Creating An Impact On The World One Smile At A Time

So I finally got round to creating an impact on the world with my joke idea, however due to time and other factors I had to try a much more anonymous project. My original idea is out lined here and as you will see what I did is not far off it. I still used jokes and I still wanted to spread happiness and smiles throughout the city of Coventry but instead of telling the jokes to people I simply left them stuck to walls around town for them to stumble upon. I thought that people would be more likely to read them if they were left there for them to read rather than someone coming up to them with a camera asking them if they wanted to hear a joke. Unfortunately in this world we live in if someone in the street comes up to you to ask you something you instantly assume that they want to sell you something or want your money for charity (annoyingly true). My aim was just to bring a smile to someone’s day, even it was just one person, smiles are infectious. The problem with this method of distribution is that I can’t see the effect my posters are having, I can just  hope that they are.

The jokes I used were very simple ones that are not particularly clever or intellectual making them accessible to everyone from young to old. Here are the Four I used:

As you can see I went for very childish simple jokes with bold writing to entice people towards them. I think that, although it is a very simple idea, it will have a brilliant effect on the public and make a few people giggle at least.

Before I produced this project I did a bit of research into happiness and what it means for different people. Wikipedia defines it like this:

Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.[1] A variety of biological,psychologicalreligious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.

Every religion seems to have some kind of answer for it, and even science thinks it knows, but at the end of the day it cannot be measured or tested so its up to those affected. Its an objective emotion that can be brought on by many different things ranging from watching a baby making funny faces or by just doing something for someone else. Who knows, all I know is that you would have to be inhuman to not give a smile for at least one of these jokes so I am comfortable that I brought a bit of what I would call happiness to someone. There you go impact created!

 

Empathy Documentary – My Day Without Food

So the other day I decided (stupidly) to go an entire 24 hours without food to see how it made me feel and to see if I could show empathy towards those who have less than we do. Here’s how I got on:

https://vimeo.com/38980157

As you can see from that it was quite hard. It almost seems ridiculous that even at only 2:00 I was absolutely starving but I think because I consciously knew that I wasn’t allowed to eat this made me even more hungry. Throughout the day I felt sick, annoyed and generally grumpy, it wasn’t a nice experience and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone! But obviously it did make me think about those less fortunate than us (I know a little cliché but its true), the moment I wake up I get something to eat, I don’t really think about it I just do it I mean I’m hungry so I eat, it seems so simple. But what if I didn’t have that option? What if when I woke up my first priority was simply to find some water that wouldn’t kill me, or to go to work so that I can earn enough for the rest of my family to eat a simply one thing that week.

Even after a matter of hours I felt sick and and stomach pains and I couldn’t help but think how pathetic that was, that I couldn’t go a few hours without food! When I was doing a lot of my friends kept saying to me, “oh I could do that!” and things like “I do that all the time!” but I don’t think any of them really think about going an entire 24 hours without a single thing to eat. It was so much harder than I first thought it was going to be, I don’t think I really looked at it properly and imagined what it would it would be like. I guess I thought id be really hungry but I actually spent a lot of time in physical pain, not helped by the copious amounts of food around me throughout the day.

Just looking at this graph you cans see how many people have to deal with that type of pain every day of their lives, 642 million people in Asia and the pacific alone. We really have to think about how lucky we are in this country and in this society where we are surrounded by food and have the opportunity to food pretty much whenever we want. Even as students we are constantly moaning we don’t have enough money for food and that were always hungry but I guess we just have to think, are we actually hungry? Next time you say your starving, actually think about it your not, your just a little peckish to be honest.

KONY 2012: Charity or War Profiteering?

There probably isn’t anyone left in the world who hasn’t seen the KONY 2012 video, a video spreading awareness about the ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony and his use of child soldiers. In case you’ve been living under in a sound proof bunker for the last month heres the 30 minute video

As you can see there is a clear problem that something has to be done about, I mean theres no question of it. Did you see that video? Were all awful people for ignoring this terrible crime. But its okay because thankfully Jason Russell is giving us the means to force change by, as he put it “Covering the night” on april 22nd with posters and stickers of Joseph Kony so that the american government knows that we are still interested in bringing him to justice. As most people did I watched the video and immediately afterwards posted it to spread the word as I thought I was doing my bit, however not long afterwards I began to question what I had just done. I had watched a video and accepted its facts, figures and claims at face value without any more knowledge than had just been presented to me.

Most people, as far as I could tell on facebook, stopped at this point and looked no further into it they had seen a video telling them they need to spread the word about this terrible man and so they had done this, as far as they were concerned they had done their bit. But then something else started to spread around the internet, almost as quickly as the original video, was the suggestion that maybe invisible children wasn’t doing as much good as we first thought. Statistics and figures about their profit through campaigns such as this starting flying around everywhere. The first article I read on the subject can be seen here, it tells how the organisation spent $8,676,614 with only 31% going to the actual charity. It also details how Jason Russell is looking for a military solution and not a peaceful one, apparently invisible children is directly funding the Ugandan government who themselves are not the most morally right military.

 

So here we are presented with an alternative point of view, and once again I feel inclined to spread this as its awful that through clever film making I have been manipulated into believing whatever facts are thrown my way! But then again is that not just what this article is doing as well? Have I not just been presented with some facts that I am to just believe? The honest truth is that when it comes to seeing and reading things on the internet we can never be sure if something is true or accurate unless we have collected the data itself. This is why I have chosen to not take one extreme or another’s point of view.

I think People are being far to quick to make a decision, whether it is that Jason Russell is a brilliant man who deserves to be praised for the amazing work he is doing or wether he should be ridiculed for his manipulation of the public with his use of social media. Whatever is to be said no one can deny he has done what he has incredibly, the video was put on vimeo 4 weeks ago and currently has 17.5 million views, on youtube where it was out up 2 weeks ago it has over 84 million. The current power of social media sites such as facebook and twitter, I believe, have more power than any tv channel, newspaper or advertiser.

It is now getting to the point where people are on social media sites and the internet in general more than watching tv or listening to the radio than ever before . This has been perfectly been taken advantage of the filmmakers of KONY 2012 with them encouraging to share on facebook or twitter the video directly after watching it (which can now be done in literally one click of a button). Even in this very post where I am claiming to not take a side I myself have shared the video because the moment I post this blog it links to my facebook and shows every one the link at the beginning of this post. We can’t even escape it,most of the time this is a good thing when it comes to awareness and the spread of ideas but perhaps when it comes to KONY 2012 it has been misused? As I have said its up to you and your interpretation of the facts.

Empathy Documentary Ideas

I’ve already had some ideas for this task which you you can have a look at here but for several reasons these ideas are not able to materialize so I’ve had to come up with something else. I’ve kept along with the theme of what I couldn’t live without but gone for something a little bit more extreme, a whole day WITHOUT EATING!

As a student I’m sure you think that I’m used to just not eating but unlike a lot of other students I like to try and make sure I have 3 solid meals a day including a little thing called breakfast which I’m sure a lot of students have never heard of. When I wake up my first thought is food,  I wake up and I’m starving and will go looking for any food I can find. Due to a recent lack of money I have even been eating Austerity sandwiches (a sandwich with the filling of toast, made popular by the student beans website in this article) which shows that I will do anything to get a substantial meal in me.

I believe that this project will help me understand the plight of hundreds of people, in this country and others around the world. Obviously only very very marginally but still I think it will help me reflect on the luxuries I take for granted everyday. Even though I dot eat a large amount of food and still sort of struggle to get enough food in me everyday, I have food all around me that I can have access to if I really need it whereas in other less developed countries they don’t even have the option to steal food let alone own it.

I will make a few rules for myself over the course of the 24 hours:

  • It will start at 00:00am Saturday morning and end on 11:59 Saturday evening
  • I will only be able to consume water throughout the day
  • I cannot deviate from my normal daily plans to avoid food or temptation

 

I believe that with these rules I will accurately be able to experience an entire day without food. It will be very interesting to see if I can even do it because the more I think about it the more implausible it seems, I get hungry quite often, probably more often than a normal person (considering my size).

Creating An Impact: Idea

I have thought about this a lot and have a few ideas for what I could do for this task. Most people are trying to find ways they can help a charity or make people aware of a world problem but I thought I would try something a little different, like simply making more people smile. People spend a lot of their time annoyed or upset or telling other people why they should be annoyed or upset or why the world is fucked up and were terrible people for not doing anything about it. There are some problems with the world that make it pretty fucked up but we won’t ever be able to even start solving these problems until we solve our problems right here at home and that problem is the lack of happiness. The impact I want to have on the world is to make it a happier place for everyone and just put a few similes on a few people’s faces which hopefully will spread all around.

The reason I feel this world be a good idea is that ever since I have come to Coventry all people seem to do is moan about it as a city. They say it’s a concrete jungle full of weirdos, teenage mums, crime around every corner and streets as dangerous as Compton. This is of course a bit of an exaggeration but you can see the point I’m trying to make, I’m not saying there isn’t crime and problems in Coventry In fact I was mugged at knife-point within my first week of being here and just the other day I saw a drunk girl racially then physically abuse a group of young black people just trying to enjoy their Mcdonalds but I think we need to focus on the positives.

My plan is simply to set up a stall offering free jokes for anyone who wants them, I might even bring some face paint and draw little smiley faces on peoples cheeks possibly spreading a few more smiles. Its a simple plan that I think could be very effective in spreading a little joy in the city of Coventry, all I need is a table and a couple of friends its very doable and will take less than a day to film and edit . Another thing I may do on the day is do some vox pops of people telling me what makes them happy and good things about Coventry and put them together with some happy music and I think I’ll have a nice happy film to share around.

 

Flash Mob Task

Today we were tasked with performing some kind of a flash mob in the streets of Coventry. Now the term flash mob is actually a lot more broad than it may first seem, I, like most people instantly thought of large dancing troupes full of professional performers giving it their all to surprise and impress the public and wasn’t too happy about the idea of doing one. But as we learnt more about it we saw that the term simply meant some kind of public display that would get attention from everyone who saw it. A few ideas were thrown around such as instant sunbathing (which would have been a little on the chilly side), acting like children and a huge conga. After much deliberation an idea that a few different groups had actually thought of was picked, make-up a fake celebrity and see if we can attract public attention with an outdoor interview with fake press. Our celebrities were AUDIOCHEQUE!

We started to start a very quick advertising campaign for the band including a Facebook page, Youtube channel and even a fake song. Once some quick leaflets and posters had been created we went out to spread the word that Audiocheque were in Coventry, we did this by using all our social media resources available to us to spread the word as quickly as possible. Advertising campaigns from all over the world use social media as a quick way to release information and so we thought this would work the best when it came to getting the word out. We all updated our Facebook status and twitter feeds letting everyone know that Audiocheque would be outside HMV at 2 o,clock. We then set our celebrities on the unsuspecting public to see if we could get some undeserved attention:

As you can see it took a couple of tries but we got some attention and even a couple of people asking for autographs. People saw cameras and bodyguards and clearly couldn’t help themselves and had to come have a look. In some ways it shows how fickle people when it comes to celebrities, even if they don’t know who they are they are desperate to glorify them. This could explain the influx of talentless celebrities over the last 5 years or so that are simply famous because they are famous. The public desperation for celebrity is almost pathetic and kind of makes you worry about the general public and where we are headed, I’m just being massively pessimistic for the fuck of it but you get the point.

Overall I think our flash mob actually went pretty good, when we started it I kept thinking “this is never going to work …no one will think there celebrities” but when it actually came down to it we definitely convinced a few people. I’m not saying we had flocks of people coming at us screaming “AUDIOCHEQUE HAVE MY BABIES!” but for the time we had we did pretty well if I do say so myself.

Music for Social Change: Rage Against The Machine

“FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!”

This might sound like something an over excited secondary school kid will shout at their teacher when they ask them to spit out their chewing gum, but it is in fact the lyrics of 2009 Christmas number one, Killing In The Name Of by Rage Against The Machine.

Rage Against The Machine are an american rock band that formed in 1991 and since then have tried to change the world with their music though various protests and campaigns. They are famously anti-war, anti-most politics and anti-consumerism and have reflected this in their lyrics written by lead singer/rapper Zack de la Rocha who also believes that anger can be used to change what you want to change and what should be changed, “Anger is a Gift” is a famous lyric whispered in the song Freedom. They have taken part in many protests around the world and have even used them as the basis for their videos, sometimes setting them up so they can use them in their music video. A great example of this is shown in the video for Sleep Now in the Fire which actually managed to force  the New York Stock Exchange to close for trading at 3:00.

This effectively shows what music can do when people really out their minds to it. They have caused many other disturbances that have meant that they have had to be pulled from TV shows or cut broadcasts short. On the morning of December 17th 2009 they played a slightly censored version of Killing in the Name on BBC Radio 5 live to support the Christmas number one campaign but managed to repeat “FUCK YOU I WONT DO WHAT YOU TELL ME” four times before it was pulled from the air.

Another way they have tried to force change is by using provocative images as album covers. The self-titled debut album  featured Malcolm Browne’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, burning himself to death in Saigon in 1963 in protest of the murder of Buddhists by the US-backed Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm’s regime.

What they show really well is that you can sing and dance all you like about a subject you feel strongly about but unless you actually do something it will never change, this is relevant to us and these projects we are doing because we can make pictures and films about these issues we want to change but unless we actually do something about it nothing will ever change. Don’t just film a protest take part in it, don’t take pictures of charity work, do it. That being said the documenting of these events is very important and one we, as media producers must take as a serious responsibility.

Documentary: What Couldn’t I Live Without?

We have been given a documentary task with the subject of empathy:

“The capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient being.”

So to truly experience empathy for another person you must experience their life, we have been told to live as someone else does. This could mean with a disability or without something we take for granted such as, food, water, the ability to walk, see, hear or maybe even the luxuries we have such as a roof or technology. I have a few ideas for this project all of which I think would be very affective.

As a media student I consider my sight to be one of my most important senses, if not the most important. Without it I couldn’t look at photographs, film or art, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate any of the visual arts which are a huge part of my life. If I went one day without it maybe I might be able to have even the smallest understanding as to what the blind go through everyday.

My next idea is something that I think my generation has become reliant on, and is possibly deteriorating our human interaction. I think it would be really interesting to go a whole day without the use of my laptop. I’m not saying that there not useful but I do think we use them too much, me included. Almost 100% of my university work is done on a laptop or computer, I cannot think of a single day since I have owned one that I haven’t used it. It, like many other people my age would agree, is kind of my life. This kind of makes me sad. Although it is what I do all my work on, I’d also say it is the most distracting thing that keeps me from my work and helps me procrastinate for hours. A day without it would probably do me some good.

My third idea is one that I think would definitely be the hardest but the most interesting, to live an entire day as a busker. I can play the guitar and ukulele to a beginner to intermediate degree and know a fair few songs, I have a friend or two who would have no problem helping out with a little singing so it is definitely feasible but what if I only lived off what was given to me by the public? Especially at this time of year as well where it has been snowing and is freezing outside it must be horrible to be living under a roof without heating or hot water. The only way anyone could truly empathise with that situation is surely to put themselves through it. 

Make Up advert Remix

As part of my campaign against the the fake world of the make-up industry I have created these two posters from original Maybelline adverts to subvert the message against the make-up industry.

In the first picture the message I have added says “Because you cant take Photoshop everywhere”  suggesting that to look like the girl in the picture you would have to be photoshopped all the time, which you would because she doesn’t have a single line on her face, I don’t mean wrinkles I mean normal lines that every human being has!

The second image plays on the slogan “Maybe it Maybelline”  by adding the message “Maybe its Photoshop”. The original slogan is “maybe she’s born with it, maybe its Maybelline” which to me, is in its self a ridiculous thing to say. It basically says you could be born with good looks but as your probably not there’s Maybelline to make you look nice which is an awful thing to tell young women. It follows the theme of a lot of make-up advertising by making women feel that their looks are inadequate and not beautiful so they better buy the product so people don’t think their ugly.

As you can see the changes I made are small but I think that the effect is good. They continue the theme of the idea that models only look good in make-up adverts because of Photoshop and therefore put on loads of make-up to try and imitate them. Just by looking at the two pictures above you can see they are massively edited to the point where the girls are not real people, simply plastic shells.

Overall I think both these images demonstrate clearly the message I have been trying to get across that women should’t aspire to be the models in these adverts as they aren’t real! They are simply over edited pictures and nothing more.

Anti-Airbrushing Campaign

As part of my creative activism against airbrushing of models in make-up adverts I have created a poster demonstrating the kinds of messages that those adverts are sending to young women.

 

I feel that this poster accurately depicts the messages put forward by the make-up industry, the faded words are those that should be heard but are overpowered by the huge message of “YOU NEED THIS MAKE-UP” put forward by the industries. The idea is that they are selling a product that is not necessarily needed to a public that have been convinced they need it by the unrealistic and modified  images used in the adverts. The girls face is cracked to show the plastic and fake effect that the make-up is causing, taking away from natural beauty. Rather than girls wanting to buy the make-up to make themselves better looking they are being told by adverts that they NEED their products rather than simply wanting them.