Quote about Critique

“Critique is never personal, it’s all about the work.”

Robert Richardson, Graphic Communications at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

June 28, 2012 


Prevention: the poster child for anti-bullying efforts in America’s schools

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...
Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In school I was bullied so much for being smart or just knowing answers … that I had to switch out [of] classes several times,” said Claudia Garcia, a 2011 graduate of South Miami Senior High in Miami who said she had been bullied since middle school. “Once the teacher sided with the students who were trying to make me help them cheat,” she added.

While much attention has been given to alleviating active bullying, the question of how to prevent it from happening in the first place remains.

Stan Davis, an educational consultant for greatschools.org, explains that clearly worded rules and policies defining expected student behavior are one of the keys to building a bully-free school, such as, “No teasing. Teasing is name-calling, starting rumors, gestures, or other actions that are likely to make students feel bad about themselves.”

But on the other spectrum of Davis are some experts, teachers and school officials say “bullying policies are never as important as what actually happens in school,” according to a Minnesota Public Radio article by Tom Weber, published in May 2011 after a six-month investigation on bullying in Minnesota schools.

The investigation revealed that many schools are indeed taking action – having students make posters attacking bullying and holding student- and adult-led assemblies.

But even these efforts may not prove effective.

Garcia, who is now a student at Miami Dade College, said, “What schools can do is pay more attention, not ‘heighten’ security because that never works, but just be more aware of what happens outside like in the field and cafeteria.” Faculty in particular need to actually listen to students’ complaints instead of shrugging them off, insisting that they’ll “handle” it. She explained that faculty do not spend much time talking about bullying in a serious manner, opting instead for “hip” pep rallies to glorify the subject.

Commenting on the problem of cyberbullying, Garcia said, “Kids are so private these days and parents refuse to think of their Billy as nothing less of an angel. As parents they have a right to question their Internet history and stuff.”

She said prevention starts at home. “If you’re taught from an early age that making others feel inferior is wrong then it will most likely sink in,” she said.

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Television v. Newspaper

I’m currently participating in the Dow Jones/NBC Universal Multimedia Journalism Workshop for Summer

English: P icon with a newspaper
English: P icon with a newspaper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2012 at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, FL.

Isn’t that a mouthful.

Anyhoo, yesterday we visited a local TV news station (WCTV Channel 6 Eyewitness News, the Tallahassee CBS affiliate) in addition to the local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat.

When speaking with the executive editor and one of the paper’s reporters, I asked them both whether there’s greater requirement of writing skill necessary for newspaper work than television work.

Initially their reply was little more than a euphemism: they explained that writing is necessary for both fields and that it’s equally important despite the perception that television is seen as more of a technical art.

But later on, they finally hinted at the fact that newspaper writing is a different game.

Writing articles is a different game than writing scripts for TV indeed, namely because those scripts serve news reports a maximum of about 2 minutes in duration, whereas news articles are longer in length due to inclusion of additional detail.

And you know what you need to put in additional detail in a story? Two things: the research and reporting skills necessary to get that additional info in the first place, as well as the writing skill necessary to put all that info on paper.

See because writing an article as long as newspaper features go is like constructing a long bridge. The longer you make it, the more money you’ll have to spend on getting the additional metal necessary, the more hours you’ll spend building it.

Same goes for newspaper writing.

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“Antwone Fisher” / Difficult Situations


Film poster for Antwone Fisher
Film poster for Antwone Fisher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Film poster for Antwone Fisher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a difficult situation when a child‘s caretaker is its foremost bully. Because unless malnourishment or exile from living quarters is the case, at the end of the day, however disrespected or belittled, that adult gives the child a home and a meal everyday. It’s not a situation you can run away from easily because it’s not like you have another place to go. And if you do, it’s likely less hospitable than the one the child is presently in.

So it’s a difficult situation, is what it is. Of course, the effect of such an upbringing on a child is anything but positive.

But Antwone Fisher, a 2002 film, shows that rugged characters can defy these odds and grow to become respectable men and women that carry on day-to-day with these harrowing tales kept secret from the public eye.

It’s remarkable to be able to see someone surpass themselves in such a way, but not with regards to their achievements despite trauma; instead, more so their developed ability to speak, albeit uncomfortably, of their childhood experiences.

That kind of development occurs in Antwone Fisher and – cinematographical review aside – it’s incredible to see it on film. The movie definitely wanted to and did concentrate on the actions and thought processes of Antwone and the reactions of his military shrink. They form a duo of sorts that communicates the arduous nature of Antwone’s self-discovery immaculately and emotionally.

It’s truly a treat to watch. If only Antwone’s story wouldn’t have been true.

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"I guess movie critics are heartless souls"

Réalisation d'un film
Réalisation d’un film (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To review movies takes skill, one that I feel like I’m developing, but that I definitely don’t have fully under my wing yet.

I read such witty, sarcastic, and wry reviews of films that receive much lower scores than I thought they’d receive. This makes me feel like I am naive when it comes to criticizing movies, like I award positive words to films that apparently don’t deserve it.

That characteristic of movie reviews has made me become such a pessimist when I watch a movie I have to review. I go in looking for flaws as opposed to the looking for what’s been done right.

But the fact that I have been impressed by apparently half-baked efforts of filmmaking is a testament to not just my naivete but also a nod to the human impact of successful editing. Often, the scenes that create the most emotion in a film’s viewers do not feature award-winning dialogue or incredible camera work. Rather, they’re simple shots of an enamoring actor’s solemn face, often littered with tears (or about to be), set to an overdramatic, preferably instrumental music track. These elements combine to produce lasting dramatic impact on the human viewer, somehow.

So when you watch a movie and you get so easily taken aback by such scenes, it’s no wonder I always feel so right about the reaction I write to a movie. But I guess movie critics are heartless souls.

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