Bowling for Columbine Non Verbal Messages

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Partner or Group of 3
Media Review Assignment Weight: 20%
Due February 12, 2013

Purpose: As our class broadens its view to consider issues that affect us as a nation or even globally, we come to realize that when people feel strongly about an issue, they speak out. However, artists and audiences might wonder, are these creative expressions of feeling really effective in conveying their messages and raising awareness? This assignment requires you to think critically a social commentary or protest made through music OR documentary film.

You may respond to THREE PROTEST (SOCIAL COMMENTARY) SONGS. Select three songs, current or historic, that express concern about a social issue and argue a distinct point of view. Do your best to select three songs that deal with the same social problem. In the past, musicians have commented on social issues such as war, police brutality, gender equality, or other forms of discrimination. You may already know some songs that are ‘message’ songs, but have perhaps never thought of them that way. Use the questions below to analyze the lyrics and messages within the song. You will need to use specific quotations from the lyrics, so preview the questions and keep notes as you listen. Note: although the songs may not originally have been sung in English, you will have to provide English translations of the lyrics.

*OR*

You may respond to a DOCUMENTARY FILM. Select a documentary that explores a social problem, such as conflict, corporate greed, environmentalism or discrimination (a list of possible films is included below). Watch your chosen film and answer the questions below to comment about how effective its argument was. You will need to use specific quotations from the film, so preview the questions and keep notes as you watch.

Instructions: Begin by identifying your sources and their authors (for film, use directors), whether or not you enjoyed the material enough to recommend it to others, and why you say so. Then, whether you’re discussing songs or a film, answer the questions below in whatever order makes sense to you. Be very clear as you move between topics.

1) Identify the overall argument or message of your source. Be as specific as you can – for example, the message may be ‘violence’, but is it more specifically violence in our schools? violence against a minority group? etc. Identify whether both sides of an issue are presented, or just one, or whether one side is emphasized over the other.

2) Provide THREE brief, direct quotations from the source that best argue its point. Explain why each quotation is effective: for example, does it appeal to basic human emotion? Does it use logic? Is it meant to shock you? etc. In the musical choice, one quotation from each song is required here. For movies, do not select more than a few sentences within each quote: select the best parts of long speeches.

3) Identify weaknesses within the argument. Use specific quotations as examples, or summarize parts of the argument that weren’t as effective as others. Explain why you believe they don’t work. You might consider some of our critical thinking class terms, such as generalization, ad hominem, assumption, etc.

4) Describe the effective non-verbal messages. In this section, comment on how the music behind the lyrics, or the images in the film, helped make this a strong message. For example, you might consider if /how the music made you feel sad (and thus was appropriate for a serious message), or if/how the images shocked you (and thus made the issue vivid in your mind). You do not need to know the technical terms of music or filmmaking to comment here, though you’re welcome to use what you do know. Put some thought into why you react as you do to these non-verbal messages.

5) A resource list: the final page(s) of your document should provide a list of song titles, artists, release dates and relevant lyrics, OR the full title,...
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