Friday, February 27, 2009

Yay Interviews

So Pat and my interviews (that phrase is so awkward grammatically any way you slice it) went really well.  It is amazing the cross section that existed just up on that third floor of the Student Union.  So many different cultures represented, so many interesting insights.  Also so much jargon.  But even the jargon is interesting... seeing completely different people give you almost verbatim the same notions... and then watch it dissolve into something else entirely as they try to explain shows how very connected we all are by the media; by our culture.  It sort of renewed in me this sense of Americanism... for better or worse, we have come from all over the world to create our own, new way of looking at things.  We share more than we think.

Not that I agree with most of what was said... every person was surprising in their own way.  Even I surprised myself... I actually enjoyed having a valid reason to talk to strangers.  Still not as bloodthirsty as Babs... but then, I probably would have more pointed questions and less inhibition after 50 years interviewing celebs and politicians.

I didn't realize how funny this stuff was.

So we have been working this week to put all our interviews into the computer. As we are uploading we are listening to what was said. At the time of interviews we were so caught up in getting everything right that I guess I didn't really pay attention to everything that was going on. Some of the answers we have gotten are really funny. There is one that we did that had us laughing a lot. 

The girl that was interviewed really liked to stereotype others. She is of mixed background and said that she grew up in a white neighborhood. And it was funny because whenever she talked about people that were not white she would use "they," even though she was not white. And she would fall into saying things like black people sell drugs and "pimp whoes."

So does she think this way because she is use to "white" life. Would she think different if she were more in touch with her "black" side, or grown up in that neighborhood. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

And so it goes.....

Paul & Christina & Jenni all have very interesting observations. And yes Paul, I agree with you that "the media" do certainly contribute to our distance from one another.

It's part of the cultural hegemony of one group dominating another. The dominant part of the U.S. culture tends to also be dominant in media ownership. As a result, the perspective of the ruling class tends to dominate what we see and hear.

And when the point of view of a subculture does rise above the din to get people's attention, often the dominant class in the culture then co-opts and sanitizes the message of the subculture, making it less threatening but using the traits that made it distinctive, generally for the purpose of making money.

Think: NWA = MC Hammer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Takin' the Temperature

Personally, discussing race with others has always been my own taboo rule. I would avoid discussing race issues like I avoid napping on train tracks. I was concerned about being run over by someones, over-powering opinion or flat out racist remarks. Also, I was concerned of offending others by what I might say. If I were not so desperate for the class credit I'd have dropped the class in a heart beat after learning of our topic.

So, I had a bit of a self-realizing epiphany a couple of weeks ago. Some time in the early AM I thought it would be a good idea to stumble my way down to McDonalds for a bit of breakfast. I had a good 10 hours of courage in my gut and racism on my mind. I staggered up to the Plasma Center where a line was forming at the doors before they opened. Being a bit short I asked a couple of guys how much I could get for doing this. One thing lead to another and I sparked up a race discussion with 3 black fellas and a white guy. We talked for a good hour and a half. Quite soon into the conversation each one of us made the same statement from different POV's; for the majority people have no ill feelings towards any other race, yet there seems to be this looming idea that it's a serious problem. Well that raised all sorts of questions. One quite threatening looking guy said it was in our media; that we are told it's a serious problem in America, and we take their word for it. I feel it's a profound point. The conversation continued 'til they opened the doors and I went on to get myself and the guys some of them sausage sandwiches. Came back, tossed the sandwiches to the guys, and got heckled by 30 or so guys, in the same manner by different races, "Hey, where's mine?".

I continued to walk home contemplating what had happened. It was the first time I had ever struck up a conversation on race, and certainly to that degree. I have always felt a little unsure of how I viewed people; do I think of everyone equally? This is what struck me, after that conversation I felt confident with myself and with a lack of bigotry. Before my problem had been that I had no way to gauge myself; by avoiding the topic I simply had no way of knowing where I stood amongst others.

Perhaps that guy was right, maybe racism is only an issue because we are told it is. Maybe the majority of us really have little or no bigoted tendencies. Perhaps we're all products of our environment. I feel Americans are greatly media influenced, perhaps if we portrayed a different attitude on race in our television it would rub-off on people. Phil you are the Media, what do you think?

More musings :)

It is so interesting to consider how much of our lives are built on assumptions.  Everything we define ourselves as takes it's meaning from being the opposite of something, someone, else: women are not men, gay people are not straight, black people are not white, college students are not grandparents, christians are not buddhists, fat people are not fit, democrats are not republicans, and so on.

And we make so many assumptions about the other that we end up limiting ourselves.  If a group we are not a part of always acts one way, we don't do that.  Simply because they do.

But it is a chicken-and-the-egg thing... for example, a friend recently brought it to my attention that women don't flick people off while driving, while men do.  Men allegedly don't yell at other drivers, while women almost always do.  And I realized I DO yell at least once almost every time I drive, even if it's only a 5 minute trip, and have NEVER flicked someone off.  It requires too much coordination, while talking comes easy.  Guys, you'll have to weigh in about the shouting thing... I can't think of guys yelling at people any time I've ridden with one, but then the finger is also makes a very rare appearance.  The funniest thing is that I'm not usually angry, not really.  Sometimes the person did something stupid, but not always.  Sometimes I actually yell for no reason.  Does that really have something to do with me being a woman?  Is it because I'm conditioned by society, or is it hormones?

And that is one tiny example.  Our assumptions are far reaching and often subversive... even as I see them more I know I am missing most of them.  The woman in this picture seems totally different in the two different costumes, doesn't she?  Are the pictures really so different?  Is the only difference the cultural assumptions we make?  Is the second more sexually charged objectively?  We almost need an Indian person to really know what the first picture means to an insider... but I was under the assumption that the sari was everyday clothing in India, and a sweater with nothing under it is NOT everyday clothing here, so they are not just different cultures.  But I don't know that for a fact, that's an assumption.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Its time to watch a movie.

So my boyfriend and I decided to escape this past weekend. We hopped on a bus and headed to Chicago. Ok it really wasn't that spur of the moment, but it sounded more interesting that way. Anyway it was the most amazing time. I love being in the city. There is so much to see and experience. Every corner you turn there is something new awaiting you. So many different people and cultures that all flow together on the busy streets and sidewalks. Its so amazing. 

On Friday evening we went to the movies and saw Friday the 13th. (what else could you possibly see that day?) It was one of the best movie watching experiences I've ever had. All these people filed into the theater a group at a time, separate conversations filled the air. Once the movie started everyone became part of the same group. We all had a shared main interest. As the movie played people reacted to all the horror and gore taking place, but instead of just reacting to themselves in their own seat, emotions were vocalized and shared among everyone. It wasn't some annoying thing like someone talking on their cell phone next to you, it was everyone being caught up in the same action and story. It was people letting their guard down and just being. It was like sitting at home and watching a movie with a group of friends, you could share your thoughts and feelings as they came to you and not have the next person shh you. And when the movie was over I felt like I not only saw a movie, I learned about the people there and saw that we can just all exist together.

I think the world just needs to sit down and watch a movie together.

Concerned? Don't Be....

We'll talk on Thursday....

But as the old song goes "We've only just begun........"

There will be lots of additional shooting and thinking. This is what happens when you try to capture reality, rather than start from an exisitng text or story.

That's why it's GOOD that we will meet and process things a bit....then you gus will need to start logging and cpaturing your tape, which will probably take at least a full week of class time.

And even then, you'll only be at the beginning...

Sunday, February 15, 2009


So I'm to the point now where I feel like I have a lot of interesting ideas, but I'm not so sure they're getting captured in the video.  I think it'll be a lot more reassuring to watch the footage back and see if different things start popping out... also after interviews on Tues. Pat and I particularly should have a better handle on things.  Interviews are so much more straight-forward.  People say what they say, and it's easier to get everyone in your audience on the same page, though you have to get people to say the interesting things.  On camera.

Because talking to people about this documentary has led to lots of surprising conversations with friends, family, and random acquaintances that I never would have predicted.  So many comments that I wish I had on tape, but of course, I wouldn't have even heard it the first time if I had been filming.  It's so weird how uncomfortable people are when cameras are around, which you told us Phil, but I just figured that, especially with younger people who are more used to constant media reality TV blah blah, would almost seek it out, wanting their 15 minutes.  But people are far more testy than I thought, it's fascinating.  Especially when I just put the concept of assignments and deadlines and goals out of my mind and just be there, see how it goes, let it be what it is, and worry about how I'm gonna use it later.

Obviously, I'm better at that sometimes than others.
Natalie and I had a great had a great interview with a biracial/gay couple on Friday. The interview lasted about an hour and I feel we got a lot of good material. We need more interviews though to get a good segment for the documentary. 
This project though is beginning to feel a little shallow...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So I drove through a crime scene...

Christina and I were driving around on Tuesday trying to get some B roll film for our portion of the documentary when...I accidently drove upon a crime scene in a predominantly african american neighborhood.  There were cars in from of me that couldn't move, and cars behind me so that I couldn't move.  Christina had the camera hanging out of the window filming and people were not happy.  We did not understand why the two white people in the car with camera were being singled out when there was a film crew on the street.  We both felt very uncomfortable and were actually afraid that someone was going to do something to us.  

Later during the drive when we were stopped at a traffic light about 5-10 blocks from that accident, 2 african american males saw the camera and that we were shooting and they took offense to us filming.  I remember one of them saying to the other "Look, what are they filming, are seeing what we got around here?"  They were referring to the neighborhood as a black neighborhood and what black people had around where we were.  I took offense to this because I live down the street, 3 or 4 blocks from where we were.  It was not those 2 individual's neighborhood, and who the hell are they to tell me what I can or cannot do down the street from my apartment!  Sorry for the rant I have to stop writing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Might I interest you in a bit of shooting around town?

If anyone is free Tues. the 10th at or after 1:30 and would like to help film outside, in neighborhoods that would be so helpful.  

Also, anyone free Thurs. afternoon primarily bookstores, movies, coffeeshops.  Let us know if you're free even partial times, because as Pat said, the more the merrier.  

Hey Y'all

So i think it's about time for me join in the fun of blogging. After our first face to face I'm feeling a little bit better about getting information. People are really open to talking about race and the struggles they have encountered. I also set up 2  interviews with bi-racial couples, one is a straight couple and the other is a gay couple. 

Also, if any other groups would be interested, I will be interviewing the first African American to graduate from my high school (which was in 2004, sad I know).  Not only that but his grandmother is Amish and he happens to be Miss Gay Akron, which puts a whole new spin on things. He says he has given a few interviews on the subject of race and is totally open to any questions we might have. 

Im Scared not Racist

Christina and I will be filming on the street the next few times out and Im not gonna lie, I am terrified.  Its not because we will be in predominantly black neighborhoods, but because we will be in rough neighborhoods with thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  Should I feel scared?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

First Trip

So Natalie and I filmed out first discussion, we went to the face to face about interracial dating and marriage. Thank god they let us film because we weren't sure what to expect. We had a little difficulty setting up at first but then I think we got the hang of it. Then we realized that the camera wasn't getting everyones faces that were speaking so we tried picking it up and filming. That turned out to be too shaky sooo we went back to the tri-pod......I have no idea how it turned out but I hope we got something because there was a lot of good information that people were talking about. There was actually a lot of people that showed up as well. Next is the interviews...wish us luck aahhhhhhh

Friday, February 6, 2009

What a trip...

Oh man, we filmed/interviewed in a basement classroom - really sweet. Now we are out on the street. I haven't been to a lecture yet, but want to find someone who has. Thank you for your help Phil! You rocked with your skills!
This whole process is something else.
I'm still in shock that this process of asking questions and filming people talking to us works to create art that moves.

Getting Settled In?

So as we're finding, the shoot out in the field is where you really see if you were ready.

I am happy to hear that for the most part, people are finding that they are able to be successful out in the field. I had the chance today to look at Paul, Jenni and Kellie's looked good, sound was good. And it sound like the stories were good too.

Pat, on the other hand, says their shoot at the theater was a mess. Mostly because they relied on the feed from the theater, rather than their own mics. So, there ya go.

Poor Courtney had to drag her boyfriend up to collect all the gear. I can't stress enough that all group members need to help schlep the gear around. It's a lot for one person to when Paul brought it all back alone. Try to help each other, it will make life easier.

ANd yes will be shocked by the average person on the street. They will likely be both tremendously mean to you but also amazingly open and willing to talk. You just never know.

Keep up the good work...please let me know if I can help you.

Lesson Learned

This is good for everybody. You have to push the record button for it to record, not just touch it. Oops. Lets do it again guys!

Wouldn't that be funny. I'm really impressed how we got people to really share. Well maybe it wasn't our doing, but none the less there were a few people that really opened up to share difficult memories. Sort of a funny thing exploiting someones pain unremorsefully. Ah well.

So we had a good day. We have an hour and 16 min of tape shot, hopefully some of it is used, eh. I feel with this shoot under our belt we will go into our next interview with a lot more confidence and really have an amateur knowledge of how to set up for it to get the results we want.

My concerns are when we try to get peoples responses on the street. I would not be surprised to see myself stand in the cold for a day with nothing shot but a bit of B-roll. My flatmate feels having a fancy, impressive camera, people will be drawn to it and want to be part of whatever it is we're doing. Personally, I will avoid a situation with a film camera at all costs. If my concerns turn true and we cannot get enough people on film, It may be more effective to have people tic boxes on paper then take their photo.

Phil, Tony, Everyone, what do you think? If ya didn't know me and I asked if you would answer a couple of yes or no questions into the camera, would you?

Filming and the word "masturbation"

So Christina and I filmed for the first time last night.  I thought that since I worked in the Student Union that I had an in when it came to recording the feed.  We had the mic provided by the Student Union wired to our camera... but the feed sucked and sounded like a voice in slow motion combined with static.  The lighting was terrible and after 8 minutes of filming I realized that we didn't white balance the camera.  (As if everything in orange wasn't a tell tale sign)  All in all we realized that the speaker did not say anything that had any impact on what we wanted to film.  The only funny part of the entire lecture was when the speaker said "masturbation", then giggled like a school girl for 10 seconds.  I didn't know that 60 year old women were so fun!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

If everything goes this well...

I have to say that today's filming was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. Just to sit and listen to people talk is amazing, I can't even think of another word right now. I can't believe how willing everyone was to open up to us and share their stories. Most of them seemed to be comfortable and just talked. I mean some of it may be due to the fact that they are performers, but still some of the things they shared were so personal. 

I just know that when we start talking to people that are not expecting us it isn't going to be as easy to get them to talk. But after today I have hope. 

Also the equipment didn't even seem that hard to set up and work. But still thank you Phil for coming with us and helping us out. 

All I hope now is that Paul remembered to hit record...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dropped into 1994

So I watched Pulp Fiction for the first time finally, and I noticed something that I'm sure I would not have thought of AT ALL if it wasn't for this class.  I believe every relationship in that movie was biracial.  Even ones they just showed for a second.  Obviously there's Mia and Wallace... but there's the white guy whose house they cleaned up the car at, his wife, the nurse, they show for like 3 seconds, but she's black.  It's very interesting, but it's possible this class is making me racist.

Actually, I just thought it was interesting that it was a deliberate choice of the filmmakers, and it was actually pretty seamless and possible-feeling.  It did not feel unnatural, but then, that is the beauty of Pulp Fiction, isn't it?  That all these incredible things are suddenly very real, and somehow suddenly plausible.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The week has begun!

Did anyone attend Donna Brazil last night? If so, please update the group on her lecture.

On another note, I just returned from Dr. Samuel Betances lecture on The Benefits and Values of Diversity to The University of Akron. He was a great speaker, entertaining and motivational. He touched on many topics and clearly has significant background and experience lecturing and mentoring on such topics as diversity. His bio mentions he is biracial, bicultural and bilingual. In his lecture he talked about his father being black and his mother being white. He touched on the roots of racism and summarized well how to avoid prejudice and instead seek collaboration. Excellent lecture full of humor and content.

Dr. Betances had a motto, I guess you could call it, which was to reject rejection and instead embrace yourself. It is a very interesting thought, and one I have been going over in my head. I've been watching Sports Center on ESPN lately with the Superbowl this past week. I have to make the connection between what Dr. Betances was talking about, and Mike Tomlin, the coach of the Steelers. Tomlin commented that "he will continue to age but will always be black." That quote was in reference to the attention drawn to him being the youngest coach to win the Superbowl, but the lack of coverage regarding his race. Has there been a shift in the media? Is it possible that we are beginning to see things with a multicultural perspective. Mike Tomlin knows he is black and has rejected rejection. He has embraced who he is and what makes him vital to the Steelers success. As a country do we see him as a "Coach" or a "Black Coach?"

Last point to mention here, Dr. B. had everyone in the audience do a small exercise. It was to think back to a time when we saw an act of discrimination and we did nothing about it. Or worse yet, think back to a situation where we were part of the discrimination. Then he had us think of an event in our lives where we helped someone being discriminated or stood up for them. When looking back can we find each situation, the problem and the solution? I know in my own life I can. I can think of times when I discriminated, ignored someone else being discriminated, told or laughed at jokes that discriminated. However, I can also think of times when I helped others that were being discriminated against, of times when I didn't laugh at the joke or ignored the person saying it. I can think back to times when I confronted the person discriminating.

My goal for myself is to increase the times being the solution and reduce the times being the problem.

Dr. B.'s website: 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spread Your Wings

So this week we are suppose to be on our own, spreading our wings and getting some film. It seems weird that the time has come to go out and film. Its seems like it was just last week were starting to come up with concrete ideas about this film...

Oh wait, it was just last week.

But here we are, going out to do our filming to create this documentary we keep talking about. So I just want to wish everyone luck as they begin to get their ideas on tape. I hope everyone is able to bring their visions to life by capturing that much needed footage. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Back to reality

so friday was my 21st birthday...wee was pretty fun my parents came out and partied with us, which was hilarious. Saturday I went to a gay bar because my friend is gay and actually had a really good time. The bar had a tiny little stage where people in drag were getting up and performing. The last performer was a giant(as in super tall) black guy in drag, so girl I guess, got up and lip sunk so a song, after she was done she came over and sat on my lap hahah. So anyways it's Sunday and now it's time to get back to work. Abby I read your blog and I'm sorry things didn't go well for you! we still have plenty of time to get other things done. So I emailed the girl that I know if she and her family would be willing to go through with the documentary so fingers crossed on that one, and tomorrow I am going to contact the radio station about things. I feel like I really haven't been much help towards everything, and Abby has done a tremendous job with everything, I promise I will pick up the slack now, I had to get my 21st out of the way haha. welll thats about it...see you guys on tuesday weeee

first time blogger - first time getting implants

Vicodin is great. Pittsburg just won! What a day.

Wow, people can be mean...

Last night I shot some footage for the documentary at a pool hall/club. I was hoping to find a good mix of people and I did. The first goal was to get permission from the owner and I did with no problem (it helps when you know people that work there). Next goal was to mingle and start talking to people. Normally, this is not a hard task for me to walk up and start talking to people I don't know. I asked people if they would be willing to take a survey I had made up and I briefly explained to them about the documentary and the segment I was doing on biracial relationships. Everyone I asked were kind enough to take the survey.  Next I put the surveys away and brought out the camera and people had different reactions to this. I walked up to a seating area by the dance floor to look for a good place to set up the camera and people started to become very territorial. A certain group of African American women were very rude telling us we couldn't sit at the many open tables and this was an area set aside for a party that they were having. They were using very vulgar language directed towards us and made us feel very uncomfortable. Luckily my friend showed up who was having the party and told them to back off. I wish I could say I got some worth while footage but it was very dark and could see anything the camera was shooting. I tried to adjust everything I could think of that we went over in class but I hope is could be changed in the editing process. I did get some good info from the surveys and experience with the equipment out in the public.