Media Manifesto by Apryl Koch & Tyler Cohen
Who are we?
Unified Independent Engagement is a faceless organization actively participating within virtual and physical communities. We are unified because we are people with shared interests–changing the criminal justice system, media, healthcare system, and many other facets of society in order to create a safer, healthier and a more innovative society. While being a cohesive and harmonious group, we are independent because we think outside the box, opting for the sensible choice over the societally pre-programmed one. We are an engagement because without consistent action we do not exist as anything beyond a memory, and members of the UIE are a functional part of American and global society. While meeting basic physical, social, and emotional needs as set by nature, social norms, and individual personality traits, UIE members also share a consciousness that the collective lifestyle Americans experience, as a result of monotonously hyper-privatized social institutions is not as healthy, happy, or efficient as it could be with broader systems of thought influencing most people. Restructuring thought systems is a tall task that will take time, but the UIE was founded on one simple cause: Marijuana Legalization. As the UIE rallied behind the cause of marijuana legalization, it became obvious to members that the criminal justice system, media, and healthcare system among other sectors of society have flaws that could be fixed. As the marijuana legalization movement is at the roots of this grouping of people, our initial focus is to change both the laws and stigma surrounding and imposed on marijuana use, sales and production. In terms of how we act out our focus, we opt to zoom out and take into account the big picture in order to make the most meaningful impact we can.
The UIE aims to not only legalize marijuana but to address the broader issues present in the surrounding discussion. The start of our mission is to change the stigma surrounding marijuana. As a group of people originally primarily concerned with the specific issue of marijuana legalization, UIE members have discovered that the troubles they hope to remedy by legalizing marijuana are imbedded into broader issues. We use media through video art and advertisement appropriation to alter the frame through which the public is exposed to the broad issues we care about. As a small group of people, the UIE does not formally provide direct support to the marijuana legalization movement other than producing media that addresses the negative stigma around marijuana. The UIE mostly works to influence the general tide of thinking in a way that is harmonious with marijuana legalization. The media we create is distributed anonymously throughout the public, targeting people between the ages of 18 and 32. Targeting this age group is important because of its substantial impact on popular thought trends. We do this in a number of ways, including leaving copies of dvd’s in public spaces with clues about what the UIE is and where more dvd’s can be found, making posts on a shared twitter account, and facilitating interviews where members of the public interview other members of the public about topics proposed by the UIE.
Advertisements have been remade before to make statements of all kinds. The specific statement that UIE makes when doing this is to raise awareness about how heavily we are constantly being advertised to in today’s society, both directly and indirectly. Media is a wonderful tool for sharing ideas, but too often it gets employed for widespread thought manipulation. Advertising and big business have gained too strong of a grip over our lives and the minds of the people we share our lives with. UIE takes advertisements for major companies, and reworks them to question the status quo. These advertisements, in a proportion similar to a large company’s expenditure, make up a significant chunk of the media we produce, and therefore are made in a vast variety of mediums such as audio, visual, performance, and video. Using advertising as a primary method of communication with the public, the UIE is making a statement about society listening to orders in a way that is far beyond sensible, causing us to drive around in big cars drinking coca-cola when we could be walking through a bustling village of singers, dancers, artists, dogs, athletes, and explorers while drinking clean, refreshing, water out of handmade ceramic cups.
The UIE aims to set a precedent for new ways of using media. This is a priority because it will be effective in reshaping popular ways of thinking. For the marijuana legalization movement to truly be successful, society needs to be more open minded.
- Legalize Marijuana
We demand that all forms of Marijuana be legalized for all adults to purchase, use and grow immediately. All drugs should be decriminalized.
- Freedom of use
We demand that it is made acceptable that anyone has the right to grow their own marijuana in their own home, including rental properties or public housing. With the freedom of use we expect the same laws as smoking cigarettes to apply to smoking marijuana in reference to where and when.
- Reassessment of the incarcerated
We demand the immediate release of prisoners in jail because of any drug-related crime.
- Media’s depiction of marijuana:
We demand that media organizations allow the images for marijuana use and people obviously under the influence of marijuana to be seen in and on media, viewable at times for children above the age of thirteen. We expect the same restrictions and leniency to be imposed as alcohol. We also demand media organizations to promote moderation of marijuana use, alike they promote eating various foods in moderation, using energy and taking shorter showers in moderation. To coincide with this a tax would be created for commercial producers of media in an effort broaden the range of thought that media stimulates from the public. If your stations programming heavily features themes that are present in the media in an unhealthfully large amount such as violence, objectification of women, sexuality as a status symbol etc. the stations will have to pay a tax proportional to how overly-represented your theme already is in media. This will encourage more open-minded programming and is intended not as a freedom-restricting measure, but as tax that inhibits hegemonic ideas from choking out newer ones.
We demand that a single-payer universal healthcare system is created for the entire nation. We demand for the seizing of all wealth owned by health insurance executives (leaving a small allowance of livable money until they find a new career).
Healthcare is not a commodity; it must be seen as a right! The marijuana legalization movement has made clear the detrimental effects on society that enforcing the drug as illegal brings. If the state is not punishing people for marijuana use, the state’s only other involvement on the matter should be to invest in efforts on treating drug abuse of all kinds. In order for there to be the infrastructure necessary to tackle a new problem on top of all of the other issues that healthcare in America faces, healthcare needs to stop being treated as a commodity and start being treated as a basic human right. The AIDS activist movements we have learned about called for this same distinction.
- Flexibility of demands
The UIE recognizes that as the scope of relevant issues expands, so will our mission. We may alter or add to any of our demands at any time.