Convenient Activism (Rough Draft)

I’ll admit, there are very few causes that I actively care about. I have opinions, sure, but not ones strong enough to protest about it or be a large, vocal supporter. Usually, the only time I find myself arguing about anything is about sports with a friend. Those are the real issues that I can sink my teeth into, the ones that make or break a nation.

Needless to say, I’m not much of an activist.

So naturally, when a new issue comes up, I don’t come out spouting my opinion on the internet or to friends and family. If anything, I’ll try to research the issue to best form my opinion. But really, there are few issues that prompt me to do so, as sad as that sounds. Basically, that is to say that I’m not a convenient activist. I’m not going to suddenly actively support an issue just because it’s widely publicized and seems like I should have a strong opinion just because everybody is talking about it.

Convenient activism is the worst. Well, not quite the worst, but I’ll get into that later. When the latest big story starts sweeping the news channels, everybody thinks they have to have an opinion. Sometimes people come up with an ignorant opinion. Most of the time, people grasp for the popular, easy opinion without researching to understand the full scope. That, I’d argue, is the worst type of ignorance in this case, or at least the most annoying type. For issues that I actually cared about, I saw it come up in the Adrian Peterson child abuse scandal and Richie Incognito’s bullying of Jonathan Martin. Tons of people reached for the low hanging fruit, spewing ignorance and assassinating each of these men’s character. As an aspiring sports journalist, nothing annoys me more than an ignorant sports opinion, whether it comes to on or off the field matters. It also didn’t help that I tend to side with the less popular opinion on both of those matters, but that’s a black hole not worth getting into.

Anyways, back to convenient activism. Within this activism, you find what, in fact, is the absolute worst. Amongst activists, you’ll find people who are so self righteous that they’ll criticize people who are aren’t being ‘activist enough’, grasping at straws and calling them hypocrites. Take, for example those who criticized the “Demand A Plan” PSA. Released after notable gun violence issues, the PSA switched between various celebrities who call for gun control. It was a fair commercial, an example of celebrities using their space to support a cause. Sure, a commercial isn’t going to lead to more gun control laws or stop people from using guns in violent matters, but the commercial was just fine and not really deserving of criticism. The only legitimate criticism that I can see is to ask for these celebrities to use their space even more, and call for changes in protests and rallies instead of just briefly talking in a commercial.

Still, overflowing with self righteousness, some managed to find a reason to criticize the video, deeming the celebrities hypocrites.

The argument, according to youtube activist “MIke Hunt,” is that these celebrities are hypocrites because “They make millions from an industry that thrives on gun entertainment and films that glorify violence or trivialize gun safety” and because “Their industry also overwhelmingly supports a President (screw the left and the right ) whose foreign policy includes using drone weaponry, bombs, and bullets which kill children (that’s bad, remember) in the Middle East.”

This is so stupid. First of all, the 2nd point is awful, as no one becomes a music star or actor while thinking about the political ideologies of the industry. Yes, Jamie Foxx shouldn’t continue acting or Beyonce singing because some entertainment higher ups support the president. When they were younger, they should’ve thought long and hard about the political views of those in their dream profession. If only Beyonce was to forgo her love of singing and entertaining when she was younger for the greater good of spurring the higher-ups in the industry in the event that she became famous. Such a lack of foresight.

Than to the first point. Saying an actor is hypocritical because there’s gun violence in their movies lacks depth of thought or any look beyond the surface of the issue. Yes, guns often play a part in movies– sometimes a very substantial part. The inclusion of guns in a movie, though, has no political undertones or any intention besides that of entertaining. It’s the nature of movies. People want to be entertained, and guns can often be entertaining to people. It’s not very complicated, it’s just an entertainment mechanism. To boot, guns are simply necessary in some movies or shows to make them realistic. American Sniper couldn’t be made without guns. Any mob movie or police movie can’t be made without guns. If you want to argue that these movies shouldn’t be made because of the gun violence and the potential effects it can have on the youth, that’s fine. I don’t agree with it, as some directors or actors want these stories to be told, and they can’t be told without guns, but it’s fine. If you want to argue that the inclusion of guns is for anything more than entertainment, though, than I can’t help you.

Sorry, but being part of an industry that includes guns and supporting gun control aren’t mutually exclusive things. It’s not hypocritical, it’s just the nature of the entertainment industry. Fact is, guns are always going to exist in movies in some capacity and they need to exist in some capacity to make some movies. This inclusion, naturally, is going to effect the young, impressionable minds of some children in some capacity. The only thing these celebrities or anybody can do is to best inform people/children that guns should be used carefully or not at all (if that’s their viewpoint). As I see it, the people in the “Demand A Plan” video are doing just that, some even more who’ve spoken out for gun control in other outlets. By that, they’re doing a lot more than self righteous people like”MIke Hunt.”

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One thought on “Convenient Activism (Rough Draft)

  1. Noel February 22, 2015 / 11:31 am

    Jeremy, I think this post is headed in the right direction, but I’d like to give you some revision suggestions that will help us think more explicitly about the video remix as a project, since we’ll be considering these remixes in light of our own remix assignment.

    First, I’m interested in your concept of “convenient activism,” though I’m still not quite sure what you mean by that phrase. I would argue that one remix does not constitute activism—that activism is, instead, a series of activities and developed stances—and I would also argue that “convenient activism” is an oxymoron. Besides clarifying what “convenient activism” is, could you contrast it with current activist movements that are not “convenient”?

    Second, instead of focusing on what the author of the remix writes as a description for his project—and getting hung up on your distaste for that description—a discussion of your experience viewing the “Demand a Plan” PSA followed by the remix would be much more helpful to us as we think about what remixes are, what their purposes are. For instance, what kind of intervention is this remix trying to make in the gun debates following Sandy Hook? How did your experience of this remix compare to “I am not Moving”? Were your initial reactions different? Why?

    Finally, while I’m glad you’ve figured out how to embed video in your post, I’d really like to see embedded media and/or hyperlinks that are not those things I’ve already assigned. The purpose of hyperlinking and including new media is to lead us to new materials that can expand the way we think about the assigned materials. For instance, was there a public reaction/discussion of the “Demand a Plan” PSA and remix that we might be interested in reading about? What about other remix interventions in public issues that you do think are worthwhile, etc.?

    Looking forward to the final draft!

    Like

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