We already learned from the Kony 2012 video that with a catchy tune, high quality video and a sincere message or cause can start a massive amount of viral activism. I had believed that employing these features were ‘cheap’ and tasteless, maybe offering a less glitzed-version of the same message in order to be more factual and taken more seriously than just being passed around cyberspace. But after seeing the group of Roma kids rapping in their Youtube video, its hard to maintain that opinion. There’s something about the visual stimulation of a well-done video and a song that speaks to the viewer, and as our readings about advertisement has proven to us this week, social networks have a huge hand in spreading a brand, or in this case a social message.
The article from Deutsche Welle outlines the reasons why the United Gypsy Crew, the musical group of four Roma teenagers, created the video. The groups urges that both Czech educational authorities and Roma parents need to stop sending Roma kids to pratical schools. Practical schools are schools in the Czech Republic usually for the mentally challenged and has a less rigorous curriculum. The four teenage rappers in the video stress that Roma kids can live up to their full potential given the opportunity of attending a good school. Despite not being able to understand Czech, the video is expressive and includes a lot of visual clues that goes along with the message being conveyed.
According to our class readings about social media and advertising, the old way of traditional print advertising is out. No more blatantly selling to or manipulating the customer; companies have to find a way to advertise in a new medium that has customers constantly engaging in it. E.K Clemon’s article stresses how marketing has changed over the years, and traditional push-based advertising is dying. The loss of trust in advertising makes consumer reports more reliable than what advertisers say, making social networks the key to future advertising. Though Clemens states that this mode of advertising may be unclear whether it is effective, I believe that if a company can get a large following via social network, the customers basically do the work the advertisers were supposed to do: spread awareness of a product, how great it is, and spread influence to purchase (of course, we are talking about a good product, otherwise this idea would never work). This same idea is applicable to social activism: if it is a worthy cause, then social media is the key to spread it around, gain popularity, and eventually make a real-life change in the world.
There have been reports how the Czech media stereotype the Roma by publicizing stories that worsen their public image. With the media constantly linking the Roma with crime and highlighting negative stories about them rather than positive ones, it may be hard to get our facts straight when we can’t rely solely on the news or media. But, similar to how we can trust consumer reports and user reviews, I feel that sharing stories and social messages through social media can counteract false or unflattering news reports.
The Roma discrimination issue has been pointed out as a serious human rights issue, and many are reaching out to help the Roma and the general Czech public try to bridge this divide between them. Between Prague’s One World Film festival highlighting Roma discrimination in some of its documentaries and the 2007 European Court of Human Rights verdict stating that the Czech treatment of Roma children was “tantamount to segregation”, awareness of this issue is becoming widespread. With the help of SNS like Youtube, social change may come about through widespread awareness and a persistent following.