High School Teacher Showing ‘Brokeback Mountain’ In Class

by cj on September 14, 2012

Posted September 13, 2012 by Christian Post

The Illinois Family Institute is protesting the use of the films  “Brokeback Mountain” and “American Beauty” as materials for a local high school  class.

The Christian group argues that the films that Hinsdale South High School  English teacher Kristin Wimsatt is showing in her senior elective “Film as Lit”  class feature “offensive images” of immoral sexuality and violence.

“Has she, her colleagues, or her department chair discussed whether viewing  and discussing scenes of nudity, masturbation, sodomy, and adultery might  desensitize students to such images or efface natural and good feelings of  modesty? Did they discuss whether the school-sanctioned showing of films that  use egregiously obscene language might undermine school policies that prohibit  the use of such language? It’s both absurd and dishonest to imply that words and  images have no effect on the hearts and minds viewers,” the institute said in a  statement Tuesday.

According to the institute, Wimsatt justifies showing “Brokeback Mountain” – which won three Academy Awards – by saying the primary objective is to evaluate  the film from the perspective of the text as an adaptation. The 2005 film is  adapted from the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx.

“The sexual element, while provocative, is tasteful. Naturally, we will  discuss the standard literary elements of plot, theme, symbolism, etc., but  again, the primary focus is on how the film holds up to (or surpasses) the  original script,” the teacher says.

“I have often contended that when students consume films of a more graphic  nature in a safe and structured classroom environment, they have an opportunity  to process the content in a more thoughtful way, as opposed to a point in his  life when he is more likely to watch it alone or with friends and not be able to  have mature conversations about it.”

The Illinois Family Institute is calling on its supporters to express their  opposition to the class materials by contacting the school superintendent and  members of the local board of education.

It argues that literature and film teachers can “find ‘reasons’ to justify  selecting virtually any film, play, novel, or essay they want to teach.”

“After all, what text can be found that has no theme, no plot, no  characterization, no dialogue, no setting, no symbols, and no figurative  language?” the group said.

The group’s specific concern regarding “Brokeback Mountain” is that it moves  the audience “non-rationally to embrace a subversive and – dare I say – immoral  sexual ethic,” said IFI Cultural Analyst Laurie Higgins.

“One of the serious problems with this film is that it powerfully depicts a  homosexual relationship as a good thing. It uses the immense persuasive force of  narrative and imagery to depict that which is perverse as good.”

As for “American Beauty,” the 1999 film that won five Academy Awards, the  family institute believes it might cultivate “dark and prurient thoughts in  viewers.”

“Might the sexual imagery be sexually arousing to some of Wimsatt’s students?  Might the depiction of the neighbor reinforce the stereotype of conservatives as  vicious hatemongers? Are subsequent classroom discussions sufficient to mitigate  the damage done by the powerful narrative and images?”

The family institute wants supporters to speak up now to have the teacher  replace the films with ones that will challenge students “intellectually” and  respect the values of all students and parents.

“If we do nothing, the texts chosen by public teachers only get worse.”  (read more)


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