Failure isn’t a bad thing. Honestly, it’s been a key to my entire learning experience. Taking the time to evaluate what went wrong, and then to move on and try new ideas, solved a problem I had in my media course.
My biggest struggle, which has turned into my biggest learning experience this semester, was the assignment to create a “Privacy Story”. That was our prompt – to create a short film that touches on the topic of Privacy.
My first thought was to film a story about what goes on behind closed doors. I wrote a series of scenes about people in a household talking about their relationships, their daily lives, and their problems, as a god-character wandered between their doors and listened in. I figured this was a way to approach the issue without actually making a political stance on the importance of privacy and the role it plays in our lives.
This was actually my biggest problem with the script. It did nothing to change anyone’s perceptions of privacy or even inform them on the role of privacy in the modern world. So, I scrapped the script (actually, it is still available here, but it is currently very short) and decided to focus on something more political.
My next project was to compose some sort of Benny Benassi-esque electronic song that sampled news programs about privacy problems in the West, with an accompanying beat and some robo-voices thrown in for good effect. This was my very first time using music editing software to try and make “music”… although what I made was far from being something I could be proud of. It is available for you to listen to right here, but it isn’t meant for easy listening, it was a school project. Don’t judge me please –
I chose to use the “Kony2012” creator’s mental breakdown as my first example of a privacy story, because public masturbation as a criminal offence interests me. Monkeys masturbate in zoos, but it’s because they likely don’t understand that what they are doing offends people and also, monkeys aren’t human. Humans shouldn’t masturbate in public because we have designated, personal spaces for such acts. The robo-voice in this section says “do that inside, away from me, do that inside, where I can’t see“. This is a simple enough comment on public masturbation – don’t do it in public. We as a society accept that there are some things that people do that are okay to be done in private. Sex (of all kinds, between all manner of partners doing all sorts of things), and drugs (all drugs) are the two key “private activities” that I believe all humans should be entitled to do, so long as it is done in private, where nobody else could be harmed.
My second clip was taken from an interview with Donald Trump about his tax returns being leaked and his tower allegedly being wire tapped. This issue is highly relevant today, because of it’s impact on US politics, but also because it raises the question of when it is okay and who it is okay to leak information about. The president, in my opinion, should have little privacy – they are the figurehead of a country. It is the right of the people to know exactly who they have elected and how that person spends their day-to-day life. Golfing, mostly. The robo-voice in this section says “private talk, we hear. Around the clock career”. Many people make a living off of infringing on the privacy of other people. Paparazzi do it to celebrities, journalists do it to politicians. I could have made the second half of the song focus on nude leaks or something of the sort, but I decided that Trump’s situation is unique in that he is both a politician and a celebrity, and therefore covers both issues for me perfectly.
When I was editing the “song”, I considered editing the voice clips to make them say absurd or silly things. In the first cut, which sadly no longer exists, I did this. I think it took away from the value of the piece. Granted, I do not believe this piece is very valuable at all, at least not on it’s own. I used it as a way to discuss privacy issues but struggled greatly in making a piece of art that could stand alone. I used my experience making this piece to start making mashups, which are on my Soundcloud (linked to in the Mashups blog post I wrote). I also learned how to link to my other blog posts, as you can see (this one also goes to the Mashups post).
When I realized the song wasn’t going to work for me, I tried videotaping my peers as they acted out monologues for me. I wanted to edit a compilation of people’s reactions to being on camera. My focus was on their change in comportment, specifically when I told them that a camera was on. This was when I learned that actors, at least, the actors I associate with, don’t give a damn about cameras. Nobody made any change. I had to scrap another idea for my film, and that’s when I realized I didn’t care much about my privacy either. As an actor, I can’t. My career is made off of being in the public eye, and broadcasting my life for other people to see. Privacy does not have much of a place in theatre.
I was not raised to value privacy, in any aspect of my life. I work at a children’s camp in the spring and summer and study acting in the fall and winter – I do not value privacy. I grew up in a household that had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and eight humans living in it. My bedroom was shared with my three younger brothers. I never had real privacy, and now I have no interest in the topic. I sell my information to Google via their Google Rewards application, which means I get pennies of in-store credit every time I give Google another piece of information about myself. I would be willing to let my entire life be broadcast to the world if it meant being able to feed my family with the money I would make. I’m also okay with this because I would be giving up my privacy by my own agency, which is one way to make almost any sacrifice more tolerable. If it was taken away without my consent, I would have a problem. Regardless, privacy is not something I value highly, or at least, not yet.
I was taught to burn for the work that I do. I burn for making theatre, for balancing entertainment with addressing issues. I burn for children’s camps, because they shape some of the objectively greatest people I know. But I don’t burn for privacy. This is why I think I couldn’t problem solve my way through any of the ideas that I had. But I learned that I don’t value privacy, and would like to continue to learn how that can benefit me in the future.
I also learned how to interface with music-editing software, but I talked about that earlier, and elsewhere.
I did end up making a video though! My final reflection on the video is here