PuppySwap – The Puppy Subscription Service

This clever video is a great example of “selling the problem” — and it’s horrifying.  People are abandoning dogs as puppies outgrow their cute stage and become a nuisance… so let’s create “PuppySwap”.  The viewer is left to wonder where is the man taking the older dog?  What’s going to happen to the dog?

This could lead to some great critical thinking.  Possible prompts:

1. At some point did you start to doubt the authenticity of the ad?

2. Why do we consider the idea for this service to be morally unacceptable? Do dogs have rights?

3. How big a problem is pet abandonment? How could we find accurate information about this issue?

It might be mean, but I’d be inclined to pause the video just before the title comes up at the end and ask the students to react and comment prior to revealing the true purpose of the ad.

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Character Analysis – Introvert Island

Gemma Correll’s The Introvert’s Heart

Novel discussion groups can become formulaic without the injection of new material to spark interesting debate. This terrific graphic by Gemma Correll provides excellent fodder for character analysis. Use the graphic as a standalone discussion starter or consider using it alongside Susan Cain’s excellent TED Talk “The Power of Introverts“.
This assignment page could be used as a follow-up task:  Character Analysis – The Power of Introverts

Getting Lost: "The Last Days of Peter Bergmann"

What does it mean to get lost in our social media saturated, closed circuit tv monitored, and Googlable world? This poor man, whose name wasn’t really Peter Bergmann, decided to lose himself in a small Irish town. His final days are documented in this haunting short film:

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The Last Days of Peter Bergmann Trailer from Fastnet Films on Vimeo.

The full 19 minute long film can be watcher here at Aeon Video: The Last Days of Peter Bergmann.
The film explores how unsettling we find the idea of a lack of identify, and deliberate efforts of a man to leave this world anonymously. Randall Sullivan’s article from WIRED tells the fascinating story of a modern bounty hunter: “The World’s Best Bounty Hunter is 4’11” – Here’s How She Hunts” — in it we follow the hunt for criminals trying desperately to stay off the grid and out of prison. These are people who would love to gain the anonymity of Peter Bergmann. Contrast these present day stories with the heartbreaking documentary “No Place on Earth” and the efforts of a group of Ukrainian Jews fleeting nazi troops and disappearing into a cave for over a year.

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NO PLACE ON EARTH TRAILER YOUTUBE 5D from Janet Tobias on Vimeo.

Each of these texts examines how deeply rooted in our societies we are and how difficult it is for individuals to vanish.

Additional resources:  Interview with Ciaran Cassidy (writer/director of “The Last Days of Peter Bergmann”)

MTV’s Teen Mom Is Good For You?

Few things push my moral outrage button harder than Keeping Up With the Kardashians or The Bachelor or 16 and Pregnant. It’s so satisfying to pontificate about these exploitive messes, while quite enjoying other reality tv programs such as Dirty Jobs or Ace of Cakes.
Now I’m faced with this article from the Aspen Journal of Ideas that declares that Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant have been causally linked to declines in teen pregnancies in the US. Should educators be showing episodes of Teen Moms in health classes?

This assignment tasks students with reading the Teen Moms article and to think about the history of reality tv programs and also to consider how they celebrate / exploit the skills and behaviours of their stars.

Another useful Reality TV reference:

Tiki-Toki – Timeline of Reality TV