Monday, November 19, 2012

This is how I can tell that you didn't watch the movie

When I was a high school literature teacher, some of my students would try, occasionally, to get away with not reading a book, or not writing a report themselves. I remember once when a high school student was supposed to write about a childhood memory and he instead copied out an essay about baseball from a published book. The only problem was that the person in the book was clearly 40 years old, and the vocabulary of the essay was much higher than that of my student. I gave him a vocabulary quiz using words from his own essay and he flunked. Pretty funny.

And of course, there's always the chance that when you teach, say, The Scarlet Letter, that students will sneak off to watch the movie instead of reading the book. So you have to put some questions on the test that only people who have watched the movie will get wrong.

But then, there are these times when you look at Netflix and see that whoever writes the summary of the movie hasn't watched it. Like, for instance, this description of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"... a play about the Salem Witch Trials:

I'm afraid I'm going to have to flunk you for this, Netflix. P.S. Yes, I realize that Netflix is probably getting all crazy and commenting on the film by saying it's a "parable" of the hunt for communists. But I think I'll just harass them for not just saying "it's about the Salem witch trials." Because it's funnier that way.