I produce a lot of educational videos. That's what pays the bills. But there is something very educational about media even when it is not blatantly trying to be so. A prime example of this is the little extra on the Ratatouille DVD "Your Friend The Rat".
Granted, the creators of this little piece did their homework, wanted to impart facts about rats, and did their best to make it memorable. But it doesn't feel like an educational video. It doesn't feel like a textbook. This is the beauty of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Much of their programming is made interesting, engaging and provides a key emotional link that allows us to remember things for much longer than a random string of facts and figures would allow.
I got thinking about this today because I was doing the post work for a podcast on education. Media (be it text, audio, video or otherwise) allows us to make connections with what we are imbibing. Thus, we retain it longer and also make more connections.
In my case, I often make rather abstract connections, like at a party I attended a couple weeks back and said, "The only Coke bottle in the village" when the other adults started commenting on how the one trike was going to be a point of contention between the myriad of children. Ah well. I thought it was funny.
What does this mean for us as media producers? First, we can and should defend media (even electronic media) as a powerful tool for educating. Just because it isn't "Time for Friends" does not mean that a kid won't learn how to tell time.
Second, we should keep an eye out for what we are teaching those who enjoy our media. This is very much a question of ethics. Is this what we should be telling people to believe? Will this improve the life of others, or will it lead to harm? These are important questions to consider, whether you're working on a documentary, writing a blog post, or shooting a fun short. Not that all of life needs needs to be painstakingly and meticulously analyzed, but that we should remain cognizant of what we say in what we produce.
This is also important for "The Media" to consider as they berate some candidates while lauding others.
This applies to us as we consume media as well.
Your Media Production Mentor