Tag Archives: media

Does the Reaction to the Stanford Rapist Signal a Cultural Shift?

By now you’ve probably heard that Stanford student Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to only 6 months in prison for raping an unconscious woman at a party. You’ve probably also heard his father shamelessly attempt to downplay Turner’s actions as “20 minutes of action”.

Hopefully, you’ve also read the letter written by the rape survivor. In it, she breaks down many of the myths around rape, myths Turner’s defence used to attack her testimony and represent Turner as some kind of victim instead. Her heartbreaking personal account has broken down the defences of almost everyone who has read it (except Turner and his father, it would seem). According to Buzzfeed, one of the main sites to release her letter, her words have “gone viral” in a way few conversations about sexual assault ever do.

And as the word has spread, almost everyone has gotten behind this brave woman. Her story has brought light to the problem of systemic injustices, like light penalties for many cases of sexual assault and disproportionate penalties based on racial or economic background.

More than anything her story has prompted a united public outrage. Every comment I have read expresses distain and anger towards Turner and sympathy for his victim. Even internet trolls who would normally find a reason to challenge the victim’s story (i.e. some members of the Men’s Rights Reddit page) admit that “outrage over this issue is legitimate” (although their comments inevitably lead back to criticizing feminism).

In some ways it’s encouraging to witness the attack on Brock Turner. It seems like we’re experiencing a massive shift in the way we talk about rape and sexual violence. As this story has unfolded we’ve seen few if any attempts to slut shame or victim blame in the media or public conversation.

As glad as I am that this conversation has come out in favour of the victim, I can’t help but wonder if the public condemnation of Turner actually signals for a yearning for justice, or if perhaps other factors are at play. I’ve been struggling with two questions in particular. Continue reading

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.

tumblr_o3ajap2ea01rwbf4ro1_500

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

The Christian Paranoia Industrial Complex

Disneys Mulan came out when I was 12, and youd better believe I was excited about it. I was the girl who reacted to dresses and stockings with outrage and got big heart eyes at the sight of swords, so a girl dressing up as a guy and going to war was exactly my jam. Shortly after watching it, I remember climbing on a playground after church with a friend, while my brothers and I quoted the funny parts at each other. I asked her if shed seen it yet.

No…” she replied. I heard it promotes ancestor worship and stuff.

This caught me up.  Yes, in the movie Mulan prays to her ancestors for help and protection, and in true Disney fashion, the ghostly ancestors are seen discussing her plight.  12-year-old-me wasnt sure how to respond.  It didbut it hadnt occurred to me that it did.

I guess…” I said.  Kind of.

I’ll convert for the parties.

I found myself thinking about this exchange recently, while my husband and I watched through Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix.  I realize we are WAY behind the times, but wow did we enjoy it, despite neither of us really being anime fans.  It was such a great story, with excellent characters, and it was deeply refreshing to see a fantasy series that wasnt set in pseudo-medieval or pseudo-viking times.  The show also depicts a variety of ethnicities and cultures, most of which are based on eastern civilizations.  Its great.

Of course, there are references to various elements of eastern spiritualitiesreincarnation, qi energy, a spirit world, and featuring heavily in one episode of season two and recurrently through season three chakras.  

During that chakra-heavy episode, I couldnt help but hear my friends voice NoI heard it promotes eastern mysticism. Continue reading

3 Reasons Why the Paris Attack Feels like 9/11 and 1 Reason Why It Demands A Different Response

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, I encountered several articles that criticize the way the Western world responded to the tragic loss of life in Paris. While each of these articles bemoans the loss of 132 innocent lives, they also highlight similar atrocities that happened before the Paris attack and were almost completely overlooked.

In a lot of ways this event, and its media response, reminded me of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. While the media response to this tragedy has been a little more self-aware, our international reaction has been similar to how it was last time this kind of tragedy affected a Western nation. Rather than discuss the way we responded to these attacks, I wanted to examine why we reacted the way we did.

1) It felt close to home

I remember waking up the morning of 9/11, walking into the living room to see my mom crying. My dad turned to me and told me the world had changed overnight. Hearing about the attacks on Paris gave me the same shiver of fear that I felt that day. I don’t think it’s hard to dissect what motivates that feeling. These particular attacks were frightening because they happened to Western nations, and we in the West are very accustomed to feeling in control. We took control over much of the world during an age of imperialism, colonization, and slavery. Today we continue to control much of the world through unfair aid practices and political manipulation. These kind of attacks are terrifying because they make us feel like we don’t have as much control as we think we do.

Even though last Thursday 45 innocent victims lost their lives to a terrorist attack in Beirut and, 6 months ago a similar attack in Kenya killed 147 innocent people, many of us heard little to nothing about those attacks until their news coverage was compared to what occurred in Paris. In our effort to show solidarity with Paris, the Western world made it apparent that certain tragedies frighten us more than others.

As Elie Fares explained in his blog comparing the media response to the Paris and Beirut attack,

“When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

Continue reading

Unofficial Fame Day: Shep Smith

We make an effort here at Culture War Reporters to not only decry travesties but to celebrate advances in art, politics, music, and media. And in this day and age, the presence of an honest journalist isn’t so much an advancement as it is a flippin’ miracle. That such a journalist should emerge from the McCarthyite dystopia that is FOX News is more baffling still.

But lo and behold-

Shep ****ing Smith.

Now granted- Smith’s been around for a while. His career as a journalist started clear back in 1985, and Shep’s been a top-rated newsman since the mid-90s. Still, it would be a decade later, during the “war on terror” that a change seemed to occur.

What (if anything) prompted it, I do not know. When exactly it happened- who can say? Perhaps it had been building for a while, but whatever it was, Shep Smith frickin’ lost it.

In the best possible way.


Now that clip was from 2009, by which time the debate on America’s use of torture (“enhanced interrogation”, to use the official term for it) had already been going on for some time. Again, the exact causes of Shep’s outburst are a mystery to me, but it really doesn’t matter.

This, people. This is the kind of stuff we need more of. Continue reading

In Defence of the Dress Code

There are so many things I hate about dress codes. I hate that they usually target girls and their sexuality, implying that a) if girls don’t cover their bodies boys will have no choice but to “lust” after them and b) a girl’s sexuality is something to fear. I hate that they imply that a woman’s character is based on her level of purity.

I hate that they become an opportunity for grown men to ogle young girls in order to better police what those young girls should wearI hate that they project gender roles onto young people. I hate that they go hand in hand with body- shaming young girls just when their bodies have started to change and they are still learning how to deal with those changes.

In contrast, I love seeing young women standing up for themselves on social media with hashtags like #IAmNotAnObject, #MyBodyMyBusiness, and #MoreThanADistraction. I love seeing them reclaim their bodies as their own, rather than some grown (or young) man’s fantasy. I love seeing them call out our education systems for continuing to prioritize boys over girls. I love seeing them call out the innate sexism at the centre of most dress codes Continue reading

This Post Contains Pictures of Dead Children

43 years ago, a picture was taken. It captured the moments after a napalm attack on a Vietnamese village. Against a backdrop of smoke a nine-year-old girl runs towards the camera, naked and screaming.

The shock that image’s managed to elicit is credited as having helped end the war, and that photograph has become perhaps the most powerful pictures of the horrors of war ever taken.

Until last Thursday.

That is the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3 years old.

Refugees from the Syrian civil war, Aylans family’s had attempted to escape to Vancouver, only for their application to be rejected by the Canadian government. With nowhere else to turn, the Kurdi family fled to Europe in a final effort to escape. While the Kurdis found passage on a small boat bound for Greece, the vessel was far overloaded with refugees and tipped a few miles off the Turkish coast. Aylan, his brother Galip, and six other passengers (all but one of them children) fell overboard and drowned, their bodies washed ashore to where this heartbreaking picture was taken.

Once again, there are no words. Continue reading