After two and 1/2 years of anticipation I FINALLY MADE IT! I am so excited to be in Copenhagen, but to be honest it hasn’t quite hit me yet.

My flight was almost completely DIS students, and I met some of my future housemates on it. We got in (much ahead of schedule) at about 6:30 am, so our SRAs were a little discombobulated when they came to pick us up. My SRA is named Louise, and she is super funny, a little sassy, and generally awesome as far as I can tell. Also she is absolutely gorgeous, as most of the Danes tend to be *sigh*. She and Asbjorn, the 3rd floor RA, are also INCREDIBLE chefs- they made us a restaurant quality welcome dinner of Green Curry. Before dinner, they showed us around the neighborhood and took us grocery shopping. Our DRC is literally a minute away from most DIS buildings, so I am thrilled to be so close.

My day after the flight consisted of laying on the common room couch with my housemate Erin in a state of extreme jet lag/sleep deprivation, listening to the new Beyonce album and watching TLC with the SRAs, and meeting my other suitemates. There are 11 of us including Louise, and 10 of us are girls! Poor Max has never been around so many girls- I’ll keep you posted on how he fares.

Today we went to the historic Circus building for orientation. A long time ago, the circus used to actually take place there (the director noted that I was sitting where the seal show used to be). It’s now used for Danish music awards and other large gatherings. My favorite part of the orientation was when the director disccussed the “selfie” incident at Nelson Mandela’s funeral (see here: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/barack-obama-david-cameron-selfie-at-nelson-mandela-memorial-creates-online-stir-457172), and then instructed us to take our own selfies. After getting really excited (and a little scared about the metro system- I’ll see how that goes), some of my housemates and I went to the Palladin Bogcafe. I am DEFINITELY going to study there a lot, it is a cute cafe where a lot of Danes go and it looks like an old fashioned bookstore. It is very cozy, or hygge as the Danes say, with candles on every table. And the food and coffee was DELICIOUS.

The Circus Building Circa 1953

The Circus Building Circa 1953

My AMAZING (and not too expensive) sandwich from Palladin

My AMAZING (and not too expensive) sandwich from Palladin

We also went to Netto to get groceries, and since none of us are Masterchefs (or just too lazy to cook) we all came back with weird combinations of food and wine.

Shopping at Netto

Shopping at Netto

Tomorrow we are going on ‘the amazing race’ where we learn our way around the city center! I’ll let you know how it goes!

Revolution 2.0

I found Wael Ghonim’s book Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir to be a really inspiring and enthralling read. In Revolution 2.0 Ghonim recounts how, through media, he found himself a leader in the Egyptian revolution of 2011 that overthrew the Mubarak Regime. The memoir is truly a page-turner, and in my opinion, a beacon of hope for future change. Ghonim, after his growing resentment towards the Mubarak regime peaked with the torture and murder of Khaled Mohamed Said, was driven to create a Facebook group that could serve to spread awareness and unite Egyptians against the injustices of the Mubarak Regime. “Kullena Khaled Said,” or “We Are All Khaled Said” in English, was the name Ghonim chose for the Facebook group. For me, some of the most important lessons Ghonim teaches are in how he marketed his Facebook group so that it could be most successful. As an executive at Google Ghonim knew the importance of the language he chose to use on the page. By using all-encompassing, colloquial Egyptian, and fairly neutral language (as opposed to the already existing, site that took a more belligerent approach) he was able to reach a larger audience. Additionally, in using techniques such as the first-person singular he was able to open a direct dialogue with the page’s member and through creating polls he was able to gain insight and involvement.

Ghonim’s largest success might have been in his ability to move the participation and community he had created online, in the virtual world, to the real one. Although he stresses throughout his book, and especially in the epilogue (and rightly so), that it is because of the masses that supported and participated in the movement that revolution occurred, still, Ghonim did a commendable job in propelling the revolution and more importantly, outlining how, through social media revolution is possible. Ghonim says “thanks to modern technology, participatory democracy is becoming a reality. Governments are finding it harder and harder to keep their people isolated from one another, to censor information, and to hide corruption and issue propaganda that goes unchallenged. Slowly but surely, the weapons of mass oppression are becoming extinct.” (p. 293)

The Media Ecosystem

Antonio López’s manifesto The Media Ecosystem provides a powerful account of the destructive forces at work in today’s media system that is controlled by the dominant system and is perpetuating both social and ecological injustices. In the final chapters of his book López identifies final flaws in the gap between consumers and producers, demonstrates how certain forms of media/activism are ineffective in combatting the dominant system that is in place, and ultimately, outlines through successful examples how a positive shift can be made in today’s global media ecosystem. López urges for the decolonizing of media and the use of ethical spectacles as well as for the need of a planetary consciousness. Real change cannot be made if the methods used only serve to reinforce the status quo. The idea of “shallow” ecology, for instance, or eco media, differs from alternative media examples in that they are not based in creating collectivity or shared space and knowledge (as seen in Paul Hawken’s community promoting website WiserEarth.org). The idea of the “ethical spectacle” for instance—coined by activist Stephen Duncombe—is to move away from political spectacle that are undemocratic by design and instead, create a “work that is open to interpretation and completed by the viewer.” (p. 153) All in all, López is calling for an occupation of media (or reoccupation) and most importantly, participatory media.

Plus, a book suggestion:

Finally, my last book suggestion/reference:  In the 4th chapter López explains how the hyper-stimulating images we see in the media are desensitizing our brains and in the section “Brain Ecosystems,” López delves further into how the way we use our brains has shifted today. This reminded me of a book I have been interested in checking out (although haven’t gotten around to…)

The book is called The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to our Brains and is by author Nicholas Carr. Below is a link to the New York Times’ review: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/books/review/Lehrer-t.html?_r=0

Mapping Memories/Video for Advocacy

The ideas expressed in the readings for week 12 of our class strengthen the call for participatory media and the idea that “the process is generally more considered more important that the product,” as stressed in Video for Change: A Guide for Advocacy and Activism by www.witness.org. While this advocacy guide serves to prove, through amazing (and saddening) examples, the power of video and storytelling in successfully maintaining ethical accountability, I found Mapping Memories to be much more engaging.

In the first chapter “Refugee Youth & Participatory Practice” the reader is introduced to the participatory project in which youth refugees in Canada are partake in workshops aimed at empowering them through their use of media tools and storytelling. Mapping Memories serves as a guide for how (and why) to enact participatory programs. The first chapter defines a participatory process as offering participants “a say in how the work is presented and distributed.” The leaders of the workshop believe “that participation should take place at every phase of the project – from initial planning, to recruitment, to the development of goals, to production, and dissemination.” (p. 10) Additionally, as mentioned multiple times within the second chapter, the creation of such a workshop is always subject to change as it is a learning process for the teachers as well. Another important point emphasized in the second chapter “Tell Me a Story: Digital Storytelling Workshops at Maison Haidar, a Residence for Refugees” is the “trust factor” and that the members all feel comfortable and that there is somebody who they trust in the room.

These readings along with our class discussion made me wonder about to what extent the documentary Girl Rising (which I love!) is participatory in the participatory vs. advocacy debate. The screening I attended had a panel in which the people involved in the making of the movie explained how each girl was partnered with a writer to help tell her story…yet the girls were not involved at every step of the production and distribution of the movie. Still, I think it is participatory. I am curious what others think about this. Below is a preview to the film.

Pedagody of the Opressed

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Friere, is essential in proposing a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student and society. It is aimed directly at the so called ‘oppressed’, and delves into detail about the link between the ‘oppressed’ and the ‘oppressors’.

In Chapter One, the idea of humanization is perpetuated greatly. Friere firmly believes that we must show qualities of freedom, integrity and understanding to not only ourselves, but to others, in order to recognize this concept of humanization and allow it to benefit our society. Not only must we try to implement elements of humanization in order to allow society to thrive, but we must acknowledge the presence of dehumanization. When dehumanization has occurred, a person’s humanity has been stolen and this lead to the individual becoming oppressed. An individual Friere argues can also become dehumanized through taking the humanity of another person and refusing to treat them like a real person but instead a mere object. Friere also delves into the detail about the Oppressor’s ability to ignore the Oppressed because they believe they have gotten themselves into that particular situation due to them for instance being ‘lazy’ or ‘ungrateful’, either in general or to the generous overtures offered by the elitist class. The delicate balance between a member of either the Oppressed or Oppressor is conveyed.  To restore the humanity of both of them, the Oppressed must try their best to fight to change their situation, but must attempt not to become oppressors in the process.

Guy Debord

Guy Debord, in his philosophical text Society of the Spectacle, links the idea of the Spectacle, which can be another term for the mass media, as essential in controlling societies, and establishes the fact that it is indeed dominant groups that have direct control over this Spectacle. Therefore dominant groups that control that have the ability to control the Spectacle have direct access to changing the viewpoints and beliefs of millions of people. With this power, dominant groups can only convey information that they want to, even if the truth has to be bent in order to reach this endpoint. Debord also references the importance of images in the upholding of the Spectacle, and that it is complimentary for them to be paired with text in order to allow the general public to form the opinions that the dominant groups desire. Although images and text combined seem to increase the validity of each other making both seem flawless, it is important to note that one may have been changed in order to suit the other (i.e. an image could be and written about wrongly on purpose) which at many times goes unnoticed. Besides being another term for the mass media, the Spectacle could also reference the high degree of consumerism after the war, which existed because many were eager to move on with their lives and embellish it with expensive products and services, and also because increased satellite technology allowed advertisements to infiltrate society on television.

 

Operative Assumptions/ HIV & AIDS

Opperative Assumptions by Gregg Bordowitz focuses on the powerful and popular media medium of television, and its effects on society as a whole. It also explores the role of television in activism, and whether it has played a positive or negative role in it. The negative aspect of this is explored, and is inclusive of how much it dominates the percentage of media domination. Many individuals rely on TV daily in order to gain information about the outside world and thus TV as a medium for media has a large responsibility. This can be misused, which is evident in the way that it portrayed HIV and AIDS when the conditions were starting to become prominent in society. It overall portrayed HIV and AIDS as something racialized, foreign, and socially unacceptable. This links to the fact that TV during that time period (and to a very large extent today) mainly portrays the opinions of majority as opposed to minority groups, showing a large degree of bias. This exclusion of the realities facing the minority group can directly effect them in a negative manner and they will thus think that they are socially inferior.

It is important when watching TV to carefully consider how for example, certain groups in society are being portrayed. Since TV is the and if not one of the most significant sources of media, we should question what is being portrayed on it. Stereotypes and assumptions on minority groups such as those that have HIV/AIDS must be carefully examined and most likely rejected instead of believed.

 

 

Rhetorical Dimensions of Native American Documentary

Rhetorical Dimensions of Native American Documentary by Steve Leuthold, is a text that details the changes that Native American made documentaries have undergone over time. It also discusses what is typical of them to portray, and how they go about doing this. The text compares what they have accomplished to this day and what they are, as opposed to what they hope to accomplish and to be in the future. It is important to note how the text discusses how it is important that Native Americans make and produce their own documentaries that reflect their culture and beliefs in an accurate fashion. This is juxtaposed to the documentaries made by non-natives that only reflect their own believes about Native American culture, therefore most likely being inaccurate and invalid. Therefore it is important that Native made documentaries exist because they give the makers and their community a proper ‘voice’.

The stereotype that using such technological advances such as cameras and filming equipment being a contradiction for what they stand for is also discussed. It is unfair for us to expect an entire society to remain stuck in the past because they need to be true to their ‘beliefs’. The author argues that such forms of technology should be embraced because they provide the opportunity to convey an accurate depiction of Native American life.

Revolution 2.0

Revolution 2.0 by Wael Ghonim describes the media campaign of a cry of outrage that went viral. In chapter three the author presents himself as victim Khaled Said, the victim of a brutal police assault, and receives a massive media response on facebook. The author said “What drove me more than anything else, was the thought that I could speak for him, and if even a single victim of the regime could have the chance to defend himself, it would be a turning point” (Ghonim 61). Speaking out in the voice of the victim proved to be very successful in receiving support. Not only were people “liking” status’ and pages on facebook but people began to actually respond: “The virtual world seemed further from the oppressive reach of the regime, and therefore many were encouraged to speak up” (67). I believe this idea touches upon a very important concept that we discussed in the very beginning of the semester. What does it mean to be an active participant in a cause? Oftentimes people support a cause much more than support is actually “shown.” For instance this past summer I participated in a 350.org peaceful march where people were arrested for trespassing on Chevron private property. The facebook page for the event received much more support than actual participants in the march. Nevertheless, the media participation does make a difference. It had a huge impact in uniting Egyptians against prejudice as it did this summer uniting people for the environment. When I was filming in the march I really felt that sense of community. People, who were complete strangers, united together and chanted together as if the were old friends. It was truly inspiring to see and to be apart of. Unity is power.

Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan’s revolutionary text that even has a cult following, titled The Medium is the Massage, demonstrates how our connection with the media is an extension of our psyche and how the media itself is an extension of our human senses. It is an unconventional text which meshes together text and picture, almost alike to a children’s book, albeit with much deeper meaning attached to and embedded within it. Within the text, throughout the array of pictures and text, McLuhan argues that technologies are the messages themselves, not the content of the medium. The text is both a graphical and creative representation of this.

The play in words of “massage” insinuates that modern audiences are easily influenced by the nature of modern day media, because they might find it relaxing, soothing, and enjoyable. However, he suggests that this ‘pleasure’ we find through new age media is deceiving, because of the development of an age of anxiety through the existence of these various media forms.

I believe that the allusion to being ‘massaged’ and coerced into accepting what is conveyed in these various forms of new age media is important to consider. Despite the attractive nature of listening to everything that the media portrays to us, we must use our discretion when it comes to forming judgements concerning whether or not what we see or hear is valid.