I was up until 4am this morning working on gradesheets and last-minute grading of a very leniently-graded set of creative assignments. Some of the stuff my Media English students did was really, well, as Lime put it, “Brilliant!” I wish I could post them online — I planned to do it on my class website, but I would need to get the files compressed much smaller than they are now. I’ll look into that later, and if I do, I’ll link to them from here.
The variety was stunning:
- a silly parody of Saving Private Ryan with animal soldiers and tons of clever puns and one liners, especially the repeated line, “Kill him. What’s your name?”
- a traditional-Korean storybook retelling of the film The Host (괴물) as a cautionary tale against mistreatment of wild animals for an audience of 5-year-olds
- a retelling of the “The Cloud Dream of the Nine” as the story of a student’s hunt for love on campus (told in the same narration-and-still-pictures style as Chris Marker’s La Jetée)
- a sort-of coherent philosophic discourse on the value of human life, moral responsibility, and lifeboat ethics conceived as a radio drama featuring a response from an imaginary character who did not appear in the lifeboat in that scene in Titanic after the sinking where the one fellow argues against rowing back to pick up more people
- a Chinese folktale about a maiden who fell in love with a farmer, retold straight in comic book form
- L for Liberty, a clever lesbian coming-out story that at once both lampooned the use of “romance” in TV commercials, and addressed the way people regard homosexuality in Korea, with actual interviews with people on their thoughts on the subject thrown in, with, as a bonus, the title using the same kind of ambiguity as the title of the book/film we studied in class, V for Vendetta
- an apparently hilarious cover version of a Korean children’s song as a passionate ballad (the student would have done a little better if she’d used an English-language pop song, and that did affect her grade, but it was a dreadfully clever cover of the song)
- a faux-documentary about the hunt for a Supergirl who hangs out a Homeplus/TESCO helping complete strangers, and who turns out to be a regular college girl with no super-powers beyond an ardent desire to help other people
- a comic book which retold the story of Noah’s Ark in three different ways: Noah as merman; Noah in abstract-impressionist crayon art; and Noah as a builder of a flying saucer and the first interstellar colonial leader (the latter with amazing art to boot)
- an environmentalist retelling of The Host (괴물) warning people to not litter and pollute Korea or the results will come back to haunt you (in the form of a supposedly horrific monster that really looks like a woman in a dark catsuit, and who turns out to be a victim, not a bad-guy, and who cleans up the trash that others leave on the ground by the river)
- a radio play retelling the famous Korean short story “A Lucky Day” by Hyun Chin-gon
- a bizarre story adapted from two Korean pop songs — the way toys and rides at Disney spin off movie franchises — about a tomcat and Tarzan meeting and comforting one another about their failures in love, and going off to a desert island to live happily together (sorry, no links for the songs!)
I don’t know why everyone doesn’t give final projects of this kind! For the record, Lime’s favorite was the children’s storybook, and mine was the one with the animal soldiers… but almost everything submitted was really quite brilliant. The only clanger was one “radio play” that was your standard Freshman Conversation textbook self-introduction monologue narrated dispassionately over a Moby song. Other than that, they were all fun. I think next time, I’m just going to focus the whole course on student-produced media, or, as students are all calling it now, UCC (User-Created Content). A few weeks for radio plays, a few weeks for a commercial, a few weeks for a children’s book or comic book, a month for a video drama… sounds like fun.
Sure beats the stacks of essays I graded for the days and days preceding. Anywa, my grades are all submitted, and now I just have to swat aside the emails begging me for higher grades. (I actually got one, no more than 30 minutes after the grades were entered into the system. I think I may just write up a form email for anyone who isn’t inquring about a possible grading error:
It’s unfortunate that your grade is not as high as you would like. However, I assure you that it is exactly the grade you earned. If you need higher grades to remain in school/receive a scholarship/win travel-study grants, I suggest a little harder work during the semester. I will not be adjusting your grade, but perhaps one of your other professors might be willing to adjust your grade in their class.
Have a good summer!
Hmm. I think that might be the form letter right there!