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[…] While the filter model we’ve converted IMR to has made it much easier for curator’s to access digitized versions of materials to comment on – and in the case of Jyotsna Kapur’s contribution is something you really might only be able to find on-line – there remains some question as to the efficacy of relying on third-party hosting sites like Youtube, especially for materials uploaded by our curators (rather than “found”), given Youtube’s penchant for cowing to corporate threats and yanking down anything that potentially challenges copyright and fair-use laws. Clearly, Viacom’s latest demands are a clear example of this. MediaCommons is adamant about the rights of scholars to quote from media materials as part of our critical analytical and pedagogical practices, but nonetheless, as my esteemed colleague Jeremy Butler points out, we might be facing a serious conflict of interests. While discussing the possibility of using a clip from “My Name is Earl” for an upcoming IMR curatorial effort, Butler expressed the following concerns (reprinted below with his permission): […]

[…] While the filter model we’ve converted IMR to has made it much easier for curator’s to access digitized versions of materials to comment on – and in the case of Jyotsna Kapur’s contribution is something you really might only be able to find on-line – there remains some question as to the efficacy of relying on third-party hosting sites like Youtube, especially for materials uploaded by our curators (rather than “found”), given Youtube’s penchant for cowing to corporate threats and yanking down anything that potentially challenges copyright and fair-use laws. Clearly, Viacom’s latest demands are a clear example of this. MediaCommons is adamant about the rights of scholars to quote from media materials as part of our critical analytical and pedagogical practices, but nonetheless, as my esteemed colleague Jeremy Butler points out, we might be facing a serious conflict of interests. While discussing the possibility of using a clip from “My Name is Earl” for an upcoming IMR curatorial effort, Butler expressed the following concerns (reprinted below with his permission): […]

Radhika Gajjala

Jyotsna writes:

” what is the kind of politics that can be generated through online exchange of images such as this? If left at the level of individual viewing it would perhaps, at best, be an act of critical conciuosness–I continue to be optimistic that that is in itself a valuable part of education. At its best, it will become part of a collective source of action.”

I agree. And yes I did see your links and references as well in my first reading - but as you rightly point out I am still and was focusing on the impact of the image and sound - that is what stands out forcefully in these contexts. The content is important to how these voices are reproduced.

Even getting the context from Tehelka however does not take away my question about travelling images in this particular kind of global cyberspace - situated in an implicit narrative of linear development narrative.

Just want to clarify I was by no means accusing curators or anyone else of actively contributing. My questioning must be there as must other types (I wish they would come and post!:)) of discussion.

Bant Singh’s ACT within the community - his singing - has become a part of collective action already. He has been inspiring. What sort of collective action it becomes a part of as a result on online circulation - that remains to be seen of course. But online circulation in particular modes is simultaneously effective and not - depending on how it circulates and what form(s) it takes…

We should not let go of the discussion.

So let’s get to the productive contributions we can make to this struggle - what forms would that take, for instance? Let’s talk about that too.

hopefully more people will join in. r

Alan McKee

I’ve always been fond of the MPAA’s anti-piracy adverts. They’re so melodramatic and so obviously miss their target audience. The jumpy camerawork, fast cutting and loud music are trying to speak to ‘The kids’. But ‘the kids’ are going to be amazed that anybody could think that something that patronising could speak to them. Personally, it always make me want to go out and steal a car whenever I see them. And that’s why I like them. Get funky!

Jyotsna Kapur

Thanks Radhika, I had a link built to the Tehlka story in my note—“Bant Singh” is a link, so is “Bhagat Singh” and the word “needed”—the last one links to a news report on a solidarity meeting for Bant Singh where this video letter was also presented. The report has an address where Bant Singh can be reached. All these hyperlinks are mediated ways to access local points towards a global politics. If not for YouTube and my lefty list-serve I would not have seen it—and placing it on mediacommons has pushed it further into a critical space, I think. I agree with Avi about its lack of contextuaization on YouTube—and that is what is meaningful about In Media Res—because the curator’s note creates a critical dialogue. Avi, the Youtube note points mistakenly that Bant Singh’s daughter was 2 years old while she is in her early 20s (another instance of the exoticization that Radhika is warning against.)

However, we cannot speak about the global politics of this image by focusing on the image alone. For all of the specifics and nuances of Bant Singh’s words he is talking about international class solidarity—a politics that we have to invariably practice with others wherever we are. Perhaps, the question we are not asking is: what is the kind of politics that can be generated through online exchange of images such as this? If left at the level of individual viewing it would perhaps, at best, be an act of critical conciuosness—I continue to be optimistic that that is in itself a valuable part of education. At its best, it will become part of a collective source of action.

Radhika Gajjala

Sorry to take up so much space here - but I thought I would contextualize the clip a bit with the following article from Tehelka..

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main18.asp?filename=Cr061006MY_TONGUE.asp

That has to be the most depressing piece of video I’ve seen in a long, long time.

I generally approve of and enjoy these kinds of guerilla efforts (I’m partner in a guerilla marketing firm as well as a media scholar) and the MPAA is certainly an easy target. Their paranoia and prosecutorial overkill has left them with few friends and little credibility outside of monopoly media.

But, by ripping this to commercial videos, and distributing the kit, guerillas risk reinforcing the MPAA stance in the very act of undercutting it. After all, if it’s this easy, and there are groups out there getting publicity for the attack, how long can any copyright survive? As for the “commons,” I’m not sure what’s being referred to here. The copyright commons? The cultural commons? Are these inextricable?

Will I show it? Yes. Would I encourage students to use it? That’s a tougher call.

Radhika Gajjala

I agree with much of what you say.

You write:

does on-line Dalit presence equal a “global voice” if the vast majority of people — who are not already aware of their situation — will likely never come across these websites amidst everything else already out there? ”

this is exactly what I am asking too.

What does it mean to have “voice” online? What is driving the need to be “recognized” in these spaces?

I still want to continue conversation on what’s at stake in accessing this particular kind of globality?

How might we subvert the hegemony of a particular kind of globalization and multiculturalism online?

And does it matter - if so why does it matter?

r

Avi Santo

Thanks Radhika. I will check out the issue of New Media and Society you mention. My own research examines how Inuit identity is constructed/represented by Inuit for global audiences through on-line promotional and educational sites built around Inuit media productions, and inevitably, there is always an ambivalence surrounding the marketing of “authenticity” and “global humanism” in relation to the achievement of local cultural, economic, and political concerns.

I do think, however, that your point about the Dalit already having a global voice on-line has to be situated within a kind of paradox of abundance that Siva Vaidhyanathan addresses. In other words, does on-line Dalit presence equal a “global voice” if the vast majority of people — who are not already aware of their situation — will likely never come across these websites amidst everything else already out there? Contrastingly, might sites like Youtube — in spite of its often frustrating framing mechanisms — actually provide a greater opportunity to get “noticed” even as this requires a certain loss of control over self-representation?

Speaking only for myself, and knowing very little about the Dalit situation, I am far more likely to encounter — indeed stumble upon — probably through the very “related videos” mechanism I previously bemoaned — the Bant Singh video on YouTube, than elsewhere on-line (unless, of course, I visit MediaCommons ;-) ). Will this effect my interpretation of the video? Will this likely be a simplified understanding of the Dalit cause? Of course. But participation in global discourse has always been structured by power imbalances and strategic choices over how to represent and for what purposes.