I had a really fascinating Bass-ian experience with my Media Studies 101 class during Spring Semester 2012 in which we dug in to the viral video phenom of Kony2012. I kept a log of my teaching and wanted to contribute it to yesterday’s class anecdotal content:
PROJECT: CLASS WORKSHOPPING and GROUP INVESTIGATION of Kony2012 VIRAL VIDEO PHENOM in class and independently (mid-term to semester’s end) for MEDIA STUDIES 101: MEDIA IN EVERYDAY LIFE a required TIER 1 CRITICAL THINKING course, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT.
Research Topics: -Viral Video (viral content as a relatively new phenom in early 2012) -Invisible Children -Anti-Kony Campaign -United Nations -Jason Russell -Joseph Kony -Missionaries/Colonialism/Conversion/ -Mormonism -Lord’s Resistance Army/L.R.A./LRA -New York Times Op Ed -NPR -Charity/Fundraising/Donation
FINDINGS OF Kony2012 GROUP PROJECT:
–The Book of Mormon Broadway musical had opened in 2011 with a plot line about missionaries in Uganda, leading to the rhetorical question regarding the Kony2012 film: is art imitating life?
-Our joint research led to a consensus of an appearance that Director Jason Russell was proselytizing and more interested in conversion than in trying to raise awareness due to his personal commitment to Christianity. This was based upon odd similarities in language that we observed in our research between two such diametrically opposed causes such as, “crusades” and “holy wars”.
-Director Jason Russell had a very public mental breakdown mid-way through our research which overshadowed the viral phenom of the film. Personal news i.e., “scandal” about the Director halted our research and presented a “real-time” cautionary tale about media and mediated culture.
FOLLOW UP ASSIGNMENT: A subsequent written paper applying the principles of Kant and Mill from our text “Persuasion in the Media Age” (Borchers) to both Kony2012 and the Rutgers Spycam Trial which we also studied in Spring 2012 as a tragic landmark case in both media ethics and Internet privacy. I wrote the paper alongside the class and as the teacher, when I read/graded the students’ papers, I found that the philosophical theory of Kant and Mill made more sense to the class after the students researched as a group in a participatory way. One of the class’s leading students, who had served in the US Armed Forces, dove in to this project producing excellent research and went on to become a Social Worker. Here is the link to my paper.