Thoughts on Media

12 04 2008

If you think that title is broad, wait until you hear the panel that I’m running in June at the Women in Cinematic Arts Industry Forum. It’s called “Trends in Alternative Media” and I have to say that I’m thrilled to be moderating it. There will be some very cool people on it, but I can’t say who quite yet — mostly because I’m not sure.

For now, just know that the group is running a conference on June 7th in Los Angeles, and it’s going to be very interesting.

[For an article on last year’s conference, check out this article on USC’s website.]

In the meantime, I’ve been doing some thinking about what “Trends In Alternative Media” means and I’ve come to some initial thoughts.

The primary one is that there are three ways to look at media — as a content creator, as a content distributor, and as a consumer/user of that content. There are people who do more than one of these three — and that may be where the future lies, alternative or not.

Then, we have to define “media” so we can define “alternative media.” What is alternative media anyway? Does print qualify, and if so, what kind of print? Are alternative newspapers alternative media? What if they’re books of poetry?

Is YouTube alternative? It might be an alternative distribution method because it present alternative content creators? But are videos of shocked gophers alternative? What does that word mean?

Years ago, people like Stan Brakhage (see one of his films here) or Ed Emshwiller were considered alternative and I’d venture a guess that a very tiny percentage of people have seen DOG STAR MAN, and almost no one has seen it all the way through (I can’t say that I’ve seen all of its parts). Emshwiller’s Film With Three Dancers or George Dumpson’s Place aren’t part of most people’s film going experience that I know of, despite the fact that they pioneered music videos and personal films.

But they’re old. So are they alternative? What defines alternative? And where is alternative going today?

I’ll be thinking and talking more about this as the weeks go on. I’d love to get your feedback so I can help moderate the panel better.

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