By Any Media Necessary:
The New Activism of American Youth
There is a widespread perception that the foundations of American democracy are dysfunctional, public trust in core institutions is eroding, and little is likely to emerge from traditional politics that will shift those conditions. Youth are often seen as emblematic of this crisis — frequently represented as uninterested in political life, ill-informed about current-affairs, and unwilling to register and vote.
By Any Media Necessary offers a profoundly different picture of contemporary American youth. Young men and women are tapping into the potential of new forms of communication such as social media platforms, spreadable videos and memes, remixing the language of popular culture, and seeking to bring about political change — by any media necessary. In a series of case studies covering a diverse range of organizations, networks, and movements involving young people in the political process — from the Harry Potter Alliance which fights for human rights in the name of the popular fantasy franchise to immigration rights advocates using superheroes to dramatize their struggles — By Any Media Necessary examines the civic imagination at work. Before the world can change, people need the ability to imagine what alternatives might look like and identify paths by which change can be achieved. Exploring new forms of political activities and identities emerging from the practice of participatory culture, By Any Media Necessary reveals how these shifts in communication have unleashed a new political dynamism in American youth.
This book is part of the Connected Youth and Digital Futures series that explores young people’s day-to-day lives and futures. The volumes consider changes at the intersection of civil and political reform, transformations in employment and education, and the growing presence of digital technologies in all aspects of social, cultural and political life. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning (DML) Initiative has supported two research networks that have helped launch this series: the Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network and the Connected Learning Research Network. The DML Initiative and the DML Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine, support production and open access for this series, published by New York University Press.
A far-reaching book that explores the many different digital strategies and platforms young people use to have their voices heard and their political agendas advanced. The case studies at the heart of this book are powerful, telling the story of how young people across demographic categories are using digital media to engage in a new form of politics — participatory politics — that is destined to significantly shape civic life for years to come.
An indispensable guide to the changing shape of civic and political agency in a digital age. With richly detailed case studies, Jenkins and his team have captured an origin story: the moment when participatory culture got hooked up with politics and the fundamentals of modern democracies shifted beneath our feet.
Fantasy is not an escape from our world; it’s an invitation to go deeper into it. The most relevant book of our era, it will undoubtedly inspire you and those you love to join the millions of people who are transforming our world: by any media necessary.
In November 2012, MIT’s Futures of Entertainment conference assembled representatives from several of our case study organizations to discuss participatory politics. But, when asked if they identified as activists, each participant distanced themselves from this term. Bassam Tariq of the 30 Mosques project thought it was “awful” that political categories were imposed upon Muslim cultural, social, and religious practices; in his projects he tried to “stay away” from politics in order to focus on “universals,” things everyone can “relate to,” and ideas that are “more open-ended” rather than “imposing an agenda.” Dorian Electra, whose music videos have been widely embraced by Students for Liberty, argued that “being too politicized” might distract from her work’s educational and entertainment value. The Harry Potter Alliance’s Lauren Bird acknowledged that the group, while nonprofit and thus nonpartisan, was involved in a range of political issues, but Bird stressed that members might have widely divergent perspectives; ultimately the HPA was “more on the side of human rights” rather than a particular political “ideology.”