Colbert’s Racist?

Diving into controversial, political topics is the main point of Stephen Colbert’s job, but a Tweet that an account from Comedy Central’s Twitter (@StephenColbertReport) had sent out recently got him into some hot water with social media.

The Tweet by the account was as follows: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

This Tweet was immediately taken down once the firestorm hit. Many Twitter users were complaining about Colbert’s blatant racism, and even started a hashtag called #CancelColbert.

To get a better glimpse as to why the account Tweeted this in the first place, it is important to look into some background information. On Wednesday night’s show, one of the segments highlighted Dan Snyder, the Washington Redskins’ owner. He created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to retaliate against the controversial team name. The Tweet was making a joke in light of that particular segment.

Apparently Colbert’s Twitter followers do not watch the Stephen Colbert show itself, or else they might have understood the context of the Tweet. Although it was written in typical “Colbert” manner, the Tweet was actually meant to be against what the public is accusing the man of: racism. Plus, the account in question, although verified with the check mark and all, is not run by Colbert.

It has recently been discovered that the Stephen Colbert Report is not even run by Stephen Colbert himself (his Twitter name is @StephenAtHome). The Twitter account run by Comedy Central sent out a couple of clarifying Tweets, stating that the account is in no way affiliated with Colbert and his show.

With no context to go along with the Tweet, a public relations crisis fell right into Colbert’s hands. Although the Tweet has since been deleted, Twitter users took a screenshot of the Tweet. So naturally, it is still virally making its way across every corner of the Internet.

Public relations catastrophe at its finest.

With Stephen Colbert actually Tweeting from his own account (in humourous manner of course), the wildfire of controversy ceased: but only so much. The Tweet is still out there, people will not do their research and look for themselves if the account is actually run by Colbert (the check mark is enough, right?) and Colbert is now labeled as racist. The hashtag #CancelColbert has been going strong all day on all platforms of social media (I see the hashtag trend on the side every time I log into my Facebook account).

As a public relations student, I would have to say Colbert suffered a bit of a blow with this social media trouble. I believe the best way to calm people down and clarify information has already been done: The Comedy Central account Tweeted and said they were not affiliated with the show or Colbert. Colbert spoke on his own Twitter. The only thing left to do is simply to make a tasteful joke about it on the next show.


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Variety.com

Making A Mark

This news event did not have one or even two articles written about it: It had thousands. All the newspapers around the world knew about the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl in Karachi, Pakistan in 2003. The news coverage by certain television stations would be what some people would describe as astonishing and outright disrespectful. Others tried hard to maintain the accuracy of an event happening thousands of miles away on another continent. A lot of them tried to make an understandable, objective piece about a place that is completely foreign and unknown to most Americans. To this day, thousands of people still argue, speculate and mourn over what exactly had happened to a fellow American journalist.

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Daniel Pearl, picture taken from one of the members of the extremist group that kidnapped him.
Picture from Nydailynews.com

Pearl was born in New Jersey, but raised in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Judea, was of Iraqi-Jewish descent, making Daniel’s religion Judaism.  He eventually graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a B.A. in Communications. Pearl then wound up at the Wall Street Journal in 1990, where he climbed his way up the ladder to become a foreign journalist for the paper. Pearl eventually became the South Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal. He has a boy, born four months after his death, named Adam D. Pearl. Adam was born in France, where Daniel’s widow, Mariane Pearl, was raised. Mariane Pearl had written a book titled A Mighty Heart, personally documenting the days before, during and after the abduction of her husband. She had been on-site with him in Pakistan during that time.

In January of 2002, Pearl was on his way to conduct an interview with Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani. Gilani was suspected of connections with the “shoe bomber”, Richard Reid, and Pearl was doing research over these supposed connections for a news story. At 7:00 p.m., however, things took a turn for the worse, and Pearl was kidnapped by a militant group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. This group supposedly has connections to al-Qaeda. They were saying multiple things about Pearl, such as him being a spy, a member of the CIA and a threat to Pakistan. A main reason why he was kidnapped, however, would not be because he was an American journalist but because of his being a Jew. This group created a Hotmail account and sent multiple, threatening e-mails to the U.S., claiming that they would execute Pearl if their demands were not met. Some of their demands were to release all terrorist Pakistani detainees, and to continue the halted operation of sending F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government. They even sent pictures of Pearl to the people trying to rescue him, one of them being his wife. The photos contained Pearl shackled and holding up a newspaper clipping. The most dramatic and horrendous one, however, was when one of the group members was holding a gun to Pearl’s head, with his face down, still shackled.

Pearl’s editor, John Bussey, and Mariane Pearl, tried desperately to hold public pleas, asking the group to give Daniel back. They were ignored. Nine days after the photos were released, Daniel Pearl was gruesomely beheaded. On May 16, his body was found decomposed and cut up into at least 10 pieces. He was found in a grave just 30 miles north of Karachi, where his rescue team and Mariane were located. His body was collected and later transported to Los Angeles, back to his hometown. A video of his murder, publicized by the extremist group in February 2002, shows Daniel speaking his last famous words: “My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA. I come from, uh, on my father’s side the family is Zionist. My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I’m Jewish. My family follows Judaism. We’ve made numerous family visits to Israel.” The video also showed the gruesome murder. It lasted 3 minutes and 36 seconds.

The video was broadcasted in parts by CBS. No other news station had decided to broadcast it. Mariane Pearl reacted with great disdain for their decision to publicize parts of the video. She called it ‘inhumane’ and fought with the CBS news anchors about their decision that, to her, was a complete lack of respect for Daniel. The only response CBS had for Marianne is that it was “newsworthy” to the public. The main newspapers around the U.S., such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News and plenty others, kept up with the kidnapping of Daniel and tried to relay accurate, timely information to the American public as the abduction went on.

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Mariane Pearl and daughter, widow of Daniel Pearl.
Picture from Nytimes.com

Afterward, Daniel Pearl’s friends and family made the Daniel Pearl Foundation in honor of a beloved friend, husband, son and father. It was made to “continue Pearl’s mission, and to address what they consider the root causes of his death, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Pearl’s work and character.” Daniel Pearl World Music Days was made as well, by Daniel’s friends who played music with him years ago. It promoted over 1,500 concerts in over 60 countries throughout the world.  A film was produced from Mariane Pearl’s memoir of her husband’s abduction. It was made in 2007, starring Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl and Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl. Bernard Henri-Levy published a controversial book titled Who Killed Daniel Pearl? In 2003. It got many criticisms because of the way he had worded certain aspects of the novel, such as fictionalizing Pearl’s final thoughts and its speculative conclusions to the slaying of Pearl. Nonetheless, this book is also being adapted into a film currently, starring Josh Lucas.  HBO Films produced a 79-minute documentary titled The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl in 2006. Not only have books and films and the news world given Pearl much recognition, but a lot of awards for his work and courageous acts as a journalist have awarded him, posthumously.

The Bind with Bynes

There was a time when actress Amanda Bynes made millions of kids laugh daily, starting with the Nickolodeon show “All That”, and receiving artistic freedom with hosting her own variety show called “The Amanda Show”.  Unless kids in the early 2000’s lived underneath rocks through their childhood, every kid knew Amanda Bynes and her comedic charm.

 

It seems lately that many former child stars are having issues staying on the straight and narrow, which sadly includes actress Amanda Bynes. But this article isn’t being written to bash or ridicule Ms. Bynes. Instead I chose to think of a strategy using my public relations skills in a hypothetical sense. Months before I had read about Amanda Bynes on Twitter and how she was causing so much controversy with her half naked pictures, plus her alarming posts. I thought to myself that maybe there could be a chance of still saving Bynes’ career by using my PR skills, and incorporating them into a plan to bring the once former comedically charming Amanda back.

 

First, I had to think; how could I get Amanda’s former fans to return? To make this happen, I would have to watch her old televisions shows and movies to remember what made Amanda so watchable. As I watched I began to feel the younger version of myself shine as I remembered how funny this girl could be! I saw a completely different person on the screen versus the girl I’ve been Twitter stalking. It occurred to me that maybe the way to bring Amanda back into the spotlight would be to hypothetically imagine that she would hire me as her PR practitioner, and I would help her get back on her feet.

 

Ideally, there is no perfect strategy, especially when it comes to former child actors. But since Amanda hasn’t been in the cold for too long, and if Amanda was able to clean up her act, there’s a chance that she could reinvent her career. All Amanda would have to hypothetically do is build her confidence back up, and more so in the way that she appeared once before. Maybe in time Amanda could have another comedic variety show in which she’s able to genuinely laugh at the fool she once made of herself. This act alone could show Amanda has grown up from her rebellious, attention-seeking act, and would in turn receive her true fans’ attention.

 

This idea may not be perfect, but it would help turn Amanda’s career around. After all, I always remember thinking that this girl had potential, and would go very far in her career.  I truly think she still has that chance, because everybody has a rebellious stage. Amanda just happened to have it later as an adult as most child stars unfortunately do. Unlike most child stars, I hope Amanda will be able to turn things around.

Ethics in Advertising?

Advertisements decades ago oozed of sexual, racist and downright eye-opening themes and images that might cause one to wonder how someone OK’d it in the first place. Racial imagery, sexualized women and exaggerated stereotypes of the LGBT community were what shaped a lot of advertisements back then. The advertisements for cigarettes and alcohol were around a lot as well, and children could easily just turn on the television and see them. Fat shaming was a popular theme, too. Restaurants, food brands and any other line of business associated with commercials for food were quite blatant with their opinion on plus-size people. There was little to no regard for ethics or a moral code when doing business in advertising. Advertisers just wanted to catch the public’s eye, and they succeeded.

But why?

When America is comprised of a hegemonic society, that is, of a masculine normative that has shaped our history and societal expectations, advertisements like these are aplenty.  When America is comprised of a culturally narrow society where racism is still abound, just type in a quick Google search on 21st Century advertisements and you will find a lot of the ad firms playing into the same game of discriminatory practice that they have been doing since the beginning stages of advertising.

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Whatitsayswhatitmeans.blogspot.com

Advertising firms may play a utilitarianism role with no hint of distributive justice, since advertisements still blatantly show, even if they are subtle, hints of racism, sexism and homophobia. Distributive justice means that there may be no justice to the people who do not have their voices heard in the mainstream media as much, as compared to, say, a white, middle-class, heterosexual man. Advertising firms play the utilitarianism role because they like to cater more to the majority voice. America’s normative society is exactly what I listed earlier: White men. If they are not happy, then advertising business isn’t happy.

A code of ethics in advertising is questionable. Advertising firms cater to the majority of our society. What does that say about America’s code of ethics then?

I think if we were to look at the advertisement’s view of ethics, we will see society’s code of ethics.  Eye-opening, questionable, raw, dirty themes and messages are everywhere, because these kinds of advertisements are what gets the public’s attention, not one that plays by the rules. Advertisers, to me, are just issuing out what we as a society expect to want when we seek entertainment. It may not be the code of ethics in advertising that we must consider, but the code of ethics in U.S. culture.