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Screen Lessons

What We Have Learned from Teachers on Television and in the Movies

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Edited By Mary M. Dalton and Laura R. Linder

This unprecedented volume includes 30 essays by teachers and students about the teacher characters who have inspired them. Drawing on film and television texts, the authors explore screen lessons from a variety of perspectives. Arranged in topical categories, the contributors examine the "good" teacher; the "bad" teacher; gender, sexuality, and teaching; race and ethnicity in the classroom; and lessons on social class. From such familiar texts as the Harry Potter series and School of Rock to classics like Blackboard Jungle and Golden Girls to unexpected narratives such as the Van Halen music video "Hot for Teacher" and Linda Ellerbee’s Nick News, the essays are both provocative and instructive.

Courses that could use this book include Education and Popular Culture, Cultural Foundations, Popular Culture Studies, other media studies and television genre classes.

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Chapter Fifteen: Teacher as Object of Desire in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore (Jennifer S. Dean)

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Teacher AS Object OF Desire IN Wes Anderson’s Rushmore

JENNIFER S. DEAN



OBJECTIFICATION: A WHIMSICAL CEREMONY

In an era of teacher accountability, many films portray educators as either inept or transformative in their devotion and tireless efforts. Rushmore, on the other hand, stands out as a film that doesn’t position its teacher as either. Despite its humor and intriguing love triangle, this film does little for me, as an educator, to bolster my confidence in the perceptions of my profession. In fact, more than the films that blatantly characterize teachers as incapable or as a savior responsible for the success of their students, Rushmore creates a deep sense of discomfort in its reminder that educators are just as often perceived as inconsequential as they are as saviors. It is a reminder that beyond the smooth, prepossessing surface of our perceptions rests a story of objectification.

Michel Foucault uses the term “ceremony of objectification” as a means of examining power structures and subjects affected by power in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Wes Anderson’s comedy drama, Rushmore (1998), exemplifies the objectification articulated by Foucault through the portrayal of Miss Cross, an intriguing young teacher at Rushmore Academy. Cross is beautiful, British, and clad in dull colored, non-descript clothing that neither adds nor takes away from her easy, quintessentially 1990s appearance. Cross explains to the film’s main character, Max Fisher, that she’s...

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