An earlier post by Melissa Fabello got me thinking about another genre which often goes overlooked in sexuality education. In our CHSS 626 class we've seen some media clips from both television shows and other sources, but one that has recently captured my imagination is a re-enactment documentary.
OK, now don't go where I went when you hear the term re-enactors. I immediately thought of those guys who dress up in military uniforms and re-enact the Civil War and spend the weekend on mock battlefields. That's something else and not my cup of tea at all. What I'm talking about is something that the Media Education Foundation (MEF) has successfully done to contribute to our sexuality libraries. About 10 years ago, the director of the MEF was browsing in (a now-defunct) independent bookstore near Amherst College killing some time. He came upon a book called Flirting With Danger, a social psychology book written by a professor of psychology, Lynn Phillips. It's a great book about power and choice in heterosexual women's relationships and it's about dating, sex, and violence.
We know these kinds of books. We know them as the kinds of books we read as students of human sexuality. They're great resources, they contain amazing and heartfelt stories, but they're often difficult for the "average" reader to pick up and they don't get on those big sale tables at large bookstores. But still, the MEF director called the writer and asked her if she'd ever be interested in making a documentary of her book. The writer, Lynn Phillips, had just landed a job at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a 10-year long project began. Turns out they both were teaching in the same department. Talk about fortuitous coincidences.
To make the book come alive as a film, they hired young, college age women to re-enact some of the words that Lynn's interviewees had spoken during her interviews with them. I saw the film a few weeks ago and the words came alive. The actors were so close in age to the actual women in the book that if felt as if I was hearing the actual women themselves. Here's a short clip where you can see the effect of their work.
What is your take on this as a teaching tool? The entire film is just under an hour, which makes it fairly useful for most college courses. High school teachers would have to show it in segments. What do you think?