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Steven Singer: Why Is Marvel Studios Plugging Charter Schools?

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Author: dianeravitch

Blogger Steven Singer has noticed some worrisome product placement for charter schools on two Marvel Studios television programs.

 

Both are sci-fi fantasy shows.

 

Singer writes:

 

Marvel Studios is often concerned with escapism. But this season, two of its television shows – Marvel’s Agents of Shield and Daredevil – offered brief propaganda amid the comic book action.

 

Agents of Shield is a superhero/spy drama that connects the production company’s big budget blockbuster films – Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, etc. It follows the escapades of a well-meaning intelligence agency made up of folks without super powers trying to deal with a world where super heroes are becoming more common.

 

This season on the ABC drama, one of the major arcs focused on Skye, a young woman just getting used to her super powers, and her quest to find her mother and father both of whom had abandoned her as a baby.

 

When she finally meets her dad, Cal, he is a mentally unbalanced enemy of Shield . However, as time goes on, Skye begins to see a nicer side to him.

 

In episode 2X18 “Frenemy of my Enemy,” the two spend the day together walking around Milwaukie and have a conversation about why she had been deserted as an infant. It was all rather interesting until they walked through a puddle of stinking corporate school reform.

 

The father tells the daughter that he had wanted to send her to a charter school (even before there was such a thing as a charter school!). Instead, she had to grow up in a foster home, an orphanage, and go to public school, poor thing!

 

In “Daredevil,” the characters speak of the teachers’ union as equivalent to the mob, an evil cartel. Not surprisingly, “Daredevil” is live streaming on Netflix, which is owned by Reed Hastings, the man who hates public schools and school boards and looks forward to the day when all schools are charter schools. In one of his tweets, Singer recites a few of the things that labor unions have done for working people: the eight-hour day, vacations,

 

Peter Greene read Singer’s blog and wrote a post about it called “Privatizer Product Placement.” He was outraged that the privatizers snuck their propaganda into an entertainment program.

 

He writes:

 

This sort of thing troubles me more than the umpty-gazillionth essay by a reformster that will be read by a small sampling of other reformsters. One of things we easily forget in these debates is that while we struggle and holler and dialogue and argue, most of the US population goes on about their business unaware that there’s any problem.

 

Product placement in mainstream media reaches those folks, and it reaches them in an uncritical, visceral way. It’s a basic rule of politics and marketing– repeat something over and over and over and over and over again, and people will start to assume that it’s just one of those things that everybody knows….

 

It is possible to push back, but it takes the same dogged repetition. Reformsters stopped saying that teachers wrote the Common Core because every single time they said it, someone was there to contradict them, to hold up the truth, to challenge them for the proof they didn’t have. And so they stopped saying it.

 

Pushing back and calling out– that’s how these battles are fought.

 

As Singer surmises, someone at Marvel may have been paid for a little product placement, may have been told these issues are on the corporate synergy list, or may simply be repeating something they heard. In any case, and in all cases where we find this sort of thing, the answer is to send letters, tweet, emails, whatever fits your resources.

 

Here’s the contact information for Marvel. Let them know. Pass the word. Speak up. Every repetition counts.

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