My final project is a website that will serve as a hub for all things produced in an ethical and sustainable way, from source to final sale. The primary role of my website will be as a shopping center—with a target audience of middle and upper class consumers—given that they’d have more financial freedom to buy the often more costly eco-friendly and ethically-made products. Still, the ultimate goal of my project is to move closer to having ethical consumerism be not just the better choice, but also the more affordable one. A feature on such a shopping site that I would like to have would be a price range scale so that the online shopper can choose between what prices he/she would like to shop. This might make the movement to conscious consumerism more accessible.
Conscious consumerism is know by many names such as ethical consumerism, ethical consumption, moral purchasing, and green consumerism (among many others), and is a form of consumer activism.
Conscious consumerism is on the upswing, and is proving effective:
A great media example is the UK Ethical Consumer Magazine:
A key feature that I love is Ethical Consumer’s company ratings page:
In my opinion, a FANTASTIC website/campaign example is in New Zealand:
A video from this website’s homepage explaining what they do:
They accredit businesses and have an app that rewards consumers. This is a smart business model!
Some American, retail examples include:
Some of the things that I have learned from these examples are of sending out updates and keeping the target audience involved. Just as Ethical Consumer sends out boycott updates I want to have a mailing list feature as well as a weekly spotlights/specials emails to send out to subscribers. Additionally, I would like to incorporate a section that sells products with some of the profit going to charities, such as Serengetee: http://serengetee.com/mission/, as well as crafts and other products coming directly from communities in need.
My website: http://transgendermedia.weebly.com/
Our second movie was Four Sheets to the Wind written by and directed by Sterlin Harjo; it was featured in Sundance Film Festival. The film is about a young boy named Cufe, and starts with him putting his fathers dead body in a pond as he asked (breaking with Native tradition). The film is about Cufe’s journey away from the reservation. His mother, his sister (Miri) and Francie (his sisters neighbor) have prominent roles in the movie, even though the movie is about Cufe’s relationship with his father. When he moves away from the reservation he goes to his sister in the city. There he meets Francie whom he forms a connection and relationship with. He has never been with a woman before and Francie is the first non-Native that he has spent a lot of time with. He opens up to her about his father, and his relationship with his father. With her we see more of Cufe’s feelings and reality.
I felt that the film was rather slow and a bit disjointed. Although it is another take of modern native american life, I did not feel as if it was promoting very good values and therefore maybe not the best film to show to a high school audience. However, it is a different take on life, and a very real film, displaying complex emotions and leaving things unresolved. The films red flags are not too bad individually however cumulatively we decided it may be too much for high school; there are two sex scenes, suicide, drinking alcohol etc.
How does the depiction of Cufe as someone that wants to leave native culture differ from most depictions/descriptions we have seen? How does this aid in adding to the diversity of the body of work that is representative of native culture?
There are three mediums we would like to explore: Advertising, News Coverage, and Music. These three mediums portray an abundance of information and perspectives about the gay culture to the general public.
The news coverage has a very complex relationship pertaining to gay culture and issues. Predominant conservative media news coverage outlets such as Fox and CNN inform the public about gay media which a distinct bias. For example on this segment from CNN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0fyWcSbuSY a debate is broadcasted between Ann Coulter and Marc Lamont Hill. Organizations such as GLAAD work to support the fair treatment of the LGBT community on news media. For example, on this article GLAAD discusses the misfair representation of gays and lebsians on Fox Television network. http://www.glaad.org/news/fox-news-coverage-transgender-community-challenged-equality-group. Fox is a conservative network and recently mocked the transgendered community on one of its news segments. GLAAD seeks to raise awareness of the misrepresentation and bias airing of LGBT issues.
Advertisement is another medium we would like to explore. Advertising plays a pivotal role in the representation of the gay culture in the media.
One of the Doritos commercials that was aired a couple years ago features a man who peeks into the yard next to him, to see two gay men eating some doritos. The man seems to be eyeing the men, as opposed to the doritos (although this is left rather ambiguous). The chips in this ad are used to make a straight man look like he’s checking the gay men out, and this gets a humorous response from a woman. It’s interesting, or perhaps expected, to note that the two gay men are portrayed in a rather stereotypical manner. The commercial does have a sense of humor and is rather funny, but the way the gay men are portrayed probably didn’t work to break down notions of gay stereotypes or negative stigmas, especially for a mainstream audience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGGWwSKondY
The organization GLSEN is a national education organization that is focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. As they report on their website, 8 out of 10 LGBT students are harassed or mistreated in school each year, and they want to change that. They put out an interesting and effective advertising campaign that plays on stereotypes and the popularly-used phrase, “That’s so gay.” The campaign features face photos of various teenagers, and partly covering them is a phrase that embodies the stereotypical nature of the phrase “That’s so gay.” The ad featured below features the face of a girl with the phrase “That’s so cheerleader who like can’t like say smart stuff.” In my opinion, it effectively applies the derogatory nature of “That’s so gay” to numerous other people and scenarios, and conveys the stereotypical and biased nature of the popular saying. Towards the bottom, the ad reads, “Think that’s mean? How do you think “that’s so gay” sounds? Hurtful. So, knock it off.” http://fletcherprince.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/print_cheerleader.jpg
Perhaps often often overlooked, there is no denying the role that music has played in shaping gay ideologies and stereotypes. At a time when the AIDS epidemic was a massive event, pop singer Madonna remained innovative in informing the uneducated about the disease. She held numerous charity-based concerts to support the research of AIDS and even incorporated an aspect of her tour that took a second out of the show to promote safe sex. Several ballads were even produced, in which Madonna lamented about one of her friends who passed away from the disease. A direct example of an artist incorporating music and fame to promote a cause, Madonna was able to be more effective than organizations at the time, since the public was able to connect better with the songs that the artist recorded about the disease. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dsk35XV-GI
While many regard Lady GaGa as an artist that is attention seeking through her outrageous antics, many fail to realize how much of a role she has played in 21st century activism. A strong ally of LGBT, Lady GaGa has been a strong proponent in the fight against AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. The artist even released a set of cosmetics through MAC Cosmetics, entitled Viva Glam. The net proceeds of the campaign, which eventually totaled $202 million, was donated to AIDS and HIV research. Lady GaGa’s most recent album, entitled “Born This Way”, had a centralized theme around self-acceptance and love. The title song from the album broke records, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and became the highest charting song with the word “transgender” in it. The empowering lyrics of the song go, “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to survive. No matter black, white or beige, chola or orient made, I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to be brave.” As of December 2012, the song has sold almost 4 million copies in the United States alone, revolutionary considering its subject matter. The “Born This Way” album focused on this theme of self-empowerment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw
A) Develop an analysis of how we interact with an aspect of the current media environment that makes visible the relationship of producer and consumer within this structure that you see as unbalanced or leading to social apathy and develop a strategy to effectively change the way we interact in this environment to strengthen community and public participation.
My final project is aimed at promoting conscious consumerism. In today’s society the average consumer has little-to-no knowledge of how the products he/she consumes come about. Consumers are often unaware of, or worse, apathetic towards, the production and in turn, exploitation, that goes into the products that they consume. Today, consumer culture is at an all time high, in which consumers can purchase goods with just the click of a button and have no knowledge of, or concern for, the negative externalities against workers, communities, and the environment that their uninformed purchase perpetuates. Yet this is not entirely at the consumer’s fault. Corporations do not want their costumers to see the negative and exploitative aspects that go into the making of their goods and especially, into keeping those goods at a competitively low price. My project, therefore, will be a website that promotes transparency in product production and easy access to goods that are made in sustainable and exploitation-free ways. The goal of my website will be to promote a consumer system in which consumers can be informed of more sustainable products and ultimately, through an increased demand for ethically made products, corporations will be inclined to shift to more ethical production processes in order to remain competitive.
I believe that through the concept of “dollar voting” consumers can use their purchasing power to shift not just they way they choose to shop, but the way companies choose to make their products. My plan is to create a website with a few core features. These features will include a mission statement supporting conscious consumerism, an online shopping center divided by category, and a forum section in which awareness can be raised against companies with bad practices and how action might be taken against these companies. The most important parts of the website, however, will be aimed at diminishing social apathy against ethical consumerism through providing transparency and hopefully, making ethical consumerism the more affordable and competitive option. While there will be a “get involved” feature to the website, the main involvement and activism will be done through the consumers’ purchasing of ethical products.
I had a great experience going to Skins Film Festival. There was something about the experience of seeing something I helped create on the big screen that made me feel both accomplished and empowered. I was a little caught of guard having to talk about our piece in from of an audience because I’m a catastrophic public speaker and I have trouble discussing my work. I was also sad that Ruby was not there to offer her perspective on her piece, since it was a very collaborative project. However, now that I know that I want to continue to experiment with short films, I know to be prepared to speak about my pieces in the future.
In addition to our piece, I thought that the other students pieces were pretty hilarious. I loved to see that the students got free range to create their stories and writing their scripts. I would also really like to see a similar program at Sherman where students create short films that feature their story lines.
It was nice to learn that after watching the films at the festival a couple of the Sherman girls wanted to join the program next semester. I think one of the issues at Sherman is that the students shy away from trying new things a lot of the time. When Karina and I were conducting our poetry/media workshops last semester the first couple of meetings students were very hesitant to participate and cooperate. I gather it also stems from the fact that they’re teenagers and that they are only sensitive to things that make them seem “cool”. Anyway, by the end of the semester the last students that continued with the poetry workshop were more excited and committed because they gave it a chance. Therefore, I am happy to see that a couple of new girls became interested after going to the film festival. The next step would be thinking about ways to get other students to go to our movie screenings or go to our off campus events, because I’m sure many of them would enjoy learning more about creating media if they gave it a chance. I suggest that students that go to Sherman in the future, try to have more than one semester relationships with the students because building trust with the students may be a big step in getting them involved in future projects.
Anyone else have any suggestions about getting Sherman students more engaged in the future?
Also thought I’d share some of the pictures!
In Chapter 4 of The Media Ecosystem Lopez discusses the evolution of media systems from reading the landscapes themselves to now reading technological reproductions of those landscapes. While technological reproductions do lose what German philosopher Walter Benjamin calls the “aura” of the original piece, he is also cognizant of the ability to increase access to, or “democratize” (104), the concept and experience. The danger comes of these reproductions comes from the misuse of these art forms such that they are twisted to fulfill a contrary agenda. Particularly regarding reproductions of nature, the tendency of “spectacularizing nature…devoid of politics” (105) eliminates pertinent discussions and critiques of ecological policies which directly, and often negatively, impact these natural systems, even as they are supposedly celebrated.
Lopez asks, “Is it ethical for nature film productions to accept sponsorship from companies that use such material to greenwash their toxic operations?” (105). The dilemma here is similar to that which is raised by the tradeoffs between making reproductions of art; while the beauty and experience of nature are able to be shared with the world as a result of this funding, it is also important to consider the consequences of potentially legitimizing toxic practices via public partnerships with those corporations. Perhaps those groups which would otherwise contribute to a nature production can free up those funds to instead expose bad practices of those corporations which contribute to the nature productions instead? Perhaps reliance on financial support of companies which are toxic to ecological security will limit a group’s ability to pursue necessary structural changes to ecological policies? What do you make of Lopez’s question on the ethics of accepting corporate sponsorships of this type?
In chapter four of The Media Ecosystem, Lopez discusses brain ecosystems and media as extensions of ourselves. When he goes into the reasons behind why certain things are in the media and what our thought process might be in ourselves that we aren’t outraged but customers to images that we may not even like at times, but subconsciously want. Lopez suggests that we use media as a form on self reflection, only recycling our feelings, desires, emotions, through media and getting it back “through greater stimulation” (97). I really like when he said
“The left and right hemispheres work well together: they are a team. Treated separately, one tends to not like the other. Consider how artists and scientists often view each other, but also what happens when they work together” (101).
Using types of people as an example to display what he means by his observation of methods of living and learning. Artist and scientists are very easy to be seen as a cliche or stereotype. One is a very creative, lax, scatterbrained, less refined personality, while the other is very smart, serious, dedicated personality. These two worlds are known as separate but as Lopez says, when these two worlds work together amazing things can happen.
Finishing Lopez’s The Media Ecosystem (2012), while I felt that his overall metaphor of our current media and ecology was an effective tool to distinguish his work from others, I can’t help but think about how he didn’t really present any media theory that really challenged existing media studies key works. For example, throughout this course we were exposed to various forms that have used media in innovative ways that stressed community and open-source awareness. Lopez’s book also stressed this, but mostly by pointing to existing examples, I guess in a way providing a historical narrative. I was introduced to new terms in this book, most of them having to do with web technology, but I feel like he didn’t push the discussion beyond giving an overview of what is out there. Perhaps that’s what this book is for: giving an introduction to how groups who want to create a media environment that takes into account environmental issues and community are working currently. I guess I just expected this book, since it is a manifesto (correct?), to be more along the lines of the work by Debourd, McLuhan, and the third cinema theorists.
I will say that I found the last chapter super helpful in not only the resources that Lopez provided, but also in the conclusion that brought back certain topics we had explored throughout the semester.