Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 180 - challenging preconceptions a plenty

You know how when you are focusing on something it seems to be all around you? Well that has been happening more and more with the 30 days of preconceptions. Here a a few examples:

Images of Africa
I came across a tweet from TED's Chris Anderson about a YouTube video called African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes. This is a great video showing that African men can be so much more than the stereotypes that we see in movies - mainly mean, over the top, war mongers.

The video is done by an organisation called Mama Hope, which is an organisation that works with people in various African countries to help unlock their potential and transform their communities.

When I watched this today I thought it was great, although I was really ticked off with the subtitles which I really didn't think were required. But regardless I thought it was nice to see something to even out the Kony imagery.

Then I remembered one of the things that this project is really about, that is not accepting the single story of the media and looking into it further. And whilst I think that this video and the sentiment associated with it (Stop the pity. Unlock the potential.) is far better than Kony2012, I can see that there is still warranted criticism about the push for positive images. There is still a very patronising aspect to doing this, but it is better than nothing. We have to start somewhere, and the aspect of Elliott Ross' piece is the comment "By the way, what is this obsession with proving Africa has a middle class?"

I think this is one of the really important things that needs to be shown to the world, that Africans aren't all impoverished, that they don't have a single story. Rather that they have communities and aspects of their society that are just the same as ours. This is the basis of Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story, and even though the new story may not be perfect it is better to have more positive imperfect representations to counteract the imperfect negative ones than to not have them at all.

The climate change debate
The other one this week was a documentary on ABC TV called I can change your mind about climate. The concept of this documentary was to take two people on opposite sides of the climate change debate and allow them to traipse around the world talking to 'specialists' to try to convince each other about their side.

I found this to be extremely unsatisfying, only partially redeemed by the Q&A episode shown afterwards.

The main reason for this is that I think way too much time and energy is wasted on the debate about the science, which is a comment supported by one person from the UK in the documentary. But the majority of the documentary is taken up with people arguing about how many degrees the earth has warmed, the location of the weather sensors and how they alter the actual situation, and a whole heap of malarkey about whether human beings are speeding this up or not.

The thing is that the real debate was about whether we should be changing our lives, whether we should have a carbon tax or whether this is some sort of conspiracy by, well I'm still not entirely sure who they are blaming the conspiracy on.

You see, I'm all for us taking the approach that we have only finite resources on the planet, and that we are polluting it way too much as it is. So if we can find more sustainable and less pollution creating ways of doing things then we should, end of story. This is actually a very popular opinion but it had very little airtime in the documentary. At least the airtime it did have outlined that focusing on the debate is the way that the climate deniers stop us from moving forward with the changes that need to be made.

And I will state here that I do believe that humans are hastening the natural process of climate change. But as I said, for me this isn't about saving the planet from climate change, it's about saving the planet from overconsumption and pollution.




So whilst it was nice to have something that allowed some reasonable arguments and discussions to be made, I just felt that the amount of money that was spent on the documentary could have been better spent on other things. Maybe presenting a more positive and even handed message about what we can do, what the carbon tax is all about and how it might actually benefit us. The Q&A episode probably would have been enough.

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