In the first article of this series, I introduced the strategy called “Media Mindfulness” and its purpose to help people of faith bring their values to the media choices they make. You can read that article here. Media Mindfulness is an inquiry-based strategy – asking questions of a media text to get at the meaning of the text and then to decide how to respond as believers. This article will look at the first question of the Media Mindfulness strategy: What is going on?
In order to delve into the message a media text presents us, we first need to ask what’s going on. What am I seeing? What am I hearing, playing, or reading? What story is being told? Who is involved? How are they behaving?
In this first question of the strategy we simply aim to become aware of the media text itself, the story it’s telling and the way it tells the story. Say, for example, that I’m watching an episode of my favorite television show. I ask what’s going on. Since I tend to like the shows that solve mysteries, usually what’s going on is that there is some problem or crime to solve and the characters work really hard, usually under time constraints (since that makes the show more intense), to fix some problem that would have serious consequences or to catch the bad guy and see that justice is done. What’s going on also involves how the characters do what they do. Are they competent crime solvers? Are they likeable as characters? What kind of characteristics do they show? Question number one is that simple: what’s going on? At this point in the strategy we only ask what. It’s later that we begin asking why.
Because question one is fairly straightforward, that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. The answers to the questions posed in “what is going on?” all contribute to providing the basic information we need in order go deeper into the media text with the second question of the Media Mindfulness strategy: What is really going on? Question number two will be the topic of the next article so stay tuned.