Rhetoric of Film
Alcohol, marijuana, foul language, sexual derogatory, and much, much more …. This short and inconclusive list of social evils is something that most parents in America would be horrified about if they knew their children were being exposed to them within the school systems, especially by the “trusted” teacher. Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake, brings about some commonly known weaknesses within the American education system, while also showing the failure of the current system to correct any wrong that takes place. In this comedy, the use of crude humor makes light of the current situation, but if viewers pay close attention, there are key queues dropped through the entire movie that are often associated with the American education system and why we are lagging behind other countries when it comes to standardized scores. As the movie itself states, a large portion of fault comes back onto the teachers, whom we put into the position of educating and influencing our youth, but this is not to say that it is entirely their fault. With current-day society becoming less censored than in previous generations, children are being exposed to social evils such as drugs, alcohol, and sex at much higher levels and at a much younger age than ever before. Thus, teachers have to find new ways to positively influence students to intrigue learning, and the old “Dick and Jane” and “Run Spot Run” books are becoming an unfeasible tool of the past. With this being said, who do we hold accountable for the poor test scores across the board? Do we blame media for influencing our youth in a negative sense with the prevalent use of drugs, alcohol, and sex, or do we need to look at the front-line of education and start to grade those who often hold the red pen themselves? Bad Teacher does an excellent job of presenting some of the key issues within the American education system--the biggest three being teacher accountability, media influence, and social pressures of students.
Bad Teacher starts out showing a “hot, sexy” teacher who, according to the speech she gives at the faculty meeting, appears to be very sad about leaving her teaching position and if she could stay, she would. The following scene then cuts to the young teacher as she speeds out of the parking lot in a red BMW, waving her middle finger out the window as her final farewell to the school. The teacher, Ms. Hasley, swears to never return to teaching once her marriage to a millionaire has taken place because she absolutely hated her job and was only teaching for a paycheck. For me, this is symbolic towards the connection that educators place with money and the salary they earn. In most instances, starting wage for a teacher is not something of bragging status, but what the movie shows repeatedly throughout is that bare minimum work can be done, yet a paycheck will still come week after week.
This leads into the main theme of the movie, which surrounds the idea of bad teachers littering our education system, but as we currently stand, there is not much we can do to get rid of them. One of my favorite quotes from the movie comes from Diaz when she is asked by the gym teacher why she keeps her job, and her response is, “I make salary, I am not held accountable for these kids, and I have the summers off, who wouldn’t want to be a teacher?” This is a very powerful statement in support of the main theme, because unfortunately all three reasons mentioned are commonly known among the public to be somewhat true in that everyone can think of at least one teacher who probably has the same reasons for teaching as Diaz. Of course, new teachers cannot start out with the mentality that they can “squeeze by” doing the bare minimum because, until the magic word “tenure” is spoken of, new teachers are at the mercy of yearly contracts, and if expectations are not met, they are shown the door. To emphasize the power...