As inspiring as it was to watch Iranian citizens risk their lives and use new media like Twitter and YouTube to fight for better lives for themselves, it was also impossible not to have a sense that of self-consciousness about how lax and lazy we are in America about our own lives and political system. We’re not afraid of getting shot for expressing our opinions – we just have other stuff to do.
That’s exactly how the corporate owned media and lobbyist funded politicians want it, of course. They don’t actually want us too involved in the political system on issues. If we all have a general sense of helplessness and cynicism, we won’t bother to make phone calls to politicians…even on an issue as vital as health care.
Until recently, that helplessness was actually somewhat justified. Yes, we had free speech but it didn’t do us much good when the media gatekeepers controlled newspapers, radio and TV stations. Every now and again, we would get noticed with a big march on Washington or something but by and large, any single person’s voice had no way to be amplified.
Now, technology has changed the equation completely but like a newly freed slave, just losing the shackles doesn’t mean we’ve thrown off years of the mental oppression of having no forum to speak our minds. We can be publishers, broadcasters and opinion makers. We just have other stuff to do.
All of this hit me last week and I decided to do something about it. In the course of about seven days, I made 10 short videos about health care reform. I wasn’t hired to do it, I wasn’t asked to do it. I just did it because the issue is important to me personally, to my family and to my country. And I did it because I could.
The ideas I focused on and the approaches I used are strictly my responsibility. I stand on the shoulders of people like Larry Lessig, James Ridgeway and fellow Huffington Post blogger and friend Bob Cesca but one reason I was able to crank out the work quickly is that I didn’t have any committee to answer to. It probably makes the videos weaker in some ways; with no editor, I mispronounced Senator Max Baucus’s name, for example.
But this completely personal approach also gave me the freedom to experiment with form and content. And it’s freedom you have as well, if you want to claim it. Use your voice and speak your mind.
If artists, activists or any citizen who can get their hands on a computer keyboard, camcorder or microphone doesn’t use our country’s freedom of speech and this new technology to speak out on issues like health care reform, we’re going to be beaten by the incredibly wealthy forces that want to keep the status quo in place.
In the last weke, I also learned to do something that a lot of artists have trouble with but that politicians seem to excel at – asking for money. Part of being a one person media machine is also being your own fund raiser, so I got comfortable with asking people to help out. I’m so comfortable that if you want to help me get the word out, you can contribute right here via PayPal.
Here are short videos I made. Most are about 30 seconds long.
This next video is a response to ‘the ‘Bulldozer’ ad by ‘Conservatives For Patients Rights" – doesn’t make much sense if you’ didn’t see the original.’.
(Note : I didn’t include my Not Safe For Work health care reform video I produced with my wife Lauren because it features frontal nudity and has proven to be controversial. However, journalist Tommy Christopher called it “the most compelling health-care-reform video I have ever seen“, so it’s here if you want to see it.)