Field: For me, my work is entirely defined by my “politics” – though here I think better terms might be subject position, world view, or even the fraught concept of ideology (each of which is inescapably political). My interest in race and ethnicity stems from a desire to understand the way prejudices and injustices are established and perpetuated by and through visual culture. To be effective, I don’t believe that there is a way that such an inquiry could avoid ones own subject position.
Miller: My politics suffuse and are suffused by what I study, because I learn politics from the media and other forms of culture even as I bring to my professional activities a commitment to democracy, peace, and environmental and labor justice.
Nichols: I only explore issues that concern me as a social being. My hope is that my work will be of value to others in their own social situations.
Tryon: My political interests have influenced my writing and research, albeit in somewhat indirect ways. My current book project, Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Digital Convergence, draws from a desire to understand how digital media are being used to redefine film culture and to create new practices of movie production, distribution, and consumption. In particular, I became interested in models of internet distribution after the success of the Robert Greenwald house party model in disseminating several political documentaries—including Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the War in Iraq, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Greenwald’s distribution strategy famously built upon the infrastructure created by the social networking site, MeetUp.com, which was itself informed by Robert Putnam’s “bowling alone” thesis. In retrospect, the Greenwald house parties have not only become an important touchstone for the current practices of many independent and do-it-yourself (DIY) filmmakers, but they also serve as an important turning point for me as a scholar.
Because of this interest in video-based political activism on the web, I have been examining the role of web video within the 2008 presidential election, in part because of my own obsession with political news but also because I see web video as offering a potential corrective to the TV news coverage of the campaigns, as well as the campaigns themselves.1 In all cases, I am interested in how digital media have been used to democratize media distribution and to imagine a more participatory political culture. While these distribution models are not without flaws—not everyone, for example, has access to the tools required to become a content distributor—the use of these tools has clearly provoked at least some reflection about the relationship between media and politics.
1 See, for example, Tryon, Chuck. “‘Why 2008 Won’t Be Like 1984:’ Viral Videos and Presidential Politics,” Flow TV. 21 March 2007. http://flowtv.org/?p=143.