Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Center for Media Literacy

I've added a new link in the "Sites I Recommend" section of my website. The link takes you to the Center for Media Literacy.

The Center of Media Literacy asserts that our evaluation of media should include Five Core Concepts
1. All media messages are constructed.
2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
3. Different people experience the same media message differently.
4. Media have embedded values and points of view.
5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

These concepts lead to Five Key Questions for each person or group of people to ask when evaluating media.
1. Who created this message?
2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
3. How might different people understand this message differently?
4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
5. Why is this message being sent?

In all honesty, I have left this element out of my analysis of films and fiction. I have asserted that human stories reflect God's Story. I haven't expressed that human authors seek to convey messages as well. I believe that God's message does shine through human stories, but we also have to deal with (not overlook, evaluate, consider the influence of) the messages presented by human authors. And many of those merely human messages are in opposition to the Christian faith.

Consider this example. The film Seven Pounds (from my perspective) powerfully conveys the human condition. Simply stated, we are broken. In the words of Ben Thomas "In seven days, God created the world. In seven seconds, I shattered mine." In fact it took our ancestors, Adam and Eve, seven seconds to shatter the paradise God had given them (and us). Part of the human condition is to consistently and unwaveringly seek to put ourselves back together again. The message of the Bible is that God sent His One and Only Son to "put us back together again." He, and only He, can remake us. Our efforts to do His job are idolatrous. So I enjoy the opportunity Seven Pounds gives me to discuss that message with people.

Having said that, it is important to recognize that the screenwriter, producer, director (and perhaps others) are seeking to convey messages through the film that are contrary to our faith. Those messages are perhaps more "in your face" than the ones I want to emphasize. So the Five Key Questions of the Center for Media Literacy are important to bring into the discussion.

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