Applied Critical Theory Analysis Assignment

Applied Critical Theory Analysis Assignment


As a culminating exercise in Reading Media Critically, you will use concepts studied in class this semester to analyze a specific film from the list below. In addition to a traditional academic paper option, the final version of this assignment can take one of a few other forms. Regardless of the specific final version of the assignment you choose, you will still need to make sure to satisfy the core objectives of the assignment. This assignment is due by 11:59pm, Dec. 6, 2020.

Initial Setup

Choose one concept from each of these two groupings for a total of two concepts:

Group 1:
racial triangulation
model minority myth
white racial frame
wild tongue
dominant gaze
oppositional gaze
Group 2:
the culture industry
commodity fetishism
plastic representation
free labor

Choose a film from the list below:
Selena (Gregory Nava, 1997)
Better Luck Tomorrow (Justin Lim, 2002)
Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2005)
The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006)
Sleep Dealer (Alex Rivera, 2008)
The Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola, 2013)
Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-Ho, 2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
The Intern (Nancy Meyers, 2015)
Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria, 2019)
Use the two chosen concepts to analyze how the selected film communicates meaning in relation to cultural beliefs, ideas, myths, discourses, and ideologies.


Explain the two concepts you have selected in a clear manner to an audience who is unfamiliar with them. You should refer to the assigned readings as well as the relevant videos from class slides when appropriate, but do not quote from them directly at length. The aim of the assignment is for you to engage complex concepts in your own words. Paraphrase and summarize carefully. How would you explain them to a smart friend who has never taken a media criticism class before? Provide examples to help explain the concepts themselves. Be sure to cite sources appropriately.
Develop a thesis or central argument that you support with specific examples from the chosen film. Analyze the ideas being conveyed in the film, how these ideas are presented, and/or how these ideas help unpack the conceptual richness of the film. This will include close reading of select sequences and analyzing the content, form, aesthetics, and social context to support your argument. If relevant, you should also consider the film’s context of production: is it an indie feature or part of the legacy industries?
Finally, illustrate how the messages conveyed in the film relate to the concepts you previously explained. Does the film exemplify the concepts, or does the film challenge them? How does understanding these concepts help audiences critically engage the messages of the chosen film? Rather than simply yes/no or good/bad distinctions, integrate the discussion of theoretical concepts and the film into nuanced and precise analysis about how the film advances a particular way of thinking about the world.

Final Submission and Specifications

The final version of this assignment is due by 11:59PM on Sunday, 6 December 2020.

  1. Traditional academic paper between 1200-1500 words (not including references), properly formatted and with full citation information as needed. Follow MLA or Chicago style guide for inline citations and bibliography. Submissions should be double-spaced in a standard 12-point font with 1” margins. Submit the paper to eLearning.

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