Henry Jenkins, who continually impresses me with his ability to identify and make sense of some of the most important “big ideas” related to media and society, has a short column on the need for a new kind of media literacy. I’m not certain his view of the current state of media literacy as advocating only throwing away the TV is exactly fair—it is certainly not what I and others I know have taught at the university level—but I do recognize some of the rhetoric that seems prevalent.
I generally agree with Jenkins: we need to be teaching students how to be critical of media, how to use it while minimize being used. But this is never a simple thing. He provides an example of children articulating arguments regarding the content of video games, but is this an anomaly? By the time they are in their late teens, they are highly resistant to the idea that they are not highly resistant to television. Part of the reason for this is that they are too willing to accept the accepted wisdom: TV, other media, and advertising is not especially important.