The Power of Being Uncomfortable

Throughout this class, I have been noticing a pattern or theme in the movies we’ve watched and the movements we’ve read about: the more uncomfortable the audience, the louder the message. For example, while reading about the SI movement, we can see they actively challenge the reader and directly call on the reader to counter their extreme points; La Hora de Los Hornos uses the slaughterhouse scenes to illuminate the consumer cycle; Chris Burden interrupts the hypnotic state of TV watchers by squirming his bare body over shards of glass; Phil Patiris taking the magical images of Tinker Bell and incorporating the gruesome bombings of Iraq; students posting on yik yak about the BLM protest at frary; the racial separation of our class for the activity. This theme really became clear to me when we split up by “race” for the class activity. Initially, I didn’t like that we were split up. Everyone in the “non-white” group expressed how uncomfortable it made them feel. Then Professor Lamb said that that was the point, and I realized that it is uncomfortable which drives the loudest points. When we are made uncomfortable (even by reality), we become hyperaware of what is making us uncomfortable. People are not moved or swayed by the “normal”, every day experiences they have; being uncomfortable makes us want to change and revert back to our comfort zones. Being uncomfortable also shocks people into conversation. I think there’s a lot to learn about social movements and a lot to teach through social movements if we utilize the tool of “uncomfort.” Now, I am glad we were split up by “race” in class, and I hope we learn how to utilize the power of being and making others uncomfortable in order to make the loudest statements at the 5Cs.

La Hora de los Hornos

La Hora de los Hornos, by Octavio Getino and  Fernando E. Solanas was a very interesting watch not only for it’s visual qualities, but for its message and the way it packages and delivers that message. Often, films made with a social message follow a very particular aesthetic and come off as informational and preachy. That is not the case here. The film functions as a call to action through the use of a few effective tools. The first being the use of quotes from famous leaders and revolutionaries speaking of the oppression of people and the importance of rising up against the oppressor. The next tool was the use of relatable images that are not explicitly revolutionary, but can be connected to or trigger thoughts of uprising. Lastly, the use of voiceover and black screen gives the audience a space to imagine themselves in the position of those that they see on screen participating in action to free themselves. The film is very successful in creating a space that draws out rebelliousness from its viewers. an excellent example of this is the slaughter scene. While they show gruesome images of the killing of cows for consumption, there is voiceover that discusses the meat industry and how that feeds into the exploitation of the people. Not only does this create a visual/auditory connection between blood, death, gore, and the plight of the people being discussed, it also explicitly addresses factual information about those same people.

La Hora de los Hornos: the slaughterhouse scene

The slaughterhouse scene in La Hora de los Hornos troubled me. Getino and Solanas show viewers a typical day at the slaughter house. The scene is shot as if you’re a fly on the wall seeing everything. Watching the cows being corralled into “death pens,”  their heads being pounded with hammers and getting skinned and gutted was horrifying. I was extremely uncomfortable and closed my eyes at times because I didn’t want to acknowledge what was happening. I didn’t want to face the reality of America’s meat industry. What was clever about this scene is that video advertisements were interspersed between shots of the slaughter house. Getino and Solanas put together the scene this way to emphasize how we are disconnected from the true reality of what is going on around us. In a grocery store we don’t think about the chicken that was kept in a cage all its life when looking at a package of chicken breast, or the farmworker who isn’t getting paid enough when buying a basket of strawberries. All we see is a piece of protein perfect for a barbecue or the red juicy berry that will tickle our tastebuds with our morning cereal. We forget to think about the whole story of products from origin to store shelf. Advertisements make us more unmindful. They encourage us to forget the truth about how commodities are made and even romanticize products, making us associate them with fake realities. The slaughterhouse scene made me think of some creative and compelling World Wide Fund for Nature advertisements (see below). They do almost exactly what Getino and Solanas did in La Hora de los Hornos. They reveal the truth behind environmental issues. However, they do so by using clever imagery. This is different than Getino and Solanas showing viewers exactly what they would see if they entered the slaughterhouse themselves. What makes the WWF advertisements so impactful is that they bring environmental issues into society. For example, the advertisement that asks viewers to donate to help save the Maul’s dolphins from net fishing uses the schoolyard fence to represent a fishing net. By bringing the environmental issue into the built environment, people are able to understand and relate to the issue. Even though WWF advertisements and the slaughterhouse scene in La Hora de los Hornos differ in their approach to expose reality, they both cause viewers to be mindful about what is going on in the world around them.




“The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” – Paulo Friere

In general, the concept of “dehumanization” is frustrating for me. The histories of slavery and colonization constantly utilize the narrative that colonizers/slavers didn’t view the populations that they oppressed as “human,” that the horrific acts of committed against them were dehumanizing, etc. This concept bothers me a little bit because I’ve grown to understand that often the oppressors were very aware of the humanity of their victims, yet they constructed them as less than human and as “other” in their records to help justify the morality of their actions for themselves and anyone observing. So, the notion that humanity is a choice that is presented in Friere’s essay is a stance that I don’t exactly agree with, though I do understand that some statements and generalizations made have more to do with the time period he is in/the language used and could be reformulated today. Humanity is a given, and it is more of a choice to fully recognize it or to act as if it really exists. One line from “The Pedagogy of Oppressed” that seems very significant because of its finality, however, is this quote: “An act is oppressive only when it prevents people from being more fully human” (56-57). I would correct this statement to say that an act is oppressive when it allows the oppressor to act as if no humanity exists within the oppressed. The notion that humanity, or lack there of, is a constructed state is important. Friere talks distortion in a slightly different context at another point in the piece, but I think the concept applies here too: To distort or manipulate an image is a conscious action, and this also a[plies to the manipulation of what makes one “human.” The part that talked about how the the responsibility or the “task” of the oppressed is to restore their own humanity as well as that of the oppressor, consequently, I did not agree with as well. To repair the historical and hypocritical construct of the Other/non-human can almost not be done, and the responsibility needs to fall with those with institutional power; this will be the same groups who created the binary and the construct in the first place.

La Hora de los Hornos and Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The animal slaughter scene in La Hora de los Hornos that was both powerful and shocking. As someone who eats meat, I found it very disturbing (I even looked away for most of the time) but I understood the creator’s point. By having the scene transfer from innocent animals being slaughtered to product advertisements made me realize how separated we are from what we consume. Furthermore, realizing the process that goes from a living animal to a dinner plate. It shows insight to how gruesome working in the food industry can be. However, most of us don’t even think about it as we dig into our delicious meals.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Fiere discusses the idea of humanization and dehumanization. Of course, in this chapter he is referencing humans becoming dehumanized by their oppressor. Rather than actual human beings, their oppressor starts to view them as things. However, I couldn’t help but relate to the animal slaughter scene. When I eat a chicken sandwich, I lose the association of a live chicken to the object inside my sandwich. Although I love animals dearly, it doesn’t cross my mind when I am eating meat. I have eliminated any thoughts of what I am eating was once living. It reflects the idea that our society is so detached from what we eat.

La Hora de los Hornos

The screening tonight, La Hora de los Hornos, was one of the most poignant screenings we’ve seen in class, in my opinion. It was not only a call for action and revolution among the oppressed indigenous people of Argentina in the 1960s, it also seemed to be a re-writing of history. We often talk about history being written by the victors, and this film was a new education — history written by the oppressed. Along this same notion, the Solanos and Getino manifesto titled “Toward A Third Cinema” reminded us that culture is shaped and therefore able to be reshaped. By revealing a new history, the possibility for change becomes evident.

In a sociology of violence course I took at Pomona a couple years ago, we would often talk about the violence that ensues whens extreme poverty lives next to extreme wealth. We would always talk about LA as the ultimate example of this, though I think this film does an incredible job at illustrating this same point in Argentina. Images of the utmost wealthy alongside images of sad faces living in unsanitary conditions undeniably fires a rage. I think the film did an incredible job with the task at hand: revealing the truth in order to made change.

Personal Reaction to “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”

This is the second time I have read this chapter by Freire for a class, but the passage of two years between that occasion and my re-reading of it today has reframed my understanding of the text. The ingrained nature of systems of oppression remain a part of our lives even as we try to fight against them, and the realities we strive for are driven on some level by these systems. When contemplating this, however, I begin to wonder what kind of world could exist outside of this oppression. What does it mean to be truly free? Two years ago I felt I could understand at face value this text, but now I am beginning to question my own interpretation and comprehension of it. What is “authentic existence” as Freire posits it? I am trying to understand the reading within the scope of a sphere in which I feel I have been oppressed, as a disabled individual trying to succeed in a system not designed for people like me. If what I want, more than anything, is to be able to live the way my non-disabled peers do, without my set of worries and anxieties and pain, am I feeding back into the system of oppression? Should I instead want to change what it means to be able-bodied or disabled, attempt to redefine our dominant norms? Why does this feel unachievable to me? Perhaps my personal example does not align with what the reading is trying to say, or perhaps I am unwilling to accept that my desire for a more “functional” body is dehumanizing to myself. I am still not sure where I stand on this issue.

Third Cinema vs. Hollywood

I found the Third Cinema Manifesto by Solano and Getino very intriguing and I think Third Cinema itself was a very innovative and much-needed form of media during its initial creation. It seems to me that the main purpose of Third Cinema is to expose the process by which oppression occurs through truthful filming and critical ideology in order to create a better society that is equal and just. Through exposing historical and political policies, engaging spectators to reflect in order to inspire them to take revolutionary action, and producing and distributing films that are uncensored, Third Cinema raises political consciousness of viewers who often time don’t realize that the cry for revolution does not stop after you watch the film. At the same time I can’t help but think about Hollywood and Big Blockbuster films and how although movies can be used for education, their use is predominantly for entertainment and leisure, which makes me wonder if we as a society are not at a point where we can actively critique ourselves or actually make impact.

In order for Third Cinema to be successful it must appeal to the masses by presenting the truth and inspiring revolutionary activism. Movie theaters are everywhere and it is a past-time that most people engage in, yet how many educational films do we actually see in theaters. Usually the people watching specific documentaries are the ones who the issues presented in those documentaries affect. The real question I think for our current society is how do we make revolution widespread and a community event.  Since “first cinema” (the Hollywood model) perpetuates first world and elite class values to a passive audience through escapist spectacle and individual characters, the question is how do we get the people that indulge in first cinema to care about third cinema?

Project Idea–Nadja and Ashley

For our project we plan to show how big corporations use the stereotypes of images in the media, especially those surrounding hip hop, to fill more prisons and make more money. By compiling pictures, news footage, and commercial ads we want to expose the intentions of big companies, which we believe function on a for profit basis, as well as show how news outlets uses these intentions to gain more viewership through their biased headlines and broadcasting. By doing this we hope to juxtapose language and imagery in the media, which we believe conveys a very biased media portrayal of certain individuals, with more accurate facts about how negative portrayal of black bodies in the media influences racism and discrimination, like though the prison industrial complex, racial violence in the U.S., etc. We will primarily use archival footage and pictures from YouTube and other sites, and edit it together to convey our message.

iPhone Movies: Contemporary Third Cinema

In Fernando Solanas and Octavia Getino’s Towards a Third Cinema, the authors acknowledge but then never really address a very important part of “guerrilla filmmaking”: the exclusivity of cinema (as a whole) to privileged peoples. Moreover, those oppressed populations — which these films are actually addressing — lack the freedom, resources, time, etc. to be able to make a film let alone copy and distribute it. In this way, I find Third Cinema to be a really helpful tool for inciting awareness within first world populations, not only to make aware but to use cinema as an emotional tool to incite action even when issues feel far away. Though, access to technology, even in more remote areas, allows the possibility for a contemporary revival of Third Cinema, as outlined by a film from this year’s Sundance film festival, Tangerine. Tangerine is a low-budget film which follows two transgender prostitutes with a no-victim attitude as they work the not-so-glamourous streets of hollywood. Not only is the subject matter pretty revolutionary, in the portrayal of two POC transgender characters but the film was also shot on an iPhone 5S with an $8 app. This super affordable new way of filmmaking, in my opinion, carves a new path for low-budget filmmakers, giving them access to all the equipment they need right on their device, the only challenge seems to be focusing this access for good over entertainment.