Four hour challenge / Oscars and Politics

Only a few weeks after a Golden Globes’ Ceremony, where actors praised diversity, and openly criticized the policy of the newly elected President, the Oscars were expected on Sunday night to be a real political night, and another demonstration of the non-alignment of the world of arts with the ongoing US politics. President Trump, who had shared angry reactions on Twitter after the Golden Globes announced a few days before that he would not watch the Oscars Ceremony.

Here is a 4-hour review of the political statements that were heard during the Oscars nights.

20:41: Jimmy Kimmel, Master of Ceremony jokes that the ceremony is being watched by “220 countries that now hate us”. He adds: “I want to say thank you to President Trump, remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?”, and “If every person took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with and have a positive conversation we can make America great again – it starts with us”.

20:43: Jimmy Kimmel spots Meryl Streep in the audience and pays tribute to her “many uninspiring and overrated performances” (which had been Trump’s comments on Twitter, after the actress made a anti-Trump speech at the Golden Globes). He adds “nice dress, by the way”,“Is that an Ivanka?”

21:11: Alessandro Bertolazzi, who receives the Oscar of the best make-up and hairstyling, reminds the audience that he is an Italian immigrant.

22:05: Anousheh Ansari reads out a statement on behalf of the winner of the Oscar for the Foreign movie, Asghar Farhadi. The statement to Trump’s recent ban of immigrants traveling to the US from seven countries, including Iran: “It is a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight, my absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six countries who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans immigrants from seven countries to the US”

22:11: Gael Garcia Bernal gets political on stage, and states: “As a Mexican and a human being, I’m against any kind of wall that wants to separate us.”

22:42: Advertising for Hyatt: “What the World Needs Now Is Love” which shows people of different races eyeing each other suspiciously before finding a connection. The ad concludes with “For a world of understanding.”

02:08 Actor Winner Casy Affleck (after criticizing President Trump’s measures the day before) says “Man, I wish I had something bigger and more meaningful to say”.

 

EntertainStats Podcast

A one-time podcast about how popular Oscars are with MIT students. The podcast can be found on SoundCloud.

This podcast was created by Dijana, Maddie, Mika & Sruthi. It took just under 4 hours to discuss the idea, interview students, record and publish the podcast. (Monday 11:30 am – 3:15 pm)

Some behind the scenes pictures for entertainment purposes:

Discussing the idea ->

Interviewing students ->

Editing those audio recordings ->

Writing the podcast script ->

..And the reporters rehearse for podcast recording in our makeshift audio room (in between doors at the student center entrance) ->

 

Get Out: The Beast Racism Built

If James Baldwin’s words in “I Am Not Your Negro” set the cinematic world on fire with it’s striking relevance to today’s Divided States of America, Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” is a horror film rooted in what racism feels like.

It didn’t scare me because it was a scary movie. It was terrifying because it revealed the tragedy of what it is like for black people to live with what W.E.B Du Bois called the veil and a double-consciousness:

“…the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil and gifted with second sight in this American world, –– a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Du Bois penned that over 100 years ago. But today, even black pre-schoolers recognize their otherness. They are suspended at a rate nearly four times higher than their white counterparts. A jury watched the life choked out of Eric Garner as he gasped “I can’t breathe” and still found no probable cause to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Very few people accept The Washington Post’s findings that unarmed black Americans are five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer. Instead they deflect with comments about about black on black crime without acknowledging that white on white crime is about the same or the systemic injustices that nurture the state of the black communities Trump is threatening to fix via militarization.

And when you grow up constantly facing the fact that your very humanity is scrutinized and people see your existence as a threat, you live with a certain fear.

“Get Out” is a brilliant exaggeration of what that looks like as it follows Chris, a young, gifted and black photographer, on a weekend trip to meet his white girlfriend Rose’s rich family. She hasn’t told her family he’s black. She assures him they are liberal and couldn’t possibly be racist because, you know, her daddy voted for Obama. But as soon as they start their journey to her neighborhood they run into an overzealous cop, meet her family’s black servants and by the time they sit down for dinner, microaggressions (“with your build and genetic make-up”) begin to feed the beast that is racism and tries to eat the flesh of young Chris the way it dines on the soul of black folk.

I’ve heard people say they won’t see “Get Out” because they are too scared. Well being black in America is scary. And it doesn’t come with the added perks of being fiction. See the movie. Take comfort in it’s make-believe and be motivated to check the very real biases and systemic oppression that inspired the tragedy of the double-consciousness on and off screen.

 

MIT Starr Forum: National Security & Civil Liberties 1942 & 2017

I’ve been interested in multi-media storytelling, so have created an article on Atavist for my coverage. My story is here: https://aileenhagerman.atavist.com/feb-25

The event I covered was:
2017 Day of Remembrance: MIT Starr Forum presents National Security and Civil Liberties 1942 & 2017
Saturday Feb 25th 2pm to 4pm

Time stamps:
Start 2:30pm (Technical difficulties and skipped opening statements of the event)
End: 6:35pm

Phew!

Jamelle Bouie on race and racism in American politics

Slate’s chief political correspondent, Jamelle Bouie, sat down with MIT’s Seth Mnookin this evening for a conversation about race and racism in the 2016 presidential election. The wide-ranging discussion approached the issue of race and racism from several angles — including both Bouie’s personal experience as an African-American journalist to a broader focus on the shifting ideological coalitions in the American political landscape.

Every political discussion since November 9th has probably started with the same question: how did this happen? Bouie deserves credit for pointing to the possibility of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination earlier than other observers, citing the intensity of support at his early rallies, and how easily Trump survived the criticism leveled at John McCain shortly after announcing his candidacy. Trump also benefited, Bouie argued, from a crowded Republican field and the “zombie candidacy” of cash-rich but vote-poor Jeb Bush.

But Bouie, along with so many others, gave Trump scant chance of winning the general election against Hillary Clinton, pointing to the seemingly durable ‘Obama coalition’ of voters. Bouie admitted that he wished he’d more taken seriously Trump’s chances. The media in general, Bouie argued, were confident enough in a Clinton win to subject her to severe scrutiny and merely focus on the “spectacle” of Trump — it was “Trump saying crazy things, versus emails.”

Another reason Trump succeeded — and one which might have serious implications going forward — is that so-called ‘Never Trumpers’ stayed reasonably quiet. Bouie pointed to the several crises that the US two-party system has suffered through yet survived, and suggested that the Republican party is more likely to morph than collapse, with ethno-nationalism emerging at its core.

Bouie and Mnookin also discussed the challenges discussing race and dealing with racial inequality — even between those who might agree. Bouie highlighted the differing forms of interaction that take place between people of different races in the south as compared to the north — the liberal northeast of the country experiences its own perhaps more subtle form of segregation and separation which can color attempts at crossing racial divides.

Bouie, at a mere 29 years old, has already emerged as one of the leading observers of American politics in our current volatile era. Both Bouie’s firm sense of American history and his own experience undergird both his articulate prose and the important, impactful perspective on display this evening.

Maddie’s Media Diary

From Wednesday, February 15th, to Monday, February 21st, I kept track of my media usage and consumption, including app usage on my phone, laptop, and smartwatch, total time on different apps, and time spent reading or listening to news. I recorded the majority of my usage manually (to the best of my ability) while also using RescueTime to track the activity on my computer. I created the charts below using info.gram.

Below are various charts showing my usage as well as my takeaways from the entire experience:

Technology Usage

I broke down the various methods I consumed media by tracking my activities on each platform. I also kept track of my sleep to show the stark contrast each day between watching television and resting.

Additionally, here is the day-by-day chart of my technology use:

Analysis

By looking at both charts it’s clear that my time is largely taken up by staring at either my MacBook or my iPhone. This is largely due to my app consumption, especially Netflix (for my laptop) and Twitter (on my phone). I was somewhat surprised by my Apple Watch usage, partially because I thought I looked at it fewer than I do; I averaged 75 glances at my watch each day.   

Application Usage

My media consumption is largely done through an app on either my laptop, phone, or smartwatch. Though I currently have 151 apps installed on my iPhone, I only used these 11 apps for a statistically significant amount of time over the six days:

  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Outlook
  • Twitter
  • Podcast
  • Slack
  • Instagram
  • Microsoft Word
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Text

Here is my total app usage over the past six days:

Additionally, here is the total number of hours spent on each app:

Analysis

I do wonder how much my app usage depends on my schedule each day. For those where I’m in class more, I seem to rely far more on Outlook and Twitter. But when I’m home, Netflix is the dominant app by far and away. I wish I could’ve seen a snapshot of my usage only a year ago. I know my Twitter usage would’ve been much higher, as I’ve noticed a drop off over the last several months in the time I spend on Twitter each day. This may be due to my exhaustion of political news or simply a move away from checking Twitter compulsively throughout the day for news. Also, I’ve started using Slack more now that I’ve joined a startup team, and we use it as our main means of communication.

Reading Habits

Finally, I wanted to see how much of my day I dedicated to consuming news, and more importantly, how I choose to do so. I know my use of Twitter has decreased over the last several months, but I wasn’t sure if I had dropped from one of my most used apps.

A large portion of my news consumption comes from podcasts, including:

  • This American Life
  • Reply All
  • What What Don’t Tell Me
  • The New York Times’ The Daily
  • NPR Poltiics Podcast

Here is a the breakdown by day of the total number of hours spent on each app each day:

Analysis

The biggest surprise for me came out of my little use of Facebook. I always assumed it would be one of my most used apps, but I rarely check the app unless I have an event or a friend request. I also included my time on Messenger because it was such a small portion of my overall time on the app.

Takeaways

Maybe the biggest thing to take away from this exercise is how little I sleep or do anything without a screen in front of my face in some way. I’m always inundated by media in some fashion, and the majority of it is something I do without even thinking, such as listening to music or checking my email on my watch or phone.

When I finished my analysis, I realized that I only spent approximately 13 hours in the total 144 hours of the six-day period doing non-technology activities, such as talking with people. It made me realize that it may be time to schedule some sort of technology break for a few days, if only to refresh my mind and remind myself that things are going on around me and not just on a screen.