Turns out, that’s a very good question. Better than you might think.
I’ve found this wonderful link to a series of “pictures that lie.” (I’ve been getting a feed on the newly added bookmarks of del.icio.us user LibrarianEdge and this site was added by LibrarianEdge today–Thanks!). I’m extremely excited, because I was looking for a way to broaden the wonderful message of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (see my earlier post, here) and help it cross over to the male students I have. When I checked out the site, though, it addressed much more than body image issues.
It addressed censorship, political exigencies, propaganda, critical thinking, editing, feminism, media, photoshop ethics, and more (Oh, My!)! It helps place the information media awareness I want students to cultivate, the critical thinking skills they need to harness to be savvy on the web, into a perspective that includes a long history of media manipulation:
Before the invention of the digital image, the Soviets removed Trotsky from News Photos and archives when he fell out of favor and American farmers were shown with truck-sized crickets on their farm equipment. — See images 14 and 17.
The website makes it clear that image manipulation (lies, deceitful lies!) is not something only from the past, as it includes modern day images (Cover photos from Newsweek, Time, and TV Guide; modern icons such as Oprah, Katie Couric, and Martha Stewart).
My students don’t have to feel I am shining a spotlight on them as potentially gullible–these photos were aimed at a wide readership. It will be up to me to help the students realize that they can value Katie Couric and Oprah without being manipulated into putting them onto a “body image” pedestal that really isn’t them (isn’t means, in this case, that their heads were pasted onto model’s bodies for those cover shots). It will be up to the students, actually, but this should help them realize they need to look critically at EVERY image they see. Who put it there, who does it serve, is it touting a political point of view or reinforcing a powerful entity (political or corporate)…or just selling more TV Guides?
In earlier grades, I had students explore a wonderful webquest where they develop their own rubric to “rate” a website using information they researched (about authority, currency, etc.) and then they test their rubric by evaluating a pair of websites: one fake, one real. Students found the fake sights could fool some of them, some of the time…and they were not happy with that! I added additional “fake or fantastic” websites and we explored them as a group followup.
Now, I hope to help my students see how pervasive, and how easily accomplished, are “images that lie.” And that those images aren’t just aimed at fooling them–but at all of us. I’ll tell them that old saw:
Fool me once…
And I’ll mean, ME, too. I’m in there with them.