Over the past couple of weeks, a video posted three months ago by the YouTube user “politizane” has gone viral. The short clip, “Wealth Inequality in America,” uses data primarily from a popular post taken from left-leaning magazine Mother Jones to examine wealth inequality in America. As I write, the video has well over 4 million views.
The video isn’t flashy — it relies on just infographics and a narrator to relay the information, and yet the result is powerful. Combining graphics with information, we learn that the top one percent of Americans possess 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the least affluent 80 percent have only a combined 8 percent, and it takes the average worker a full month of service to earn as much as the average CEO makes in an hour. Not only are we told these statistics, we can also see them.
Artful imagery, persuasive rhetoric, and quality video production: These are all the qualities that made the video viral. These traits also number among the talents many of us at Emerson are honing. Emerson students are capable of making strong political statements using their talents, and should not waste the opportunity.
The identity of YouTube user “politizane” remains unknown. But whoever he is, she is, or they are, I believe the creator of the video did a great service. The clip got the word out, made people angry, and transformed a topic many consider dry—the economy—into a riveting six-minute clip. This takes artistic talent and finesse. These are skills that remain outside the realm of ability for many career politicians, but not for most Emersonians.
I have heard some say that Emerson students don’t care about politics. And while I’m sure that some don’t, I see Emersonians making strong political statements every day. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are loaded with Emerson students expressing their political beliefs, many with comments and replies from other Emerson students livening the debate. Whether it be the choice to favor a garden burger over beef for ethical reasons, or to hold hands proudly with a same-sex partner, it is clear that some of us hold strong ideological beliefs. You don’t need to be in politics to make a difference. “Politizane’s” video is just one example of how this is true.
As the future of media rests tentatively in limbo, innovative ways of relaying important information, news, and opinions become more important. New media expands the breadth of people exposed to information. We here at Emerson are capable of producing videos like these, but we can go even further.
As a double major in political communication and writing, literature, and publishing, I have thought of countless ways in which my WLP knowledge can be applied to politics. Whether it be through creating infographics, crafting speeches, or writing opinion, there are ways to bring art to politics. And I’m sure students of every major can also think of ways to apply their knowledge to the political field. A filmmaker can create a video like “Wealth Inequality in America,” a journalist can write a strong essay, a screenwriter could create a play exploring human rights; the possibilities are only limited by one’s own creativity.
A Facebook post or tweet can only go so far. I encourage Emerson students to make a statement about their political beliefs using their unique talents and skills. We are the next generation and whether we like it or not, what’s happening in Washington now will affect us later. So if the decisions happening in the District aren’t to your liking then say something — and say it well. If you care about an issue and love creating, then combine your passions: Go viral with your beliefs.