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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

frequently asinine questions: “Will you do my film studies homework for me?”

I’ve heard from numerous other film critics that they get the same requests, but it never ceases to astonish me when I get an email like the following, which arrived recently:

Hello Mary Ann!

We are a group of students for [redacted university outside the U.S.]. We are American Studies majors doing a thesis on How films, reinforce american values, so that they can still be perceived as the only super power in the current century. We are extremely excited to start writing our thesis however; we cannot start on it if we haven’t chosen some films to study. We feel that you are very knowledgeable about movies especially hollywood movies. Can you please help us?

Here are some questions that we wish for you to answer:

1. What hollywood movies in the past five years including 2010 illustrate important American values such as liberty equality capitalism?
2. Can these values been seen in the movies outright or if you to go in deeper in the film to see this values?
3. Why are these values very important to american society?

Thank You

We Hope to hear from you soon

I am asked by students all the time if I will do their homework for them, but this email was pretty nervy in the depth and breadth of what these students wanted me to tell them: basically, they’re asking me to not only write their paper for them, but to formulate their actual thesis as well. For obviously these students — even though they are “American Studies” students on a university level! — do not actually know why certain values may be important to Americans, so they clearly cannot therefore know which movies may (or may not) reinforce them. Are even university students these days so incapable of thinking for themselves and so in need of having their hands held through their learning that they think nothing of actually asking someone else to do their work for them?

As I told these students, and which I will continue to tell anyone else who has a similar request for me: Your teachers want to know what you think about movies, not what I think about them. Do your own damn homework.

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