Beware of Images is an educational documentary about the history and effects of our media technologies.
If you supported our first Kickstarter campaign you’ll be happy to know that Beware of Images opened to sold out audiences in Vancouver and has been screened at film festivals and educational institutions in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Europe. Among others, it was screened at the Oxford Brookes University and the American Public Health Association, and was awarded Best Educational Film at Seattles' Tech Doc Fest.
As a teacher for the past 15 years, I've experienced the transformative power of education. Media studies is one of my favorite subjects to teach, as it encourages students to engage with media in a more analytical way. Not only do students learn how to identify the source of our cultural constructs, prejudices and misconceptions, but they gain a better understanding of their enormous responsibility as future visual communicators.
My media studies course has been awarded Best Course multiple times by the students. It was they who encouraged me to turn that course into the Beware of Images documentary.
Since its release, the film has been available through Vimeo on demand. This means it has been slowly recuperating its production costs, but it also means that it currently sits behind a paywall that limits its reach.
It took me eight years to complete the film, and I'm still about $200,000 away from recuperating my personal investment. That said, the main purpose of this project was not to make money but to generate awareness about a subject that is increasingly affecting us all.
So, the time has come to tear down the paywall and release Beware of Images for free!
The main goal of this campaign is to encourage as many people as possible to engage with media in a more conscious, analytical and inquisitive manner.
The best way to enable parents, teachers and students to expand and share their understanding of media literacy is to provide them with engaging educational materials and resources. To foster this understanding, I will be releasing the Beware of Images documentary for free through a Creative Commons license.
The second goal of this campaign is to fund the film's extras, which will also be made available for free, and will include teaching resources, guides, bibliography and film subtitles in multiple languages.
The third goal of this campaign is to fund and produce materials that help everyone understand the broader implications of our current and evolving media technologies. Specifically, I will produce materials that will enable and encourage users to confront the social media platforms which are financed exclusively through behavioral manipulation.
To better understand how this last issue affects us all, please read Jaron Lanier's Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now and James Williams' Stand out of our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy. You can also watch both Jaron Lanier's and James Williams' TEDtalks here and here.
In a time when the boundaries between journalism, public relations, marketing, disinformation and social interaction are blurrier than ever, media literacy education is the only way we can protect ourselves, our communities and our institutions from the corrupting influence of propaganda. It is also our best defense against the negative polarization being constantly instigated by our new media technologies, and our best chance at pressuring those in charge to change them for the better.
By supporting media literacy education, you will be contributing to a healthier media environment for everyone.
1. THE FILM
Watch the film with the joy, pride and satisfaction of supporting educational media. Empower others to engage with media in a more conscious way by sharing the film with them. Screen and discuss the film in your community, workplace or educational institution. No charges or licensing fees for anyone!
Here is the full documentary. For Spanish subtitles click on the CC icon:
2. THE ART
Enjoy director Sergio Toporek's original artwork. These are three of his most popular pieces. People have paid thousands of dollars for signed and numbered prints of these exact same works! This is your chance to own them at a very small fraction of that price (not signed and numbered, but stamped and uniquely remastered for this Kickstarter campaign) The art will be delivered as high resolution digital files that you can reproduce locally at any size you like and hang anywhere you want. Your choice of 1 or 3 pieces. For personal use only, no commercial uses allowed.
3. THE T-SHIRT & HOODIE
Send a message to the behavioral manipulators with your Take a Hike limited edition t-shirt and hoodie. Both come in Sillicon-Valley grey.
4. THE SKYPE CALL
Host a Skype Q&A session with director Sergio Toporek after your screening of the film.
Watching Beware of Images is a great first step towards understanding our current media environment. If after watching the film you would like to expand your knowledge on some of the specific topics covered, here's a great reading list:
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO MEDIA LITERACY
Practices of Looking by Marita Sturken & Lisa Cartwright
A FEW CLASSICS
Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes by Jacques Ellul
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America by Daniel Boorstin
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman & Noam Chomsky
Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
No Logo by Naomi Klein
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER I
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter
The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs & Pictograms by Andrew Robinson
The Book: An Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time by Keith Houston
Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER IV
Understanding Jim Crow by David Pilgrim
Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood by Neal Gabler
The True Story of Pocahontas by Dr. Linwood Custalow & Angela L. Daniel
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Icenberg
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER V
The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Edison Invented the Modern World by Randall E. Stross
Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies by Robert Sklar
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER VI
The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History by John Man
The Reformation: A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig
Information Doesn't Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER VII
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick
Lightning Man: The Life of Samuel F. B. Morse by Kenneth Silverman
The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
The Code Book by Simon Singh
Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
A Mind at Play: Claude Shannon by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER VIII
The People's Platform by Astra Taylor
Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
Weapons of Math Destruction by Kathy O'Neil
Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble
To Save Everything, Click Here by Evgeny Morozov
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER IX
The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu
The Network: The Battle for the Airwaves by Scott Woolley
The Last Lone Inventor: Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television by Evan I. Schwartz
America's Battle for Media Democracy by Victor Pickard
Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry by Susan Crawford
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER XI
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault
The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays by Larry Tye
The Fish That Ate the Whale by Rich Cohen
The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu
Consuming Kids by Susan Linn
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER XII
Mediated by Thomas de Zengotita
The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean M. Twenge & W. Keith Campbell
Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge
33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs by Dorian Lynskey
Rebel Musics by Daniel Fischlin & Ajay Heble
Rock 'n' Roll and War and Peace by David N. Townsend
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER XIII
A Brief History of Misogyny by Jack Holland
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
The Girl on the Magazine Cover by Carolyn L. Kitch
The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson
Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges
Obscene Profits by Frederick S. Lane
RELEVANT TO CHAPTER XIV
It's All a Game: The History of Board Games by Tristan Donovan
Replay: The History of Video Games by Tristan Donovan
How to Talk about Videogames by Ian Bogost
Virtuous War by James Der Derian
War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict by Corey Mead
Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill by Lt Col Dave Grossman & Gloria Degaetano
Living with Television Now by Michael Morgan, James Shanahan & Nancy Signorielli
Wired for War by P. W. Singer
Risks and challenges
There are no risks in backing this project. The only serious challenge we face at this moment is to be able to bring media literacy education to as many people as possible.
The only truly dangerous media is the unexamined media. In that respect, the risk here is not in backing this project, but in not helping us disseminate its teachings :)
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