Our reading focused extensively on “the right to represent oneself visually” through media, and how the new era of affordable video production and distribution also enables the creation of “a strong sense of collective identity.” While I am certain that “indigenous self-representation implies selfhood” and that “videos point out the unique political status of Indian nations,” I just don’t think my generation has the patience to watch the magnificent feature-length documentaries that could enact social change, especially if all of them are such downers.

No, the future of my generation’s education lies in the clever. Modern Americans demand bite-sized knowledge, replete with wit and cleverly drawn points. For an (admittedly abstract) example, not even the full breadth of the Academy, our most prestigious committee in Media and Film, made it through 12 Years a Slave. Now, I know that’s a narrative film, but hear me out. If we can’t even sit down and watch a dramatization of something that happened a hundred years ago, why listen to a longer length film? Hell, I have friends that couldn’t even watch Blackfish!

In my opinion, shorts like Injunuity are the most promising way of building a cultural awareness. Yes, we still need the Kahnesatake-type films every once in a while to really speak the truth, but a larger mass of more accessible ideas is needed to branch out to all demographics. If instead of 1000 heartbreaking epics, 100 Youtube clips (or just short media on social networks, like those made by Idle No More) were produced, then the message would spread like wildfire.

I realize that I may be opening a can of worms here that I am not ready to deal with. Just to be clear, I do believe in artistic integrity and I do know that the issues are absolutely worth making movies about. All I’m saying is, perhaps toning down the pathos and upping the wit might be a good idea. For all I know, the pendulum may have already swung this way without my knowledge.

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2 responses »

  1. haircomestrouble says:

    Wow. Aren’t we the entitled generation; change the world because I only have a twenty second attention span, and make it funny because I don’t want anybody to harsh my mellow. And it’s important that you cater to me, because, after all, it’s all about me, “the Modern American.” There’s a TV comedy in that title and your comment. Contrary to the internet, the world doesn’t work in twenty second soundbites. Ignorance works in soundbites. Part of understanding and knowledge is the time it takes to develop it. If it is insignificant to you then you will treat it as such; been that way since the beginning of time, but if it is important to you, you will find the time to understand it; been that way since the beginning of time, too. I’m quite certain that if you were to look back at your life you would find that the things that were important to you, you took the time to learn. Maybe a video game or a musical instrument or a sport that you wanted to play.

    But this is the worst part about your flippant comment. Without even realizing it, you completely and absolutely showed your disdain and contempt for the native Americans by suggesting that their historical and current struggles are only worthy of a witty Youtube clip because YOU want to tone down the pathos and up the wit. You should be ashamed of yourself, not because of your lack of empathy for others or contempt of their history or a number of other human considerations, but because you proudly displayed your lack of those qualities for the world. Would you feel the same of your struggles and history?

    Just to answer your claim, “If instead of 1000 heartbreaking epics, 100 Youtube clips (or just short media on social networks, like those made by Idle No More) were produced, then the message would spread like wildfire.” No, what would spread like wildfire would be 100 Youtube clips with no context to the overall struggle so that all you would see would be nice and sanitized videos with no connection to the realities that made them necessary. Why stop there? I envision an entire series of clever upbeat Youtube clips about the Holocaust, Civil rights, Women rights, Gay rights, everything.

    Finally, the problem with being clever, is the shortcut.

  2. laureljaclyn says:

    I wanted to add to this conversation a few points we brought up in class today relating to new media. I think that when we discuss new media it’s often easy to think about the first aspect–audience engagement–without considering the second half–participatory action. New media campaigns on YouTube and tend to be flashy, clever and concise. Their simplicity is in fact a problem when left as simply a video or a soundbite. However, if they are effective they should inspire some sort of further action or self education. So, yes, I do think that clever media campaigns are problematic when they are the entire campaign. But, clever campaigns that lead to further engagement? Those are essential to creating change.

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