In “Operative Assumptions”, Gregg Bordowitz examines the role that the media, particularly television sources, play in activism. He relates this concept to the AIDS and HIV movement, and how the monitor created a voice for people to spread awareness for this devastating cause. Bordowitz highlights the struggles that television had to go through in order to establish itself as a dominant media source. Bordowitz, himself notes, “I think many video artists were and continue to be daunted by the monolithic enterprise of broadcast television. Artists feel that they can’t possibly compete with it because of lack of resources and lack of access to broadcast venues.” (174). Television offers many challenges to the modern filmmakers, particularly knowing which audience to serve, and how to go about creating an effective piece.
Today, television plays such a huge role in how we think and go about our day-to-day lives. There are widely broadcasted programs that attempt to create social change. It almost seems like there is usually a celebrity-filled phone-a-thon every time a natural disaster occurs. Rather than focusing on preemptive efforts, mainstream media uses the catastrophe as a way to gain rating at the expense of the people suffering. While it is a cruel and partially sickening method of gaining success, people tune in with the thought that they are doing good for those suffering. In reality, they are merely supporting the big business television companies.
Similarly, whenever huge social movements take place, a national broadcast has to occur which cuts into regular public programming. In June, for example, the ban on gay marriage in California was overturned. For a good few days before and after that decision, it was practically impossible to turn on a news station without hearing about the historic moment. One cannot help but question whether this coverage occurs in order to provide the public with information, or to merely get better ratings for the station.
Questions: What are your views on the role of television in the scheme of today’s social movements? Do you think it helps these causes?