Thursday, March 14, 2013

Making a decision about the media we consume...

Maybe some of you don't know this, but the Steubenville rape case trial started. I have been streaming it most of today. I have been reading articles about it. Two of the best are Jaclyn Friedman's article on Toxic Masculinity and Irin Carmon's piece on Can Rape Be Stopped?

I also received a beautiful and painful letter from a friend today about something difficult that had happened to her. I remain grateful for these letters. They remind me why I keep fighting.

But in the last few days, I've also experienced a lot of "bad" media. The kind that makes you want to shake your computer or scream at the TV. And there's a part of me that wants to hold my hands up and say enough. I've talked about this before. I've wondered why I can't get excited about the Veronica Mars movie kickstarter when everyone else is excited about it. And the reason that I can't is because at the same time the VM movie was going crazy into FUNTOWN on Twitter, I read that one of the Steubenville defense attorney's said this: "She voluntarily got herself intoxicated. Not once did you hear her say or any witness statement say she didn’t want to do it." (Never mind that that actually falls into the legal definition of rape)

The point is, I WANT to be Veronica Mars excited. I want that back. I want to have days where I don't say the word rape. I want that back too. I don't know that I will ever get that back. But I do know that there are times when you need to make decisions about the media that you consume.

And I am ever grateful for my friend Anne who pointed out that sometimes we keep reading the same horrifying things over and over again and it causes us a strange sort of paralysis. It's sort of like when celebrities Google themselves until they find someone saying something horrible about the way they look, act, sing, etc. Why do we do this to ourselves? To what end?

So now, thanks to dear Anne, I have come to a decision about what type of media/popular cultural I will consume (through the duration of this trial, certainly, but possibly beyond that):

1. Does it entertain me? I like to be entertained. I like to laugh and think. I will watch Eddie Izzard forever. Also Sherlock.
2. Does it give me information I don't already have? (I am pretty savvy about rape stats, reading them over and over again is damn hard...I probably don't need to read every article telling me they're still pretty shitty)
3. Does it give me something actionable that I can do to make a difference in the world? (I'm on board for changing the rape culture, but show me the way, smarter people than me...this is why I love the two above referenced articles so much).

What about you all? Do you find yourself getting overwhelmed by information overload that isn't that helpful to you?


Jolene Perry said...


After college and the few years after where I exhausted so much energy on the shitty way our political system is run (poli sci major), I just ran out of being able to care.

I do stuff for the local women's shelter, and the teen center here. Not as much as I want, but for me, when I'm in my community it feels doable.
When I step outside of that, I feel overwhelmed with the impossibility of leaving a mark.
So. Yes. This is where I've ended up, and for now, in an act of self-preservation, I've tuned out to a lot of things I maybe shouldn't, but (for now) I'm doing what I'm able. I think once my kids are older, I'l be able to handle more again.

Wow. I really rambled today.

Cristina said...

I find myself tuning off from certain media, because I feel it too much, and it becomes paralyzing, like you said. And when I get to that point I can no longer do anything helpful.
I read a couple of articles today about the rape case and had to turn away. Since the Newtown school incident which is only a couple of towns away from me, it's been harder for me watch any violence related news.
I have to tune it out because I'm on emotional overload. And I'm a therapist. I have training on how to compartmentalize all of this. But sometimes, it's just too much. And it's necessary to take a step back and protect your own mental well being.
I don't know your story, but take care of yourself. Take a breather. :)

roxanne s. sukhan said...

I recently cancelled my cable TV. It's freeing, very freeing.

Alina Klein said...

Eddie Izzard!! Sherlock!!! Yes to these.

And those two articles you linked were both amazing. Sometimes I read things like that and think I should back away from the issues and leave them in the hands of smarter heads than mine, but then I remind myself the more voices the better.

But this trial...ack...I'll be streaming it again today despite the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. As someone who's been through a similar trial before, on a smaller scale, I feel responsible to her, somehow, despite the fact she will likely never know I'm out here supporting her.

Like you, I struggled with the popularity of the Veronica Mars kickstarter, because I'd really hoped the Steubenville case had a real hope of commanding attention, and getting people thinking, talking and considering the issues more deeply. It breaks my heart that even this sensationalized case has been overshadowed. If it wasn't Veronica Mars, it likely would have been something else, though. This isn't a fun topic to roll around in your head as we both know well. But dammit.

But I do think we can and should only handle what we can handle. And then we should follow it up with a nice showing of Sherlock. <3

The first witness just chose not to be recorded, but here we go...

Rebecca Barrow said...

I do find myself getting overwhelmed and kind of...desensitized. Just scrolling through Twitter and tumblr I see so many horrible stories, not to mention the actual television/newspaper news.

I'm torn between reading them, because I want to be aware of what's going on and I want to read the stories that won't get the attention they truly deserve, and not reading, because it gets to me so much--like there's only so many times I can read about a young girl being raped or a black teenager being shot or a gay couple being beaten before it gets too much.

But I don't want to not read them; I don't want to just pass them by, I feel like the people in the stories deserve me reading about them. I'm just not sure how to balance it all really.