Sunday, March 6, 2011

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us Reflection


I was first introduced to the idea of "media shaping social norms" my junior year of high school by my old English teacher. While reading the "The Handmaid's Tale" my teacher related something that happened in the text to the movie "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer". He believed that the movie "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was written to expose to the general American public the exclusion of Jews in holiday celebration at Christmas time. My teacher showed us many instances where this idea could be seen. He explained that a common prejudiced insult against Jews in the 1950's was to refer to them as "Hooked-Nosed Jews", this related to Rudolf because he was a "Red-Nosed Reindeer". My teacher also related Hermy the elf, to gays in American society; because Hermy didn't want to make toys instead he wanted to be a dentist. For this reason he was exiled from Santa’s workshop and treaty poorly by the other elves, the same way gays get treated like exiles in our society.

When I first heard this I thought it was funny the way something so seemingly childish and innocent could hold such a deep sociological bottom line. So I started talking to my friends about it and the opened my eyes to so much more instances where things like this happen. One of my friends recently did a project on the media’s conception of the ideal woman and way women get portrayed in advertisements and movies. He pointed out how great portions of American men have a similar taste in women because they are subjected to the same media influence through advertisements and movies.  He also pointed out the way the women that are subjected to the same media influence strive to look like the ideal woman and often go to great lengths to get the “perfect” body.

This whole idea of subconsciously teaching social norms to children through media is interesting because it makes me think "What if we applied this same strategy to everyday teaching?". Who's to say we can't teach children math through hidden messages in everyday cartoon and advertisements. In a way, that if one were to ask a child where they learned something they would reply "I don't know... I just don't know".

I really liked this article because it was something that I could really relate to. It’s interesting seeing the things you find when you look into media a little deeper.


  1. You make a very interesting point about teaching children by hidden messages, that would be interesting to see

  2. I agree with you and Rachel. I feel that if we did make the effort to incorporate this subconscious teaching style with everyday teaching we may have better luck with getting kids to want to learn as well as getting them to actually understand things

  3. Glad this was interesting... did class discussion add to your general interest?