that fall into the parodic cycle of popular stories are useful because they
call attention to conventions of a genre viewers might otherwise take
for granted. After all, conventions must be accepted as true for jokes
making fun of them to be funny. Personally I find greater value in
upholding the idea of music’s transformational power through
education than stories that make fun of that process. This episode may
have popular appeal and feel modern or cynical to challenge narrative
patterns, but I feel more connection to the somewhat idealized pattern
we see in the classic movies.
Building on the idea that films can circumvent traditional
narratives, the film Whiplash is a revisionist film that presents a
particularly interesting challenge to the good teacher model in music
education and, particularly, a contrast to the positive power this subject
has for students’ self-expression when one teacher’s harsh and harmful
teaching methods drive a student (never seen in the film) to take his
own life. As a whole, this genre is established, mocked, and challenged,
but it is crucial to discuss as a subgenre of teacher films because these
movies make a statement about our society's attitude toward music, our
development as human beings, our education in the arts, and what is
crucial to our humanity.
Music education is not evaluated on standardized tests and
that fact along may make some consider it “unimportant” but I argue
that films often portray music education as a subject with a
transformative capacity not seen in other classrooms, which is evidence
of its importance and is true to my own lived experience. Popular films
are popular for a reason, and this is why they are important texts to
study. Though we may not even realize it, these films tap into our
desires, fears, and dreams. I argue that teachers and the arts are worthy
of exploring because they give students confidence, an expressive
outlet, and a more accepting view of the world. In my analysis, music
and the arts are seen as dangerous subjects to administrators in
Hollywood movies because they are creative and independent and, also,
because these subjects do not conform to the regular school curriculum.
Particular works like Les Choristes (2004), Music of the Heart (1999), Mr.
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