One of the ubiquitous BIG ideas du jour is that we need a “paradigm shift”, a global change of consciousness away from the eternal growth, more money trumps sanity cycle of human development, and towards a sustainable culture with an equitable relationship towards each other and the earth. But change is hard and slowing the machine that is running the world seems impossible without a major shift in thinking about our relationships with it. As a media maker, my question is: what is the (a) message that people will hear and heed?
People around the world, non-profits, NGOs, progressive politicians, academics, civil society groups are all calling for a change, but for the most part it is a change within the existing framework, not the radical shift that we need to take on the enormous forces of neoliberalism. “Save the Whales!” “No to War!” “Stop Citizens United!” Each of them is aimed at one piece, one symptom of the increasingly commodified world. Few are looking at the root cause of it all.
Is everyone’s idea of utopia the same? If you are wealthy, does the plight of the poor in a utopian future even enter your picture? Does great wealth even figure in a utopian future? For me, people would all have plenty, creativity would be valued as highly as intellect, and concepts of class and race would disappear. How do we get there?
Movies about the future are mostly about dystopia, since that’s where the conflict is. And in many ways we are living that dystopia. So how do we turn this into utopia without a superhero?
If most people believe that wealth is the be all, end all, how do we show them a better future to strive for? Media is everywhere these days. We are bombarded with messages whereever we go. TV, magazines, movies, billboards, cell phones, the Internet. For a great majority of people they are being hit most of their waking life with messages try to sell them something: all kinds merchandise, normative ideas, the truth from someone’s perspective. The stories that we hear are curated by people with an agenda, usually not in our best interest.
How could we take back the media and sell people on the ideas that will make life better for us all?
One way is through alternative media, be it low power radio, streaming Internet, and tactical media. The reach may be smaller, but we are the gatekeepers. But one of the drawbacks is that now that we have so many ways to receive our information, people tend to go to sites that reflect already held opinions, so having a media site that challenges the status quo does not mean that the people who need to hear it will.