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Reading Media: Topics to Explore Category

Lessons and activities encourage critical viewing of television and evaluation of the sexual messages being conveyed. Also provided are select lessons from Creating Critical Viewers, courtesy of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Themes include: sex on teen dramas, depictions of romantic relationships, LGBT representation.


Lessons from the CCV: What You Watch and Why
This lesson is designed to introduce ratings systems, programming blocks, and TV formats. After keeping a TV diary, participants discuss their viewing habits.

Lessons from the CCV: Who Creates TV Programs?
After discussing the various members of the creative team responsible for TV programs, participants complete a TV viewing assignment that increases awareness of the individuals behind the scenes.

Lessons from the CCV: The Aesthetics of TV—Illusion and Reality
This lesson is designed to help viewers distinguish between different elements of reality and fantasy in TV programs. Participants learn about the techniques used by TV crews to create the visual effects seen in TV programs.

Lessons from the CCV: Stereotypes
Participants identify stereotypes on TV, and increase their awareness of the limited and controversial representations of ethnic minority groups (e.g. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans), the elderly, the mentally and physically challenged, women, and gays and lesbians.

Lessons from the CCV: Health Issues and Safety
This lesson is designed to increase awareness of the discrepancies between the facts regarding health issues, and the way in which they are portrayed in fiction. Participants identify health and safety issues on TV, including drugs, alcohol, tobacco, nutrition, and sexuality.


No Kissing, Please: Gay Culture on TV
Participants examine the infrequency of physical displays of affection of gay and lesbian characters on TV.

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Alcohol, Dating and Sex on Reality TV
Through examination and discussion of relationship-oriented reality shows on TV, participants will explore the ways alcohol is used in—and linked to—sexual and dating situations.

LGBT Portrayals in the Media
Participants will be asked to take a critical look at the portrayals of the LGBT community in recent movies, television shows and in the print media, and to examine how these images have affected their own views, and society’s.

LGBT Images in the Movies and on Television
Participants are asked to take a critical look at LGBT portrayals in movies and television, and how the images that are presented have created, perpetuated or changed society’s images of the LGBT community.

How TV Couples Communicate: the Good, the Bad, and the Unsaid
Participants examine the communication skills and habits of their favorite TV couples, paying particular attention to frequent misunderstandings, mistaken assumptions, and unspoken feelings. How these events affect character and plot development is discussed, as well as how audience reaction to these events differs from reaction to misunderstandings in real life.

TV Parents
After brainstorming a list of TV parents they like to watch, participants evaluate characters for their ability to problem-solve, give advice, and behave well in a crisis—particularly an occurrence of teen pregnancy.

TV Myths vs. Real-Life Pregnancy
Participants discuss several myths about pregnancy perpetuated by the media, recalling examples from recent TV shows. After each myth is illustrated, youth examine the facts of real teen pregnancies.

Television’s Target Audience
After channel surfing for 30 minutes, participants make observations about the target audience for different kinds of TV programs, and the commercials aired with them.

Advertisers vs. TiVo: The Next Generation of Commercial Programming
After discussing new kinds of commercial programming that embed product advertisements in the character and plot development of sitcoms and dramas, participants are asked to imagine how this kind of advertising might affect their favorite shows.

Teens Do Drugs, Adults Go to Rehab: Substance Abuse in Prime Time
Participants discuss two possible outcomes for teen TV characters who use drugs or alcohol: rehabilitation and recovery or premature death.


Media Literacy 101 Using Sex to Sell Talking About Abstinence Reducing Risks Reading Media Be the Judge Producing Media
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