So far, our reflections have been on the, lets say, “positive” spectrum. This week, our focus changes to the “darker” side of our culture. For many of you, this week’s reflection will force you to see beyond the “smoke and mirrors” of our media, political system, and often misguided understandings of our culture; looking at both domestic and international agencies.

Being honest, informing you on all of the lies being propagated by the media and our political system would take more time than we have in this course. Additionally, many of you would have a hard time believing the extent of manipulation and oppression being advanced by those in “control”. The truth is sometimes hard to believe when it forces you to accept that for the majority of your life you may have been lied to and seen more as a commodity than a human being. However, this can only change when you become informed and possess the critical thinking skills necessary to decipher fact from fiction and recognize your own oppression. 

This is not to imply that all media is bad or is based on lies. On the contrary, media can serve as a valuable source of information. The key is possessing the critical thinking skills required to acknowledge our own bias, to look at an issue from multiple perspectives, and to try to find out who is the source from which presented information occurs. Not just who is presenting the information, but who is providing the information to the persons presenting the information. 

Back to this week. The documentary you are assigned for this week will hopefully start to open your eyes to what is going on behind the scenes. I can’t pretend to know all of what is going on, nor how to properly connect all the pieces. What I can do is provide you with a starting point that allows you to begin to see the bigger picture for yourself.

Getting to this week’s reflection – You are to watch the very insightful documentary “Requiem for the American Dream” (can be found on Amazon Prime & other online sites).  Heads up, this is a very dense documentary. I encourage you to watch it with friends and discuss its implications afterward. 

Once you watch the documentary respond to the questions below. 500 words min. and feel free to write as much as you’d like.

(1) What is your overall takeaway from watching this documentary? Give specific details that indicate you watched this documentary in full.

(2) What is the connection between this documentary and the Culture of the United States?

Now, please watch this short video and then respond to the last question.

PBS – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNhUk5v3ohE

(3)  How do you feel about the current state of the U.S. media? Why do you feel this way? Can you provide empirical evidence to support your beliefs? (if so, please provide it) 

For your peer responses, focus on questions 1 and 3. While I encourage healthy disagreements it is very important to me that you remain respectful to one another’s viewpoints. People are more than just their ideas. Separate a person from their ideas and the person still exists. Furthermore, ideas are fluid and can change with time, life experience, and exposure to new information. Personal attacks are never necessary and generally indicate that someone does not feel comfortable enough with their arguments, therefore resorting to insults. If you chose to disagree with a classmate, you are welcome to do so. Once again, just focus on the arguments themselves. I will step in as a mediator if I feel necessary. 

Personal Opinion:

I recognize and acknowledge my orientation to the left. I share many values that could be categorized as both Republican and Democratic. For social issues, I do generally lean toward the left. For fiscal issues, I sometimes lean to the right. Regardless of my own opinions and beliefs, I find tremendous value in listening (not just arguing, but actually listening) to those who view the world different than me. From doing this, I am able to view the world from new perspectives I may have not thought of. If I agree with what was said, then I try to remain open to adjusting my own beliefs. If I disagree with what was said, my ideas become even stronger because I allowed them to be challenged and despite these challenges they still remain.

I feel that because of the complexity of the world, how subjective life can be, how much we don’t actually know in the grand scheme of things, the large amount of misinformation being presented, and all the special agendas behind the scenes, it can be very difficult to come to an “objective truth” on most issues. However, one way we can get closer to deciphering fact from fiction is to talk about it; for both sides to come together and have civil conversations that focus on the issues, not the person … just my opinion. 

Below is one more video that you may find insightful. There are no questions pertaining to this. 

John Oliver – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvtNyOzGogc

intercultural communication