Wince

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There are various things that make me wince. A wrong note when someone is playing a familiar tune, grammar* and  poor use of a word or concept.

I winced and winced hard when I saw a video on youtube created by a middle schooler who contacted me. She was doing a project for school and had to make a short video on a topic, she chose gentrification. The video is so-so content-wise for the first 20-30 seconds and then went downhill.

About a zillion years ago I first met the Help (now spouse) at the end of judging for National History Day. I judged videos and digital projects. I was blown away by what the kids produced. obviously some were influenced by Ken Burns, except one. A girl from Bethesda, her video was horrid. It has been well over ten years since then, but I can still tell you why the Bethesda video was a horrible waste of VHS tape**. So I was reminded of that after seeing the not-so-great youtube video on gentrification.

I emailed the Youtubber and tried to be a sensitive and helpful adult to a child who lives in a well-to-do homogeneous country where gentrification is truly a foreign topic. Love the internet, it is so international. I made some suggestions for a few tweeks to the first part to make it a little less vague and a bit more accurate.

For the rest I mentioned ways to improve the video from either an anti- or pro- gentrification stance. For an anti-gentrification piece for her grade level, I suggested focusing on housing. An image of evictions could make her point, and for the call to action part I thought she could do something supporting 'affordable housing'. The pro-gentrification suggestions were to keep the first part to show the negative but the rest to show the upside. What would the upside look like? Maybe it could be an image of a vacant house with boarded up windows and trash in the yard, then the next image of a similar house, fixed up with curb appeal. I mentioned new businesses, which an image of a hipster in the doorframe of his shop could show.

Even if she doesn't take those suggestions I do hope she removes the "filler" and the parts that show that she doesn't know the topic. There was a generic call to action in the video that could have better applied to the topic of preventing air pollution or saving baby pandas. The filler was too obvious. Even if the teacher doesn't know a thing about gentrification he/she will certainly pick up on the uninformative parts where the student is filling up screen time. It is the equivalent of playing around with fonts and justifications to make an 8 page paper into a required 10 page paper.

*I'm not a member of the grammar police but there are somethings that are like an off note when spoken.

**Why the Bethesda girl's video sucked- The topic was the underground railroad in Maryland. It would have been a better paper. There was way too much footage of the girl standing in front of non-descript bushes narrating. I get that the present day owners of the house used for the underground railroad wanted no part of it, but seriously, there were other options. She could have gotten a photo from the Maryland state archives and Ken Burnsed that sucker, while narrating off screen. Video is a visual medium and she failed to give us something useful to look at. I assumed that the only reason she made it to the national round of the National History Day contest was because there was no one else in the whole of Maryland who submitted anything in that category. The girls who did the Lowell Mill fire, did amazing work. The editing was great, the cinematography was execellent and I learned about the topic.

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