Fatal Bazooka

We get kids up and acting, but what are they acting about? We make the story all about them and their worlds. Even if we were skilled magicians at TPRS, the story will not really be interesting to them without good personalized content.

In my own experience taking my kids into a fifteenth century world of forested creatures provides good content. Stories around rock stars and teen celebrities always work really well – it is a staple of content choice in TPRS. Stories based on Sponge Bob characters or the Simpsons also work wonderfully, because most of the kids are experts in this area.

A huge leap forward in the choice of content for stories in my classroom has taken place lately in my classroom in the form of rap music. I have vastly underrated the influence, for better or worse, of rap artists on American kids. French rap is a good place to go for a good story.

The commercial interests who produce these artists do a lot of content research for us, and for good reasons called dollars. No wonder rap music appeals so much to kids in their mid-teens – it is commercially aimed directly at them!

The French rapper named Fatal Bazooka has a song out called “Speak to My Hand” (“Parle à Ma Main”). I taught some of the more recognizable terms to my kids (“Non, merci”, “Pas intéréssée”) and then the next day played the song, which was about a teen girl who has an argument with her dad and goes out on the street and is a guy-magnet, but rejects them all with catchy phrases like those above. The theme of the song is “les mecs sont tous nuls” (“guys are all zeros”).

While we listened to the song the next day, with the kids trying to pick out words they could understand, I asked three boys to lipsync the words. These “mecs” were soon dancing, strutting their stuff with amazingly accurate singing, and their French accents were vastly improved in those moments of the song.

The reaction of the girls in the class was electric. The whole class wanted to do a story right then and there featuring the characters in the song. I found later that out that the guys and half the kids in the class had downloaded the “Parle à Ma Main” video the night before and had studied it, hence the acting surge the next day.

It showed me the importance of content. It made me conscious that, often, if a story wains, it is not so much because I am not doing the skills involved in asking a story as well as I could, but rather, that I just have boring subject matter.

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