Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Gillian F.

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My name is Gillian Friedman and I am a sophomore. When I started last fall, I did not even know Whitman had a film department, and did not have any interest in pursuing film studies as a major. But in a crisis at freshman registration when I could not get into any of the classes I wanted, I ran into Annie Petersen who suggested I take Intro to Film. I did, and was immediately fascinated by the class and by the study of film in general. Though I had always loved film, and grew up watching the rare and interesting foreign films my dad used to bring home, I had always thought of it more as a hobby than an academic interest. I came to Whitman planning to pursue a major in politics, history or sociology, but what I found in the film department is that the study of film and media combines elements of all those fields by applying them to a tangible product of culture. My experience in Post-Katrina Media last semester, with its focus on race and class, only confirmed my vision of film and media studies as the ideal synthesis of my social science interests. Though I greatly admire film-making, my focus is on the academic study of film and media as a lens into a deeper understanding of contemporary culture. Though I have not officially declared, I am seriously considering a film/politics or film/history double major.

I have always been an avid consumer of television, The West Wing and The Wire among my favorites. But this summer I found and fell in love with the Israeli television show Hatufim (“Prisoners of War” in Hebrew), the original series on which the American television show Homeland is based. Not only was it brilliantly written and extremely engaging, but watching both Hatufim and Homeland back to back made for an illuminating case study on the differences between American and Israeli culture. The elements that were changed in the American version (taking away the graphic scenes of torture common in Hatufim but adding many more sex scenes), showed important differences in the cultural values and norms of television audiences in two highly developed and in many ways similar countries. For anyone that liked Homeland, I would highly recommend Hatufim, as I felt it was a much more compelling series than the American remake.

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