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Harmony, just do it
January 27, 2008 2:42 PM   Subscribe

YouTube in partnership with The Davos Forum has established a great "contest" although I don't think of it like that. YouTubers are asked to submit a video answering the question "What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?" I thought a long time about the question, and then, after approaching Mayor Gavin Newsom to be in the video, then getting caught up against deadlines, I had the answer: to end racism around the World. Here's the video. Here's Emma Thompson's response.
posted by nickyskye (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
A few minutes later though, Emma Thompson just got tired of all the bullshit...
posted by growabrain at 2:46 PM on January 27, 2008


If you call making a constructive effort for the world to be a better place bullshit.
posted by nickyskye at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2008


I'm for the systematic extermination of all humans of all races and creeds, myself. Then the world would be a much better place.

(But yes, racism is stupid and a big barrier to a peaceful, albeit human-infested, world.)
posted by not_on_display at 2:57 PM on January 27, 2008


Davos isn't about making the world a better place. It's a big talking shop full of people whose primary interest is making themselves richer, with a side order of trying to use some paper-thin philanthropy to avoid looking like Bilderberg.
posted by imperium at 2:57 PM on January 27, 2008


End racism around the world, eh? That sounds like exactly the kind of sharply specific, easily implemented measure that the kind of people who go to Davos will completely lap up.
posted by Mocata at 2:58 PM on January 27, 2008


An aggressive and binding commitment from all major industrial nations to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere below 450ppm CO2 equivalent.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:59 PM on January 27, 2008


One thing individuals could do is commit themselves to parenting only one child, thats what the mushroom told Terrence McKenna.
posted by hortense at 3:02 PM on January 27, 2008


Ms Thompson demonstrated her solidarity by sporting a fake Afro, apparently.
posted by SPrintF at 3:03 PM on January 27, 2008


I agree that ending racism would make the world a better place. However, I'm don't think I'm prepared to go as far as Emma Thompson and grow a large afro to show my solidarity.
posted by saslett at 3:04 PM on January 27, 2008


Damn you and your fast fingers, SPrintF! *shakes fist in air*
posted by saslett at 3:05 PM on January 27, 2008


Holy fuck that was stupid. Before clicking the link I assumed the speaker was a 6 year old or something. Nope--just intellectually. Yeah, lets get the rock stars and actors to stand in line to end racism. They did such a bang up job with making poverty history, after all.
posted by dobbs at 3:06 PM on January 27, 2008


Ending racism around the world is an empty platitude. It would be a commendable sentiment coming from a 12 year old, but in an adult, represents both a failure of imagination and a failure to think realistically about the world. U2 and a commercial? That's some deep fucking inspiration right there. What an insipid video.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:10 PM on January 27, 2008


Actually, after looking at some of the other "answers" presented, this one isn't holding up too poorly.

Here's an even more inane entry from Michael Chertoff
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:19 PM on January 27, 2008


Shimon Peres is kinda a cute old grandpa type in person (even when he's talking about terrorism)
posted by nangua at 3:33 PM on January 27, 2008


I don't think of myself as having racist tendencies. But I assumed the speaker was white until I saw his face in the video. And when I who was speaking, I started to listen for (or imagine) traces of vocal inflection that could place his voice in the "Black" category in my mind. And I caught myself doing this and said "Self, that is stupid. Stop that." And I'm reminded of the way my default mental image of a person is "white male", even though I'm not even in that category. So hey, even if it's not going to change the world, the video made one person examine some of their assumptions about race a little bit.
posted by rivenwanderer at 3:37 PM on January 27, 2008


End racism! D'oh! Why didn't I think of that? It took the simple, childlike mind of Emma Thompson to cut through the crap to find the very pith of the thing. I'm so glad she and everyone else at Davos flew in their carbon-and-vapor-and-particulate-spewing-at-vulnerable-high-levels-of-the-atmosphere jets to get to Switzerland and share this priceless wisdom.
posted by Faze at 3:38 PM on January 27, 2008


Damn you and your fast fingers, SPrintF!

Eponysterical, sort of.
posted by rokusan at 3:48 PM on January 27, 2008


In addition, I propose a global reduction in gravity by 38%.
posted by The White Hat at 4:05 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the video linked above illustrates rather well the difference between ideologically and pragmatically minded people.

Racism can't really be eradicated in 2008. That's impossible. However, I don't think the person who created the video was interpreting the question "what one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008" so literally. I doubt the person who created the video thinks racism can actually be eradicated in 2008, or that the "must do" in the question refers to actions that countries, companies, and people must actually do.

This isn't surprising, because a lot of ideologically minded people simply aren't accustomed to thinking in terms of what actually can be done to solve the problems that concern them. They're content to look at actual problems and place them in theoretical frameworks and analyze them that way, and indeed, any attempt to inject pragmatic concerns (e.g. "this is impossible") are viewed as a betrayal of the underlying ideology.

This is of course is difficult for the pragmatically minded individual to accept, since from his perspective, good sentiments do not make an idea a good one, but so it goes. It's really a shame, because the pragmatic sorts could often use a dose of vision, but the ideological sorts tend to interpret any resistance as ideological opposition.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:06 PM on January 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Davos is a charade. People acting concerned. It's like the U.S. Congress- only it's international, it happens once a year and it's in a much nicer part of the world.

People. Acting. Concerned.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 4:23 PM on January 27, 2008


Here's the problem: what you eradicate from one generation will come back in another. You cannot eradicate prejudice or discrimination from humanity. You can drive it underground, discredit it, outlaw it, you might even be able to convince every living human of the wrongness of racial discrimination, and after all that effort... it WILL come back.
posted by wayside at 4:43 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find it amusing that Emma Thompson talks about people communicating and "sharing stories" and all that, but comments are disabled, and rating her response has been disabled. Apparently, people can talk, but only if they say what others want to hear.

I get that a lot.

Racism can't just magically go away cuz Zennie points out a U2 song. Genetically there's no valid difference between the amount of melatonin in our epidermus than there is in the color of our irises or hair follicles. It's physical, but it doesn't affect the circulatory system or the nervous system. It doesn't determine intelligence or measure violent potential or even athletic probability in relation to sports statistics.

Culturally, it's everything. I was shocked when I saw the movie Hotel Rwanda. From the West perspective it was blacks hurting blacks, but if you're IN that culture long enough you'd be able to see differences between the Hutu and the Tutsi. They measure noses. Noses! And just as the film predicted, I look at this and go 'how terrible' and then I go back to eating my dinner. What else can I do? What can anyone do? There are people who hate, and they will continue to hate, and no amount of cute YouTube videos with Emma Thompson's shining face nestled under a dead mammal will change that.

Us versus Them. Some people need that. It's like a touchstone in their lives. I don't know why. You wanna stop racism? Start there. Why do some people feel we need wars to jumpstart economies? Why do some people feel we need to spill the blood of others in order to protect our own? Why must we be an Us and they be a Them? When we're all a We?

"what one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008"

John Lennon answered this question thirty-five years ago. In 1994 "countries, companies or individuals" turned it into a commercial. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath through the year 2008 expecting this 'contest' to start a chain reaction that revolutionizes humanity. We have better odds that the Segway will catch on this year.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:47 PM on January 27, 2008


Do you mean to tell me that all my years of what I thought was helpful racism was all for naught?




shit.
posted by Corduroy at 5:03 PM on January 27, 2008


Until we solve ignorance, we'll never solve racism.
posted by furtive at 5:08 PM on January 27, 2008


MetaFilter: Finding a place between complacency and hysteria.
posted by furtive at 5:11 PM on January 27, 2008



Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: a nicely balanced response.
ZachsMind, remember what Lili Tomlin said:
"no matter how cynical you are, it's impossible to keep up"

Furtive, that made me chuckle.
posted by asavage at 7:39 PM on January 27, 2008


An aggressive and binding commitment from all major industrial nations to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere below 450ppm CO2 equivalent.

Not much use if the human beings nuke the planet into smithereens out of hatred and an inability to work on conflict resolution.
posted by nickyskye at 7:42 PM on January 27, 2008


Can someone please report this to the RIAA.
posted by strawberryviagra at 10:17 PM on January 27, 2008


I'm going to end gravity tomorrow.

Wear a hat.
posted by blacklite at 12:21 AM on January 28, 2008


I think a better suggestion would be to work on reducing bigotry generally, of which racism is just one type. That way, everybody gets plenty of work to do. Atheists and fundies, hawks and pacifists, Democrats and Republicans, Labour supporters and Conservatives, all need to learn to see each other as fellow human beings who take opposing positions, and not as strange, alien enemies.

Incidentally, apologies for linking this back to the presidential race, but from reading Obama's book, I'm impressed at his commitment to understanding people he disagrees with.
posted by teleskiving at 2:32 AM on January 28, 2008


After a couple of seconds of Emma Thompson's video I had to steal second.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:07 AM on January 28, 2008


Here's the problem: what you eradicate from one generation will come back in another. You cannot eradicate prejudice or discrimination from humanity. You can drive it underground, discredit it, outlaw it, you might even be able to convince every living human of the wrongness of racial discrimination, and after all that effort... it WILL come back.
...weaker. A bit less organized, a bit less pervasive, a bit more stigmatized and furtive and that much easier for the next generation to combat.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:22 AM on January 28, 2008


One of the things that interested me about the YouTube/Davos/Zennie/Emma Thompson thing was that here was a regular guy, Zennie, who got an idea, made a little video that meant something to him, sent it off via YouTube to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and it was responded to by a globally renowned actress, who went to Davos to constructively participate in something she believes in working on. It's not just celebs who attend, Amnesty International, Transparency International, Oxfam, various UN organizations, all kinds of statesmen and philanthropists attend as well.

Neither Zennie or Thompson need to do what they did. They've both got jobs, have personal lives, got other things to do but they both are tying to make a difference in a way that is meaningful for them. Thompson didn't have to stop whatever she was doing and post a reply to Zennie but she did. And I thought that was so cool.

One of the, to me, astonishing things about the internet and sites such as YouTube, both still in their early years, is that they offer ordinary people, like any of us here, a chance to do positive things in the world, be seen/heard/read by political leaders, movers and shakers of all kinds around the planet.

Living in NYC from 1962 to 1970, when it was still very racist, intensely discriminatory and returning in 1985, when it had become a global melting pot of every nationality I was happily impressed to see how much racism, bigotry and discrimination could actually stop.

Whatever the political outcome of these elections, it's historic for America that a black American and a woman are candidates for the presidency. Things can and do change when efforts are made. And I think YouTube, for example, is one of the many ways for making changes these days.

That's what got me about this Zennie/Davos/Thompson connection. I was hoping it might give others constructive ideas, be inspiring.
posted by nickyskye at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seventhing the whole WTF? impracticability of the response. Yes, obviously racism and discrimination is a Big Bad and knocking it out would be a Great Good for the world. But, you know what? As long as we're tackling Big Bads, I think knocking out War would be even better. Or not just racism, but Hate, which is a larger superset of racism. But we're not going to in one solid annual effort knock out — or even reduce — Racism, or War, or Hate. MLK tried his whole life to work on that, and he made a few degrees of progress. In one country.
posted by WCityMike at 3:22 PM on January 28, 2008


I love you all. Now get off my lawn. I mean it, dammit.
posted by not_on_display at 9:02 PM on January 28, 2008


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