The Global Appeal of Blockbusters

Movie poster courtesy of comicbookmovie.com

Movie poster courtesy of comicbookmovie.com

This past weekend, Avengers: Age of Ultron had its much-anticipated North American opening. Box office experts predicted that Age of Ultron, the sequel to the wildly popular Avengers release in 2012, would exceed the $207 million that its predecessor made in its opening weekend. With the results in, it is official: it didn’t break the record, but the studio shouldn’t be too worried. Age of Ultron almost earned its entire budget back before its US release with countries around the world screening the film a week in advance.

Age of Ultron’s domestic opening weekend brought in an estimated $191 million, a full sixteen million under its first entry, and thirty million under the prediction. This comes as a surprise because the first sequel to a large franchise almost always surpasses the first in terms of opening weekends. To put things in perspective, Transformers 2 improved on Transformers by $40 million, Catching Fire made $6 million more than Hunger Games, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest brought in a whopping $90 million more than the first in the series.

Picture courtesy of destructoid.com

Picture courtesy of destructoid.com

There’s no mystery to why sequels make more money. Audiences are familiar with the characters and the story, and are eager to see what happens next with characters that they are already invested in. Studio executives take full advantage of marketing campaigns so that the next entry can appear to be bigger and better. This strategy was in full swing for Age of Ultron, but even with its massive opening, it failed to meet the original’s $200 million-plus number.

While the North American box office may be plateauing, the rest of the world is certainly not taking a break. As of right now, 70% of ticket sales for Ultron have come from outside of the US. Global audiences have taken quite the liking to US blockbusters; last year’s Transformers made only $245 million overall in the US, but passed $1 billion thanks to international markets. The strength of these numbers indicates a trend in modern film production: moviegoers around the globe are willing to sacrifice well written characters and dialogue for explosive, high octane action sequences with little thought involved. Movies like Transformers play especially well for those who don’t speak English as a first language. With less complicated story and dialogue to follow, audiences can simply enjoy the movie without missing important plot points or misunderstanding dialogue.

This brings up a much talked about concern over the current state of the film industry. This summer’s movie line up consists of a large number of sequels and spinoffs, which forces one to ask: Is our film industry running out of creativity? Is it more business-savvy to cater to international crowds at the expense of quality storytelling?

Avengers: Age of Ultron is almost guaranteed to gross over $1 billion overseas (it already has $400 million in foreign receipts), and Avengers: Infinity War (Part 1 and 2) is scheduled for release in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Gamergate: Not Just an American Phenomenon

In August 2014, Zoe Quinn, a female game developer, was the topic of a series of blog posts by her ex-boyfriend claiming she cheated on him with journalists in the gaming industry. This curious public shaming spiraled out of control into a frenzy of rumors concerning Zoe’s personal life. All of a sudden, Zoe Quinn was a familiar name in the gaming world for outlandish reasons, and the issue escalated to the point where Zoe was receiving death threats from random internet users. Quickly afterwards, the hashtag “gamergate” was picked up and the controversy delved into two separate issues: ethics in games journalism, and sexism in the video game industry. This blog post will be focusing on the latter of those issues.
One of the most popular blog posts about Gamergate came from actress Felicia Day. Day, who’s quite popular in nerd and geek culture, wrote a blog post about how she now thinks male gamers she sees on the street might greet her with contempt rather than smiles, due to the Gamergate controversy. She struggles with the fact that people who share her same interests find fault with her just because of her public opinions on Gamergate. In her post, she urges anyone who is passionate about gaming to maintain their enthusiasm, despite the hardships that have surfaced in the gaming universe.

This led to a large variety of responses from bloggers in every corner of the internet. Kotaku, a large gaming news site, immediately points out that Day was doxxed, meaning her personal information was publicly posted, after she posted her blog. The writer of the Kotaku post even goes on to say that he fears for his safety just for supporting Day publicly.
Daily Dot, another internet culture news site, posted a story similar to the Kotaku story, pointing out the irony of Gamergate supporters, who are striving to achieve ethics in the games industry by doing unethical things. The Daily Dot post also points out that there are Gamergate supporters who do not support the doxxing of Day.

Arthur Chu wrote a post on Salon.com pointing out similarities between his life, nerd culture, and Felicia Day. He points out that, growing up as a nerd, he often felt he and his passion were attacked for just being who or what they are. He then drew a parallel to Day, saying this is how she must feel right now. It’s ironic, too, because it’s the nerds who are now making fun of people for being who they are. Even if who they are is a fellow gamer.

The gamergate controversy has blown up so much that the issue has gained international attention, and it has started a global conversation on sexism in the gaming industry. BBC News published an article on Gamergate, spreading Zoe Quinn’s message that Gamergate “must be condemned”. This news article acts as a survey of the blogging activity that erupted in response to Gamergate, giving readers a chance to objectively look at what has happened. The article provides examples from Twitter of the online abuse that female gamers have experienced from the events. A similar article from a German publication, Der Bund, also aims to address the ongoing problems in the gaming community.

German reactions to Gamergate ran further than what was originally explored in the Der Bund article, however. Much like in America, social media played a pivotal role in spreading gamer’s responses. Using the hashtag #sosehengameraus (roughly translated to: “this is what gamers look like) German gamers shared photos of themselves, some also including tags like #happygamer or #gamerpositive in order to put a face to their avatars and humanize themselves. The hashtag allowed both professional and amateur gamers to come together in a positive manner. Additionally, as Roman Rackwitz points out in his blog post, #soshengameraus highlighted a constructive side of the gaming industry: collaboration. In addition to bringing gamers together, the hashtag served to bring industry professionals “face-to-face” with those who actually play the games.

The hashtag itself was started by Dr. Linda Breitlauch, Germany’s first professor of game design. After she changed her Facebook photo in February 2015 to include the phrase “so sehen Gamer aus,” she encouraged others to share their photos and #soshengameraus was born. Taking a quick scroll through the tag on Twitter, it is hard to deny the positivity. It is also readily apparent that Breitlauch’s main goal of breaking the stereotype of what a gamer looks like has been achieved. Instead of an overflow of photos of bespectacled, pimply, 15-year-olds, #soshengameraus highlights the diversity of German gamers, particularly women. As compared to American reactions to Gamergate, which lobs a considerable amount of hate at women, #sosshengmeraus instead accepts and includes women.

The French perspective comes from Le Monde’s digital and tech blog, Pixels, who wrote a #gamergate post in September 2014. Much of the blog is largely curated responses from other blogs and gaming writers. Through its collected tweets and comics from corners of the Internet, however, the writer’s opinion is clear: most of the people tweeting #NotYourShield and getting up in arms about Gamergate are in the wrong. There are reactionary social media knights who come in complaining about female chauvinists and social justice warriors (SJWs), but few actually present logical arguments as to why. The blog takes the stance that if these men were to acknowledge the intense sexism in the gaming world while also calling out unproductive or harmful “feminists,” Gamergate would actually be worth people’s time. Instead, it simply sounds like men who have gotten their feelings hurt or don’t want to take responsibility for a culture they’ve helped create. The very last line is snarky and gets to the heart of the author’s emotions on the topic immeadiately: If people on the Internet used a quart of the energy they used on #GameGate to save net neutrality, I would be much more reassured with the world.”
As seen through various social media mediums, the international response to Gamergate has been incredibly varied. Each perspective has its own nuances, but each has brought up an important dialogue about who can be considered a gamer, the stereotypes within the gaming world, and the implications that come along with being an active member within the gaming community.

Post by: Sarah, Hanna, Sam, and George

Societal responses to “Women Against Feminism”

Feminism is an idea and movement that has been critiqued by all groups of humans, and has been changing and evolving throughout history. Though there have been various waves and movements of feminism, there is one common goal; the established political, economic, cultural, personal, and social equality of women.

The first wave of feminism occurred in 1848, and is known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Humans in this movement actively fought for women’s right to vote among other women’s rights. In 1920, women finally won the fight for the right to vote through marches, rallies, and political work and engagement in other issues such as health reform, prison reform, and child labor law reform etc.

Women's Suffrage Movement protests, photo from citelighter.com

Women’s Suffrage Movement protests, photo from citelighter.com

The second wave of feminism occurred throughout the 1960’s. The National Organization for Women played a key role in this wave. Feminist activists in the second wave protested sex-segregated help wanted ads, fought for the repeal of abortion laws, lobbied for Equal Rights Amendment, among other protests.

Feminists in the third wave (1990’s-present) are critical of the previous two waves, but understand and appreciate the work that has already been done in the way of equality for women. Present feminists fight for equality of ALL women.

This concept was not heavily considered in the first and second waves of feminism. Equality for ALL women includes women of color, women of low-income status, trans* women, etc. This feminism recognizes that feminism is worthless without intersectionality and inclusion.

Inclusive feminism includes all races, photo from hellogiggles.com

Inclusive feminism includes all races, photo from hellogiggles.com

Feminism is a spectrum, and current feminists fight for rights for all women regardless of any identity. Third wave feminism is about recognizing and being aware of the oppressive, patriarchal power systems in society for every identity, and being active about changing those systems.

After all of the fight put forth by women in the 19th and 20th centuries, there is now a real controversy in 2015: Women against feminism. Many individuals are disturbed by the misinformed and anti-feminist groups like Women Against Feminism who disregard the hard work that people went through to gain women’s rights and equality for our culture today. Not only that, but the group seems to lack understanding of the basic definition and ideals of feminism.

Women Against Feminism is a Tumblr account that displays pictures of women who give reasons for why they aren’t feminists, and why they do not approve or need feminism. There have been numerous responses to this claim, most individuals deeming the account as ridiculous and appalling, while others actually take light in some of the things that the account holders “got right.”

photo from womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

Photo from womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

Satirical responses were one type of response to Women Against Feminism that brought out the sarcasm and “are you serious” ideas, but another very real and well put argument was by an account user named I Wanted Wings. This user responded to the Women Against Feminism as a whole, to those women who posted their pictures with notes claiming that it’s the 21st century and that “we don’t need feminism.”

Satirical response to "Women Against Feminism", photo from buzzfeed.com

Satirical response to “Women Against Feminism”, photo from buzzfeed.com

This user brings to light that the feminism fight is not just for one woman, or for one culture; the user reminds readers of the women in the less developed and less equal countries who need feminism just to wear what they want, to be educated, to love who they want.

In an article on the Huffington Post (United Kingdom) blog, Louise Pennington responds to the Women Against Feminism Tumblr page, illustrating the sources of the movement’s failure as well as critiquing the way individuals may respond to the movement as a whole. Pennington is a feminist writer from the United Kingdom, who has academically written and spoken openly about topics ranging from women’s history to domestic and violence against women.

A woman shows why she does not need feminism, photo from womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

A woman shows why she does not need feminism, photo from womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

Pennington opens the article by listing several statements from the Women Against Feminism Tumblr and twitter account such as “I don’t need feminism because I’m a humanist.” It is clear from the images and statements posted by the Women Against Feminism group that the movement believes that a feminist wishes for women to be superior to men. Pennington points out that this misinterpreted belief stems from a lack of understanding of the term “feminist” and the overall goals of feminism.

Pennington then uses her knowledge of women’s history to list the demands of the 1970’s women’s liberation movement such as equal pay now and equal education and job opportunities. This information directly correlates to what women are fighting for today. She clearly lays out that feminists want to be seen as human equals to men rather than some power hungry group they are stereotyped to be.

Pennington identifies that many of these women posting on Women Against Feminism are young, white middle class women arguing for respect for a traditional family. Again, there is a lack of knowledge and inclusivity. The Women Against Feminism group is targeting the wrong enemy. Pennington points out the true source:

“The lack of understanding of the history of women’s work and the refusal to acknowledge that the ‘traditional family’ is a Victorian invention created for only white women is depressing. It is our capitalist economy which devalues the work of women within the home and engaged in childcare – not feminists.”

Another woman displaying why she "does not need feminism," photo from womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

Another woman displaying why she “does not need feminism,” photo from womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com

There are valid criticisms of feminism today such as racism or classism. However, the Women Against Feminism movement does not illustrate any of these issues, which shows the movement’s lack of understanding of feminism. Pennington uses this information to further explain why the Women Against Feminism movement is problematic:

“Feminism has not done enough to ensure that they have included women who are not white or middle class, but denigrating the work that women have done to help other women demonstrates the true power of the Patriarchy in dividing women. Feminism has made great improvements in the lives of some women and needs to work much harder to help others. Ironically, it is the women in the Women Against Feminism movement who have made the most gains from feminism.”

This leads Pennington to critique individuals who respond to the Women Against Feminism movement with insults. She states that by doing so, those individuals are becoming part of the problem replicate the patriarchal patterns used to silence women. Instead, Pennington calls for a real discussion to discover and question why women truly see feminism as a threat:

“Critiquing the ‪Women Against Feminism tag…doesn’t require replicating misogynistic language or insults. It requires an evidence-based answer – such as those pointing out the battle for women’s suffrage, rape laws, equal pay acts, maternity rights, and reproductive freedom…Instead of insulting the women who started the hashtag, let’s start a real discussion as to why women see feminism as threatening. Let’s start questioning their belief systems and pointing out the reality of the lives of women who do not have similar privileges.”

Feminists spreading awareness of white privilege and the misconception of reverse racism, photo from thefeministwire.com

Feminists spreading awareness of white privilege and the misconception of reverse racism, photo from thefeministwire.com

Throughout the article, Pennington, like many other blogs all over the world, addressed misconceptions not only made by the Women Against Feminism but also many critiquing the movement in an unproductive way. Pennington’s closing statement give readers an indication that Pennington sees the Women Against Feminism movement as an issue that crosses all borders and an issue for all humans.

Feminism is not confined to any border. It is a major topic of discussion and life influence for people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and nationalities. In fact, a vast majority of countries received an address in 2014 by Emma Watson regarding her work with feminist ideals, and the founding of her foundation He for She, one that encourages the male population to stand up for inequalities of women.

Watson’s speech has experienced scrutiny in the months following, regarding its reinforcement of the gender binary, when so many of the people affected by the feminist movement don’t fit into “such tidy boxes,” as said by Amy McArthy, a blogger for the Huffington Post Women’s blog.

Emma Watson with UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon at the launch of the HeForShe campaign in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Stringer- Sociology.about.com

Emma Watson with UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon at the launch of the HeForShe campaign in New York City. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Stringer- Sociology.about.com

In Watson’s discourse, she discusses the gender stereotype pressures that men feel in today’s society as well, but just as the problem that McArthy had with the name of the foundation; the content of the address maintains the gender binary issues felt by the blogger, and other critics of Watson.

This is not the Huffington post writer’s only problematic highlight though. The post goes on to point out the focus of the “privileged white woman,” without observation of the much wider gap in equality felt by minority women, pointed out by McArthy: “When Watson speaks of equal pay, she’s talking about the white women who make 78% of their white male counterparts, not the 46% gap that Latina women face in the workplace.”

Numbers that were actually found incorrect with research where aauw.org reported that the gap for Latina women was actually found to be, most recently, 54%; though still solidifying the staggering difference in the minority woman’s pay.  The author has a legitimate point, summing her position up with the fact that “He For She and Emma Watson are having fails to invite the people whose voices need to be heard most to the table,” in reference to transgender, minority, and women in less developed countries. Watson’s feminism seems to align more with first and second wave feminism, which were exclusive.

Author Team: Julia Schaller, Skyler Alderton, Connie Liou, Conner Slater 

A Film to Make You Stop and Think

Scarlett Johnasson’s most serious film to date is currently running its course in art house cinemas across the country. While some have criticised Under The Skin as being boring or not giving enough answers, I found it kept me on the edge of my seat and caused me to truly think once it was over.

If you already plan on seeing the film, please pause here and continue reading after you’ve seen it, as I do not want to sway your opinion. Also, there is a rape scene in the film, so do consider this your trigger warning. If you don’t plan on seeing it, let me tell you what it’s about, so the next time you’re having coffee with some intellectuals, you can pretend you saw a real horror film. Or maybe you’ll want to see it for yourself. The film is based on the book, by the same title, written by Michael Faber.

In Under The Skin, Johansson plays a strange woman who drives around a Scottish city in a cargo van all day pretending to be lost until she finds a man with few personal relationships, lures him back to her house which her sexuality, and traps him in a black murky pool where he slowly dies, after undressing to have sex with her.

Johansson’s character, who by the way, is unnamed in the film, seems to have an alien perspective of humanity. Throughout the film she is followed by a man on a motor cycle who disposes of evidence that the men Johansson’s character preys on even existed.

One of the men being trapped by Johansson.

One of the men being trapped by Johansson.

The turning point in the film comes when Johansson preys on a disfigured young man who has never even had a girlfriend. After trapping her in the black pool like the other men, a sense of reluctance and reflection overcomes her and she sets him free, only to be killed by the motor cyclist. Johansson, in the meantime, runs away, presumably to avoid being killed by the motor cyclist. Her identity as an alien being is perpetuated to the viewer when she chokes and spits out a bite of chocolate cake at a restaurant. She’s then taken in by a man she meets on a bus, but runs into the forrest after he tries to have sex with her. What follows is an attempted rape of Johansson’s character, who we then discover is not actually human. Or is she?

Johansson in the woods in Scotland

Johansson in the woods in Scotland

In reflecting on the film, I found a great deal of meaning in it; more than any film I’ve seen in several years (and I see about 100 films per year). On surface it’s a weird, if not horrific film, whose soundtrack and plot are almost on par with Kubrick’s The Shining. But dig deep and the film tells us what it means to be human. The first half of the film illustrates, specifically to men, what it’s like to be raped. The second half then shows how women are treated like objects by men in our society. The end, as well as a handful of moments throughout the film, show us how anyone can be made to feel alien and question their own identity.

If you did see the film and are still confused on the plot, Alex Jones actually explains it pretty well (despite seemingly like a Rush Limbaugh style commentator):

iO9’s Charlie Jane Anders blogged about her interview with director Jonathan Glazer. Apparently the public scenes of the film were really shot in public and secretly so that people wouldn’t notice. While the men Johansson did abduct were actors, there were interactions with men she didn’t abduct, and Glazer said those were surprisingly hard to get:

“Scarlett Johansson pulls up, [and] in you get… some were suspicious. Some were wary. Some were frightened. You see a whole range of complexity of how men do respond to that scenario.”

Anna Beddeley blogging for the UK site The Spectator makes a good point about how certain aspects of the film are hard to follow:

“In the film, Scarlett tricks the men back to her house on the promise of sex, and does a striptease while her victim unknowingly wades into a dark pool. It is very stylised and lovely to watch, but you have no idea what the point of it all is, apart from an excuse to see Scarlett’s bum. There is a fine line between ambiguity and laziness.”

I, however, disagree with Beddeley’s assertion that Glazer is being lazy with the ambiguity. As I stated earlier, I think the film is meant to make you think about the role women play in society. It is not meant to make you think about sexy aliens coming to eat you, which is why Glazer takes that detail out of the film.

History Redux Indeed

If you haven’t read Rachel Alvord’s interview with Dagmar Bazzoni, you can do so here. Bazzoni was born in Austria in 1943 and has some very interesting thoughts on World War 2 and Putin to share. I read through it a few times and the Putin-to-Hitler comparisons reminded me of a movie I saw a few years ago, The Wave (‘Die Welle’ auf Deutsch [Available on Netflix!])

Directed by Dennis Gansel, The Wave is a modern German take on a social experiment that took place in Palo Alto in 1967. Jürgen Vogel plays Herr Wenger, the German stand-in for high school teacher Ron Jones, the man behind the myth. Jones explains in his personal account:

“We were studying Nazi Germany and in the middle of a lecture I was interrupted by the question. How could the German populace claim ignorance of the slaughter of the Jewish people? How could the townspeople, railroad conductors, teachers, doctors, claim they knew nothing about concentration camps and human carnage? How can people who were neighbors and maybe even friends of the Jewish citizen say they weren’t there when it happened? It was a good question. I didn’t know the answer. In as such, as there were several months still to go in the school year and I was already at World War II, I decided to take a week and explore the question.”

The results of this experiment were astounding. Ordinary high school students transformed into the very image of fascism we all know. In the space of a week they became a close-knit secret community, fostered along by slogans like “Strength Through Discipline,” “Strength Through Community,” and “Strength Through Action.” Each day Jones pushed the students a little bit closer to a fuller manifestation of Nazi Germany. Just as the students had fully adopted this new mindset, Ron Jones / “Herr Wenger” do the unthinkable…

The Wave

Herr Wenger addresses his converts

I’ll let you explore how it ends but the crux of the story is riveting. Essentially the experiment shows how easily people can be blindly convinced into detestable acts. It also answers the question to how Germans could willfully claim ignorance of the Nazi acts or even go so far as to deny them. Jones sums up the explanation his students were reticent to believe:

“If our enactment of the Fascist mentality is complete, not one of you will ever admit to being at this final Third Wave rally. Like the Germans, you will have trouble admitting to yourself that you come this far. You will not allow your friends and parents to know that you were willing to give up individual freedom and power for the dictates of order and unseen leaders. You can’t admit to being manipulated. Being a follower. To accepting the Third Wave as a way of life. You won’t admit to participating in this madness. You will keep this day and this rally a secret. It’s a secret I shall share with you.”

 

The teacher discusses autocracy

Doesn’t Herr Wenger bear an odd resemblance to Putin?

The similarities between these movements and Putin are arguable to say the least. Our class, especially the session led by Ulrike Langer (a German news foreign correspondent) last week, and Rachel’s interview raised some discussion of Putin’s following in Russia, and this film is a great visual tool for understanding the possibilities of such a radical following.

Anchors Abroad: An Interview with Brent Goff

From his beginnings at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Brent Goff has made his mark across national and international news platforms.

DW's AGENDA with Brent Goff

DW’s AGENDA with Brent Goff

Goff’s broad news presence ranges from CNN in Berlin and Washington, Time Magazine in Germany and German radio stations to news outlets in the U.S., NewsChannel11 in North Carolina and mid-Missouri’s own KOMU-TV.

Now, he is considered one of the best known faces at Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

With a passion for politics and foreign affairs, Goff hosts his own DW talk show, “AGENDA,” and he is also DW’s main anchor or presenter.

He shed some light on his transition from the U.S. to Germany, along with varying positions he’s held in the journalism field.

Rachel Wittel: Your career seemed to take off quickly after working at KOMU and NewsChannel11 in North Carolina. What drove you to make the move over seas?

Brent Goff: I had always been interested in reporting overseas. While working on my MA at Georgetown University in WashingtonDC, I worked part-time for CNN International. Frank Sesno was the bureau chief at the time and he encouraged me to go abroad. I worked as a producer for CNN in Berlin after I finished my MA at Georgetown. And once I was in Berlin, I knew that international news was the place to be!

DW's

DW’s “Talking Germany” presenter Peter Craven interviewing Goff

I’ve heard it tends to be easier starting out as a reporter in order to remain a reporter and possibly move up to an anchor position. That’s not at all the case in your path. How did you decide to make the switch back to reporting after producing and also working in print and radio? Then taking on anchoring roles?

There are no rules in this business when it comes to charting a path. My path may appear to be unusual, but once you talk to other journalists who have worked abroad as reporters, anchors, in print and radio, you quickly realize that they all have unique stories about how they ended up where they are.

You earned a Bachelor’s in German, Journalism and Political Science [at MU] – wow! What role has German played in your life and career choices? Similarly, what intrigued you most about German to continue studying and working in that business?

I had learned Latin in high school and I wanted to try something different when I arrived at Mizzou. German was my first choice because I had always been interested in Germany’s rich history with its glorious high and tragic lows. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Hamburg in 1995-96. I assisted in lecturing journalism courses at the university in Hamburg–in German! But my language abilities served me most once I arrived in Berlin. Speaking the language opens up so many doors…and one of those doors was at Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.

What should reporters in the U.S. investigate or focus on in Germany? What important factors tend to be missed in newscasts?

Journalists in the US who report on Germany should not rely on cognitive crutches. Too often we use what we know to explain what we don’t know. That translates into an abundance of stories about Oktoberfest, German beer, Nazis and the Holocaust. Germany is Europe’s most powerful country. It is a global exporter, second only to China. And its geopolitical influence around the world is enormous. Obama calls Merkel everyday to find out what Putin is doing! All of that needs to be reported….in addition to Bavarian beer lovers!

AGENDA's Goff giving commentary on DW's Insider blog

AGENDA’s Goff giving commentary on DW’s Insider blog

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’re working your dream job now! From what I can tell, your talk show – “AGENDA” – allows you to anchor while reporting on political issues not only in Europe, but across the globe. How did you get to this point? Is this what you’ve always wanted to do? What’s your next move?

I love hosting my own talk show! AGENDA started in 2012 as an experiment. We wanted to combine the elements of a hard talk one-on-one interview with the breadth of a news magazine. The result was 3 guests talking about 3 headlines of the week. The show has just been nominated for an international Emmy in current affairs. There are other projects in the pipeline. Perhaps that is the part of this profession that can be a “dream.” News and consumers of news are changing constantly. We have to keep up with that change. That means never a dull moment—for me, a dream come true everyday!

For more biographical information about Brent Goff, click here.

To see related blogs I’ve written featuring Goff’s work, click here.

Jews in a Box at Berlin Museum

Boxcar Carrying Jews

Jews being deported to death camps in boxcars.

1. How many Jewish people are still living in Germany today?

2. What is it like to be Jewish person living in Germany?

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The answer that you might be thinking is, “Who knows?” Although, in our day and age I guess “Google!” could also be an acceptable rhetorical answer to these questions.

Nevertheless, the Jewish Museum in Berlin opened an exhibit in March of 2013 to help answer these questions. It was called „Die ganze Wahrheit … was Sie schon immer über Juden wissen wollten“ or “The Whole Truth…Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jews.” One display of the exhibit is a three sided glass box, and yes you guessed it, housed inside this box for two hours a day was a Jewish person.

Leeor Engländer, a columnist for Die Welt and participant of the exhibit said,

“Because there are so few Jews in Germany—Engländer puts the number at around two hundred thousand—most Germans are deeply unfamiliar with Jewish culture.”

With Germany’s population of over 82 million that roughly equates to a Jewish population of .2 percent. Because of this, many Jewish stereotypes still exist in Germany. Though many, like Engländer, feel this exhibit is “fantastic,” and a perfect way to bust stereotypes, many criticize against it and find it extremely controversial despite its popularity.

6238852798_3653b233d9_n

Adolf Eichmann (Huntington Theatre Company/Flickr)

Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the box reminded him of the glass booth that housed Adolf Eichmann (high-ranking SS officer who was responsible for deporting Jews to death camps during WWII.) during his 1961 war crimes trial in Israel that led to his execution.”Why don’t they give him a banana and a glass of water, turn up the heat and make the Jew feel really cozy in his glass box?” Kramer told the Associated Press after the exhibit opened in the spring.

A Jewish American blogger stated that the exhibit was “SO FREAKING WEIRD.” She goes on to say, There is something deeply unsettling to me about this exhibit – this stark presentation of “us” and “them”; a venue where people are literally put in boxes.”

The people who find the exhibit to be controversial feel it is demeaning to put a person on display, but I feel that this exhibit did what it was intended to do. It gave German visitors a real life person to speak to about Judaism, and broke

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber; via Huffington Post)

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber; via Huffington Post)

down many stereotypes about Jews. It also helped people to move past defining Jewish people solely with the Holocaust. For many Germans who still feel guilty about the Holocaust, the exhibit gave them a place to ask questions without having to visit a Synagogue or Jewish center. Unfortunately though, for those who might want to visit this exhibit, it was only up through September of 2013 and is no longer on display at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

Pope Drops F-Bomb in Weekly Sermon

If you clicked on this post, then you most definitely fell for a trick of the trade. Let me explain … It’s called getting hits. One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is using a rather catchy headline that doesn’t always tell the whole story.

When it comes to this topic, I certainly wasn’t alone in trying to grab viewer’s attention. The Independent ran this headline:

“He said what?! Pope Francis lets slip the F-word during Vatican address”

 The Week went this route, suggesting there’s a video to accompany the outrageous topic.

“Watch Pope Francis say the F-word (in Italian)”

Headlines and Global News even mentions the reactions others had in its headline.

“Pope Francis Utters the F-Word in Weekly Sermon, Baffles People”

Turns out the story isn’t as crazy as these headlines make it out to seem. Pope Francis apparently made a pretty common mistake. He mispronounced the Italian word for “case” (caso) with the much more explicit cazzo. In Italian that word literally means male genitalia. It’s used with the same context American’s use when they say the F-word. Clearly, those headlines made you think it was all on purpose.

Check it out for yourself.

The Pope is the last person you would expect to hear a curse word from. As posed as possible, you can see in the video how quickly he corrects his mistake. In all honesty it’s not hard to see why the Pope slipped up. The words are fairly similar, especially for someone who isn’t as familiar with the language.

The video has certainly made its way across social media. Most have forgiven the Pope for being human. Some, though, did point out the ironic nature of the Pope saying the f-word.

 

Looks like accidents really do happen, even by those who we’d least expect. Also, a case where the media can twist things in just a way that keeps viewers on their feet.