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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Merchants of Cool Pulled From Classroom

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Douglas Rushkoff's exceptional documentary, The Merchants of Cool, was pulled out of a Dallas classroom after a parent complained. NPH is in a tizzy.

Merchants was the piece that first interested NPH in Douglas Rushkoff. It's a harsh critique of mass media corporations and their exploitation of teenagers for profit. MTV especially takes a beating. Rushkoff's insight in particularly valuable, because he points up the use of sexuality and insecurity by these corporations as a way to expose advertising blind spots and manipulate them for gain. It's very good commentary.

And, as any good commentary will, it makes use of the materials which it criticizes. So the MTV clip of Brittany Spears ripping her shirt off, the segments of films that feature nudity (while blurred out) are dropped into the documentary. They have to be; they are precisely the point.

So when a parent complains about the nature of the content and the piece gets pulled, who benefits? Do teenagers benefit because a censored and criticized version of what they're watching every day is no longer in their classroom? Or do the MTV's and other advertisers benefit because a critic with some teeth has been sidelined?

NPH is going with the latter.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:20 AM


Rocky, I agree and disagree. I agree with the bit about MTV winning, but also can see the parent's point of view. The problem I have is that it was shown to sophomores. I believe, with notification, this could and probably should be shown to upper classmen. Pre-16 year olds even though many are already seeing it on T.V., but those whose parents are active in their lives, maybe aren't. So seeing this possible for the first time in the classroom without warning should be alarming to parents. Schools still "have to announce" sex ed, but then they can show this without announcement? Should it be pulled completely? No. Should the parents have a say in what is educating their children? Yes.
commented by Blogger Michael, 10:26 AM  
Have you seen it? Watch a few minutes of it online (for free--follow the link), then tell me what you think. I guess I'm irritated because the parent's concern for the "morality" of the thing is so shortsighted and is totally incapable of taking in the larger immorality the documentary means to expose. And again, the images are censored.
commented by Blogger Rocky, 10:32 AM  
I'm with you, Rocky. "Merchants.." is a first rate piece of journalism - mostly because Rushkoff understands that he must (like we learned before we were sophomores) "show" not "tell". Especially when it comes to television content
commented by Anonymous landon, 5:19 PM  

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