Teacher shows Eminem video in class

Sarah Jordan, a 7th grade teacher in Westboro, Mass., was recently suspended from the classroom after showing an Eminem video to her students. As a result, the teacher announced her resignation today.

But this bit of news just doesn’t make any sense. Why would a teacher show an Eminem video in class? I mean, sure, any one of those students could turn on MTV and watch an Eminem video for themselves. But I couldn’t comprehend why a teacher would even think of including this in her lesson plan when Eminem is known for his need to push limits, especially regarding sex, on what is allowed for viewing on public television. So I did a little research and found this article that explained the situation a little more.

The class has been doing a unit on media analysis. Students viewed videos in class, and then discussed and wrote essays on what they had seen. At a student’s suggestion, Ms. Jordan chose the “Superman” video by Eminem for them to watch. In this video were nudity and several sex scenes, though all inappropriate images were blurred out. She also muted the video so that all the students were viewing were silent images. She then went in the hallway and let the students know that when they’d had enough, they could join her. Her goal was to allow the students to act freely without her presence tampering with that. And when three students left the classroom to join her in the hall, she came back in and turned it off.

Ms. Jordan admitted she was nervous about this particular video, being that it was so explicit. But her reasons were because this was a perfect example of what the unit on media was about – addressing “the stereotypes and the limited roles of men and women portrayed in many hip-hop and rap songs”.

Her choice to let students view something so controversial caused at least two parents to complain – one of whom went directly to the police to file charges. Police dropped charges after it was deemed she didn’t show anything inappropriate. But it didn’t matter, the damage was done. While she was only suspended and not fired, Ms. Jordan ultimately decided it was best if she left the job she loved. And if given the choice to show the video again, she said she wouldn’t – at least not without consulting parents first.

In my opinion, this is rather unfortunate. While it would have been best to inform parents about what their children would have been viewing in school, I feel this was a valuable subject Ms. Jordan was introducing.  If you have ever seen the media that is being targeted to our teens, you are well aware of the status symbols that are placed in the images flashing all over the screen. Women are sexual objects, dressed scantily clad and treated as ornaments as they writhe on various objects in the video. The men run all over the screen wearing clothing that, in the real world, would keep them unemployed – thus not even allowing them to be able to afford all the bling that is apparently falling out of the sky. Sex is treated casually and promiscuously, without any regard to the negative effects a lifestyle like that could bring on. The list goes on and on, and gets more graphic as time passes to keep the attention span of a generation that is on the search for something bigger, better, and faster. Soon, straight-up porn will be shown on the screen and our youth won’t even bat an eye – if what is being shown now isn’t considered pornographic already. And as they are being spoon-fed this kind of drivel, their reaction to it in real life is muted. They don’t even realize they are being taught that women are sex objects and should dress and act the part, men should be violent and have sex with as many “hoes” as they can, money is meant to be spent on flashy items, mass consumption of alcohol means you’re having a good time and are extremely popular….

At least, this is what I believe could have been the point behind Ms. Jordan’s lesson. Or not.  Her lesson was geared to allow the students to give their own take about the message these videos are giving – promoting free thought in a world where this type of media tries to think for us.  And my only disappointment is that she stepped down from her teaching position instead of standing up for what the backbone of her lesson was. Students have the opportunity to see this kind of inappropriate material outside of the classroom, on many different levels, and to be influenced by it. But in her classroom, Ms. Jordan was teaching how media can affect us, and how we can take the power back.

I think she gave in way too soon.

If you found out a video like this was being shown in your middle school child’s classroom, would you take issue?

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6 thoughts on “Teacher shows Eminem video in class”

  1. I definitely feel that addressing contemporary media but avoiding anything with nudity or profanity is like…I don’t know, only looking at the portion the iceberg above the waterline. So much of media that is aimed at young people (ostensibly at those in their 20s, but we know that adolescents and teens eat it up like candy) is made up of…I guess, id-directed imagery and subject matter that not to give it equal time in a lesson plan on media seems really naive, if not willfully blind.

    As is often the case with his work, I actually found this video and the lyrics rather compelling, as, though I don’t generally agree with his life choices, I consider Eminem to be a talented poet an not unintelligent. The message I got out of it was almost one of self mocking, and certainly mocking the slutted-up ‘ho’ groupies that think that giving it up to a big star will end in a happy relationship as the girl on his arm. Playing into that message, this video was an over-the-top smorgasbord of sex and swearing…but really embodied the essence of so much that is portrayed to teens in hip-hop.

    I stand by this teacher’s choice and think it’s too bad that, yet again, parents think that by covering their children’s eyes and their own, that which they find objectionable will simply cease to exist, or at least that their children will certainly learn to cover their own eyes when faced with boobs, rather than waiting until mom and dad are out of the house to do an extensive internet search for them.

  2. An overall balanced look at how Media manufactures consent and dissent, despite the included photo of students that appear to be years younger than the reported seventh graders.

  3. I agree with you that she gave in too soon, and I think she showed seriously poor judgement by allowing the kids to see this. If the kids were in high school– juniors or seniors– it would be more understandable. Sadly, there is a plethora of examples that she could have chosen. A sexually explicit music video was not even necessary to get her ultimate point across. I wish she didn’t resign; besides the choosing of this particular video, she seems like a teacher who’s trying to do her best and teach important content.

  4. My 13 year old Brother will be starting his second year of middle school, and he probably has seen just about every single Eminem Video out there, along with just about everything else along the lines of rap music. His favorite music is Hardcore Death Metal like Rammstein, Five-Finger-Death-Punch and others. It probably wasn’t appropriate in the classroom setting as far as I am concerned.

    In addition any video can be seen instantly on YouTube, MTV barley shows any music videos any more, let alone uncensored content.

    Unless you keep your child locked in a basement, eventually they will come across things that many parents would find repulsive, immoral, ect. Parents these days will avoid the issue completely, and youth left to their own devices will search out the deepest darkest part of they cyber world.

    My brother is just fine, in face my father takes him to most of the concerts. But still, Various conflicting arguments along with our Hippocratic school system will always cloud the real issues here.

  5. One day, the public school system will have to reconcile itself against actually educating students and answering to knee-jerk reactions from parents who think that keeping their kids in the dark will help keep them out of trouble. A good first step in that direction might have been for the superintendent of the district where this took place to refuse to accept this teacher’s resignation.

  6. A public school is not the place for progressive teachers to carry out their mission to overrule the parents of the kids they have as a captive audience every day. The stark arrogance of many respondents to this story speaks to the effectiveness of the subversion of the family by govt. schools and their radical social engineering agenda.
    Big Government busybodies bent on denigrating all things decent and traditionally American (aka public school employees)risk the elimination of their cozy monopolistic industry every time they do something as stupid and outrageous as this. Soon, a majority of voters will elect folks who will end public/Big Govt. education once and for all.
    These radical indoctrinators will have only themselves and their misguided hubris to blame when their playpen gets sold to an educational entrepeneur who understands who pays his salary, and does everything he can to make them happy.

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