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March 2002, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 14 Mar 2002 09:03:30 -0500
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drew perry writes, in part:

>>We keep getting told that today's
>>generation of non-readers (a generalisation,
>>I know, but strikes me as a plausible
>>characterisation) are just literate in a new
>>way - they're visually literate.

>>But then you keep hearing about how
>>film or television texts that stretch
>>the conventions one iota (convoluted
>>narrative styles, profound existential
>>subtext, allusive or open closures, symbolic
>>imagery etc) are incomprehensible, unfathomable.
>>That The Matrix (for e.g.) is just sill sci-fi stuff
>>that 'makes no sense' ... just get into the special effects.

and though i quite agree with him i think it might be
worth making an additonal distinction . . . if visual
literacy is the ability to decode the conventional [but
rapidly evolving] codes and languages of cinema,
then they are indeed very literate . . .

   . . .  but  . . .  if by visual literacy we mean the ability
to move from those codes to a different set of codes
that drew names as "convoluted narrative styles, profound
existential subtext, allusive or open closures, symbolic imagery etc"
in other words conceptual codes that are not specifically
cinematic but that we take as a central part of the
western intellectual tradition, then they are almost totally
illiterate . . . and i take it that one of the main objections
in some parts of our culture to this new literacy is precsiely
that it seems to interfre with the development of literacy
of the more traditional kind -- which had little to do with
simnply deciphering words and more to do with being
able to frame the results conceptually


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