The Power of Film

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.  This week we take a look at film director Beeban Kidron’s speech  “The Shared Wonder of Film” from TED Talks conference in London last year. Kidron talks about the power of film to create shared experiences. This is something Labragirl Film Project brings to K-16 history and social studies classrooms.

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TED ( Technology, Entertainment, Design)  Talks  is a  global conference that encourages the exchanges of ideas. Last year at London TED Talks, director Beeban Kidron spoke about the “The Shared Wonder of Film.” Kidron is a co-founder of FILMCLUB, an organization dedicated to sharing a love of film with children.

Let’s watch and discuss.

Labragirl Film Project agrees with Beeban Kidron; movies do have the power to create a shared narrative experience and help shape world views for children (and adults!)

What do you think of Kidrons’ speech?

Do you agree?  

Share with your students and let us know about your conversations.

Let’s talk film!

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Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

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Mad Authenticity: Television Portrayals of Women from the 60s II

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom.

This week we invite Cecilia Portillo back to continue her discussion about the portrayal of women in AMC’s Mad Men. Last week, Cecilia explored Mad Men’s portrayal of the homemaker. This week, Cecilia continues her conversation as she explores the portrayal of the 1960s modern woman.

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Cecilia Portillo, Guest Blogger

As we discussed in Mad Authenticity I, each of the female characters in the TV show Mad Men plays an important role in showcasing the problems and experiences common to women in the 1960s. Today we’ll explore our ideas of the modern woman and how these ideas shape the characters of Joan Harris and Peggy Olson.

 

Modern Women: Joan & Peggy

Joan and Peggy are two strong female characters in AMC’s Mad Men. Their story lines shape our understanding of office gender relations during the 1960s. {Click on image for source information.}

The characters Joan Harris and Peggy Olson are crucial to our understanding of women’s role in the workplace during the 60s. Both women are quietly ambitious, clever, and intelligent. In addition, both experience the negative side of being women in a male-defined space. Through these visual representations, viewers can see the struggle that women faced when entering the workforce—a place where sexual harassment and discrimination were both common and standard practice.

“Why is it that every time a man takes you out to lunch around here, you’re the dessert?” —Peggy Olson

Joan & Peggy, fan favorites, literally show the audience how women have fought—in many ways— to reach important and respectful positions in the professional sphere. In the clip below, we see these two women discussing the sexism and disrespect they encounter. Although Joan’s response to Peggy’s unease would not typically be considered enlightening or helpful, it is prudent to recognize that her mentality was one shared by many women entering the workforce at this time.

What do you think about the portrayal of women from the the 1906s in “Mad Men?”

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Betty Draper (January Jones) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) {Click on image for source information.}

 Let’s keep the conversation going. . .  

How can the depiction of a historical era on TV challenge what we thought we knew about a time period?

How do our modern conceptions shape our look at the past?

 – Cecilia 

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Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

Mad Authenticity: Television Portrayals of Women in the 60s

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom. This week we invite Cecilia Portillo, a blogger from our sister organization’s blog Images Shaping History, to discuss the portrayal of women in the television show Mad Men.

Along with bringing film literacy into language arts classrooms, the Labragirl Film Project works to bring film analysis and media literacy into history and social studies classrooms. In addition to teaching students how to engage in traditional historical study, it is important that students be able to both understand the way popular culture shapes our understanding of history and also be able to navigate their relationship with history within this sphere.

Today’s conversation takes a look at:

  1. our relationship with media images;
  2. how our modern conceptions of the past shape our understanding of the past; and
  3. the ways moving images shape our view of history.

How do our modern ideals shape our portrayals of the past?

How do modern morals and beliefs shape the way we perceive the past, visually speaking?

Let’s see what Cecilia has to say. Discuss below!

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Academic texts and articles are the most common ways historians explain the past to the public. However, television programming based on historical topics gives people a look into the lives of people from a different era, providing a sense of closeness and a reality that words on a printed page can never do.  Television viewers are able to actually look into the past to witness the culture and attitude of a particular time period. 

Let’s explore these human and cultural connections by discussing an episode of AMC’s Mad Men, a television drama based in the 1960s that focuses on the home and work life of several advertising executives.  Although the story is a work of fiction, the look and feel of the show seems very authentic. The historical authenticity can be seen in the fashion, the cars, houses and most importantly in the everyday problems faced by the characters. These interactions highlight the concerns and mentalities of the era. Through character interactions, the viewer can learn of the daily workings of the people of the 1960s.

The cast of Mad Men {Click on image for source information.}

My favorite part of the show is the portrayal of the white working woman and homemaker. The shows’ main female characters are:

  • Betty Draper: the stay at home wife and mother
  • Peggy Olson: a copy writer and modern working woman
  • Joan Hollaway/Harris: a 1960s corporate secretary

These three characters have been crucial to the show since the first episode.

Betty Draper ( January Jones), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) {Click on image for source information.}

Let’s take a look at Betty Draper’s character – the stay at home wife and mother.

Betty Draper

Mad Men Season 3 Promo. January Jones as Betty Draper {Click on image for source information.}

Betty Draper,  the quintessential homemaker and wife of Ad Man Don Draper, is the series protagonist. Her character provides many visual lessons about understandings of what it was like to be an economically stable woman in the 60s.

She tends to her children and the home and tends to her husband when he arrives from work. Betty is resourceful, charming, and seemingly unhappy all the same. On the surface it appears that she is content with her life, however, Betty Draper is an example of the syndrome that many women underwent during this era. This  syndrome  would later pave way for an important piece of literature in the time  “The Feminine Mystique”  which describes the sense of void  that many suburban housewives felt throughout their supposed successful lives. Through her character such issues as infidelity, independence and reproductive rights are brought to light – all issues that were impactful in the sociocultural sphere of the era.

How do our modern gender ideals and beliefs shape the way we perceive the portrayal of Betty Draper?

In the following clip, we see how normal Betty’s life seems on the surface. We have a greater understanding of the domestic issues that she faces as a housewife and mother.

Her life is filled with troubles bigger than having to get dinner on table.

How does our modern knowledge of the past shape the way we perceive this portrayal? 

There is a wild misconception that all women of the era were happy suburban housewives completely fulfilled and living the “perfect” life. The character of Betty disrupts the notion that all women of this era were as identical as the Levittown homes where many housewives lived.

Do you watch the show?

What do you think about the portrayal of  suburban housewives? 

Next week Cecilia takes a look at the portrayal of another Mad Men character in Mad Authenticity II.

Until Next Time,

Cecilia

Check out our Downton Abbey discussions here & here.

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Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.

Film — The 21st Century Language

Welcome to the Labragirl Film Project’s weekly film literacy discussion. Every Monday morning Labragirl provides a resource, activity, or methodological discussion to help incorporate film analysis into your classroom. This week we explore a short film about the importance of film education. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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Film Literacy is Essential for 21st Century Students

“The best kind of film education engages young people in active learning. It goes beyond just passively consuming or watching film”

Kenneth Branagh

Actor Kenneth Branagh advocates for film literacy education.   {Click on image for source information.}

21st Century Literacy is a a film education methodology designed to help students develop media literacy skills.  21st Century Literacy is backed by the British Film Institute,  Film Club, First Light and the UK Film Council. They also work closely with the National and Regional Screen Agencies and Skillset.

Check out this short film where actor Kenneth Branagh discusses the benefits of using film and moving images in the classroom.

We here at Labragirl certainly agree with the importance of film literacy.

Do you?

Do you use film in your classroom? What are some of your favorite film literacy exercises or conversations?

Would you like help using film in the classroom? If so, contact us!

 

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Bring Labragirl into your classroom. Contact us at info@labragirlfilmproject.org or fill out our Interest & Inquiry Form.