Today's Blog: Juxtaposition

We've blogged before about juxtaposition because it's an important literary device that students will come across again and again in the texts they study - whether it's characters contrasted against each other, contrasted against the backdrop of a setting or whether imagery is used in a text as background to a scene or passage. A particularly effective example to teach students about juxtaposition comes in the form of Greenpeace's short video - Everything Is Not Awesome - watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhbliUq0_r4. This video is a critique of Lego and its partnership with the Shell oil company - a company Greenpeace feels is responsible for major pollution around the globe. In this video, Greenpeace uses a melancholic and downbeat rendition of the hit song Everything Is Awesome from The Lego Movie - unlike the high energy original. As we hear the words to the song, the images we see in the video - a panoramic view of an environment built in lego - is a world slowly being enveloped and drowned in oil. The words to the song, in other words, are dramatically juxtaposed to the mood and vision of the film.

We can step students through writing some analysis of the video like this:

1) Begin by asking students: what words would you normally associate with lego or the activity of playing with lego?

2) Play the original Everything Is Awesome to students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StTqXEQ2l-Y. What words would they use to describe this song?

3) Now watch through Greenpeace's Everything Is Not Awesome. Ask students to think about: What words would you use to describe the feeling or mood of the song? What words would you use to describe what is happening in the film?

4) Explain to students that juxtaposition is when the words to the song mean one thing, but the pictures and the feeling of the film show something that seems to be completely opposite. What is the impact of this? 

5) We can scaffold students to write some analysis of the film with some of these phrases below:

  • We would normally associate with lego...
  • However,...
  • Unlike the original....
  • Melancholic, sad, haunting, downbeat
  • We see images of...
  • The words of the song are juxtaposed....
  • The juxtaposition emphasises/shows us....

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