Tag Archives: activism

The Power of Twitter Showcased at the Oscars: #OscarsSoWhite, #YesAllWomen, and #AskHerMore

Twitter has changed the way news is reported. The Black Lives Matter movement has been particularly successful in raising awareness for cases of police brutality that generally would have been overlooked by mainstream news channels.

Arguably the second most important aspect of Twitter is its ability to connect celebrities to their fan base. With the prevalence of these two features, it’s hardly surprising that celebrities and celebrity events have become more politicized.

This year’s Academy Awards are a prime example of this overlap between the celebrity world and political struggles that have been highlighted via Twitter. Below, I’ve included a few notable examples of Twitter flexing its muscles at the Oscars

#OscarsSoWhite

I’m not going to dwell too much on the circumstances of the #OscarsSoWhite boycott, since Gordon and Evan have already thoroughly explained its context. However, I do want to talk a bit about how the controversy was handled by the Oscars host, Chris Rock.

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Overall, I thought Rock did a great job calling out the Academy without reducing his monologue to a humourless lecture. However, in his article for Salon, Arthur Chu points out that,

Acting like caring about day-to-day violence in the streets and the impact media and culture have on that violence are somehow mutually exclusive — a common, frustrating, tired argument anyone who talks about racism in media will inevitably see dozens of times in the comments section — ignores history.

It ignores the many, many arguments that have been made about how the excuses made for the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown frequently come verbatim from untrue stereotypes out of TV and movies, how the only way Darren Wilson’s description of Brown as a “demon” who was “bulking up to get through the bullets” could possibly make sense to anyone is after a lifetime of media portrayals of the scary superhuman black man. It ignores Martin Luther King going out of his way to call Nichelle Nichols and tell her not to quit “Star Trek” because having a black woman on TV who wasn’t a domestic servant mattered. It ignores the ongoing civil rights protests around the Oscars back in the 1960s and ’70s, including Marlon Brando making history as the first and only best actor winner to boycott the ceremony, sending American Indian Movement activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the award in his place.

Similarly, several activists have since pointed out the one-dimensionality of calling for more black representation only to appeal to Asian-American stereotypes for a laugh. Continue reading

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Bernie Sanders VS. Black Lives Matter: How Is This Helping?

I haven’t been this depressed about writing a post since the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Even as my fingers move across my keyboard I can feel my willpower just oozing right out of me. And it’s not that the issues here aren’t worth talking about- they absolutely are. It’s just that the whole affair has been so…

pointless.

Let me just hit you with the hard facts before we jump into this morass of stupidity and futility.

This Saturday in Seattle Democratic-Socialist and presidential-hopeful Bernie Sanders was holding a political rally for his campaign. Shortly after beginning, a pair of protestors from Black Lives Matter (a nation-wide movement speaking out against police violence towards African Americans) climbed up on stage. The two protestors, for some twenty minutes, recounted grievances of the local black community and scolded Sanders for not having been vocal enough about police violence towards minorities. “…Join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable…” stated Marissa Johnson, one of the protestors.

Continue reading

Unofficial Fame Day: Henry Rollins

Today’s post comes to you late because my iconoclastic, point by point take down of liberalism (yep, liberalism) wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be.

Well, that’s at least part of the reason.

Since our collective busy schedules have forced us to [temporarily] drop Fame Days from our rotation, I’ve also been concerned that this blog might get a little too negative. I figure I’d put off alienating everyone I know and point out something positive at the same time- and that “something” is actually a “someone“.

Henry ****ing Rollins.

Continue reading

Shame Day: Political Ignorance

Do you know what the origin of the word “idiot” is?

It comes from the ancient Greek for someone who is totally self-centered; someone without any interest in public affairs. To the inventors of democracy, “idiocy” was the opposite of “citizenship.”

Readers, we are surrounded by idiots.

When I was putting together yesterday’s post, the pictures I used inevitably had a host of comments sighing “It’s Washington, what do you expect?”, “Politicians have always been dirtbags,” and “This is why I don’t vote.”

The issues change, but the reactions remain the same. People throw up their hands and start spewing folksy, thought-cancelling truisms about how politics is inherently corrupt, or how it’s always been this way and always will be, or how it doesn’t matter who you vote for. Continue reading

Fame Day: Socialism Conference

I’m writing these words in the last hours of what has been a quiet May Day.

For me, at least.

Elsewhere in the world, red and black flags are being proudly waved as people march through the streets, chanting and singing. In Greece, a nation-wide strike is being carried out in defiance of massive lay-offs enacted by the government. In Bangladesh, thousands are protesting after the collapse of a sweatshop resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of workers. Similar protests have broken out in the Philippines as nearly 10,000 workers march in Manila. Youth in Spain are raging against the nearly 30% unemployment rate. Korea, Cambodia, Turkey, Indonesia- just to name a handful- are witnessing similar turnouts.

Continue reading

Shame Day: Concerned Women for America

“Concerned Women for America.”

It sounds almost like a cartoonish satire of the kind of people who storm into PTA meetings demanding to know why their children have been
“exposed to filth” after discovering a copy of Catcher in the Rye, Slaughterhouse Five, or Harry Potter in their kids’ assigned reading list. The kind of people who warn about the corrosive and unwholesome messages hidden in rock songs, or who sit horrified in front of the TV as some sensationalist dead-inside “journalist” warns about the latest secret teenager trend that’s sure to kill them/get them pregnant.

And as much as it sounds like something that’s ripped out of Footloose, Concerned Women for America is very real.

And that is an absolute shame.

Let’s take a look at some of the bilge that these guys are producing.

What caught my eye was a recent article of theirs on Malala Yousafzai, a heroic Pakistani girl and women’s rights and peace activist. In this post, the authors launch a vicious attack on Islam as being an inherently barbarous and misogynistic religion with a murderous agenda for any who dare oppose it. As the article states

“Malala questioned the station of women under Islam’s oppressive thumb, and the Taliban tried to put her six feet under the ground.”

This, quite simply, is a lie.

Yes the Taliban tried to kill Malala, and yes, Malala questioned the station of women-but what the authors of the article neglect to mention is that Malala Yousafzai is a Muslim herself.

Apparently it’s not enough that this fifteen year old girl (and she is fifteen, not fourteen, as the CWA article wrongly states) has to deal with the threat of violence and murder- she now has to endure her activism being hijacked by the “Concerned Women for America” bent on turning her sacrifice into a smear campaign against her own religion, which they claim is both “false” and “hate-filled.”

But why stop there?

The “Concerned Women for America” are also turning their ignorant ire against the “Slut Walks,” which for those of you who may be unaware, are parades of women wearing clothes of different degrees of modesty or exposure to make the point that it doesn’t matter how you’re dressed- one’s wardrobe is never an “invitation to rape” as some sex-offenders have tried claiming.

Being the moral, upstanding people that they are, CWA has sent up a howl of protest against these walks, declaring:

“The latest desperate bid for attention by the publicity-starved feminists is to sponsor SlutWalks — events where scantily clad women take to the streets en masse to claim their “right” to dress and behave however they want or to go anywhere at any time without the risk of being sexually assaulted or deemed streetwalkers.”

“They propose somehow to make the point that even if what they wear, their drunken state, or their presence alone in a very vulnerable place might indicate their willingness to participate in a sexual free-for-all, women should not be subject to lewd propositions or be at risk of being raped.”

Now I could leave it right there- those two statements alone are enough to demonstrate without a shred of doubt just what vile, reprehensible misogynistic scum the CWA is made of, but just to hammer in a few more nails for safe measure, here are some of there other quotes.

Here’s a lovely little comment regarding the Russian punk-rock protest group “Pussy Riot,” recently sentenced to two years in prison for singing an anti-government song in a cathedral.

Their formal statements about the incident reveal their utter lack of morality, embrace of a “blame-everyone-but-us” ideology, and disdain for capitalism and individual responsibility. Like their U.S. counterparts, they want “human rights, civil and political freedoms” for themselves but not for Christian believers or anyone else with different beliefs… Christians around the world are facing intolerance of their beliefs and sometimes violence as well. In spite of the Constitution, religious liberty is under attack in the United States, with the federal government telling religious institutions that they must violate their beliefs and support homosexual “marriage,” homosexual adoptions, contraception, and abortion or face penalties.

Really? A handful of women sing a song in a church decrying the increasingly totalitarian state, get the ridiculous sentence of two years prison for doing so (the same action in the US would merit a fine, if that) and it’s you who are the persecuted ones.

Here’s another good one- outrage that a Macy’s employee was fired for confronting a transgender person for using the women’s dressing room.

Transgender?  Give me a break!  First of all, there is no such thing; it is a choice of behavior.  And hope as we might, our desire to behave in a certain way does not legitimize a chosen behavior.  It certainly does not entitle them to circumvent the rights of society and our moral tenets in order for them to “have their way.”  Natalie Johnson, the employee in question, was quoted in an ABC interview, “I refuse to comply with this policy,” and “There are no transgenders in the world.  A guy can dress up as a woman all he wants.  That’s still not going to make you a woman.”

An easy call? Certainly not, but this self-righteous outrage is just plain stupid. What if the person in question had been born a hermaphrodite? How would he or she be treated then? Would that kind of ambiguity have justified the guy/gal being denied service? If that’s our logic, why not deny service to people in wheelchairs for not conforming to the societal norm? That logic just doesn’t hold up.

End of the day, “Concerned Women for America” is what cancer would look like if it were an social movement. Shame on this vile organization.

The People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street

It’s day 24 of Occupy Wall Street 1 and the thousands of protesters there have been organizing themselves into pseudo governments and various working groups. 2 The place is turning into a petri-dish kind of accelerated model of semi-anarchic social planning. The coolest aspect of the new microsociety, however long it’s going to last, is the The People’s Library of #OccupyWallStreet.

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listentomyvoice/6215907949/in/pool-1820877@N22
The OWSL was started by an NYU library studies student setting out a pile of books – other protesters started adding books, found protection for the books from the weather, and (now) have made a catalogue of the books and are collecting donations. On the library’s blog, OWSL announced that a criminal justice attorney for a New York nonprofit offered her legal services to the library as it deals with the semi-sketch logistics of being an uncovered library located in a public park. The library has about 15 volunteers (described as “a mix of librarians and library enthusiasts”) and a barcode scanner.

According to their catalogue, the library has about 400 books, with about 50 donations per day coming for the last few days. OWSL’s catalogue includes kind of what is to be expected in the library of a strange semianarchy made up of people with too much time, from Reading Lolita in Tehran to The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Volunteers say that they’re having constant requests for copies of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. There are a few less expected titles in the catalogue, though, too, like Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement3 and Cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

OWSL volunteers say that they do not discriminate when it comes to which books they put out – by nature of those donating, they have mostly liberal political and philosophical theory. But, one of the volunteers said, “if someone came with a truckload of Rush Limbaugh’s books, we’d put them out. We’re not opposed to having a dissenting voice.”4

One volunteer was asked to describe the library’s purpose: “People want to know, ‘What’s your agenda?’” he said. “Well, the status quo doesn’t have an agenda. Everyone here, in the aggregate, are people who feel disenfranchised and powerless. It’s perfectly legitimate to be frustrated. I don’t have a solution. I’m not an anarchist. I’m here because I love books.”

I'm not an anarchist. I'm here because I love books.

This attitude is what gives a sense of legitimacy to OWSL: its dedication to the availability of information in general, not just the forward movement of the protesters’ varying agendas. It’s admittedly heartening to see that one of the first things that develops in a group of people staying still for a while is a library. The agendas and decisions of the protest aside, let’s hope that the spirit of the indiscriminate availability of information and discourse remains in at least this aspect of the movement.

1 If you’re not terribly aware of what’s going on in NYC, and are interested in politics or social media or culture or anthropology or basically anything, read up on the Wiki page – for more laughs, read the .
2 For example: Sanitation, Food and Kitchen, Arts & Culture, Public Relations, Direct Action, Media Spokesperson Relations, Internet, Information, and “Peacemakers” [Security]. source: http://www.examiner.com/populist-in-long-island/night-and-day-life-at-occupy-wall-street
3 For substantial feelings of anger, horror, and loss of hope, Google the Quiverfull movement.
4 source:
http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/10/10/occupy-wall-street-their-own-mini-government-complete-with-library/#ixzz1aOZwBPAe