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Reel Diversity

A Teacher’s Sourcebook – Revised Edition


Brian C. Johnson and Sykra C. Blanchard

The first edition of Reel Diversity: A Teacher’s Sourcebook won the 2009 Phillip C. Chinn Book Award of the National Association for Multicultural Education. This revised edition is an updated resource guide for educators in secondary and university classrooms who desire to integrate mainstream and independent films into their instructional content about diversity and social justice. The book has transformed difficult dialogues in classrooms around the country by helping educators identify full-length films and shorter film clips to enhance, energize, and motivate student learning.
Accessible and practical for both novice and advanced educators, the book provides a lexicon of twenty-five definitions that teachers and learners should understand about difference, awareness, and power. Assignments, classroom activities, and lecture notes highlight these definitions in ways that deeply impact students’ multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. Reel Diversity invites cross-cultural dialogue about films’ mixed messages and how they enforce and reinforce cultural values. Students will emerge with a greater understanding of the educational value of this entertainment medium. The book is perfect for courses in mass media, film studies, American studies, mass communication, and media literacy.
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Conclusion: The Prevailing (Hidden) Discourses


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If you were to look at a list of the feature films mentioned in this book, you will find films from different types of genres and themes, of all types of subject matter. Adventure, action, drama, comedies galore, and animated movies for children’s audiences—something for everyone. The sheer size of this text suggests that the cinematic experience is a fixture of American entertainment. It could be argued that movies are a purely American phenomenon, in the same way that the ancient Grecian schools gave us philosophy and European culture dominates theatre and literature. What is also glaringly apparent, if you have examined the clips, that movies are so much more than entertainment; they are propaganda machines.

Any media historian will tell you of how the moviegoing experience changed the ways in which the family got its news and information. Many students today are unaware of the newsreels that used to play at the beginning of movies in the theater and drive-in. Families were not treated to the “coming attractions” that appear today, but were provided with the latest national news (most often with some additional movie-style hype added). The audiences were inundated with sensationalized headlines that were wrapped with journalistic truths; and then the movie would start. These stories gave the subsequent film a level of credence that raised the film to a more factual, non-entertaining level. We mustn’t forget the messages hidden within the ← 235 | 236 → films themselves. As an example, let’s...

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