Tag Archives: documentary

Candid Conversations: Being Black in Advertising

Advertising agency TBWA launched a cultural editorial series called ‘Backslash’ last year, curated by 200 creators from across the global network. TBWA describes Backslash as “your daily edit of cultural trends”, and all of their employees receive a daily two-minute video about a range of topics, e.g. VR in medicine and science, social media’s responsibility of their users’ mental health, drone taxis, kids and technology… the list is lengthy and diverse. The project was created with just an Instagram account and internal content for employees, but TBWA believe that the team has expanded so quickly that they are hoping to create more publicly distributed content in the future, like the one above.

Richard Stainer, chief executive of TBWA\London said:

Creating at the speed of culture requires a deep knowledge of culture, and this is what Backslash gives us. It turns TBWA into a global knowledge and creativity network.

Diversity in advertising has been an enormous topic of discussion recently, and many agencies have explored this dialogue through different projects. TBWA’s Backslash looks at black professionals working in the ad industry in the short film above, featuring employees from the Omnicom network.

Nick Barham, TBWA Worldwide chief strategy officer said:

We felt that, for Black History Month, it was important to think about African American culture as it relates to advertising. I don’t think change is happening as quickly as it should. We want to represent what people are listening to, what they’re interested in and what brands care about.

As someone who is very switched on and actively interested in diversity in all aspects of life, I surprised myself with how little I had considered the lack of black creatives in advertising. The conversations in this short film about diversity are absolutely evident and relevant. Hopefully those who had never considered the lack of black talent in advertising think differently about the way agencies embrace inclusion.
It’s important that agencies consider and discuss diversity in the workplace, rather than those who feel like the minority discussing amongst themselves. Creating content for purposes other than client projects is a great way to start a conversation about race, as it becomes more human and less like a storyline created to jump on the equality bandwagon.

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Netflix: The Art of Design

HELLO! Yes please.
New documentary series ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ will feature designers Paula Scher (Pentagram), Bjarke Ingels (Danish architect), illustrator and graphic designer Christoph Niemann, stage designer Es Devlin and the shoe designer behind Nike’s self-lacing trainers, Tinker Hatfield.

Looks interesting. Anything with Paula Scher.

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The ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’: the trans* Community and Why They’ve Been Left Behind

Whilst I try to keep this blog focused on the creative world, it is impossible to ignore and not speak about another big passion of mine – campaigning and awareness. Even if you have no interest in such things, please continue reading, because you should take an interest.
This week marks anti-bullying week and transgender awareness week – two totally different topics being widely spoken about on social media, but more closely connected then ever before. Since the US election, my social media feeds have been filled with concerned LGBT folk and their allies showing support and defiance. The problem goes way beyond this – whilst I generally live in a liberal bubble, we are nowhere near being a prejudice-free society… not even close. Not as close as the average person thinks we are.

[you can get involved by donating to organisations like ‘Ditch the Label’]

Last night Channel 4 aired the first part of their docu-series ‘Kids on the Edge’ with ‘The Gender Clinic’, featuring 2 children and their families. The kids were both completely different, one being autistic and unsure about their gender (Matt/Matilda), the other being confidently ready to transition (Ashley), but both visited the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust (a gender identity development service based in London) to explore their genders with their mothers. This kind of groundbreaking documentary has aired at a really important time – the doctors state that referrals increased form 40 to 1400 in just 1 year – and children who speak out about their gender concerns are becoming more and more frequent.
What concerns me (and the parents of trans* kids) are the thousands of people all over the world who criticise these documentaries, claiming that they’re “damaging” and “abusive”, which in turn has created an illogical, ill-educated hysteria by presuming facts about blockers (and other medical procedures available to trans* people) and the concept of gender itself. Hysteria is what created the social construct of gender in the first place… These outcries to “save the children” can only be due to a desperate lack of knowledge – something that Channel 4 has been trying to change for years. Recently, the BBC followed in their groundbreaking footsteps by releasing a CBBC series called ‘Just a Girl’, which follows Amy, a fictional 11-year-old girl:

Amy has a secret and she’s scared that it will come out at her new school. Follow her as she tries to make sense of the world and not lose her friends forever.

That synopsis from the CBBC website is pretty ‘face-palm’ itself, and could do with some less scary, “this child is damaged and her life could be ruined because she’s really a boy” vibes. I’m surprised they didn’t slip in the old “born in the wrong body” line.
Anyway, last month The Mail on Sunday sparked a huge backlash with its front page story using the unbearably offensive and bigoted phrase “sex change” (please don’t ever use that term) to describe how “parents are angry that the show…features a transgender storyline inappropriate for their children”. Tory MP Peter Bone also said the show is “completely inappropriate” and wanted to write to the BBC to demand they remove it.
Co-editor of the ‘Conservative Woman, Laura Perrins, also claimed that these shows “normalise, trivialise and glamourise” transgender issues (because she’s so in-touch with this topic) and even stated that it encourages children to change their gender. Whatever you do, do not allow children to be themselves, god forbid!

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A very poignant comment made by Perrins is that she believes the CBBC programme is an “unbelievable piece of propaganda targeted at children”… do you feel history repeating itself?In 1983 papers like The Mail influenced Section 28’s passing, consequently banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools, which in turn scared teachers out of discussing homophobia and therefore doing nothing about bullying. It wasn’t that long ago that the same tabloids mentioned above frequently linked gays with the spread of HIV and paedophilia – a notion that we now see as absurd and archaic. In 1986, Tories even distributed leaflets claiming that “You do not want your child to be educated to be a homosexual or lesbian”, and The Telegraph warned readers about “a deliberate attempt to molest the sexual education of children”. I cannot believe this all happened only a decade before I was born. This was shortly followed by outrage and campaigning, leading to the overall (I say that with a pinch of salt) positive portrayal of gays and lesbians on TV and in the media nowadays. We still have a long way to go, but Section 28 was repealed in 2003.
Now, it has become apparent that trans* folk have been left behind. The parallels between homophobia in journalism and transphobia in journalism is astonishing. LGBT charities and organisations were trashed and attacked, just like The Mail did on Mermaids when they publicly attacked the UK’s only charity for families with kids who are trans*:

Last week it emerged that Mermaids had been supporting a mother who was found to have caused her son ‘significant emotional harm’ by forcing him to live as a girl.
She had the boy removed from her care by a judge after he found there was ‘no independent or supportive evidence’ that the seven-year-old wanted to be a girl.
He said the boy, who now lives with his father, had been ‘pressed into a gender identification that had far more to do with his mother’s needs’ than his own.

Since then, activists (Fox Fisher accumulated over 8k signatures on change.org) have fought back as the ruling was so unjust, and the judge was entirely unacceptable in the use of outdated and inappropriate concepts of gender to justify removing a child from their mother, and demonising the mother consequently. This outcome would never happen now with a gay child, but probably would’ve happened 30 years ago. So why on earth haven’t we “moved with the times” for the trans* community?
Just like parents were accused of polluting gay kids’ minds, parents of trans* kids are facing the same backlash. What is so bizarre is that people out there genuinely believe these children are choosing to feel this way, which is something they certainly wouldn’t claim if they bothered to watch documentaries like ‘The Gender Clinic’.
One of the most upsetting scenes I’ve ever seen on a documentary about trans* kids is by Louis Theroux, which showed a very young (possibly 4-years-old) trans* girl who continuously tried to cut her penis off because she simply knew, undoubtedly, that her body was incorrectly correlating to the sex she was assigned to at birth. No parent (unless they are mentally unstable) would ever want to see their child in that state. Scientists claim that around 4 years of age is when we start to develop the concept of gender, and we are hearing more and more that children are speaking out and telling their parents that something isn’t right with how they feel about their gender.

Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids spoke about the CBBC show:

The writer for this series did a lot of work with Mermaids parents and young people to make sure that he represented the challenges that children and their families face. The horrific headline detracts from a wonderful series that has been well received as educational and empathic.
No parent would choose this path for their child. And teaching children about trans issues is important. Education is key to understanding every aspect of life. It’s not on mainstream television and only accessible through CBBC website, therefore it is not thrust upon those not wishing to see it.
I would like to see more education around trans issues across the board. Maybe then we will see less hatred and prejudice, and can begin to celebrate the fact that everyone is different.

[donate to ‘Mermaids’]

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Education is key. This is particularly critical at a time where suicide and murders of trans* folk are on the rise. This should not be happening, but simply not enough people care. Most people love a good gay pride parade, a cheeky night out to G.A.Y and aren’t shy to call out homophobia, but very few people speak out about transphobia. I don’t know why.
Is it a lack of empathy? A lack of knowledge? Is it fear of the unknown? Are people too busy to care about what doesn’t directly affect them?

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Another bizarre claim is that young children are being given irreversible drugs with little studies or tests. This is absolutely untrue – GRS (genital reconstruction surgery) is not offered to trans people below the age of 18 and puberty blockers only delay puberty so that kids have time to think about what they want. Instead of claiming that these “drugs” are dangerous, why don’t papers like The Mail write about suicide, bullying, self-harm and all the awful things trans* kids are subject to in a heteronormative, transphobic society? Why do people assume that young children are incapable of making emotional decisions about themselves?

I don’t have the answer to any of the questions – I don’t think anybody does. All we can do is open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to make those who don’t fit into gender norms feel authentic, comfortable, happy and loved. Change is now.

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Grayson Perry: Born Risky

All4 describes the series of shorts as Grayson Perry meeting “people who take great risks to be themselves“. Channel 4’s ‘Born Risky’ follows the story of Grayson himself and 3 others – transgender model Tschan; Geoff, a transvestite truck driver; and EJ, a trans* fashion historian. The shorts are very natural and don’t contain any invasive, pushy questions that a lot of interviewers tend to ask those who are gender diverse or trans*.

Grayson previously explored gender identity in a documentary for Channel 4 called ‘All Man’ in an investigation into the heteronormative, ultra-male society we live in. That series is a must watch if you’re interested in how we translate different types of masculinity in Britain. It is incredibly eye-opening.

Grayson explores his own gender in ‘Born Risky‘, which adds an interesting insight alongside the other interviewees:

I am very proud to be part of Born Risky – it was fascinating, fun and a privilege to meet and work with three such brave, tender souls. If just one viewer feels more confident enough to live the gender they feel driven to live then we would have done our job, but I’m sure these lovely films will do much better than that.

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This Is What Winning Looks Like

A friend recommended this, and I’m glad I watched it! What an awful, disturbing place.

“I guess money talks…”

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Can filming one second of every day change your life?

1 Second Everyday – Age 30 from Cesar Kuriyama on Vimeo.

“When Cesar Kuriyama saved up enough money to quit his advertising job at the age of 30, he planned to take a year off to travel and spend time with family.

To document the year, Kuriyama filmed one second of video every day.

“After just six weeks, I realised I was going to be doing that for the rest of my life,” he says.

After editing the clips into a single video, Kuriyama had not only a record of daily life, but a new perspective on how he lived day to day.

Inspired by the experience, he developed a smartphone app, “1 Second Everyday”, which will allow users to create their own videos.

Everyone will probably have a different experience with their videos, he says, but he says self-reflection is never a bad thing.”

 

What a wonderful idea! The app is so unique too. Would definitely download it if I didn’t have a BlackBerry.

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Heart vs Mind: What Makes Us Human?

Heart vs Mind: What Makes Us Human?

Just watched this amazing documentary!

The beginning was very interesting where scientists and museum experts explained the role of the heart throughout society, from Egyptians to philosophers and doctors. It’s wonderful how far research has developed.

It’s strange how the majority of speakers in this documentary kept on saying how most people just see the heart as a pump, but I’ve never thought of it like that. I’ve always thought that the heart and the brain work together (the brain being dominant, of course), because I’ve felt a link myself. I’ve felt heart flutters when I see my boyfriend, I’ve felt heart pain when grieving, being upset or ‘heart broken’. I’ve also always believed that one can die of a broken heart.

The beginning of the documentary, however, did make me think more about my heart and how it works. To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it much before, and the importance of its role, but seeing a live one beat and being shown the workings of the heart was extremely interesting. It made me want to take better care of my heart!

The part about the heart also having neurones was fascinating. Seeing as the brain has neurones, which we associate with neurology – information, senses etc, it’s amazing that the heart has neurones too. For me, that’s pretty evidential that the heart has some involvement with how we think.

Anyway, I could carry on, but I don’t want to ruin it! Highly recommend this documentary, even if you do not know much about the body, the heart, psychology…

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