Media & Misrepresentation

Posted: November 1, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

It’s sad to say but myself and many others of my generation rely heavily on the media for much of our acquired knowledge base mainly of societal norms, trends, common perceptions on social issues, etc. I suppose it is best not to generalize but giver personal perspective. When I’m looking to further my knowledge and understanding of a social issue I generally turn to films, such as documentaries or narratives, either through Youtube or through Netflix. I do this because it is generally reliable information regardless of the director’s biased approach; facts in documentaries are generally wholesome.  Media is a great, productive even socially efficient way to get a point across whether it be something light such as healthful food choices to heavier topics such as global hunger or genocide.

Have a little time? Social Issues: Brief Articles and Information on Random Social Issues.

Turning to Ngwarsungu Chiwengo’s piece, When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak, she uses examples of film media to illustrate many of her points on not only the suffering that the people of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East are experiencing, but also of the need for accuracy in media to appropriately capture the reality of such suffering. Her main example is that of Terry George’s film Hotel Rwanda and his [the director’s] approach to such a powerful genocide and it’s severe effects on an entire population. She states:

“Having heard the story of Rusesabagina, George visited Rwanda, researched the man and the event, and spoke to those who had known the hero. His film and script, he wishes to make clear, stem from visiting Rwandan national memorials, notably Gisozi, where, he alleges, “a smell hit me that I can only describe as death…” (84).

(Forward to 14:20 to hear Dr Chiwengo’s words on the Impact of the Congolese Crisis on Its People.)

It seems so very important for information represented in “reliable” media to be actually reliable. Inverting my reflection back upon my own research on Female Sex Workers in the Philippines, I am finding that only scholarly articles in my University Database (as well as other upper level educational institutions) are the select resources I can trust. It is evident that much of the information available on prevalent social issues, such as prostitution or human trafficking, have before blown into mainstream media. For example, watching Human Trafficking you can immediately tell that this is not something that the common person is around. It is more of an underground structure–the film however depicts the Trafficking of people as in your face and plays up all the young prostitutes as beautiful and healthy, many drug free and simply “innocent.” Not to say FSW are not healthy/drug free or innocent, but the actual narratives of FSW available do not depict such a cleanly or preferable lifestyle.

In conclusion, it is important to look towards media as Dr Chiwengo, where select pieces are heavily researched and are full of passion and reality.

Chiwengo, Ngwarsungu. (2008) “When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak: Narratives of Violence and Rape in Congo (DRC)” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Vol. 28, No. 1. Pp 78-92

*if you are NOT interested in or are uncomfortable with sexually related material and narratives of those who have worked as strippers, sex workers, prostitutes, etc. DO NOT click the “narratives of FSW” link in-text.

**if you ARE interested in narratives of current and former strippers, sex workers, prostitutes and are curious about their lifestyles, choices, and experiences…CLICK IT! How wonderful for these individuals to share their lives and experiences so openly.


and…Happy Halloween



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