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What Does Media Representations Tell Us About American Education?

1600 words - 7 pages

Media has grown to be accepted as a very important teaching tool and is even being used with that exact purpose, education. As Henry A. Giroux said about animated films, “I soon found that for my children, and I suspect for many others, these films possess at least as much cultural authority and legitimacy for teaching roles, values, and ideals as more traditional sites of learning…” But what we see now is this ‘teaching tool’ schooling the public about school itself.
In the show Saved by the Bell, most of the scenes take place in their high school hallways and classes. Even if the episode is not necessarily about their school life or their interactions with the school system a lot can be ...view middle of the document...

Not to mention the principal who is just as dimwitted as his students. An example of this would be in the episode mentioned above he was to be attending a very important conference, but ends up coming back two days early because it was, in his words, boring and he missed his wife.
This show tells a very rose-colored version of what high school in America is like and teaches the rest of the world and younger students false information. All of these factors make high school seem fun and easy when in reality it is the exact opposite. For all the world who are on the outside looking in, this show and media as a whole just confirms their belief that American education is not to be taken seriously in the least.
Gender dynamics is another topic that the ‘teaching tool’ called media educates about, whether it be unconscious or not. They are also in Saved by the Bell any signs of marginalizing women are extremely well hidden and are easily over-looked by most viewers. The teachers do not give any special treatment to any of the characters, so there is no obvious sign of gender socialization. From how differently the characters are dressed to their personality type; there are stark differences between the boys and the girls.
Take Jessie, the strong-willed feminist, for instance. She stands up for other women’s right, pushes against gender rules, and will not let anyone call her anything but her real name. No “chick” or “babe” for this girl. That is, until it comes to her boyfriend, Slater. Their relationship is far from being leveled and his apparent dominance is quite clear to most everyone but her. She is the strongest female character, yet she turns into a soft hearted, easily manipulated, teenage girl around her boyfriend. The character Jessie still has her strong points. She does not simply turn off her feministic side when a school and has even questioned authority (teachers) about seemingly sexist ideas and behaviors. Yet she also seems to shy away from the feminist side when around her partner.
The amount of skin shown by the females of the group is not directly proportional with that of the males. Kelly, the cheerleader, wears exposing tops and shorter than usual bottoms while the boys are fully covered, except for Slater’s occasional tank top. He clothing worn by the girls is more limiting than the boys, something Karin A. Martin discusses in her paper Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools.
When the boys are causing trouble the girls are usually against it. But their objections never make much of an impact on the boys; judgment. Why is this? They believe that even when they are doing something clearly wrong that the girls’ input do not matter. In many cases the boys were warned by the girls beforehand of the horrible outcome that results but the boys do not even take note of their warnings and feign surprise when it actually occurs. They believe in their dominance over the girls extend even into their ideas, which usually comes back...

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