Am I a Video Activist?

From Boston Globe this morning, “For young activists, video is their voice“:

While serious in purpose, video activism sometimes draws on the approach pioneered by entertainment-oriented videos. A group of Middlebury College students in a course called “Sustainable Television’’ recently embarked on a class project to draw attention to the campus recycling center.

Rather than take an earnest but potentially dull public-service-announcement approach, the students sent their message in the form of a “lip-dub’’ video: The camera moved from student to student in a single long take as they danced to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer’’ while lip-synching lyrics with an environmental message.

“The idea was to get them thinking about recycling in a new way,’’ said Ryan Kellett, 23, who helped create that segment and a video called “See Beyond the Car’’ that promoted environmentally friendly alternative transportation. “There’s something very authentic and genuine about it, because we’re students and we’re targeting our own population, as opposed to some corporation or even nonprofit saying they’re designing public service announcements targeted to young people.’’

The recycling and transportation videos, along with 10 other segments created by the class on such topics as clean water, daily energy use, and house weatherization, were uploaded to the Middlebury server so the entire university could take a peek, and then to YouTube.

Jason Mittell, an associate professor of American studies and film and media culture who teaches the “Sustainable Television’’ course, says there is a lesson here for organizations about how to reach contemporary audiences. “We are living in an era in which we communicate using new media forms,’’ Mittell said. “If you want to engage younger people, you have to do it on these platforms.’’