Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Self-Explanatory =]
Purpose: I will use this blog post as a summary and reflection on my experience with the film: Easy A. I will also address my questions from the first blog.

What film strategies are used to emphasize meaning?
The mood of a film is set through the film techniques the movie staff uses. This film had natural lighting, and simple shots that dealt mostly with speech and camera angles (low-angle shot and eye level shots). Because these shots were simple, there was little to no movement shots, no sound effects or crazy music, no noticeable editing techniques or special effects. The film techniques were simple and the camera shots focused on the dialogue dynamic. The camera angles showed the power dynamic between Mr. Griffiths and his students, but the change (dimming) of lighting and camera angle also showed Mr. Griffiths compassionate side. Although he maintained his monotone voice and humor, the shooting style emphasized that he and Olive are equals, and that he was approaching her in a kind, concerned manner.

How are teachers (specifically Mr. Griffiths) portrayed in this movie? 
Mr. Griffiths was a funny, monotone teacher, who commanded authority with his posture and demeanor, and simply because he was one of the few adult figures in the movie. He always happened to appear in situations where an adult presence would be needed: when the kid is smoking a cigarette, when Olive is seducing boys on the lunch line with mashed potatoes on a spoon (he simply said: "what are you doing?"), when Nina and Olive get into a quarrel, etc. His presence was a stabilizing, normal force in some of the outlandish scenes in this movie.
In regards to teaching, he engaged students by making them laugh, and using rap music, which helped peak their interest and make the potentially boring novel easier for students to relate to. He acknowledged that some of his students didn't read the book, and instead watched the Demi Moore version of the movie, but noticed/appreciated that Olive read the book so thoroughly. He seemed to favor her over the other students in the class, but with seemingly good reason, since she was one of the only one who actually did the work. He even confided in her that he didn't like Nina and didn't want to send her to the Principal. He cares about her change in attitude and is so concerned about her well-being, that he asks the guidance counselor to talk to her. He was strict with disciplining (ie- he sent Olive and Nina to the Principal's office as soon as they started using foul language), but we learn that he only does so to maintain authority in the classroom. Overall, it is clear that he cares about his students' well-being and is aware of their behavior.

Do I agree with the depiction of teachers and the overall structure of the school?
In regards to the overall structure of the school, I don't think the Principal's description of the school was on par with how the school actually functioned. I was nervous about teacher/student portrayal in the movie, because the Principal says: "This is a public school. If I can keep the girls off the pole and the boys off the pipe, I get a bonus," so I assumed that the students would be wild and the teachers would be extremely strict. This line coming from the Principal of the school seems like it would foreshadow a school that is out of control. But, instead the students are intelligent, active participants in the school community (clubs, advocacy groups, mascots, huge support for sporting events, etc.). Although there is some chaos with drama, as to be seen in any school, there is a great sense of community and students really seem to respect teachers. In addition, students are (for the most part) well behaved in class, and seem engaged in the learning process. Although the drama was quickly circulated through technology in a way in which I don't think was realistic, I thought the other aspects of the school were desirable and realistic.

I thought Mr. Griffiths' portrayal was on point, but a bit exaggerated. I liked that he was a male English teacher, because often teachers are stereotypically depicted as females, when in reality I've encountered several male teachers, and we have a bunch of male students in our major.  I also enjoyed his teaching style. He used humor to keep his students awake, laughing and paying attention. But more importantly, as we learned in the readings we've done for this course, he made the material easy to relate too by introducing the larger themes of the novel using a rap song. This rap song not only informed students of themes of the story, but it enabled them to laugh and caused them to be curious about the text. He also partnered the canon text with a film, another strategy we read about in this course. By showing another version of the text, he helped students better understand the reading. I would've loved to watch more about his lesson on The Scarlet Letter, but from what I saw that was written on the blackboard, he also provided a framework for this text. He gave his students important background information on the time period of the setting of the novel, which will allow them to look at the situation from the perspective of someone living in Puritan Boston during the 17th-century. He explained to them that the way in which women and their sexual expectations vary greatly from those standards today. He also showed compassion for his students, the way that many of my teachers in the past have showed compassion towards me. He genuinely wanted the best for his students, and all the students in the school. He had one-on-one conferences with Olive, and patrolled the school for misbehavior. When he found a student doing something wrong, he (in an exaggerated manner) talked to them about right and wrong.

Even though Mr. Griffiths role as a teacher has several realistic characteristics, it is also a exaggerated in some respects. Like I said earlier, he often went around preaching cliche's about right and wrong when he caught kids doing something they shouldn't be doing. Also, his presence was exaggerated. He is the only teacher we see in the movie, and he always seems to be in the right place at the right time (he always catches people doing bad or awkward things). He is always on patrol to make sure that students are making the right choices. In addition, his classroom management strategies seemed a little extreme. Because it was a movie, it made sense for the students to get sent to the Principal's office, but I think in a real life situation (especially on a first offense) a teacher would have handled the situation internally instead of turning to outside intervention. I think the Principal's office was added for dramatic, yet (because of the situation) comedic, effect.

In summary: I really liked this movie/would recommend it, and thought it portrayed the role of the teacher better then most other movies I've seen.

Scene #3


In this scene, Mr. Griffiths has called Olive into his class for an individual discussion. She has internalized the reading assignment, and is reacting to her social drama by wearing a red letter 'A' on her newly promiscuous clothes. Mr. Griffiths noticed a change and wanted to speak to Olive about what was going on.

The camera angle in this shot is no longer authoritative. He is sitting at the same level that Olive is sitting. They are eye to eye, and the camera shoots them as equals. This is reflective of how he is approaching her as a concerned outsider, instead of as the authoritative teacher. The lighting is also a bit different. There is still natural light from the windows, but the blinds seem to be darkening the room in comparison to the classroom scene. In addition, there are some close-ups on parts of the conversation between the two, which emphasize the intimacy of this meeting. The camera angles and lighting, paired with the dialogue show that Mr. Griffiths likes Olive and is looking out for her best interest.

They have a very informal conversation. He tells her that he has noticed a change, and is worried she's taking the reading assignment too seriously. She jokingly refutes him by saying she deserves extra credit. He then makes a really funny statement about the generation of his students: " I don't know what your generation's fascination is with documenting your every thought... but I can assure you, they're not all diamonds. 'Roman is having an OK day, and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof.' Who gives a rat's ass?" And then, he confides in her: "I apologize for sending you to the Principal's office. I didn't really want to. To be honest, and I'll deny this if you ever tell anyone, but I don't know what it is about Nina. I hate her and wanted to cheer with the rest of the class when you told her off."

Mr. Griffiths is very fond of Olive, knows she's a good students and is confident that the rumors circulating around school about her are false. In this scene he shows that he, and teachers in general, is human. Teachers aren't just about teaching, disciplining and instilling life-long lessons; instead, Mr. Griffiths shows that teachers have favorites, dislike students, genuinely care about students, and are there to help if needed
This picture is a little squished, but it was the only one I could find of the conference. Mr. Griffiths has a similar expression on his face, but through dialogue we learn that it is one of concern for the change he noticed in Olive.

Scene #2


This is the first scene in which we see Mr. Griffiths in a classroom setting. As for the camera angle, he is positioned in front of the classroom. He is standing up above all the students who are sitting down. The light again this time is natural, but now is coming from the windows. The sunny day brightens the room and the mood, but he still looks like the authority figure, as this is the way in which teachers are often portrayed (standing in front of a classroom full of students in rows).

He introduces the next novel his students will be reading: The Scarlet Letter. He uses humor again, while also informing the students about the difficulty level of the text: "Nathaniel Hawthorne is a complex writer. I even struggled with him, but then again I was 5 when I read it." This quote evoked laughter from the students, and he then surprised them by asking one of the students to create a beat. He begins rapping: "Adultery, vengeance, crime of passion," but soon stops and jokes that he sounds silly. But, now he has the students full attention. They have began the class laughing and are interested in what he's going to do/say next. So, he explains that students need background knowledge: "what we have to realize is that Hester lived in a different time period where the worst crime any woman could commit was adultery."

Conflict then arises between two female students: Nina, a Catholic girl who is part of the Christian society against sex before marriage, and Olive, a girl who is rumored to have had sex with an older man. There is name calling, and Mr. Griffith's classroom management strategy is to kick the girls out of class and send them to the Principal's office.

So, again we see that Mr. Griffiths is funny and engaging, but he is also respected and is strict when it comes to running a classroom.
Mr. Griffiths in front of the classroom with a serious expression on his face. We can see that there is writing on the board, meaning that he has given explanations about different parts of the novel.

Scene #1


I just started the movie and within the first five minutes of the movie, Mr. Griffiths is introduced. Interestingly, the camera angle is extremely dramatic. The camera is placed on the floor and is looking up towards him, so we see the underneath of his chin before we get to look at his face. I tried to find a still picture, but there was none to be found. The lighting is normal, natural light, because the scene takes place outdoors in the school courtyard. But, this drastic angle portrays him in a superior manner. I am paused on a still of his face and he looks authoritative and fierce. I'm excited to see what he says...

So, I just un-paused the movie and the camera angle evened out and is just a frontal view of his face. He still looks authoritative, but he is actually very funny even though he is definitely looking out for the best interests of his students.

Overhearing a sexual innuendo, Mr. Griffiths runs off a list of cliches to Olive and Rhi. Then, in teacher like fashion he says: "go hit the books [...] hugs not drugs." So although he jokes around with the girls, he is still giving them adult-like advice.

After he speaks to the girls, he is seen taking a cigarette away from skater kid. He takes the cigarette right out of the kids mout and says, "These are bad for you. They cause all kinds of problems. Unwanted pregnancy. All sorts of things," and then he walks off camera.

For this part of the scene, the shot is further away, as the camera is positioned with Olive as she looks onto the situation and laughs. But, we still get to hear the dialogue, and placed Mr. Griffiths is in front of the shot. His posture and demeanor still make him seem authoritative. Although he is funny, and definitely gives the audience something to giggle about, the students in the movie take him seriously, and listen to what he says. He seems to command authority, but does so with a monotone voice and some humor.

Mr. Griffiths warning Olive about saying sexual innuendos in public settings.

I'm excited to see how Mr. Griffiths progresses throughout the movie, and to get a glimpse of how he handles his students in a classroom setting.



My name is Jenn, and for my Education seminar we are doing a project entitled: Media Representations of Teachers. In order to figure out how teachers are depicted in media, I decided to do a critical analysis of the film, Easy A, and look at it from the perspective of a future educator. This film takes place in a school, so we get to know several students, a teacher- Mr. Griffiths, his wife- the guidance counselor, and the school principal.

How are teachers portrayed in this movie? What film strategies are used to emphasize meaning? Do I agree with the depiction of teachers and the overall structure of the school?

So, now I'm going to watch the movie and record my thoughts and observations!