Tag Archives: journalism

On Journalism and Everyone Who Practices It (Whether Inadvertently or Not)

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Journalism is noble profession. The problem with journalism however is that far too many people fancy themselves as doing journalism when they’re doing anything but. Either that, or it gets muddled with punditry and people would sometimes no longer have any idea what they’re reading or listening to anymore. Do people who watch Shawn Hannity actually believe they’re not watching the news? I’m sure they think they’re watching the news and not just some college dropout opine about conspiracy theories. And with the rash of news and opinion outlets which cater to every political persuasion, anything that doesn’t fit or contradicts with our own biases could easily be waved off as fake news. The president of the United States does it. My father does it. Even my wife does it from time to time. I myself am not immune to consuming news from outlets that only share my opinion. I often get my news from left-leaning outlets. Probably the most right-leaning outlet I would occasionally watch would be Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough, but that’s only because the vileness of the current political climate have left them no choice but to go against their former right-leaning ways.

And one of the reasons why I tend not to consume anything from the right is that it’s often awash with conspiracy theories and generally vile attitude towards others. How the heck did Alex Jones get an audience? Who would trust anything that Jesse Watters says? And that’s just people on TV. There’s a plethora of right wing talkers on the Internet who dare I say are more unqualified to talk about politics and the news but still command a sizeable audience. And this again blows my mind because none of them are funny and witty at all. Without actually informing their audience, I would expect them to either be witty or funny at a minimum, but no, they’re just not. Outside of wit and humor, they just often resort to hate, which I understand is just as entertaining and addictive.

But what’s most ironic is that while the president of the US denigrates and makes villains out of real journalists, many right wing commenters who often cloak themselves in the amorphous mantle of journalism/punditry join in and attack the free press as well. “These are fake news.” “lame stream media.” As if they don’t belong and are not protected by the same rights real journalists are working under. It’s the same way Trump and many of his political supporters attack the government and this fictional “deep state” as if they’re not the ones currently running everything. It is insanity.

Just yesterday, five journalists were gunned down in Annapolis. This was after the president called members of the free press the enemy. This was a day after Milo Yiannopolous publicly opined that he wanted journalists to be hunted down. And again, ironically, Yiannopolous also happens to work for Info Wars and previously worked for Breitbart which would in some ways make him part of that group he wants attacked. And while they all attacked the 1st Amendment, I’m sure it would be that same 1st Amendment they would use to protect themselves from any liability. “I was just kidding.” “It wasn’t serious.”

God bless the journalists who do their job right and do their job well. We all need them now more than ever.

Maybe it’s not the most appropriate example from many liberals because he is a right winger who I often disagreed with, but I always admired how Charles Krauthammer went from Harvard medical school, to speechwriter, to journalism. I wish I had his courage and his gift to write.

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Hulkamania Runs Wild On You

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Here’s my Tim Horton’s duck after drawing over it. I’m back to my traditional drawing after weeks of doing faux anime.

I’m very happy with the Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea vs. Gawker Media verdict. Hulk Hogan just won a $115 civil lawsuit against Gawker media who published a sex tape of him having relations with his best friend’s ex-wife. Gawker media argued that it was a First Amendment issue and since Hulk Hogan candidly talked about his personal life (including his sex life) in public, then the sex tape should be considered news-worthy material. Terry Bollea argued that it’s a violation of his privacy rights and that all the personal and sex life talk is him as his Hulk Hogan persona. It doesn’t give anyone free-reign on all of his life, including his most intimate moments.

The case was quite interesting because it showed a company that was willing to be on both sides of an issue to get more clicks, to make a profit. When Jennifer Lawrence Lawrence and other female celebrities’ phones were hacked and their naked pictures were posted online, Jezebel, a feminist Web site under Gawker Media ran articles non-stop railing against the evils of the companies hosting such images. They equated the posting of the images to sexual violence. A couple of years later, they post a video of Hulk Hogan, even fighting to keep the video online. Double standard much?

The six-person jury awarded Hulk Hogan $15 million more than the original $100 claim. The jury is still going to reconvene tomorrow to discuss punitive damages which could bury Gawker Media. Left as is, the decision could end the Gawker Media empire. Of course, the company is already planning to appeal the decision, but before doing so, they must pose a $50 million bond which I’m not sure the company could collect. And while some people are confident that the company could win on appeal based on the absolute victory on Judge Campbell’s court, I’m cautiously optimistic since the appeals court has reversed many of the Judge’s rulings in the case. There’s a possibility that Hulk Hogan’s victory might not be as big after the appeal, but it will definitely be devastating for Gawker, especially for its owner as well as its former editor who glibly suggested in court that he would be willing to show a five year-old’s sex tape on their Web site. I’m sure this failed attempt at humor didn’t impress the jury.

I don’t mind tabloid journalism; I read tabloid/celebrity stories now and then. But I was just never a fan of Gawker Media’s sensationalist, click-driven ethos. In the pursuit of more media attention, they sensationalize and even fabricate news which in a more journalistically-responsible world would not even be considered news. They didn’t care what story they were pushing or what side they were on, as long as it garnered clicks. And what concerns me more is that not only was Gawker Media being rewarded for not having any journalistic value, their stories are being taken up by other news aggregators who are increasingly adopting the Gawker Media formula. You can’t have a healthy democracy without well-informed citizens (Honderich). And you can’t have well-informed citizens if you have media that is solely motivated by clicks.

 

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AIDS for Cancer

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I saw the VICE News report on new cancer treatment recently. I have to say; some things about VICE turn me off. I believe some pieces on VICE are being “edgy” just for edginess’ sake and really have no redeeming value.  But overall, VICE News is amazing. They do wonderful journalism and are not hindered by the news media’s myopic attention on issues. I’m so glad that they’re now on HBO. While the Internet is more popular than traditional media, it helps to get the show out there on TV screens for people who don’t even know what VICE is.

I remember when I was twelve and I was reading about Taxol on LIFE Magazine and how it was the miracle drug that could wipe cancer off the planet. While many cancer patients’ lives were prolonged by Taxol, it wasn’t the miracle drug that the magazine article made it out to be. People still died from many forms of cancer. Along with the lack of a reliable cure for cancer, treatment was still expensive, and the chemicals and radiation would often harm patients just as much as the cancer would.

The use of viruses to treat cancer looks very exciting. It’s heartwarming to see the patients in the documentary basically snatched from death’s door and given new hope, even new cancer-free lives. It is a shame however that much of the research still struggles to find funding. It is a shame that so much money is being spent on other useless things instead of helping find a cure to deadly diseases. There’s so much brainpower and genius wasted on products that don’t really help humanity in comparison. I don’t care much about the new Apple watch. I care more about using the AIDS virus to kill cancer cells. How about we all pool our collective intellects and resources to solving that one problem for a year? I wonder how far we could go.

While the documentary makes me feel hopeful for the future, in many ways, it depresses me as well. What have I done with my life? How come I’m not helping cure cancer? How come I’m not putting money out there for cancer research? Maybe I should start putting my money where my mouth is. We should all be invested in this. It’ll affect us one way or another.

I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer years ago. She was misdiagnosed by a careless physician for months, and by the time they confirmed it was pancreatic cancer, she only had a few months to live. Perhaps if she had been diagnosed earlier, she might still be alive today. Or perhaps if more people cared about curing cancer…

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Porn For Freedom

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Still annoyed at the North Korean hacking thing. God help the poor people of North Korea. The shenanigans of the people in power of late are not really helping those that truly need help in that country. There is no win in this story. Here are a few thoughts:

-North Korea still denies they were involved at all, and proposes a joint investigation with the US, threatens the US if they don’t cooperate. I wonder how far I would go in life if I handled my affairs this way.

-I always liked George Clooney. His little petition, which was sadly left unsigned due to cowardice, proves just how much awesome that man is made of. I would write more about the ways he’s awesome, but I only have so little time for posting entries.

-God bless Larry Flynt. God bless pornography for all the things it brought us, from technology to freedoms. Larry Flynt just announced that he would be making a parody of The Interview. This is brilliant, both in its stand against censorship, also in its genius in marketing. This might be first porn movie I ever used real money on in years.

-Speaking of porn. See how the great men of pornography stand up for rights? There’s Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse, artist, dreamer, social critic, and wearer of awesome medallions. He’s always been a hero of mine. Then there’s Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler, freedom of speech vanguard, political critic and provocateur. And finally, there’s Hugh Hefner who awards people for protecting First Amendment rights. Your pornography at work.

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Please Let Me See This

I wonder if I can get a Kickstarter going where I buy The Interview from SONY and release it myself. Too bad I would have to raise over $100 million.

That’s what SONY’s losing… over $100 million. It’s a pretty expensive price to start a precedent on capitulating to terrorists, a huge setback for freedom of speech.

But really, I don’t blame SONY. Aside from probably fearing further leaks of sensitive and embarrassing information, they are in a no-win situation whether they go ahead with the theatrical release of The Interview. They release the film and something happens, they get sued as well as blamed for whatever tragedy happened. “Look at SONY, ignoring threats and putting people’s lives on the line for profit!” And really, why release a film if no theater is going to show it? Why would a theater show it if their insurance won’t cover it?

If they don’t release the film, they lose their investment, get called cowardly, and get blamed for starting a dumb precedent. And still, all of this doesn’t guarantee that the leaks from the hack will stop. This specter (haha!) will continue to haunt the company until the perpetrators are caught and all the data is accounted for, all 100 terabytes of it. But yeah, how do you truly contain and control information that in on the Internet? It’s like the company’s nude selfies were stolen from the cloud. Who knows who has copies of them?

I’m not even upset at SONY’s reaction when it didn’t immediately inform its own employees about the hack. Of course the company had to investigate and try to contain the problem. Of course they had to say it’s an “IT problem.” It is an IT problem. What difference would telling people immediately make? Nothing. There would be no panic, just people checking for anything funny going on in their accounts. I’m sure the reaction would just be the same as now, people getting upset at SONY’s lax approach to security. This was not the first time the company has been hacked.

Since the hack was discovered, people have speculated that the hackers were not from North Korea and that they were just using the banana republic as cover. If that was the case, then freedom of speech took a backseat for the lulz. The movie was taken down for the sake of bragging rights. SONY, the theaters, and also the FBI, gave more power to hackers. See what they can do? While they can shine a light to many issues and affect change in a positive way, they can also do the shittiest thing to freedom of speech, and that is to silent it. In a way, it’s no different from misinformed and overreacting parents successfully petitioning Target not to sell Grand Theft Auto, except that those parents did it out of concern for their children. If it was a just some hacker group, then it was done for ego and lulz. What kind of world do we live in? Lulz. Where is our generation’s great cause?

This is not to say that it would be better if North Korea was behind it all. The United States and huge companies like SONY were bullied by a country that can barely feed its citizens. It doesn’t matter who did it. Whoever did it was a bully, a terrorist, and SONY and those theaters bowed down to bullying. If indeed, North Korea did it, then Kim Jong Un must be the most fragile person alive. He’s like a dainty little flower. His father was mocked in a movie before, so was Hitler. Heck, everyone gets parodied, everyone is fair game, even Jesus… but for whatever reason, this punk must be kept in an insult-free bubble. It’s not often that I praise Kim Jung Il, but Kim Jong Un’s father was a man who loved film. Heck, he kidnapped a director to make his own Godzilla film. Though he might’ve been embarrassed by the movie Team America, I would like to think he understood what parody was. And as for his politics, Kim Jung Il tried to create better relations with the South.

As for Kim Jung Il’s kid, his fat spoiled kid, what has he done? Just a few years ago, he was just some kid getting fat in Switzerland, watching basketball. Being the dictator of a starving country IS HIS FIRST JOB! Kim Jong Un has never done anything significant ever. Well, correction, he has murdered his relatives and brought Dennis Rodman a couple more minutes of fame. But has he ever done anything positive? Is North Korea any better now that he’s in power? He doesn’t even have enough smarts to avoid getting gout on his thirties. Every time I see him, he goes about like a relic… someone who has innumerable accomplishments, ruling a mysterious kingdom, and deserving the fear and respect of his noble people. And his generals and advisors surround him in antiquated costumes, hanging to his every word and action. But that is exactly what everyone is wearing: a costume. Those old men are not wearing military uniform; they are wearing the costume that keeps them employed. And Kim Jung Un… he’s wearing the Kim Il Sung/Kim Jung Il costume. He’s neither his father nor his grandfather. He’s just some fat kid who had it all. He’s probably scared out of his mind should the North Korean people finally snap out of it and realize all of this. And he’s probably bored to death with all of those factory tours. I’m sure he wishes he could be courtside watching a basketball game instead.

What the whole thing demonstrated though was the power of 9/11. It is like the n-word of the calendar. Mention the n-word in a conversation, and the whole tone changes. It was all fun and games with leaked e-mails about Angelina Jolie until someone said 9/11. Things suddenly got serious. And again, if it were just hackers doing the whole thing, then shame on them for their cowardly tactic… but also touché for knowing exactly how to get people to pay attention. It’s just like magic, “9/11.” And if it is indeed North Korea, then shouldn’t the US government be more aggressive in all of this? Wasn’t this a direct (albeit probably hollow) threat? Countries have felt the mighty hand of the US military over less direct aggression.

And where was the NSA in all of this? These are people who gather information and try to get hackers and journalists when they reveal something embarrassing to the US government. These are the same people who spy on their own citizens in the name of national security. How come they don’t seem to know anything about these hackers? Freedom of speech just got taken down big time. Not only that, but a multi-national company just lost out on its investment, and we all know how the US government loves its multi-national companies. It was an attack on capitalism. Where’s the NSA and the FBI on all of this?

I really hope they catch whoever did this. I really hope this doesn’t start a precedent of appeasing cyber terrorism. The Internet is about knowledge and freedom. It is a platform where ideas are shared and opinions are expressed, not a tool for shutting down speech. A part of me thinks that perhaps this is all just a brilliant way for SONY to sell their film. Some critics have called it unfunny, but now it is all beyond that. “Watch The Interview! Do it to spit on the face of tyranny!” And I would, I totally would. Maybe not in a movie theater, but I would gladly give SONY money to watch this suddenly historically-significant Seth Rogen film.

All to spit on the face of tyranny.

 

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Art, “Terror,” and a bit about Godaddy

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An art opening, an art opening! Got a gallery show opening this weekend with a couple of other artists. Exciting stuff. It’s always good to meet new artists and see what kind of works other people are into. I also learned that I’m not the only foreign artist in the country who dabbled in making action figures.

Despite Korea being quite small, I’ve never been to this city right next to Seoul where we’re having the exhibition (Ilsan, northwest of Seoul). The place seems quite young and the architecture feels foreign to me. It’s almost as if I’m walking in Japan. I would hang out in Ilsan more if it wasn’t an hour and a half away from where I live. And really, there are far too many bars near where I live for me to wander far in order to get a drink. My neighborhood has made me lazy.

Are we feeling better now, Canada? Are we all good? I gotta say, the overall reaction to the shooting a couple of days ago was far more level-headed than one would expect if it happened down south. No giant panics and no moral outrages. No one is going after swaths of Muslim populations. What troubles me though is the almost too-canadian rumored reaction from our Prime Minister during the shooting: that he hid in a closet. How Canadian is that, eh? “Mr. Prime Minister, a gun man is causing trouble outside, you’d better get inside this closet!” Can’t we at least get a panic room or something?

On a more serious note however, I’m more troubled with Canadian politicians and Americans calling the whole thing an “act of terror.” Glenn Greenwald made a good point about it, and it’s something I always felt was the general bias when it comes to the liberal use of Western force in other countries. The shooter targeted Canadian military. As cowardly in terms of the attack coming out of nowhere as it is, there appears to be an effort not to harm civilians, but only to harm soldiers and those in power. Sure, there was an element of “terror,” but wouldn’t the act of combatants attacking others who are technically combatants be classified as par for the course in war? It wasn’t an act of terror. It was war, and Canada has been at war (against vague terror) along with the United States for over a decade now.

Calling the attack an act of terror, in my mind, does two things. One, it is used as another piece of propaganda for more war, more money for the military, and more kids being sent to fight overseas. What exactly are we doing in Afghanistan? For what purpose are we there for? Couldn’t Canada find a better way to achieve these goals outside of military intervention?

The other thing it does is that it defines the word “terror.” It was an act of terror when a man targeted soldiers and a government facility. I’m not going to argue against that because it definitely was terrible and I do feel for the victim and his family. I’ll give you that. It was an act of terror. He did not shoot civilians, but that poor soldier did not see it coming and did not deserve getting shot that day. But how do we define the actions of the US military when they bomb innocent civilians through signature strikes? How do we define the thousands of deaths in the vague “war on terror?” These are actions which kill not only supposed terrorists, but also civilians. Aren’t the people living in these neighborhoods also terrorized?

Now, I’m not saying that United States is a monster for conducting a terrorist campaign on several nations in what appears to be a disproportionate act of vengeance. What I’m saying is that “terror,” “acts of terror,” and “war against terror” are all horribly vague and maleable terms. They are trump cards which justify horrible actions and push forward shortsighted government policies. Sure, we can call something an “act of terror.” What happened in Canada was an act of terror. But let’s also examine our own terrible actions and see exactly how terrible we have been.

Problems with Godaddy again. Well, I don’t know if it’s Godaddy, Korea’s fickle Internet, or whatever. Ugh!

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