The Yes Men was my favourite screening that was viewed throughout the semester as I found it not only extremely interesting and entertaining, but also hilarious due to many of Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos’ antics when impersonating major incorporations. This form of tactical media which involved shock tactics and humour to garner public attention is completely new to me and I have never really seen anything like it before. This movie almost reminded me of the Will Ferrell film, Anchorman, due to it’s hilarious content which revolved around slapstick comedy in a media setting.
After reading about Wael Ghonim’s role in the Egyptian revolution I was pretty inspired and wanted to know what he has been up to since.
I found this TED talk which you guys might find interesting where he talks about how we can use social media to drive activism and change in today’s society. It was especially interesting to hear his perspective on this matter as someone who has successfully triggered drastic social change through his work online in the past.
Here is the link to the talk.
I loved the Witness website we looked at for class. I think it is a wonderful database for resources in a time when government and ruling class/companies do not want this kind of information or skills to be available to the general public. One thing I especially like about this website and its resources is the fact that it breaks down laws and confusing or tricky legalities for easier consumption by the regular lay person. The “Video as Evidence Field Guide” is really crucial in this area. It describes how to film an event that is happening in such a way as to be able to use it as evidence in a court case. It explains all of the different aspects, details, and facts to make sure to film in order to close up any loopholes and make sure the court will accept the video as sufficient evidence.
This type of resource is so important because one of the ruling class’s most potent tricks is to get out of something through a legal loophole or to exploit the lay person’s lack of knowledge on the subject and on their own rights to get out of trouble and circumvent the system. These resources provide easy to understand documents detailing all of these laws and how to obey them and adhere to the specific sometimes extraneous legalities.
In my thesis seminar, on of my peers is doing her project on Livestreaming and she made the point that the camera can shape behaviors of people on the other side of the lens and can alter the outcome of events it is recording. She quotes Ariella Azoulay to say, “the camera can draw certain happenings to itself as if with a magnet or even bring them into being, while it can also distance events, disrupt them or prevent them from occurring. The camera has the capacity through its sheer presence to set all of these effects into motion without even taking a single shot.” What Azoulay is saying that even the physical presence of a camera can change the way people react to a situation. A simple example might be in a store, when there is a security camera people may behave more orderly because of its presence. They do not have to know the camera is on and working to feel that way but just the fact it is there may change their behavior. Similarly, body cams have been introduced for police across the country. Presumably this is a way to hold police accountable, recording their actions so they can be replayed in case something goes wrong. However, it may act more readily as a deterrent, if police know that their actions will be recorded they potentially may be more thoughtful and careful with their actions. Finally, this is also very important because many people take what they see on camera as face value for what is happening in a certain situation. So if a politician is saying or doing something on camera or if something good is happening in front of the camera and on TV the audience may become complacent. What really needs to be asked however is, “how have these politicians changed their demeanor to be fit for public viewing through the lens of the camera” OR ” how might this event have happened differently had the camera not been present?” It is an interesting thought to keep in mind.
Active viewing usually requires the audience to do some type of work or action in order to take in a media object. For example, reading is a very active platform, a viewer–or reader–must read the text in order to experience the media object. Television or radio on the other hand is seen as much more passive. In other words, the words or images and sounds wash over the viewer and are targeted at them so that the audience need not do much more than just sit back, watch, and listen. However, it is not true that television, radio and other “passive” media is entirely all that passive. In fact, all media that viewers and audience members or subjects take in is active consumption. This is because everything that we see or hear we interpret and we actively choose to consume and place into our personal ideologies and intellect. Everything that we encounter whether “actively” or “passively” we take into ourselves and we decipher it using our maps of meaning and then we carry it with us in our own understanding of it and we use it, later one, to interpret other media objects.
The Argentinian film from 1968, Hour of the Furnaces, left a big impact with me. In particular, the scene of the cows being slaughtered to the horrifically cheery music interspersed with almost offensive visions of consumerism and capitalism. Though I found these images to be disgusting and incredibly difficult to watch, I could not turn away and the clip has stuck with me since. The juxtaposition of the horrific and brutal slaughtering with the cheery consumerism was almost sickening but is a visual representation of EXACTLY what we do every single day. Though I am not vegan or even vegetarian it is very difficult to think of how animals are slaughtered in such cruel and inhumane way just for our own simple pleasure and enjoyment–a nice burger at a restaurant with friends, getting that leather belt from you family, just consumption consumption consumption and all on the backs of, not just animals, but minimum wage workers and laborers who do not receive adequate compensation or recognition for the jobs they do. Its is obscene.
One of the first activities we did in this class was take an implicit bias test. I’ve done these types of tests before and I think these are so important though I dread taking them because I know they will reveal things about myself that I am not proud of. It is incredibly important to be reminded that you do not have to consciously be prejudice or think prejudice/bias thoughts to be racist/classist/ableist/sexist, these feelings and actions can come from subconscious areas of the mind as well. In fact, in this day and age, though there is definitely outright conscious prejudice, a large portion of this prejudice is subconscious–actions we do without thinking about them, to us they have seemingly no reasoning behind them and yet deep down the reason is actually because of a substantiated bias or hatred within our psyche. I found this idea to be very important during the 2016 election. I am from Arkansas and so I knew of many people who voted for Trump. Of course all of these people I knew told me “I’m not racist, I’ve never been racist in my life” but I had learned this idea of implicit bias and subconscious racism and I took this opportunity to explain it to them in hopes that they would understand. Many of them actually took this idea, they did not immediately say they regretted voting for Trump or that they had been wrong or even that they did agree that they were in fact subconsciously racist, but because they had that idea in their head it gave them something to mull over and think about. I have had a few of them come up to me afterwards and say, “You know, I have been thinking about that subconscious racism and it comes up every time I see news about how a black person and a white person are spoken about and presented differently for the same crime or when people of certain races are stopped by TSA more often. I don’t think any of these people have certain conscious vendetta’s against people of these races but they certainly are being subconsciously racist.”
Something I have always though to be interesting is the necessity of a certain level of production in ever media object. Obviously everything that is seen by the public or the audience must first be produced for their consumption. I know during Introduction to Media Studies while learning about Gramsci, Horkheimer, and Adorno’s ideas on hegemony and the ruling class I thought there was no way that everyone who produced media for public consumption was secretly plotting to create their media object in a way that forced the public towards hegemony and the ruling class, and to some extent I was right. The majority of media producers are not consciously pushing a hegemonic agenda thinking, “If I make this message clear then the viewers will accept more ideology of the ruling class.” But nonetheless this is what media does because these hegemonic concepts, messages, and ideologies are ingrained into our very personal creative processes. So it is interesting to think about how even just a 5 second clip of an event is inherently massively produced because one could ask the question–Why was the camera pointed in that direction, what did the camera not see, why did the camera film only during those 5 seconds, what was the intent of the creator in producing this media object. What is interesting is that the producer may have put no thought at all into this production and yet the amount of thought and meaning making that comes out of it is inconceivable. Additionally, the interpretation may be different for every single viewer that comes in contact with the piece–this is touched on by Stuart Hall and his idea’s of Maps of Meaning. It is just an interesting thing to think about and one that stresses the importance of never taking a media object at face value while also always being cautious and trying to understand just what meanings you are conveying when producing a media object.
Co-presence is the idea that a media example can show an audience what is happening during a certain event but can, in some way, circumvent voyeurism and instead become “a shared experience of an event together and a sense of being with the others who are not only physically but are virtually co-located with them” (Sam Gregory). This idea is most commonly visible or most commonly felt through live-streaming. Live streaming creates a space in which both the creator and the viewer can be present. Nick Couldry’s idea of “online liveness” is a similar concept of co-presence both of which the internet infrastructure has made possible. The live streaming delivers events to the viewer right as they happen with no censorship or editing, additionally chatrooms that are often available supplementary to these lifestreams create a network of chatter and discourse around the media object that is being viewed. I think these two vocabulary terms present interesting methods of describing the efficacy and success of livestreaming in creating a larger impact than videos of protests shown after the fact through the news media.
Something that I found most interesting in the reading and discussion we had concerning the Occupy Movement was whether the question of whether or not we can have internet activism without physical activism, and vice versa, in today’s day-and-age. My own answer to this is that I think in order to create a movement, or a truly lasting piece of media, our modern world requires both. For a physical movement, protest, etc. to be successful, one needs the help of media to raise awareness before, publicize during, and continue discussion after. For virtual/internet activism to be successful, physical presence and pressure is necessary for the next steps to be taken so that change is made; if there is no physical activism people do not take the movement seriously. However, I do think that going into the future, as our world becomes more technological, virtual, and digital, physical activism will be phased out.