On RBAS and Activism

LLAG, and Chescaleigh Ramsey; Philando Castile and Alton Sterling; Obergefell v. Hodges and the Order of Chaeronea ; the movies Blackfish and Stonewall; Jesse Williams and the Black Lives Matter movement; all of these showcase points of activism that are the beginning, the battle, the result, or the culmination of an activist movement. In particular, they each map specifically to one of the following :

  1. Slacktivism: if Facebook and social media helps or hinders social movements
  2. LIVE! : Facebook Live and other streaming apps role in contemporary activism
  3. Why Love Couldn’t wait: homosexuality and social activism
  4. Movies and activism: on films and their relationship with activism.
  5. I’M AWAKE: “Woke”-ness in contemporary culture

*I acknowledge that some of these topics are sensitive, and hope that I have portrayed these matters in the appropriate manner. I apologize in advance, and ask for forgiveness for and corrections to my ignorance should I have gotten something wrong in regards to the above topics.

Of particular interest to me is point 4. Movies and other forms of visual media such as documentaries are easily digestible to viewers, and thus are important to the activist movements. They are capable of causing change, or tilting the paradigm of historical events. For example, Cowperthwaites’ Blackfish, a documentary on the now dead killer whale Tillikum, focused attention on marine parks’ holding of large marine mammals, in particular killer whales. Some might go as far to say that it was one of the driving forces in causing public opinion to change, and caused the marine park Seaworld to begin phasing out its killer whale captive breeding program, as well as its rather popular killer whale shows. On the other side, Emmerich’s Stonewall, a movie about a man who begins the Stonewall riots (uprisings by the LGBT community) has found controversy in that the lead character is a white, cisgender male, who is also straight acting ( Buzzfeed article). The film additionally sidelines the trans POC community, which skews the viewpoint of the audience on the actual history of the Stonewall riots. As such, one can see that there is a need to analyze films’ effect on activism, as well as actisivim’s portrayal by films.

One thought on “On RBAS and Activism”

  1. I think you raise a very interesting point by connecting film with activism. I think the example of “Stonewall” is especially interesting – do you think the movie is a step in the right direction or an attempt gone wrong at depicting a pivotal moment in the LGBT rights movement? And referring to the main actor, what do you think is the role of allies in the LGBT community? I think it would also be fascinating to see how films themselves are used not just to document activism, but to serve as activist material.


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