SCALE: Measuring Might in the Media Age
1 Your name, names of collaborators or collective name (aliases are fine).
Alexandra Juhasz (respondant and director), Antonia Juhasz (subject), Yvonne Welbon (producer)
2. Name of activity, campaign, project etc…
“SCALE: Measuring Might in the Media Age,” dv-documentary, 60 mins, 2007
3: Is this activity affiliated with any other groups?
4: Dates of activity (month, year, duration, is it ongoing?).
5: Location(s) of activity (city, street, store, gallery, web site, be specific).
Pasadena; San Francisco; New York; Washington, DC; Seattle; London; Boulder, CO; Columbus, OH; Claremont, CA; LA (the sites of my sister’s life, activism, and corporate sponsored book tour for THE BUSH AGENDA: Invading the World One Economy at a Time (HarperCollins, 2006).
6: Type of activity (please attempt to classify the tactic).
Grassroots documentary about my sister, Antonia, celebrated anti-war activist and policy wonk (www.thebushagenda.net) as she hits up against the media (mainstream and alternative) on a corporate-sponsored book tour for THE BUSH AGENDA: Invading the World One Economy at a Time, and re-thinks the meaning and tactics of activism. All the while encountering her sister Alex’s camcorder and ideas about both the media and activism.
7: Target and goal of activity.
To document and contribute to conversations about the changing nature of activism given the escalation of size, might, and reach of our foes: the corporations, media, and elite who benefit from their massive scale. Do activists need to try to match the inhuman and inhumane stature of the corporate/war/Bush machine, or is there something productive, not to mention ethical, about staying small? The target for the documentary is viewing communities who think about political activism in relation to cultural production, in particular, the changing nature of the media as a forum for networking, and information itself as a malleable and mediated political tool.
8. Please describe the activity in a paragraph.
I am an activist video-maker who produced a feature documentary about anti-war activism in the media age using the resources available to me. I am a feminist documentarian who focused on the work and experience of my own sister because I believe that the familial and personal create complex and compelling links to the social. I am femi-digi-practioner (see my blog: www.aljean.wordpress.com) who thinks that the small scale of the camcorder signifies and can produce a feminist-might when in dialogue with dominant (male) practices of heightened technology and objective bluster.
9. What was the outcome of activity?
A feature documentary awaiting distribution. We plan for the documentary to have a life in festivals, and in academia, and then a parallel life on the internet where it can be seen for free, and distributed through communities of interest as part of a project of enriching and expanding conversations about activism, media, and scale: www.scalethedocumentary.com. It will be embedded in this website within a set of resources that enable and further these complicated conversations and allow for user participation.
10. What did you learn from this activity?
There are two factions (at least) of the left, who are not really speaking to each other. My sister and her friends are the grassroots activists, the politicos, who think that direction action, in particular, the relaying of information, must be our primary effort to end the war. If you tell enough people what has really happened and why, things will change. Meanwhile, my community (leftist artists and intellectuals against the war) thinks that considerations of forms, tactics, and the nature of information and the left itself, are fundamental practices of anti-war activism. When we debate, my sister thinks my work is “theoretical navel-gazing,” while I sometimes believe she is both “nostalgic and naïve” about an inherited set of tactics that have yet to adequately consider the role of media, power, and stature and the changing nature of information. When I show the documentary, the room splits in half despite the fact that everyone’s on the left and all are against the war. There are those who want to hear more of my sister’s informed critique of the economic motivations for this war and they can’t believe when I move the camera to self-referential images of the media itself and the interactions of us two sisters. And there are those who think that Antonia’s analysis (while adept) is already known, and even if it is not, we must consider the nature and machines of moving people over the details that might move them.
11. What influenced the decisions you made in creating this activity? (be specific)
Grassroots feminist video making is my skill set; it is what I can contribute best, and uniquely, to the movement. It’s what I do and what I’ve done:
12. How do you measure success for this activity?
Quality of debate and conversation. Then a movement from dialogue to action.
13. In order to continue and be successful with this or other related activities, what would you do or need? (Be specific: is it a question of tools, more people, concepts, lock boxes, training, cultural change.)
I am trying to get the video to those who would be interested in it primarily by using the internet as a radical form of distribution, community, and context-building for a single-channel piece that can be embedded in a set of questions, conversations, practices, and problems plaguing the left that will ideally lead to action. This was much less possible in the recent past, when the internet could not be used so easily for distribution and networking. See: www.scalethedocumentary.com