MPI Students, FIMS. OPENWIDE Volume 16 Issue 3
Every year MPI (Media and the Public Interest) students have to conduct an alternative media project. This assignment allows them to develop hands-on experience with non-mainstream media as well as blend their academic pursuits with critically informed social action. Essentially, they explore an issue they care about through alternative media.
This article reveals just some of the amazing projects our fellow students have undertaken and the diversity of issues they care about. Thankfully, they’ve condensed their 16-18 page reports into shorter summaries.
Tinder and the Subtle Art of the Sext – Paige and Erica
When I first told my dad that I was going to be doing investigative research on a hook up app for school, I think he may have considered withdrawing his financial support. My poor dad hasn’t been single since the eighties, and is a little confused about modern dating.
Since dating apps like Tinder, Grinder and Her are so freaking new, the kind of research you need to do on them can’t exactly be found on the dusty shelves of Weldon.
Turns out that if you want to get an idea of dating in the 21st century, you have to do a little insider research yourself.
This includes getting a tinder profile for reconnaissance, and sitting all your friends down to find out what their best hookup stories are. It also includes using Photoshop to make a bunch of hallmark cards with the romantic messages replaced with some of the best sexts that London singles have to offer. And then…you know…you might hand these cards out in bars, trying to make people realize that approaching total strangers with obscene sex offers is a bit of a strange way to start a conversation.
But it turns out that dating apps are actually surprisingly good for something. Ever realize that going up to cute strangers and flirting with them is a bit of privilege? For people who don’t conform to gender norms or heterosexual orientation, doing this can actually be pretty dangerous, so dating apps that tell you exactly what the other person wants is a bit of a safe space.
So interesting things do come out of the strangest project I have ever completed. I swear it was purely academic.
The Realities of Student Stress – Preeti, Ashara, Sophie
When thinking of a topic for our alternative media project, something we were all very passionate about was mental health. Ironically though, with our workloads piling up, along with extra-curricular activities, and work outside of school, we became extremely stressed about the project. We decided to turn our stress into a project about the realities of student stress.
We looked at resources on campus and listened to people telling students how to relieve stress. We realized that these things they were telling us – to eat healthy, sleep, exercise and connect – weren’t as easy or realistic when you’re a student trying to balance a ridiculous amount of things.
We wanted to get the perspectives of different students to understand stress through their eyes and put the responses together in a video. Through our interviews, we found that a lot of students blamed themselves for the stress they feel.
We wanted to critique the overall system, not the individuals within.
The system that teaches students that grades are everything and that our marks will define us for the rest of our lives.
Many argue that we need more mental health resources on campus, and we definitely do. But what we also need is to change the system. We need to tackle the problem at the root. The academic structure that prioritizes grades over learning and hands out assignment after assignment needs to be counteracted. A change to the system, more resources, and less self-blame is what students really need.
Can I Do You A Favour? – Marie Scholz
Beginning on October 1, 2015 I intentionally decided to say yes to all favours asked of me without asking for anything in return as apart of an alternative media project. The project forced me to pay close attention to what people complained about and then forced me to offer my help if it was in my power to do so. This project most importantly confronts capitalist ideas by eliminating the exchange of money or goods when offering services. The eliminated exchange of money does not allow capitalism to work very well.
Through this project I have come to realize that not all statements against mainstream ideals have to be negative. There are ways of intentionally subverting the capitalist exchange to achieve an alternative way of living that doesn’t make other people upset but does make them question how often they look for something in exchange for their work. But the project was also walking a fine line between free labour, which the capitalist system thrives on.
One of the first things that got me thinking about this project was that we have a person paid to do everything. Instead of just picking up garbage off the ground ourselves because we want to help the environment we pay someone to do it. People forget that we actually pay for things like that without realizing it, especially on campus.
It should be normal to do helpful things for others and the environment without expecting anything in return.
I dare you, for one day, to say yes to all the favours asked of you and offer to do other people favours whenever you notice the opportunity.
Mirrorless Monday – Connor, Mina, Ranim, Deanna
‘Mirrorless Monday’ is what we called our alternative media project that took place for three consecutive Monday’s during the beginning of November. We covered various sets of both male and female washrooms in the UCC with white paper, with the goal to disrupt the daily routine that people have to constantly monitor appearances. Through the project we hoped to cause students to reflect on the societal pressures of beauty in an interpretive way. There’s so much pressure to look a certain way, have your hair and makeup all perfect no matter what, and we are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of what we should want to look like. By what means do we generally use to compare ourselves? The mirror of course.
So when this is suddenly stripped away from us (by our Mirrorless Monday shenanigans) we are forced into recognizing and evaluating our unconscious habit of always checking ourselves out in mirrors.
The purpose was not to make people to come to a ground breaking realization from interacting with the project but to basically cause shit as a form of culture jamming. Hopefully it was successful, and maybe now you’ll think twice before being ruled by societal standards of beauty.