social change

‘Moral witnessing’ of a higher status

Giroux’s article about ‘Lil Wayne’s Lyrical Fascism’, here, makes good points.  The erosion of civil rights values, the pornification of everything to make the bottom line plumper, the casual cruelty of spectacle.  ‘Course. These things I agree with.  

I also get pretty allergic to a certain claiming of status about the ‘moral witnessing’ that civil rights era activists, and writers who remember them, engage in.  Yes.  Honouring, remember, upholding.  Yes.  But ‘higher value’ can wedge in that generational gap to become preaching.  Try living in the youth cultures that routinely trade in misogyny.  Try being a female artist.  

Yes, people of any age can (and some do) question consumerism as the basis of all things.  Yes, people of any age, gender, race, sexuality, and ability can get themselves educated about the multiple struggles that have gone before.  That continue.  

There’s also a need to look at the ways that precarity of work and disposability of people affect the ways that people think about themselves.  And justice.  And history.

Now.  I don’t want to give excuses (and I won’t, for misogynistic, racist crap).  It’s pretty likely that if I can accuse others of sounding inflated and preaching, they can accuse me of sounding resentful.  

But the system that applauds Lil Wayne didn’t come out of the abyss*.  And, of course, systems are made and sustained and changed by people.  Like those marchers, those preachers.  And MCs and those who stop applauding.

By female artists rapping back.  By male producers steering clear of the schtick.


*Or did it.

Go Anna Rose

Anna Rose photo from AYCCI went and listened to Anna Rose speak today.  She is a young climate activist who co-founded and chairs the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).  She was also featured in the documentary/reality show that was produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation titled I Can Change Your Mind About Climate.  She and former Finance Minister Nick Minchin, on opposite sides of the ‘climate debate’, took each other to their pick of sources for their side of the argument, to see if they could convince each other of their perspective.

What an inspiring young woman (the AYCC actually strikingly shows considerable young female leadership).  I also find her to be a lovely, committed, a great listener and speaker, a clear presenter and obviously (together with others in the AYCC) as pretty damn good at organising a political movement and campaigns.  THIS is where hope lies.  And pragmatism, as Anna said today, “I have to have hope, people won’t join a movement without hope”.  Pragmatic hope, strategic optimism.

The tutorials that I taught today were coincidentally on coverage of global crises such as climate change in the media.  We discussed the idea of ‘false balance’, where the journalistic norm of balance actually means that those who support a minority view from a scientific perspective are given a disproportionate amount of airtime.

The premise of I Can Change Your Mind About Climate has been criticised as itself providing a false balance, which I think stands.  However, this is where the AYCC wants to step in and educate people about the science, and how to talk to others about the science.  Anna’s talk today is a part of a three-month tour to promote her book and present on this topic.  The book is called Madlands and is about her experience of doing the documentary.  You can get it from the AYCC site.

In a broader sense this connects with thoughts and feelings about hope, depression, choices, and work.  Those thoughts are a little more embryonic.  And maybe there is no one right approach, maybe humans just do get hopeful, depressed, overwhelmed, alarmed at different moments, particularly in response to global crises.  In the meantime, it’s about making chocies and doing work, and being occasionally peppered with a little hope.