Changing cities and changing demographics are two related issues that lie at the forefront of challenges we face as American’s today. As a politically polarized generation, today’s young people have opinions on what ought to be done politically, but do not necessarily understand the implications of choices they make regarding policy which affects other people. In regards to changing cities, gentrification reflects our societies’ conflicting attitudes towards preservation of culture, urban renewal, and social inequality. While everyone seemingly has an opinion that they stand ready to defend – either in support of or in opposition to gentrification – one thing is for certain: paying attention to, monitoring, and influencing our public sector can have a dramatic impact on the ways in which urban renewal can be a force for good. It is of critical importance for a wider array of people to understand gentrification, and to realize the ways in which they can get involved to make cities better places for all Americans. In addition, as a generation that is so much more politically involved and opinionated, it will be important for projects like mine to set a precedent to better informing people with voting powers, so they can make proper, unobstructed, unbiased decisions that impact our people. I believe that this project will empower people to make better decisions, which reflect their values, and hopefully, will help us to hold our public institutions more accountable for serving our most vulnerable people.
We live in an incredibly politicized society, but one that does not understand politics. Health care reform through the Affordable Care Act has grown into an abstraction emblematic of this. But there are real consequences. A parent who cannot afford to pay for the prescriptions to ease the pain of their ailing child. A woman who cannot get the help she needs because nearest clinic that handles women’s health is being defunded. But also the person who, try as they may, cannot cobble enough together to match their rising premium. Or the person who cannot continue visiting their trusted doctor, one with whom they share their most personal health details, because they are not longer included under their new coverage. To understand health care reform is not to get lost in policy minutiae. It is to be illustrated through these real stories of real people. As we approach a tipping point, this is more relevant than ever.
I was at the Michigan Theatre Thursday evening for the Stamps lectures for my degree, and graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook was speaking. He began his lecture talking about Trump, and he said that at this point, there really is no satire that can be done to make light of the new president—the reality is already ridiculous enough.
I was also noticing the connection between puppets and radical thinking, protesting, and social movements, and how puppets, both processional and stationary theatre, have played this role through in disrupting the dominant discourse and giving a voice to the marginalized. And I was curious why.
This project will examine the connection between puppetry and protest, and why absurdity and drama instead of violence is so often used by the marginalized to advocate for social and political rights.
We are, again, at a point in history where social revolution could have the capacity to change America’s dominant discourse. What role could puppetry and absurdity play in this?
Campaigns and elections are the cornerstones of social change. Within days of his presidency, Donald Trump has placed a ban on Muslim immigrants, and many are wondering how to fight back against feared racist policies. Understanding how to defeat candidates like Trump in an election is a key component in combatting a rollback of progressive policies. Trump’s use social media spoke to the current culture and political climate in a way that Clinton’s tried and true ad campaign strategies just did not. In moving forward, it is essential to understand how these communication strategies are only effective when looking at them within a larger context. By thinking about it this way, we can figure out how to design effective political communication in a way that will be well received by the audience of the moment. Ultimately, my hope is that learning about these tactics can inform strategic communication to help garner funds for nonprofit organizations, as well as campaigns of cultural activism like the Women’s March or Black Lives Matter.
My capstone project is worth pursuing because, truth is, whether this was assigned to me or not, it would still be at the top of my to-do list. I am passionate about sharing my story because the more I do, the more others out there get a chance to know that they are not alone and their struggle is nothing to be ashamed of. My capstone project is worth investing in because, it is the ultimate internal question we all ask ourselves, “who am I? “
While we spend so much of our lives trying to discover ourselves, sometimes we live a bit mindlessly. We are all bound to get lost, hit a bump in the road, or even do a complete 360 but, at the end of the day, we learn something from every turn our lives might take. Somewhere along the line we’re forced to realize that no one has the answer to this question because we are not meant to be defined. We are meant to be human. We are meant to have hobbies, likes, dislikes, memories, thoughts, opinions, and experiences that altogether make up who you really are. It’s a process of discovery, to find yourself doesn’t always end with a concrete answer to “who am I?” but just the opposite. We are human, we are ever-changing.
This is worth pursuing because people have a distorted idea of what it means to present themselves for themselves. We literally just went around the classroom asking people what kind of first impression they make on others, and if you listen closely, most people said things like “I’d like to think” or “I try to be” — this all has to do with image and image presentation. Who we actually are as people; our most authentic selves are not often who we present. Part of this has to do with knowing oneself and understanding who we are. If we, ourselves, don’t even have a clear conception of who we really are, how can we present an image that is really us? My project focuses in on this phenomenon through, perhaps, the images that are most pervasive and accessible to all: celebrities. The evolution of their images, the control they have over those images, and how that control has evolved in relation to the way society has shifted, is an interesting way to understand a concept that affects all of us. Who are we? Who do we see ourselves as? How do we want others to see us, and does our true self align with how we present it? This all comes down to imagery and the way in which we manufacture this artificial reflection. In the case of the celebrity, people have an intense inclination to see the manufactured images as these humans’ true selves because, ultimately, it’s the only way we can connect to them.
Binge watching is something that it seems like everyone does. It has become a major part of culture, not just with millennials, who seem to be the target generation, but with a large part of general society. It seems like just about everyone likes to sit in front of a screen for hours and just watch episodes upon episodes of a TV show. The fact that it is so universal is what makes the topic so interesting. Even if someone doesn’t enjoy binge watching themselves, they almost definitely know someone who does, meaning they could still gain personal insight on the act of binge watching. It is also something that is personally important to me, because it is something that I do. I will spend hours upon hours just starting at my computer watching something on Netflix. I, therefore, want to know more about binge watching. I’ve never really questioned the act, I just do it. Now I’m curious about why it happens and what inspires doing nothing but staring at a screen for hours on end. There could be so much that goes into this and just about anybody could have a personal investment in it, from binge watchers themselves, to friends of binge watchers, to media industry workers who produce the content. I’m very excited to shed some light on this new culture of binge watching.