Topless America Project: We All Have the Option of Creating, Delivering Media

Topless America Project Producer/Director films Kayford Mountain

Topless America Project, a video collective that derives its name from its members’ commitment to calling attention to the social injustices that the people of Appalachia have experienced as a result of mountaintop removal (MTR), talked with me about their work and media.

Brown described his role as a media maker as one that has “opened up for a lot of people” because “a lot more people have access to technology now.”

“We’re definitely able to show people around the world what normally would never have gotten much attention before Internet came around,” said Brown. “The only real reason that MTR, as it stands right now, is one of the hot issues on the American stage is because of the Internet and groups like ours, groups with access to digital video cameras showing images of the destruction but also being able to keep in touch and show every action and every rally.”

Brown raised questions related to the negative impact media might be having on Topless America’s ability to spread their message to stop mountaintop removal.

“Why is it that only a handful of entities are the big boys? Why is it that there are so many smaller yet worth publications that aren’t able to get that type of clout? Why are the networks the networks? Why are the top newspapers the top newspapers?” asked Brown. “Who decided that we would have only a certain number of ‘credible media’?”

Brown described how the failure of media to bring adequate attention to an issue might be fueling the success of his organization.

“We’ve kind of developed our own source of media. Whereas people used to just rely on the four channel that give you news on your television, now it’s anybody that can get it together and put it online has a huge possibility of being seen by a wide audience,” said Brown.

The conversation about Topless America and media ended up on this note —

Brown explained, “The fact that we now have to really think about where we are getting our information and who is giving to us and that we all sort of have in theory the option of delivering media — It changes the whole way that we have to think about where we are getting media altogether.”

The collective is headed by Parson Brown and Kat Wallace (both will be presenting during the Summit after Jeff Biggers).

The Topless America Project will be discussing their video work to bring attention to the devastating impact of MTR in Film Row Cinema on the 8th floor of the 1104 S. Wabash Building in downtown Chicago.

Come to the Summit and see them right after Jeff Biggers at 2 pm on Friday, April 9th.


One Response

  1. Thanks so much to Kevin and Columbia College for inviting us to participate in the first of what I hope will be many Art, Access, & Action summits!

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