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Educating the Pleasure: Popular Culture, Media Literacy and Critical Pedagogy Ksenija H. Vidmar and Tamara Bosnič Abstract For critical media pedagogy, educating critical viewers has been a major goal and a demanding task. The ways to achieve the goal are many and imply the application of various levels of skills and tools to the reading of mediated texts. Usually, the enhancement of media literacy implies practices of rational and engaged reading which demands from the viewer a high level of attention and willingness to critically deconstruct narratives and visual structures of media texts. In the following article, in contrast, we ask how to educate the pleasure of watching itself; how to provide contexts and conditions by which various ways of pleasurable watching can be deployed to strengthen the place of the critical viewer. At the end, an example of inter-textual and inter-subject watching of films that was developed in a Slovene high school is provided. Introduction In the age of electronic mass media, and visual culture more broadly, critical media pedagogy is crucial to fostering conditions for democratic society and active citizenship. These include skills to decipher political and other social meanings that have been distributed by local and global mass media. Enhancing media literacy among consumers as well as producers of mass media texts has proved a prerequisite terrain on which politics and practices of meaning production can be monitored, analyzed and contested. Furthermore, educating a critical viewer, equipped with knowledge and tools to deconstruct dominant ideological messages, appears as central to the project of media pedagogy. The project is usually based on rationally conducted processes of decoding and privileges a self-conscious and self-engaged deciphering of the texts on the part of the reader. The pleasure of disinterested and dis-concerned watching/reading of mass media, on the other hand, has bred less critical attention. In this essay, we concentrate on pleasurable watching, asking whether this pleasure, too, can be an object of critical media pedagogy. The question is addressed both theoretically and practically to argue that, although relating more to the realms of fantasy and desire than to intellectual and analytical work, the pleasure of watching itself can be turned into a potential site of educating as well as politicizing practices of consuming mass media. An example, based on the integration of mass media in the high school teaching, is offered to propose a way of how this can be achieved. The Ethnographic Subject In critical cultural theory, the debate over the power of the viewers to interfere with media texts was articulated already in the 1970s, most notably between screen theory writers and the cultural studies “school”. Working mainly within post-Structuralist and post-Marxist framework, screen theorists defined the reader/viewer primarily as a discursive product of the text. In this respect, as Deidre Pribram writes, “The function of a text is to position the spectator to receive certain favored – and restricted – meanings which the text ‘manages’ for the viewing subject in keeping with dominant ideology.” (1988, p. 4) This position was questioned by scholars at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham who argued for the studying of television texts as consumed within concrete social and cultural settings (for the discussion of the debate, see Fiske 1987; Moores 1993). To see the reader only as a function of text, David Morley has argued in response to screen writers, “serves to isolate the encounter of text and reader from all social and historical structures and from other texts. To conceptualize the moment of reading/viewing in this way is to ignore the constant intervention of other texts and discourses which also position ‘the subject’.” (Morley, 1980, p. 163) Feminist media studies have been among the most successful in demonstrating the negotiating power of the viewer/reader. Research of the soap opera in particular has offered a vital ground on which to observe contestations of textual codes unfolding in the process of their consumption. A quintessential woman’s genre, soap opera reiterates patriarchal construction of woman’s socio-sexual identity as mother and housewife. It achieves this effect both textually and practically. Scholars of the genre have pointed to the narrative form which, rather than action, envelopes the realm of personal relationships, love and family dramas (Ang 1989; Brown 1990; Modleski 1982; Seiter 1989). The emphasis put on emotions, empathy and talk – which in patriarchal culture, are all signifiers of a female domain – implies the female viewer who, through identification with the television characters, is affirmed in her social location at home and in the family. Moreover, with its daily incorporation into the ordinary life and routines of the housewife, the textual codes are re-enforced by the practice of watching. In the combined effect, the genre can be rightfully dismissed as a conservative ideological

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form which operates to secure the boundaries of woman’s domestic containment and reproduce her patriarchal enclosure within the confines of marriage and motherhood. For feminist media ethnographers, however, it is not sufficient to study the ideological properties of soap opera texts and their effects on women’s audiences, for in their view meaning in soap opera is produced within the specific context of women watching their favorite program. Similar to ethnographic studies of romance and magazine culture, research of the soap opera emphasizes that daytime television watching is a cultural form integrated into women’s domestic lives in a multifaceted and contradictory ways. It designates a sphere of female pleasure within the confines of home and family but also stretches over domestic boundaries into other cultural practices, such as soap opera fan clubs and gossip networks. The crossing of the boundaries complicates the notion of a singular ideological functioning within the industry’s dominant cultural product for women. In the process of consumption, viewers may appropriate textual meanings to serve their specific needs and interpretive practices which may both comply with and defy the intended function of the text. Women’s gossip networks, in particular, have been discussed in terms of acts of defiance against dominant culture. The hegemonic (male) culture, which ascribes to soaps and gossip derogatory aesthetic and social connotations, meets in “the pleasure of women’s talk” a form of resistance (Vidmar, 2000). The Progressive (?) Politics of the Popular According to the ethnographers, it is precisely the recognition of a cultural form as a devalued, low-brow aesthetic commodity which defies the dominant ideology of woman’s subordinate social position by creating an exclusive female cultural space. The construction of this oppositional space suggests, as Ellen Seiter writes, That the opportunity to produce meanings and pleasure by engaging with a discriminated popular text is ‘paid for’ by women’s willingness to conceal these pleasures and meanings whenever the dominant discourse is spoken in a social situation. There, women tend to remain silent or describe their own meanings and pleasures from a position which discriminates against itself … With the framework of social relations under patriarchy women create a gendered, oppositional space, to produce their own meanings and pleasures. The closing off of these meanings and pleasures can be seen as strategy to avoid confrontation and conflict. (1989, p. 244) In Seiter’s reading, the pleasure is a tangible object of both expression and repression. Oscillating between the social spaces of (dis)approval that are marked by relations of gender and power, the pleasure itself becomes a motor of reproduction of domination and exclusion. Entwined in women’s own conscious managing of the conflict, however, it also presents a site of evasion and contestation. Denied the access to the dominant, highbrow culture, women consensually withdraw their pleasurable activities from public recognition and approval. By relegating themselves to the place on the margin, they also draw a boundary around the pleasure that cannot be dis- and re-appropriated by the dominant culture. Resorting to silence and invisibility, they (re)claim what is lost in presence and publicity. Can this pleasure be politicized, turned into an instrument of resistance and critical consciousness, though? In her analysis of the “politics of the popular” applied to soap opera, Brown employs the Bakhtinian notion of the carnivalesque to explain the reader’s subjective positioning against “institutionalized patriarchy.” As in Bahktin’s use of a subject’s subordinate position to ridicule the institutional powers (of the Church), she claims that women’s consciousness of subordination has the potential to be empowering. Feminine discourse produced at the point of the intertextual encounters of women audiences in gossip networks, Brown writes, “. . . is a way of talking and acting among feminine subjects (usually women) in which they acknowledge their position of subordination within patriarchal society” (Brown, p. 204). By constituting itself as ‘other’ to dominant culture, Brown concludes, feminine discourse “displays a potential resistance” (ibid.). The Promising Pleasure In both, Seiter’s and Brown’s account, the pleasure figures as a vital source of empowerment and resistance. Yet this potential of the pleasure to resist and contest dominant media ideologies remains somehow ignored when other, non-feminine genres, are discussed. In fact, it can be argued that the pleasure – as conceptualized and thematized in feminist media studies – has been a missing link in the politics of critical media literacy. Whereas much attention is paid to techniques and technologies of empowering the viewer by deconstructing for her/him the visual and textual structures and ideological effects of the text, very little space is given to the pleasure which arises despite, or beyond the figure of, the informed viewer. In “Integrating Film and Television into Social Studies Instruction,” Paris Mathew (electronic source) writes that the current generation has been “largely formed and shaped through visual culture.” Hence, it makes sense, according to the author, to use visual media as “a powerful pedagogical tool” in the classroom of the

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“video generation.” Yet Paris also warns against the “edutainment” which, as it is evident from his writing, is derived from pleasurable watching of various media footage but lacks a critical dimension. Therefore, “An essential aspect of social studies education is the teaching of information and skills needed by people who are to participate actively as citizens in a democratic society.” Crucial to this project is to “develop a critical awareness of that [visual] culture,” he argues. An implicit logic, underlying Paris’ argument is that critical awareness excludes lighthearted and casual viewing but also that critical attention runs contrary to the pleasure that comes from the daily “diet” of media consumption. Instead, he proposes three types of questions that need to be addressed with the students to foster critical viewing practices and habits: First, questions about content (the language, the narrative structures, the editing techniques); second, questions about production (personal, political, professional backgrounds of the authors); and third, questions about reception. It is this third set of question which illuminates the scope of difficulties when addressing the audience as critical viewers. He proposes that under this category a following set of questions should be addressed: how was the document received at the time of its production, what factors influenced this reception, has the critical reception changed, did the production influence other works, social movements, or trends? Paris also adds that “Journals and magazines covering mass media history are a particularly rich source.” Whereas Paris’ instruction rightfully points to social and historical contexts of the reception, and emphasizes the patterns of “critical reception over time,” it leaves out completely the unaccounted documents, public and private fantasies that might have been at work as well; it also obliterates evidences of individual and collective desires that were articulated in and by the media texts. In other words, this kind of critical media pedagogy excludes the question of pleasure. This arises as a problem in the work of Henry Giroux. An influential author whose contribution to developing critical (media) pedagogy cannot be addressed properly in the scope of this essay, Giroux outlines a body of instructions that is paramount to anybody engaged in the project and politics of developing media literacy. Giroux treats mass media texts and representations as crucially linked to “the production of mobile fields of knowledge, shifting and multiple social identities, and new cultural formations.” (1996, p. 37) He warns in particular of the new conservative bloc and its attempt to seize the emerging oppositional discourses of feminism, post-colonialism and post-modernism that relies on using cultural discourse of difference, de-politicization of politics and politicization of culture. The task of the critical pedagogy therefore is to gain skills to read texts of popular culture as serious sites on which cultural wars and ideological struggles take place. Giroux defines the goal in concrete terms as follows: I want to reassert the importance of critical pedagogy as a form of cultural practice which does not simply tell the student how to think or what to believe, but provides the conditions for a set of ideological and social relations which engender diverse possibilities for students to produce rather than simply acquire knowledge, to be self-critical about both the positions they describe and the locations from which they speak, and to make explicit the values that inform their relations with others as part of a broader attempt to produce the conditions necessary for either the existing society or a new and more democratic social order. (p. 38) Giroux goes on to explicate radical pedagogy as a “theoretical discourse that helps to illuminate how cultural texts can be understood as part of a complex and often contradictory set of ideological and material processes through which transformation of knowledge, identities, and values take place” (ibid.). As is evident from both quotes, Giroux, too, fails to fully accommodate the question of pleasure. He does pay attention to what he calls “affective investments” to point out to the students of his class that these are “neither innocent nor politically neutral” (p. 41). Moreover, he also underlines that the pleasures produced by the viewers should be honored regardless of their critical potential. When, for instance, discussing Dead Poet Society (Peter Weir, 1989) with his class, Giroux engages in critical reading with the students to decompose the ideological map of the text, with its implicit or explicit racial, colonial and patriarchal structures of identification. These structures, as he argues, based on the reproduction of the modernist romantic male heroism within the postmodern contexts of an Ivy League college, secure a depoliticized and pacified ideological space for the viewer which demands no action or reflection of the center/margin relations of power in the film. Moreover, engraved in a slightly resigned bourgeois posture and ethics of individualism, Mr. Keating (Robin Williams), the teacher as the central figure in the movie, contributes to the legitimating discourse “that privileges whiteness, patriarchy and heterosexuality as the universalizing norms” (p. 42), henceforth rendering the privileged subject which is historically specific and contingent on relations of power as the normative and “natural.” Finally, Giroux sees the nostalgic poetics inscribed in the film as the privileged site on which affective identifications are lodged and through which the authority of a particular history (white, male, bourgeois) is secured. Reviewing the discussion in the class, Giroux argues that a number of critical tools could be extrapolated from watching Dead Poet Society and used in addressing questions of class, race and gender. The film could be

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deployed in teaching anti-racist pedagogy as well as feminist epistemology and discourse. At the end, he also concludes that, “of course, there were students whose positions did not change, and who actively argued from a liberal humanist discourse” (p. 50). These students, too, Giroux reassures, were able to affirm and defend their position “without being subjected to a form of pedagogical terrorism which would put their identities on trial” (ibid). Giroux is aware that the opposing interpretations might have to do with different structures of identification which, furthermore, relate to different articulations of the desire of the students in the class. Namely, the students enrolled in the class as (current, prospective) teachers projected onto the Keating figure some of their own fantasies of their future selves as teachers. The projections, as Giroux’s account unveils, shifted between the models of Eurocentric, modernist and humanist tradition of literacy and education on the one hand, and postcolonial, feminist, postmodern subject on the other. Giroux writes that during the class discussion, “it became clear to me that the binarism that often structures the relationship between meaning and pleasure was ruptured” and acknowledges that “Those students who initially took up either of the films in terms of a desired images of themselves as a future teacher reworked that particular image not by canceling out the importance of desire, but by extending its possibilities by developing a transformed sense of agency and power” (p. 51). Whereas Giroux rightfully sees film narratives as mobilizing desires, it remains questionable whether the desire is so easily articulated in binary terms. In Giroux’s class, the interpretative divide falls neatly within two oppositional fields, the modern humanist and the postmodern multiculturalist (the classification is ours!). He allows for the humanist liberal interpretation of the text to be legitimately articulated but falls short in questioning why some students, to the contrary, agreed with his (the teacher’s) critical reading. When choosing between two “groups” of readers there may be no doubt where the affective identifications with the critical reading go for us, the readers of critical pedagogy texts; it may be equally important to recognize the unrealized political potentials repressed by this map of binary and oppositional identifications. In other words, rather than outlining the oppositions through which desires are formulated and addressed between two groups in the class, it may be more fruitful to allow for more multi-vocal, multifaceted and contradictory articulations of the desire within one group, or even a subject. This way, the pleasure of watching can be liberated of the pressures to be critical on demand and can rather dwell on the potential to emerge spontaneously toward critical position due to the very fact that various ways of watching the same text can provide a multiple source of pleasure. To put it differently, to educate critical viewing practices demands educating pleasure without interfering with its paths of articulation. On the other hand, the “loaded” reading can arrest the project of developing radical critical analysis and produce resistances that may have not been there prior to encountering the proposed, authoritative interpretations. Giroux’s reading of Grand Canyon (Elia Kasdan) is indicative here. Giroux interprets the movie as embodying “the reactionary side of identity politics” based on fears and desires of the majority white culture that has been encountered with cultural difference. Furthermore, Giroux argues that the movie counters the phobias in a gentle and polite way of exercising whites’ good conscience and responsible agency. The movie also reduces the complexity of racial and gender relations in a simplified vision of “natural forces of good and evil” (p. 107) stripped of social determination and cultural restrains. “Though willing to admit that the landscape of cultural difference has radically changed in America in the last twenty years,” Giroux quotes Jean Copjec: “Kasdan presents his audience with a hegemonic notion of cultural ‘innocence’ in which it is argued that there ‘still exists a precious, universal, ‘innocent’ instance in which we can all recognize ourselves'. (Quoted in Giroux, p. 108) Giroux also pays attention to female characters which he sees as lacking agency and voice. This proves true for Claire (Mary McDonnell), one of the central female characters. “Caught in a mid-life crisis,” Giroux writes, “Claire appears to solve her problem while taking her daily jog” (p. 113). The pacified landscape of the female biography, however, changes abruptly one day when she finds an abandoned “third world baby.” Giroux is critical of the director’s handling of the dramatic turn. “Ignoring the concrete identity of the child (why was she abandoned? What history, memories, and pain inform this act? […]),” he writes, Kasdan uses this intersection of ‘chance and luck’ to suggest that Claire’s identity is entirely dependent on her providing nurturance to Others, particularly since she can no longer provide such nurturance to her husband and teenage son. Claire eventually adopts the baby and in doing so not only secures her own identity but also affirms the notion of self-sacrifice, guilt, and duty that appears to be endemic to Kasdan’s conception of how responsible action is constituted for whites. (p. 113) Giroux seems to propose that in the movie, woman’s obligatory patriarchal formation of the self in relation to others is substituted by the relation to the Others who are the bearers of cultural difference and (racial) exclusion rather than (family) belonging and inclusion. Moreover, the female character seems to be dispossessed of her power to signify gender inferiority and instead represents racial superiority. Finally, by affirming the grand image of a conscientious and morally alert self, Giroux proposes that Kasdan waves a subtext that “third world families are not responsible enough to raise their own children.” Claire is thus transformed from a woman

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lost in a mid-age crisis to the subject of imposing cultural and moral norms, providing the evidence, in retrospect, that “colonialism is seen as having its benefits” (p. 113). Giroux’s juxtaposing of sexuality and gender with racial axes of (white) identity points to the hegemonic power of discursive processes to insert relations of domination and subjugation even when the privileged Western subject lacks its full potency and agility: a female subject in crisis, Claire can still signify ethnic superiority. The connection between gender and ethnicity, however, is less self-explanatory when observed from a female point of view. True, Claire suffers a crisis, but, given the patriarchal confines of the filmic texts, the crisis is crucially linked to her role as wife and mother in Western culture; the crisis unfolds prior to finding the abandoned child. In this regard, Claire’s adoption symbolically resolves for her what she cannot face in reality: that there is no true signifier for her, to quote…, beyond that of motherhood. Adoption of a “third world baby” hence gains a quality of melodramatic motherhood which, as Hollywood maternal melodrama has encoded it, is paradigmatically expressed through simultaneous notions of self-sacrifice and fulfillment (Doane 1987). With her emblematic representation of vulnerability, abandon (from history) and lack of agency (personal memory), the “third world child” figures handily to allow for the melodramatic imagination to find its articulation with the (white) Western female viewer. The adoption, in this regard, may present as much an imaginary site on which racial and cultural superiority is asserted, as a fantasy terrain on which women audiences can exhort the pleasure of watching by embarking on melodramatic imagination. Mass Pleasure and Critical Media Pedagogy Mass media, and film in Giroux’s analysis, address, awaken as well as direct desires. Writing of the work of art in the age of the mechanical reproduction, Walter Benjamin already in the early years of cinema announced the coming power of the cinema to interfere with reality but also to provide new grounds on which the “critical and the receptive attitudes of the public coincide” (Benjamin, 1985, p. 234). His claim that “the public is an examiner, but an absent-minded one” still resonates today and should not be disregarded as a case lost; on the contrary, absent-mindedness as well as alert criticism should be taken by critical media pedagogy as equally relevant to fostering the project of educating the pleasure of watching mass media. So far, two ways of achieving this goal have been discussed: one proposed a three-step technique of reading mass media text, focusing on content, production and reception. Henry Giroux’s model offers a discursive way of reading meanings, representations and images as sites of the construction of knowledge, identity and difference. Although different in details, both approaches share the assumption that media texts should be deconstructed, but also trimmed down to their bare structures where meanings are lodged. Whereas this way of reading can provide a fruitful ground to form critical reading practices, other ways of reading can prove equally potent. In their reading of the role of mass media in the age of multiculturalism, Stam and Shohat have argued that Within postmodern culture, the media not only set agendas and frame debates but also inflect desire, memory, phantasy. By controlling popular memory, they can contain or stimulate popular dynamism. The challenge, then, is to develop a media practice and pedagogy by which subjectivities may be lived and analyzed as part of a transformative, emancipatory praxis. (1995, p. 318) The authors also point out that “the question of the correctness of the texts, in this sense, is less important that the question of mobilizing desire in liberatory directions” (ibid.). This last remark resonates with our argument that media pedagogy and criticism should work towards acknowledging the scope and variety of pleasurable watching as well as the pleasures of watching. Stam and Shohat demonstrate their point by addressing the question of Eurocentric discourse in mainstream cinema. Eurocentrism, they write after reviewing a set of techniques by which Western culture operates to reproduce its superiority, “sanitizes Western history while patronizing and even demonizing the non-West; it thinks of itself in terms of its noblest achievements – science, progress, humanism – but of the non-West in terms of its deficiencies, real or imagined” (p. 298). “Imperial media” play a crucial role in the reproduction of the Eurocentric paradigm. The dominant European/American form of cinema not only inherited and disseminated a hegemonic colonial discourse, but also created a powerful hegemony of its own through monopolistic control of film distribution and exhibition in much of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Euro-colonial cinema thus mapped history not only for domestic audiences but for the world. For the European spectator, the cinematic experience mobilized a rewarding sense of national and imperial belonging. For the colonized, the cinema (in tandem with other colonial institutions such as schools) produced a deep sense of ambivalence, mingling the identification provoked by cinematic narrative along with intense resentment, for it was they who were being otherized (p. 303).

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To counter this legacy, engraved in conscious and unconscious landscapes of the popular, collective mind, Stam and Shohat argue for a remapping of history, and for writing alternative histories. Such a deconstruction of Eurocentric master narratives can take place through the watching of other cinemas, alternative and oppositional film production which may provide a source of pleasure not only through its alternative aesthetic but also through other forms of identification achieved by inverting the point of view. For example, the grand imperial narrative of Columbus’ “discovery” may be countered by watching Native Americans’ own filmic storytelling: Ridley Scott’s 1492: The Conquest of Paradise watched together with George Burdeau’s Surviving Columbus. Such politics of consuming mass media texts may be found especially suitable to the new, video generation of viewers used to indulging daily in various media and other sites of video culture. Capable of the border crossing of different texts, they may take advantage of comparative as well as inter-textual viewing of different genres, as well as the poetics and politics of representation. In the remainder of the article, we describe one such possible way of contextual and comparative using of the film in a high school project of inter-subject teaching. The Active Viewer Prior to an engagement with the ‘project of educating the pleasure’, other kinds of “watching” will be outlined. With regards to television watching, one could distinguish between passive and active or selective and non-selective viewers. Although the classification itself is problematic (what is passive watching? how do we measure it?), it is the selective and active viewers that are usually presented as the ideal-typical embodiment of the critical viewer. Selective viewers in comparison with non-selective viewers watch television with a certain goal (Livingston 1990). They seek out information about the program and make a decision to watch in advance. They change their timetable of daily activities when needed so that they can watch their chosen programs. They choose the program according to their interest, knowledge, and experience, or they watch because someone has recommended watching. This kind of television viewing demands certain activity before watching a program. If non-selective viewers are a part of a family, they have to discuss it with those other family members. They will probably watch with great interest and they will probably engage in talk about the program before, during and after watching. Selective viewers, however, are not automatically active. One may decide to watch the news, for example, but then lose interest while watching. Active viewing is a conscious decision on the part of the viewer. The result of active viewing is effect (Wilson 1993). This effect is not necessarily positive and can have negative outcomes. It can lead to action or reflection, to talk or new knowledge. Effect cannot be foreseen, as it depends in great part on each individual’s knowledge, experience, social and political background, education, and values. Nevertheless, the result of active viewing is always some kind of activity. It is difficult to determine which viewers will be active and for how long they will remain active. A non-selective passive viewer might become active during a certain program if something attracts that viewer’s attention. The activity might last a long or short time depending upon interest. On the other hand, selective viewers could also become passive across the duration of a program if that program fails to meet their expectations. This highlights the dynamic, personal and unpredictable relationship between the viewer and the program. The question of high-quality viewing is more complicated than one might initially anticipated and questions concerning what kind of a viewers educators want to encourage are no less complex. Nevertheless, it can be argued that the goal should be the education of selective active viewers, where the effect is positive and useful. Following is a review of the film American History X and how we can incorporate it into English lessons and an interdisciplinary curriculum with sociology and music. Our goal shall be to encourage students toward active viewing by employing their experience of pleasure around mass media culture. It is helpful to work on this topic in all three areas simultaneously. American History X: A Case of Interdisciplinary Watching The text focuses on the lives of two brothers living in an average American family: Dereck and his younger brother Danny. Dereck is a member of the neo-Nazi group White Power and when a group of Afro-Americans breaks into his car, he kills the attackers, claiming to have done so in self-defense. Danny witnesses the murders and he himself also joins White Power, while Dereck is in jail. While in jail, Dereck realizes his mistaken beliefs with the help of his Afro-American teacher and a fellow prisoner. He changes his views and when he is released, he convinces Danny to leaving the group. But it is too late, the circle of violence spins once more and Danny is killed by young Afro-Americans. Subcultures are an essential part of the curriculum for sociology. Students are introduced into what subcultures are and why they exist. They discuss some of the more common subcultures etc. The period can be interdisciplinary as students are introduced to different styles of music, which can be integral parts of a subculture.

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We start an English period with a general conversation about subcultures. Students are familiar with the topic as it is a part of their general knowledge and they have deepened that knowledge in sociology. What we try to achieve is to help students express their knowledge and views in English, which is easier for some and harder for others. We therefore help them with correct expressions. We then develop the conversation into talking about different subcultures that students are familiar with as we move toward a dialogue over Neo-Nazis and White Power. Following general conversations, a period in the multimedia classroom follows, where students use the internet to find as much information about these subcultures as possible. Should the multimedia classroom be unavailable, students may be asked to pursue this aspect of the course beyond the classroom. The next three sessions are given over to watching the movie. Although the film is interesting enough to draw the students' attention, some points of interest can be highlighted beforehand. In this way, students can consider the movie from a critical distance (rather than become immersed in it) as they attempt to answer the questions. Students are also provided with extracurricular work following each session consisting of questions or exercises that they discuss later in written form. In this way, students create a certain distance from the story and interpret the actions and reactions of the actors, thus encouraging them toward active viewing. Assignment following session 1: Think about the relationship between Dereck and Danny, an older and younger brother. Assignment following session 2: What role does Cameron play? Assignment following session 3: Where does Dereck's relationship towards Afro-Americans originate? Following the viewing of the movie, participants discuss the filmic vocabulary and consider word choice – recording those words considered crucial. Following this exploration of language use, a general discussion of the film follows: impressions, doubts, questions, opinions, skepticism. The most important part of discussing the movie comes in the following session when students discuss different aspects of the movie in small groups that are given the following tasks: Group 1: Describe Dereck; Group 2: Describe Danny; Group 3: Write down the most important parts of the movie and choose a moment that represents the climax; Group 4: Write about the lecture Dereck receives while he is in jail. Why does it change his point of view? Group 5: What role does Danny's death play? Group 6: Choose a part of the movie that made the greatest impression on you and describe the film techniques used. What effect do these film techniques have on the viewer? (The students are familiar with film techniques from previous lessons.) Group 7: What role does the English teacher and writing the essay have? During the next period, students present their group-work while students from other groups join the discussion spontaneously. We conclude this unit with three activities: a group of students creates a DVD cover for the film; a short content review must be included on the cover (which demands that the students have a good understanding of the movie) and a few positive reviews have to be produced. They must also choose the appropriate picture material. For homework, students find information about the swastika, where it originates and its historical importance. The next period is interdisciplinary, this time with music. The lesson begins with a discussion of the information gathered about the swastika followed by listening to Holocaust, created by Arnold Schöneberg. The students talk about the connection between the text and the music background. The discussion takes place in Slovene language. We finish the lesson talking about the swastika and the ideology it served during World War II. This discussion takes place in English. We finish the unit with an essay entitled “Subcultures as they are portrayed in American History X”, which is broad enough to allow students to think about the themes within the movie. There are also other possible activities: students can write a review, write viewers' letters, discussing whether they find it appropriate that younger students view the film at school despite it being designed for viewers over 18 years. A discussion about distribution of stereotypes locally and globally and why stereotypes differ from one country to the other can follow. Students can also create posters for the movie – connecting across English and Art lesson. The possibilities are endless. Conclusion We believe that such activities around the viewing of film or television in the curriculum are justifiable. The students followed the movie and the activities with interest, while also developing techniques for actively watching. They were lead through the stages of learning about the film: on the first stage, they identified themselves with the movie heroes, searching for similarities between their values and the values of the heroes on the screen. They then learned to distance themselves from the heroes and to consider the differences between the

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heroes and themselves, reaching a point at which they were capable of critical assessment and analysis. Active watching of television, as well as the concept of an active viewer, is largely under-theorized and different authors define it differently. It reaches from the most basic reactions on one side, through identification and more or less complex discussion to distanced viewing, which is the basis for criticism and analysis on the other side. We can further conclude that active watching can lead to not only morally good, but also morally bad actions, which means that active viewing is not always positive and welcome. But whatever the definition, we can always conclude that the consequence of active viewing is always an effect. Young people spend a lot of time in front of television. The interest of school should therefore be to turn this habit to its own favor and educate young people into active viewers. To follow this goal, school must give young people theoretical knowledge needed to allow them distanced, critical viewing of television programs. The aim of schooling must not only be to raise an active viewer, but an intellectually active viewer, who, firstly, watches television selectively and, secondly, overtakes the level of identification by interpreting what he/she sees, which leads to new ideas, new knowledge and therefore individual growth. A pre-condition for achieving this aim, however, is that the consumption of mass media is stripped of its negative connotation and acknowledged for what it is in the first place: a pleasurable activity as well as a mode of an active pleasure. Only then, media pedagogy can begin to educate this pleasure, turning it into a political tool for forming critical viewers and active citizens. _________________________ Ksenija H. Vidmar received a Ph.D at the University of California, Davis in 2000. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She has also lectured and published on global media, women’s genres, and critical cultural and media studies. Tamara Bosnič is currently completing her MA in the English Department, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She also teaches at Gymnasium in Ljubljana. References Ang, I. (1985). Watching Dallas: Soap opera and the melodramatic imagination. Routledge. Benjamin, W. (1985). Illuminations. Schocken Books. Brown, M.E., (Ed.). (1990). Television and Women’s culture: The politics of the popular. Sage. Doane, M.A. (1987). The desire to desire: The Woman’s film of the 1940s. Indiana University. Fiske, J. (1987). Television culture. Routledge. Giroux, H.A. (1996). Living dangerously: Multiculturalism and the politics of difference. Peter Lang. Livingstone, S. (1990). Making sense of television, Routledge. Modleski, T. (1988). Loving with the vengeance:. Mass-produced fantasies for Women. University of California. Moores, S. (1993). Interpreting audiences: The ethnography of media consumption. Sage. Morley, D. (1980). Texts, readers, subjects. In S. Hall et al. (Eds.). Culture, media, language. Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79. University of Birmingham. Paris, M. (2002). Integrating film and television into social studies instruction. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed415177.html. Pribram, D. (1988). Female spectators: Looking at film and television. Verso. Seiter, E. (1989). Don’t treat us as we’re so stupid and naïve: Toward an ethnography of television viewing. In Seiter et al. (Eds.). Remote control. Routledge. Stam, R. and Shohat, E. (1995). Contested histories: Eurocentrism, multiculturalism and the media. In D.T. Goldberg (Ed.) Multiculturalism. Blackwell.

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Vidmar, K. (2000). “For the reader: Reconsidering the ethnographic turn in media studies.” In: Vogrinc, J. et al. (Eds.). Prestop (Transition). Faculty of Arts, pp.385-402. Wilson, T. (1993). Watching television. Polity.