Posts Tagged ‘racism’

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☞ Does visual storytelling have the same rules as other forms of storytelling? Or do different rules apply? Or could it be that some of the rules that we associate with it also apply to other forms of communication, and are not restricted to storytelling per se, whether visual or otherwise? I choose the following article not because it provides easy answers to the above questions, but because it highlights the concern that there might be different rules for visual storytelling, or that some people believe that some of the general observances of storytelling do not apply to it. What is needed here is a clearer spelling out of what these rules, principles or inclinations actually are, especially when they do, as in this case, touch on questions of ethics.

“Did you see Businessweek’s recent cover illustration on the housing bubble rebound? Did it strike you as offensive, racist, misleading and factually incorrect as it did me?

Businessweek is rightfully being pilloried over the illustration, which feels more like a 19th-century minstrel cartoon than it does a cover for a leading and mainstream 21st-century business magazine.

But the more I looked at the situation and thought about the artwork, the more I realized that in the midst of this move towards more visual storytelling in media, business and culture at large, there seem to be few rules and standards in place for telling visual stories appropriately and accurately.

Infographics, video, stock photography, presentations and charts — you can’t visit a web page or turn a magazine page without being fed visual content that has replaced the written word. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this shift brings with it more story formats that lack traditional checks and safeguards. And that’s why the Businessweek cover is so troubling.”

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☞ From the Palestinian conflict to Australian politics: two very different issues and two very different sets of narratives. Both are political in their own unique ways, even if some of their features could be generalised or universalised. Both are also ultimately dependent on the right narratives to set things right for particular groups of people. It’s not the case that Australian politics or the Labor Party have lost all narrative: there are quite a lot of narratives or potential narratives going on there, with their own plots or potential plot outcomes. They are discussed in this article, and also, the readings listed below. The problem is not with narrative per se but the appropriate narrative or set of narratives that could save the Labor government. In this regard, the readings below have some interesting stories of their own to tell: such as the well-known one that there is a man waiting in the wings (a.k.a. Sir Kevin) who will very probably save the tribe (a.k.a. the Australian Labor Party); but his problem is that he is more popular in the land of Oz than among the fellow knightsmen and knightswomen of his tribe. Other narratives have to do with metaphors, such as Gillard being a zombie (“dead woman walking”) or that she is a woman with ba***. I am not sure if becoming the latter was helpful, or that, indeed, she has metaphorically undergone the tranformation (one of the occupational hazards of being a woman politician). She has in fact been accused by another female politician of using her gender to shield herself from complaints about her performance as prime minister.

“Governments ultimately thrive on narrative. Voters are not merely electing a suite of set policies. They are electing a party that will respond to future, unforeseen policy questions. They therefore need to know what you’re about. That’s what a clear consistent story tells them.

A party without a narrative is reduced to seeking your support as a lesser evil. Hence Labor’s focus on Tony Abbott.

Every successful government can be summarised in a phrase or two. Bob Hawke: a new, deregulated, globalised economy. Keating inherited that story, then added Asia, a growing economic power in our backyard we should embrace by shedding our British skin. Howard was about nationalism, security and capital’s triumph over labour. Everything – asylum seeker policy, counterterrorism, foreign affairs, even unsolicited social commentary about minority groups – was tailored to fit the story.

Exactly what story has Labor told us since 2007? It began with something about ”Australian working families”, but that too was a relic of the WorkChoices campaign. After that, it has been mostly a blancmange of conflicting messages. Perhaps it started when Kevin Rudd wanted to be ”tough but humane” on asylum seekers. It took Gillard only a matter of days as Prime Minister to continue the incoherence, declaring both that the number of boat people arriving in Australia was much smaller than many imagined, before swiftly going on to reassure those worried about invading hordes that their concerns were legitimate, and that they’re ”certainly [not] racist”. We learn nothing from this about how Labor sees asylum seekers. We learn only that it’s trying to please everyone.”

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✽ “[There is an] alarming shift in some major Canadian institutions towards even greater complicity in Israeli colonialism, atrocity and mass oppression. Where this is the case, it is often done through a silencing of any criticism of Israel, coupled with the sophisticated weaving of a false and racist narrative that demonizes Arabs and any other victim of Israeli brutality.

During the week of Israeli raids on Gaza earlier last month, CBC radio’s flagship Toronto morning radio show, Metro Morning, participated in that silencing with remarkable consistency. All the segments referenced in the analysis below are available online.”

✽ “…Metro Morning chose to end the interview with a statement from Lia [Trachansky, who grew up in an Israeli settlement] that she is in love with Israel in a “profounder way” now that she sees “its ugly parts.” The show chose to cap off a week of weaving a false narrative by picking out the one statement from her interview that engendered feelings of love for Israel, and in doing so diverting attention away from the desperate need for an inquiry into the mass killings that Israel had just perpetrated.

To be sure, the abhorrence of engendering feelings of love on a morning radio show to cleanse the image of a colonial state, one that only hours before concluded a deliberate massacre of civilians, goes without saying.

Furthermore, the declaration of a “profounder” love for Israel by Lia on a major radio show after a week of intentional mass killing of civilians and the horrifying response from segments of Israeli society and major Israeli institutions during the raids, is not only disgraceful, but is yet a further degradation of Palestinian dignity and life. It is a slap in the face of those Palestinian mothers in deep and yet-fresh mourning over their slain children.”

✽ “In the end, CBC’s Metro Morning actively participated in silencing a truth-based analysis of what was happening in Gaza, removing it from any regional or historical context, and bringing Canadian society into closer complicity and acceptance of oppression, atrocity and apartheid in Palestine and Israel. The result was a narrative that left listeners more confused, or worse, led them to dangerously racist conclusions. For those that already harboured racist viewpoints, it did much to fuel their bigotry.”

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