The humanities are not dying, but similar to how people, technology and the world evolves, the way humans perceive humanities is changing too. Kim Middleton, author of Remix Video and the Crisis of Humanities, wrote an article on this phenomenon discussing some of the main concerns scholars have about the changing humanities. Remix and mash up videos may be the way humanities change and conforms to the digital age. Jonathan McIntosh, a well known remix artist and producer of “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck” raises attention to the decline of employment in the American economy.
The video shows Donald Duck, a hard working citizen who loses his job and his home due to foreclosure. The video uses pop culture references illustrate a myriad of perspectives in relation to humanities. This downfall of income has resulted in many universities to cut the humanities including: language, theater and art. Without these subjects, schools are merely reduced to technical or professional schools without fostering the cognitive skills the humanities challenge. Rosemary Feal, the Executive Director of the Modern Language Association, fought against eradicating humanities with little success, holding onto the idea that cultural skills and cognitive abilities would be lost without this education.
However, with the incline of technology in the digital age, humanities will not becoming a lost art if eliminated from educational settings. People are being provided the same skills through digital mash ups and the interconnectivity of cultures through technology. “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck” today has over 2 million views, and was translated into 6 different language. This video not only speaks out to the economic crisis that resulted in the loss of humanities for some, but also how humanities can be incorporated into new, creative and inventive ways. The intertexuality actually makes us more superior learners, able to gain many perspectives and use different mediums, scaffolding to create a more complex and comprehensive understanding.
“It is a text that acquires meaning though its manifold social systems of circulation, and its cultures and subcultures, composed of knowledgeable community members who know what to do with it, and how to respond in a myriad of ways that add new layers of content to the video” (3.6).
Many, like Mark Bauerlein argue that the digital age is accountable for the decline of individual thought. Many articles were released by individuals who believe technology is making us the least intelligent generation, relying on google to think for us and “they worry that we are losing what makes us fundamentally human” (2.2). The short clip below outlines a brief summary of Bauerlein’s belief and the teen response.
Technology has helped this generation shape what we understand about ourselves and others, and where we fit into this world with the potential we can offer. It has changed us both individually and on a cultural scale, but not because we are less intelligent. Because we became a generation who thinks and learns differently than the past and have learned to adapt with the times. We are innovators, creators and are able to apply the cognitive and cultural skills learned and combine our understandings with other means such as video, audio and text.
Discussed by Chuck Tryon, author of Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the age of media convergence, the audience has become an active part of production and can utilize our ideas through remixes, mash ups, or response videos like never before. This kind of engagement is very powerful and works in tandem with humanities in cognitive and cultural experiences. The humanities are simply being presented in different means than before, but that does not make the experience any less worthy or culturally rich. Digital humanities is all around us and becoming more sophisticated through cultural, social and personal implications. Instead of harping on the economic endangerment of humanities, we should begin to shift our focus to how we can learn and grow with digital humanities.