|RTMARK admin on Wed, 26 Aug 1998 08:52:20 -0700 (PDT)|
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|Syndicate: the ejido's request that Ars Electronica facilitate an informal meeting|
Here is a little note to call attention to a funny situation in which a village is destroyed, the destroyer is rewarded, the village is invited to the destroyer's award ceremony, and the awarder (a festival called "Infowar", whose subject should be self-explanatory) attempts to control information about the village's anger. We hope all this results in a laugh or two here and there. The situation begins in Popotla, Mexico, with the construction of a cheap-labor movie studio (maquiladora) by 21st Century Fox, for the filming of a big blockbuster movie, Titanic. Fox builds a giant wall topped with razor wire to keep the Popotla people out of their expensive studio, which contains a giant fake Titanic. The precious giant fake Titanic leaks badly, and it leaks into the sea, and this leakage from the giant fake ship destroys the livelihood of the Popotla people, who are fishermen, by killing the sea urchins, which the Popotla people use as bait in their fishing, which keeps them alive. So now not only is the Popotla people's purview destroyed by the wall, but their lives are endangered. As it happens, Fox's original public relations about the Popotla location (http://www.tri-national.com/titanic.html; San Diego was passed up because "there was too much civilization around") implied the studio would benefit the local economy. This has of course not happened at all. Popotla reacts to all this unfortunate behavior by decorating the studio's defensive wall with nice artwork, because it has no tanks and cannot really influence 21st Century Fox. (This has changed: the Mexican government has somehow been forced to sue Fox for the sea urchin fiasco.) Meanwhile, Ars Electronica's Infowar jury awards $10,000 to a Fox contractor that worked on the Titanic in the Popotla maquiladora. They seem like nice people; "When we create our movies," the contractor explains in a Wired article (http://www.wired.com/news/news/culture/story/14294.html), "it's essentially in a temporary setting. As soon as you're done, you sweep up and you're on to the next one; you try to be as unobtrusive as possible" . Ars Electronica's Infoweapon jury awards $1000 to Popotla for its wall-decoration behavior. But when we (RTMARK, as members of the Infoweapon jury) speak with the Popotla people, we realize they are nevertheless very angry, despite this $1000. They seem to be angry, for one thing, that Ars Electronica is not flying them to Linz, even though they are flying the Titanic people who destroyed the livelihood of Popotla. (The Popotla people will come anyway; their flight will be funded by RevolucionArte, a group that knows how to raise funds for this sort of thing.) The Popotla people are also angry that Ars Electronica has not put them on the schedule in Linz. (This oversight has now been cleared up, and was due to a misunderstanding. An official Ars document will be presented.) But most of all, of course, they are angry because the Titanic studio, and/or its contractors, has destroyed their village without giving them anything in return. They do not care that this contractor has said he cleans up, they have noticed he hasn't and are really very angry. We (RTMARK), not wanting anyone to be embarrassed or endangered by the angry Popotla people's behavior at Ars (where the Titanic contractor will be, after all), send the following text to some Ars Electronica people, and we also post it on the Ars Electronica list about things to do with the Infowar festival: "We have been informed that the ejido [fishermen's union] of Popotla is as a whole rather angry at the Titanic's award, and that its representatives may not be in the most agreeable mood while in Linz, despite the hospitality of Ars. In order to prevent any behaviors or activities that might embarrass the Titanic awardees or awarders either during the ceremony or afterwards, we have been asked to convey the ejido's request that Ars Electronica facilitate an informal meeting between the ejido and the Titanic awardees (and any other Fox representatives, contractees or employees who might be on hand). This could not only help build a so-far nonexistent bridge between the studio and the ejido, but also provide an excellent public relations opportunity for Ars Electronica. Thank you very much for your attention.... We are excited at this excellent opportunity to further a dialogue between the two sides of a very unfortunate economic situation." Unfortunately, no one at Ars Electronica responds to this request, and in fact they refuse to post it on the once-open, now suddenly moderated list, email@example.com . Several attempts to post it finally result in the following note from the new moderator: "why do you think this has to be posted on the list?" to which we respond defensively that whatever our motives, it is interesting, it is Infowar in some tiny way, and these matters should not be hidden from view but rather aired openly, for all to enjoy, at least on the Infowar list. There has been no response and no posting. We think that this is very funny, even funnier than the whole silly thing about the village and the contractor--very funny that a technology festival called "Infowar" would so blatantly try to control information in this way. We hope that at least a few members of the firstname.lastname@example.org list will see this and find it as funny as we do. We thank the moderators of these other lists on which this is posted for their curiosity, openness, and generosity. For those who wish for yet more stuff to read, following is our interview with the Wired reporter; you will see if you compare the text to that in that article mentioned above, that we were accidentally called by the Infowar director's name. This is also funny, because we are not in fact the director at all. ------------------------------------------------ Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 22:31:05 -0700 (PDT) To: David Kushner <email@example.com> From: RTMARK admin <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: POPOTLA, INFOWEAPON >I am writing an article for Wired News (Wired magazine's online news >service) in the USA and would like to ask you a few questions about the >InfoWeapon prize. My deadline is tomorrow, so please respond immediately. >1. Why did you award the people of Popotla with the InfoWeapon award? They displayed, with their work, the best use of technology possible. The Popotla wall directly and beautifully serves the people who made it, and delights and satisfies many others as well. So much technology does the opposite--oppressing instead of delighting, horrifying instead of uplifting, discouraging instead of aiding. The story of the Titanic, as related in the movie, is a story of class struggle, overcoming economic and technological barriers placed in the way of the poor--and we find the counterpart of this in the Popotla wall, paradoxically. >2. Who else did you consider for the award? The Zapatista Floodnet (http://www.thing.net/~rdom/zapsTactical/zaps.html), the lucent personalised web assistant (http://lpwa.com:8000/) which serves as an anonymous proxy service, muffin (a java-based proxy server, at http://muffin.doit.org/), and about a dozen others were finalists; we had about five hundred entries. >3. How much is the cash prize? The prize includes $1,000 and travel to and accommodation in Linz for the winner (in this case, two representatives of Popotla) for the awards ceremony and the Infowar festival. >4. Do you feel that it is ironic to also present an award to the Titanic movie >itself? Yes, it really highlights some important issues. Fox made Titanic at a cost of $200 million (the price of 200,000 typical Popotla fishing boats), and utilized the techniques of Nike and other companies to keep costs low--establishing a maquiladora, most notably. The movie is about overcoming class barriers--and a real-world example, much more real and immediate than any such examples in the movie itself, is the Popotla wall. The movie Titanic presents to the viewers--including the legions in the Third World who will see it--a picture of hope, resistance, and possibility. The people of Popotla, by decorating the Popotla wall, express their hope and resistance, and explore possibilities. http://rtmark.com/ Bringing IT to YOU.