Many people say that Film and Media Studies are ‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects. I thought of this when my friend, who was reading through my notes on The Graduate (1967) the other day, noticed the similarities between Film Studies and English Lit. You analyse, look for deeper meaning, write essays, talk about historical and economical context, and look at the technical aspects of how this particular piece was built. We look at critics and the industry as a whole. One step further, we do it ourselves. And Michael Gove and his ilk call it a ‘Mickey Mouse’ subject.

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Now let’s look at the irony of that; who owns Mickey Mouse? Well, that would be Disney. Disney is one of the world’s largest media and entertainment conglomerates, and it makes quite a bit of money. The hit animated musical Frozen (2013) made $1.274 billion alone. Disney deals with media networks – Pixar and Disney Animation Studios – as well as theme parks and resorts and television networks… and Mickey Mouse is it’s main symbol. So to say that a subject is ‘Mickey Mouse’ is just proof of the ignorance and lack of education some people have in these subjects.

Looking closer to home, it would be almost impossible to imagine Britain without it’s film and media industries. It’s doubtable that even the most prestigious of the Eton boys haven’t switched on the TV at least once, or enjoyed a good film. Our politicians require the media to get their messages and proposals across to the common people. We rave about our pride in the British Film Industry, and here we are, shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to take away an education in these subjects. It’s almost as if they don’t realise the work that goes into making that TV show they love so much.

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Journalist Andrew Marr, called Media Studies ‘a trivial, minor field of research, spuriously created for jargon-spinners and academic make-weights.’ What he won’t realise (like most elitists who work in the media and are horrified at the idea of normal people studying it) is the amount of work that goes into Media Studies, and how difficult the subject really is. In order to succeed, you must be able to write. Really well. The Office of National Statistics 2013 report found that people who had a media degree had the second highest employment rate in all of the UK. Not only that, but the media is known to play a significant role in our modern society, and to remove a subject that provides so much for our economy from the national curriculum would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

Media studies alone is about engaging in the media world, theory and the way it’s produced. You have to be able to think critically, and be able to organise and manage a project – something most people struggle to do. It’s the same with Film Studies – in making a film there is a meticulous amount of planning, organising, dealing with people and technology in a way that most can’t. Creativity and critical thinking are appreciated in other subjects, so why not Film? And once again this subject is beneficial to our economy – the Department for Media, Culture and Sport found in early 2014 that the creative industries were worth £8 million per hour to the UK economy. It also found that over the last 3 years, employment within the creative industries has grown at 5 times the rate of the wider UK economy. Of course, that doesn’t solely mean film and media, but the music industry as well.

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It’s easy to look at the statistics and draw conclusions without considering the purely physical attraction of the media and film to our younger generations. When directors like Alfred Hitchcock go down in history as one of Britain’s greatest ever cultural successes, we can only wonder why creativity is stifled by our education. It’s likely the case that the pen pushers and bean counters don’t understand anything that can’t be tested easily, seeing coursework as an ‘easy’ option when in fact it’s the coursework that media students struggle with the most.

And finally, as a student who has spent the last week arguing the case that these subjects need to be taken more seriously, I hope that one day we have a government that appreciates what the creative industries do for our country, and encourage our education rather than trying to scrap it.

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