Torrego-Gonzalez and Gutierrez-Martin’s research indicates there is a massive ground yet to be covered for critical media education in younger generations. “Watching and Tweeting: Youngsters’ Responses to Media Representations of Resistance” sampled youth audiences’ Twitter response to two films loaded with political implications—“V for Vendetta” and “The Hunger Games”. The finding is rather disheartening. The sampled tweets show that many youth audiences only stop at expressing their preference of the film or descriptions of plot details, rather than engaging in serious, in-depth political reflection intended by the films.

Social media can be a powerful tool with its ability to reach and mobilize incredibly large populations. Its transformative power was witnessed in the Arab Spring movements. In this case, however, its power to strike up serious political conversations as a second screen media seems to be limited. Social media can be a powerful tool to reflect and educate, but few seems to know how to harness it.

Some scholars like Henry Jenkins, as mentioned in the article, view digital cultures in a positive light. In Jenkin’s theory of Convergence Culture, it is theorized that the emergence of participatory culture and collective intelligence, which is central to Gee’s idea of “affinity spaces,” will grant media users a new form of media power. It is true that Web 2.0 users are given a voice, but the research finding reveals the potential of the voice is yet to be realized.

Indeed, many factors can contribute to this outcome, including the nature of Twitter as a social media platform as well as the individual film’s presentation itself; but as media scholars, what can be done to change this scene is to push for more substantial media education. Providing guidance to youths in how to critically engage such films not only will increase their appreciation of the media, but what is more important is the construction of a far-reaching public sphere that is well-informed and politically aware. With this goal in mind, hopefully media education can inspire younger generations to make better use of the new-found media power with social media.

Reference:

Torrego-Gonzalez and Gutierrez-Martin. “Watching and Tweeting: Youngsters’ Responses to Media Representations of Resistance.” Comunicar 47 (2016).

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