Screen Nightmares and Media Literacy: Video, Television and Violence

By Karen Ritzenhoff.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Different independent filmmakers have foreseen the use of new media technologies as challenges to interpersonal communication. Michael Haneke, the German-Austrian director who won the prestigious “Palme d’Or” at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival has used media for twenty years in his films as social commentary about the increased violence in modern families. This paper highlights the work of Michael Haneke as well as chosen movies by the Canadian director David Cronenberg, the American director Gore Verbinski and the Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar who have dealt with the accessibility of video technology to amateurs to produce messages of violence. These directors concentrate on the use of analogue video and witness the shift to digital recording. They employ the genre of horror films, veritable “Screen Nightmares,” to shape their messages of social criticism. The innovative work by Nicholas Rombes who published “Cinema in the Digital Age” (2009) will be used to explain how new technology and the moving image redefine film theory in a digital age. Analyzing the work of these four directors allows instructors of film studies to instill a better understanding about the relevance of the new media in everyday life in their students. Therefore, teaching films that include the use of video technology helps to re-enforce an understanding of how media work, ultimately resulting in better media literacy skills and changed pedagogical uses of video. This paper is part of a larger research project on television, video and violence in independent films.

Keywords: Film Studies, Analogue versus Digital Video, Violence and Media Consumption, Educational Pedagogy, Media Literacy, Critical Thinking Skills, New Media Technologies

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.7-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.886MB).

Dr. Karen Ritzenhoff

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut, USA

Dr. Karen Ritzenhoff teaches film studies, television production and visual communication as an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Central Connecticut State University. She is also affiliated with the program on women, gender and sexuality studies as well as the minor in cinema studies. She recently co-edited a volume on “Sex and Sexuality in a Feminist World” (2009) and completed a manuscript in German on “Screen Nightmares” to be published in fall 2009. Ritzenhoff is the founder and organizer of a biennial “women and film” festival. She is also coordinator of a “University-Museum-Community” (UMC) New Britain Collaborative that brings academics and community members together at the New Britain Museum of American Art. She has presented her work at a Common Ground conference before.