Monday, July 11, 2011

Sometimes YouTube Gives Me Hope

I've been reading Digital Media and Democracy:  Tactics in Hard Times edited by Megan Boler with very mixed opinions about whether the internet and the proliferation of digital media is constructive or destructive to democracy.  Does being in a digital media saturated society with easy online interactions promote a "feeling" of being active online, which translates into not being active in the real world? Or does becoming interested in something online prompt to you real world action.  Especially, how can real life action be connected to something more explicitly political, not just merely consumer choice?  For example, does purchasing eco-friendly products really make a stand for environmental protection?

This collection is addressing democracy specifically, but I believe these questions can be posed to other areas as well.  As someone involved in humanitarian work, what kinds of implication do "feeling" active online, versus real action have for the poor, disenfranchised, or ill?  What good do literally buying into those products that donate a percentage of profit to charity do?   I believe in real human interaction to help real problems, but also believe in the power of information and access.  However, one can get easily lost in the overwhelming amounts of the digital online, distracted endlessly, and never find what you're really looking for in the same internet that provides the information to connect you with something that has the possibility of real solutions.

YouTube in particular makes me conflicted, but today, in spite of the silliness, it gave me some hope.  One of the Vloggers I watch got invited to Kenya by the Supply Education Group, and following his trip has been involved in raising money for a secondary school.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

writing culture on the bodies of celebrities

As I've been reading The Persistence of Whiteness : Race and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema edited by Daniel Bernardi, one article in particular made itself manifest in my everyday life encounters.  In Framing Jennifer Lopez: Mobilizing Race From the Wide Shot to the Close-up,  Priscilla Pena Ovalle discusses how Lopez  at different points in her career has been whitened in her appearance and her characterization, while simultaneously remaining an Othered female.  For non-white female celebrities, the pressure to conform with mainstream standards of beauty go beyond thin frames and flawless skin, but include de-emphasizing ethnic features, especially hair.

Perhaps I am just a little idealistic in my hope that mainstream media images of beauty will one day reflect the diversity of women in all shapes and colors, but the "persistence of whiteness" is correct so far.  I was particularly struck by the images of Beyonce's latest album cover, which inscribes whiteness all over her body. It is probably touched up, but nevertheless, she seems almost unrecognizable from the Beyonce I remember from Destiny's Child and a very current example of what Pena Ovalle addresses in her article.