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Movie Mom

What Kids Learn from ‘Silly’ Media

posted by Nell Minow

FlowTV, the always-interesting scholarly online publication about media, has a thoughtful article by Aaron Delwiche of Trinity University called “‘What we me worry?’ What the new media literacy movement can learn from Mad Magazine and Wacky Packages.”What-me-worry-715605.jpg
Delwiche makes some good points about the legitimacy of video games as a subject for serious cultural and cognitive study and as a form of media that can be on a par with books, music, and movies. But I thought the more interesting part of the article was his discussion of Wacky Packages (the 1980’s trading cards with gross-out parodies of consumer products) and Mad Magazine and the way that the inherently rude and subversive nature of humor helps children begin to question assumptions, think more actively and creatively, and want to learn more about the world so that they can understand the jokes.

As we revamp the media literacy curriculum for the 21st century, Mad Magazine and Wacky Packages have something to teach us about the importance of humor, the value of simplicity, and — above all else — the importance of questioning the man behind the curtain.

  • jestrfyl

    I saw an article recently on the importance of sarcasm to human development. I think you not only have to be aware of your culture, you have to be able to internalize and then create your own comments in order to appreciat the humor of Mad & Wacky Packages. A fair degree of literacy and linguistic competance is critical to “getting” all that the writers offer. Usually the most sarcastic kids are also the most aware consumers and able critics of the media.

  • jestrfyl

    further thought – at one time we had not only Mad, but also Cracked and one other (I forget the name – *sigh* – age), as well as national Lampoon. Now we have only Mad and it is not anywhere nearly as good as it was (*sigh* age).

  • jestrfyl

    OK, my computer glitched and I scrambled a minute. Now, where was I – O’ yeah, cue the rant…
    WE NEED A NATIONAL HUMOR MAGAZINE! I don’t know how we made it for the last 7 years and too many months without one. If the actors et al. go out on strike (not again!) there may be pelnty of writers trying to score a few bucks. SO who is with me?! Are we ready to do this thing? LET’S GO!!!

  • Christian Toto

    Some of my fondest childhood memories are tied to Mad Magazine and Wacky Packages (and the other humor magazine alluded to before me was likely Crazy). I learned to draw, in part, by copying the great Mad artists like Don Martin.
    Who knew I was teaching myself to be a seasoned media consumer!

  • Charm

    Thanks to growing up with Mad, Cracked, and National Lampoon (all of the formentioned was of course when they had the good writing), I have a well developed sense of humour – which is a curse when it comes to watching this generation’s SNL, and trying to find a comedy movie to see at the theatres. It seems that all there is out there today is toilet jokes and crass sexual humour. That’s why I took the loss of George Carlin so hard this week. We are being overwhelmed by Will Ferrells and Adam Sandlers and Mike Myers, and there are just not enough George Carlins out there.
    Jestrfyl, I hear you, and I agree, but where are we going to find the writers? Anyone who writes anything good has had to teach themselves to write pablum for the masses to earn a living.

  • jestrfyl

    Charm,
    So we spoon through the pablum and seek out the lumps. It is there in the good gooey stuff that the comedy writers emerge. Actually, many campuses have good comedy writers (that is where Lampoon got its start). Even high schools have some good folks thinking in peculiar ways. The real trick is to find competant editors who get the concept. Sadly, I cannot “Andy Hardy” this project, but I will do what I can with what I’ve got for someone who is willing to try. Surely the folks at at “Punch” are willing to outsource some of their writers!

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