I found this video linked to the last video I posted, “A Vision of Students Today.”
A quick synopsis: This guy, The Hermit, stays in his house all day and makes movies about politics and media. No joke. In this video he tells students (that’s us) that we didn’t do anything to prevent or end the war on Iraq. He challenges us to use our creative energy and spare time to fight the good fight.Personally, I kinda found the video a bit self righteous and preachy. This is the same kind of tone I try to avoid when speaking to people about activism and the war.
But here’s the thing. I can say that the tone and message behind this video is alienating, but the numbers really speak for themselves. This video has just under four million views. I couldn’t tell you any other video with that many hits (short of Bro Rape.)
I talked about this video with a friend of mine a little while after watching it. I was complaining about the paternalistic “Generation Q” attitude I see among so many older, cynical progressives that was exemplified in this video. “We’re doing a lot!,” I said. My friend responded that people don’t know that because the media refuses to cover us.
And suddenly I realized: Well, why the hell are we waiting for them? Obviously the media didn’t care about Davis Fleetwood’s cynical rant. But the four million people (presumably youth) who viewed it did. Combined, all the YouTube videos from PowerShift don’t even add up to an eighth of that.
I’m beginning to question the value in breaking our backs to get major media hits for our movement. Do people our age really even watch CNN? We knew about the student that got tasered at the John Kerry speech way before our parents heard about it. We saw it on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace (then heard about it from our friends!) only hours after it happened. We are the “YouTube Generation,” afterall. Not the MSNBC Generation.
Point is: Let’s take a hint. “The media doesn’t cover us,” is becoming just another excuse for having a poor strategy. If the media won’t cover us, so what? We’ll do it for them! Let’s use the medium that we built to build the movement of our generation
Let’s start being intentional about using it, rather than making it an after-thought in our actions. “What will make this a hit on YouTube?” versus “Oh, we should totally put this on YouTube!”
I’m not saying let’s blow off the good media work we are doing. What I am saying is let’s organize where the people are. Let’s really start incorporating this meaningfully into our media work. Let’s take some of the time we spend trying to get corporate media to cover us and put that energy into user-generated media. This can be big!
Let’s start answering questions, and really think about this seriously, like: Why have four million people watched a rant from a guy that says we’re not doing anything?
Answering that will probably do more for building a youth movement than even the most perfect media advisory.