I was watching America’s Best Crew competition on MTV http://www.mtv.com/ontv/dyn/dance_crew/series.jhtml today, while I was working out. It got me thinking about the assignments some of my students handed in this week; university students – second year and up. Some were raunchy, sexually charged and angry. There was ranting and language I didn’t feel was acceptable in terms of journalistic writing.
I don’t consider myself a prude. I know how to swear. And sometimes strong language is warranted in our writing. But if I wrote an article on how women are exploited by the media, for example, I would write an article using credible sources and interviews that would give a balanced viewpoint or, ultimately, come out on one side or the other. As freelance journalists/writers that’s what we’re supposed to do, right?
But watching those dance crews I was mesmerized by their amazing moves. Yes, I did find it offensive when the women thrust their boobs and bottoms out towards the audience in a sexually provocative manner. I’m not keen on dancing that includes men or women grasping between their legs and thrusting forward. And, apparently, it’s quite acceptable to do that, according to TV, the Internet music video producers and so on.
So if I ask my students to prepare a writing assignment, am I wrong to tell them that the outcome isn’t acceptable if they follow the requirements of the assignment? If they write an article that I feel uncomfortable with, does that make it wrong?
So, back to the assignment. The students chose a magazine, of their choice (I didn’t tell them what magazines they could or couldn’t use). Rants were not warranted and sex did not need to play a key role. No one picked Playboy, but as I learned through an Internet search, Cosmo magazine has come a long way baby. This is not considered a pornographic site http://www.cosmopolitan.com/ but be prepared to be educated about the best way to turn your guy or gal on, find the of ‘best positions’ for sex and more details. The pictures don’t tell the story, but the words certainly tell us what to do.
So is it fair to tell students to “Do as I say and not as they [the media] do?”