Films and Shorts


  • How is Jurassic Park A Commentary on Capitalism? | PBS Idea Channel

    It doesn't matter if it was intended or not: the film Jurassic Park (as does its source book) accurately illustrates investment and risk, money as motivation, negligent management of capital, and profit as the ultimate end goal. But can anything in our culture avoid this metaphor of capitalism? By stepping back and looking at all media in our culture, we can see echoes of the capitalism theme everywhere.

    Grades: 9-12
  • How is Seeing Enders Game a Political Action? | PBS Idea Channel

    The science fiction novel Ender's Game has been a part of the sci-fi canon for the past 30+ years and with its huge new blockbuster movie release, it's bigger than ever. But its author, Orson Scott Card, has inspired more debate than the novel itself. Card has been labeled homophobic, racist, and a handful of other distasteful things, and the opinions held by Card have created a great deal of anger and opposition. Now that Ender's Game has been made into a movie, this leads to a big question: should you see it? Does buying a ticket to a film equal an endorsement of the creator's ideas? Or, should you join the bandwagon of boycotts against the film? Should you avoid it based on your moral beliefs? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is The LEGO Movie Anti-Copyright? | PBS Idea Channel

    "Everything is awesome" in the LEGO' movie, except when "Lord Business" gets in the way and wants to control everything and to stifle creativity! Emmet, Wyldstyle, Batman, and others in the movie seem completely opposed to the imposition of any sort of structure that dictates what will be built and how. To us at Idea Channel, this sounds very similar to discussions around copyright law and intellectual property (IP). Are master builders just artists who make good use of the public domain? Can the LEGO movie advocate for open culture even if LEGO itself is historically opposed to it? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • What Does Too Many Cooks Say About the Meaning of Life? | PBS Idea Channel

    Adult Swim's Too Many Cooks is awesome, bizarre, and like so many other things on the internet, absurd. The video is perfectly suited for internet obsession, because the internet loves meaningless and irrational content. So, how does this meaningless video connect to Sisyphus, Albert Camus, and Alex from Target? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Why Are There So Many Super Hero Movies? | PBS Idea Channel

    The past fifteen years have produced a plethora of superhero films. It's hard to even remember a time before Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America dominated the summer box office. So, are movie studios just lazy and out of ideas? Or is something else going on? Superheroes are authority figures who put their world in order. They are also the products of the culture from which they originate. So what does it say about our cultural state of affairs that we willingly consume six or more superhero flicks a year? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Why Were People & Critics So Infatuated With Frozen? | PBS Idea Channel

    There isn't much to say about Frozen that hasn't already been said, so we're going to talk about the fact that so much has been said about Frozen. People love analyzing and critiquing this movie. It has inspired dozens of think-pieces, covering everything from its portrayal of gender roles, to cultural appropriation, to the definition of true love. Frozen, and its complexity, has touched something in viewers. Could it be its morphing of traditional fairy tale tropes?

    Grades: 9-12
  • Will Kickstarter Replace Hollywood? | PBS Idea Channel

    You may have heard about the recent overwhelming success of the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, or you might have contributed yourself. This is a big moment for fan communities, with Kickstarter giving them the opportunity to challenge the closed gates of the Hollywood system. Although its funding is nowhere near the amount Hollywood invests in moviemaking each year, crowdfunding is a much better indicator of what the audience wants to see, the one area in which Hollywood has failed in time and time again.

    Grades: 9-12

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