Video Festival Offers New Angle on Adulthood and Aging Topics

Video Festival Offers New Angle on Adulthood and Aging Topics

Short videos went a long way toward depicting psychological concepts in one SESP class this week. With the “First-Ever Adulthood and Aging Video Clip Festival,” students in research associate professor Gina Logan’s Adulthood and Aging class brought to life topics they studied this quarter by sharing brief videos.

The assignment that Logan gave her students was to find video clips of four minutes or less that related to topics covered in class. These topics included identity formation, midlife crisis and grandparenting, among others. After showing their clips in small groups, students selected the five bet to show to the entire class, and then they chose an overall winner.

“It was a cool way to be able to apply what we learned to real life,” one student commented.

The activity also helped the students grow accustomed to viewing life events through the lens of psychology. “Now whenever you read a book or see a movie, you can see it from a psychological perspective,” Logan told her class.

The five finalists in the Video Clip Festival were as follows:

  • A clip from the movie Tropic Thunder to show identity crisis
  • A segment of a Seinfeld episode to show career consolidation
  • A clip from the animated feature Up to represent retirement homes
  • A trailer for the documentary I Believe I Can Fly to illustrate awareness of mortality
  • A video of an elderly choir singing rap songs to depict retirement and challenge ageist attitudes.

The I Believe I Can Fly video was selected as the overall winner. “It shows the idea from a younger age … as it blurs line between life and death,” said Kristina Nolte. “Part of the reason we chose it was it defied the stereotype,” said A.J. Tomiak. 

The Seinfeld clip portrayed the difficulties of finding a career. “The painfulness of figuring out what to do for a career is treated in a humorous way,” Logan pointed out. Likewise, Tropic Thunder embodied the idea of an identity crisis in a funny, if politically incorrect, way, showing a white man thinking of himself as an African American.

The Up segment captured the patronizing attitude that elderly people sometimes face, students pointed out. Similarly, the students were sensitive to ageism in their reactions to the elderly choir members singing rap. They questioned the reason they found the elderly rappers funny. “Are we laughing at them?” one student asked. Overall, the students said they liked the unexpectedness of a hip-hop choir composed of old people, a concept that defied stereotypes.

Evaluating the activity, students agreed that the assignment was successful and that it added a real-life perspective to their studies. “We’ve seen these [clips] before, but now after taking this class it made them real,” one student commented. Logan plans to repeat the assignment in the future.

SESP’s Adulthood and Aging course explores psychological, sociological and biological factors influencing socialization and development from young and middle adulthood through old age. Students learn about the influences of culture, family and work on the individual.

Photo Caption:
Austin Perry and Izora Baltys present a video on the topic of "ageism" that portrays a choir of elderly people singing hip hop.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 1/4/12