-system_us_58c071d3e4b0ed7182699786

Trump Advisor Coins Term “Alternative Facts”

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway coined the term “alternative facts” when describing White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s inflation of the attendance at President Donald Trump’s  Inauguration in Washington.  Spicer had stated during his first appearance before the White House Press,  “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period. Both in person and around the globe.”  The “around the globe” figures are up for interpretation, but photographic evidence clearly contradicts Spicer’s statement, as do other estimates of the crowds at those events.   The photos below compare the crowd from President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration (right) with that of President Trump’s 2017 event. (The visible white spaces in the latter picture are tarps protecting the grass.)

crowds

kellyanne-conway

Conway was being interviewed by Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Jan. 22. when she first used the term “alternative facts.”  The Internet and the media quickly picked up the phrase.  Spicer, Conway and other Trump supporters appear to believe that what they assume are negative public perceptions of mainstream journalism allow them to dispute the media’s assumptions and advocate Trump’s version of reality.   Todd, however, quickly corrected Conway’s use of “facts” saying, “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”

Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/business/media/alternative-facts-trump-brand.html, https://thinkprogress.org/kellyanne-conway-alternative-facts-582a1a37f9d#.udgfb5z8w

Possible assignment:  Discuss 1.) What are “alternative facts?” (See also the Praxis-Blog posting on “post-truth politics.”) 2. ) How have these terms been used in recent months in relation to the presidential election and transfer of power?

Also, 3.  Have you been confused by “alternative truths”? How so? 4.) Is it important to be able to differentiate between real truth and alternative truth?  How can you do that?

 

 

Post-Truth Politics

lieThe Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” as the word of the year, defining the adjective as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” They chose the word because of a spike in the frequency of its use this year, first with the political debate preceding the United Kingdom referendum on leaving the European Union, then with the United States Presidential Election.  Presidential candidates argued not just about policies but about the existence or non-existnce of climate change, the existence or non-existence of voter fraud, the need or lack of need for a wall between the U.S and Mexico, and so on.

The Economist adds other examples of post-truth politics: “Members of Poland’s government assert that a previous president, who died in a plane crash, was assassinated by Russia. Turkish politicians claim the perpetrators of the recent bungled coup were acting on orders issued by the CIA.”

The rise of post-truth has been aided by changes in the media and rise of social media:  According to the Economist,.”The fragmentation of news sources has created an atomised world in which lies, rumour and gossip spread with alarming speed. Lies that are widely shared online within a network, whose members trust each other more than they trust any mainstream-media source, can quickly take on the appearance of truth.”

Possible Assignments:  Students can Google the word “post-truth” to locate blogs and articles that discuss the topic.  What is post-truth?  What are the “truths” that are being disputed? What are the dangers of social media as a primary news source?  Ect.  Discuss in class and/or write arguments about a post-truth issue.

Sources:

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21706525-politicians-have-always-lied-does-it-matter-if-they-leave-truth-behind-entirely-art