Media Literacy meme example.

Media Literacy

Updated Apr 13, 2023 at 06:17PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 13, 2023 at 11:50AM EDT by Philipp.

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Media Literacy is a term referring to a skill that allows a person to correctly interpret media messages and reflect on them. Online, media literacy, and particularly a lack of it, has been a subject of viral debates and memes, with users on social media frequently accusing others of having low media literacy over their interpretation of books, films, video games and other media.


The term "media literacy" was coined by John Culkin, a Jesuit priest and educator who studied film and sought to teach teachers to understand the function of media in culture to help young people become better learners, in the 1960s.[1]

The modern definition of the term describes the ability to access and analyze media messages in various mediums and is understood as a set of competencies that are essential for work, life and citizenship.[2]

Online Discourse and Use in Memes

Starting in the late 2020s, media illiteracy has been increasingly brought up in online debates, often to criticize fans of certain films, video games and other media over their incorrect interpretation of its message.

On September 5th, 2020, Twitter[3] user @SorayaMcDonald made the earliest found viral joke about media literacy. The tweet (shown below) gained over 6,200 retweets and 37,700 likes in three years.

A Shady Dame From Seville @SorayaMcDonald A reboot of Schoolhouse Rock that teaches civics, media literacy, and good citizenship for the Internet Age, please someone make it 8:33 AM - Sep 5, 2020

On November 20th, 2021, Twitter[4] user @JUNIPER posted a thread about the average person having little media literacy, writing that "many people are unable to realize that you can present characters doing something bad without endorsing it." The first tweet in the thread gained over 27,600 retweets and 202,000 likes in two years (shown below).

Pr Prze Pre pudding person @JUNIPER. Nov 20, 2021 if social media has taught me anything, the average person doesn't have any media literacy at all. people just watch shows and movies and misinterpret it entirely. they watch a show with a clear message and come out with the exact opposite of the intended message 726 46 pudding person @JUNIPER 27.6K 202K pudding person @JUNIPER. Nov 20, 2021 everyday a completely serious person will make takes like “breaking bad is fascist adjacent" or "squid game is pro capitalism” and there's nothing we can do about it. the people that share these opinions are the minority of people that have these thoughts that post about them 1 949 20.4K 1:41 PM Nov 20, 2021 ₁ bull pillman @ducktales2020 Nov 20, 2021 Replying to @JUNIPER and @meowmeowmia ↑ لار ↑ this is always one that gets me. so many people are unable to realize that you can present characters doing something bad without endorsing it. not sure when this kind of baby brained thing started but its so silly to see so often more than anything they conflate Presenting Something with Agreeing With Something, but don't apply it to good guy/bad guy narratives. when everyone's bad they short circuit ...

More tweets bringing up the concept of media literacy and calling for the subject to be included in school curricula in the United States went viral in the early 2020s, with the term seeing a spike in prevalence in early 2023. For example, on February 18th, 2023, Twitter[5] user @LongMacVampyr made a tweet about people thinking a promotional video for Avengers was not staged, with the tweet gaining over 7,000 retweets and 127,000 likes in two months (shown below, left). On April 9th, Twitter[6] user @mouseabolition posted a tweet about Ryan Gosling starring as Ken in Barbie that gained over 3,400 retweets and 77,300 likes (shown below, right).

jacob @LongMacVampyr media literacy should be at the top of the agenda for any worthwhile school curriculum now ele )*++* @eleariart. Feb 17 finding out this video was staged by marvel was the most devastating thing ever actually Show this thread MARVEL STUDIOS CONFIDENTIAL DO NOT SHARE 10:21 PM. Feb 18, 2023 6.2M Views captain barbie Barbie @mouseabolition idk this take is genuinely beginning to give “lacks media literacy" to me, like do you really think that "because we're boyfren girlfren" scene would play half as well with a 20 smthn the point is clearly that Barbie and Ken are grown and still don't get the "real world". Pop Tingz @ThePopTingz. Apr 8 Ryan Gosling, 42, is being criticized on social media where many have labeled him as "too old to play Ken". : 8:00 AM - Apr 9, 2023 4.8M Views O old

Wow Cool Robot

Wow Cool Robot refers to an exploitable drawing intended to satirize people who miss the subtext of certain pieces of media. The original features a person looking at a Gundam and saying "Wow, cool robot!" while he ignores the missile flying over his head labeled "War is bad."

wow! THAT RL HAS wow!! C OOL ROBOT!!! human interaction is hard 3 wow!! cooL religious symbolism Guns are BAD wow!! C OOL ROBOT!H!

Various Examples

PRV pudding person @JUNIPER : we're at an absolute state of poor media literacy where people don't understand that a main character doesn't mean they have to be a good person Cigs @UsingCigarettes · Apr 4 This is your reminder that Walter White is a serial abuser who manipulates and threatens his wife and kills people. Show this thread 7:57 PM . Apr 5, 2023 7.6M Views ミー @PearlteaRizzy Bad guys are bad. In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet. H-------- did an entire decade of capeshit and redeemable villains reduced people's media literacy to that of 5 year olds or something? Cigs @UsingCigarettes · Apr 3 This is your reminder that Tony Soprano is misogynistic, racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic and also kills people. Show this thread 9:10 AM - Apr 5, 2023 14.3K Views Dexter @Super_Dexter Media literacy is dead. There can be no themes, no narritive, no emotion and not even the slightest hint of suspense of disbelief. Everything is just an equation to these people, where characters can only do what is optimal, not what is logical. Clark is a child in this scene. gautym @gautym Apr 28, 2022 Reminder that in Superman 1978, Clark Kent raced his father into a heart attack. It's a great scene but there's a culpability there that's never talked about. He outran a train & then goaded his father into running which resulted in his death. Show this thread 4:50 PM. Jun 4, 2022 NIEZAS :
Posted by u/[deleted] 8 months ago 17.9k What too little media literacy does to a MFer. ↓ C. I need you to understand that I just saw a tweet with 160 thousand likes basically saying "it doesn't make sense that game of thrones/dance of dragons writers include and write about misogyny for "historical accuracy" when it's literally all made up." and half the comments where basically arguing that "if you write about misogyny in a fantasy setting then you enjoy misogyny. There's no reason for misogyny to exist in a fantasy world". We are unironically this close to twitter discourse about how "Fantasy and sci fi writers who include misogyny and racism in their story are racist and misogynist because they can imagine literally any world and choose to imagine one where racism and misogyny exist". #Media literacy is dead. #Tumblr killed it and twitter is violating it's corpse. #This is what fandom did to media literacy guys. The Boys Punisher Star Wars Death Note Rick and Morty Half the fans having no media literacy One Piece Chainsaw Man Psycho-Pass Joker Fallout: New Vegas getting taken apart by people with no media literacy Ank getting mischaracterized and woobified writing a character that's morally flawed/dubious

Search Interest

External References

[1] Center for Media Literacy – John Culkin, SJ: The Man Who Invented Media Literacy: 1928-1993

[2] Wikipedia – Media literacy

[3] Twitter – @SorayaMcDonald

[4] Twitter – @JUNlPER

[5] Twitter – @LongMacVampyr

[6] Twitter – @mouseabolition

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