The Monomyth, Puppets, and Obscenities in the Classroom
I must preface this post with a brief disclaimer. I do not swear on this blog, nor do I swear in my professional duties while working with students. I don’t advocate swearing in the classroom, but one of the most entertaining videos I’ve found that helps explain Joseph Campbell’s “Monomyth” uses the “S” word twice, although it is censored with “bleeps” in both occasions.
Mario and Fafa are puppets; highly entertaining puppets created by Damien Eckhardt-Jacobi and Vincent Bova. Mostly they star in comedic videos referencing pop culture, but every so often the furry groundhog and his red friend present us with a humorous attempt to educate their audience about important cultural touchstones. In doing so they create marvelous pieces of video that fit someplace between “The Muppet Show” and “PBS”. The only problem (for almost all K-12 schools) is the occasional use of off-color language. And while the two instances of the “S” word in this quick-witted explanation of the “Hero’s Journey” are both bleeped out, I still find myself hesitant to share what would otherwise be a rather engaging, and lighthearted, look at a topic that can typically be quiet dry in its introduction to students. Feel free to watch the video below and ask yourself what teenager wouldn’t get a kick out of two furry puppets explaining one of literature’s most infamous narrative patterns by referencing Star Wars, Adam Sandler, Indiana Jones, The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter.
And thus I leave you with these questions. Is content this captivating worth the risk of introducing the censored language that it uses? What role, if any, would language like this have in any K-12 classroom? Certainly content like this would pass muster at the post-secondary level (although last year Arizona law-makers thought differently). Am I barking up the wrong tree, and trying to push material like this where it wouldn’t be appropriate? Or would some desperate language arts’ teachers out there share something like this outside of class time, or through social media channels, to avoid any direct accusations of encouraging indecent language? How are teachers handling an increasingly connected, and blended teaching environment in which media streams in from all corners of the internet? How should we “vet” content like this, and how do you make a call on what is “safe” or not for your classroom?