Friday, May 20, 2011

Reel Grrls, Real Justice

- by Stacey Prince

OK, so perhaps by now you've heard the story: small non-profit Reel Grrls in Seattle provides media production workshops to young women from diverse communities. Not only do the young women learn skills in areas such as cinematography, animation, and script writing, but they also gain invaluable support and friendship from female mentors at a time of life that can be vulnerable and difficult to say the least. Plus, they make amazing films!!! Here are two examples that are particularly relevant to TJP readership. "Disorder" enters the the imaginative inner world of a young student struggling with a learning disability, and the mockumentary "Coming Out..." takes a humorous look at homophobia.

Reel Grrls is supported by grants and recently media giant Comcast pledged $18,000 to support their summer 2011 programming. A couple of days ago Reel Grrls tweeted about Comcast's recent hiring of FCC Commisssioner Meredith Attwell Baker. Immediately a Comcast executive shot off an email stating that they were going to yank the funding because Reel Grrls was creating a "negative digital footprint" about Comcast (here's the Washington Post story). After a whole bunch of media attention, Comcast retracted its retraction of funding and apologized, but the latest news this afternoon is that Reel Grrls has decided not to accept the money - a very classy and principled decision, in my opinion. Here is a quote from the organization's Executive Director, Malory Graham: Given the serious questions Comcast’s initial decision to take punitive measures on our organization raised about the ability of corporations to stifle public discussion, we have decided to redesign our summer camp to focus on developing films about free press issues.

Wow. Seriously, Comcast? Isn't Reel Grrls doing and modeling exactly what we want young women (and young men, and adults for that matter) to do? Think for themselves, think critically, be able to evaluate the news and cultural context around them and be empowered to do something about injustice (including criticizing it)? If you want to show your support, stand up against censorship and help Reel Grrls keep their programming going, please visit their website.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Here's an update: Reel Grrls raised $22,000 from over 600 individuals' donations, as well as national recognition for their principled decision to, at least for now, politely decline Comcast's funding. They will be able to move forward with their summer programming, with a focus on free speech issues. Unbelievable - what a great example of community response to show support and help this small non-profit stand up to censorship!

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