Acknowledgments: I wish to thank the editors of Jump Cut and anonymous reviewers for their guidance. In addition I would like to thank Dana L. Cloud, Sarah Projansky and Jyotsna Kupur for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.
1. WTO: Showdown in Seattle was the first documentary released by the IMC. It carefully chronicles the protest in Seattle, paying close attention to contextualizing events within historical and legal frameworks.
This is What Democracy Looks Like (This is What Democracy Looks Like) is a more slickly packaged and widely circulated documentary that chronicles the protest in Seattle with little historical, legal, or social context. [return to text]
2. I was first introduced to the term “protest porn” at a public meeting during the 2004 Independent Media Conference in Austin, TX. The discussion focused on the types of images produced through the IMC and their potential implications for democracy.
3. Although there were previous historical moments when activism was linked with documentary film, the contemporary activist video movement began in the early 1970s. For example, documentary film as a derivative of news reporting began with the development of the periodic newsreel in 1910. After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, Dziga Vertov headed the development of “Film Weekly” in Russia. This was a series of newsreels that captured a world at war (Barnouw 52). During the depression in the United States, the Workers Film and Photo League documented events such as strikes, elections, and foreclosures. Their newsreels were edited into small segments organized by events and news developments that functioned to capture the changes of a chaotic political world (111-112).
4. During this time, ACT UP, a prominent gay activist group, created a video collective called DIVA TV (Damned Interfering Video Activist Television). Gregg Bordowitz, a DIVA TV member, produced some of the most influential work in AIDS activist video, including Voices from the Front (Elgear, Hutt and Meieran, 1992) and Fast Trip, Long Drop (Bordowitz, 1995). The videos present stirring portraits of the political struggle over the AIDS crisis in both the public sphere and intimate close-up as Bordowitz struggles with the effects of the disease on his body. As reported in the New York Times ten years later, much of the work produced by the movement is “emotionally searing, since so many of the demonstrators and the creators of these videos were fighting for their lives in a race against time” (Holden). Like much of the video activist work that preceded the AIDS documentary movement, “The videomakers clearly positioned themselves in opposition to an unresponsive and often antagonistic government and mainstream media” (Hubbard).
5. Although, recent representations of activism that involve clashes between police and protesters begin to percolate and show up in the AIDS activist video movement. [return to page 2]
6. These works include We Interrupt This Empire, a collaborative work by many of the Bay Area's independent video activists that documents the direct actions that shut down the financial district of San Francisco in the weeks following the United States invasion of Iraq.
7. BBC Radio 4 ‘Today programme,’ 4 March 2006, Dr. Paul Toyne argues that wildlife porn is the gaze upon the planet’s most amazing wildlife without mention of the human-caused environmental threats that concern the planet. Therefore, wildlife porn is the framing of nature documentary that encourages the audience to feel good gazing upon the environment without triggering their consciousness in relation to their everyday actions and responsibilities towards the environment.
8. For a reading on how the U.S. government’s nuclear test films celebrate the recording of explosions as a grand scientific endeavor rather than political posturing, see Mielke (2005).
9. For discussions on the use of pornography to describe images that trivialize and distract from the key issues of war in exchange for an erotic gaze on violence, see Baudrillard (2005), Brockes (2003), and Chuckman (2005).
10. Activist groups like i witness in New York organize around using video to protect the civil liberties of citizens engaging in direct action. The collective monitors police conduct at First Amendment events with video cameras and has been successful at uncovering perjury abuse by police officers, revealed illegal surveillance and exposed lies in official police statements. [return to page 3]
11. Infoshops are storefronts to distribute political, arts and sub-culture information. These spaces also serve as a hub and meeting space for activist groups.
Anon (2001), ‘The Globe’,
Atton, Chris. (2002a), Alternative Media, London: Sage.
Atton, Chris. (2002b), ‘News Culture and New Social Movements: Radical Journalism and the Mainstream Media’, Journalism Studies, 3, pp. 491-505.
Atton, Chris. (2003), ‘Reshaping Social Movement Media for a New Millennium’, Social Movement Studies, 2, pp. 3-15.
Atton, Chris. (2004), An Alternative Internet: Radical Media, Politics and Creativity, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Baudrillard, Jean (2005), ‘War Porn’ (trans. P.A. Taylor), International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, 2:1,
Berman, Jerry and Mulligan, Deirdre. (2003), ‘Digital Grass Roots: Issue Advocacy in the Age of the Internet’, in D.M. Anderson and M. Cornfield (eds.), The Civic Web: Online Politics and Democratic Values, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 77-96.
Bordowitz, Gregg (1995), Fast Trip, Long Drop, U.S.A.: Drift Films.
Bowers, John Waite, Ochs, Donovan J. and Jenson, Richard J. (1993), The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control, Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
Boyle, Deirdre (1997), Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited, New York: Oxford University Press.
Brockes, Emma (2003). ‘War Porn’,
Buckingham, David and Willett, Rebekah (2006), Digital Generations: Children, Young People and New Media, New York: Routledge.
Burke, Kenneth (1969), A Rhetoric of Motives, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Chuckman, John (2005), ‘War Porn: What the Gruesome Images Say’,
Critical Art Ensemble (2001), Digital Resistance: Explorations in Tactical Media, Brooklyn: Antonomedia.
Della Porta, Donatella and Tarrow, Sidney (2005), Transnational Protest and Global Activism: People, Passions and Power, Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield.
DeLuca, Kevin (1999), Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism, New York: The Guilford Press.
DeLuca, Kevin and Peeples, Jennifer (2002), ‘From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the ‘Violence’ of Seattle’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19, pp. 125-151.
Downing, John (2001), Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movement, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Downing, John (2008), ‘Social Movement Theories and Alternative Media: An Evaluation and Critique’, Communication, Culture & Critique, 1, pp. 40-50.
Elgear, Sandra, Hutt, Robyn and Meieran, David (1992), Voices from the Past, U.S.A.: Testing the Limits.
Finnegan, Cara A. (2005), ‘Recognizing Lincoln: Image Vernaculars in Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture’, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 8, pp.31-58.
Freidberg, Jill and Rowley, Rick (2000), This is What Democracy Looks Like, U.S.A.: Big Noise Films.
Freidberg, Jill (personal communication, August 19, 2014)
Greenwald, Dara (2007), ‘The Process is in The Streets: Challenging Media America’, in Josh MacPhee and Erik Reuland (eds.), Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority. Oakland: AK Press.
Gold, Tami (personal communication, November 5, 2010)
Halleck, DeeDee (2002), Hand-held Visions: The Impossible Possibilities of Community Media, New York: Fordham University Press.
Hallin, Daniel C. (1994), We Keep America on Top of the World: Television Journalism and the Public Sphere, London: Routledge.
Hariman, Robert and Lucaites, John Louis (2006), ‘Liberal Representation and Global Order: The Iconic Photograph from Tiananmen Square’, in L.J. Prelli (ed.), Rhetorics of Display, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina, pp. 121-138.
Hoffman, Judy (personal communication, November 14, 2009)
Horsfield, Kate (2006), ‘Busting the Tube: A Brief History of Video Art’, Kate Horsfield and Lucas Hilderbrand (eds.), Feedback: The Video Data Bank Catalog of Video Art and Artist Interviews. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Independent Media Center (2000), Showdown in Seattle: Five Days that Shook the WTO, U.S.A.: Independent Media Center.
Jones, Steve. (2013), ‘The Lexicon of Offense: The Meanings of Torture, Porn, and ‘Torture Porn’’, in Attwood, F (ed), Controversial Images, London: Palgrave, pp. 186-200.
Kellner, Douglas (1995), Media Culture: Cultural Studies, Identity and Politics Between Modern and the Postmodern, New York: Routledge.
Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1980), Metaphors We Live By, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lievrouw, Leah A. (2011), Alternative and Activist Media, Cambridge, England: Polity Press.
McChesney, Robert W. (1997), Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy, New York: Seven Stories Press.
McChesney, Robert W. (1999), Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times, New York: The New Press.
Mielke, Bob (2005), ‘Rhetoric and Ideology in the Nuclear Test Documentary’, Film Quarterly, 58, pp. 28-37.
Meikle, Graham (2002), Future Active: Media Activism and The Internet, New York: Pluto Press,
Montgomery, D. (2002), ‘I on the News’, Washington Post, 22 April.
Phillips, Peter. (2000), ‘Seattle Awakens Working People to the Dangers of Globalization’, Social Policy, Spring.
Tait, Sue (2008), ‘Pornographies of Violence? Internet Spectatorship on Body Horror’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25, pp. 91-111.
Tilly, Charles (2004), Social Movements, 1768-2004, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
Warner, Michael (2002), Publics and Counterpublics, New York: Zone Books.
Williams, Linda (1999), Hardcore: Power, Pleasure and the “Frenzy of the Visible”, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.