Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Norway Women's Soccer Satire Slams Stupid SI Sexists: Learn to Use Irony to Make Haters Look Silly

When mainstream media spews ignorant views, what can you do? Well, the Women's Soccer national team from Norway decided to show just how stupid it is to assume that women can not compete in sports as compelling entertainers and dynamic athletes. They made this hilarious video (below) in response to commentary from a Sports Illustrated columnist about the Women's World Cup not being worth watching, (and going further to say all women's sports are not worth watching). The video demonstrates a classic creative tactic for dealing with dummies--just pretend all the absurd assumptions are true by dramatizing the idiocy to reveal the ignorance for what it is--and it is truly hilarious.
This video makes a merry model for media literate civic engagement that advanced teens and young adults could enjoy trying out as a way to address ignorant views on issues they care about. I recommend analyzing this video by focusing on these two questions:
  • What ignorant assumptions about women soccer players and athletes are ironically portrayed in the video?
  • What techniques does the video use to deliver the irony (discuss each joke)?
Satire often involves flawlessly portraying a respected style of communication, here an investigative news report expose', and requires characters to perform absurdity as if it were commonplace (which isn't so hard since it so often is!). There are many excellent guides on the web for composing satire (get started with this or this). After analyzing this video, I think it would be a blast to ask your learning group to make their own satirical video or skit to make the haters look silly (call the assignment: Make the Haters Look Silly).

Check out ideas for making satirical takedowns of haters after the jump, but before that, I just have to say that this flagrant sexism from Sports Illustrated isn't a huge surprise. Still, it's especially infuriating amidst the most exciting FIFA Women's World Cup yet (and this is from a die hard Michelle Akers fan who has been following since its inception in 1991). The U.S. women just found their groove tonight in an inspired win over Germany to advance to the final, and my whole household of extended family was rockin! My brother made us all jerseys with different players (mine is an Akers throwback and my two year old daughter wears Wambach!), and we have loved seeing women from all over the world leave it all on the field in dazzling displays of passion and skill. So, this next video isn't as great for media literacy development (the style is simple snarky sarcasm rather than elaborate satire), but the snark is so satisfying to see after enduring the news about mainstream media missing the boat (and worse), again. As a special treat, just for the laughs and retribution, enjoy this clip reuniting ex-SaturdayNightLive news anchors Amy Poehler and Seth Myers in a rant against ignorant attitudes about women's sports.
[AFTER THE JUMP, ideas for creating your own satirical responses to ignorant views prevalent in media and society]

To get started on making your satire, identify some issue or identity that your group cares about, which you feel the media or large groups of other people prejudge, ignorantly disparage, or spread lies about. After choosing a target, brainstorm a list of the three to five absurd, ignorant, or intolerant assumptions that haters actually make in real life. Then, create characters based on the people, about whom haters make such assumptions, to portray each assumption as if it were true. Choose a narrative frame for telling the story about those characters owning the assumptions (like news, or biography channel piece, docudrama, or a Meet the Press panel--nonfiction forms tend to work best). Work on exaggerating the assumptions and crafting the comedy with visual illustrations and re-enactments. Make sure the humor is obvious and that the irony is unmistakable--the audience should think that a) no one could actually be like that; and b) only imbeciles could actually think that about others.

Remember, irony is difficult to craft and communicate in media composition, satire is harder, and comedy is hardest. So, it is important to remind learners that this stuff is tough to do, and it is enormously helpful to build in time for groups to try out material and ideas for test audiences (small groups of other learners) through the composition process--not just at the end. This is a good practice for any media production work, but especially important in satirical comedy when you have such a clear message that you want to send by asserting the opposite.

Thanks to the Aussie pop culture blog Junkee for turning us on to this story.

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