The Beatles and Social Change

When I think about songs that influenced social change, my mind immediately reverts to The Beatles.  During the late 1960’s many political protests were occurring “fueled by the massive social change that evolved from the Civil Rights movement, the rise of feminism, and more liberal attitudes on sex and drugs”.

In 1986, media coverage in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive spurred increased protests in opposition to the Vietnam War, especially among University students.  These protests were international news, especially when a demonstration at the American embassy in London escalated into a violent battle with police.

These protests inspired The Beatles to write Revolution, a song about changing the world.  Click here to read the lyrics.  John Lennon wrote the song, which is about a non-violent form of revolution, directly to the world’s young revolutionaries.   

This song marked the first time The Beatles voiced their opinion on The War.  During this time, The Beatles were the most influential pop group around and their biggest fans were the younger generation.  This resulted in songs like “Revolution” influencing young people to be anti-war.  The song proved to influence social change when this young generation even began to sing it at war protests across the country.

The Beatles’ message of peace and love over violence spread across the world.



My neighbor, Brittany Lambert, whom I have lived next to for 15 years, was 25-years-old when 9/11 happened and was in her home.  “I remember receiving the phone call from my boyfriend Mark, who was a local firefighter at the time”, she tells me.  “I didn’t understand what was happening- I quickly turned on the TV and was glued to it for the next 24 hours”.  

When Mark came home, he began following the news coverage and was watching and reading about what was happening in New York 24/7. Although he had no friends or family in the towers, the news coverage made Mark feel compassionate for the city.

What Brittany didn’t realize was how much the tragedy would impact Mark.  “It was like something went off in his head, and he became consumed with wanting to help the people of New York City”.  

Without discussing it with Brittany, Mark packed his bags, went to New York, and became a volunteer firefighter.  “While I didn’t have family or friends that I lost in the towers, I lost my boyfriend”.  The 9/11 attacks changed Brittany’s life when she found herself without the person she thought she was going to marry, and it changed Mark’s life by taking him to New York and starting a new life there based on his desire to help.

Hugo Chavez Media Coverage

The first place I started to dig into for coverage on Hugo Chavez was the New York Times. Following Chavez’s recent death, they made an archive available featuring every story they had written about him in chronological order.

I decided to take a look at the oldest article first, and I was immediately presented with a negative opinion of him. In February of 1992, NY Time reporter James Brooke described Chavez as “Venezuela’s No. 1 Villain”. This was being reported just days after Chavez led the coup attempt.

The New York Times did not cover Hugo Chavez again until 1998, when he ran for president. In an article about how Chavez was being favored to win, many negative points were made against him. Included was that he “tried to storm the presidential palace in a failed coup attempt six years ago”, “spent two years in jail after the coup attempt”, “reports of direct contacts with the leftist rebels in Colombia”, and “moderating his talk, in some instances contradicting earlier statements”.

The very next day after that article was published; Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela. The headline of the article regarding this news was “Venezuelans Elect An Ex-Coup Leader As President”. The article slammed him, claiming he won the presidency “he failed to seize by force six weeks ago”. “His statements have ranged all over the political map, often depending on his audiences”, the article reports.

While reading Reuters account of Hugo Chavez’s funeral, I found him to be covered in a much more positive light. Numerous pictures were posted showing many different people mourning over his death, describing them to be “dressed in the red of the ruling Socialist Party, carrying his picture and waving Venezuelan flags”.

The Guardian, of The UK, reported Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joins dead Venezuelan leader’s allies in praise and mentioned his numerous supporters, including gratitude for Chávez’s unstinting support in the face of western hostility, his stance towards the conspiracy against Syria, and other members of the Latin American community.

The difference in how Hugo Chavez was covered by news sources really demonstrates how some viewed him as a hero while others the villain.

Coke’s Ads Heard Around the World

One of the most recognizable brands around the world is Coca-Cola.  It’s mission includes “refreshing the world”,  “to inspire moments of optimism and happiness”, and “to create value and make a difference”.  Does Coke manage to portray this in their global ads?  They sure do. Coke has managed to find a way of creating ads that hits home with everyone, no matter what part of the world they live in.

Check out Coca-Cola’s global ads for the 2012 Olympics. Award-winning producer Mark Ronson wrote a song called “Around the World” for the campaign, which featured four athletes from Russia, Singapore, Mexico and the USA. 

An older example of Coke’s genius advertising moves is the “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” commercial. The song was originally written for the company, and the commercial featured teenagers of different cultures singing about hope on top of a hill.

I think Coke’s mission is so successful because it focuses on a universal desire: happiness.  By tapping into deep feelings, Coke has managed to appeal to an international audience.


Cheering Around the World

An interesting thing happened at the 2012 Olympics.  Reporters from other countries participated in something U.S. reporters typical avoid: cheering.

Typically in Olympics coverage here in the U.S., you’ll never catch any celebrating going on in the press box.  In fact, Tom Bowles, a Sports Illustrated freelance writer, lost his job for reportedly “breaking the cardinal sin of being a sports writer” by clapping in the media box at the Daytona 500.

So who was the first to rebel and start the public celebration?  Surprisingly, the BBC reported tweeting their celebrations during the 2012 Summer Olympics, including this one: “It’s gold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” followed by: “Huge cheer in the BBC Production office as Team GB clock up their first gold in the women’s pair”.

Mongolian broadcasters also celebrated during their Olympic coverage by dancing in the aisles of the bleachers and holding up their country flag.

I think it’s interesting that out of all the countries, the United States is the most strict about cheering on sports in the press box. Sports are a beloved past time in this country, and I think we should follow suit and begin cheering on our athletes, even from the press box.

Peace Proposal

The Obama administration has begun preparing a new peace plan for the Middle East.  How would Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts benefit the United States?

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  have a notorious damaged relationship, based on different viewpoints on Iran’s nuclear plans.

But since Netanyahu and Obama have a mutual concern over Iran and Syria, it is probably enough to repair the damage and come together to focus on what is important.

Previous peace effort attempts by Obama in 2010 fell apart.  He was weary of approaching Netanyahu in fear of losing Jewish support (votes).  Now that Obama has been reelected, he is more confident about restarting peace talks.

How is this issue being covered from each side?  News sources on each side are claiming Obama’s trip to Israel has nothing to do with the peace process.  In my opinion, everyone is trying to place nice.

According to The Times of Israel, “the American ambassador in Israeli and Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. all sought to quell speculation that the visit was meant to signal a break through in the peace process”.

Both sides are aware that while peace is the ultimate goal, they are aware that it’s not the reality right now.

War Coverage Across the World

Did American media cover the war in Iraq fully?  Was our coverage comparable to other countries?  Could there be significant differences for example, between what MSNBC and BBC reported?

Ashliegh Banfield of MSNB gave a lecture at Kansa State University revealing that MSNBC filtered the realities of war and sanitized the stories.  Banfield was reportedly “severly reprimanded” by her employer for bashing their war coverage.

Al-Jazeera, a broadcast network in the Arab world is known for airing graphic images and videos of civilian casualites.  They claim America’s war coverage was “incident-driven”. Most of what we hear on the news has to do with a bombing, or people getting killed. If you want a daily update on what steps are being taken to win the war, you won’t find it in your 5:00 news program.

A study was done by Professor Justin Lewis, of Cardiff University, that found BBC was the most pro-war of the British Networks. He also found “if there was a TV channel that was more likely to report information damaging to the government’s case, it was Channel 4”.

So if everyone covered the war differently, who do we trust? This is a oerfect example of why we should read reports from multiple different sources. Every news organization has an agenda, leaving it up to us to read as much as possible to get a sense of what is really going on. By pulling from different sources, including MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, and BBC, you will have a broader sense of knowledge about the truth.

Argo vs Zero Dark Thirty: Movies Covering International Issues

Two movies were released in 2012 about issues between the United States and Middle East.

 Argo is based on Canada’s CIA mission in 1980 to rescue six fugitivie American diplomats from Iran. The plan was to create a fake movie project based in Iran in order to smuggle the group out posing as a film crew.

Are these movies accurate depictions of what really happened? In the movie New Zealand and Britain turned down helping the group, portraying the Canadian embassy as the sole hero. However, in reality New Zealand and Britian both played a role in sheltering the fugitives.

One positive aspect of movies covering international topics is that it introduces them to the mass American audience. I think one thing is for sure: more Americans go to the movies than keep up with International news. For many people, the film Argo was the first time they heard about this operation in Iran.

Zero Dark Thirty is based off the story more people are familiar of, which is the decade-long hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. One controversial issue that surrounded the movie was the CIA’s use of torture. Did the movie portray the shocking scenes correctly?

I think this movie is another eye-opener, making viewers aware of issues they may not have thought about before. I hope people who see these movies remember that they are indeed just movies, and not to believe everything they see. I hope the issues in these movies interest them enough to do research of their own on the topic.

Reality Shows: An International Guilty Pleasure

Whether it’s a reality show, competition, or quiz, people from around the globe tune in to watch the action go down.  Many of the shows that we are familiar with here in the United States, including American Idol, X Factor, Big Brother, and Dancing With the Stars, have versions in different countries.  One thing I noticed about these shows is that other countries have a tendency to take things a bit overboard.

Take Japan, for example: They have a competition show similar to our America’s Got Talent showcased a bizarre group of men performing.  They shattered huge light bulbs, bricks, and wood planks on each other followed by getting run over by cars and motorcycles. I posted a video below for your viewing pleasure (beware: it’s hard to watch), especially since they went on to win the $5,000 prize.

Here is another example:  The producers of Big Brother created a Dutch competition reality show that actually had three families fighting over a terminally-ill woman’s kidneys.

Matchmaking reality shows, which are very popular in the U.S. proven by The Bachelor’s ongoing success, have been declared “equivalent to prostitution” and banned in China.

So although reality shows are present around the world, I think each country definitely adds a uniqueness to the format based on their own culture and values.  While I originally would have guessed that the United States airs the most controversial material, I think reality shows in other countries take it even further.

What are your thoughts?