Civic Media Spread by Activism

James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar was a block-buster in the movie industry with a worldwide grossing value of $2.78 billion. But would you have thought it would play a role in an intense fight between people and military personnel in Israel?

This form of activism is a great example of civic media. Jenkins defines civic media in his chapter “Avatar Activism and Other Media” in his book Designing Spreadability as, “…content intended to increase civic engagement or to motivate participation in the political process. This may include media produced by political candidates, grassroots organizations (including activist groups), and individual citizens.” In the protest between the people of Bil’in and the Israeli army, the five people painted in blue represent the Avatars from Cameron’s movie in their fight over their territory. All the YouTube videos and articles are normal when it comes to general protests but the fact that these people use a globally popular movie to spread awareness of their struggles is what really grabs attention. Viewers worldwide would be able to notice references from the movie especially when they see the blue-painted people getting tear gas and sound bombs thrown at them.

In other examples of activism spreading civic media, the Harry Potter Alliance is an organization that fights against genocide, workers and gay rights, raising money for Haiti disaster relief, and many other causes. In the organization’s story here, they inform readers on how many books they’ve received through donations over the past 6 years. Overall, they’ve received over 250,000 books to help build libraries.  HPA is an activist organization that spreads civic media because it represents Dumbledore’s Army in the famous Harry Potter series. According to Jenkins, HPA got people to change their culture from basic participants to civic engagement.

Activism is a good way to create civic media just like the Bil’in and Israel and HPA examples. Do you know of any other activists or activist organizations that help create civic media?


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