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Show and Tell: Cubs (2006)
Introduction Citizenship Citizenship English History  
image from Cubs (2006)

Cubs offers a way into looking at the representation of teenagers on screen and how our assumptions about stereotypes in media can inform the way we consume film and TV.

It's clear that the filmmaker is keen for the fox-hunting storyline to come as a surprise and most audience members will expect the narrative to be building towards some sort of gang-related violence. Why is this?

Explore this question by pausing the film just before the hunt gets underway. What do students think the film is driving towards? What sorts of clues has the filmmaker given as to the storyline?

There are likely to be a number of different hypotheses but are students able to come to some sort of consensus about the likely-subject matter of the film? Why do they think the film is likely to include violence and involve gangs, for example?

To analyse their reasoning, it will be useful to compile a list of how different aspects of the film have informed their thinking - the script, the sound, the costumes, the hand-held style and the sound-mix. Can students identify examples of how the filmmaker has used these different elements to lead the audience towards certain assumptions?

Then there is the question of what students think about the characterisation of, in particular, Ben, Davis and Karl - do these characters seem real to them? Do they associate any of the characters with negative stereotypes or do they conversely think see them as realistic interpretations of urban youths?

Their answers to these questions may well be different once they have watched the entire film, so it is worth re-visiting this issue at the end of any discussion.

Having watched the film in its entirety, there are a whole host of issues that might be explored, but perhaps the discussion could initially centre around the reasons why the script meshes the idea of the 'gang' alongside the idea of the 'hunt'. Obviously there are fascinating parallels to be drawn between the 'violent youth culture' and the violence of the hunt, a sport associated with middle and upper-class adults. But, for the purposes of this discussion - what does the film have to say about the gang-culture? How has the filmmaker used the stereotypical media representation of young people to his advantage in the film? Or has he?

It is here that it will be useful to widen the debate up to look at how students feel that young people are represented in other film and TV programmes in general. In particular, encourage them to analyse how influential such representations are in terms of shaping public attitudes towards young people and informing the way in which we respond to films such as Cubs.

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