By Any Media Necessary – Ch 4&5

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Ground Zero Mosque Supporters Copyright David Shankbone 2010

As of right now, it’s really hard trying to exist as a Muslim-American in the US. Not only are a majority of the people here shitty towards Muslims, but so is the government. I’m not saying that America is pretty xenophobic sometimes, but maybe that’s exactly what I”m saying. And for young Muslim-Americans trying to make it in this country, they have to deal with the usual bullshit of adolescence along with a constant stream of Islamophobia spewing from most of our current politicians.

That’s basically what’s discussed in chapter 4 of By Any Media Necessary, the idea that Muslim-American youths have to deal with a lot right now. When people are actively being monitored, it’s a little bit hard to try to live a normal life. The book mentions that most of the young Muslim-Americans growing up in a post-9/11 America have been fearful and thrown into a world of their existence being political. When so many hate crimes are being experienced by Muslim-Americans throughout the country, why is the focus on politicians makes Islamophobic statements and trying to ban the entry of more Muslim people into the country? Shouldn’t the focus be on protecting the people who are actively being attacked?

But again, through activism circles and things like that, these youths have a bit of a safe haven within places like the Muslim Youth Group. It is at these places and events that they can talk about their shared experiences and try to figure out how to deal with the world around them. It’s where they can circulate news between themselves to always stay informed. And while it’s amazing that they have things like MYG, why can’t all of American society function like that for them?

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“By Any Media Necessary” Ch2&3

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Copyright Project for Awesome 2013

As mentioned in my previous post, the vlogbrothers/nerdfighteria are two pretty major educational networks when it comes to pretty much most things. Imagine you’re a 16 year old girl who loves reading shitty YA novels, and you’re doing a google search for your favorite author. Imagine finding out that he’s a pretty big deal online and spending the next year or so practically mainlining anything that has his name on it. That was me in high school and my relationship with entering into the mass circle that is Nerdfighteria.

Now you’re probably wondering “Ok what does a YA author, his brother, and their rabid fan army have to do with activism?” You see, a main tenant within the Nerdfighter community is the idea of “decreasing world suck” in any way possible. So, John and Hank started organizing a yearly charity benefit called the Project for Awesome in which they raise as much money for a specific charity as possible within 24 hours. So right there is the first major way to get sucked into activism.

Generally, the fanbase consisted of millennials around my age, so we clearly all stood on common ground. And through my adventures in Nerdfighteria I was introduced to a hellsite called Tumblr that now eats a good amount of my daily time. And as I’ve mentioned previously, that hellsite is also a gathering place for many activists, particularly queer circles. And a lot of my knowledge surrounding current activist movements stems from there, no matter how much I hate to admit it.

Although fandom is a big messy concept, the idea of taking your fanbase and educating them and exposing them to different ways in which they can help out, no matter how small, is a pretty cool thing to do.

“By Any Media Necessary” – Ch 1

 

 

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Copyright Tony Webster 2016

By Any Media Necessary is a collection of articles about different ways to approach activism and different activist groups. As y’all probably know by now from practically every other post, I’m very into activism and consider myself a part of many different activist circles. Due to this, I’m familiar with quite a few strategies used in these activist circles.

For me, I think the most important point in activist circles is to actively educate. You see this in some of the things that Jenkins mentions, like the community surrounding the vlogbrothers, a Youtube channel that talks sometimes about goofy stuff and sometimes about extremely serious things like the current state of the economy and situations with sexuality/gender and how to deal with it. This brings up another idea mentioned by Jenkins, that people with privilege need to be the ones doing the brunt of the hard labor for activist movements. They need to be the ones dishing out the emotional labor and explaining activist concepts to people. Generally, more privileged individuals have access to more resources, both physical and educational, that other people just don’t have. By sharing information and sharing resources, it helps the rest of the group without the less marginalized people trying to steal the spotlight.

Personally, I feel like my activist circles have a little more to do in terms of educating ourselves and educating those around us. If the women’s center had given people more than a day’s notice about their internship applications, I wanted to apply and try to set up programs surrounding intersectional feminism and how not to be a TERF. But I’ll hop off my soapbox here and keep talking about the book in my next post.

Please Someone Give Pepsi a PR Consultant & Other Media Mishaps

Ah, Pepsi. A drink loved by all Americans (unless you prefer Coke, in which case, you’re wrong). They’ve done some pretty great things lately, like temporarily bringing back Crystal Pepsi. But unfortunately, they also tend to do some things that aren’t too great. I’m sure that by now, all of you have seen the most recent Pepsi ad, featuring Kendall Jenner. If you haven’t, here it is:

Who knew that such important issues like police brutality could be solved by simply giving the cops a can of Pepsi? I’m sure that would totally work out for your average protester.

Co-Opting a Movement

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Copyright 2015, Fibonacci Blue

With big issues like police brutality and the BLM movement, trying to use those issues to sell your product by implying that it will somehow magically end the issue is a little bit tone-deaf. This bears a striking similarity to what I mentioned in a recent blog post about Dove trying to co-opt feminism as a way to get more sales in their “Real Beauty” campaign. Companies are willing to acknowledge these issues when it’s beneficial for them, but ignore them when they could actually do something to help. By throwing together a bunch of racially diverse people (and Kendall Jenner) and putting them into a fake protest, it’s just trying to profit off of the movements that people are getting arrested over by commercializing it (literally).

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Copyright Yannick Gingras 2008

This is especially icky when people bring up comparisons between the scene of Jenner lovingly handing a Pepsi to the cop to an image of a protester (Ieshia Evans) being arrested at the front of a police line in a protest. This picture has become fairly well known, so although I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, they really don’t deserve it. They were directly referencing a woman getting arrested except sanitizing it with Jenner appealing to the cops with a can of probably luke-warm soda so that the cops can join in and hang out with the protesters, which is absolutely what happens in real life. It essentially makes it seem like any protest that ended with police violence was the fault of the protesters, as they just weren’t going about things right. Which is a pretty funny ideology to be pushing when the person featured in the ad isn’t within any of the groups that are traditionally targeted by police, so it’s not like she’d be put in a compromising position anyway.

The idea of co-opting the ideas of protests while completely ignoring what is happening to actual protesters has been a pretty common phenomena recently. In another event featuring Jenner, Chanel turned their runway into a “women’s rights protest” at a fashion show, bringing out the big signs saying things like “He for She” and “History is Herstory”. How shockingly radical. And again, this was a group of conventionally attractive people marching in a “protest” that wouldn’t lead to any arrests and wouldn’t actually accomplish anything except maybe convincing some entry-level feminists to buy their clothes.

As surely as the revolution will be televised, it will be monetized,” stated Amy Zimmerman for the Daily Beast. By not even using someone who was known for their activism, it makes it pretty obvious that Pepsi was just trying to appeal to Jenner’s popularity and the current media boom surrounding her and her sister. This is not how to do activism. This is looking at a movement and saying “oh so this is a big thing right now, I bet we could use it as a way to get hip kids to buy our soda because they’ll think we’re with the times.” Pepsi no that’s not how this works.

Part of this, obviously, is related to the rampant celebrity culture that is so overwhelming in the US. And as I stated in a previous post, I don’t blame the general public for the celebrity obsession.

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Jennifer Lawrence for Dior, Copyright Tiina Laakkonen 2013

Ad agencies and other higher-ups saw that celebrities were selling, so they decided to start using celebrities for everything. News outlets are reporting every move that whoever is big right now is making, so it keeps the public interested in what’s going on with said person. That’s why you’ll see a ton of commercials featuring celebrities selling products, because people think that if they see a celebrity endorsing their product, they’ll immediately want it. This is the case with the Dior ad (left), featuring Jennifer Lawrence. If the average person sees their favorite actress ever Jennifer Lawrence wearing Dior in a magazine, one would assume that it would make them more likely to buy the product. Unfortunately for Dior, most people can’t afford any of their things, so their advertising falls flat for about half of the population that they’re advertising to.

In addition to issues with celebrity culture, it’s just a thing that’s been happening for a while. There’s a huge difference between being an ally of a movement and completely co-opting a movement, and people tend to have trouble with the border between the two. A major way that companies and individual people fail in terms of actual allyship is giving a role to the people who you’re being an ally for. By having Kendall Jenner be the face of all oppression in America, it ignores everyone at protests who actually is oppressed and actually faces arrests and police brutality while they’re marching. If they had used someone like Ieshia Evans who had actually been in a situation like that before, it could’ve given them a little bit more room to talk about it. But instead, the used Kendall Jenner. To go along with that, if you’re an ally, your efforts should actively involve the people who you are allying for. You have to be actively contributing to the efforts rather than showing up when it’s convenient for you and trying to take charge of a movement. As a white person, I wouldn’t expect to be the center of attention at a Black Lives Matter protest. But when media does this, due to their desire to include celebrity culture, they often put people at center-stage who don’t belong there. That’s not being an ally, that’s making the movement into a statement about you and a way to make yourself look better.

Pepsi, I get it. People have been pushing for the population to stop drinking soda due to it being unhealthy and full of sugar. But if you want people to come back to you, maybe try to pick methods of advertising that don’t co-opt a very important movement going on at the current time. I know that my mom didn’t stop drinking her daily 2 cans of Pepsi, instead try to appeal to people like her with commercials featuring goofy animals or something. Don’t try to show a movement to “get the kids interested” when you completely butcher everything about the movement.

Bringing it Together – Barlow

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Hey gang, things are a little out of order on my blog right now, but if you want to see everything together with other related content, check out my categories. For me, Barlow’s book was kind of a lot. I know that history is important to know, but I feel like he kinda dragged on and on for 100 years. The history of media as a whole is important, and I feel like it’s especially helpful for people to learn about it in relation to the development of blogging and modern-day media.

To check out what I have to say on his book, take a look at my blog posts summarizing the book in a few different chunks. In my introduction post, you can see me talk about general criticisms brought up by Barlow about news media and the relationship between politicians and journalists. For chapters 1-3, I talk about Thomas Paine and how he wanted media to not only talk about things that bothered them, but also give an idea as to how to fix these issues and get the ball rolling on progress. In chapters 4-7, I bring up Barlow’s criticisms of the commercialization of the news industry, with people focusing on trying to appeal to everyone. The next chunk, chapters 8-12, gets into the idea of changes between late 20th century news ideals, with a battle of partisan vs non-partisan and insight into why the 90s was such a bad time for news. In my last post on chapters 13-conclusion, I talk about the switch from tv to online news sources around 9/11 as a result of the poor pre-9/11 foreign coverage in tv news.

How We Got Here – Today’s Actions

Check out the first two parts of this series here and here!

After years and years of fighting for rights and recognition, we’ve finally reached a place in America where queer people are making advances in gaining rights and being accepted by the general public. While a lot of the more revolutionary action happened in the previous century, it seems like this century is all about getting legislation passed and celebrating what we have through things like pride parades.

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White House Rainbow Colors, Copyright Ted Eytan 2015

As a lot of us remember, Obama did a pretty sweet job of advancing the gay rights movement in the US during his two terms in office. Such a good job, in fact, that there’s an entire fact sheet on the White House archive about his contributions to the LGBT rights movement. The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011 was a huge jump forward, allowing openly queer people to serve in the military. The policy had been in place for 17 years, and affected a ton of people who were willing to serve in the military but weren’t allowed to because of their sexual orientation. Which shows some dedication on their parts, because I don’t think I’d ever want to serve in the military for a country that openly hates me.

Another major victory in legislation during Obama’s presidency was everything involving DOMA and the Supreme Court calling for marriage equality. I still pretty distinctly remember waking up on the morning of June 26, 2015 and seeing a bombardment of texts from my friends about how gay marriage was finally going to be legal and recognized country-wide. I remember reading Obama’s response to this and being just as excited as everyone else I knew. For once, the legislation was working in our favor.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go, particularly with the the T part of LGBT. The National Center for Trans Equality has been running a survey to see some of the major issues currently facing trans individuals in the US and how to go about fixing these issues. While some progress is being made, there’s still a lot of controversy surrounding trans rights, and everyone in the LGBT community really needs to band together to work on this. With the progress being rolled back by some assholes, now is the time to show them how we work just like we did in the past!

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Minneapolis Pride, Copyright Tony Webster 2013

Along with pro-LGBT legislation, pride parades around the country have been helping to show people that LGBT rights are important and that we’re not leaving. Because the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis existed, we can have pride parades. Because Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera fought back at the Stonewall Inn, we can have pride parades. Because Act Up exists and worries about the health of the LGBT community and making sure that the government is held accountable for what they’re doing, we can have pride parades. We can go out in public and celebrate our queerness. And for this, we should never forget about how we got here.

How We Got Here – Revolutionaries

Check out my first post in this series here!

Sometimes it takes more than distributing literature and peaceful protests to really get your point across. In the LGBT movement in the late 60’s, it was reaching that point and tensions were absolutely rising within the community. While groups like the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were advocating for less drastic measures, people in New York had some different ideas of how to go about this fight.

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Stonewall, copyright Travis Wise 2015

The Stonewall Riot was an integral part of queer resistance and uprising. This event came back into prominence recently when a sad, pathetic movie about it was released that completely ignored the actual people in the riot and inserted gay white men into their places, which is super messed up when you look at who was actually involved in the riot. Y’know, people like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two non-white trans women who were major players in the riots.

For those of you who may not know, the Stonewall Riots occurred in June of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York. As mentioned in the previous post, this was still during a time where people could be arrested if someone even thought they were gay, and people usually lost their jobs when this happened. Having somewhere to hide out from all the homophobic garbage outside was important to people, so they enjoyed having somewhere like the Stonewall Inn where they could generally stay under the radar. But as with many gay establishments, the Stonewall was often raided by the police, leading to plenty of arrests. One night, the patrons said “enough!” and finally fought back, breaking windows and throwing bottles at police officers. And it wasn’t just one night, either. These demonstrations went on for several days, leading to heightened public interest in the shitty treatment of queer people and talks about LGBT rights.

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This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post (archive).

Similar protest tactics were used by Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in the 1980’s-90’s. This was a group formed to combat issues regarding healthcare and AIDS, as most people at this time considered it a “gay man’s disease” and decided that they didn’t have to give a shit. After our beloved previous president Ronald Reagan pretty much announced that he didn’t want to do anything about AIDS, including not even mentioning it until 1985, people decided to take action. Act Up was known for their outspoken actions such as stopping trading at the NYSE and storming the FDA to get new and efficient AIDS medications approved quicker and with a cheaper cost to consumers.

By revolutionizing through acts of protest and anger, the Stonewall Riots and the actions of Act Up (although they were decades apart) helped to push the issue of LGBT rights to the forefront. This was when they began to realize that we weren’t giving up without a fight.

Check out the next post for a look at queer activism from the 2000s to now!