Links from Presentation

I don’t think I ever got around to posting the links to the two media examples I analyzed and presented on, so here they are:

  1. https://www.facebook.com/barackobama/posts/10155227588436749
    1. This is Barack Obama’s facebook post from September of this year condemning Trump’s DACA revocation. I argued that Obama’s invocation of “….kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, [and] patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag” throughout the post was indicative of a larger failure within liberal discourses of immigration to immagine freedom of movement as a human right rather than one that serves economic growth or benefits U.S. militarism.  
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw0V56FjeYg
    1. This is a video produced a few weeks after Obama’s post by we are mitú, a media production site that primarily centers latinx voices. I used the video as an example of a more holistic approach to documenting the human cost of the revocation. The conversational format and mix of professional cinematography with phone videos helps the whole product to convey a much more authentic-feeling message.
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Occupy Wall street

Upon reading the article by Manuel Castells I discovered a lot about the 2008 economic crisis that America went through. The only information I had on this matter was either from movies or from my parents, since we were never really exposed to this issue in India. Even though this economic crisis affected the economy in India as well, it was not as harsh as it was here. I remember watching the film The Big Short and thinking about how cool the guys were to figure out about the crisis and beat it. But looking back now and understanding the repercussions that thousands of people here went through, I see how media can mimic instances and situations and minimize them to an entertaining level. And I say that because the only thing that I took out of this film was about how brilliant these guys were, and never actually realizing the devastation of this economic crisis instead. To be honest, I did not even notice it as a crisis because it was never represented as one.

Week 2: Raoul Peck, I Am Not Your Negro

When I first saw Peck’s film I Am Not Your Negro last semester in theaters, my initial reaction was that the film was educational and important in terms of the current state of race relations in America, but fell short of being deeply critical in addressing systems of power and racism. I felt the movie took an important first step towards sparking conversations on the repeating patterns of racism in our country, but I was left wishing it would have gone a step further. Raoul Peck recently gave a talk at Pomona College, and I was disappointed in how pacifist and “all we need is love” Peck’s ideology is. One comment in particular that he made on how “we all (regardless of race) face oppression” really surprised me. While we do all face oppression in a myriad of different ways, I think a comment like this misses the point of current critical race movements that aim to emphasize the particular oppressions that Black people face because of their race. It was surprising to hear a comment like this from the filmmaker himself, but I think this comment is reflective of the limited scope of the film. Peck’s reminded me that just being a person of color does not automatically mean one will be critical in thinking about the way power structures work against you and what might be necessary for truly revolutionary change in order to stop these oppressions. Unfortunately, at this point I believe Black liberation and the destruction of white supremacy require much more than only love. However, I do understand the fact that taking a more outright revolutionary framework would not have allowed a film like this to come into the mainstream.

I don’t mean to downplay the importance of this film: I am so, so happy that it was able to make it to the big screen and garner so many award nominations, and I thought the way Raoul Peck brought Baldwin’s work to life was amazing. Baldwin’s ability to hold a crowd’s attention at the tip of his tongue never fails to amaze me. I think the film is a great historical documentary as well as an excellent starting point for discussing the current state of racial relations in the United States. However, I did leave the theater feeling a little empty-handed.

I came across this clip of Dr. Cornel West discussing Baldwin’s life, and I feel that it provides a critical analysis of Baldwin’s work that goes along well with a viewing of Peck’s film:

Marshall McLuhan’s Message

The phrase “the medium is the message” is a very interesting phrase to think about. This phrase can be applied to a wide variety of contexts.  I first heard this phrase last year, when a friend told it to me.  When I heard it from them, I thought it was interesting, but also somewhat obvious and pseudo philosophical.  I remember thinking that my friend was trying to prove how intellectual they were to me.  However, upon  learning and reading about this phrase, in class I found myself thinking that it actually was quite interesting, as well as a unique and complex idea.  These interactions– between me and my friend and me in the classroom–exemplify the meaning of this phrase to me.  When I first heard this phrase, it was from a friend and I almost instantly dismissed it, thinking that I was as smart or smarter than them, and that I could not possibly learn anything new by listening to my friend.  Then, only a couple months later, rediscovered this phrase through a different medium: the classroom. Because I learned this phrase through the medium of the classroom, I found it to be intellectually stimulating and complex.  The phrase “the medium is the message”  was exactly the same both times I learned about it. The only difference was the medium through which I learned this phrase. To me, this is the exact point McLuhan is trying to make; while the literal content is obviously important, so too is the context through which something is presented. How an idea or concept is contextualized has a drastic impact on how we perceive it, even if the content is nearly identical. So when you watch “Friends” on Netflix versis on NBC the content of the show is the same, but the message is that television is becoming more obsolete.

Third World Cinema Reflection

Learning about “Third World Cinema” somewhat changed my ideas about how I consume media. I always thought it obvious that I was a consumer of media; the content is produced and I watch it because it is entertaining or informative or assigned to me.  Third World Cinema’s emphasis on how people should be producers of their own media was very interesting to me.  Media shapes the world that surrounds us, and if we passively consume media then we are passively letting the world shape us. I consider myself someone who shapes the world around me; so, when I was presented with the idea that because media shapes the world around us, we should try to shape the media, it instantly made so much sense.

Hollywood has so much power and influence over our conscious and unconscious thought  and most people do not have the ability to shape the content in Hollywood. However, if people all across the country took the approach of Third Cinema and started creating Grassroots films that exposed their lives and their truths, Hollywood would no doubt have to respond, either consciously or subconsciously, to the massive amounts of content that was being produced.  The only problem I see with Third Cinema is that it would only have the power to reach everyone if large amounts of people were already involved in the cause.

Revolution 2.0

Following the brutal torture and ultimate death of Khaled Said by the police in Egypt in 2011, Wael Ghonim Created a Facebook page with the motivational tagline saying “we are all Khaled Said”. As simplistic or basic as this might sound, it is true on multiple levels. Even though not everyone in Egypt face the same political struggles, or was brutalized or interrogated by the police, message here there is strength in unity. This is another example of how in activist movements massive tragedies can be turned into a Battle Cry, and used against the people who caused them.

The fact that Ghonim Had to take such elaborate steps to make sure that the government did not know who he was, is another reason why his actions were so powerful; because in America anybody can post an article on Facebook and feel like an activist.  But what Ghonim was doing took incredible amounts of Courage. So, activism isn’t just about the literal actions you do but the circumstances surrounding them.

Thoughts on Hacktivsm

When I typically think of a computer hacker I picture a person in their basement with malicious intent, trying to install viruses or malware on to random people’s computers.  This is not necessarily an accurate representation.  In recent years the trend of hacktivism has become much more prevalent. A hacktivist is someone who uses packing as a way to promote a social or political cause.  Like hackers, hacktivists often get a bad rep, and I am not sure if they deserve it.  Recently, it seems like hacktivism has been one of the most effective forms of advocacy for social justice.

One of the most famous and influential  hacktivism groups is known as anonymous. Most of their acts of hacktivism are legally ambiguous mainly because the internet is a phenomenon that has developed faster than policymakers can understand or create policy about it.  This makes it a perfect platform to begin the next wave of “peaceful protests”. Hacktivism is the newest form of Civil Disobedience and whatever you may think about  hackers, hacktivism has been very effective so far.

Occupy Wall Street

Week 14: Occupy Wall street

 

The Occupy Wall street movement was heard all around the world. I find it kind of interesting that it got such a strong impact, considering the peaceful manner which they protested in.

In relation to this, I came to think about a different kind of protest that I heard about a couple of weeks ago, that really used a different way to get their message across.

At the anniversary of Trumps election day, groups of people gathered to scream out their frustrations. Collectively, they started screaming to the sky. It is truly disturbing, but I guess that it was a good way to, literally, make some noise.

(The YouTube video does not seem to get embeded, but here is the link for you guys to enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOnTPyWuNIo)

Yes Men!

Week 10: Yes Men!

 

The movie “Yes Men” was by far the most entertaining movie we watched in class. Their incorporation of irony, and satire made them able to present their message in a unique way. What I thought was the most interesting about the screening was that it really showcased the naivety of new mediums. The way that they were able to use internet to get these high-profile meetings would be impossible today, at least at that scale. Nowadays, people are way more critical when surfing the net.

The infatuation of new media that arises sometimes make it hard to see both the message, and the messenger. It is easy to get dazzled by the new different technologies that are presented on a yearly schedule. However, to avoid being as fooled as the people in the video were by The Yes Men, then one really need to be critical. In my academics in Sweden, the key phrase that we always used was “Question everything”. I believe that that implies to media texts, and technologies in specific!

Dark and lovely too

Week 9: Dark and Lovely too, Black Gay Men in Independent Film

In Dark and Lovely Too: Black Gay Men in Independent Film, Mercer brings up a lot of interesting points which I myself had not really given any consideration before. She describes the act of black men, and women coming out as gay/bisexual to the public. When do so united, they are able to form a powerful group together. Just like history has told us before, transforming from the individual “I”, into the collective “we” is an action whose impact should not be diminished. A collective is often stronger than spread individuals, especially when the individuals already in an exposed situation. The new communities that were created also had a political impact. What made the people discussed in this article so empowered by the newly shaped community was that they had previously been oppressed by two different groups. When interacting with the white society, they got marginalized by their skin color, and while interacting with people of colour they got marginalized by their sexuality.

The extract is a truly fascinating read that really puts things into perspective. What I will take away from the text is the feeling of empowerment when feeling a connection to others. Being in a collective with people who knows of your struggles truly is a factor not to be overlooked. When creating media campaigns, for instance, being able to make people connect with each other is one of the most powerful tools to have.