Why “I AM NOT THE MEDIA”?

 

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About a month ago I started working as a Public/ Community Relations Intern for a non-profit based in Charlotte, NC called I AM NOT THE MEDIA, something that has been an amazing experience. IANTM’s mission is “To empower teens and young adults to become conscious viewer’s of the media, critical decision makers, and to embrace their individuality and uniqueness through media literacy and media creation“, something that spoke to me in so many ways, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Since then, me and my co-workers at the Public Relations Department have come up with an internal campaign featuring all staff in self made videos sharing their views on our cause and answering the question: Why I am not the media?

I’ve outlined a text on my mind more than a thousand times, but here goes the final version:

I am not the media because I am a journalist who experienced first hand how news outlets manipulate their texts, images and videos in order to have more advertisers, readers or viewers and, obviously, more profit. I grew tired of how content was biased, many times just reinforcing common sense and forgetting the ethical standards that all journalists should be defending in order to stimulate democracy and a healthy exchange of ideas. But, mostly, I am not the media because I am a woman who refuses to recognize stereotypes as guidelines to what I should look like, dress, do, feel and value in life.”

I know every time someone talks about how mass media is sort of controlling our minds and manipulating news it sounds a little bit like we live in a world described beautifully by George Orwell in 1984. But, after studying the Frankfurt School in college, you can barely talk about the media without bringing up it’s capitalist socialist settling and it’s relation to power and profit in the western civilization.

Going back to IANTM, what caught my attention is the efforts they were making to educate teens and young adults on media literacy, giving them tools to look at the news, movies and other cultural products with criticism, challenging them and even, maybe, revolutionizing it by turning these teens into journalists, writers, bloggers, people who would give a voice for what they feel lacked or should change in the way news, movies, tv and social media behave nowadays. Empower, to me, would mean give them the tools to criticize and take action to make their communities better. Something that, from my point of view, will always be a win-win situation for all of us.

World Cup in Brazil triggers home sickness

World Cup starts today in Brazil and I’ve been counting the days for the first kick since the beginning of June. Everywhere I look, somebody seems to be posting something about protests, celebrations, preparations. I can feel online the exciting atmosphere, the anxiety, the unsatisfaction with the contradictions between hosting an amazing event we would otherwise love and the social cost of it, the desire to have a great party. I can feel the joy of being part and making history spreading around my country. It’s such a great feeling, I can only imagine how people must be on the streets and in the bars. I really wish I could be there for that.

Seeing so much of Brazil on American TV is also not helping with my homesickness. ESPN aired yesterday a pre-world cup show displaying teams from different nations arriving and setting up, players already hurt due to training sessions. What hit me the most was a specific section of it about Rio, with a singer telling the story about how Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema), from Vinicius de Morais and Tom Jobim, was written.

 

Apart from being internationally known, this song is a national icon of some sort. It is a popular example of Bossa Nova, a Brazilian musical genre that mixes elements of samba and jazz. It is undeniably one of those songs that transmits the feeling of the waves going up and down on the shore, the summer breeze striking your neck, a glass of beer by the local bar,  and, in the good old days, a cigarette on the corner of your lips. The sound of people playing soccer or beach volleyball on the sand. Its the sort of music that mimics the hips of woman strolling down the road, the way her dress jiggles, the man’s laughter while discussing Neymar’s potential with the bartender. It brings in the sunshine that bathes Ipanema daily, bringing that sense of freshness, loving and tender belonging.

Lastly, it’s the type of song my American husband knew by heart and sang it to me last time we went to Rio, six months ago, while strolling down Copacabana on our way to Ipanema. Hearing the song has the power to take me back to that perfect moment we shared and vanished away. The memory remains, in all it’s sweetness. Yes, no song remains the same after a personal experience with it enhances it’s meaning. And, yes, it only reinforces the “saudade” I feel for my home country today.