Jonathan McIntosh is a creator and curator of political remix videos. His presentation style – three or four open tabs on his Firefox browser – reminded me a lot of another creator and curator of online video, Jay Dedman.

Photo of Jonathan McIntosh by Joi Ito

I have seen a lot of political remix videos, both online and at conferences like this one, so I was prepared to sit through some re-runs, but every video shown was new for me.

Check out this montage of Hollywood depictions of Arabs:

Jonathan points out that remix pulls out patterns, trends, and stereotypes that often go by unnoticed when we sit down to watch a two-hour Hollywood flick. For example, what 20 or 30-something hasn’t seen Back To The Future at least three times? But I never really paid attention to the fact that a van full of bearded Lebanese pull into a suburban parking lot and scream while pumping Doc full of bullets. I mean, where in the hell did that come from? Did I miss something from Back to the Future Part 0?

3134D51D-142E-4137-ABF6-573520311391.jpgWhile remix videos of popular culture can make us more conscious of perpetuated discriminatory portrayals, they don’t offer us new images to challenge those negative stereotypes. Fortunately, video production and distribution has become accessible enough that the communities being discriminated against can now represent themselves through their own eyes. A Malaysian friend, Zan Azlee, started the I’m a Muslim Too! project, which started out as a video blog, became a documentary film, and is now being aired on Malaysian television every Thursday night. Zan, a Muslim himself, traveled around the Middle East to challenge popular depictions of Muslims by Western media. Here’s the trailer:

You can check out all the episodes here.

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Recently, as I go about my evangelizing of citizen media, more and more parents and teachers are asking me what the difference is between their children and students watching four hours of TV and staring eyes-glazed-over at YouTube for four hours. I too get frustrated when I try to teach participatory media skills to young people and they’d rather spend their time watching one YouTube video after another. But that constant clicking also means that they are constantly interacting with and questioning what they watch. They are discovering a new form of media literacy before it is ever taught to them in college.

For example, on television Chevron has the money to paint their own portrayal of how they go about bringing us energy to fill our gas tanks and heat our homes (for some more info on that, check out CorpWatch):

But on YouTube, viewers will be sure to see the video response by Jonathan just below the video itself. Here is his remix of the ad:

Pretty amazing, right?

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