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Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

Monday NYC Theatre, 2005: “From Tel Aviv To Ramallah”

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, Millennial Generation, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on June 29, 2011 at 10:24 AM

From Tel Aviv To Ramallah  was a production I attended, spontaneously and alone, on a rainy Monday night in Manhattan, late 2005.  As many theatre patrons know, Mondays are the day of the week when many theaters are dark (no performance.) But sometimes, these are the best opportunities to catch the magic of live theatre. And here’s how I managed to catch this one particular night which resonates more and more with each passing year.

Here in New York City, a smorgasbord awaits the avid theater-goer. Even if you are on a budget (students or starving, Bohemian artists; or cash-poor adventurers, like me,) folks have ways of getting tickets. The catch is, most discounts demand the person be ready to go the day-of the performance.

Well, there’s a reason why I love seeing theatre, at the last minute, with no expectations. To elaborate, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict inspired a number New Plays Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway in 2005 and I found myself trying to attend as many as possible. A handful of these plays challenged perceptions, offered insight, a human story, all those things that made other productions worth the risk. To bluntly put it: if I allowed the synopses and especially, the critical reviews, to pick and choose which productions I saw then, I’d have missed the best one.

The habits for overtly political theatre may be a time honored tradition in theatre history but what is it more akin to in the 21st Century? What politics are we addressing and how?

Every time we sit down for a performance arts piece, centered around modern day conflicts and cultural-politico-socio-ideologies, we risk exposing ourselves to the moribundity of Populist Theatre. (Not just theatrical mediums but all media and its audiences are more easily are mistaking political for populist propaganda.) A bad-habit we are all forming, because it is becoming all to “normal.”

That is, to employ mechanisms like “definitive archetypes,” portraying only selective pieces of information, building upon one opinion, one perception of a war, stereotyping each of the cultures involved. Pounding cheap, theoretical conjecture into an audience already over-saturated in Op/Ed news and information.

In the case of certain productions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and also, the War On Terror, the human experience serves only to cater for the intent of Populism. To add emotional impact, ignite the zeitgeist, am I correct?

A reflection of the humanist struggle when the forces of Political or Cultural Movements subsume a person’s existence?

See, this is why I like walking into a production, understanding the risk, not knowing much about it, and hoping for a jewel.

As part of the Out Loud: New Play Reading Series at Ars Nova in 2005, the show From Tel Aviv To Ramallah performed for only that one night. And for those 75 minutes or so…  Man, I wish I could bring Yuri Lane and his solo production here, today, for people to see. I think its message is more important than ever.

At a small but inviting performance venue on 54th, between 10th and 11th Avenue, I took my seat among the small audience. Two young men, maybe 16 years old, were sitting in front of me, excited to see their favorite beatbox performer and drinking Red Bull. They came in from Connecticut. They were not expecting a powerful piece of theatre and neither was I.

Yuri Lane avoided all the aforementioned pitfalls for the Political and Populist Theatre productions. He did it simply. With minimal design, he told us a story. Using his skills with beatbox, language, rhythm, gesture; using three light cues to distinguish SR, SL and Center; finally inverted pictures, multimedia projected on the backdrop, he set the scene for a fable about one young man from Tel Aviv and one young man from Ramallah.

Instead of showing us who was wrong and who was right, he told us of Amir and of Khalid. The idea that dreams and ideals of youth exist in separate microcosms outside the larger reality of (the Israeli-Palestinian) conflict set the story in motion. We learn about two different, but also similar people, whose goals are not unlike yours or mine. One wants to be a DJ. One wants to own an Internet Cafe. They share the threat of attacks. And their journey shows how a gradual diffusion of the greater reality into each microcosm, negates the youthful idealism for a future independent of violence and injustice. Both have their dreams compromised. Both must transition from adolescent to adulthood. Both must face each other in the end and the choices they make, leading them to the final moment of the play. A vision of peace comes down to two young men, who make one choice. Peace, perhaps, may not be realized by Treaties or United Nations intervening, or a great leader’s solution, but perhaps, it begins with a choice. An understanding.

And the audience is left without any clear answer about who is right, who is wrong and why one side is bad versus the other. Why would we presume an understanding? How to solve the permutations of a conflict, as deep and complicated as the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities?

Rachel Havrelock wrote and directed this play.

Is our civilization so solid that you do not fear to shake the pillars on which it rests? Can you not see that all falls in upon you if one column be shattered? Could you not have learned if not to love one another, at least to tolerate the great virtues and the great vices of each other? Was it not your duty to attempt –you have never attempted it in sincerity– to settle amicably the questions which divided you, the problem of peoples annexed against their will, the equitable division of productive labor and the riches of the world? Must the stronger forever darken the others with the shadow of his pride, and the others forever unite to dissipate it? Is there no end to this bloody and puerile sport, in which the partners change about from century to century– no end, until the whole of humanity is exhausted thereby?

ROMAIN ROLLAND, “Above The Battle,”

Journal de Geneve_, September 15, 1914.

Confessions Of A Multimedia Spinster

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, Millennial Generation, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on June 18, 2011 at 9:49 PM
Saturday, June 18, 2011
 
NEW YORK CITY

It begins with only a whisper. Like a single spark igniting a firestorm. Holding Strategic Business Contingency meetings among their executive management has proven ineffective. What they thought was a new platform full of promising financial opportunity has indeed generated additional revenue streams, but their focus has been and remains OFF of the “little guy.” All it takes is the smallest catalyst to trigger a chain reaction the news media and corporate conglomerates fear the most.

Executives rely upon a traditional business operations model to work for this new platform: Managers overseeing Editors overseeing their roster of Independent Contractors, Work-For-Hire (the legal term is Work-MADE-For-Hire, but it’s now losing that very important word, ‘MADE’) and Temporary Staff responsible for generating the designated content for the product. These “little guys” are working under the same parameters they always have. For example, writers are contracted to produce content for the company under the same auspices as the writers working for Marvel or DC Comics in 1980. They get their paycheck and whatever intellectual content they generate is no longer theirs, but owned indefinitely by the company. Even if an employee creates a character or product that becomes a multi-billion dollar franchise, she has no right to financial compensation beyond her Work-MADE-For-Hire contract. Why do you think Jack Kirby’s family has been in a legal battle with the Marvel Empire for a share in the billions of dollars the company makes from Kirby’s creative genius?

High above the New York City street traffic, the corporate executives meet to discuss their Strategic Business Contingency plans, again. This time, they’ll have to face a double-edged sword. Or else risk exposing the sweat shops of their information entertainment divisions.

Employees hired to generate content for these growing Multimedia and Digital platforms are neither compensated, nor feel obligated, nor have reason to maintain Confidentiality as they did before. Non-Disclosure Agreements used to keep company policies and internal operations away from public scrutiny. But when hundreds of people are treated as expendable and with the nubile, job-seeking youth always in supply, the question for these media mega-giants will be how to save face when their former employees wise up and use the anonymity of multimedia platforms to air the dirty laundry.

What is the first corporate media giant you think of when you hear that a “former employee reveals how he was told to lie in his coverage, writing for ______ ?”

If you said, “News Corporation or FOX News,” then I am afraid you are too easily swayed by the media propaganda.

I am referring, actually, to this article about AOL: An AOL Content Slave Speaks Out

This will not be the last testimonial from a person who has been a writer or producer behind the “news” that millions of people consume every day. AOL and News Corporation are furthermore, not the only companies who operate under similar moral/ethical ambiguities as detailed apropos of this article. The truth is, THEY ALL OPERATE THIS WAY. In fact, it’s getting worse due to the online start-ups. The Huffington Post, for example, was a brand built and made profitable by the “little guys,” who in this specific case, were generating content for FREE and received little to no compensation or credit when Arianna Huffington sold it to AOL.

When I say the decline in journalism today has reached a breaking point, I mean it. It’s no longer publish or perish. It’s Spin. Whoever can spin the best story gets the most hits. The better the Spin Doctor, the more valuable you are to the corporate executives sitting in their Strategic Planning meeting.

Understand, what you read as news is really just spin doctored information produced with the intent to out-spin its rival multimedia platforms. Expecting journalism to be what it used to be remains more than ever before, an exercise in futility.

“Don’t believe what you read in the papers.”

It’s all propaganda. It’s all a telephone game. Wake up and smell the coffee–it stinks!

Recognize how the media itself is spinning out of control. We’re all caught in the Spin together. If the audience does not stop consuming what these media giants are producing, then they will suck us all straight down with their spin-doctored “news.” Do we want to end up back into the Dark Ages?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I will keep saying it until more people begin to realize it’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s a mysterious new dynamic in our reality:

There is a new species in the habitat and it’s not biological. It’s viral.

DEVELOPING…

Copyright 2011 by Kimberly Cox, All Rights Reserved

Telephone Games: Today’s News Media Without Journalism

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on April 6, 2011 at 6:48 PM

PROPAGANDA: Control The Media - The Media Controls Us

CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

April 6, 2011 — New York City

So, I’m adding some new links on my Blog Roll and went to the ArtsJournal: Theatre Daily News site for its http address, when an article from a few days ago caught my attention. “The Tangled Web of Broadway’s Spiderman,” read the headline. And like an idiot, I clicked on it, hoping to find something valuable. Of course, what I found and read was exactly the opposite. As 88% of all music has the same chord progressions, 99% of all news media, today, has the same “Opinion Progressions.”

Yes, the Idealist in me proves powerfully stubborn because of a personal faith in our culture’s positive aspects. Especially when it comes to seeking Journalism in an era when News Media has been absolving itself of whatever moral and ethical structure journalists hold as unspoken and sacred. The Newshounds and journalists out there, risking their lives in the field and/or battling to maintain a standard for the moral and ethical guidelines of their profession, DO EXIST. But can we, the readers and consumers, tell the difference between Op/Ed Conjecture and Op/Ed Journalism? Specifically, are we aware of how to differentiate between an article forming its conclusions based on incomplete information and one that forms its opinion from a complete analysis of evidence and source material?

Remember playing “The Telephone Game” or “Operator” when you were a kid? I do. I think my first memory was from around 1984…. The teachers instructing us how to play, as we, little fidgeting students, sit in a circle on our classroom floor….

“Now, I am going to whisper something in Ada’s ear,” the teacher said, “then Ada’s going to whisper it into Nat’s ear, and so on. Now, after you have passed the message along, try to remember what you heard and what you whispered to the person next to you. Once it goes all the way around the circle, I will ask Ada to tell the class what I whispered in her ear. Then, I will ask Tommy, who will be the last person to hear the message, to tell the class what he heard. Let’s see what happens!”

Everyone erupted into astonished giggles when we heard Ada’s answer and then, all began laughing uncontrollably when Tommy answered. I forget exactly what the little messages were, now that I’ve grown up, but I remember how much they were changed as they passed from one person to another. For kids, discovering how easily misinformation occurs and how silly it is that words can be misunderstood or changed, makes for a fun game. We all were shocked and excited by what occurred, eager to play again. All talking at once, telling each other about “what I heard and passed along,” because it all differed from the original message and then, even differed from the final message. For children, this is a wonder to learn and a big deal when first confronted with this kind of inexplicable chain of reaction. I’ll never forget the experience and the lessons of this little childhood exercise in communication.

After a few rounds of playing “Telephone,” eventually someone realized it would be even funnier to deliberately change the message. After the results caused mass hysteria among the 18 pint-sized rugrats, they quieted everyone down and turned the game into a lesson. Suddenly, it was no longer about playing a game and we listened solemnly to our stern teacher. “See what happens when we gossip? When we whisper secrets to each other? How easy it is for us to either misunderstand or, ON PURPOSE, change the story, even by just a little bit?  This is why we do not tell secrets and why you cannot trust gossip to be real. Because even if we are honest and do not mean to, we all can easily miscommunicate and easily misunderstand.”

CONTINUE READING

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Hallways of Mirror and Marble: Mining The Texts

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on November 2, 2010 at 6:14 PM

OUR   HALLWAYS   OF   MIRROR   AND   MARBLE  ™

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Mining The Texts, Reminding The Reader

P O E T I C S


Continuing our exploration of HOW New Media and Technological Platforms affect changes for the individual and our culture, there are different collectives who focus on specific areas of interest. For example, the #2amt (2 AM Theater) group shares observations about the theatre, focusing on how to produce theatrical productions, write new plays, market theatre companies and, of course, theories of theatre and practice both today and from Theater History.

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Another collective, made up mostly of writers, poets and literary scholars, are also exploring the specific area of authorship. Among them is Remittance Girl, who has proposed a doctoral thesis focusing on the relationship between the writer and the reader. (You may visit her blog to learn more.)

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However, I would like to direct your attention to a post today from Marousia. Proposing a new “Poetics,” she postulates a fascinating approach to observing how writing must change to adapt for the Social Media audience.

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Musings Towards A Poetics of Social Media

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Posted By Marousia
November 2, 2010

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Social media and the internet have profoundly changed our notions of time and space in everyday life. Images (verbal, visual and social identity) can be published instantly to a wide audience. And it is all too easy to complain about the lack of quality content around and to be disgusted with social media and the saturation of content we encounter each day. Nonetheless, it is double-edged and a potential threat to quality.

Concluding her entry on a “Poetics” for Social Media, Marousia asks:

“Does the imperative for immediacy in a media-saturated landscape mean that visual cues and language need to be simplistic and reductive to grab attention? Will this affect our ability to read complex nuanced texts, let alone subtexts?”

My immediate answer is, “Yes.”

But then, to a certain degree, I correct myself and say, “No.”

Despite the variables which prevent us from drawing any concrete conclusions, we maintain a solid theory based on this hypothesis for the changing landscape of modern day communication. In my studies, a strong example to observe is the work and history of William Shakespeare. Without delving too deeply into the subject, I will point out a duality existing around this famous playwright today.

Yea, it's me with another iPad. Note, the expression of ______ .

CONTINUE READING HERE

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