Death by Film

One of the joys of substitute teaching is that you get to see a lot of movies. The more recent Disney films? Dubbed into Spanish and so on, they are a staple of high school foreign language classes. Unfortunately, I understand Spanish, and can affirm that Disney is cloying in any language. By the time you’ve see The Lion King or The Little Mermaid for the fifth time in a row, you need a dose of Sartre or a great big shot of lemon juice just to get back on an even keel.

Oh yes; sometimes you get to watch these movies five times a day.

Well, you say, so what? The movies are for the benefit of the students.

I doubt it.

They’ve all seen the Disney dross before, and Spanish spoken at speed goes by much too quickly for beginning language students to catch more than the occasional word. Teachers assign films because they don’t trust a sub to do any actual teaching.

This week I have some really great classes. Yesterday, today, and again on Monday I’m teaching English, a subject I know a little bit about. And I get to show Finding Forrester, a formulaic and pandering Sean Connery vehicle that I had the privilege of sitting through in this same school four years ago. I imagine it’s supposed to be inspiring or something. Actually, the only times the kids get excited are when Connery says “dog, you the man” and “fuck.” They know when these lines are coming up, too, because they’ve seen it all before.

The funniest thing happened this morning. The school was short some class coverage, so they asked me to fill in for a two-period senior creative writing class. Sure, I said. I know something about creative writing. Guess what I got to do? Yep: sit through yet another showing of Finding Forrester.

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