Our Blog's Mission

Hello! We are Pete and Nehemiah and we are students in a Media Literacy class. We have been tasked with choosing a social issue that we both feel strongly about, and our assignment is to raise awareness for said issue using social media outlets.

The social issue we are focusing on is the lack of acceptance and understanding of the LGBTQ community. This blog will comprise resources from the web to provide information about the obstacles faced by members of the LGBTQ community. 

Most importantly, we want to provide a safe haven for those who are struggling with those obstacles, and we urge those people to share their stories. Feel free to submit your stories to our page, along with any poetry, pictures, songs, artwork, or really anything else that helps you and may help someone else.  

This is a conversational blog, we will post Q&A’s and urge those who wish to support who are out of the community to please do. This is a judgement free zone. 

We hope in the end that this will become a collection of voices that will collaboratively portray the message of acceptance, understanding, and unity through mass media.

Please help us make an impact. 

[Fan fiction is] a reaction to large publishers, a reaction to mass media,” she says. “It’s a reinterpretation from a minority point of view, a female point of view, an LGBTQ point of view, a queer point of view — it’s reinterpreted to represent people who are often not represented in mass media.
—  Nistasha Perez, from this article about Amazon’s Kindle Worlds

A reminder to all who haven’t heard: THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS WILL RIDE AGAIN…FUELED BY NETFLIX…IN 2016.

You read that right. Through Netflix’s acquisition of Scholastic, a 26-episode series will kick off in 2016, called The Magic School Bus 360°.

From the announcement via Mashable:

Netflix and Scholastic Media announced in a press statement that the new series will use CGI animation to feature a “modernized Ms. Frizzle" and an "inventive high-tech bus — so it looks like the companies are not afraid to take chances and make mistakes (and probably get messy in the process). The very 21st-century show will also focus on modern tech innovations, including robotics and wearables.

The all-new episodes also leverage advancements in animation, science and technology in a way that will delight a new generation of young viewers, and like its predecessor, will help kids around the world discover the magic and value of exploration and innovation, a press statement reads.

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Listen to the original Magic School Bus theme music

The Magic School Bus is the longest-running kids’ science series in history, first airing on PBS in 1994 and continuing in syndication for 18 consecutive years. It has even earned an Emmy Award. (Undoubtedly for Liz the Lizard’s acting.)

Magic School Bus, the old version, is remarkably popular on Netflix, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer told The New York Times. It teaches science in a way that transcends generations.

Scholastic Media has not yet announced if the original Ms. Frizzle, Lily Tomlin, will return to voice the character.

And from a similar announcement via CNN:

To do an animated show that has actually encouraged young people to pursue careers in the sciences or teaching makes us very, very happy.

— Forte, President, Scholastic Media

2016. The Magic School Bus. The original ship of the imagination.

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Whether you’re a feminist or a fangirl or you just like to learn, these six “Tropes vs Women” episodes of Feminist Frequency are absolutely fascinating. Host Anita Sarkeesian makes sure you’ll never look at entertainment the same way. 

Watch:

the other day i posted a link to an article called Why Male Pregnancy Matters, which discusses some of the implications and consequences of the Chicago Department of Public Health’s anti-teen pregnancy campaign depicting teenage boys with pregnant bellies. The purpose of the original campaign is to shock viewers with the supposedly impossible and absurd notion that anyone other than cis ladies can become pregnant, while asserting that boys bear equal responsibility for an unexpected pregnancy. Like many anti-teen pregnancy ads, these ones rely on shaming teenage parents; however, they also have the added douche-bonus of being extremely ciscentric and transphobic.

as a reaction to this regressive campaign (and others like it) the Media Literacy Project (MLP) developed the above counter ad. They accompanied the ad with an article that asks questions including: “In what ways does or doesn’t our counter ad transform the meanings of the pregnant boy ads? How does changing the text reposition an image? What role, if any, do you think counter ads play in reshaping the media landscape?”

Watch on thinkmexican.tumblr.com

The Hypocrisy of the US Press

If you pay attention to the news, the US press jumps on almost every story of state crime and corruption that supports the “Mexico is lawless” narrative.

But rarely do we see the same treatment applied to similar US stories. With American cops killing 2,100 civilians in the last five years, reports say, where is all of the media attention?

Earlier this month in Los Angeles, a 28 year-old woman who was arrested for public intoxication in March 2013, came forward to say that she was dumped out of a moving police car after a cop tried raping her in the back seat. Security camera video shows her lying in the middle of the street with her shirt off, handcuffed, and face swollen from the impact of falling on her face.

In Ohio, cops put up fake drug checkpoints to stop drivers who responded suspiciously, in their eyes. And in Tennessee, investigations have found police departments profiting from drug busts, allowing the contraband and traffickers to be set free while confiscating their cash. The list can go and on and on.

These stories are usually buried or ignored in the US press, but the same publications don’t seem to turn a blind eye when looking at Mexico.

For Mexicans living in the US, the many negative reports take the form of a psychological attack. The constant bad news wears down peoples’ resistance, and eventually, makes way for the co-opting of our culture.

As news consumers, be careful what you read — and watch. And, of course, make sure to always question the news you do consume.

We get stories much faster than we can make sense of them, informed by cellphone pictures and eyewitnesses found on social networks and dubious official sources like police scanner streams. Real life moves much slower than these technologies. There’s a gap between facts and comprehension, between finding some pictures online and making sense of how they fit into a story. What ends up filling that gap is speculation. On both Twitter and cable, people are mostly just collecting little factoids and thinking aloud about various possibilities. They’re just shooting the shit, and the excrement ends up flying everywhere and hitting innocent targets.
— 

Farhad Manjoo, Slate. Breaking News Is Broken.

FJP: Two things here — Adopt a slow news diet or pay very close attention to how you follow breaking news. Else, as Farhad suggests, take a long walk.

Dear LEGO - Take the Street Harassment Out of Your Stickers

My son is just getting into Legos, so I thought he’d love these stickers. Then I took a closer look and saw that one of the construction workers (the only one wearing “cool” sunglasses) was labeled “Hey Babe!”

I was stunned. Maybe it’s the fact that I just saw the team at Hollaback speak this month, or maybe it is that this is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or maybe it is just that street harassment sucks. But chances are it was all three of these things that made me so mad to see a brand I love pushing this sort of thing.

The Hollaback website notes that street harassment is the most prevalent form of sexual violence for both men and women in the United States. Internationally, they point out, “studies show that between 70-99% of women experience street harassment at some point during their lives.”

Lego hasn’t really been on a roll recently when it comes to gender and its toys. See for example this post over at Ms. Magazine that picks apart the images of beauty in Lego’s new line of toys for girls (and check out the great ad from 1981 to see how far they have fallen).

Needless to say, I didn’t buy the stickers. 

(UPDATE: LEGO has responded to the concern over these stickers - Read more)

Catching Up on Syria

Earlier this week, a friend asked me what the best way to get caught up with what’s going on in Syria is. I’m not a fan of most cable channels because they tend to make one feel compelled to have an opinion, jump in on the debate, or pass judgement before being fully informed. So here’s a reading round-up:

The Basics:

And then there’s Mother Jones’ guide to the debate, which is always an easy, and comprehensive read, the Washington Post’s 9 Questions About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask, and Children’s BBC, which, yes, is for children, but for those trying to catch up, helpful.

Diving Deeper/Interesting Tangential Thoughts:

If you want to spent some time digging into the past, present and future coverage on the issues, go to directly to Syria Deeply, and/or the NY Times Crisis in Syria page, from which some of the above links were selected.

Noam Chomsky: ‘10 Strategies of Manipulation’ by the Media

Renowned critic and MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, one of the classic voices of intellectual dissent in the last decade, has compiled a list of the ten most common and effective strategies resorted to by the agendas “hidden” to establish a manipulation of the population through the media. Historically the media have proven highly efficient to mold public opinion. Thanks to the media paraphernalia and propaganda, have been created or destroyed social movements, justified wars, tempered financial crisis, spurred on some other ideological currents, and even given the phenomenon of media as producers of reality within the collective psyche. But how to detect the most common strategies for understanding these psychosocial tools which, surely, we participate? Fortunately Chomsky has been given the task of synthesizing and expose these practices, some more obvious and more sophisticated, but apparently all equally effective and, from a certain point of view, demeaning. Encourage stupidity, promote a sense of guilt, promote distraction, or construct artificial problems and then magically, solve them, are just some of these tactics.

1. The strategy of distraction

The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues and changes determined by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information. distraction strategy is also essential to prevent the public interest in the essential knowledge in the area of the science, economics, psychology, neurobiology and cybernetics. “Maintaining public attention diverted away from the real social problems, captivated by matters of no real importance. Keep the public busy, busy, busy, no time to think, back to farm and other animals (Quote from “Silent Weapons for Quiet War”)

2. Create problems, then offer solutions

This method is also called problem -reaction- solution. “It creates a problem, a “situation” referred to cause some reaction in the audience, so this is the principal of the steps that you want to accept. For example: let it unfold and intensify urban violence, or arrange for bloody attacks in order that the public is the applicant ‟s security laws and policies to the detriment of freedom. Or: create an economic crisis to accept as a necessary evil retreat of social rights and the dismantling of public services.

3. The gradual strategy

[of] acceptance to an unacceptable degree, just apply it gradually […] for consecutive years. That is how they radically new socioeconomic conditions ( neoliberalism ) were imposed during the 1980s and 1990s: the minimal state, privatization, precariousness, flexibility, massive unemployment, wages, and do not guarantee a decent income, so many changes that have brought about a revolution if they had been applied once.

4. The strategy of deferring

Another way to accept an unpopular decision is to present it as “painful and necessary”, gaining public acceptance, at the time for future application. It is easier to accept that a future sacrifice of immediate slaughter. First, because the effort is not used immediately. Then, because the public, masses, is always the tendency to expect naively that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that the sacrifice required may be avoided. This gives the public more time to get used to the idea of change and accept it with resignation when the time comes.

5. Go to the public as a little child

Most of the advertising to the general public uses speech, argument, people and particularly children ‟s intonation, often close to the weakness, as if the viewer were a little child or a mentally deficient. The harder one tries to deceive the viewer look, the more it tends to adopt a tone infantilizing. Why? “If one goes to a person as if she had the age of 12 years or less, then, because of suggestion, she tends with a certain probability that a response or reaction also devoid of a critical sense as a person 12 years or younger.

6. Use the emotional side more than the reflection

Making use of the emotional aspect is a classic technique for causing a short circuit on rational analysis , and finally to the critical sense of the individual. Furthermore, the use of emotional register to open the door to the unconscious for implantation or grafting ideas , desires, fears and anxieties , compulsions, or induce behaviors …

7. Keep the public in ignorance and mediocrity

Making the public incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used to control and enslavement. “The quality of education given to the lower social classes must be the poor and mediocre as possible so that the gap of ignorance it plans among the lower classes and upper classes is and remains impossible to attain for the lower classes.

8. To encourage the public to be complacent with mediocrity

Promote the public to believe that the fact is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated…

9. Self-blame Strengthen

To let individual blame for their misfortune, because of the failure of their intelligence, their abilities, or their efforts. So, instead of rebelling against the economic system, the individual autodesvalida and guilt, which creates a depression, one of whose effects is to inhibit its action. And, without action, there is no revolution!

10. Getting to know the individuals better than they know themselves

Over the past 50 years, advances of accelerated science has generated a growing gap between public knowledge and those owned and operated by dominant elites. Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology, the “system” has enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of human beings, both physically and psychologically. The system has gotten better acquainted with the common man more than he knows himself. This means that, in most cases, the system exerts greater control and great power over individuals, greater than that of individuals about themselves.

(via Weapons of Perception: media literacy from the crew)

Some time ago we decided it would be a good idea to make a brochure for people to take at events. This was good for when people were curious about us but didn’t want to spend their hard-earned money on buying a zine.

So Eighteen designed a brochure that did the double duty of being informative and offering some basic media literacy questions. We ended up calling this section the Weapons of Perception.

What’s media literacy? It’s the ability to actively analyze and understand media messages. How do we do that? We ask some questions, that’s what.

  • WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS MESSAGE?
  • WHAT’S MISSING?
  • WHO MADE THIS?
  • HOW CAN I TELL?
  • WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY?

Most of us are never told to ask questions about the movies, TV shows, songs, ads, books, news, and other media messages we encounter at all day every day. Media doesn’t grow out of the ground like a tree, it’s made by somebody! For a reason! And we should be able to figure out why and what for.

It turns out that a lot of people that think media literacy is a good idea. We thought it would be another good idea to make our brochure available for download, so you can print your own copies out.

Download a PDF of this most excellent document here.

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