Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Power of Pop Culture

My friend Nate sent me a link to this video from Al Jazeera on Facebook a few days ago. It is over 30 minutes long but it's worth a watch if you've got the time. Even just the first few minutes of it are pretty info-filled. And fun fact: I'm a bit of a fan of Franchesca Coppa, a professor they interview in the video; I read an essay of her's on Sherlock for my senior paper. I just really love this video. A lot.

There's a lot of good stuff in there, but if you can't watch it all, I totally understand. The main premise of this video is the question of whether fans are more active in the world around them rather than just using TV, books, films, etc as a means of escapism. The answer here seems to be a resounding yes. Yes, fandoms are capable of great change, of turning their love for their favorite pop culture texts, making connections with them back to the world around them, and acting on it. The one that really stood out to me was the Harry Potter Alliance, a non-profit organization created out of love for Harry Potter but wanting to help change the world around them. I really liked the sound of this group and, lo and behold, if they didn't show up on a Youtube I came across, featured by the website Upworthy. Check this out:
Okay, besides the fact that I currently can't eat chocolate without feeling a tremendous amount of guilt (CHILDREN DIE SO I CAN EAT CHOCOLATE???? IS NOTHING SACRED?!), I am really, really loving the HPA. A lot. Like... Can I do this for a living? Can I start a nonprofit organization and help reduce worldsuck? If I go out and someone start an organization (how does one do this anyway, just do it?) called "Avengers Assemble" or, I don't know, something not tied to an exact fandom, or something and find an issue to take on and... I don't know, blog and vlog about it, will stuff happen? Am I capable of becoming Sherlock Holmes and "creating my job," use this blog to start something bigger, and maybe feel like I'm helping humanity at the same time? Or is this all wishful thinking?

As much as I'd love to do this, I honestly know nothing about running a non-profit organization and am instead looking more into the HPA and seeing if we have a chapter here in Minneapolis. As we know from my applying for Teach For America, I want to try and do more sort of outreach work. Words are one thing, actions are another. While I love blogging, there's only so much I can say on here before I start to sound like an armchair critic who'd rather sit back and complain about what's wrong instead of trying to fix the problems around us. And so I'm kind of guiding my plans for the future off of this quote from the YouTube user Kid President: "If it doesn't make the world better, don't do it." I really, really want to make the wold better. And as Gandhi so famously said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."*

*Wait, okay, time out. According to the internet (okay, according to this site), that's not actually what Gandhi said. This is what Gandhi said: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world of the world change towards him... We need not wait to see what others do." You know, I think I actually like this quote better. The more you know.

Anyway, I want to make a difference, so why not through fandoms? Seems like a no-brainer, right? So what am I waiting for? The right cause, the right fandom, the right idea? Yeah, something like that. Ideas of civic engagement and aid have been bouncing around my head a lot lately and, like Shakespeare's characters through their soliloquies, I'd like to work through them in these posts. So a lot of upcoming topics are going to be about charity organizations and providing aid and, sadly enough, why this all seems to be proving more difficult to do even while technology seems to make helping easier. More of that in the road ahead. (And by the way, this twice a week posting things looks like it should work out great. So yay to more frequent updating!)

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