Beyond Good & Evil
Children, Media & Violent Times
The belief that "good triumphs over evil" resonates deeply in our psyche through religious, cultural, and political discourses. It is also a common theme in the entertainment media where the struggle between good and evil is frequently resolved through violence. The potential negative impact of media violence on children has long been a public concern. It is even more troubling when U.S. military violence, both in the news and in the entertainment, is often glorified as heroic and patriotic.
Children's worlds of fantasy and reality collided when our political leaders, in response to the September 11th tragedy, simplified the complex international relationships into a fight between good and evil. The Bush administration used the narrative strategically and the news media perpetuated it with enthusiasm pumping up patriotism and generating public support for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
This video examines how the "good and evil" rhetoric, in both the entertainment and the news media, has helped children to dehumanize the enemies, justify their killing and treat the suffering of innocent civilians as necessary sacrifice. Featuring commentary from media scholars (Robert Jensen, Robin Andersen), child psychologists (Diane Levin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige), teachers (Merrie Najimy, Brian Wright), educators (Eli Newberger and Betty Burkes), and children.
Sections: Intro: Where Were You? | A Simple Story | Playing at War | Constructing the Enemy
Co-produced and Written by: Chyng Sun
Co-produced and Directed by: Miguel Picker
Editing by: Miguel Picker
CHYNG SUN | Producer, Director & Writer
Dr. Chyng Sun is a filmmaker and a Clinical Associate Professor of Media Studies at McGhee Liberal Arts, School of Continuing and Professional Studies at New York University. Her research interests include media literacy; race, gender and sexuality in media; and audience research/media effects. With Miguel Picker, Sun produced the documentaries The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships
and Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood and Corporate Power
(both distributed by the Media Education Foundation).
MIGUEL PICKER | Producer, Director & Editor
Miguel Picker worked at WGBH-TV in Boston for over 15 years as an editor. His editing credits include La Plaza
, Greater Boston Arts
, and a 52-part national series titled Destinos
. He also has produced and directed programs for WGBH, including Como Hacemos
and The Early Music Workshop
. He has produced and directed numerous independent projects as well, such as Francisco Mendez - The Portrayal of a Cuban Painter
and A Day in Martha's Vineyard
. Picker is also a musician and composer, and has worked with a wide range of art institutions and public foundations, including PBS, the Boston Ballet and the New England Conservatory. Picker moved to New York City in the summer of 2004, and his recent projects include editing and music composition/production for the award-winning documentary The Borinqueneers
(2007), and co-directing and editing Ulises' Odyssey
(2009), a documentary on Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile in 1970's and its aftermath.
Praise for the Film
"Beyond Good & Evil: Children, Media & Violent Times
is a truthful and shocking look at how mass communication distorts and manipulates language and visual imagery. The video is a perfect tool in educating students for critical literacy, in aiding students to see the who benefits from stories reported in the news and shown in movies. Beyond Good & Evil
graphically shows students how the media's overriding objective of satisfying an audience converts real issues surrounding race, war, and violence into nothing more than show business."
- Jeff Sapp | Writer, Teaching Tolerance Magazine
"Beyond Good and Evil
highlights the failure of government and our most powerful media corporations either to protect children from the harm of real and virtual violence or to foster thoughtful, ethical responses to complex social and political issues. The pure-hearted reactions of the children in this film to the horrors of war are moving, while the simplistic thinking of many of the adults is appalling."
- Joan Almon | US Alliance for Childhood
"At a time when educators across the US are dealing with how to complicate young people's thinking around the various world issues we as a country are involved in, here is a superb tool for teachers to explore these issues from a deeper perspective than I have ever seen. A wonderful staff development tool to discuss these issues as a staff and get a lively discussion going around some difficult to talk about topics."
- Linda Lantieri | Founding Director, Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP), a project of Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR)
"How do simplistic good versus evil and us versus them messages influence U.S. culture and policy-making, from classrooms to media to the highest levels of government? This MEF film explores this question."
- Rob Williams | President, Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME)