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Ava Lowery, propagandist
June 29, 2006 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Ava Lowery is a 15 year old master of flash-based propaganda, and burgeoning media sensation. Lowery's clips (especially this one but also ones like this and this (more here)), have been described as mere facile emotionalism. Others however regard her work as courageous and truthful. She was enlisted to express the soul of the movement for the recent Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas. One thing's for sure: Lowery's method of story telling leaves traditional media confused and bewildered.
posted by washburn (113 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
All the first video made me feel was the urge to punch the kid singing the song in it. But maybe that's just me...
posted by Orange Goblin at 8:28 AM on June 29, 2006


If she's a master, I would hate to see an apprentice.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:29 AM on June 29, 2006


You underestimate her technique, pardonyou-san.
posted by grimcity at 8:33 AM on June 29, 2006


Propaganda is always easier to produce than both art and Truth.

We should get Ava cracking on life inside North Korea! Sell it early, sell it often!
posted by ewkpates at 8:36 AM on June 29, 2006


The one with Cranberriers Zombie is almost perfect in its simplicity and in the song as the text recites
But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.

emphasis mine.To which I would have combined, but the style of sound would have mismatched, Basement Jaxx's "Where's your head at"

The 9/11 one really doesn't resonate with me.
posted by elpapacito at 8:41 AM on June 29, 2006


The kid handled herself pretty well on CNN.
posted by dobie at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2006


lol
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:44 AM on June 29, 2006


I found myself annoyed and exhausted after fifteen seconds of "The Time Is Now"

Ava Lowery 2006, meet Amy Ritchie 2002.
posted by ImJustRick at 8:44 AM on June 29, 2006


Truly a master
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:45 AM on June 29, 2006


This is such trash, it isnt even good flash.

Trying to make a political statement at the age of 15 is rediculous, the mind at 15 is such of a sponge it will absorb anything put in front of it that is painted as "cool" by society. Thus rebeling against the war, which her peer group labels as the cool thing to do, is the motive of such works. This negates their value as it is not a rational decision of her own, only a product of pop culture.

She needs to make a flash video of the hundred of thousands of kurds who were persecuted over 15 years. That might not be as popular but it is certain to be more horrific.
posted by Addiction at 8:48 AM on June 29, 2006


A MASTER OF EMO
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:48 AM on June 29, 2006


And she misused an apostrophe in her Kos thing.

GO BACK TO MYSPACE.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:49 AM on June 29, 2006


Trying to make a political statement at the age of 15 is rediculous, the mind at 15 is such of a sponge it will absorb anything put in front of it that is painted as "cool" by society

Bingo.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 8:50 AM on June 29, 2006


Addiction writes "mind at 15 is such of a sponge it will absorb anything put in front of it that is painted as 'cool' by society."

Bullshit. Definitely pushers do everything and more then everything to hook up teenagers with the idea drugs is cool, yet they fail. How does your theory of 15 years old behing mindless idiots describe its negation ?
posted by elpapacito at 8:51 AM on June 29, 2006


The Kos-tards latched on to her and her crap brave courageous work after the Fighting Keyboarder crowd started sending her 'death threats'.
posted by blasdelf at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2006


The journalist in that last link is a mong. "How did you even know about the war?"
posted by fleetmouse at 8:57 AM on June 29, 2006


If you don't get a little emo considering the trillion dollars we're gonna pay for this, the ~20,000 US casualties, and tens of thousands of Iraqi KIA on this fool's errand of nation-building something is wrong with you.

What a colossal fuck-up. Thanks, Ralph.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:59 AM on June 29, 2006


News Flash elpapcito: 15 year olds use drugs, a lot.
posted by Addiction at 9:02 AM on June 29, 2006


What, all of them?
posted by Bovine Love at 9:03 AM on June 29, 2006


Bullshit. Definitely pushers do everything and more then everything to hook up teenagers with the idea drugs is cool, yet they fail. How does your theory of 15 years old behing mindless idiots describe its negation?

When was the last time you saw a drug pusher that owned an international media conglomerate? (And used it to push drugs.)
posted by public at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2006


When did emotion become a bad thing? Go back to Vulcan.

I watched the first one, and granted it is simple propaganda, but she makes a good point. I'm not really sure, however, how to weigh the suffering of persecuted Kurds against thousands of maimed children. I'm not sure how that works.
posted by craniac at 9:05 AM on June 29, 2006


If you don't get a little emo considering the trillion dollars we're gonna pay for this, the ~20,000 US casualties, and tens of thousands of Iraqi KIA on this fool's errand of nation-building something is wrong with you.

1 death for every 10 injuries isn't *that* bad.
posted by public at 9:05 AM on June 29, 2006


A good amount. You got to understand that elpapacitos statement revolved around the fact that pushers try to get kids to use drugs and he is saying that they dont. Well the truth is many of them do. Not all of them, there are many other prominant influences in childrens minds at 15. School, Parents, Church, and other groups actively work to influence kkids against drugs. I guess it boils down to which influence is stronger. What it doesnt boil down to (99.9% of the time) is that the 15 year old rationally thought about the situation and made an unbiased decision.
posted by Addiction at 9:06 AM on June 29, 2006


many more
posted by growabrain at 9:07 AM on June 29, 2006


These are impressive and powerful even if her technique is facile, simply because the stock of horrible imagery produced by the Iraq war is so great. In the face of a crisis of this scale, whether some 15-year-old enjoys a little bit of undeserved fame just doesn't matter. Envy and derision of Lowery are pointless.
posted by grobstein at 9:08 AM on June 29, 2006


But, Addiction, we are clearly not talking about the 'common' 15 year old here. Regardless of ones opinion of the work, clearly the creator has usual skill for her age (just which skill might be debatable, but getting the publicity requires skill). Even if 99.9% of 15 year olds do X, I would postulate that she falls into the 0.1% fairly easily. Group behaviour only goes so far when considering the individual.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:11 AM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Trying to make a political statement at the age of 15 is rediculous, the mind at 15 is such of a sponge it will absorb anything put in front of it that is painted as "cool" by society.

Did we learn nothing from FeistyFerret about underestimating teenagers?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:13 AM on June 29, 2006


As a mother the first video made me physically ill, so it does work on some people.

Also, I think about what I was doing when I was 15 (mostly moping around and feeling sorry for myself), and even if her technique isn't the greatest, at least she gives a rat's ass.
posted by thekilgore at 9:13 AM on June 29, 2006


Bovine: There is nothing that makes this 15 year old extraordinary other that the attention the media has given her.

Her flash skills: average or below.
Her message: not a result of her own unbiased observations (see above arguements about the 15 year old mind [arguements are able to be supported by clinical research if i wanted to really dig for links])

So what DO we really have here? What makes her outstanding? The media's use of her makes her outstanding.
posted by Addiction at 9:16 AM on June 29, 2006


imho we're all pretty impressionable.

I don't care if this chick has original thoughts; it just annoys me that her animations are kinda obnoxious.

lol @ "how did you even know about the war" tho

But seriously, whose mind is she gonna change? And what do injured children have to do with whether a war is reasonable or not?
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2006


addiction: what did you do when you were fifteen?
posted by Freen at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2006


Calling her work propaganda is wrong. Her work is blunt and direct but it's not so shalllow and empty that it can be digested easily or without pause. She relies a bit too much on images but images may be all that's left to her. I'd give her a gold star. She may be just what a lot of people need to break through the real propaganda that's so pervasive in American media.
posted by nixerman at 9:25 AM on June 29, 2006


Freen: I am not in any way saying she is acting inappropriately. I am saying that she is acting par for the course, and just because she is being used as a tool by the media does not in any way make her extraordinary or her infantile flashes "barrier breaking political commentary"
posted by Addiction at 9:27 AM on June 29, 2006


Addiction, you have no reason to believe that she's "being used by a tool by the media" except for your own silly and incorrect model of the "15 year old mind." The argument you're making is called ad hominem and it's a fallacy. If you are incapable of processing of her work then feel free to dismiss her as a stupid kid just don't expect more rational people to join you. I think yours and other's comments do reveal the real strength of the work. It seems people are willing to talk about everything but the topic of the work. A response is required but it seems to never get the response that the work so clearly demands.
posted by nixerman at 9:37 AM on June 29, 2006


Addiction (et al.): you remind me very much of this guy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:38 AM on June 29, 2006


Lots of 15-year old kids have this kind of opinion and know what is going on, which is good. But, gladly, they don't turn it into cheap melodrama and get "enlisted" to make more of it. It's poorly done and doesn't even try to offer up a solution.

This is right up there with bad teenage poetry, only in slightly different form.
posted by travosaurus at 9:39 AM on June 29, 2006


I'm so happy to know about this link, and I'm so impressed with what teenagers have to say, and how they go about saying it. Yay for 15 year olds with social concerns and the perseverance and energy to figure out how to put their concerns out there!

As opposed to the Mefis who feel a need to snark and derail so that everyone will know that *they* are way too cool to be impressed.
posted by jasper411 at 9:40 AM on June 29, 2006


So what if she sacrifices art-for-art's-sake to make a political point? Michael Moore and Tom Clancy can be accused of the same thing. Cripes, she's a 15-year-old kid from Alabama for crying out loud!

Personally, I thought the Jesus Loves Me montage was effective, because it used Christian symbolism to point out the hypocrisy of self-professed Christians who revel in the mass killing of "foreigners" and "heathens." So what if it will never win points for subtlety? It's a message that many people in Alabama need to hear.
posted by jonp72 at 9:43 AM on June 29, 2006


And what do injured children have to do with whether a war is reasonable or not?

Don't be a dipshit. You know the answer to that question. The wounded children are an (all too common) part of this war. It's not a game. It would be nice if you could get that little fact through the heads of GWB and his Republican base. And the very least war supporters should be required to see, and own up to, the carnage they have unleashed. Their free to still support the war after doing so, but the idea that showing some children horribly wounded by this war is below the belt in some way, well, that's just bullshit. Most war supporters have never seen these images, I bet, and when the do their knee-jerk reaction often seems to be "that's propaganda," at which point they metaphorically put their fingers in their ears and say "la-la-la...".

This is powerful stuff because it works. Any one that actually gives a shit about what Christ says should be deeply moved by the "Jesus Loves Me" animation. Indeed, I'd say if that doesn't make the knee-jerk, war-supporting Christians really search their souls, I say they aren't really Christians at all. The Jesus from the Bible I know would not support the war in Iraq -- yet many of the fervid war supports claim to be devout Christians. Pointing out their hypocrisy is very germane. Using gut-wrenching images to get the point across, as it fits the scenario. Those are real kids, dammit.

The girl is talented. Her message antagonizes people because it kicks them where it hurts. The "learned elite" (which is very heavily over-represented on MeFi) likes to pretend we live in a world where reason and logic are all it takes to bring someone around to your point of view. A world where everyone carefully weighs the facts before deciding if they support a war. That world does not exist.

There must powerful emotion in a message such as this if it to have any effect. At 15, that the girl understands that, and gets up off her teenage ass and does something, marks her as special. Saying she can't have an actual opinion because she is 15 is silly, and a logical fallacy to boot. Writing off her stuff as "propaganda" (which it is, in a strict sense, but those that call it that really mean: lies and evilness, which this ain't) is another fallacy. Picking nits on some 15 yo amateur's animation abilities is just plain daft.
posted by teece at 9:59 AM on June 29, 2006


Eh, I don't care for this kind of propaganda, but for what it is it's reasonably well done. I do think the poster might have avoided using the phrase "master of flash-based propaganda," which is silly and invites snarking. She came across well in the interview (the "confused and bewildered" link), certainly much better than the idiot reporter ("how did you even know about the war" indeed!). I can't imagine a single person's mind being changed by a montage of wounded Iraqi children set to a horrid kiddie rendition of "Jesus Loves Me," but maybe I just have a weak imagination.
posted by languagehat at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2006


Trying to make a political statement at the age of 15 is rediculous, the mind at 15 is such of a sponge it will absorb anything put in front of it that is painted as "cool" by society. Thus rebeling against the war, which her peer group labels as the cool thing to do, is the motive of such works.

Yes, anti-war activism is something teens only do to be cool. It's all the rage in Alabama high schools. You're pro-war and want to get on the cheerleading squad? Yeah, right!

Addiction, what do you know about her motivations and peer group? Yes, generally speaking, teens (and adults) are influenced by their peers. But not always. I had political opinions when I was ten. In high school, the only other kids I knew who liked to talk about politics were on the other side of the spectrum. (These guys were my friends, but they sure weren't the cool kids.) My ideas at that age weren't that sophisticated. Ava's ideas are not be that sophisticated either. But in this climate, you don't have to be that savvy to respond to some bullshit like Bush's "God told me to go to war."

Ava's stuff is impressive for a fifteen-year-old. I'd bet if the OP didn't say her age none of us would've guessed. It's basic flash, but that doesn't make it bad flash. Sometimes, flash can be a tool used to get a message across. It doesn't have to be an exercise in showing off your skills.

If you're going to discount her message on technical merits, you should also ridicule her font choice. That would really show her!

On preview, what teece said.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2006


Well, I posted this becuase despite the simplicity of her flash clips, Lowery's work is imo far more accurate and truthful about the Iraq war than most of what you see in the mainstream media in at least one crucial respect: she never fails to consider the violence done to Iraqis in the course of this war.

That's something that gets lost in mainstream media, always. Americans don't like to take responsibilty for the sort of suffering they've inflicted. It makes them change the channel. It doesn't sell Volvos. And so you don't see any interest in what happens to Iraqis on the US media, ever. Almost ever. The New York prints detailed bio's on the relative handful of American soldiers killed in the fighting. What about the 50,000 dead Iraqis? (or is it 120,00? Who knows?) No profiles on them. They're just the ones we killed.

Lowery's consistant attention to the human consequences to "the other side" strikes me as more ethical and professional than almost anything I've seen in the mainstream media since 9/11--or at least the mainstream media in the United States.

The relative seriousness and accuracy of Lowery's clips is a sad reflection on debasement of American media, as in evident in the clip from CNN.

The sad consequence of our media's debasement is that when US soldiers are withdrawn from Iraq, or holed up in the green zone in anticipation of the next Presidential election, Americans will feel that the war has improved, since they've learned from the media to evaluate it only in term of dead Americans. We can then start the cycle all over again.
posted by washburn at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thus rebeling against the war, which her peer group labels as the cool thing to do, is the motive of such works. This negates their value as it is not a rational decision of her own, only a product of pop culture.

I don't doubt that as a possibility, but I'm amazed at how easily you are able to pigeonhole her motives. No, this couldn't possibly be out of sincere concern for those who are affected by the war or anything of the sort. It's certainly just to impress all her anti-Bush peers in Alabama. Uh-huh.
posted by Stauf at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2006


thirteenkiller: And what do injured children have to do with whether a war is reasonable or not?

teece: Don't be a dipshit. You know the answer to that question. The wounded children are an (all too common) part of this war. It's not a game.

I think you're a bit too quick with the "dipshit" label there, teece. The point is actually a logically valid one -- namely, that every war is going to, by definition, injure and kill people (including innocent children). So simply displaying pictures of injured or killed people really doesn't tell us anything about the reasonableness of the war. Or, put differently, I'm sure if WWII were fought now, someone could put a slide show together of thousands of injured Japanese or German children. Would that prove that WWII was unreasonable?

This is not to say, of course, that such pictures show that the war is reasonable -- they simply don't tell us anything, in and of themselves, about the validity of the war. (By the way, I say this will full appreciation of the fact that you are downplaying the significance of reason and logic).
posted by pardonyou? at 10:26 AM on June 29, 2006


public writes "When was the last time you saw a drug pusher that owned an international media conglomerate? (And used it to push drugs.)"

Yesterday ? No really, I don't know of any drug pusher owning a dimension wise big media, but certainly I know some company pushing a drug by using media.
posted by elpapacito at 10:31 AM on June 29, 2006


Calling her work propaganda is wrong.

True. Most propaganda displays a modicum of talent.
posted by Falconetti at 10:41 AM on June 29, 2006


Making stock images slideshows and setting music to them does not make a master.

The interest -- to me -- would seem to be the focus placed upon this 15 year old girl. Working with the images provided by professional photographers, many of whom quite likely risked their lives to acquire such photos.

Why should it take overwrought sensationalistic tripe to make this point? The images speak for themselves (or at least they ought to) but for some reason the audience so desperately feels a need for them to be set to songs which marginally enhance the point: war kills people.

Are these slideshows changing any minds? Are they enlightening those who do not understand the tragedy of violent deaths?

I suspect they only serve as a divisive message, something for supporters to watch and think "The other guy is terrible, we must stop him" and to yell about when the other side criticizes the message. And then when the battle of words has settled down for a while, all her supporters can sit back and glow in the light of her being fifteen, of her being a girl.

Oh the superioty of our cause, surely we are indeed good-doers.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2006


pardonyou, it has to do with refuting the claim that this war is God's will. And it has to do with how wars should be fought, and how political support for wars is controlled. You don't have to think that the US shouldn't have entered WWII to think that the US shouldn't have fire-bombed Dresden and Tokyo. You don't even have to think the US shouldn't have invaded Iraq to think that there's no such thing as a "surgical strike".
posted by hydrophonic at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2006


When was the last time you saw a drug pusher that owned an international media conglomerate

Well, there was the Black Mafia Family, but they've got trials coming up...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:43 AM on June 29, 2006


Addiction is an ass of the first order (he should room with CNN's Carol Lin, they can make ass-bunnies together).

First, the FPP was overplayed, washburn. You begged for a backlash. Don't do that next time. Second, she's clearly not up to the level of -- say -- Eugene Jarecki or Simon Robson, but hey, she's fifteen. Third, she's clearly not gonna win any subtlety awards, but hey, she's fifteen. I maintain this is pretty good for fifteen despite its flaws.

Examples: all-caps text (with a kerning-breaking R); poor timing on the WWJD finale with the second air-raid siren; re-use of certain images in multiple presentations; that sort of thing. She's not above criticism.

But I don't see why we should discount her opinion entirely because she's fifteen. Hell, I'm capable of discounting the opinions of fully-formed adults, so adulthood doesn't automatically make your opinions valid -- so why should adolescence automatically make your opinions invalid? Do we really need to check the age of the author before we agree or disagree with something? I think that's a big red herring, and y'all know it.

Finally, I don't think that Lin/CNN were confused or bewildered at all. That was a hit job, pure and simple, disguised as a fluff piece. Baiting her with "why are you interested in the news?" from a news anchor desk is more facile than anything Lowery has done. Lin obviously wanted her to answer that she got her opinions from her parents, or Michael Moore, and was frustrated that Lowery actually gave a measured and intelligent response. Really shameful, and deliberate propaganda through-and-through -- the producers were trying to "school" her, no doubt. "Hey, we've got millions of viewers -- we'll show you how it's done!" Really, watch as Lin ratchets into attack mode as Lowery refuses to give her childish answers. Basically the Billo playbook. Thoroughly disgusting.

I think the recent YearlyKos thing showed that Lowery is no fluke relying on cheap theatrics and gore -- she can make a strong, concise message using a variety of tones. She's getting better and will undoubtedly be a true master by the time she actually becomes an adult. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she's tapped for Congressional campaign commercials (Lord knows that's a stage for cheap theatrics, if you see her that way).
posted by dhartung at 10:43 AM on June 29, 2006


"Chick"? "Kid"? "Go back to MySpace"? At least pay her a modicum of respect by focusing on her work and stop judging her solely by her age.
posted by jokeefe at 10:48 AM on June 29, 2006


And yeah, what teece said.
posted by jokeefe at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2006


The New York prints detailed bio's on the relative handful of American soldiers killed in the fighting. What about the 50,000 dead Iraqis? (or is it 120,00? Who knows?) No profiles on them. They're just the ones we killed.

Gee, I wonder why that is...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:57 AM on June 29, 2006


OMG! A young person is opposed to war and uses one-sided imagery to express her feelings! And she put it on the internet!

Hippy.
posted by chudmonkey at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2006


Loading, loading, loading, loading.

Does that mean I'll be there for another hour or another 5 seconds? Nope, it means I've already closed the page because I can't answer the question and don't know enough about her work to know if it's worth spending the time on.

To the artist, if you are reading this, think percentage.
posted by 517 at 11:01 AM on June 29, 2006


I read all this first and then went back and watched them expecting to rally to her defense, but really they don't seem that special to me at all.

If these were presented to me by a 15 year old cousin, I'd be impressed and very encouraging, and the videos might do a lot to impact other 15 year olds. In any other context for any other audience, I find them insipid. Hell, I've been waiting for people to do interesting things with "Zombie" ever since the war started, but this was pretty impotent.

The good news being, who knows what she'll be capable of by the time she's 25? Maybe this sort of exposure will set her on the right track.
posted by hermitosis at 11:04 AM on June 29, 2006


Ugh. I vote for facile emotionalism. The problem is unless someone tells her, when she's 25 she'll just be producing more technically proficient propaganda.

I fully expect her to product stuff like this because she is 15. I do not expect adults to swallow it up. In one of her videos, it's just pictures of the brutality of war.

Ok, I get it, war is brutal. So was the Revolutionary war, the civil war, World War II, etc. So what exactly is the point?

And the "Bush lied" stuff - we know. Get over it. Roosevelt lied. Truman lied. Kennedy lied. Clinton lied. Grown-ups lie.

To make any kind of progress on this front, you have to be able to articulate why the situation in the world (incl. Iraq) would have been better now and in the future had we not invaded in 2003.

The rest of this stuff sounds like so much 9th grade thinking to me. Which is perfectly fine if you are in ninth-grade, but not fine if you are forging public policy.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:18 AM on June 29, 2006


This is neither here nor there, but Ava Lowery's Flash animations are a bad fake, witten by a mom. The easy signifiers of juvenile prose are laid on so thick that it rings like those awful pamphlets about drugs and safe sex that tried to talk to kids "in their own language".
posted by Floydd at 11:18 AM on June 29, 2006


hydrophonic, that's all well and good, but that wasn't my point. My point was defending thirteenkiller against teece's "dipshit" comment. My point was that without context, the pictures don't convey any substantive information about the overall reasonableness of the war. They're upsetting and they're heartbreaking, but what do they prove? Were each of these children injured by the U.S., or might some of these be the result of insurgent car bombs? Does that matter? Is the U.S. being too indiscriminate in its targeting? Do these pictures prove that this isn't "God's will" (to reference a suspect quote)? Those are all good questions, but unfortunately the slideshow doesn't help answer any of them.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:22 AM on June 29, 2006


Trying to make a political statement at the age of 15 is rediculous, the mind at 15 is such of a sponge it will absorb anything put in front of it that is painted as "cool" by society.

Well, it can't possibly absorb anything. Some people can't absorb spelling, for example.

Also, this girl created quite a shit storm, which, most likely, was precisely her intent. So, talented or not, it really did work, didn't it?
posted by c13 at 11:23 AM on June 29, 2006


"Animation Producer Gets Ugly Slurs"
posted by Tenuki at 11:34 AM on June 29, 2006


I think, c13, that means she is talented.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2006


Floydd writes "but Ava Lowery's Flash animations are a bad fake, witten by a mom."


You are not talking about that Ava in the video, are you ? She handles the interviewer interruptions and question skillfully ; working on the information I have I would say she is able to form the videos, not needing "a mom" to do her job. I guess some adults unconsciously are in denial of the fact they aren't far brighter then a fine 15 years old.
posted by elpapacito at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2006


Also, this girl created quite a shit storm, which, most likely, was precisely her intent. So, talented or not, it really did work, didn't it?
posted by c13 at 2:23 PM EST on June 29


Sigh. Of course you're right, c13, she set out to create controversey, and she accomplished it.

At what point though, did this become a laudable goal? She created a shitstorm, great. More noise to drown the signal.

What's annoying is that I'm seeing this everywhere now. Who is it that's teaching kids that you have to do something controversial to make your mark or start a career?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:38 AM on June 29, 2006


As a person who tried to start his own independent music production business at 16, one big fuck you to Addiction for his discriminatory attitudes about the minds of adolescents.

kids are rather good at seeing through bullshit.
posted by eustatic at 11:41 AM on June 29, 2006


(It was a joke, elpapacito. Click here for context.)
posted by Floydd at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2006


More noise to drown the signal.

Signal? What signal? That we're in the "last throes"?
What is wrong with being controversial? Besides, isn't that what we all teach our kids? That they have to "stand out", to "make a difference", etc, etc. How else are they supposed to behave? The sheep don't "stand out".
Finally, what exactly is so controversial about her message? Is it that it was a pretty bad thing for us to do to send a country back to the stone age just because a fuck up of a son wants to out-do his daddy? Dead babies? Destroyed families? That's the controversy?
Or is it the fact that a 15-year-old can be more intellectually and emotionally mature than half of her countrymen?
posted by c13 at 11:52 AM on June 29, 2006


kids are rather good at seeing through bullshit.

Really?
: )
posted by stifford at 11:53 AM on June 29, 2006


As a person who tried to start his own independent music production business at 16, one big fuck you to Addiction for his discriminatory attitudes about the minds of adolescents.

kids are rather good at seeing through bullshit.
posted by eustatic at 2:41 PM EST on June 29


If you tried that at 16, you are precisely NOT what this girl is. You tried to do something, and starting businesses is something bright kdis can excel at, often more so than adults because they are more imaginative, more apt to take risks, and better able to develop an intutive feel for a market.

I disagree with your last comment, though, that kids are better at seeing through bullshit. They are very good at seeing through the top-down bullshit coming from adults, but in no way are they capable of discerning institutional BS, propaganda or marketing. How many kids use myspace without realizing that it's a corporate datamining market research operation.

Also, they tend to lump decent advice coming from adults as BS, which demonstrates a lack of judgment.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:59 AM on June 29, 2006


Would everyone still have all the same opinions of this girl's maturity and quality of work, if she was using the same techniques to make anti-abortion flash movies?
posted by stifford at 12:05 PM on June 29, 2006


And the "Bush lied" stuff - we know. Get over it. Roosevelt lied. Truman lied. Kennedy lied. Clinton lied. Grown-ups lie.

So the nature of the lie is irrelevant? Compare Clinton's lies to Bush's lies. Which had a body count? I imagine some of those soldier's families and friends think that a distinction can be made.
posted by aubin at 12:06 PM on June 29, 2006


First, the FPP was overplayed, washburn. You begged for a backlash. Don't do that next time.

Well "master of flash based propaganda" was, I thought, a pretty apparent overstatement. Clearly, she is not a technical master of flash, which I was pointing out in advance. With regard to Flash, she's pretty clearly a rank amateur. And yet still, what she produces is more substantive, in terms of its content and significance, than what one finds on CNN and etc. I hadn't noticed any "backlash," since I thought the term "master" was pretty obviously tongue-in-cheek.

What Lowery is better is at making jarring and powerful claims, and combining them with images that the grown ups have been too timid to broadcast.

All the people here saying "ok dead people, who cares?" And "move along, move along!" are imo missing the point. What you see in the pictures here are the events and people that make broad statistics, studies, and philosophical arguments meaningful, granting them significance only insofar as they relate to the kind of thing one sees here in the first person. Trivializing these images trivializes the arguments about these sorts of events as well, and the absence of such pictures from our daily diet of images is at least as potentially distorting as their presence in Lowery's clips.

My last Mefi post (mostly a double, it turned out) was about Harold Lasswell, who argued in the 40's that propaganda was a necessary good. It may be that the emotionalism of Lowery's work is non-trivial, and even a necessary ingredient of future progressive movements, that need to be able to present ideas in both analytical and emotionally resonant styles.
posted by washburn at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2006


Would everyone still have all the same opinions of this girl's maturity and quality of work, if she was using the same techniques to make anti-abortion flash movies?

That reminds me of all the hoopla about bad cops arresting courageous little kids that wanted to bring poor brain-dead Terry some water.
posted by c13 at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2006


So the nature of the lie is irrelevant? Compare Clinton's lies to Bush's lies. Which had a body count? I imagine some of those soldier's families and friends think that a distinction can be made.
posted by aubin at 3:06 PM EST on June 29


Nope, the nature of the lie is VERY relevant, and a distinction can be made. She and so many others, do not make it.

Thus, in the context of making persuasive arguments she fails. So her output fails as propaganda as well
posted by Pastabagel at 12:32 PM on June 29, 2006


The theme of the month at Metafilter is that adults don't respect children...
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:38 PM on June 29, 2006


You people are very bitter and mean.
posted by knave at 12:41 PM on June 29, 2006


All the people here saying "ok dead people, who cares?" And "move along, move along!" are imo missing the point. What you see in the pictures here are the events and people that make broad statistics, studies, and philosophical arguments meaningful, granting them significance only insofar as they relate to the kind of thing one sees here in the first person. Trivializing these images trivializes the arguments about these sorts of events as well, and the absence of such pictures from our daily diet of images is at least as potentially distorting as their presence in Lowery's clips.

No, what you see here is the same sort of emotionally opportunistic war-porn images that dogmatists of all stripes use to galvanize their side against others. You see the same thing in the Palestinian martyr DVD's they sell in the West Bank, filled with videos of children killed by the IDF and the martyrs sent to avenge them. It's the same thing you see in the videos produced by anti-abortion groups in the US, which use horrific images of dead and mutilated babies to shame young women to their side. I didn't like it when the state department pulled this sort of stunt in 1992, having the Kuwait ambassador's daughter testify that Iraqi's rip babies from their incubators (Babies! Incubators!) as a reason to invade Iraq, and I don't like it when similar emotional appeals are used in place of rational thought during this one. Wars and the reasons behind them are a hell of a lot more complex than the reasons, say, c13 brings to the table ("Is it that it was a pretty bad thing for us to do to send a country back to the stone age just because a fuck up of a son wants to out-do his daddy").

The right does it all the time, and it makes me sick. The fact that supposed progressives are now jumping on board with this emotionally manipulative drivel makes me wonder if the Kossacks are just becoming the left's version of Dittoheads.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:46 PM on June 29, 2006


The interviewer really asked "how did you even know about the war"? I just saw it, but I'm in disbelief. Talk about condescending. A 15 year old isn't an adult, but they are by no stretch infants either.

CNN is annoying drivel. If I could unsubscribe from it while keeping my CBC Newsworld, I would.
posted by raedyn at 12:55 PM on June 29, 2006


pardonyou?, no, the video doesn't address whether the war is reasonable. I don't think that's the point. It's to counter the way victims get whitewashed, which is a form of pro-war propaganda.

But yeah, teece didn't have to call thirteenkiller a dipshit. And you're right, the quote is suspect. But that's not the only Bush quote along those lines.

Didn't a lot of the public opinion againt the Vietnam War come from the fact that it was televised live, right into people's living rooms? These days the kind of coverage we see is more carefully controlled. I remember looking at old Life magazines, and the carnage was there, right out in the open.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:04 PM on June 29, 2006


This thread is really bring out the assholes out from under their rocks.
posted by tula at 1:10 PM on June 29, 2006


Pastabagel: Who is it that's teaching kids that you have to do something controversial to make your mark or start a career?

Oh, I dunno...where could kids possibly be learning that? Perhaps from all of the media with which their world is saturated?

This all just looks to me like this girl has something to say, found a way to say it, and is doing so. Good on her. And while I may quarrel somewhat with oversimplifications or manipulative techniques employed in her work, that seems to me beside the point. She is articulating some fundamental, humanistic truths that are important to keep at the center of one's attention when horrible things are happening.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:14 PM on June 29, 2006


This all just looks to me like this girl has something to say, found a way to say it, and is doing so. Good on her. And while I may quarrel somewhat with oversimplifications or manipulative techniques employed in her work, that seems to me beside the point. She is articulating some fundamental, humanistic truths that are important to keep at the center of one's attention when horrible things are happening.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:14 PM EST on June 29


What did she say? I'm serious, what is her point? Waht are those truths? That the war is a mistake regardless of the lies, or that the she and others thought the war was justified based on those lies? Or that all war is wrong and unnecessary? It seems to me like she doesn't really know what she wants to say, but she certainly knows how she wants to say it.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:21 PM on June 29, 2006


Well, I found her messages pretty direct. For example:

--war kills people, and that's terrible, and it should be avoided--raising the question: could this war have been avoided?

--Jesus' teachings are pretty clear (with quote goodness just to illustrate). For a president who talks a lot about what God tells him to do, he ignores a whole lot of what God said directly to us through his Son. (This one is especially pointed, coming from a girl deep in the bible belt, and is clearly a challenge to the people who surround her.)

I just think she's trying to get people to take off their political conceptual filters and pay attention to the human reality of what's going on. She does not, to me, appear to have a political point. She has a humanistic point with political ramifications.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:57 PM on June 29, 2006


Good on you, Ava.
posted by deborah at 2:09 PM on June 29, 2006


While I reject the protectionalism of eustacescrubb, et al, I will say that if you're going to be heavy-handed with your messages, 15 is a pretty excusable time to be doing so.
posted by everichon at 2:09 PM on June 29, 2006


~chuckle~

The projection in this thread is tragic-comic, if not appalling.

Here the usual silly folks decry merely showing what really, actually, invariably, logically happens in war.

Not unexpectedly, in their anxiety over what war really means, they accuse others of the emotionality.

What they’re really saying is please, keep war’s reality wrapped. We can’t deal with it. We are driven by our own tremendous anxiety over just barely recognizing the primitive emotions that lead invariably to war, hiding from the knowledge that deciding to wage war is driven by exactly the same hatred and fear we ascribe to our “enemies”.

We don’t want to see what those emotions have wrought, the terrifying dead, people just like us. We don’t want to reason about that. We don’t want to go there. We fear those visions and that reality so much, that we will rationalize and prevaricate endlessly about “complex issues”. It’s better if war is something we just hear filtered via CNN. We’re safe, then.

It is hysteria, fear, anger, emotion, that led to this war, and which sustains it now.

There’s nothing “complex” or “reasonable” about deciding to wage war. There never has been. War represents a horrifying failure. The scarlet toothpaste is out of the fucking tube – squirting it around more ain’t accomplishing anything, except allowing our reptilian brainparts to rule.

Please, some of you, knock yourselves out. Go sell “complexity” and “reasonableness” to the parents of the dead. Let us know how that goes over. Their families are DEAD in a war that never had to happen. Weight THAT in the balance NOW, reason about that NOW. Fucking few of you did it BEFORE the war. Fucking few of you want to do it even now.

Those of us who really want to reason about war have but one rallying cry: more light, more reason. The commendable, brave Ava Lowery, is merely providing more light, more reality.

Strange and telling that some of you fear viscerally that light, and that reality, so much.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:31 PM on June 29, 2006


It is simplistic and heavy-handed stuff. And I find the idolization of Ava in evidence at dKos creepy and annoying.

However, exposing Americans to the sight of dead and wounded Iraqis, including children, is something that our mainstream media has neglected to do. If Ada's slideshows (which aren't any stunning aesthetic achievement in themselves) open some eyes, that's a good thing.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:35 PM on June 29, 2006


There’s nothing “complex” or “reasonable” about deciding to wage war. There never has been. War represents a horrifying failure.

Ha! Aren't you romantic...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 2:40 PM on June 29, 2006


If Ada's slideshows (which aren't any stunning aesthetic achievement in themselves) open some eyes, that's a good thing.

totally. it's important that the results of what we're doing are seen by all of us (and if we wait for CNN and the rest of the media, we'll be waiting forever).
posted by amberglow at 2:40 PM on June 29, 2006


Ok, I'll bite: I looked up protectionalism in my unabridged dictionary and got nothing. My hat is off to everichon for going the extra mile with a straw man -- not only is it an argument I never made, but it's a word that doesn't exist.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:43 PM on June 29, 2006


Wow. I'm very impressed by these fantastic war photographs taken by a 15-year-old. How did she clear the trip to war-torn regions with her parents? She could probably sell these images to the media for a lot of money.

I'm also very impressed by the music she was able to write and record. Very solid for someone of that age. She must be a virtuouso. Someone should consider signing her to a record contract.

I guess I can forgive the poor Flash skills, and rudimentary animation.
posted by kcalder at 3:05 PM on June 29, 2006


but it's a word that doesn't exist.

Eh, I gambled and lost. I still think you're exaggerating the threat/indifference/whatever to children on MeFi, and in Jill Greenburg's studio, for that matter.
posted by everichon at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2006


Here the usual silly folks decry merely showing what really, actually, invariably, logically happens in war.

I think its a little more serious than people just being "silly". A bunch of scoundrels talking about what "logically happens" in war, having never seen, participate or being affected in any way by one is downright nauseating. A bunch of overweight fucks who throw tantrums anytime their kid doesn't get the toy he wants with his HappyMeal want to be all "reasonable" when someone else' kid gets blown to pieces? You all want reason? How about the messages that girl gets on her site?
“It’s people like you who need to fucking die and get raped while your corpse rots in the sun,” said one e-mail Lowery shared with me. “Fuck you, I would jack off on your parents if I could. If you don’t like the team, get out of the park. That means take ur small dick and get the fuck off of my homeland you faggot chocolate gulper.”

“You are a TRAITOR to your country and should be executed for treason,” another one said. “All you do is bitch about the US. If you hate it so much, why don’t you GET THE FUCK OUT.”

“Why don’t you go masterbate [sic] to a pic of Sheehan and fuck off,” said a third.

“Are you a muslem [sic] terrorist?” asked another.

Reasonable enough for you?

It is simplistic and heavy-handed stuff.
Really? I must have not noticed them taking down the stupid crying eagle billboards off the side of the interstate.
There’s nothing “complex” or “reasonable” about deciding to wage war. There never has been. War represents a horrifying failure.
No shit! Now guess who the "horrifying failure" is.
posted by c13 at 3:09 PM on June 29, 2006


"Chick"? "Kid"? "Go back to MySpace"? At least pay her a modicum of respect by focusing on her work and stop judging her solely by her age.

I didn't say "go back to MySpace" because she's young; I said it because she's emo.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:47 PM on June 29, 2006


Won't someone please think of the children?!
posted by oxford blue at 5:36 PM on June 29, 2006


*thinks of children*

*shudder*
posted by everichon at 6:23 PM on June 29, 2006


meh: I thought it was pretty weak, partly because I'm not into her message and it's FUCKING EVERYWHERE anyway. Who needs a new soundtrack to the idea that the Iragis are suffering?

I guess if this is new to some people, then, hell, it was worth doing for her. But I don't want to have to sit through remedial facile emotional leftist shit 101 again just because not everyone knows about it.

Also: is there not a nice patriotic truthseeking American band that she could have used for DailyKos? Greenday's American Idiot springs to mind.
posted by jacalata at 7:40 PM on June 29, 2006


I still think you're exaggerating the threat/indifference/whatever to children on MeFi

What's a MeFite to do if he can't snark a little now and then?
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:56 PM on June 29, 2006


Did MeFi get invaded by freepers or the lgf crowd? Some of the bile expressed in this thread has been more than a bit surprising, not least of all the glib glossing over of dead children as mere collateral damage.

WWJD indeed.
posted by papakwanz at 10:09 PM on June 29, 2006


some slides playing on a black background and a song. wow, true flash mastery. as for the content... the only award it might be up for is the most cliched thing i have ever seen.
posted by sophist at 10:24 PM on June 29, 2006


I don't know how to put this, but her flash is terrible. I feel bad for saying it because she is just a teen, and there's a good chance that if she keeps at it she could be really good in three or four years. But yeah, if this had come from an adult it would be unremarkable. In fact, even from a 15 year old it's unremarkable.

Definitely pushers do everything and more then everything to hook up teenagers with the idea drugs is cool, yet they fail.

I don't even know where to begin with this. "pushers"? Are you straight out of a Nancy Regan Just Say No Ad? Besides drugs ARE cool!
posted by Paris Hilton at 11:40 PM on June 29, 2006


And yet still, what she produces is more substantive, in terms of its content and significance, than what one finds on CNN and etc.

Do you actually watch CNN or just hear about it secondhand and watch clips from the 'blogosphere'? And she didn't take the photos, she just used them.
posted by Paris Hilton at 12:02 AM on June 30, 2006


Do you actually watch CNN [. . . ]

Your suggestion is that if I were a real viewer of CNN, I'd never have expressed doubts concerning its content and significance?
posted by washburn at 12:12 AM on June 30, 2006


Did MeFi get invaded by freepers or the lgf crowd? Some of the bile expressed in this thread has been more than a bit surprising, not least of all the glib glossing over of dead children as mere collateral damage.

Um, just for the record, I don't see one person who "glossed over" dead children as "mere collateral damage." The only point being made was that pictures of dead children without more do not tell you anything about the relative validity of the war that killed them. This has nothing to do with the cruelty of collateral damage or the tragedy of innocent children dying in war -- both of which I readily acknowledge (of course, I no longer support this war, either). It has everything to do with trying to use inflammatory anecdotal evidence (these children have been hurt/killed) as proof of a larger point (the war is therefore wrong) when there's no logical connection. For what it's worth, I found the WWJD slideshow profoundly disturbing and upsetting.

Please do not mischaracterize others' posts just to make an inflammatory claim.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:52 AM on June 30, 2006


And what do injured children have to do with whether a war is reasonable or not?

Ok, I get it, war is brutal. So was the Revolutionary war, the civil war, World War II, etc. So what exactly is the point?

I thought it was pretty weak, partly because I'm not into her message and it's FUCKING EVERYWHERE anyway.

I know you've already defended thirteenkiller's statement as making a "logically valid" point, and I'll grant that the three posters, as well as the rest of people who've snarked all over this thread, probably don't think "fuck iraqi children" but they all come off as, "Dead kids? *yawn* ... what's for dinner?"

And yes, I'll agree that the technical aspects of Lowery's work are not particularly impressive, nor is the message the most thought out and effective in the world. I don't know that it will change any minds because, as you point out, its not clear exactly what she's trying to accomplish. But regardless, the base content of the work is powerful and viscerally moving. The problem is, as you say, it lacks the rational framework to channel any emotional impact it may have.
posted by papakwanz at 7:54 AM on June 30, 2006


If you're not admiring the technical aspects of her work, or her message, then what the hell has she done other than use other people's photos (that by themselves, pretty much say anything she was trying to) with some crappy music to say 'birds are dying...'? I reserve the right to say that her work is not interesting or special, without that being a comment on the overall point of view that she shares. And given that this FPP is ostensibly about her work, and not leftist opinions in general, that should be how it is taken.
posted by jacalata at 9:32 AM on June 30, 2006


It has everything to do with trying to use inflammatory anecdotal evidence (these children have been hurt/killed) as proof of a larger point (the war is therefore wrong) when there's no logical connection.

Did I just see different slideshows than many of you? I didn't see her make a political point, only humanistic ones. The pictures of dead children and dead soldiers, in my estimation, were clearly used simply to remind the viewer that war is horrible--which is something that, judging from a lot of the media "dialogue" occurring daily, we do in fact need to be reminded of.

The piece with "Jesus Loves Me" was not a criticism of the war itself, btw. It was a criticism of those who loudly exclaim their devout Christianity and then make decisions that cause much suffering and death.

Why is anything critical of war seen as a political statement? Take another look at Picasso's Guernica or give Benjamin Britten's War Requiem a listen. While this girl's craft is nowhere near those two brilliant works, it's my sense that she's after much the same thing: to remind the viewer that there is a tremendous human cost to such decisions, and that cost should be at the forefront of our minds, always.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:17 AM on June 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


For everyone saying she's just making flash videos and that she's doing nothing more than using pictures other people take, you might want to check out her site. She's gathering together news reports, writing articles, and sharing her opinion through a variety of media as well as making videos. She interviewed a Senator and asked questions not only about Iraq but also about the impact of the war on Iran and the rest of the middle east. Personally, I'm impressed by the sheer variety of information she's gathered up in one place, and her committment to expressing the somewhat complicated opinion that the war is bad, but soldiers shouldn't be hated for it.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2006


She has far fewer haters than admirers, i think, overall. It's unfortunate tho, that the ones who have contacted her are so insane.


Why is anything critical of war seen as a political statement?
Because war is inherently a political act, undertaken by one country against another or people within another.
posted by amberglow at 7:33 PM on June 30, 2006


clever. But though I disagree fully with the invasion of Iraq, what of those slaughtered and maimed by the leader of Iraq prior to the invasion? this, as asked: anti-Bushj, USA, or anti-war?
posted by Postroad at 4:45 AM on July 1, 2006


what of those slaughtered and maimed by the leader of Iraq prior to the invasion?

We can't be responsible for all the things dictators do--we'd be in every country on earth if that was the case, and we ignore genocides all the time (when they don't have oil) and Saddam was our buddy while he was doing those things too. She rightly focuses on those horrors we're responsible for.
posted by amberglow at 8:50 PM on July 1, 2006


Postroad, I think, was asking if it is anti-Bush or anti-war or what to bring up what Saddam did. I think it is generally seen as pro-war ("at least we got rid of him! And he did all this") As evidence, see amberglow's response, which is saying that it's not a good enough reason for war.

amberglow: I thought the US was responsible for Saddam being there?
posted by jacalata at 9:35 PM on July 1, 2006


Then we're responsible for what he did before and what we're doing now too. Don't even get me started on the Shah of Iran, and many many many others.
posted by amberglow at 8:17 AM on July 4, 2006


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