hi everyone,

please use the comment section of this blog post to add you project ideas before class on monday – so that we can all see what everyone’s interests are to work towards creating groups around topics. – GL

Blackboards of Rudolf Steiner

Turning AIDS into a motivator for success

“When it’s engrained in you as a young person that you don’t think you have a tomorrow, you wring every last drop out of today because you may not get another one,” he said. “I was in my 20s, and all my friends were getting sick around me and dying, many of them refusing to admit what was happening to them because of the stigma and the shame” (Ryan Murphy). Ryan Murphy is an American screenwriter, director and producer. He found out he had AIDS, but instead of hiding it and refusing to admit to it like many of his friends, he was open about it and turned it into a motivator for success. It’s really amazing how during a time where there was such a huge stigma placed on AIDS (and honestly, there still is a stigma), he was able to openly talk about it. And ultimately made him live his life completely differently, and was able to become a really successful player in the television industry.

AIDS & Homophobia


After reading the articles by Gregg Bordowitz and discussing homophobia in 1980s towards gay people caused by AIDS, I was shocked by how people used to think AIDS. This kind of homophobia and ridiculous bias towards gay group is still existing within this society, but it is still quite shocking and pathetic that there were so many people being homophobic,  even including the White House. The video I shared is a audio record of President Reagan’s administration’s response to AIDS Crisis. In the video, when the administrator was asked repeatedly by the question “does the President have any response towards the AIDS? ”, he refused to answer the question directly; instead, they made AIDS a joke:  “gay plague”, “I’m relieved to here that, Larry.(doesn’t have AIDS)”,”there’s been no personal experience here”, etc. This 3-minutes long conversation is full of extremely rude, offensive and homophobic speech. Disregarding AIDS as a epidemic diseases across the country, these people were relating AIDS directly with gay people as it was a “gay plague”. It seems they didn’t care about the crisis at all, as long as it was not effecting their health and they were trying so hard to make themselves excluded from any “gay-related” affairs. It is so hard to imagine how suffering and hopeless the gay community would be. They were discriminated and excluded by the dominant group at the exact time when they need help and care. I could’t imagine how much they had been through under this circumstance and had to sacrifice for even a little more attention from the society.

Highly Recommend – Ava DuVernay’s “13th” doc on Netflix

Great follow-up film to Michelle Alexander’s  book “The New Jim Crow” – I was able to watch it over the weekend and even though I knew much of what the film covers – there is new information and all issues she raises come together really well this piece.

Television’s Dead Lesbian Syndrome

Bordowitz asks his reader “what images would [they] like to see more of” and encourages his reader to “make them” (176). In addition to making images of what people want to see, it’s also important to raise awareness about the lack of representation to big mainstream media companies; the producers of movies, TV shows, etc. that reach mass audiences. If one can’t make the images themselves, they can make their own content explaining what they feel is missing in mainstream media.

This had me thinking a lot about queer representation and reminded me of a video I saw a few months ago. In April of this year, Buzzfeed made a mock PSA video titled “Stop Killing Queer Women (On TV).” In the video, several queer women discuss how often queer female characters get killed on television shows. If you’re like me and you follow a lot of queer shows or shows with queer female characters, you understand that this is a real trend that happens on TV shows. The beginning of the video even says, “At some point in her life, every young queer woman will lose someone they love to television’s dead lesbian syndrome.” Some actual statistics the video says is:

  • “Since 1976, 65% of all queer female television characters have died”
  • “In 2015 alone, 24 queer female characters have been killed on television”
  • “Already in 2016, there have been 12 deaths”

The fact that 65% of all queer female characters since the 70’s have died shows that this has become a pattern. They don’t even leave the show for other reasons. They just get murdered or die in some way. The question is, why?

Here’s the video:

The AIDS War: Propaganda, Profiteering and Genocide from the Medical-Industrial Complex

In 2015, the Southernmost states had the highest death rate of newly diagnosed AIDS cases in the country. Those states now account for 49% of people living with HIV/AIDS, despite making up just 37% of the national population, according to the research published in theJournal of Community Health.Researchers also found the region has the lowest five-year survival rate for new AIDS diagnoses in the country – nearly a third of those diagnosed with AIDS in 2003-04 died within five years of being told they were infected. In cities such as Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Columbia, South Carolina, for example, the researchers found there was good medical care available, but that factors including “stigma, poverty, and lack of insurance” were contributing to high death rates from HIV/AIDS. More recently in poor midwestern towns such as, Austin, Indiana, widespread drug use led to the single largest outbreak of HIV in the USA history. Not surprisingly, the estimated median household income in Austin is $33,000, about $15,000 less than that for Indiana.

Hegemonic racism, classism, and sexism all play a systemic role in allowing the medical-industrial complex to pursue the AIDS war. If this virus were to had hit CIS affluent white communities, I believe that today we would have better prevention and treatment, perhaps even a cure that is not privately copyrighted. Instead we have created an industry of prescription drugs that accomplish no more than slowing down the virus in hope to extend life expectancy.  According to John Lauritsen, the author of The AIDS War: Propaganda, Profiteering and Genocide from the Medical-Industrial Complex,  “The AIDS epidemic is an epidemic of lies, through which hundreds of thousands of people have died and are dying unnecessarily, billions of dollars have gone down the drain, the Public Health Service has disgraced itself, and Science has plunged into whoredom.” In the course of his book, Lauritsen explains why he employed the metaphor of war: the terrible suffering and loss of life, propaganda, censorship, rumors, hysteria, profiteering, espionage, and sabotage. In this way, it justifies the biomedical model with its accent on “finding a cure” as opposed to immediate prevention and equitable treatment.

Here is a pretty good video summarizing the history and some of the activism being done today to fight the AIDS war.

Assigned Male Comics

This week’s readings made me think a lot about the power of media in organizing, but also the power of *creating* media in healing and empowering. Mostly, what resonated with me, was the importance of members of marginalized communities or identities being the ones to create content to represent themselves for themselves. This isn’t about “giving voice” to marginalized communities within the dominant culture, but about the power found in creating content and representing oneself outside of the mainstream hegemonic narrative.

The sentence that stuck out to me from the Bordowitz reading was “Ask yourself, “what images would I like to see more of in the world?” Make them.” (176)

Bordowitz defines dominant culture as “culture produced in the interests of the current hegemony.” (176) Later in the text he addresses how “the most widely recognized problem among community producers is lack of access to the means of television production.” (176) I believe this is still very much true today, but that today we also have alternative ways to create and advertise content that differs from the mainstream (through blogs, vlogs, facebook, twitter, etc.). This doesn’t discount the influence and gravity of the mainstream media, nor does it discount how difficult it is, still, to enter the mainstream. It is to say that these alternative ways provide a great deal of creative autonomy and influence in some circles.

This made me think of “Assigned Male” Comics; an online comic about the experiences and thoughts of a transgender girl by trans artist, Sophie Labelle, which is advertised on fb, etsy, and on a separate website. The comic strips call attention to a variety of important issues that come out of trans youth’s, and trans folks’, lived experiences. Importantly, it creates a representation of trans youth that departs from the way trans folks are usually represented in the hegemonic mainstream. More and more, different media are used to create counter-hegemonic narratives and representations. If Sophie Labelle would have created these comics even 20 years ago, she would not have had the same exposure or influence on widespread audiences. Further, perhaps 20 years ago she would not have had the means to create these comics, as nowadays tools of creation (video, comics, content) are less costly, more accessible and wide-spread.

I really recommend checking out her facebook page!

Fox News Twists Trump Protesters’ Words- Reminded me of Republican National Convention Documentary

In this video, Fox news purposefully edits and chooses interviews with Trump protesters to create the illusion that there is nothing to protest and no evidence of Trump’s prejudices. First of all, some of the people interviewed were not coherent people in general, and others were caught off guard because they didn’t have specific examples right off the bat in their heads. Another video cut away from a woman saying “um” before she could answer because she was pondering how she would answer the difficult question. By combining difficult questions, tricky detournment of video clips, and careful selection of less intelligent interviews created the image of unintelligent protesters and the illusion that there is nothing coherent to protest in Trump’s campaign, while if you look online, there are ubiquitous examples.

This reminds me of the documentation of the Republican National Convention Documentary because it demonstrates that political journalism can never be unbiased. When filmmakers have a political leaning, which everyone even if subconsciously does, it is impossible to be truly objective when creating video journalism of a political campaign.

How a hashtag defined a movement


<> on April 20, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.”

This disclosure was located at the bottom of the article, immediately following the last sentence. Disclosures are located all over the place from financial statements to communicate significant policies to real estate property transactions to communicate the condition of the property.

This article is comparing Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and how they used different mediums and the results of that choice. One quote stood out to me, “When Mr. Sanders spends seven million dollars—or nine dollars per voter—in television ads in the New York primary, it actually backfires. Being seen on old, cold broadcast television dampens his radical message. If he had used hot social media, such as Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, he might have done better.” After reading that part, I believe that the disclosure should be at the beginning of the article, not the end.

Why do you think the article included such a disclosure since most do not? Should more authors include disclosures?

Extension of Man

According to Marshall McLuhan, “extension” is everywhere: “the wheel is an extension of the foot; the book is an extension of the eye; clothing, an extension of the skin; electric circuity, an extension of the central nervous system”. This idea of “extension’ is indeed true but because this kind of extension is so pervasive in our life that we can’t realize its existence. Rather than always focusing on the “essential nature” of human, like “the foot”,”the eye”, “the skin” and “the nervous system”, we tend to ignore these crucial components of human communication and focus on those artificial parts, like “the wheel“, “the book”, “the clothing” and “the electric circuity”. I don’t want to be too critical towards these extensive objects because they are forming up the continuous development of human intelligence, but it is definitely true that due to these objects, we are ignoring and even forgetting the pure nature itself. Everything we invented and developed through history is extended from ourselves, from every part of our physical body and mental mind. We highlighted and intensified ourselves, developing them into artificial products. Everything we have already built up is the extension of ourselves, of man.