… but sometimes you luck out and a couple of things that can be made work work show up.
One of my students works at the library here, and she helped me by explaining that, no, visitors to the library can’t browse what’s on the shelves directly. The shelving is too narrow, and people just can’t fit in there. Now, if the computer system could output catalog lists that were easily human readable — database output that could be scanned in a single “page” instead of short titles (mostly the Korean titles) hyperlinked to summaries (and that’s where the original titles often are), then this wouldn’t be a problem, but using the interface in the library itself, this is impossible.
But, okay, I was in the library already, so I just did a blank keyword search on all DVDs, and then klunked my way through the full catalog of about 450 items one by one, skipping those that looked unlikely. On the theme of “nerds” and social hierarchies in high school, I did manage at least to find one DVD of some use: “American Graffiti”, which is a film that is full of interesting, if dated, content related to this. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, though, so I think I need to watch it one more time to find the most pertinent scenes.
Unfortunately, I failed to get a copy of the film I really wanted — at least, on DVD. The film I am after is The Lord of the Flies, and it doesn’t matter which version, though the modern one would probably be better for these students, as the audio would be better. I shall have to do a search online to see if it’s been released in Korea, and whether it’s gettable or not… since, to me, it’s almost the perfect description of the fate of the “nerd” in high school, and a kind of emblematization of the kinds of social hierarchies children (and the adults they become) almost by instinct set up for themselves.
Of course, if anyone in-country has a copy and wants to loan it to me, let me know. I’d be willing to foot the bill in terms of shipping and so on.
Oh, and the other DVD I picked up is My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which is a wonderful film for teaching language and culture. It’s so much more real than a lot of romances, and so I think it’s also ideal in terms of films worth comparing to the mainstream, glamorized, romanticized sludge that’s so much more available. But, of course, the risk is that this movie has been used in some other class that these students of mine passed through sometime in the last few years. But ah well, what can you do?
Unfortunately, the library does not have Lost or CSI, but was thinking of picking up a copy of the former for myself, and I have one series of the latter. And maybe I can work in a little Dead Like Me and Six Feet Under along the way, see what they think of those shows. I think those two latter programs are especially full of interesting scenes along two lines: unusual workplaces, and less-than-perfect family relationships.