Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Responses to Readings from the Village Voice and Huffington Post

This week you read two different but related pieces, both from the popular media, and both about activism.  The piece from the Village Voice was a collection of thoughts from various artists, community leaders, and the like, who are expressing their thoughts, their ideas and their fears around specific topics/people/issues in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election.  The much shorter piece from the Huffington Post is included to give you some examples of work completed by artists and on display at a show that has since closed.  Each of the visual pieces was an activist response to a social issue.

My hope is that, by reading these, you will be inspired to think about what issues/topics/ideas stir your passions, and to begin to connect those passions to action -- and specifically to media-related action because that is what you'll be doing for your final projects.

In your blogged responses to these readings this week, I'd like you to share your reactions to any or all of the short pieces from the Village Voice, for example, and I'd also like you to talk about where you stand with regard to using one's creative voice and talents in a political or activist way.  Not everyone feels the same way about art and activism.  Not everyone feels that there are problems for us to act on in this political moment.  I don't assume anything.  But I do want to hear what you have to say in reaction.  And mostly I want to hear about what you are interested in pursuing as an activist using your media knowledge and skills.  For this week's conversation I'd like you to focus on the readings as the jumping-off point.

Please post one or more things this week, and contribute to the conversation.  Remember, your proposals are due in class next week.  I can't wait to hear them!

Prof. Fry


  1. After reading the article from the Village Voice, I feel more strongly that artists (and athletes) deserve a voice and can act as activists. Outside of their lives in the spotlight, at the core, each are humans who have had personal experiences that have shaped their world views. In the spotlight, these individuals have the ability to discuss their views to a wider audience.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions. In the piece from the Huffington Post, it was interesting to see how artists have created works based on society. The pieces were beautiful. Art as activism is not a new concept, in my opinion. In the Vietnam War-era, beautiful works of art were created, not to mention the rise of many musical artists who performed in response to the world around them. Some examples include: Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Barry McGuire, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors.

  2. Village Voice: An article that I favored in the Village Voice was from Linda Sarsour. She discusses how it is time for the “silent majority” to speak up about issues regarding immigrant communities and legal status. I have a personal connection to this article in particular because I have close friends who are not U.S. citizens however, they obtained Visas to work and go to school in this country. One of my friends recently graduated from a top university and now has to go back to her home country because her Visa was not renewed under the Trump administration. My friend is scared going back to here country because America is the only place that she has called home. I hope that immigrants and people in this this country who feel strongly about legal status come together and fight for citizenship and equal rights.

    Huffington Post: I agree with Annie when she says, "Art as activism is not a new concept". I feel this way because there are many pieces of artwork that have been created to express what is going on in society. Art is powerful in the sense that it can mean different things to different people. The beauty of art is that it can be open for interpretation and when connected to activism, I feel as though certain works can bring about social change. In the piece from the Huffington Post, the section that I connected with the most were the images that had the least amount of description in them (toward the end of the article) because I felt like these images were the most powerful. I feel like the artists deciding to leave out an explanation about these images was intentional because it requires you to think about why these images were captured in the first place and question the amount of power they hold in society today.

  3. I am not sure how to feel about the Village Voice article. Do not get me wrong, I think it is great that so many people are coming together and standing up for what they believe in. However, I am a bit disappointed that so many people are finally fighting for what is "right". As a person of color, I think it is way over due. We have had so many instances where blacks and people of color were targeted, killed, raped, and imprisoned and the uproar from other communities were silenced. Now, that other races, genders, and communities are being targeted, now people have so much to say. I understand, to a certain extent, the whole premise of not happening to me or my people, not my problem. Or at least that's how it comes off to me. But now many are being treated how blacks have been treated for centuries and now people get it. I am not saying other races or nationalities did not ever help blacks but, there were many whites protesting right along side Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights era. Maybe this is what the country needed to see we all need each other. That discrimination and racism is not just a BLACK problem. Everyone is effected and should stand together on all issues.

    People should not live in fear of their Visa's being revoked or that American's do not want them here as Alex mentioned. It is sad that one man and a political group are doing so much damage to our country, and how his supporters do not see it. I understand wanting to protect our country but not at the expense of good people and their livelihood.

    Artist as Activists: I thought the statements made by the artists, through their work, was very powerful. There is something special about using images and semiotics to tell a story. It is not a new concept like Annie and Alex mentioned however, I believe they are very important. It has the ability to start conversations like Karen Gutfreund mentioned. The images has to be analyze and interpreted. Regardless if the viewer of the art believes it or not, at least they thought about it. Thoughts can turn into feelings, and feelings can turn into action. "Art can often say what words cannot." (Gutfreund, 2017)

  4. To be honest, I think that I do not deeply (or less) pay attention on the topics; president election, LGBT, or immigration in Village Voice because I am not a citizen of U.S. So that my understanding of those issues are lower than other students. However, Trump's acts of immigration is the hot issue for foreign people who are planing to be a U.S. citizen. Linda Sarsour's opinion article touches my feelings for democracy. In historically, United States is a country made by immigrant. Indians are natives, white people are also immigrant. Trump may misunderstand about the origin country. We need to support our neighbors like Linda said. I want to point out his words that "only 60 million of U.S people voted Donald Trump among 320 million Americans" means we are still not ready to be an activist. Trump won the election and U.S people made it. People must vote to protect their civil right. We all need to be an activists if we want to pursue an ideal democratic society.

    We've read the JFK's statement of art "We must never forget art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth." I'd add one another quote about artist. McLuhan (1988) said "the artist is the person who invents the means to bridge between biological inheritance and the environments created by technological innovation"
    Nowadays, I sometime confuse what is an art and what is a technology. Modern media artists create arts reflecting their believes or thoughts. And the arts motivate viewers to think about the arts' meanings. Art must be truth, but we really need to be careful. "what is a truth?" To many media theory concept comes and goes through our study. so,,, I do not know.. too out of topic?

  5. While reading the Village Voice article I couldn’t help but think about the entertainment industry and the injustices that go on such as discrimination of women and race for example, that the public may not be aware of. Artists are humans as well and have their own opinion. They go through their own stuff just like everyone else. If anything, their roles as artists may be even more significant because of the fan base that follow and look up to them. Some individuals may take part of an activist movement simply because an artist or celebrity is part of it also. I think art and artists themselves can help accentuate an issue through a different, more creative and popular platform.

    The Huffington Post article further supports my idea with art. I completely agree with the quote, “Art can often say what words cannot”, hence my previous statement regarding creative platforms. Whether it is a drawing, painting, sculpture, photograph, etc., a piece of art has its own message, one that cannot be said in words. It could express feelings or a moment for an individual.

  6. The Voice article to me is very one sided. It felt like the author of this article gathered together a very specific group of people, (I won’t call them minorities, because I personally do not think that people of color or gay are minorities) I do however understand that that was the purpose of the article to gather people that are not minority but not majority and that their lives might be directly affected by current presidency. But I do hear their pain loud and clear, and I absolutely agree that they can and should express their voices through media and meetings/protests. My only concern is that I would not want to see that expression on stage. As long as the Hamilton does not repeat itself, I am good. I would love to listen their opinion in interviews, or interesting articles, as long as it is not on stage or somewhere entertaining where I did not pay to listen a political spiel no matter do I agree or disagree with it. I also did not find a single person talking about global warming and how current policies can affect that. Access Pipeline was not mentioned in a single paragraph, and since this is the only issue I can personally relate too, I would’ve loved to hear at least someone speaking out.

    The Huf Post article is incredible. I love art and I think visual art is especially strong representation of activism. It is the best way to deliver a message across, to impress and leave a stamp in the memory. I think that this is the strongest tool of protest or just explanation of things that are happening in the world. I would love to see more of that and happy to pay to go see such exhibits. I was surprised to not see any mention of Banksy’s Dissmaland. To be it was one of the strongest representations of activism against everything bad in the world. I wish this exhibition could come to the US. http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/08/dismaland/

  7. No sleep article really caught my attention because it's exactly what I want to do with my career. I would love more than anything to make it in this industry as a Latina woman from immigrant parents, one being illegal when he first got here. I think that using your power and fame to try to send out a positive message is a great thing. One thing that upsets me though is that some people make it seem as if these issues are brand new and they aren't. Since I was old enough to understand racism it is something I have had to experience. I just wish something was done about years ago and not just now because Trump has allowed people to feel safe to be racist again.

    I think it is great how art is being used to reach people. To me art reaches people in a deeper form I believe. Art can be silent and loud all at once.Being an artist I can appreciate using it to talk about all issues.

  8. The No Sleep article spoke to me on how activists are not going to let this current administration take away what they have fought so long and hard for. They are standing up and not letting anyone take their rights away. "I don't believe in hope. I believe you either do or you don't, and as a black person in the United States — as someone who's old enough to have experienced presidents who don't give a fuck about you — that tells me we need to tighten our helmets." I whole heartedly agree with Chuck D and while I am not black, I am a POC and have to stand and fight against anyone who does not have our best interests at heart. We cannot hope that Trump and his administration change their ways but like all these activists said we have to make our voices be heard.

    The Huffington Post article shows that activism comes in many shapes and sizes. It is amazing how Picasso and Warhol are referenced and everything they did back then is still happening today. Artists are still fighting social injustices with their artwork and spreading their messages to the masses. I believe it is very sad that we have not come that far as a society in all these years that we still need to fight against all these ugly things, but nonetheless it is amazing that artists are not letting anything get in their way.

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  10. The Village Voice’s article was a very important article to read. The discussion about the “silent majority” in conjunction with immigrant communities was a piece of information, GREAT information that needs to be heard and read about. There are seemingly countless immigrants who have gotten Visas to work and go to school in this country. It’s really a shame to hear the stories about the men, woman and children who seek refuge and are shamed, ridiculed and shunned because of where they are coming from. I agree with Alexandra about Linda Sarsour’s article on this pressing issue. This is a newsworthy piece.

    The Huffington Post’s article, in regards to what art is and how it can be a rather viable tool in enacting activism, speaks volumes in relation to where our world is. Art, in general is made created to essentially express the current backdrop of a society whether that backdrop is gloomy or bright is depicted by the imagery. Art is unquestionably powerful tool in meaning various concepts in various individuals. Art has a message, art has a purpose, art has origins, art has value, art soothes. It (Art) teaches one to look into ourselves and question life’s profound mysteries. Every person has his or her own opinion on what art is. But I think many of us can agree, art in every sense of the word, helps us to understand, decipher and make sense of things.

  11. Both the articles were interesting. The Art article in the Huffington Post by Amy Pleasant reminded me of film as a form of radical subversion. Films like "Baader-Meinhof Complex" and "Carlos" remind me of cinema at its subversive best. Documentary films can also be great sources of questioning the establishment - 'The United States of Amnesia' comes to mind.
    However I was absolutely flabbergasted to see Linda Sarsour was interviewed in the Village Voice article. I saw an interview with Sam Harris on Bill Maher's show that exposed Sarsour as anything but a small d democrat. She is, as Aayan Hirsi Ali calls her, "a fake feminist". I have attached to my contribution, an article from the New York Times that exposes how some liberals are being swindled by the likes of Sarsour. Sarsour is, as Sam Harris pointed out, "a theocrat". In this age of social media activism, it is possible that we can see something on our FB feed and go along with it without realizing who we're allying with.

    I'm happy that activists are gearing up to fight this administration. The American spirit that I
    saw in the Village Voice article (I'm excluding Linda Sarsour here because recent revelations about her have made me wary) have heartened me. But I truly think that scientists and lawyers will be our most effective ally in our fight against Trump. "Trump got checked and balanced" as I recently heard, in reference to the independent judiciary not allowing the Muslim ban to go forward. As far as artists are concerned, it's important to tell stories with more Muslim characters, with more transgendered characters, with gay characters. The industry has to hire more non-white writers and if mainstream channels are too afraid to have counter-establishment shows on, go to Hulu or Netflix or Amazon. I feel soon Youtube will have original programming, with scripts and episodic narratives and big names - like a TV show. Kickstarter and crowdfunding can help up and coming writers, actors, directors who routinely get shut out by the industry to fund their own projects and post it on YouTube. Ideas such as the one expressed above are already circulating and I'm pretty sure some have started funding their own projects as well. Don't wait for the industry to accept you. If you're an artist, there are means now in the age of social media to start small visual art projects from the ground up.

    Here's the NYT article about Linda Sarsour:

  12. The village voice piece that spoke to me most was Bob the drag queen. Understanding is critical when there are opposing views, especially in times like today where politics seem to divide American citizens. It was a calm and collected piece that gave what it asked of readers- understanding. The piece led by example and was inspiring for me to do the same.

    With regards to using ones creative voice or talents for activism I feel that if it's done in honesty, and addresses an injustice that can befall any and all citizens of the globe then it's fair. I also believe that it is the choice of the individual to marry the two- art and activism, though there shouldn't be any obligation to use you're art form as a vehicle for activism, and there shouldn't be any penalties for doing so or lack there of.

  13. While I read the article from the Village Voice, I had come up with the memory that I watched ‘The Normal Heart’ which was aired on HBO in 2014. It was about a gay activist attempted to raise HIV / AIDS awareness during the early 1980s. Back then, AIDS was treated as a gay cancer, so the voice of sexual minority was very low. However, some brave activists put their efforts and now, in 2017, all the states in the United States allow people to have gay marriage.

    Likewise, as Linda pointed out in the article that there is the silent majority. However, there is nothing to worry about. We always have had its existence. As they were depicted in ‘the Normal Heart’, they were in there in 1980s and still, nowadays, we have them. This can be confirmed by the facts: 2016 American presidential election and Brexit. Most people never imagined they would happen. Only there are some differences on the number of brave minority. Therefore, what we need to focus is how to increase the number of them.

    In that sense, artists are very important. They are those who can be in frontline and encourage people to become like these. They can affect people to make the things changed. They can deliver their thoughts not just by speech but also their artworks. Thus, people can feel it in diverse ways. For example, the director of ‘The Normal Heart’ is an artist and activist who expresses his thought by his work and rings the alarm bell to awareness of people by a historical event, the introduction of AIDS, which sometimes their rights cannot be earned naturally, so they have to fight for them. Thereby, the audience can feel in that way while they watch his show, and some of them may make an action. Above all, artists can make the brave minority and lessen the silent majority.

  14. Seeing both the work in the Buzzfeed article as well as reading the words of the artists and activists in the Village Voice article was extremely inspiring. I think the one good thing that comes out of adversity, especially the systemic adversity that is larger than we as individuals, is that people begin to really get creative in the ways in which they resist.

    Coming from a poor, black family, ingenuity and innovation are simply a part of our culture—the necessity to survive outside of the white, upper-middle class standard of life/living makes way for new models of living that people with privilege simply have no means of understanding. This is why I think the Black Arts Movement has stood out to me so much in terms of media activism, because at the time, we were really just running with the cultural production we had already known for so long in a time where things were becoming increasingly grim. Those songs, that slang, those dances, those images—the ART—is how we made it over, and I believe that deserves recognition in a time that parallels that era in so many ways.

    As I said in class on the first day, there are as many ways to resist as there are individuals resisting. There is no one, tried/true method of resistance because we all come from different identities with different lived experiences, and have different perspectives. Even though I may share the marginalized identity of "poor" with another person, their means of resisting as a poor, disabled, latinx woman will be different than my means of resisting as a poor, queer, black person. It is up to us though to see who our allies are (AND ARE NOT), and mobilize as we can. There's been a lot of rhetoric going around about "hearing the other side", and I don't think that's always the most constructive thing to do, especially when there are so many other like-minded people you can organize with in the name of social justice.

  15. Hi class. I have to be honest about the article in the Village Voice. I found it difficult to get through some of the comments being made by the activists in the article. I found that their issues were being blown way out of proportion and that their tone in most of them was a turnoff. They came across as smug and sarcastic and I feel that type of tone turns me off when one wishes a voice to be heard or a conversation to be started. I am very familiar the Village Voice and I do understand that most writing in it swings very far left which is fine but I was crossing my fingers that I would be pleasantly surprised by the comments. I, unfortunately was not. I do, however respect their right to free speech and to express themselves as they see fit. I may have had more tolerance for the pieces if I hadn't already been drowning and fed up with the political climate in the media over the past nine months or so. I need a break from it. It gets exhausting. That is why I chose a topic for my media activism project that steered away from the election cycle and topics that go along with it. I chose to focus on Historical Preservation in NYC. It is a topic that has some political elements to it but I can at least be sure that I can stay away from the election issues that are dominant in the news media today and for the last several months. I already have another class in journalism this semester in which it is required that are news story coverage focus on the Trump administration. I did not want to give myself a stroke by having to focus on it 24 hours a day as a result. I consider myself a moderate Republican and that is why I can say that I do not back some of the things the Trump administration is doing. I support the overall arc of his policies but I do not support some of the things he has said and personally done. Some of those things enter the realm of mind boggling to me as well. For one, I cannot accept the fact that Trump has not released his tax information. That is a red flag for conflict of interests and I do not think that a President and his policies can be respected without the transparency. There are other things as well but I won't get into them now. I, did, however enjoy the artwork in the Huffington Post piece. I thought the artists showed a lot of imagination and talent in expressing their ideas.


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