Perhaps you have caught on to the extreme conservatism (and extreme progressivism for that matter) holding the United States hostage right now. The Duggars, as public evangelicals whose sole purpose is to normalize fundamentalist Christianity, are contributors to and a byproduct of the public sphere currently reshaping American politics and ideologies. Beyond that, as I’ve written before, 19 Kids and Counting and now Jill and Jessa: Counting On are part of a larger, complex media system. As much as you might hate the Duggars’ presence, they’re sticking around for a reason. Continue reading “Counting On: Meet the Duggars 2.0”
“Nowadays, everybody tells us what we need is more belief, a stronger and deeper and more encompassing faith. A faith in America and in what we are doing. That may be true in the long run. What we need first and now is to disillusion ourselves. What ails us most is not what we have done with America, but what we have substituted for America. We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in place of reality.” Daniel Boorstin,The Image, 1962
The popularity of Bernie Sanders among millennial voters is rather extraordinary and it is striking a nerve among older voters, who are actively dismissing Sanders’ youngest and often most vocal supporters. Gloria Steinem’s criticism of young women voting for Sanders reveals a fundamental and generational divide between feminists. Steinem’s comments reveal something larger happening during this election. That is the divide between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.
More and more, I am observing my peers share memes and misconceptions about the two Democratic nominees across social media. These memes, particularly the Bernie Bros, emphasize that for whatever reason, the Clinton campaign simply does not resonate with millennials. Among my friends, the same people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, are not supporting HRC. But why? Because Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old white Jewish man originally from Brooklyn, is somehow perceived as more authentic than Hillary Clinton.
The supposed evidence of Sanders’ authenticity often appears on Facebook. For instance, a friend recently updated her cover photo with the caption: “When you walk the walk”.
This is allegedly a photo of Bernie Sanders marching with MLK, Jr. at Selma in 1965 and it’s an internet hoax. Think about it. Do you really believe Sanders would go his ENTIRE political career (30+ years) without ever mentioning this photo? Or his presidential campaign, which needs moments like these (the real ones, not the fake ones) to elaborate the appeal of a Sanders’ presidency? The answer to both questions is no. But the memeification of Bernie Sanders is just selling what the Clinton campaign seems unable to produce.
The Academy Award nominations were announced today and for the second year in a row, the acting nominees were all-white. Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Will Smith in Concussion, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation were all snubbed. And so, like that Hollywood sequel you didn’t ask for, #OscarsSoWhite is back. I’m both disappointed and not surprised. I don’t think anyone is truly surprised. Discussions of race and gender in Hollywood, both on screen and behind the camera, are never-ending. But more importantly, the Oscars are rooted in industry politics and its more clear than ever that Hollywood cannot escape itself.
Expectations are now being placed on host Chris Rock to say something, anything about this year’s Oscar snubs. But before you go down that rabbit hole, keep this in mind:
A five minute opening by brilliant Chris Rock will not make up for over 80 years of erasure of marginalized communities. #OscarsSoWhite
Have you heard about Freeform? If you haven’t, then you’re probably not invested in Pretty Little Liars’ five-year jump. (Seriously, can anyone explain how Alison is a high school English teacher?)
Announced in October, Freeform is the new and improved, edgy teenage version of ABC Family. It’s a less wholesome kind of family with more of exactly what ABC Family has been producing since 2010, when PLL became the network’s staple show. Unlike Secret Life of the American Teenager, current shows like Switched at Birth, Chasing Life and The Fosters present complicated and poignant portrayals of young adulthood and families without preaching or pandering. Nevertheless, the rebrand is a necessary shift for ABC Family, a cable network whose key audience has changed and whose brand identity has always been… wait for it… freeform. According to Variety, Freeform “marks a continued effort to evolve the young-skewing network past traditional family viewing and toward its target audience of “Becomers,” a network-coined term defined as those in the life stage spanning ages 14 to 34”.
The San Bernardino shooting yesterday became the 355th mass shooting in the United States this year. As we enter the second day of news coverage about this horrific event, the typical narrative surrounding a mass shooting is significantly different than the coverage of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, the Umpqua Community College shooting, the Charleston church shooting . (How depressing is it that we know exactly how the standard media narrative following a mass shooting the U.S. will play out?)
But pay attention to how the media will frame the San Bernardino shooting. As more information comes to light about the shooters, we will dealing with a completely different story. I was watching CNN last night just as Don Lemon and co. became convinced it wasn’t just another mass shooting but rather an act of terrorism. Following the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, this rhetorical shift is dangerous.
Whatever the reasons behind the shooting, two contradictory perspectives cannot be effectively balanced in the media. There can be no nuanced discussions about any of the many issues that come into play (gun control, mental health, anti-terrorism) when a mass shooting happens.
It’s either an act of terrorism or just another mass shooting. It’s just another mass shooting followed by a call for more gun control but never a prolonged discussion about mental health in the United States. The Colorado Springs shooting last week can be another mass shooting but it has nothing to do with the right’s attacks against Planned Parenthood. The Charleston shooting was just another mass shooting but not the act of a white supremacist.
The result: public fear and in the case of the San Bernardino shooting, an anti-Muslim rhetoric that will only harm innocent people.