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+ A Discussion on THE WEST WING and BORGEN as Media Resources Using Prime-Time Fiction to Teach Politics in the Classroom Maria Cervera (Plano a Plano,

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1 + A Discussion on THE WEST WING and BORGEN as Media Resources Using Prime-Time Fiction to Teach Politics in the Classroom Maria Cervera (Plano a Plano, Spain)

2 + I thought it was very interesting that in our self-sufficient western democracies, we don't want to bother with defending democracy. Perhaps we don't even vote. And yet when we [dont] have democracy, we're willing to die for it. And that is an interesting dilemma; how can we stand up for democracy when so many are so cynical about it? That was perhaps the very beginning of Borgen for me. Adam Price, creator of Borgen

3 + Introduction Media, Politics and Education Talking politics at school proofs a difficult matter: indoctrination, accusations of partisanism However a key educational point specially for students close to voting age. Case Study Spain: Passivism and lack of participation, suspicion of corruption, crisis of ideas, political fight over Civics subject

4 + Voting survey June 2013 in Spain among year-olds

5 + EU level survey among 15 to 30-year-olds from different social and demographic groups Source: Flash Eurobarometer 375 – TNS Political & Social. European Youth: Participation in Democratic Life. May 2013

6 + Introduction Media, Politics and Education FICTION Fiction characters are easier to relate to and analyze than real- life people. BUT: students need to learn to identify drama constructions (Media Literacy)

7 + Introduction Media, Politics and Education Why these shows? Influence between media and politics is cause of debate. Politics frequently portrayed as a field of corruption (House of Cards, Crematorio) BUT both The West Wing and Borgen base on the premise that there are some politicians who really care. Politics becomes an aspirational occupation Goal: Helping students close to voting age understand democratic institutions and develop their own political mindset

8 + Case Study Making Politics Popular

9 + Case Study Making Politics Popular US. NBC Winner of many Emmy Awards. Great Ratings success. Created by Aaron Sorkin Made Americans believe they could trust their politicians again Follows the members of a newly formed Democrat government staff through their 8 years in the White House. Case-of-the-day structure plus season arc. Ensemble cast Portrays the (Democrat) White House Staff as engaged, over-prepared, workaholic, but lovable people who only have the peoples best interest in mind

10 + Deals with the most important events on the US political calendar cycle (caucus, elections, voting,…) Although liberal idearium is evident, most Democrats and (some) Republicans are seen through a positive light. The character of President Barlett evolves from a distant, father-like figure to a more present one, never losing the halo of greatness traditionally connected with this figure in the American imaginarium. Person-centered vision of politics.

11 + Case Study Regenerating a Political Utopia

12 + Case Study Regenerating a Political Utopia Denmark. DR Has achieved international acclaim in recent years. Very popular in the UK (BBC), being considered for US remake, sold to over 75 countries. Created by Adam Price Premise reflects the ideal of starting an alternative government out of the established parties (Season 1) and evolves towards the idealistic foundation of a new party (Season 3). Case-of-the-day structure plus season arc. Follows hero Birgitte Nyborg

13 + Portrait of the government staff more diverse: coalitions, balance of power, counselors, with different motivations. More negative characters Media and politics have more interaction than on The West Wing, with characters moving between the worlds Nyborg is a human President with no absolute power. She evolves and completes a classic heros journey

14 + Practical Tools Possibilities in the Classroom Use episodes (beware of attention span) or clips to showcase topics. Institutions, separation of powers, relationship media and politics, European/International policies... How is USA/Denmark similar/different to our local system? Debates: Women in power, the power of media, pros and cons of coalitions, family and work life, international influence of US politics…

15 + Practical Tools Possibilities in the Classroom Media Literacy: How are characters and situations portrayed? How do creators make the audience care/despise the characters? What is the role of the younger characters in these shows? How are they portrayed? Discuss use of casting, light, music, wardrobe and other filmic elements beyond the script.

16 + Practical Tools Actor Ole Thestrup characterized as Svend Åge Saltum, ultra-conservative Freedom Party leader and swine farmer How do creators make audiences care/despise the characters? Pilou Asbæ plays smart spin doctor Kasper Juuls

17 + Practical Tools Analysis: How are the younger characters portrayed?

18 + Practical Tools Analyzing a sequence: Birgitte Nyborgs Candidate Speech

19 + Practical Tools Analyzing a sequence: Birgitte Nyborgs Speech on Foreign Aid

20 + Practical Tools Analyzing a sequence: Josh Lymans explanation of 9/11

21 + Reality vs Fiction: use real-life clips and compare them to clips from the shows. Debate: do journalistic media construct realities? Role-Playing: Be in the shoes of one of the characters and write an essay/speech from this point of view; debate in class. Local adaptation: Rewrite scenes (and dub them?) changing the background to their own country. Practical Tools Possibilities in the Classroom

22 + Selected Resources The West Wing. NBC Borgen. DR Flash Eurobarometer 375 – TNS Political & Social. European Youth: Participation in Democratic Life. May 2013 Journell, W.; Buchanan, L. B.: Making Politics Palatable: Using Television Drama in High School Civics and Government Classes. Social Studies., Vol. 103 Issue 1, Jan/Feb 2012 Beavers, S.L.: The West Wing as a Pedagogical Tool. Political Science & Politics. Jun Richardson, K.; Corner, J.: Assessing Televisions Political Dramas. Sociology Compass, Vol. 6, Issue 12, December 2012 Jeffries, S: Borgen creator Adam Price on what's next for Birgitte Nyborg in the show's third and final series. The Guardian, 14 Nov 2013 Kegel, S.: Borgen: Wir tun Dinge, die uns nicht gefallen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21 Nov 2012 (in German) Berry, R.: They're Remaking Borgen in America? Now I Do Need to Suspend My Disbelief, The Huffington Post UK, 31 Jan 2012 Episode Guides: and tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Bo rgen tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Bo rgen tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Th eWestWing?from=Main.TheWestWing tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Th eWestWing?from=Main.TheWestWing Wikipedia, IMdB, YouTube, Google Search

23 + Thank you for your attention! Any thoughts?

24 +


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