NYC Nonprofit The LAMP Hosts 4th Annual “Break the Super Bowl” Event for Teens

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Local teens remix top Super Bowl commercials and win prizes while learning critical thinking, literacy, media production, fair use

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We just want young people to think for themselves and make their own choices, rather than act the way mass media tells them to act. - D.C. Vito, Executive Director, The LAMP

When the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday, a group of New York City teens attending will be taking on an even greater force: Big Media. The event, called "Break the Super Bowl" is hosted by The LAMP, a media education nonprofit in New York City.

With thirty seconds of commercial time selling for roughly $4.5 million, the Super Bowl has become the year’s marquee event for advertisers looking to make a big splash for a captive audience, which in 2014 broke records at 111.5 million viewers. Brands can also garner millions more impressions with online content.

But where marketers see the Super Bowl as a prime opportunity to sell products, The LAMP sees the event as an opportunity for young people to actively engage with the multi-million dollar messages, which often utilize over-the-top stereotypes, misinformation and other ethically questionable marketing techniques. Using basic video editing software like the MediaBreaker or iMovie, teens remix actual Super Bowl commercials to pull back the curtain on the tricks of the advertising trade. After a trained adult reviews the remixed, or ‘broken’, commercial for fair use compliance, the video is posted online – often as the original commercial is airing live.

“It is so easy to sit back and absorb media messages without questioning how or why they make us feel and think the way we do,” said D.C. Vito, Executive Director of The LAMP. “But like any media, commercials can have a real impact on changing our behavior. The purpose is to get you to spend money, but while they’re trying to influence you, they’re also defining and reinforcing norms and values while denigrating others. We just want young people to think for themselves and make their own choices, rather than act the way mass media tells them to act.”

Over the course of the evening, teens will remix commercials and compete in challenges set up by The LAMP, and win prizes donated by local businesses. The game will be streamed live, with food and laptops provided for the evening.

“The teens have a great time – that’s why they keep asking us back,” said Alan Berry, Education Director for The LAMP. “It’s not your typical Super Bowl party because they actually get involved. They also get to hang out with their friends, watch the game and win prizes. Maybe they don’t realize they’re learning something too, but it’s clear in the videos. They are.”

For more information or to get involved, visit thelamp.org/btsb15 and follow The LAMP on Twitter at @thelampnyc for live event updates during the game using the hashtag #BTSB15.

The LAMP provides hands-on learning opportunities to at-risk and underserved populations so they can work, learn, socialize and create in the 21st century. Through partnerships with dozens of schools and nonprofit organizations, The LAMP has directly reached over 3,000 youth, parents and educators by bringing equipment to its partner sites. More information at thelamp.org.

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Emily Long
The LAMP NYC
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