media and popular culture

march 12, 2013: i was invited to speak about “media and popular culture” to high school students at the global citizenship conference at nazareth college today. i used photographs and videos to showcase the power of media in shaping our thinking. there were about 25 students in my class and they were sharp. we talked about latino stereotypes and the overwhelming reference to illegal immigration and they immediately threw NAFTA at me. they recognized iconic images representing the great depression, the civil rights movement, the vietnam war, and abu ghraib. i confronted them with two pictures of afghan women, one taken in 1985 (during the soviet occupation) and the other taken in 2010 (during the american occupation) and they were able to piece together the political messages they convey, ever so subtly. i showed them kiri davis’ “black doll, white doll” and some of jack shaheen’s “reel bad arabs.” they were totally with it. so what about the zoned out, self absorbed, barely literate american high school kid? just a media stereotype. trust me.

Steve McCurry, Sharbat Gula at Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan, 1985
Steve McCurry, Sharbat Gula at Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan, 1985
Jodi Bieber’s Bibi Aisha, 2010
Jodi Bieber’s Bibi Aisha, 2010