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Adult content in education is…

Posted By Jarrett Gorin On March 23, 2011 @ 12:19 am In Denebologues | Comments Disabled

…an eye-opening experience

A debate has emerged as to whether the movies shown in Spanish class the week before February break were “appropriate” to show because the films contained some nudity and other racy situations. The question is: are the movies considered inappropriate due to the content or due to the student’s reaction of shock?
In the first movie, Manolito Gafotas, it was, of course, unexpected to see people drop their pants to go to the bathroom or go to sleep, something that one generally doesn’t see in G-rated American movies.
But was that inappropriate?
The male reproductive organs are intrinsically familiar to the male students, and females have been exposed in South’s freshman Sexual Education course; the movie should not have been such a shock.
Sex Ed. teaches students about safe sex practices and the reproductive processes, yet students do not go around complaining that Sex Ed. is inappropriate, so why be so upset about the Spanish movies?
Furthermore, much of the dialogue that shocked students actually provided a learning experience of Hispanic culture, which added another level to a film that was originally intended only to improve our language skills.
Primarily, students gained insight into the openness of conversation between family members in this culture. Students saw that if Manolito, the main character, has a question, he feels safe and open to share what is on his mind, and in response his father answers his questions without hesitation.
We learn that in Hispanic culture, they embrace curiosity, which is admirable, not improper. One might even say that this openness should be encouraged among American families, not dismissed as “inappropriate.”
In the second movie shown, La Cuarta Planta, there was a scene in which the four main characters go to the bathroom “to listen to music.”
First, let me admit that this scene was a bit shocking, and certainly not something that I’ve ever seen in school before. I should hope, however, that by now we’re mature enough to watch a scene as minor as this one in La Cuarta Planta.
It’s clear that the benefits of viewing the film outweigh whatever harm students perceive. What are the benefits? Education on the openness of Spanish culture–the original intention of our teachers when they showed us the movie.
So why are we condemning the movie if it promotes openness about natural pleasures?
Consider this: any Spaniard would come to the U.S. and call us overly-censored because we think that we should hide what embarrasses us, especially since America, being a liberal and democratic nation, should be the most understanding of all countries in the world.
Even if the scenes in the Spanish movies were slightly inappropriate, why are we, the teenagers of America, complaining? We’re always fighting for our freedom to do and see what we want, for more independence and less censorship.We always want the freedom of being an adult, but now that we’ve had our chance, we are squandering it.
Most importantly, we have been focusing on a very minor part of these movies. I thought that the screening of both Manolito Gafotas and La Cuarta Planta was valuable because it was a nice way to transition into vacation, it demonstrated the use of the Hispanic lisped accent, and it shows the common life and views of the people in Spain.
And yet, somehow there’s no sense of balance or proportion. Out of hours of informative and meaningful film, all some focused on was thirty seconds.

…unnecessary and inappropriate

It was the week before February Vacation. Everyone was excited, and no one wanted to be in school. Then we learn some good news. Movies all week in Spanish!
Normally, this would be a great thing, but unfortunately, there was a problem. In both of the movies, there were some “adult” themes in terms of  American cinema.
The two movies took inappropriate much too far for an “educational” setting.
Take the first movie, Manolito Gafotas. At the beginning, it appeared to be a simple movie about a simple family living in Spain.
Viewers soon saw that we had been deceived, starting with unexpected and superfluous nudity.
There was a scene in which the little brother of the main character needed to use the bathroom. I’m sure you can infer what happened next.
Needless to say, this was too much information for our uncontrollable teenaged minds. We were shocked, the room full of awkward teenagers suddenly getting very uncomfortable.
It didn’t get any better after that. I don’t think any of us had a desire to see Manolito in his underwear, or see him and his father undressing themselves—all of themselves.
The second movie, La Cuarta Planta, was worse. It was a movie about teenagers with cancer, which normally would be sad and emotional. But at the end, instead of feeling moved, I felt deeply disturbed.
The main characters would spend part of their day on the roof, trying to catch a glimpse of a girl through a window. One of the boys claims he saw the girl in a magazine and thinks that she is spectacular. The other boys don’t believe him, and the first boy feels the need to prove himself. In order to do so, he gets his hands on a poster of the half-naked woman.
By now, all of the Spanish students watching the movie had become, in a sense, desensitized. A half-naked woman? Hey, at least she’s got some clothes on.
At this point, our cheeks were bright red, our eyes were glazed over, and our mouths were hanging open. It was the definition of “system overload.” It could not, we reasoned, get any worse. It did.
Anyone who saw the movie has to remember the “bathroom music” scene. It was perhaps the most uncomfortable moment of the whole ordeal, and in addition to it being profoundly shocking it was very, very odd, seeing the boys’ facial expressions change in the mirror, in the center of the screen, and nothing else.
The themes were unsuitable for school and we could not comprehend why our teachers thought it was a good idea—or even a moderately good idea, or a passable idea, or a not bad idea—to show them.
Both of the movies were, quite frankly, inappropriate choices. Yes, they showed us life in Spain. The only problem? They didn’t leave anything out.
Was there even a point to screening the movies? Sure, they took up class time, but to what end? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t any more educated about Spain after watching them than before.
In fact, the only difference in my knowledge before and after the movies was that before I was blissfully unaware that a simple movie shown in Spanish class could cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There is a line that divides purposeful displays of adult material for educational purposes and gratuitously explicit material. The Spanish movies helped distinguish this boundary, finding themselves beyond the realm of necessary educational experiences.

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Article printed from Denebola: http://www.denebolaonline.net

URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/03/23/adult-content-in-education-is/

URLs in this post:

[1] Theft sends Spanish student back: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/11/21/theft-sends-spanish-student-back/

[2] South heads to Spain: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/09/23/south-heads-to-spain/

[3] From the big screen to the classroom: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/11/21/from-the-big-screen-to-the-classroom/

[4] South students sí Spanish culture: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/03/19/south-students-si-spanish-culture/

[5] Faculty Focus: Chris Jackson: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/faculty-focus-chris-jackson/

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