All posts by Deek Hussain Jama

Trump may set America back 50 years

Donald trump’s run for presidency 2016 has caused volatile circumstances throughout America and has created a tension between ethnicities and religions that have seemed to increase to the point of constant violence at his rallies.

It was in June 2015 when Trump announced his candidacy to become the president of The United States. Many Americans were not concerned or worried about his potential. However, since then to now, He has gained millions of supporters and is even causing international concerns amongst influential figures like David Cameron and the Pope.

Not even a month after his announcement, Trump was already making controversial policies. He declared that he would build a wall covering the America-Mexico Border to prevent Mexicans from entering the country and that that he’ll force Mexico to pay for the wall without question. The reasons behind his intentions were just as outrageous. He insisted that Mexico was sending immigrants that were not “their best” and were “rapists”. He attempted to soften his blow by “assuming” that some are good people. The fact that he assumes implies that he is not sure, that there aren’t definite good Mexicans.

If we look at America’s history, it is known for its appalling attitude towards racism and it’s clearly evident that there is an intense sentiment of discrimination and prejudice that still exists today; that is visible in the constant cases of police brutality and racial profiling. This also means that there is a large population of bigots that identify with Trump and his policies. These are the same people who argue that his points are honest and valid. Thus giving him power through their support.

On 11th March 2016, there was a planned rally set to occur in Chicago but it was called off due to safety concerns. This was a result of episodes where protesters were being attacked just for voicing their opinions. An example of this is a few days before when Rakeem Jones, a black individual, was elbowed aggressively in the head by 78-year-old republican, John Franklin McGraw during Trump’s tour in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The most surprising thing in all this is the fact that Rakeem was the one who was detained on the spot and this obviously did not go down well with many American citizens.

Back in Chicago, there were fights between objectors and supporters even before Trump got to stage. This ultimately led to an uproar in the area, resulting in arrests and police intervention. As expected, Trump claimed no responsibility, merely complained about how he was not able to proceed with his speech and had no concern for the public’s wellbeing.

According to a poll by Monmouth University, Republican voters in Florida said the scenes in the Chicago protests made them 22% more likely to vote for trump compared to the 11% who said that they’d be less likely to support him.
He’s unique compared to the other candidates, as he seems to feed off the anger that he receives and generates.

When asked if he was responsible for creating this atmosphere, he simply replied that he does not accept responsibility and that he does not condone violence in any shape yet he has been recorded numerous times giving the audience his blessing to attack protestors. In a rally on 1st Feb 2016 he stated, “if you see anyone ready to throw tomatoes,; knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously” And again, on 4th March 2016, he said “get him out, try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court”. This is a highly hypocritical thing to say and highlights his incompetence and lack of integrity to actually run a country.

Trump doesn’t want to cater to anyone but himself and that is evident in his narcissistic actions.

The concern as to whether Donald Trump may actually become president has increased since June 2015. Then again, since a few weeks ago, the outrage against Trump has risen to a level where it could seriously affect his chances. A lot of people are becoming aware that it is no longer time to sit and laugh at Donald, that time has gone, he is becoming a national threat to the progress that America has made in the last 50 years in terms of integration and acceptance.

Azealia Banks. One of Hip Hop’s most impulsive individuals

Hip hop’s infamous bad girl just seems to keep on rubbing everyone in the music industry up the wrong way. But who is she? And is she right or wrong?

Born on 31st May 1991, Harlem, New York. Azealia Banks is an Artist, Rapper and full-time twitter troll who is known more for her online arguments than her own music and she doesn’t seem to mind. She has fought with the likes of Iggy Azalea, T.I., Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and even her own management. The list goes on and continues to increase.

If you are not aware of whom she is, Banks’ fame skyrocketed with her 2011 released single, 212 which gained universal approval for her catchy beats and shocking lyrics. Since then she was dubbed as a loose cannon due to her unpredictable ways when it came to behaving in performances, interviews and on social media.

But the question comes into mind whether her clashes are justifiable or not. But if you focus on what she’s saying, you’ll soon realise that she does both. Most of her arguments are essentially raw reactions to artists’ comments and the music industry’s actions. Many may have found her reactions exaggerated but is it because of the expectations the public have for her as a notable figure or a human being? She seems to not care for both. Her statements can range from being open-minded to flat out racism and discrimination. Her views are so varied it’s hard to put her in one box.

Famous singers are continually in the public eye and are expected to be politically correct as to prevent alienating a portion of their fans but it seems as if banks doesn’t play by those rules. Her twitter timeline seems more like a stream of consciousness that expresses her emotions and frustrations as a human being and not a performer.

Banks has also highlighted a lot of social issues. Her most famous being her struggles as a black artist in the music industry and a black person in The United States. Especially since the fact that she is a darker toned black person she also highlights her issues within the black community such as the glorification of light-skin.

In an interview she had the Hot 97, she spoke about her feelings towards the media and the gentrification of black music. “I definitely have some strong opinions and some strong things to say about things but… I’m never trying to force my opinions…it’s just like this is what I think”.

I feel, just like in this country whenever it comes to our [black] things like black issues or black politics or black music or whatever, there’s always an undercurrent of a ‘fuck you’. There’s always like a ‘fuck y’all niggas, like y’all don’t really own shit, you don’t have shit.

That Macklemore album wasn’t better than the drake record. That Iggy Azalea shit isn’t better than any fucking black girl that’s rapping today. And when they give those awards out, because the Grammy’s are supposed to be accolades for artistic excellence. The message I see is… that all it says to white kids is that you’re amazing, you can do anything that you put your mind to and then it says to black kids ‘you don’t have shit, you don’t own shit not even the shit you created for yourself and it makes me upset’.

From this interview, the viewer gets a sense that her passion is a result of a direct experience that she has gone through and that she believes that she has been scorned unjustly by the music industry.

She does have really important things to say about social inequity but the problem is, is that she dilutes her message by attacking other groups, which hinders her credibility. She has slandered the white, gay and male community, specifically, by stating remarks like “I’m going to call you a fag or a cracker or a bitch”. What Banks needs to learn is that she cannot demand equality without respecting other groups.

Recently, Banks announced that she has quit twitter, “Ok, today, I’m making the decision to eject from social media. American media culture is honestly so fucking disgusting and junky”. It may be due to years of being ridiculed by the backlash that she constantly receives but many doubt that she’ll be gone for long as she always has something to say.

Although many may not agree with a lot of her opinions she seems to be one of the few public artists that aren’t afraid to be politically incorrect because she acknowledges her identity as a human even if that means being completely wrong. This new way of thinking dilutes the “proper” mould that the majority of celebrities follows and allows for more opinions to be represented. Whether she knows it or not she has an effect on society; it may not be a large effect but it is an effect nonetheless.

‘I Feel Your Pain’: Celebrity Advocacy

The definition of celebrity is perceived differently to many people and cultures.

A celebrity in local areas could mean someone or something that everyone knows either for a specific reason or no reason at all. Whereas the media defines a celebrity as someone, something or a movement that is successful in their field of work and has a substantial amount of money and fans. This is a result of process of commodification of human beings in the form of promotions, advertisements, PR and contacts.

These processes continuously keeps these celebrities in the public eye in order to keep them relevant and working. News material are increasingly becoming about gossip, features are also increasingly “staged promotions”, information has become more entertaining/trivial and accuracy has been replaced for sensation.

This evolution of information is not only due to the providers but also the consumers. Millions of people are interested in entertainment and gossip news because it is light-hearted and not as serious as standard news thus explaining their need for ‘sensation’. Because of this preference, the media provides, as the audience ultimately influences the content of the media because they are the source of revenue.

This has also made the persona of being a celebrity almost god-like or untouchable compared to decades ago. A celebrity like Lady Gaga can be seen everywhere; on the news, endorsements, sponsorship, social media, products and much more. Being a celebrity is more than just a title now; it is about becoming an empire.

But this celebrity/trend culture is highly difficult to gain longevity as news must be quick and relevant.

An example of this is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was a challenge where you had to have a partner dump a bucket of ice-cold water over your head on video, then afterwards you nominate others to do the same. The challenge was intended to raise awareness of the ALS illness as you would have to donate $200 if you did not complete the test. The challenge then got very popular and started trending. Celebrities from Justin Bieber to Bill Gates got involved therefore making it trend even more.

The challenge got lost in the trend and media that the original reason to raise awareness for ALS got lost. After months of constant exposure of the challenge, it seemed to die out. This highlights the superficial element that celebrity advocacy and media has.

Spectatorship of Suffering

“We know what happens every day throughout the whole world… the descriptions given by daily journalists put, as it were, those in agony in fields of battle under the eyes of newspapers readers and their cries resonate in their ears…” Gustave Moynier, From The Red Cross, 1899

It is known that the news is one of the most important ways to gain information, especially when it comes to incidents and situations. Ofcom’s 2014 news statistics stated that 95% of British adults consume news. 90% of people over 55 use TV as a news source whereas 60% of people aged 16-24 use the internet as a news source.

We constantly receive news about what is going on worldwide be it war or a natural disaster. A problem that is now occurring is how we adapted to receiving these news, we have become desensitised to human suffering occurring from a distance.

The news has allowed us to know everything that is going on with the world. Nevertheless, the fact that we are exposed to so many suffering, we know that we can’t help all of them thus making us feel guilty. but as time goes on and the suffering increases, our guilt dissolves and is replaced with a sense of indifference.

Luc Boltanski et al created a book called distant suffering in 1999 to examine the moral and political implications for a spectator of the distant suffering, how it changes our morals and how the viewers can’t directly affect the circumstances. Boltanski then argues that we can prevent this desensitisation by involving yourself in discussions about the topic and collectively expressing your views.

At the same time there are certain occasions when news on distant suffering has caused a movement of support. Such as the Japanese Tsunami where thousands were forced to evacuate their homes, 350 people died and 500 people missing. Millions of people worldwide showed their support by raising awareness and donating to charities endorsed by celebrities and political figures  . This shows that there is a good side to this form of spectatorship

 

Guest Lecture: Simone Pennant from The TV Collective

Diversity in the media is a topic that may be considered sensitive but is important to talk about in order to reach a level where it isn’t a problem anymore.

Diversity isn’t just about race; it is about age, gender, sexuality etc. It is about accurately portraying society in movies and shows. An example is the move franchise, Bridget Jones Diary, A white single woman who lives in London. The reason as to why I am bringing this up is because there are a lot of aspects in the movie that don’t add up.

Bridget is a single woman who works in a book publishing company yet she is able to live in an apartment that individuals who make more money than her may struggle to buy in reality. This shows how characters are hardly exposed to things that real working class people would have to face such as the struggle to find somewhere to live in london. Another point is the fact that the majority of the cast and extras are white yet London is the most multicultural city in the UK. This whitewashes the truth and the reason could be because their main target audience are probably women of white heritage.

This shows that the media values the optimum chance to gain as much income as possible than to risk putting characters in realistic situations and settings.

However, There are channels in the UK that specifically aims to target that problem such as Channel 4. Channel 4 is known for their innovative shows and documentaries which highlights and represents so many communities that the UK has to offer. In a country where 92% of the population speaks english as a main language and the population of people of colour is larger than the total populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland and will make up 20%-30% of the UK population by 2051, it is important to reflect these stats in the media as they also consume it and not only the white population.

Race and Blacking Up

“Identities are about questions of using the resources of history, language and culture in the process of becoming rather than being: not ‘who we are’ or ‘where we come from’, so much as what we might become, how we have been represented and how that bears on how we might represent ourselves.” S.Hall, Questions of Cultural Identity

Identity is an important fact when knowing where you stand in the society that you live in and unfortunately, race has  an effect as it is one of the categories that people might use to describe their own identity.

In media, it is not uncommon to see certain races to exhibit only one identity, such as Far East Asian communities being represented as highly gifted in mathematics yet being socially awkward.

This one-sided personality for races is also present in art, politics, and language. It is literal proof of what society, as a whole, thinks of those groups.

“[Black] has always been an unstable identity, psychically, culturally and politically, It is, too, a narrative, a story, a history. Something constructed, told, spoken, not simply found” S. Hall

In modern day, there is a unanimous belief of multiculturalism. However, that belief is somewhat shallow as it confirms that there is white privilege as people of colour are still treated differently and haven’t reached a level of equality. But because minorities are increasing in population, the media knows that if they create multiculturalism in TV shows and products, they can profit off of minorities. The problem is that this concept is extremely hollow in terms of intentions as it does not address the problems but it paints over them with a one dimensional face of unity.

This brush-under-the-carpet method can be seen in the way that the media seems to create a world that is “post race”, a world where everyone is colourblind.

Nevertheless it seems as though minorities can identify as anything you want to be as long as it is not white. Barack Obama is of both african and european heritage but is constantly dismissed whenever he acknowledges his white side. This blatantly shows how the media knows that there is a distinct separation between white people and everyone else.

Nevertheless, this ideal of being colourblind is also not helpful as it means that people’s races are not important and should not even be spoken about where in fact it should be celebrated and discussed.

Miss Representation: Gender, Mediation and Pop Culture

The representation of females is progressing at a pace that is gaining more and more momentum.

Since the start of the 20th Century, a women’s roles has changed dramatically. A woman’s worth is slowly but surely reaching the same level as men.

It is scientifically known that the female gender is nothing but a construct enforced by society. However for centuries, it has been taught that it is a role given to you from birth and is your only role in life. From a young age boys and girls are repeatedly told to perform hegemonic masculinity and femininity so much that it becomes naturalised in their personality.

However, as the media and amount of literate women has increased, so has their realisation of a woman’s self-worth.

Pop culture has evolved immensely and this is due to the fact that it must simultaneously change with society as to stay relevant. Early TV shows had a predominantly male audience  because men had higher paying jobs thus giving them a higher disposable income to spend on TVs, radios and newspapers. This demographic at the time also explains why female characters were never as complex as their counterparts, They were always portrayed as supporting characters (loving housewife, obedient daughter etc.).

As society changed, so did female representation in media. Women started gaining higher-payed jobs and important roles. There were protests in the 60s demanding equality and sexual liberation. This was then shown through the media, allowing more women to become actively engaged to the consumption of media thus dispersing the power and influence society had on what was seen on media platforms.

It wasn’t until the late 80s that women were becoming more overtly sexual and powerful. These advancements could be attributed to pioneering individuals who went against the grain to express themselves such as Madonna who was known for her provocative clothing style and lyrics.

In present time, women representation in media has become so varied and complex that you can no longer but women in one box just like men. In movies and music you can see varying personalities, from the strong, sexual type (e.g. Beyoncé, Lara Croft) to the conventional, sexist type (e.g. Cinderella). This emphasises on the fact that in reality that women are not and never have been identical.