Friday, September 21, 2007

Obama Girl Applauded In My Class At Fordham This Afternoon

I just got back from my Intro to Communication and Media Studies class at Fordham University, where I had the pleasure of Obama Girl Amber Lee Ettinger and Obama Girl producer Ben Relles as my special guests.

They were wonderful. I have a feeling the 50 minutes they spent with my class will be one of the high points in their higher education.

Ben Relles had visited a class of mine at Fordham once before - my graduate-level "Propaganda and Persuasion" class this summer. I also interviewed him for an episode of my Light On Light Through podcast. So I knew him to be a very thoughtful, literate producer, with a keen understanding of the political and social impact, as well as the aesthetics, of the videos he has produced.

I was delighted to find that Amber Lee also has an astute awareness of the impact of her videos, and her role in them. She fielded tough questions from my large (120 students) undergraduate class. Q: How did she feel about her parents seeing her in these videos? A: She's happy, because her parents are proud of her (good answer!). Q: Does she really support Barack Obama for President? A: She hasn't completely made up her mind - she's an actress. Q: How does she feel about the reaction of Obama's campaign and family to her videos? A: The videos are comedy, satire, and she hopes people will take them that way. (Ben Relles said much the same.) Etc.

It's rare in higher or any kind of education to have the real thing before your class - in contrast to an observer talking about it.

I'm really grateful that Amber Lee and Ben were able to come by.

They are both part of the ignition of a true revolution in media and politics, in which YouTube, blogs, and podcasts, made by people not necessarily already established, are reaching millions of people. This is a profound shift away from the mass-media dominated field which still reigns today - though in an increasingly diminished role.

I'll be teaching a new graduate course at Fordham this Spring - "Politics and the New Media" - so look for a lot more from me about this, especially the continuing impact of Ben Relles and Amber Lee Ettinger and, in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

In the meantime, the picture above is of Amber Lee and me taken in my office right before my class. And my podcast interview with Ben Relles follows.

my podcast interview with Ben Relles
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