Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Media and Minority Youth--An Introduction to a Phenomenon

When you talk about the idea of culture nowadays, how do you think of culture? Does strolling in a museum arise, or do you think about wandering the halls of Comic-Con? Is your idea of culture watching Hamlet agonize on stage or looking at the latest hit on YouTube? This definition of culture is at the heart of the Northwestern study from June 6, 2011, entitled Children, Media and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic and Asian American Children” . This study discusses how much media consumption there is among youth from eight to eighteen years old in each broad racial group. Among the findings are that non-white youth watch more TV and videos, play video games, listen to more music, and use the computer more often than white youth.

While these results are interesting, what I find even more intriguing is the critical attitude of the news article that announced the study’s findings. Is it really such a bad thing that minority youth are using various forms of media on a daily basis? I’m not exactly in a position to wag a judgmental finger—when I need to relax, I scroll through the TV shows and movies that I’ve recorded on my DVR. Even as I’m writing this blog entry, I’m listening to my iPod chock full of my favorite 80’s songs. Such habits can evoke the disdain of people who consider culture to be gazing at pictures in the hushed halls of a museum. However, I think of culture as a mixture of both the ever-changing forms of new technology as well as the hallowed forms of high culture. It is a constantly evolving part of society that reflects both the rich past of various artistic, musical, literary, and dramatic representations while simultaneously paving the way through new forms and technologies to show where American and other societies are heading.

In my opinion, paying attention to the future is just as important as paying homage to the past. Rather than worrying about the amount of media that U.S. minority youth are using, the more interesting question is: how can we change minority youth from consumers to creators of culture? All of these new technologies and forms of media should be encouraging all youth to have a voice in culture. We need to engage youth in making media and think of their heavy consumptions as a positive sign that they’re seeking examples and ideas. The SDAFF blogs have cited multiple examples of how minority youth are actively pursuing ways to become creators, such as James’ June 6th blog on Ryan Higa
and his YouTube music videos. Examples that even closer to San Diego are Jini’s June 22nd blog on Reel Voices and how SDAFF is helping educate a new generation of socially conscious and thoughtful filmmakers. Last, but definitely not least, is Josh’s June 8th blog on the homegrown Wong Fu Productions.

Speaking of Josh, the two of us have been talking about our ideas on the Northwestern study on media and minority youth, so I would to pose the following questions to Josh and everyone reading this blog: how do you compare the results of the Northwestern study to your, your family’s, your friends, and your colleagues’ media consumption habits?

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