(I’m SO SO sorry this was late!!! I’m in Chicago and totally forgot about the time difference! It’s noon here!)
Firstly, I want to say that I am so thankful to have had a class where the ENTIRE class became so close. It was a great start to the next four (perhaps five) years of my college life. I hope to maintain relationships with all of you.
With that out of the way,
The project that Courtneigh, Courtney, Braden, and I put together could only be summarized as uncomfortable. When talking about it with them before actually filming, I had no idea how far it would go. It seemed like a harmless experiment that would be humorous for the class to watch afterwards. While shooting the video, when Courtneigh and Braden were asking the most disgusting questions to these unsuspecting people, I could only keep telling myself that we were trying to accomplish something by this. This was not just racism/sexism/classism for the sake of racism/sexism/classism, but a critique on how our society handles it.
In the end I believe whole-heartedly that we accomplished our goal. While we were not setting out to make anyone in particular look bigoted, unfortunately some people were honest. That was not our goal. We wanted the reactions to these questions, not the answers. That is why, while editing, I removed material that would put some of the students under an unsavory light. The reactions were what we were looking for, so that’s all we needed to include.
Later that day Courtney asked me to remove the video from YouTube. I respected that and thought it was a necessary action in respect to those students unknowingly partook in our experiment.
While it was a controversial video, I do believe it says something about our culture. I could relate our project to the readings of both Contracting Justice: The Viral Strategy of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Hip Hop Oddity.
The article about Felix Gonzalez-Torres and his art relates to our project because they both were created to gauge a reaction. His art is a tool to spread the word about AIDS and make people aware of the prevalence of it in our culture. We were attempting to do the same thing. Both situations were extremely controversial, but both achieved the goal they set out to accomplish.
Our project can also relate to the life of Nicki Minaj, written about in Hip Hop Oddity, because Nicki embraces all things. Out video tried to portray the uncomfortable feeling people have about speaking about issues unrelated to them, but Nicki embodies them. She has created herself around the issues in society and makes them her own. She has a white character, a poor character, and rich character, and herself. She plays both female and male roles in her performance life, and makes them part of her personality. She is the one person that would not be fazed by the questions we asked, but would answer them in a comfortable, rational way.
I also read excerpts from the novel, Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race, and Gender in United States Schools. This book spoke of the hardships students have mingling with people different than themselves. These are the voices of the students we interviewed. We did not allow the students we spoke to defend their answers, so reading the essays in the novel really opened my eyes to how the students answered and why they gave those answers.
While our video was taken off the Internet, and will probably not be seen by anyone other than me, I am still very proud of what we accomplished. We did not set out for answers to our questions, but I am glad we received them. It truly opened my eyes to the gaps between different genders, races, and classes, and I believe we opened the eyes of the people who we interviewed as well.
Criticism, Volume 51, Number 4, Fall 2010, pp. 559-587 (Article)
Ganz, Caryn. “Hip Hop Oddity .” Out. 2010: 90. Print.
Weis, Lois. Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race, and Gender in United States Schools. New York: SUNY Press, 1993. 437. Print.