There’s a video of Jay-Z going around on a streetcar talking to an elderly woman and I’m sure he’s a really nice guy, but just because he rides the subway doesn’t necessarily make him a “man of the people.” Recall during the Occupy protests his company Rocawear profited off t-shirts that read “Occupy All the Streets” and despite being pressured by the media to donate their profits from the shirts to the movement, he decided not to. Worse, only months later, he dissociated himself from the movement criticizing their ambiguity. If he was confused about the movement and truly passionate about the people he would have gone to the parks, sat down with the protestors and tried harder to understand their concerns. Instead he made a quick buck off their efforts and months later got on a streetcar to film a PR stunt to redeem himself.
Micro bits of media like this come at us so rapidly and so frequently that it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture. Think of Kony 2012. Everyone was so quick to share that video without doing their research, which could have taken a whole two minutes to Google the charity name. We need to get better at thinking critically. A two minute Youtube video isn’t enough to stand on it’s own.
Like I said, I’m sure Jay-Z is a really nice guy (I’m aware he’s donated a lot of money to relief charities) and I know he’s a very successful entrepreneur – for that I have much respect for him. The point of this post isn’t to take anything from Jay-Z, but simply to remind you to think critically about each piece of media we consume. Why was it made? What was the objective of making it? What will it accomplish? How will it be used? etc… Ask these types of questions and we’ll all have a better understanding of the whole.