Make no mistake. We are at war. I'm not talking drone strikes. I’m talking semiological warfare. And it's being waged by members of a corporate owned media industrial complex. The battle is incessant for the spirit and mind of the people. Semiological warfare is not waged on a traditional battled field with missiles or IEDs. It’s waged on a cultural terrain with signs, images, and symbols. Movies. Television. Music, and Advertising.
The commanders of this war strategize and execute plans that determine what we hear and see in dominant media. Their actions largely determine what we "like." And sadly, the folks making these decisions about our lives do not have the best interests of people of color in mind. What is worse, this elite group is telling our stories in their voices. They’re shaping our images from their perspectives.
Let it be known— there’s work to be done, and we need your help! I am not afraid to get my hands dirty in the war games of media culture, especially if it means helping make the world a better place for our children’s future. After all, a wise person once said, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” A pretty revolutionary statement when you think about it. We can no longer sit idly by waiting in vain for our voices to be heard.
My work with the CRI is designed to contribute to advancing media culture by offering multicultural audiences an opportunity to benefit from a customized cinema that caters to their experiences. I aim to achieve this by capitalizing on the same digitally powered economies of scale that revolutionized the music industry. (Think of a film version of iTunes designed exclusively for people of color).
Based on my current research in cinema, media studies, and segmentation analysis, I’ve realized there remains a substantial market for film and media that speaks directly to the lives and experiences of diverse communities (Black, Latina/o, and Asian-American), including in broader audiences who have multicultural tastes. The question becomes— why has dominant media willfully ignored this vast segment of the national audience?
I’ve spent much time thinking about what I can do as a cinema artist, media scholar, and historian, and what is my responsibility to engage in the heart of cinema’s most vital role in our society, which is to increase our vision of the possible. It is from this line of inquiry that Project Catalyst was born. My aim is to provide multicultural audiences with a distinctive voice that addresses their strong demand for better entertainment. Sure. We go to the movies in large numbers. But the stories and images projected on the silver screens do not reflect the nature, depth, or breadth of our humanity. Project Catalyst emerges to showcase communities, films, artists, and filmmakers that Hollywood pretends do not exist. We are offering new cultural programming that is perfectly aligned with the needs and desires of multicultural audiences. Furthermore, Project Catalyst is also combining hybrid theatrical and alternative cinematic exhibition as a disruptive innovation designed to:
• provide better entertainment options in artistically underserved communities,
• offer a vital alternative distribution service for film and media artists whose work explores humanistic diverse perspectives, and to
• give audiences rich multilayered cultural experiences that are aligned with the needs and desires that express the love, laughter, and depth of our everyday lives.
In this respect, Project Catalyst is addressing a very specific need for a previously ignored population. By delivering fresh and exciting film and visual culture to diverse communities across the United States, I intend to engage our audiences in a larger cultural and civic dialogue, by questioning worn-out social structures, and challenging Hollywood institutional practices through our own customized cinema and media arts. At the end of the day, the work of Project Catalyst is critical to achieving the diversity needed in media to help save lives and open up new windows of possibility and understanding within our rapidly changing, highly mediated Twenty-First century culture.
We must truly begin to celebrate diversity in cinema and media— the audience is there, the appetite is there, the buying power is there, and the time— is NOW. I real(eyes) great ideas can change the world, but it requires great people to make it happen. So I need your help. Go to our newly designed website www.projectcatalyst.com and fill out the information to “Become A Catalyst,” and get involved to show your support. I look forward to taking this amazing journey with you!