Thursday, April 8, 2010

Women and Alternative Media

It is difficult to come across alternative media, in an industry that makes a living from saturating sexist and racist messages and images. It is even more difficult for minorities of the groups being discriminated in the media to enter the industry. Arts Engine is a corporation that was established by social activists Katy Chevigny and Julia Pimsleur in 1997. Arts Engine is a local corporation whose office is located in New York City. The purpose of the Arts Engine Corporation was to create documentaries on social issues. The Arts Engine has also created another production company named Big Mouth, which has been very successful. Big Mouth has gained national recognition, winning prominent awards. One of their documentary films Deadline was nominated for an Emmy. Some of Big Mouth’s films include, Arctic Son and Election Day, which were broadcasted by P.O.V. Katy Chevigny and Julia Pimsleur also established an online organization called that has connected thousands of activists and filmmakers worldwide. aids makers of media, educators, activists, and nonprofits produce short films and documentaries to influence action and impact discussion on present social issues. Media That Matters Film Festival derived from, and it is one of the first online film festivals. Media That Matters Film Festival gathers strong impact short films and “Take Action” methods to reach viewers around the world throughout the year, via distribution of DVDs, web streaming, broadcasting, and local screenings.

Arts Engine’s powerful activism that began in the 1997 to present is definitely an example of alternative media organizations that have made a difference; by including minority figures, but also by including social issues that are neglected in popular media. The role of gender in this story is important because the founders of Arts Engine are both female social activists. And it is their passion and recognition of discrimination and hierarchy within the media industry that has allowed them to fight extremely hard to make way for social issues and minority filmmakers to be recognized.

Before conducting my research for this post, I completed the readings first, I felt that I comprehended the importance and issues behind media consolidation. Minorities and women are underrepresented in the media industry, a fact that is disturbing because half of our population is comprised of women, and more than half of our population is minority. Yet only “one in four communications/media jobs created were filled by women” (Women in Media Fact Sheet). Nonetheless, it wasn’t until I completed my research on the Arts Engine that I was truly outraged. In order to find Arts Engine Corporation I had to dig thru all the garbage on the internet. I needed to search for “Alternative Media” to find real news, and issues I could truly empathize with. And now media consolidation wants to amend the media policies so that large companies can get larger, which will result in the elimination of opportunities and corporations for women and minorities. Media consolidation will result in the wipe out of organizations such as, Arts Engine that give opportunities to independent filmmakers, which for the most part are women and minorities. Organizations that educate audiences around the world and influence normal people to take action should be more important than conglomerates who are only concerned with earning more money from Us. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I rather indulge in media that empowers me and educates me, rather than media that creates messages that discourages me and preys on my insecurities, in order to gain more money for the White men on top. Image found at

The following is a link to a short documentary I found on the Media That Matters Film Festival website. The short film titled Exiled in America is about five American-Mexican siblings who struggle to support themselves after their mother was deported to Mexico. This short documentary is an example of the media being supported and produced by Arts Engine.

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