Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas, Love Wisconsin

I love being home! The Holidays are a time to spend with family, friends and enjoy some good spirits! Nothing says the Holidays like Wisconsin Christmas :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tweetable Stories

17 Tweets.

Tweeting my final project was a challenge but in the end, like all of the projects for this class, I feel more liberated and changed than I did before the start of Visual Research Methods.

If there is one thing I have learned after researching and discovering not only my grandmother's but also my own story is that storytelling is truly, universal.

Where does the simple, "old school" ORAL story end and the new digital, tech-savy story begin? When do mediums shift? When do stories evolve?

It's easy to say that my grandmother's story is weaved into my essence as both a person and scholar. To say that she has played a large role in my life is an understatement and where modern language to me, fails.

However, where modern language and storytelling fails, I believe the digital begins. Digital storytelling allows stories, both like my grandmothers and my own, a whole new medium to reach people. Where digital technology changed the way my grandmother told her story, Twitter changed the way I can both listen and then re-tell my own story in context of my grandmothers.

I posted 17 tweets, each with pictures, videos, links to my grandmother's own digital story housed on Wisconsin Public Television's "Wisconsin Stories" site and to the book Digital storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-Representations in New Media.

If you are unfamiliar with Twitter it prohibits the amount of characters to 140 in each Tweet. Although I tried to stay within this framework, I sometimes had to post my Tweet with TwitLonger. There is a preview of the Tweet and then it has a link. The link takes you to the rest of the Tweet and if there is a picture/video attached that too is linked and will direct you to the appropriate YouTube/TwitPic Webpage.

All in all, Tweeting my final paper was challenging but more importantly it showed to me how FAR story telling has come. From the oral, to the digital and now to the Tweetable. Stories just like technology evolve.

I would be lying if I didn't say that I will be coming back to this post for years to come for one reason: To hear my grandmother's voice. My grandmother recently passed away this summer and if there is one thing that I miss about her, it's her voice. It always pushed me, inspired me and made me believe in miracles since I was a little child.

Her voice now lives on, thanks to Digital Technology and for that, I will be forever grateful.

I hope you enjoy her story, along with the others in the series, as much as I do!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beauty and the Beholder

Sitting down to think about the process of making our video documentary, to me, is more daunting than actually filming it. Throughout the process of making this video, I felt both the awe and terror of what we were actually doing. How do we begin to challenge the way in which we view our bodies or how other people see them? To me, it always seems to come down to power and how power is both presented and used especially when it involves our bodies.

Power is a tricky thing. Throughout this video, we all made the conscious decision to play with the power of being the "Filmer" or what is meant to be "filmed." After much internal debate, I made the decision that I did not want to be the one to film, at all. Power is scary and I wanted to make sure that dynamic, me a man filming two women's very personal account of their bodies and how editing affects them, wasn't taking away from our overall message of reclaiming bodily power.

More specifically, reclaiming that bodily power needs to happen by us and not by the "authority." I discovered this after our second draft of the video was complete. We had taken out both a "male and female" authoritative clip that we had found that dealt with the issues we were discussing. If we were talking about reclaiming bodily power back from the media then why did I, or we, feel that this voice was needed? Why did I feel that something was missing when we took it out?

To me, I felt that this issue really got at the heart of what we were doing. We crave this "authoritative" voice whether we like or not because it is socially and culturally written all over our bodies and in our lives. Through the process I realized that we were that voice and more importantly, the reason why I felt so uneasy about it being gone was because change isn't easy. Changing the way both we and society view our bodies and our power is difficult, but in my opinion, our video does just that. I don't feel uneasy talking about my voice now because I have critically reflected upon how people judge me and how culture judges me and used my own voice, not someone else, to be the authority. We critique the media and culture because we can and that is both power and being powerful. In doing this project, I feel like I have freed myself in someway and it is both empowering and scary but that is why it needs to be done.

It is not until we recognize our own power, that the "authoritative power" that has dictated our lives thus far becomes obsolete. It is not until we reclaim power of our unedited bodies that we become truly beautiful.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but now, the eye belongs to me and that,
is truly

Monday, October 25, 2010

A History Book Goes a Long, Long Way

Instead of explaining the reason to WHY I am posting this Historical Evidence, I hope it just simply, speaks for itself:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Sojourner Truth (March 24th, 1867)
Dear Sojourner Truth,
Will you try to be present at our coming anniversary & help us to burn the woman & the negro in the citizen, & make N.Y. State a genuine republic?
Yours Sincerely,
E Cady Stanton

Susan B. Anthony to the New York State Colored Men's Convention (Oct. 1, 1886)
To the President and members of the Colored Men's State Convention.
Gentlemen: Permit me in behalf of the colored women of the State of New-York to urge upon you to extend your demand for the ballot to your wives and daughters-your mothers and sisters. By the laws of our State the grievances of colored women are a thousand fold greater than those of colored men. While colored men not possessed of the requisite $250 to make them voters are exempted from taxation, all colored women worth even $50 are compelled to pay taxes. That is, the colored man to-day is worth $200, and it exempt, he dies to-morrow, and his widow is immediately assessed as a tax-payer. Then in all the trades and professions your sisters and daughters have not only the obstacles that are everywhere thrown in your way, but also the prejudices and impediments everywhere thrown in woman's way, in addition. Now, heaven, and all colored men, know that the barriers that hedge your pathway on every side are most discouraging; I ask you, then, to remember the women by your side, and secure to them all you claim for yourselves. Now is the time to establish the government of our State, as well as the nation, on the one Democratic Republican Principle-the consent of the whole people- black women, and white as well as black men must now be brought within the body politic.
Respectfully Yours,
Susan B. Anthony

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paris is Burning, Venus Boys

I know we talked about both of these films over the past couple of weeks and I wanted to play them next to each other to show to examine them both:

After watching both of these films, I drastically viewed performativity and drag balls, female masculinity very differently but I also want to investigate these films with a documentary or ethnographic lens. How do they play into what we have begun to talk about? These are questions that I hope to answer in the next couple of weeks.

I Cannot Take Credit for This

This is from one of my favorite blogs, Everything.Is.Terrible and I must say, I do not know what to make of it but I wanted to share it with all of you.

Gurl, Please

This is a call out.
This is a statement.
This is a rant.

Know the history,
Before you "speak" your mind.
Know the history,
and not just the HBO special.
Know the history,
from the actual archives.

Don't think this isn't a call out.
Because it is.
Don't think that I don't know your pissed,
Because I do.
Don't think that I didn't expect this,
Because I did.
Don't Think that I'm not listening,
Because I Am.
Don't Think that I don't understand you,
Because I do.

Don't think that anger doesn't come from a place within,
Because it does.

This is a call out,
to you, to them, to us.
This is a call out,
to tell you to know the facts,
your power,
your story,
you speak.

This is a call out,
plain and simple.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's About Power....Right?

Dear Everyone,
I really enjoyed the discussion in today's class, no matter what was said! I guess that's the point, opening up a dialogue where our discomforts, pain, joys and happiness all meet head to head and no matter what you think or feel, this class has been a great resource for opening up these ideas and important dialogues and more importantly where you feel mad and angry or happy and joyful.

I think I've done enough talking and frankly I always feel like I screw it up a little bit so therefore I'm going to let Buffy do the talking for me. I respect and value your opinions but I think that the thing I got most from our conversation and it's OK to BLUNTLY say it, the anger, that was present (it's ok to have anger) is where and who has power? What is power? and why is it the primary thing we are always talking about?

We all see and use power differently and more importantly, we all have different types of power but if it's all about power, then what is life really about? I saw power in everyone's videos, regardless of their subject lines and I loved how we all addressed these in unique, new ways that help create new discourses and ways to think about certain ideas/subjects. If power is present everywhere, then has there ever been a time when it wasn't there?

If power is all we talk about then what types of power, do you have and HOW do you use it? This video presents power in many different ways and maybe this, is what I wanted to show in my video. How is power presented? I have to thank Buffy for it always puts things in perspective.

Power can be both good and bad (the dichotomy between the two I hope is clear in this clip) but more importantly, the ending line strikes a chord with me and has for many years: "It's not about right. It's not about wrong. It's about power."

Maybe this is what I wanted to say all along?!

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Ain't I a Feminist?"

Before starting this video essay, we presented our ideas in class. After expressing what I wanted to do someone asked me, "What's your stake in all of this?" This person wondered what my stake or role was in feminism. Where did I stand? and more specifically, how would my video idea address these issues.

I have to thank this person, for I had the usual answers to "Why are you passionate about feminism?" like: "Equality is a human issue" or "Oppression is something we all need to work against regardless of our gender." Now, because of this video essay (and my thoughtful classmate) I can now vocalize my true feelings. I am involved and passionate about feminism because I am a contradiction. I am a man who is passionate about Women's Liberation. I am a man who works to end the discriminatory practices created to destroy equality, I am a man who calls himself a feminist. I am a white man that is socially and culturally embedded with the "patriarchal power" that we read about. Being the contradiction empowers me to work harder, to make sure that in everything I do, the embedded social and cultural hierarchies that are embedded within me, are broken down.

I have a responsibility and it's to make sure that in whatever I choose to do that I always remember how harmful oppression is and how easy it is to simply become the problem rather than work against it.

I want to make sure that people understand that in my essay it is not my belief that "Girls Gone Wild" is necessarily a bad thing. By juxtaposing this imagery with the empowering speech by Alice Walker (who is reading Sojourner's Truth "Ain't I a Woman") I hope to express a different opinion than that of a man simply objectifying women via his gaze and simply being another man saying "You worked so hard for the vote and look what you do with it now." If I were to do this, I would simply be falling back in the power/privilege role I struggle with daily as a male feminist. I would no longer be trying to solve the problem but adding to it.

More importantly, I want to pose the question, aren't the women in the "Girls Gone Wild" videos still women and/or feminist? The answer I am afraid is hard to realize. As feminists we are granted a very politicized gaze and we are critical of how the male, objectifying gaze hurts women. More so, if we see this video as men simply abusing their power and gaze to appease the masculine world with hyper-sexualized imagery, then yes, I do believe there is something COMPLETELY wrong with this video.

However, on the other hand as feminists we have to see this video as something else, something no women could do prior to the 21st century. Women worked hard to obtain equal rights and that too means being able to, like men, bare all if they so choose too. The problem is not whether or not they choose too it is the very gaze that is acted upon them as a result. Do these women too then fall victim to a female gaze as well?

Women worked hard for the vote in MANY different ways to achieve MANY different outcomes and one of these outcomes does mean being able to bare all. They are still women, they are still powerful, they are still voices that need to be heard. Can these videos be empowering to women? I think that they are. Upon asking some friends, they look at the Girls Gone Wild videos and say: "I will never let that happen to me." Instead they conclude, "I will use my power as a woman to get a job once held by a man or get a higher degree in education so that my life is not dependent on my spouse/partner/or husband." In a twisted way, these videos are empowering for they ensure that other women, who view them as objectifying, don't fall into the trap of the male gaze.

It was my hope to prove this by then moving away from the Girls Gone Wild into more contemporary women's rights movement activities. By showing how women from all walks of life have used the right to vote and be heard publicly. It was my intention to end the video by stating too that if these women, who worked so hard to change the world want to be heard or represented, then the MEN who work to objectify or subject women to social ideals of beauty or sexuality, better let them because the women's right's movement is powerful with or without "Girls Gone Wild."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Snap and Power

Dear Haters,

"Don't mess with a snap diva." How does the use of the visual enhance the message of Marlon Riggs' video? Is the power of the snap diva in the visibility that the video gives or is it in the actual act of the snap?

From what I gather, the snap is the power tool used in this video and not the video itself. The snap harnesses a power that was taken away from the black queer community and gives it back to them (they shift from becoming the viewed). More importantly, the visual act of snapping itself, is where the power is located. The individual power, that comes from designing or honing your own snap that makes you, the viewed powerful. The snap, reverses the objective gaze. It shocks the viewer back into reality and into the position of the viewed and not the viewer.

Is the power of the snap an act of performance within the black queer community? Do these men use snaps like "The Medusa snap" to disidentify? Power is obvious in this video. The power that one gets from snapping allows them to fight back against cultural and/or racial norms. More specifically, the snap is the actual act of disidentifaction, because it invokes a performance that allows you to play with the power spectrum of identity, race, class or gender and re-invent it for your own identification and to define how you WANT to be seen. The individual snap, forces the viewer to see you for what YOU define yourself as and not how they SEE you.

"Don't mess with a snap diva!" but I say "Don't mess with the snap." The diva is an add on, an act, that heightens the power you have in the actual act of snapping. The snap gives you, the objectified, the power of the viewer because the "snap" shocks the viewer's gaze and forces them to actually see the process happening before them. The snap, more importantly, thrusts reality upon the viewer and forces them to understand that they are no longer watching but being watched and the power they THOUGHT they had is now GONE!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Manly Man, Manly Man, Where are You?

To All the "Manly" Men,

How many guy's holding guns are in this video? How many fast, expensive cars weave in and out of streets or flip over and crash? How many women are used as objects? Where is masculinity in this video?

Let the Masculine Mystique Begin:

Pure from Jacob Bricca on Vimeo.

The progression of this video presents the problem with masculine culture today: It's been hijacked by the patriarchal ideal of how men NEED to act and not HOW to act. The idea behind this video is to depict the POWER and the VISIBILITY that comes with that POWER in Visual Culture and then how it is interpreted and LIVED by men who long to be "manly men."

Is there such a thing as the "manly man" in visual culture or is it all just a glimmer of the ideal that androcentrism and patriarchy want me to become. The men, in these videos, are to run around with guns, blow things up, bleed, possess women and progress the ideal that MEN need to do all these things in order to embody the idea of the "manly man." If they don't, they visual culture and society in general depict a very different type of man; one that can never possess these "qualities" of masculinity but rather someone who can only look in from the outside.

Sex, Power and Dominance, three ingredients that shouldn't mix but seemingly do across not just visual culture but culture in general.

To All Those Who "Love the Way It Hurts"

Dear "Catchy" Eminem Song,

It seems to be the "song of the summer." Eminem "Love the Way You Lie Feat. Rihanna" has been atop the Top 40 Countdown and blaring from people's cars. However, have you ever really stopped to listen to what he is saying or watch the video? I have many problems with the so called "reformed" Eminem and although I don't really care how many times he calls Elton John a day to talk about his deep seeded issues or discuss the problems in Pakistan, Eminem's social commentary has moved from the gay community and onto the women and domestic violence. When does a song stop being just a song? More importantly, watch for yourself and see (If you need a clue, it's right about the time Eminem says he's going to trap his woman in the house before she leaves him again and BURN it down):

I don't know what is worse: The fact that Eminem uses Megan Fox (a clearly sexualized symbol used by the male community and seen on many posters on boys (and girls) walls) and "that" guy from Lost to depict a couple struggling with domestic abuse, trust issues, anger, or depression or the fact that all of these SERIOUS problems can be solved by the fact that the girl secretly loves it and it all can be solved by CRAZY, BOTTLE BREAKING SEX against a wall?

What is "visual culture" now if we look at it through this particular music video? Who has the power? and more specifically, who is watching whom? People all over the world suffering from these exact issues are not empower that Eminem and Rihanna have made a song that clearly categorizes their problems into neat, sexually attractive problems. People suffering from domestic abuse and sever anger issues in relationships are the victims of a culture that has depicted their problems as so easily solvable. Just "fuck it out" as I believe Eminem would say or simply "watch me burn because I like the way it hurts."

Eminem presents culture with a new way to look at the power struggle of between the victim and the abuser because he throws the entire system into chaos. No one has power in this music video. The abuser cannot live without the girl (and he's willing to break some bottles over people's heads to prove it) and the girl likes the abuse and loves the way it "burns." Where's the power? What is power in a relationship that is clearly bent on the possession of it? Eminem, the magical lyricster of Detroit, take power out of the equation completely because even the viewer of this video cannot find the power within it for they too are then seeing a mirror into their own life or the life of someone they know of. The issue of domestic violence is the ultimate "7 Degrees of Separation" and not something to be into a lyrical ballad sung by tweens around the world who could possibly suffer the same fate one day.....

....But hey, remember, Rihanna,the girl who was also beat by her boyfriend Chris Brown, sums up the major problem with the misogyny present in this video: She likes it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This is What a Feminist Looks Like

Dear Feminism,
What feminism is in the 21st century? Where is the movement going?
Why are there still people that only associate it with women? These images to me say it all.

Feminism is a changing face not unique to gender. Feminism is a belief and active movement that transcends gender.

Men care about equal opportunity too. This one does, so lets get active and shake up the idea that women are the only active feminists.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Norms Oh My!

To Whom It May Concern,

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.


Dear Heelarious,
There is something completely wrong with the image of a 0-6 month old baby being paraded around like she is on a cat walk in Milan. When did being a baby turn into something that had to be sexualized? Is forcing her to wear heels at 9 months preparing her for back pain, hyper-sexualization or years of appealing to a male standard of beauty? You describe your product as:

hee • lar • i • ous [he-lair-ee-uhs] - noun
extremely funny, completely soft
shoes for babies 0-6 months
designed to look like high heels

Are we just designing our babies to look like mature women now? Did I miss something? I believe in innocence and children running around enjoying their childhood! Not prancing around on the Today Show wearing Heels, no matter how soft they are. When will it end? When your daughter is 13 and asking for plastic surgery or when she sees pictures from her childhood and is embarrassed? For me, Bobbi Thomas said it all:

“Little girls can get a jump start on their strut and be top-models-in-training before they leave the crib”

When will we start empowering our girls

again? Instead of forcing our girls to be objects of beauty why don't we empower them to become the next President of the United States or anyone she wants to be?

We all need to take a note from Elizabeth Cady Stanton's speech "Our Girls" and learn how to be parents again!