Evaluating School Violence Through Glee

The objective of this lesson is for students to evaluate and express their feelings about how the media depicts school violence.

Recently, the TV show Glee aired an episode about a school shooting. Many people were upset about this episode due to the fact that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting happened only a few months ago. People who were bothered by the episode claimed that FOX and show producers were being insensitive by airing this controversial episode.

Glee producers have said that they stand by their decision to air the episode because the show has made it a point to tackle and address critical social and political issues.

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Blueprint to a Mogul: Reaching Goals Like Shonda Rhimes



Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful people in television. As the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to get Away with Murder, she is the backbone of ABC. And ABC lets her do whatever she wants. When Rhimes was criticized for refusing to read notes from the executives on Scandal, she simply replied, “What were they going to do, fire me?”

Rhimes wasn’t always a powerhouse. In college, Shonda wanted to write world-changing novels like her hero Toni Morrison. However, she found that there was no point in aspiring to be like Morrison. As she put it, “I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up.”

In 2002, she was a B-list screenwriter who had just adopted a child. While looking after the baby, she found herself watching a lot of network TV, including 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel.

Rhimes got where she is by writing what she wanted to see on TV. This makes her style, and even her genre, hard to pin down. Is Grey’s Anatomy a medical drama or a romantic soap? Is Scandal a romance, a political drama, or a conspiracy thriller? No one knows what to say about her work, other than that it’s something that no one has seen before.


In that spirit, this lesson isn’t about how to become TV mogul Shonda Rhimes, she already has that job. What you can do is put in the kind of work that Rhimes put in, to become a creative mogul on your own terms. This lesson will help you assess what you can offer to the world and figure out what you need in order to build a new creative empire.


Is Nicki Minaj Mentally Ill?

Is Nicki Minaj’s image and success the product of a clever branding strategy or is she making the most of a mental health disorder? Nicki Minaj is an example of an artist who has created a unique brand that has contributed to her rise to stardom in the music industry and popular culture. Onika Tanya Maraj also known as Nicki Minaj, also goes by many other names such as Cookie, Harajuku Barbie, Nicki Teresa, Rosa, Roman Zolanski, Martha Zolanski, Martha, Nicki, Roman and Onika. These are all of her known identities that take form in her music. If you take into account the basic principles of branding in entrepreneurship, than you can understand how she might be portraying a carefully crafted image to help her connect to multiple audiences and demographics. Her way of casting a wider net to attract a wider audience and prevent herself from being labeled simply as an urban artist. However, she also exhibits symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder

(DID) or better known as Multiple Personality Disorder. DID is a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and identities or mental states that control a person’s behavior, a person may also show signs of memory impairment. Doctors caution that symptoms may appear especially when there is a possibility of financial gain. Convenient or Coincidence?

Nicki Minaj’s Personalities and Her Challenging Childhood

How to Write Your Own American Horror Story

The objective of this lesson is for students to write a short horror story while exploring proper story structure.

The genre of horror can be found in countless books, movies, and television shows. Most recently, the television show American Horror Story has become quite popular. This miniseries, which is an anthology series, follows a disparate group of characters and environments. What makes this show so successful and popular is the fear that the viewer feels at the climax of each episode.

Creating Your Own Once Upon a Time

The objective of this lesson is for students to participate in a new trend in popular culture by taking a classic fairy tale and reinventing it.
Fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Peter Pan allow children to dream and imagine how things would be if they had a Fairy Godmother or were able to fly to Never Land. As we get older, we realize these stories are just fairy tales. However, shows like Once Upon a Time and movies like Happily Ever After, Snow White and the Huntsman, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and Jack, The Giant Slayer have taken traditional fairy tales and reinvented them to appeal to older audiences.
In this lesson, students will follow the current trend of revising traditional fairy tales to create their own new “Once upon a time…”

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Why Do We Love Crazy? Analyzing Batman Villains using the Scientific Method

Jared-Leto-Joker-Tattoos-Teeth For whatever reason, we as fans are intrigued and even obsessed with Batman’s enemies. However flawed, characters like the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deathstroke and the Red Hood have crept their way into mainstream pop culture and have seriously devout cult followings-leaving Batman in the shadows…pun intended. Next year they will even get their first feature film Suicide Squad that will not feature the caped crusader. We all know Bruce Wayne is a smart guy and never underestimates his foes, but how exactly does he psychoanalyze his enemies? Let’s assume for a second that he employes the scientific method by performing research and analyzing the psychological state of his villains. He would have to identify what is their psychological state, and what psychological disorder is exhibited. After conducting thorough research, hacking into Arkham Asylum’s medical records, he would have to hypothesize and come to a diagnosis for each of them. Next, Batman would test his hypothesis with an experiment by likely using verbal cues of attack strategies that trigger the villain’s behavior, motives and views to determine and reveal symptoms of any psychological disorders. Bruce would then analyze this data under a critical lens to determine if the villain’s behaviors are indicative of the hypothesized disorder’s symptoms. The data may even point toward a disorder that was not initially hypothesized. Batman is known for using science and technology as a tactical defense strategy. Knowing his enemy’s emotional and mental state is an important part of this process. What kind of mental disorder do you think the Joker suffers from? Or maybe the scariest thing about him is that he’s not crazy at all…

SNL and Engaging with Current Events

In this lesson, students engage with a topic in current events by creating an SNL skit and providing comic relief to an otherwise serious subject.

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FOX’s Empire is basically Shakespearean Hip-Hop Theatre

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Are Shakespeare’s plays universal?

In the poem “To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare,” Ben Jonson wrote that Shakespeare was “not of an age but for all time!” His argument was that Shakespeare’s works were universal, and that any audience could relate to the themes within them. His theory is evidenced by the countless retellings and reinterpretations of the Bard’s plays. FOX’s hit Empire about a hip hop dynasty seems to agree with Jonson.



The Bard’s Empire

In the pilot of Empire, one of Lucious Lyon’s sons, Jamal, says, “We King Lear now?” Lyon has announced that he has been diagnosed with ALS and will have to decide to which of his three sons he will leave control of his music business empire. Fans of Shakespeare may immediately think of Cordelia, Goneril, and Regan, but some of the fun of Empire is that the series offers many more parallels to Shakespeare’s plays than solely King Lear. Throughout the first season, we see connections to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Othello and Iago, and Romeo and Juliet, among others. Each episode, in fact, is named after a line from a Shakespearean play, which can prompt us into an even deeper investigation into parallels between the series and Elizabethan drama.


From the Stage to the Small Screen

One of the most interesting elements of Empire is the way the series maintains its own story while drawing on themes from Shakespeare. Shakespearean tragedies often begin in a state of disorder, either within the home, city, or kingdom. Over the course of the two hours of a play, the initial disorder is addressed, ultimately leading to a more orderly society. Things are not perfect, but the initial disorder is settled. Take Romeo and Juliet, for example. At the start of the play, we learn that the Prince is infuriated with the civic quarrels between the Montagues and Capulets. By the end of the play, everything is not resolved: two young lovers have died, along with many others. As a result, however, the Montagues and Capulets decide to put aside their hatred for one another, thus creating more order in Verona. Is it perfect? No. But, through the conflicts in the play, the initial conflict is resolved. At this point, the audience applauds and leaves the theater. What’s interesting about Empire is that the series can expand on this disorder-order model. Since the series airs weekly, and is much longer than two hours, there is more time to develop several themes and conflicts, and to create new ones. Just when the initial disorder is resolved, another conflict incites more disorder. In this way, the show can continue to draw on universal themes that make Shakespeare’s plays so beloved.