“There’s nothing we can do about it.” This is the attitude the students at PACE University’s summer program for high schoolers had when bothered after watching an offensive commercial. This is how the youth were brought up; assuming that they can not speak back to big, law-protected companies. But then, on July 21 and July 23, The LAMP held a seminar teaching these young minds that yes, you can talk back to the media.
The LAMP’s Education Director, Alan Berry, started off the class with a number: $11,000,000,000. He asked the students what this number represented, and after many guesses they were finally informed that this number represented the total amount of money Coca-Cola spent on advertising in one year. This did not surprise the students. Coca-Cola is seen everywhere from television commercials to bus stops. Coca-Cola knew that however much they spent on advertisements they would receive tenfold in return. Advertisements help make the economy go ’round, but what happens when the advertisers offend a targeted group?
The students were shown two different commercials. The first was for Dr. Pepper Ten. The prime message of this commercial was that the drink being sold was not for women. The entire commercial was meant to seem as if the actors were in a “manly” action movie with explosions and cheap stunts. At the end they even stated that the drink was not for women. Students were shocked that they advertisers stated this so blatantly. They already knew there was sexism in the media, but didn’t realize sometimes it wasn’t as subtle as they thought.
The next commercial was promoting Toys ‘R Us. It started with a class of kindergartners on a field trip bus ride. The adults bored the kids by talking about different types of leaves and whatever else could not sustain the mind of any 5-year-old. So when they announced the fields trip was really to Toys ‘R Us, the children started screaming in excitement. After letting the children prance around the toy store and talk about their favorite toys for the next minute, Toys ‘R Us promoted the idea that toys will make your children happy. They cleverly left out the children’s short attention span in this part of the ad, and did not point out that the kids will probably get bored of the toy in a week.
The students at PACE University saw many flaws in this commercial as well and wanted to do something. The problem was they did not know what to do. The LAMP introduced a program to them called the MediaBreaker. This programs allows people to talk back to the media using critical thinking while altering the advertisement. Using MediaBreaker, one can edit parts of a commercial, insert sounds altering it and add in their own commentary showing their viewers what they disagree or agree about the ad they are reviewing. This program abides by fair use laws, making it perfectly legal to do remix the copyrighted work.
MediaBreaker allowed students to express their own opinions about certain commercials. Although there were slight problems with uploading and quality, since MediaBreaker is still in beta, the students enjoyed the program and found it useful for speaking their mind about offensive commercials.
— Jennifer Castracane
Jennifer will be a senior next year at Bayside High School, and is interning with The LAMP through the Career and Technical Education Summer Scholars program. If you’re interested in learning more about an internship with The LAMP, send us an email!
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