Welcome to The Sociological Cinema!
This site is designed to help sociology instructors incorporate videos into their classes. Check out our blog, look through our pics page, and search our growing database of video clips. Each clip is tagged with appropriate sociological themes and organized for busy instructors. We invite you to join the discussion and comment on how you have used the videos in your classes, and to submit a clip of your own. Enjoy!
Video of the Week
Our video of the week recounts the tragedy Hurricane Katrina, which devastated parts of New Orleans ten years ago. In August 2005, the hurricane made landfall, a seemingly perfect storm that was made worse by the slow and ineffectual response of the Bush Administration. Having passed through the city, NBC broadcast a concert four days later aimed at raising money for the victims. The concert for relief drew about 8.5 million viewers and raised a reported $50 million. During the live broadcast, Kanye West and Mike Meyers took the stage and were expected to simply read from the telempromter; However, West had other plans. Breaking from script, he spoke plainly about his frustrations about the emergency response: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” This unscripted view of the tragedy fueled an already growing suspicion among many that foot dragging from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was due in part to the fact that the hurricane's destructive power was primarily visited on Black and poor neighborhoods.
Sociologists have also examined Kanye West's remarks from a dramaturlogical perspective, an approach originally popularized by Erving Goffman. Although Goffman was interested in the "scripts" of everyday life, not strictly those used during television broadcasts, the approach draws attention to the importance of all unscripted moments. As Goffman predicted, and as can be readily observed in the above clip, when one goes off script, the opportunity for embarrassment is heightened. Meyers tries to manage the situation—though he is clearly uncomfortable. He fidgets and continues to read from the teleprompter, as if to pretend that nothing unusual has happened. But as sociologist Allan G. Johnson notes, going off script can be a powerful way of enacting social change ... Read more here.