Two Disappointing News Articles

If you have the time, I would highly encourage you to read these two, short articles below.

What do you guys think? Is this fair? Although the white, privileged teenager in the first article is more “animalistic” in regards to how she treats the police, why is this not stated in the article? Do you think her punishment was fair in regards to the second article?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.–Run-Scene-274067861.html

Documentary film in a Music video

Since we are learning about documentary film in class, I wanted to post this is the video take a watch:


It is a song by Matt Nathanson called Headphones. It is a music video but also a mini documentary film about deaf people and hearing loss. His reason for the video is to bring awareness to the 360 million people in the world who struggle with hearing loss but to bring out the fact that many people cannot afford the proper medical care or devices to help their deafness. This video is magically cut and his song goes along with what we have learned.

It is his perspective on the topic and how he has changed peoples lives. It is very moving.Music to him is very important, he says does not want to go deaf would feel lost with out it. He donated and helped third world people get hearing aids. They give 1000 in 48 hours.This shows a third world country as the setting. It is a medical clinic that shows the change in people with their hearing aids. The hearing aids are “headphones” in the video. It is a good way to help and show this issue. I like how they showed different individuals and their reaction as well as showed Matt Nathanson.


The Hunting Ground: A coverup story

I am sure I am not alone when I say that I left viewing of the Hunting Ground angered at the institutionalized higher education system. Placing the rights of the aggregate above the rights of one person has some merit in a bigger picture type of setting. But in a case of sexual assault, a blatant, terrifying, violent and emotionally burdening infraction of basic human privilege…this policy has absolutely no merit here. The safety and rights of an individual and their respective sexual identity must be upheld and taken seriously, from both preventative and reactionary platforms.

Preventative in the sense that the campus policies and laws enforced, with ample staff and campus culture to effectively enforce them, prevent the occurrence of sexual violence to the best degree possible. All colleges can to an extent claim this first effort in the fight against sexual violence. They have laws and policies in place which illuminate the expected response if a situation of sexual violence does occur.

The part of this discussion that infuriated me was the second platform I highlighted. The reactionary part of policy placement which places a degree of responsibility on the college and their safety staffing to actively manage and take action against knowing and unknowing violators of these policies. The cover up efforts of the schools Kirby Dick includes within his documentary are abominable. Placing the blame on the victim, urging them not to report, and giving them doubt about their respective incident instead of resourceful support and reassurance is a poor message to deliver to their student body.

A potent example which was given at one point during the film is one I believe deserves recapitulation here.

“If the university of your dreams said that your daughter or son has a 1 in 4 chance of being murdered due to a drive by shooting, what parent could ever send their daughter or son there”

While one stance of this quote may be that the situation exists, and it exists outright so the only positive solution to the issue the school has is to cover it up. Clearly this is not the moral or legal action plan to take, and the institutions have a right of transparency regarding the safety of their campuses.


I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was interesting how the director was able to be there when all this information was being released and how it all unfolded. I like how the director kept it pretty natural. One of my favorite scenes was when Edward Snowden was getting ready for a meeting but in the background you here the news channel on talking about him. It appears that he is not listening, but obviously is. It made me wonder what was running through his head at the time. Did he think he messed up? Was he still happy with his decision? Was he think about what his future was now going to be like?

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Morgan Spurlock… what an engaging narration style and documentary topic he has created here. The main element of the documentary that got my thoughts all twisted up was the muti-tiered structure it had. It had the effect of two mirrors placed directly across from each other, containing elements within elements within elements within….you get the point. So he is making a documentary with the goal of examining and analyzing product placement and product marketing within film, by making a film doing just that. Because he is doing exactly what he is examining, he is receiving funding from these companies to do just that. Because he is receiving funding from these companies, and because they are advertising within his documentary analyzing just that, he is subject to specifications and contracts obligating him to introduce their topics a certain number of times, in certain ways etc…the genius is that this is exactly what he’s examining, yet his very own documentary is purposefully bound by the contracts  he has agreed to.

At this point I’m not sure which way is up and I have no clue what’s going on, but I know that I like it, he has my full attention, and I sure wouldn’t mind a nice cold bottle of Pom Wonderful. I will say, and with the purpose of demonstrating the power of advertising, after class I did in fact go to lower and purchase a Pom 100% pomegranate juice drink (a little bitter, but overall delicious).

The ingenuity with which this documentary was made astounds me. Its such an interesting topic to address, and has incredible depth while examining a very relevant topic to modern capitalism.

Citizenfour: Snowden’s Portrayal

For someone who is publicly labeled as a traitor, a spy, communist (not my personal opinion of course)..etc…I could not help but resonate and connect with the guy. Never having heard him speak prior to this movie, I was quite surprised at how human and personable he was. I thought the humanization of Edward Snowden created doubt and even sympathy in the eyes of the audience. I felt bad for him, and even experienced empathetic responses to certain sections of the film. This is in tune with our discussion of separating the person from the situation, and how I am able to fully understand the gravity of the situation and his actions, yet simultaneously feel sympathy for him as a person.


After watching the documentary Citizenfour directed by Laura Poitras, I could not stop thinking. I love a movie that even though after it’s over, I am still constantly thinking about lines that were said, images that I saw, and so on. Laura did a great job in really grabbing the audience’s attention in the opening scene and every time she was talking to Edward Snowden over the computer, we would see the typing go across the screen and felt like we were involved in the situation. I loved how we would go from very intense music and a black screen with a few words to a very casual conversation with Snowden in a hotel room or him shaving his face while his name is being said all over the news. I felt like having this difference gave realism to the situation and when he was telling us his story, we were completely focused on what he was saying rather than something else.

Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?

After reading the article Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies? by David Denby, I understand his point of view and he does make some interesting points, but at the same time I do not fully agree.

Personally,  I am a frequent customer at the movie theatre because I love actually going to the movie theatre and enjoying the atmosphere created. Instead of watching a million different TV shows, I am constantly watching movie after movie. Therefore, I am to see the difference in movies throughout the years. From the black and white era to present day, not only have the graphics changed due to technological advances, but the types of actors and themes of movies have also changed. In my opinion, the themes have just changed with the time periods. For example, a favorite movie of mine, It’s a Wonderful Life is considered a classic to many.  The film’s plot deals with the effects of the Great Depression and WWII, today movies that deal with war usually have plots that deal with the current war in the Middle East. Another example is how movies like the Godfather, have villains that are gangsters and mobsters and now a common theme for villains are usually terrorists or controlling governments as seen in films like the Marvel Comic movies or the Hunger Games. Clearly, this is not about every movie, but it is a common theme in many of the blockbuster hits of the past few years.

In the article, Denby talks about how films like The Avengers and Transformers are taking away from what movies are suppose to be about and how it has just become all about “making the big bucks.” I disagree. As a huge fan of the action-adventure genre, I love seeing more types of these movies being made. And yes, they are of course the biggest grossing movies in the box office because of the actors involved and the company that is producing them. Do I think that lately there are lot of movies that deal with a future utopian society? Yes, but in each film I think the audience can find unique aspects that make them different. Instead of just wishing the film industry was something else, I think more people should be open to these new types of movies because this is yet just another era in the industry.

NY Times: American citizen is charged with terrorism after posting youtube videos from Syria

This is an interesting article about Eric Harroun, an American citizen who went to Syria to fight alongside an opposition coalition that the United States supports. Harroun was discharged from the US Army and soon found work driving wealthy arab travelers around California. He made many friends this way and was soon invited to visit these individuals in their home countries. He grew a fondness for the culture and for the issues that are taking place in the Middle East. After some time, his views escalated and he found himself fighting along side the Free Syrian Army, which is a group supported by the United States. However, he became separated from his platoon and ended up with another oppositional force.  This force was not on the US list of terrorist organizations, but there was some confusion about which exact group he was fighting with.

As far as how this relates to our discussion of social media, Harroun would regularly upload to YouTube footage of him and his fellow soldiers fighting. These videos helped US federal agents form a case against him, as he was seen firing various weapons and overtaking opposing militant groups. YouTube video’s have become powerful propaganda tools for these sorts of militants, as they will regularly upload videos that show them winning firefights and destroying other groups’ weaponry. Even for non-terrorist groups, YouTube provides a platform for groups to brag about their victories and showcase their success. On the other hand, for extremist groups such as ISIS other user-sourced video platforms have allowed them to upload gruesome videos of them murdering and torturing their opponents. These videos have had a strong influence in the media over the past year, as several American citizens have been decapitated on video that has been sent around the world. In an age where technology is becoming increasingly available and less-costly, we are beginning to see how once innocuous platforms (such as YouTube and Facebook) can be used for new purposes. Who would have thought that extremist terror groups would be using twitter, Facebook and YouTube to further their efforts.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

This film helped to tie together our ongoing discussion about the role that media plays in our everyday lives. Although it focused primarily on the profound influence of advertising in media (and less so the innate biases of news reporting), it still arrives at some noteworthy and valuable conclusions. Spurlock is able to elucidate some of the cloaked activities that result from companies’ desires to advertise and manipulate their public personas. As consumers, many of us are aware that advertising has an affect on the products we choose to buy; we may understand that targeted advertising or subversive tactics have a subconscious effect. However, the fact that Spurlock was successful in his effort to fund a film in this atypical manor provides a concrete example of the power of advertising. Companies were quick to shell out hundreds of thousands (even millions) of dollars, just to have their products showcased in his film. Furthermore, I would have to assume that the amount of money Spurlock received was minute compared to more high-stakes advertising deals. Its fascinating, and somewhat frightening, to think of how much money changes hands before a popular televised event, such as the Super Bowl.  Even small plots of advertising space on the side of the Super Bowl stadium are extremely expensive. The assumption is that some viewers will see a product advertisement while watching the game and be more inclined to buy the product at a later time.

The most important take away from these reflections is that awareness of a given phenomenon does not equate to one’s ability to remove themselves from its influence. That is to say,  even though we can acknowledge that advertising is meant to elicit subconscious effects which will induce us to make certain purchases, this does not mean that one can entirely shield themselves from these influences. In fact, if one feels that they possess the knowledge to remain unaffected by advertising tactics, they may be more-easily manipulated. A false sense of confidence or superiority can lead to complacence and over-confidence. Surely advertising firms are aware of the fact that many consumers wish to avoid being manipulated by advertising. However, advertising firms spend a great deal of time and resources in order to understand consumer psychology. There are so many variables that go into creating an effective ad (color scheme, music, brand image, cinematography, etc.) that its quite difficult to identify which brands we truly favor and which brands we have been coerced into liking. In any case, The Greatest Film Ever Sold helps to uncover some of these processes and is a testament to the power and influence of advertising and marketing.

As a final point, Spurlock’s many interactions with executives, as he pitches his idea for this film are also valuable. Whether you are a film major, an econ. major or an engineer, there is great value in being able to persuade others that your ideas are worthwhile. Spurlock’s persuasive abilities are impressive; he is also very persistent. These are two values that are necessary precursors to success, in any field. Whether you hope to make popular films or you wish to create your own small business, you must be able to frame your idea in an appealing manor to attract investors or customers. Most people would have trouble even getting appointments with the companies presented in this film. Although Spurlock likely has good connections from his previous experience as documentary filmmaker (his film Supersize Me was very popular) he still demonstrates keen persuasive abilities. The value of an idea must be supported by one’s ability to present that idea in a favorable light.