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August 2000, Week 3


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Thu, 17 Aug 2000 10:59:51 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (63 lines)
Sanday Camargo replies:

> >This brings up an interesting question, specifically for those that teach
> >film.  Are your film selections guided by a consideration for the
> >sensibilities of your intended audience?  One time in particular, I was
> >approached by a student at the beginning of the semester and informed of her
> >aversion to anything R-rated.  I worked with the student to come up with
> >alternative films for the three in question, but wonder to what extent this
> >sort of practice should be employed.  I'd be interested in hearing of others
> >with similar experiences and how you handled them, as well as what your
> >feelings are towards providing alternatives (or even designing the class
> >around such issues in the first place).
> >
> >Ed
> This issue is one that I have thought about, too. Of course it depends on
> the course and the level of the student. I first came across this issue in
> my big intro to film class where students (and their parents) objected to A
> CLOCKWORK ORANGE and THE WILD BUNCH. Since I teach at a large, public
> university in the midwest, I came to a sort of cost/benefit conclusion: can
> I accomplish my pedagogical goals with a less potentially offensive film?
> Usually, I can. Interestingly, violence (e.g., in horror films) is much
> more of a problem with the students here than sex. So in my European
> films/American remakes class, I decided not to use LA FEMME NIKITA, because
> I was concerned that some students would find the violence in that film
> offensive, and there are lots of other films that I could use.

I've had similar experiences.  My basic approach is that majors and
other upper-level students should have the maturity to deal with the
material, whether or not they like it personally.  For general
education, I'm more lenient.

This hit home to me some years ago, when a student wrote to the campus
paper to complain about a colleague showing DIRTY HARRY, which I was
also using.  A little while later, a student in an introductory lit.
class told me that she couldn't take the language in SONG OF SOLOMON
(which most of the other students liked quite a bit).  I offered her
some alternatives to write about and she chose NATIVE SON, having no
problems with the graphic violence of that novel since there were no
dirty words! <sigh>

I take the precaution of putting a warning in my intro. to film
syllabus that some of the films may feature violence, nudity and/or
strong language and that if anyone has problems with that to let me
know right away.  (I add verbal precautions when I'm about to show
specific films, eg. UN CHIEN ANDALOU.) I do usually get a call or two
before the term begins to ask if I show R-rated films.  At least I
appreciate their inquiring before the fact.

Don Larsson

Donald F. Larsson
English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

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