It’s Not Too Late to Add These Films to Your Fall Syllabus!
Use these films in your fall classes to help students think critically about the power & influence of media culture and some of the most high-stakes issues & debates of our time.
NEW RELEASE! Roger Stahl’s explosive new film Theaters of War exposes how a decades-long partnership between Hollywood, the Pentagon, and the CIA has enabled the U.S. military to shape the scripts of thousands of popular war epics and action movies. Featuring scores of clips from blockbuster films like Top Gun: Maverick and incisive commentary from propaganda experts, media scholars, combat veterans, and film industry insiders, Theaters of War is a great tool for encouraging critical thinking about how we consume Hollywood films and understand the human costs of war.
NEW RELEASE! In Behind the Shield, acclaimed journalist Dave Zirin moves beyond the insular world of pro football to examine the larger cultural and political influence of America’s most popular sports league. Navigating a stunning media archive, Zirin traces how the NFL, under the guise of “sticking to sports,” has promoted militarism and nationalism; glorified destructive ideals of masculinity and femininity; normalized systemic racism and corporate greed; and helped cast dissent as “unpatriotic.” The result is a film that’s less about sports, football, or even the National Football League, than about America itself.
NEW RELEASE! Award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt’s critically acclaimed new documentary HAZING takes a deeply personal look inside the culture, tradition, and secrecy of hazing rituals in fraternities and sororities, sports teams, marching bands, the military, and beyond. Drawing on a range of voices, the film provides a nuanced and empathetic portrait of a culture that provides a sense of belonging even as it too often leads to violence, sexual degradation, binge drinking, institutional coverups, and debased notions of manhood. An essential resource for classes and campus programming.
COMING TO KANOPY IN NOVEMBER! Beyond the Straight and Narrow, the newest installment in Katherine Sender’s groundbreaking documentary film series, examines the cultural, economic, and technological forces that have paved the way for an increasingly complex range of queer and transgender representations on American television. The film also considers this expanding, progressively nuanced range of LGBTQ television characters and plotlines against the backdrop of a growing right-wing backlash against LGBTQ visibility in our schools, athletics, and public spaces.
In The Bystander Moment, pioneering violence-prevention educator Jackson Katz offers fascinating insights into how cultural norms, especially normative ideas about gender and manhood, help perpetuate sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of gender violence. Mobilizing powerful examples from news, sports, and entertainment media, Katz gives special attention to how male peer-culture dynamics across race and ethnicity help normalize sexism and misogyny while feeding a climate of men’s silence in the face of other men’s abuse. A powerful resource for connecting media culture to cultural norms.
In Digital Disconnect, renowned media scholar Robert McChesney exposes how corporate capitalism has turned the internet against democracy. With breathtaking clarity, McChesney dissects how internet giants surreptitiously collect personal data and sell it to advertisers; how telecom monopolies collude with the national security state to advance mass surveillance programs; and how social media platforms filter people into ideological bubbles that prioritize partisan misinformation over real journalism. An invaluable and accessible introduction to the political economy of today’s digital media landscape.
In Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse, media scholar Sut Jhally demonstrates that there’s no way to avert the coming climate catastrophe without first confronting the near-religious status of American consumerism and the immense cultural power of the advertising industry. Ranging from the birth of modern advertising to the full-scale commercialization of U.S. media culture today, Jhally shows how advertising taps into powerful emotions that blind us to the environmental costs of growing global consumption. Ideal for courses that look at consumerism, corporate propaganda, and climate change.
The award-winning Requiem for the American Dream features the legendary Noam Chomsky on one of the defining issues of our time: accelerating economic inequality. Combining Chomsky’s rare explanatory powers with breathtaking visuals and stunning motion graphics, the film dissects a long line of government policies that have benefited corporations and the wealthiest Americans while destroying the American middle class and undermining the very functioning of democracy. At once an extraordinary teaching tool and a remarkable piece of cinema.
The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics from Nixon to Trump traces the American right’s deliberate, decades-long effort to win the votes of blue-collar white men by branding conservatives as tough-guy defenders of white male authority and power in the face of struggles for equality. Digging deep into radical shifts in white male voting patterns since the 1960s, the film offers timely insights into the growing gender gap, the rise of right-wing extremism, and the cultural dynamics that confront women who run for high office. An indispensable teaching tool as the 2024 presidential race heats up.
In The Great White Hoax, leading anti-racism activist Tim Wise argues that the rise of Donald Trump as a political force is the culmination of a decades-long pattern of racial scapegoating in American politics. Ranging from Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy in the 1960s to the emergence of white nationalism in mainstream politics today, Wise lays bare how the right has won white working-class voters by stoking cultural and racial anxiety and resentment, and concealing the details of their pro-business, anti-populist economic agenda. A powerful classroom resource as Trump now amps up his 2024 re-election bid.
The Occupation of the American Mind explores how U.S. officials, Israeli officials, and an American lobbying effort propelled by evangelical Christians and right-wing pressure groups have helped slant U.S. media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Israel’s favor. The film places special emphasis on efforts to conceal the brutality of Israel’s illegal, decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and to cast pro-Palestinian solidarity and resistance as anti-Semitic. Sheds much-needed light on realities that continue to be pushed out of view in U.S. media coverage of the current “crisis of Israeli democracy.”
Award-winning filmmaker Peter Hutchison’s Healing from Hate tells the remarkable story of a group of former skinheads and neo-Nazis working on the front lines to de-radicalize violent extremists and fight white nationalism. With an eye on the social, cultural, and economic dislocations that often fuel far-right violent extremism, the film brings us face-to-face with the sense of alienation and humiliation that motivates so many young white men to join these movements. A powerful educational resource and a bracing antidote to the toxic politics of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism.
In Broken Trust, filmmaker Jill Yesko offers a stunning look at the emotional and physical abuse experienced by far too many young athletes. Drawing on courageous first-hand testimonies from Olympic and national-class athletes and coaches, the film reveals how victims are often ostracized for speaking out, how parents are pressured to keep silent, and how athletes are fighting back to change the system. An indispensable educational tool that encourages young people to think critically and ask tough questions about unjust institutional power.
Gun Show: Rethinking Weapons in the Name of Art tells the story of a sculptor who assembles mock assault weapons out of everyday found objects and exhibits them across the country to encourage people to take a step back, question, and think critically about the normalization of American gun culture. The film has been earning high praise from educators for raising awareness about the unacceptable scourge of gun violence in a way that bridges differences across personal, political, and cultural divides.