Ethos Education

The Hunger Games: Look at what you look at

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Assembly Objective: 

  • In this media-rich world how do we make decisions about what we watch? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about the responsibility we have for what we think about (and, by extension, in this media-rich world, our responsibility for what we watch).

Film: 

  • The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The values of Individual Liberty, Democracy and Rule of Law are based on the belief that humans are capable of making decisions about what we think – and, in this media-rich world, what we watch.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Media Survey (quiz)

  • Ask the students to stand up, and to sit down if they can answer ‘no’ to your question. After each question (or set of questions) get anyone sitting down to stand up again.
  • How often do you watch television:
    • More than five hours per week (less than an hour per day).
    • More than ten hours per week (an hour and a half per day).
    • More than twenty hours per week (three hours per day).
  • How often do you read a newspaper, or the online equivalent?
    • At least once per day.
    • More than once per week.
  • Which of the following categories of news do you take an active interest in, either by watching television reports or by reading about them (ask students to stand up again after each of these categories):
    • Political news.
    • Scandals about politicians who have done something wrong.
    • Celebrity gossip.
    • Sports news.
    • Fashion news.
    • Music industry news.
  • Explain that in today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about the media and how we consume it.

Media History (something to watch)

Download the Media History PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • Play the PowerPoint presentation about the history of the development of media platforms with an appropriate musical accompaniment. We suggest Radio Gaga by Queen, although other media-related songs from your own music collection may be substituted. The PowerPoint will automatically play, transitioning from slide to slide without you needing to do anything. Click the escape button to end the presentation.
  • Here is the text that displays in the PowerPoint, for your reference.
    • 1844: Innocenzo Manzetti suggested the idea of ‘a speaking telegraph’, although he didn’t pursue the concept.
    • 1876: Alexander Graham Bell is awarded a patent for the first electric telephone.
    • 1878: David E. Hughes notices that sparks can be heard in a telephone receiver. After disinterest from the Royal Society, he abandoned his research.
    • 1885: Thomas Edison patents his electrostatic coupling system between elevated terminals.
    • 1892: Nikola Tesla demonstrates the principles of his wireless communication.
    • 1895: Guglielmo Marconi builds the first long range radio transmission system, capable of transmitting at a distance of up to one and a half miles.
    • 1906: On Christmas Eve, Reginald Fessenden makes the first radio broadcast programme. Ships at sea heard him reading a passage from the Bible and playing O Holy Night on the violin.
    • 1920: The first college radio station opens in America, broadcasting Thursday night concerts to a hundred mile radius. The first sports broadcast followed a month later.
    • 1925: Scots inventor John Logie Baird demonstrates the transmission of moving silhouette images.
    • 1926: Baird transmits moving, black and white images – the first true television pictures.
    • 1935: Edwin Armstrong invents FM radio.
    • 1936: Pictures of the Berlin Olympics are broadcast to television stations in Berlin and Leipzig, where members of the public could watch the events live.
    • 1960: Sony produces the first portable transistor radio, small enough to fit in someone’s pocket.
    • 1981: Music Televison (MTV) is launched in America. The era of the pop video is born.
    • 1985: Two billion people across sixty countries watch the Live Aid concert.
    • 1995: The Internet is made open to commercial use. In the late `90s, Internet use grows by an estimated 100% each year.
    • 2011: There are over two billion Internet users worldwide – over 30% of the world’s population.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, 2012, certificate 12).
    • Start time: 0.05.46 (in chapter 2 of the DVD)
    • End time: 0.07.30
    • Clip length: 1 minute and 44 seconds
  • The clip starts with Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) arriving at Katniss’ district. The clip ends after Gale (Liam Hemsworth) says, ‘I guess the odds aren’t exactly in my favour.’
  • The clip shows Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale discussing the Hunger Games, and Gale asking Katniss what would happen if everybody refused to watch the games.

TALK

Download the Media Hunger Games Talk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • One of the great things about modern life is how easy it is to stay in touch with what’s happening in the world. Where there used to be just a handful of television channels, now there are hundreds to choose from, and that’s without reckoning on the Internet: once upon a time it was possible to miss a football result, for example, and spend days not knowing whether your team had won, drawn or lost. Now a few clicks on a keyboard will tell you any score in an instant, no matter how much time has elapsed since the result, it will also tell you the starting line ups, what the players had for breakfast and even where they went out to celebrate afterwards. We know more about public figures than was ever the case before. The keenest One Direction fans probably know when Harry Styles changes his girlfriend even before his ex does. But is all this information a good thing?
    • We’re going to watch a film clip now, from The Hunger Games. The film is set in a futuristic world where teenagers are chosen to fight to the death in a televised game-show, which everyone watches. Take a look at what the characters here have to say about the game:
    • Play the clip from The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, 2012, certificate 12).
      • Start time: 0.05.46 (in chapter 2 of the DVD)
      • End time: 0.07.30
      • Clip length: 1 minute and 44 seconds
    • The clip starts with Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) arriving at Katniss’ district. The clip ends after Gale (Liam Hemsworth) says, ‘I guess the odds aren’t exactly in my favour.’
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘At one point in The Hunger Games, Katniss wonders aloud what would happen if everyone just decided not to watch the games.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • What if nobody watched? Even as she says it, Katniss’ expression says that she doesn’t think it could ever happen. It’s easy to think that it’s impossible to influence the media world around us, but it’s not the case that nothing can ever change. In 2011 the News of the World newspaper closed after 168 years. [click] The reason was the discovery that for some time they had been illegally tapping the phones of public figures such as Hugh Grant and Charlotte Church. The tipping point, in terms of public opinion, was the discovery that among the hacked phones was that of murdered teenager Millie Dowler, whose voicemails were hacked and deleted on behalf of the newspaper. People were so horrified that it created a political will to make the editorial team and owners of the paper answer for what had been going on.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • It isn’t only newspapers who can take a questionable approach to the news. Many of us are understandably horrified when television news tells us about the latest tragedy somewhere in the world, the latest horror-story of someone running amok in a school or workplace, shooting their friends and colleagues. The reports usually follow a similar patter, giving us endless details of what happened, who the killer was, how many people died, and failing to answer the question of why it all happened in the first place, what made an ordinary person go on an unprovoked killing spree.
    • Dr Park Dietz, an American forensic psychiatrist, has made this observation:
    • [click] We’ve had twenty years of mass murders, throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media, if you don’t want to propagate more mass murder, don’t start the story with sirens blaring; don’t have photographs of the killer; don’t make this 24/7 coverage; do everything you can not to make the bodycount the lead story.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Don’t make the killer some kind of anti-hero, do localise the story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more [soon after].
    • Put another way, if you don’t want more killing sprees, change the way that you report them. Don’t hype them up and sensationalise them, don’t pander to ghoulish curiosity, don’t tell us everything there is to tell.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • It begs the question, what is the responsibility of the news media? [click] Is it to report the facts with no regard to the consequences? [click] Is it to form a judgement on whether a particular truth is better kept quiet rather than publicised? A cynic might observe that most news outlets probably don’t think first and foremost of either of those questions, [click] but are looking for what is going to get the most viewers or readers, and earn their company the most money.
    • Going back to Katniss’ question in the film clip, what would happen if everyone stopped watching? As long as the broadcasters know that we’ve stopped watching and why, you can bet that they’d take note of it. Maybe things would begin to change. We may not be responsible for what other people write, or publish, or broadcast, but we are responsible for what media we consume. Whatever responsibilities the media outlets choose to take on, we still have the ultimate responsibility for what we choose to watch or read or connect to.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The Bible says this:
    • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8, New International Version.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • You are responsible for what you put in your mind. If you want to change the way you think about things, change the way you consume media. If you want to change the way the media reports things, tell them that you’re not reading, or watching, or buying their product any more. It’s easy to feel helpless, small and insignificant in a culture where mass-media dominates, but we can make a difference to that culture, and we can certainly make a difference inside our own heads. Although we may sometimes feel the media is out of our control, you are in absolute control of how you engage with it. Start taking control and see what a difference you can make.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Media Hunger Games Talk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Modern life makes it easy to keep in touch with what’s going on.
      • Proliferation of television channels.
      • Internet.
      • Football scores now impossible to miss.
      • One Direction: Harry Styles’ girlfriends.
      • Is all this information a good thing?
    • Introduce clip from The Hunger Games:
      • Futuristic world.
      • Teenagers fight to the death in a televised game show.
      • Look at what these characters say about the game.
    • Play clip:
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • What if nobody watched?
      • Katniss doesn’t seem to think it’s possible.
      • Easy to think we can’t influence the media.
      • News of the World closure, 2011.
      • [click] Discovery of illegal phone tapping.
      • Hacking Millie Dowler’s mobile was the tipping point.
      • Public outcry created the political will to make people answer for what they had done.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Not only newspapers with a questionable approach.
      • Understandable horror at news of lone gunmen killing sprees.
      • Reports usually follow similar pattern with endless details and the unanswered question ‘why?’
      • [click] Dr Park Deitz, forensic psychiatrist: We’ve had twenty years of mass murders, throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media, if you don’t want to propagate more mass murder, don’t start the story with sirens blaring; don’t have photographs of the killer; don’t make this 24/7 coverage; do everything you can not to make the bodycount the lead story,
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Don’t make the killer some kind of anti-hero, do localise the story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more [soon after].
    • If you don’t want more killing sprees, change the way you report them.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • What is the responsibility of the news media?
      • [click] To report the facts regardless of the consequences?
      • [click] To judge what news is in the public interest?
      • [click] Whatever is going to get the most readers or viewers, and therefore make the most money?
    • Katniss’ question: what if we did all stop watching?
      • If the broadcasters know why, they’ll take note.
      • We’re not responsible for what gets shown, but we are responsible for whether or not we watch.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Philippians 4:8, New International Version.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • You are responsible for what you put in your mind.
      • To change the way you think about things, change the way you consume media.
      • To change the media, tell them why you’re not watching or reading their product.
      • Easy to feel helpless in a media-dominated culture.
      • We can make a difference to that culture.
      • We can certainly make a difference inside our own heads.
      • Take control of how you engage, and see what a difference you can make.

RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you for all the things that technology makes possible for us, including all the ways we can communicate with one another and stay up to date with what’s happening in the world. Forgive us for our part in creating a culture of unhelpful media coverage, and give us wisdom as we think about how we consume news, gossip and entertainment. Help us to recognise the things that are helpful – for us and for others – and to focus on them, rather than on the things that cause harm. Amen.

Reflection

  • Think about the time you have spent online or watching television in the last week. How much of what you have consumed has been helpful? How much has been harmful to someone? Could you describe any of it as being neither of these things? Is this week likely to follow a similar pattern? Should it?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Media History PowerPoint and suitable musical accompaniment such as Radio Gaga.
  3. Media Hunger Games Talk PowerPoint.

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