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August 2000, Week 3


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Alan Ainsworth <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 17 Aug 2000 13:59:00 -0500
text/plain (85 lines)
I've been mostly lurking except for starting that thread about _Rashomon_
remakes a while ago.

I don't know what to say about this thread dealing with potentially
offensive material except that almost every issue worth
considering _might_ be offensive to someone.  To limit teaching based on
potentials seems counter to the academic enterprise.

For instance, in my Lit and Film class, I teach Shelley's _Frankenstein_
and Whale's two movies and then _Gods and Monsters_.  Somebody could be
offended by so much in all of those texts; on the other hand, almost
everybody learns a great deal about fiction and film techniques, the
thematic concerns of creation and desire, love and friendship, godliness
and the monster, etc.

What about films that deal explicitly with religion? With race? Cursing?
I have a low tolerance for cursing in films, myself, because of
involuntary blushing mechanisms that I guess my upbringing put into me,
but I don't know if I'd ask a professor to give me a different set of
films because of this.

Trying to figure out the "offensiveness" issue is like trying to figure
out what makes something "boring."  One friend is into drag racing;
another is into bonzais; both could be "boring"; both could be "very very

Should I show _Lolita_ and have them read it?  Is _Lolita_ "offensive"?
Or "boring"?

Alan Ainsworth
English Department
Houston Community College Central

>>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
>>alternative films for the three in question, but wonder to what extent
>>sort of practice should be employed.  I'd be interested in hearing of
>>with similar experiences and how you handled them, as well as what your
>>feelings are towards providing alternatives (or even designing the
>>around such issues in the first place).

>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
>my big intro to film class where students (and their parents) objected
>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:
>I accomplish my pedagogical goals with a less potentially offensive
>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,
>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.
>Sandy Camargo
>Department of English
>University of Missouri

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