Grade Level: 6-8 (middle school)
Time needed: 8 Days
Focus: The focus of this lesson plan is to address media literacy in today's society particularly focusing on comic book superheroes.
- Develop and artistic statement, including how audience and occasion influence creative choices (126.96.36.199.3).
- Analyze and interpret a variety of media artworks using established criteria. (188.8.131.52.1)
- Demonstrate use of a variety of tools, materials and techniques in media arts based on the characteristics of the hardware and software (184.108.40.206.1).
- Comic Book examples
- Power Point
- Youtube Videos:
- Paper (for sketches)
- Pencils (2 for each student)
- Flashdrives- 4 (Students assigned to certain flashdrive)
- Wacom tablet (one for each student if available)
- Computers with Photoshop
- Scanner (if tablets are not available)
Introduction to Lesson:
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼The media is one of the strongest influences on our society. No matter how hard we may try, we cannot escape today's media culture. Media literacy is a way to help students control the interpretation of what they see and hear. Media literacy is the ability to analyze the messages presented to us in everyday life and in today's digital world. Technology is all around us but using it and understanding it are to very different meanings that need to be addressed in today's world. Being media literate is about being able to notice what is or is not there. It is the instinct to question a production's motives and values and to be aware of how these factors influence content. There are important questions to think about when viewing an advertisement like: how did they capture my attention?, who is the message intended for?, whose voices are or are not heard?, etc. Media literacy is not about having the right answers. It is about asking the right questions.
One of the greatest examples to use for understanding media literacy in our culture is "Iconic Superheroes" and the huge influence they can have on many people. The superhero iconic image has been a part of our culture, ever since the first superhero, Superman was created in 1938. Within its context and history, superheroes are used for commenting on social and political issues as well as been known to reveal idealized popular values within the western culture (Superhero, 2010). The superhero image over the years has evolved widely through pop culture and the media. In the United States today, superhero movies have soared into our societies through large
blockbuster movies, television shows, games, and comic books (Jha, 2010). Our media alone has spent 12 billion dollars on influencing children regarding superhero styles, qualities, and perceptions (Jha, 2010). The media uses kid's meals at restaurants as well as clothing to emphasize their idea of the "awesome role model" for today's children (Jha, 2010). Superheroes have always infiltrated controversy as a role model for society, however because of the change in pop culture and push into digital technology, Mass media has created Superheroes to be further intensely transformed, exploited, and even seek aspects of injustice, which is contradicting term in the superhero realm (Jha, 2010). Today many superheroes actually use justice and caring as a kind of excuse for violence, explosions, and revenge. The Dark Knight movie from 2008 raised over $533,000,000, making it one of the most watched movies of all time. In the movie, Batman is filled with luxury. In one scene he asks his servant for a modest car, only to choose a very expensive, Lamborghini. The other latest movie, Iron Man also emphasizes fame and wealth as the only ways of being successful in life (Jha, 2010). Both examples reveal idealized fortunes and the greedy ideals of consumption that further promote the expansion of overconsumption in the United States. Superheroes also maintain a level of an impossibly perfect physique on both female and male forms. Female bodies carry the look a Barbie doll and are constantly seen with unrealistic and tight clothing, and very few carry a leading role within the storyline. (Jha, 2010) While the growth of diversity with the superheroes has expanded the dominant standard image is still Caucasian, young to early middle age, and middle or upper class (Superhero, 2010). The X-men series has developed roles of both male and female characters, however the movies focus more on explosions and revenge that develop into adult rated material that is questionable for kids. The downside with movies is its difficulty to help develop characters more and make the more personable (Jha, 2010). Furthermore, if a child doesn't live up to the expectations of being number 1 just like their favorite superhero, the media has also pronounced its influence on and promotion of becoming a slacker, sidekick, or class clown (Jha, 2010). Movies like the Green Hornet, and Hancock all have some act of emphasizing the "slacker/Careless" role for comedy (Jha, 2010). The best thing to do regarding superheroes is to become media savvy and be able to find lies within marketer's tools on influence. Superheroes can have a positive impact for our society. Superheroes aren't just super strength, and good looks. They should embody the act of justice and/or positivity and good will. Everyone can be a superhero in his or her own right in the everyday world.
Students will learn about media literacy through comic book heroes. There will be a discussion about what is a hero, how the media describes a hero, and how the media's description of a hero impacts us, the viewers. After the discussion, students will then create a 1-2 page comic strip of themselves as a hero in a daily life situation, first by drawing on paper. Once their comic strip is complete, the class will then scan their comic strips onto the computer. Adobe Photoshop will be used to learn how to draw digitally, add color, dialogue bubbles and text, and then finally to print the completed comic strip.