Teachers on TV

July 15, 2016

Two of my current book projects are drawing to a close, the fourth edition of The Hollywood Curriculum:  Teachers in the Movies and an anthology I’ve co-edited, Screen Lessons:  What We’ve Learned from Teachers on Television and in the Movies.

I spend a lot of time thinking about representations of teachers in popular culture and am disheartened by recent trends that undermine the professionalization of teachers.

It used to be that good teachers were idealized and bad teachers were presented as a contrast to them to reinforce the idealization.  Increasingly, as I noted in a recent interview with a journalist from The Washington Post, representations in mainstream media, especially television, have begun to depict educators as incompetent, corrupt, disengaged, crude, and worse.

The latest example is the HBO comedy Vice Principals.  Public education is undermined by the ubiquity of these narratives, and we as a culture suffer for it.

Vice Principals

I don’t long for a return to the most formulaic of the sappy stories but to something that celebrates humanity and gives us a path forward to something better.


Catching Up…

July 6, 2016

I’ve had tunnel vision the last few months to focus on book indexing, editing, and revisions on three projects and have not been posting much.  My viewing and blogging have suffered, but I’m about to catch a breath and start catching up.

While I’ve not been out to the movies as much as I would like, I am indulging in some TV on lunch breaks and before I go to bed — one recent series that dropped a new season and three to catch up on!

Following, find brief takes on Season Four of Orange is the New Black, one of my favorite recent series, and my belated attraction to JustifiedThe Americans, and Bosch.

Orange

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HARVEST: Cagney Gentry Q & A

June 21, 2016

Here’s a special treat for Triad viewers.

a/perture cinema will screen Cagney Gentry’s debut feature Harvest on Monday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Made in the Triad film series. The screening is a partnership of a/perture and the New Winston Museum and is sponsored by the Piedmont Triad Film Commission. Ticket and series information is available here.

I’m a longtime fan of Cagney Gentry, as a person and as an artist, and we’ve had many conversations over the years about film. Naturally, I wanted to talk with him after I had a chance to take a look at Harvest.

You can eavesdrop.

Mary: Where did the idea for Harvest come from and how did the process unfold for you to develop it?

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Life of a Baby Gay

April 29, 2016

It’s always exciting when my students begin to engage media outside of class in new and affirming ways.  I’ve subscribed to Clarielle Marsh’s YouTube channel, and after reading my Q & A with her, you may want to check out her work, too!

Mary: Coming out is a process that varies greatly from individual to individual.  Why have you chosen YouTube as a forum?

Clarielle: Back in high school when I first started trying to figure out my sexuality, I didn’t really have anyone I could talk to or ask questions. So of course I looked to the internet for my education. I found YouTube to be particularly helpful because the queer channels and YouTubers I found gave me some sort of image that I didn’t see in my own life and that I couldn’t quite create from reading articles and blogs. The videos I watched on YouTube were not only entertaining, visually appealing, and super accessible, but also really affirming. YouTube gave me hope that I could live openly as a queer person and be happy. I did notice in my early watching though that there weren’t many queer YouTubers of color, specifically ones that looked like me. I started Life of a Baby Gay because I wanted to change that a bit. I think it’s really important in the coming out process and in the process of discovering your identity that you be able to see yourself in the world around you.

Mary: Tell me what inspired the episode opening animation and the name of your channel.

Clarielle: The name “Life of a Baby Gay” just came to me one day as I was thinking about what I wanted this channel to be. When I came out during my sophomore year of college, I gained several really great queer friends and “baby gay” was one of the terms we would use to describe fellow burgeoning queer folk. So the name of my channel was inspired by that really important time in my life and the relationship building that happened for me then. I also think that the name “Life of a Baby Gay” communicates this idea that this channel is intended to be a sort of peek into how one lives openly as a queer person…or at least how I do.

Baby Gay

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SPEED SISTERS

April 14, 2016

You still have time to catch Speed Sisters tonight at 8 (Thursday, April 14) at Hanesbrands Theatre. Part of RiverRun International Film Festival’s documentary line up, Speed Sisters tells the story of the Middle East’s first all-female racing team.

But, it’s more than that.

With the permission of Avi Goldstein, one of the producers of the film, I showed the first 15-minutes to students in my Media Theory and Criticism class at Wake Forest University yesterday as an example of how films can expand our understanding of the world by challenging our preconceptions.

Students were drawn into the story immediately and grasped the themes the filmmakers hope to convey. I hope some of them will make it downtown tonight to see the entire film, which turns out to be as compelling as it is unexpected.

Speed Sisters.jpg

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LET THEM WEAR TOWELS

March 25, 2016

Catch the inspiring ESPN documentary Let Them Wear Towels months before its television premiere at a Reynolda Film Festival screening on Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. in the Broyhill Auditorium of Farrell Hall on the Wake Forest University campus.

Towels 2

The film, which features interviews with some of the leading women writing about sports today, is as much a narrative of women’s struggle for equality as it is a sports story. Sports Illustrated reporter Sarah Ludtke, who will speak after the film, led the fight for women reporters to get the same access to major league baseball players as male reporters – even if it meant going into the locker room to get the story.

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[TRAPPED]

March 22, 2016

Triad residents have an opportunity to get an early look at the documentary [Trapped] in advance of its June run on the PBS series Independent Lens and before the Supreme Court gets ready to hear an important case related to abortion access.

The film looks at restrictive laws enacted in several Southern states to try to close down abortion clinics. This film is an unabashed and powerful advocacy piece that effectively weaves together stories of several abortion providers with some of the legislative initiatives designed to curtail access to their services

See [Trapped] tonight – Tuesday, March 22 – at 8 p.m. at a/perture cinema in Winston-Salem. The screening will be followed by a brief panel discussion and a portion of all ticket sales will benefit Planned Parenthood.

Trapped

For viewers who arrive early, they can see Across the Line, a short film, virtual reality experience before the film at 7:30. Across the Line puts the audience on the scene with anti-abortion extremists trying to intimidate patients seeking sexual and reproductive health care.


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