First off, please forgive this tardy, hurricane-delayed post; here in Jersey there’s still no power, forcing me, appropriately enough, to type these words at our town library, which has become a kind of community shelter the last few days.
I really meant to run this giveaway back on October 30 because that was the pub date for this gorgeous, oversized collection of the best of MAD Magazine over the past six decades. As a fan/reader of MAD since I was about eight, I was already pretty excited about this book. Then, lo and behold, I realized it was quite possibly the media literacy title of the year. Hyperbole? Not at all. In fact, a strong case can be made that this volume is a unique teaching tool when it comes to teens and media literacy — the kind where learning occurs despite, or maybe because of, the fact that it is completely invisible. Then again, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since that’s the role, of unofficial media mentor, that the magazine has been serving in terms of youth since the 1950’s.
So here, as I see them, are Totally MAD‘s chief merits as a MLE text:
1) It covers a wide array of media. Print media quasi-propaganda such as Army recruiting posters become targets of satire as do TV political ads (the screen shots from a 2004 Bush spot that goes negative on “Jesus of Nazareth” are priceless). And of course movies, comics, pop music, and other media products are skewered knowingly throughout.
2) Its approach is historical. Want to show teens what advertising looked like in the 1960’s, with its distinctive fonts and design sensibilities? Just turn to that section of this chronologically-ordered archive. In this way, the book becomes a visual literacy resource for anyone interested in the evolution of style.
3) The satirical content models and critiques. For example, an ad for the “KFC Triple By-Pass” perfectly emulates what such an ad would really look like, and can be used to model its typical features (central image, type size for emphasis, persuasive language, etc.)… but it also implicitly critiques those elements by showing how, say, a cheerful tone can be used to promote even patently unhealthy consumer items.
4) It’s engaging. That’s obvious, I guess. But if you’ve ever seen young people struggle to deconstruct media content that they’ve enjoyed on its face value, here’s an easy way to present similar content. Moreover, often the media products being spoofed are, by no accident, the same ones that appeal to the magazine’s target demo; that means there’s the opportunity to practice critical literacy since young people can discover how media producers use particular elements to grab and hold their attention.
Of course the content itself is often brilliant — everyone from Jack Davis and Peter Kuper to Evan Dorkin and E.A. Poe are contributors — but that almost goes without saying. So if you’re interested in owning a copy at this point, thanks to Time Home Entertainment CTP has a couple to give away…
- You must have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address to which the book can be shipped.
- Leave a thoughtful comment on any post, including this one, that is tagged with “media literacy” (just click on the corresponding category link above for a full list). If leaving a comment here, just name one thing you learned by reading MAD Magazine.
- “@” me on Twitter with the hashtags #Mad and #ConnectThePop in the tweet to let me know you’ve done this, and the date of the post where you left the comment. (I’m @Peter_Gutierrez.)
- Everyone who does these two things between now and 12:01 am ET on November 6 will be entered into the drawing.
- If you don’t have a Twitter account, just have a friend or colleague tweet on your behalf, letting me know which date and comment is associated with the tweet—but of course since the book might be sent to him/her (see #6 below), you’ll have to work it out from there. (Or just start your own Twitter account in a couple of minutes, and close it when this giveaway is over.)
- I’ll notify you on Twitter, not here, if you’ve won, and if you don’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll just draw another name. If you’re a winner, you’ll simply DM me your mailing address, and we’ll be all set. Thanks!