I imagine that you have one or two friends who regularly send you emails or links to unusual, funny, quirky, distracting information. I do, and I am grateful for the many media literacy opportunities that have arisen from these messages.
I recently received the following one from a good friend who knows I would likely blog it.
A bit of cultural news, for a welcome change.
After a two year loan to the United States,
Michelangelo’s David is being returned to Italy.
His Proud Sponsors were:
This message intrigued me because I suspect that it has many meanings, depending on who is reading it.
I received it from a slim and trim Canadian.
Might she and I use this message to re-affirm our slim and trimmy-ness?
Might it encourage us to feel smug that Americans are experiencing an epidemic of obesity, while Canadians are not?
The three companies cited are active in Canada. Should we infer that this message is a warning to us? …that we should be staying away from them, or choosing carefully from their menus?
How might I feel if I were American?
Would this seem like a fair criticism?
If I were overweight, would this message encourage me to lose weight or to just feel bad?
If I worked in the fast-food industry, would this make me feel guilty or shamed?
If I were CEO of one of these corporations, how might I respond to the message?
A good friend and colleague likes to ask, “What is missing?”
Why are there logos for these 3 companies rather than another 10 fast-food industry logos that come to mind and that might have been included?
Were these 3 selected purposefully, or were they just the first that came to mind or were easiest to find in an image search?
If I were CEO for one of the missing companies, would I feel implicated in this message or relieved that my company was excluded.
Another useful question is “What if….”
What if the creator of this message had targeted gun violence rather than obesity?
What might the second David look like to show that it had been shot several times while on exhibition in the US?
Would that message also make Canadians feel smug?
Would it motivate Americans to change their gun laws?
It is useful to play with ideas when confronted by media messages in these ways because it helps us to understand some of the underlying values messages they contain and to reflect on, and maybe re-assess, our own values.