Explicit and Implicit Meaning in Media
|Lesson Title:||Explicit and Implicit Meaning in Media|
|Subject:||Film Studies (Film as Literature, Media Literacy)|
|Age Group:||Junior High|
|Unit:||Lessons Using Core Principles of Media Literacy|
|Objective:||Students will be able to realize that every type of media contains messages – both explicit and implicit – that a piece can have multiple messages, and that these messages can be intentional, and unintentional.|
|Concepts:||Implicit meaning, explicit meaning|
|Strategies/Modes:||Media analysis, inquiry, discussion, simulation|
The objectives of this lesson are to:
1) allow the students to realize that every type of media contains messages – both explicit and implicit – that a piece can have multiple messages, and that these messages can be intentional, and unintentional.
2) Help them learn that they have the ability to see these messages (both explicit and implicit), and that they have the power to agree, disagree, or even partially agree and/or disagree with them.
3) Help the students to begin to think on their own how to detect explicit and the harder to find implicit messages in the media they consume on a daily basis.
4) Help them to be aware and consider that the media they produce will, too, have implicit and explicit messages – even if the messages are unintended.
5) Have them realize and understand that each individual gains different meanings from the media we receive based on our own experiences we have had in life, and because that there is no right or wrong answer on what a piece of media’s message means to them.
Core Principle 6: Media Literacy Education affirms that people use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.
Posterboard, Pens, Pencils, Markers, Chalk or Dry erase marker DVD player, TV set, Internet I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!, by Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1970) CD The Old Apartment (single) by The Bare Naked Ladies
|Bad News Bears||Richrd Linklater||2005|
|Dinosaurs (television)||Michael Jacobs, Bob Young (creators)||1991|
Read the book I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!, by Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1970). Have a boy read the “boy” side out loud, and a girl read the “girl” side out loud. After reading it, ask the class the following questions:
- What message does this book teach?
- What are some other messages you get from reading this?
- Do you think these messages are is accurate?
- What do you think the author believes? What was he trying to say?
- Might other cultures see different messages? Why?
Then, you can explain to the class that Mr. Whitney Darrow meant no harm in sharing this message. It is important when thinking about media texts to keep in mind the time in which it was created, in 1970. He was simply trying to teach his kids that boys and girls are different. But, everyone will get certain messages from the reading, depending on who they are, and where they come from in life. It is important to know that many messages can be pulled from a media text, some obvious, some less obvious.
Note: If this book is difficult to find, another children's book may be used. This book is nice because it contains gender stereotypes from a era gone by; you would probably be able to find another book that does similar things.
Write on the board the two words: -explicit -implicit
Teach the students that the explicit messages in media are clear, obvious messages seen, and that implicit messages are other things the text might be saying that are less obvious, more hidden like “hidden messages.”
- So, what are “explicit” messages? What is an example you can think of?
- "Implicit” messages? An example you can think of?
Let them know that different people can find different messages in the text. Someone that grew up in a different part of the world, with a different culture will find different meanings in the text. Someone who lives on the very same street as you, just one house over, still will find different messages.
Ask: why is that? Listen to their answers. Explain that “People use their individual skills, [interests,] beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.” – core principle # 6.
Show, from the film The Bad News Bears (1976), the clip “The New Pitcher”, DVD Chapter 8. Ask:
- What are explicit messages here?
- What are implicit messages here?
- Does anybody have a personal experience that came to mind when they saw this clip?
Show, from TV show Dinosaurs, the clip on “Action Figure Man” (found on Dinosaurs the Complete First and Second Seasons DVD, disc 4, episode 23, chapter 2.
- What would the explicit message be?
- What do you think the author is trying to say? What kind of commentary is he making on children’s television programming? Do you think he has a point?
- How is this message shared differ from a straight reading of the explicit?
Play the song: “The Old Apartment” by the Bare Naked Ladies.
- What do you think the song means?
After you get their answers, explain again that every answer of what it meant to them is valid. It can mean different to different people based on their experiences. Most will probably think it’s a song about a broken up couple, and the man goes back to the apartment angry, and breaks in. Say that this was the author’s idea of the meaning: “While some have misinterpreted the lyrics to mean that the man in the song is stalking an ex-girlfriend and breaks into her apartment to terrorize her, [Steven] Page has said that this is definitely not the case. The person in the song and his girlfriend are still together and happy.... However, he goes back to visit "the old apartment" where they previously lived, and winds up breaking in.” There he sees that the new occupants of the place have changed so many things, and some of the things are his that he left there. – (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Apartment)
This exercise allows us to see that some times there are messages in the text, both explicit and implicit, that the author did not intend to have there. Even though the author didn’t mean to have those messages, that does not mean that they are not there, and that cannot necessarily excuse the author. Although it is impossible to foresee how every single person might interpret his or her work, an author/creator of any sort of media should be aware that if he or she is not careful, unintended messages could enter the text.
Show from the projector the old magazine ad for Lucky Strike Cigarettes found here http://www.adclassix.com/ads/28luckystrike.htm
- What are explicit messages here?
- What are implicit messages here?
- Do you agree with their idea of the product?
Guided Practice: Split the class up into 3 small groups. Go buy, and present each group with fake brands.
For group one, the brand will be a new kids cereal: “Power Bran: healthy like parents’ cereal, tasty like the kids’”. Ask the group to create a short skit acting out a “TV commercial” of the product.
Have group two draw a magazine ad for the candy bar: “Snookers – Hungry? Then eat this now”
Have group three make up the jingle you’d hear on the radio for: “Bernie’s Carshop: Where an adult can be a big kid”
Give each group 5 to 10 minutes to create their ad. Have each group present, one by one, their ad. After each presentation, ask the other classmates:
- What are the explicit messages?
- Are there any implicit messages?
Then, ask the presenting group:
- Which messages that they stated were intentional?
- Which messages were unintentional?
Closure: Remind the group that every media text has explicit and implicit meanings. The creator may or may not intend to say certain messages, but they are there. The meanings might be different for each individual, depending on their previous experiences in life. Different ages, cultures, lifestyles, interests, and beliefs will help them form different meanings. This should be kept in mind when watching, or creating media. Let the students know that they have the power to decide if they agree or disagree with the messages, and ask them to pay attention to the media they experience this week, and think about what messages they see.
This lesson was contributed by Will McAllister, a Media Arts major at BYU.
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