TED Conversations

Feyisayo Anjorin

Freelance Director, Afro-Carribean Media Group

TEDCRED 100+

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Do we have any nation where minority rights are as important as the rights of the majority?

The TED talk 'Danger of a Single Story' by Chimamanda Adichie is quite insightful.
But let us consider a democracy; in a democracy it is the decision of the majority that shapes the society. The media targets the majority and tries to please them.
Is it possible for it to be otherwise?
An effect of the media is that the voice of the majority is presented as the decent and right choice. A sort of societal face.

Only a few African nations have a prosperous majority. Some African states are dysfunctional; there are those who seem to be constantly at war.
So, I believe that some stories are believable than others; some things are easy to find in a certain place than in some other place;
some things are usual and common in certain places. There may be a few dots on a white wall, but if the dots are not significant in size we will still call it a white wall.

This affects storytellers and the audience in various way. Is it possible to avoid the art, social and media classification called 'mainstream'?

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    Aug 28 2012: There are many great movies that are not targeted to what you would call a "mainstream" audience. Hotel Rwanda, Amistad, Roots, Color Purple, Tears of the Sun, Blood Diamonds, the list goes on and on. These movies did great in the box office and were not targeted to the "majority", in contrast, they focus on the struggles and plight of the minority. A great movie is a great movie...period. People like to be moved emotionally, it's what makes an epic film. I think on an emotional level people can relate to the characters in the aformentioned movies and it makes the viewer a better person in the process.
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      Aug 28 2012: That was my thumbs up , Jake but i have to say that all people need good reason to change their minds and sometimes the representation of a great TRUTH with emotional impact simply makes those reasons easier to assimulate.

      I hate the uninformed view that emotions are entirely separate from reason - nothing could be further from scientific truth.

      Here is the BEST:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html




      In the financial field:
      http://www.ted.com/talks/halla_tomasdottir.html

      I doubt you can receive this from an artist but it is a profoundly interesting scientific finding:

      http://www.ted.com/talks/john_walker_re_creates_great_performances.html

      Emotional connection is what changes the world - even the scientific world:

      http://www.ted.com/talks/dean_kamen_the_emotion_behind_invention.html
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        Aug 28 2012: I agree Deb that emotions are not entirely seperate from reason. They can have some really positive impacts if they're focused in the right direction. I also believe that they have the ability at times to cloud judgement and lead us away from logic. I know it happens to me more often than not when I get into it with the wifey. :-)
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          Aug 28 2012: I am sure wifey appreciates that, Jake. She might not wish to reflect on her choices.
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      Aug 28 2012: The common thread in all the movies listed by Jake Maddox is that they all express the most common view of Africans or African Americans.
      This is exactly my point. Hotel Rwanda is about families fleeing from war; Blood Diamonds is about the Sierra Leonean civil war, Tears of the Sun is about the Nigerian Civil War; Roots and Amistad are about slavery; and The Colour Purple is about a dysfunctional African American family.

      This is my point. There is a tendency for films about minorities to focus on their 'struggles' and 'sufferings' as if all minorities do is struggle and suffer. Of course a lot of minority groups are suffering; and so many African nations are at war.

      What happens to a storyteller who (against expectation) does not focus of the 'struggles' and 'sufferings' in his or her story?
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        Aug 28 2012: So I think you referring to stereotyping. Are there movies in which African or African American actors portray something different than a racial, social or economic struggle? Absolutely. I see you live in South Africa so I can't speak for that country as I have no frame of reference. However, in America, the African American community prefers to bring about awareness and focus on those racial, social and economic struggles. It's a big political platform. I don't believe that African Americans have an issue discussing those struggles, or even stereotypes for that matter. Just look at any of Spike Lee's movies as an example.
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        Aug 31 2012: This is a very astute analysis of Hollywood culture, unfortunately. I actually worked with a few writers and film makers, and I had a fascinating discussion with a writing partner one day, about a small budget script we were working on... Where I brought up "Why don't we just make the main character black?", kind of randomly, we were just spitballing ideas, but we had an outline and 20 pages.

        "You mean you want to make it about civil rights? That was going on at the time, we could do that, but it would change the story a lot" my friend replied.

        "No... It's just, this is a really simple story about a working class guy... Why can't he just be black, and we don't change anything? There were cities where black men just went to work in the 70's..." I replied.

        "He can't be black.... Not unless it's what the story is about" said my friend, and looked a bit depressed. He had actually worked in big budget affairs, where I mostly worked on small projects with my friends, so I had no idea what he was talking about.

        "Of course he can... Why couldn't he? There's no story, that you can't write, about any race of person anymore?" I claimed.

        "No, you don't understand.... These are not my words... I have been in this pitch meeting, and old Hollywood, is still in charge. You are not allowed to make a film with an African American lead, unless the plot has something to do with being black in America... That is the only formula they have proven they can sell"

        "How the hell do they still get away with that?" I exclaimed, furiously.

        "One side, says "white people won't go to see it"... Another side says "It's inauthentic"... The other side says "It's racist for anyone who isn't black to write that story". So you can't write a major Hollywood film with an African American lead, without that being part of the story, and him overcoming it."

        It was a dumbfounding and depressing conversation, to say the least.
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    Aug 27 2012: The founders of the United States Constitution were very concerned about protecting minorities against the tyranny of the majority- which is evident in Federalist Paper #10 by James Madison. The Federalist Papers document teh thinking process that went into teh formation of the United States constitution.
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    Aug 24 2012: Based on the original question asked, "Do we have any nation where minority rights are as important as the rights of the majority?", I would have to say yes..the United States.

    The Constitution allows for each individual's rights, and there are numerous examples of where the "majority vote" instituted a law (or some other activity) which was reversed by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional. One recent example was a State where the majority of voters, through petition and getting the issue placed on a ballot, voted to mandate "Intellignet Design" be taught in public schools. This was ultimately disallowed as being unconstitutional towards an individual U.S. citizen, whether they were in the majority or minority. And according to most surveys, "non-theists" would be in the minority in the U.S.

    Overall, in my opinion, the U.S. has a fairly good record of making sure the minority gets a fair deal, even if the majority wants it a different way. Especially when it comes down to individual's rights protecting the basic freedoms of the individual citizen. There are also numerous instances where the minority was protected from the wishes of the majority in the 6 areas of discrimination.

    Is it perfect? Of course not. It can be slow, costly, and confrontational to protect minority rights when the majority chooses otherwise. But I believe it answers "Yes" to the original subject question of this discussion.
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      Aug 24 2012: Most democratic nations have the checks and balances that are meant to protect minority rights. But there is always a huge difference between the provisions of the laws and attitudinal realities. Sometimes minorities are just too weak and lacking in the resources that could help them to speak and be heard.
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        Aug 24 2012: Totally agree with you, Farisayo. Even the U.S. system still allows for minority subjugation just because the majority can temporarily "out-vote" the minority. But the hope is that if enough educated Human Beings within the system can still recognize the "importance" of that being wrong, any subjugation place on the minority by the majority can be "corrected".

        Your original question asked about the "importance" of the majority vs the minority. That is a "thought process" decision...a philosophical one. Implementing a system to protect the rights of the minority, and executing the processes to make that happen, will always be much more difficult.
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          Aug 25 2012: This is one reason why I even as a nonAmerican so deeply resent the recent supreme court ruling that it is fine to lie. If it is fine to lie about your miltary service and what medals you received- what kind of person are you, or your country and what hope does anyone have of justice?
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        Aug 25 2012: This is where we value the critical thinking skills so much, Debra. I would have to go read the individual findings of each of the Justices to be certain, but I think I can make some assumptions about why they ruled the way they did.

        The Court did not rule that lying was ALWAYS fine and should be tolerated. They only ruled it was not unconstitutional in the circumstances surrounding the case presented to them. It many cases it is impossible to make a "one size fits all" ruling when you are concerned with the rights of over 300 million people.

        The Court's ruling still leaves many circumstances where lying or "making a false statement" is illegal. If I take an oath as a witness to testify in court, then I lie during my testimony, I will be held in contempt of court and subject to prosecution. If I sign a legal document (like in the military) that has the warning on it that if I provide false information I am subject to prosecution and imprisonment, I can still suffer those consequences for "lying" on the document.

        What the Court could NOT allow to happen was make EVERY lie told by 300 million+ people a crime. You would have chaos. If you asked me if I bought you a birthday present for your birthday next week (hypothetical) and I said "no" so I could surprise you, should I be subject to prosecution? Would I be being unconstitutional if I lied to you that way? A worse scenario..."Innocent until proven guilty" is a foundation of our Justice system. I can not be forced to testify against myself. It is the prosecution's responsibility to produce evidence to convict me. If they ask me, "Did you do it?" and I say "No", should I face a higher punishement because I lied even if I knew I had done it?

        People lie. Human nature. I agree if I lie then my own integrity is in question. But not all lies result in a loss of justice that should be handled through government-supported prosecution. The Court's ruling supported that justice.
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          Aug 25 2012: Wow! That was the most reasoned and valuable answers I may ever have gotten on any issue here on TED. I am not saying I am totally convinced but I am saying that you have altered the balance for me and I will continue to think about this.

          Can you understand how and why this so deeply upsets the world and why as an advocate for the USA it makes my position untenable?

          BTW I TAd critical thinking for 5 different profs.
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        Aug 26 2012: Quote: "Can you understand how and why this so deeply upsets the world and why as an advocate for the USA it makes my position untenable?"

        Absolutely, Debra. But I learned a long time ago I cannot please the entire world as a whole. There are just too many variables (people?) who will have opposing views.

        Believe me, I share your frustrations on many things I have read in your posts. Your example of Canada allowing many of our airplanes to divert and land on 9/11, and the Canadian people treating the passengers so well. Regardless of how humane you are (as an individual or an entire nation), you will not receive the gratitude you deserve for that from everybody. At the LEAST, the terrorists would think you had done wrong. And I agree there are probably some Americans who would not think you deserved gratitude for it. But not all of us would feel that way. I try not to judge an entire country (or any group for that matter) based solely on the actions of some individual members.

        One of your posts struck a chord in me that I have also had to share a personal frustration about. You mentioned in it that you felt America did not appreciate nor recognize the military contributions of Canada in (if I remember correctly) WW2. Well, I can't speak for my country as a whole, nor any leadership (or lack of) that may have contributed to that. But as an individual, I am well aware of that type of frustration. One of the most personally moving videos I found on TED since I have been here was this one:

        http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_van_uhm_why_i_chose_a_gun.html

        Of course, not everyone will agree with what is said in it. Sometimes it isn't always an easy, and arguably even, a "moral" process to achieve a better world. But it was why I "Chose the Gun" too for my 25 years I served in the military. I, as an individual, recognize the contributions of Canada throughout history in also trying to achieve that better world.
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          Aug 26 2012: Rick, that was a superlative talk that I had never seen (which is unusual because I try to watch one everyday) thus I have to ask myself why I did not see it and it might come down to bias. I was married to a cop for 28 years.

          I have tried to diaogue on this very sight, respectfully, I assure you, with military people. They ususally do not stay long despite almost kid glove treatment. Canadians have an excellent relationship with the Dutch. They do remember. it is not just that all of your people do not remember, RIck- your people are viciously self righteous about it towards us and NO AMERICAN I EVER met remembers but they all give me that same crap about our hiding in your shadow. I think you know how I feel about that especially since the world has been very polite and quiet about the American version of WW2 since WW2. Both the Dutch and members of the British royal famlly spent the war in Canada. Our capital has a Tulip festival EVERY year because the Dutch still send tulips to us. Maybe you are still ticked by the fact that red coats including Canadians burned down your White house in the war of 1812 for daring to invade us?

          http://youtu.be/Pf-nZZg3iBw



          Do you remember how suddenly we were the BAD GUYS on all your TV shows when we refused to join you in IRAQ? Did you ever apologize to the FRENCH for the disrespect they were shown at that time? Yep, the big vilian on LOST was from Toronto! We were even the bad guys on Home Improvements and I called my son and daughter in law in Saudi Arabia at the embassy to warn them and they said the number one TV show in Saudi was a Canadian show.

          I do not expect everyone to love me, Rick. My stance here is not exactly popular and I do know what happened to the Dixie Chicks- which was WAY beyond what any fair nation would do to any artists. Your nation magnified Toby Keith (who does have a great voice) so that you could kick the stuffing out of the wrong nation. That is just wrong headed thinking.
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        Aug 27 2012: Well, at least we agree to disagree.

        No American you ever met said anything good about Canada? Strange. I spent 4 of my 25 Air Force years working in Cheyenne Mt, Colorado Springs, alongside numerous Canadians stationed there too as part of NORAD. We got along fine and respected each other and what we were trying to achieve. No Canadian I met there told me my country was...whatever.

        As for the television show references, I try not to form my world opinions based on those. In fact, I try not to watch the shows you referenced at all. In any case, I have no control over the content of what the writers, producers, directors, and sponsors of those shows propogate. They feed the mass audiences who watch them with what those audiences tell them to feed them. It's sad, but I just Googled the "Top 10 TV Shows of 2012" ratings. There is not ONE dedicated educational show listed, despite the plethora of cable TV accessability to the public. Honestly...I'm only here now because I don't want to vomit watching "Beavis and Butthead" or "The Real Housewives of Atlanta". But as long as the majority of the population wants to watch "Dancing With the Stars" instead of the Science or Discovery Channels, I'm kinda stuck. My Constitution prevents me from forcing my way into their homes, tying them to their chairs, and changing their channels.

        By the way...I think the Dixie Chicks got screwed too. But it wasn't my "nation" that did it. It was a sub-section of the population who got enough people to believe that Freedom of Speech was less important than personal agendas so they would quit buying the Chicks music or threaten radio stations to quit playing it.

        And I really like Celine Dion and Shania Twain, so maybe we have things in common yet. Although I had to pay $260 American Dollars to get a decent seat at Celine's Las Vegas show here. Did she have to pay any Canadian income tax on that American money?
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    Aug 19 2012: I am very much more familiar with the United States than I am with other countries, but at least here people tend to hate thinking of themselves as "mainstream." It is possible that a vast majority of people here, in fact, scorn the "mainstream!"
    But more to the point, I don't know that I would say that the voice of the media here presents "the voice of the majority as the right and decent choice." There are tremendous disagreements about so many key issues, including opinions of what is right and decent, that no one could accurately think that there is some near homogeneous majority view on right and wrong. About 150 million people disagree with the other 150 million.
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      Aug 19 2012: Indeed, Ted seems, imo, a very non-mainstream site that attracts non-mainstream community. It would be more fair for the sake of a good discussion about mainstream if we had more "mainstream" guys.
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        Aug 19 2012: My point was that at least in the United States, people tend to pride themselves in not being mainstream. I wonder, in fact, what proportion of the population would labeled themselves as being mainstream in values and ideas. I wouldn't be surprised if a majority of people in this country would, in fact, express distaste at the views they would label as mainstream.

        It is often only OTHER people who are mainstream in a person's eyes.
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          Aug 19 2012: Hmm, I always thought that US was considered "mainstream," especially considering how Americanized some of the other countries I've been to, but I guess I can't really assess that myself since I've only been exposed to US things and haven't been to most other countries.

          "It is often only OTHER people who are mainstream in a person's eyes."

          Hmm, I'll have to think about this one...
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        Aug 19 2012: Hey James it seems like it starts attracting diffrent people then when i learned to love ted, the discussion pages arent flooded with them yet, but i cant read the comments below the videos anymore... its getting "youtubeish".

        That being said id go back on topic and say that as far as i know there cant be in the form politics currently works,... politicians are trying to get votes and some smaller parties (in germany) seem to try gettign support from the minorities as the majority elects the same party again and again anyways.

        In a democracy of massmedia (the media votes for people ... or makes them vote/not vote) minorities just cant shout loud enough.
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          Aug 19 2012: Hmm, is there possibly a way for minorities to shout loud enough?
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          Aug 19 2012: Max, what impact do you think popular opinion have on creators of art?
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        Aug 19 2012: Here is from English essayist, novelist, and books and culture writer Nick Hornby quoting another writer, Carl Wilson, as part of a book review:

        Hornby cites Wilson's swift summation of cultural snobbery:

        It's always other people following crowds, whereas my own taste reflects my specialness

        (This is in reference to the idea that people tend not easily to see themselves as mainstream but easily attach that label to others.)
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          Aug 19 2012: Everyone's a follower/sheep or someone who conforms to mainstream to some degree, while there's also degrees of individualism to everyone too.
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    Aug 28 2012: I think it can exist, possibly only in a democracy, and I think in fact... It happened once. In America, in the 1960's. I will not try to pretend that there were not huge clashes over civil rights at the time as well, but in terms of media and art... For the first time in America's history, African American voices, were more prominent in culture than their percentage of the population, especially in music.

    Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Al Gree, Sam Cooke, Louis Armstrong, this could become an enourmouse list very quickly, that certainly represents ten percent of hit songs.

    I think Donald Trump is an idiot, but I once heard him give an answer to a dumb question, that was absolutely brilliant. Stephen Colbert "What's the most popular thing in the world?" Donald Trump "Music". I think the voice of minorities is still relatively well represented, as a percentage of society... but often times the images are not positive. What is popular in modern rap music would be a great example of this. Back then though, despite enormous social problems, African Americans really had a prominent and positive voice in modern culture, that was not based on stereotypes or white walling... in my humble opinion.

    Culture should evolve to a place where everyones voices can be heard in various art forms and still reach the mainstream. I don't just want to hear American stories... Those are just the stories that get marketed to me most often. Obviously other cultures appreciate some of our films and music. Kurosawa, the Japanese film maker is almost universally seen as one of the greatest to ever live. If you haven't seen "Ikiru", "Seven Samurai", or "Record of a Living Being" they are all wonderful.

    Canada is incredibly multi cultural. New Zealand and Australia do pretty well. China is very diverse internally. I think the whole world is getting closer to finding the proper balance of power between majority and minority, it has been too slow and painful a process, of course.
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    Aug 25 2012: There is a saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Some of the most powerful journalism has been in photo stories. For U.S.A. I think of Time magazine and National Geographic. You may also note that many national newspapers include a cartoon or visual satire, often offering another perspective on a complex political or ecomomic story. The media in the U.K., is portrayed as very robust and impartial but we are still hearing about the News International phone hacking scandal. There is a new small newspaper that is factually accurate and is getting a new, possibly lifelong audience by recruiting distributors in local sixth form colleges. A quality newspaper is invaluable, unfortunately people don't have time to read these days. It is literally the case, people try to keep informed by watching 'soundbite' newscasts. The B.B.C. coverage of the Olympics has been amazing and such a contrast to what cable TV viewers have seen in U.S.A. Are the media the voice of the powerful in society, I suppose up to a point yes because it is ultimately a product for consumption and a newspaper whose views are too far removed loses those all important circulation figures. I suppose it depends how the newspaper is funded, a newspaper that needs advertising revenue to survive is always going to be less impartial than a newspaper that can generate enough sales through targetting a particular audience. By the way, the really successful new newspaper only costs 20p, has a really creative team of writers - witty as well as informed and has links to a quality broadsheet so the infrastructure is already in place about manufacturing, distribution etc. A picture wthout some dialogue can be misinterpreted or even forged but the truth usually comes out eventually.
  • Aug 25 2012: I can't answer the original question, but, instead, I can tell you what I think.
    It's possible "to avoid the art, social and media classification called 'mainstream' ", if you ask me.
    Sometimes very few, and weak people's opinion can be regarded as a crucial opinion in a society.
    And quite often, their opinion is likely to tell people the truth whereas the majority of people are often wrong about many things—needless to say.
    If the society we live in pursues individual's happiness, social media wouldn't ignore, but rather value minority's rights.

    If we pretend that we're satisfied with the fact that at least the majority of us are happy even though the minority is unhappy and miserable, we, the majority is lying to ourselves considering that there's always a possibility that we can also be part of the minority groups. It directly indicates that we're insecure because of this probable, yet fairly dreadful possibility.

    Provided that we can always speak up even if we are just weak minority groups and our rights are valued no matter what, our guaranteed happiness is neither conditional nor superficial since we know that our rights wouldn't be undermined.
    Nations and societies including social media have to consider minority's right to be as important as majority's because ultimately, it's for all of us for sure.

    I guess justice is not just some kind of noble idea, but fundamentally for all of people, or should I say, all of individuals…? It’s quite important to acknowledge that everyone deserves to be considered important.
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    Aug 24 2012: Of late, I have come to have serious concern about the" tyranny of the majority" at work in modern capitalist democracies.This is underscored by the decline of the 4th estate..(journalism) which has hindered acess to factual unbiased information to an extent that I fear most "free people" no longer think through critical issues on their own .

    The majority is only not a tyranny when it is well informed.
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      Aug 24 2012: While I agree that "(journalism)" is subject to bias reporting, the overall question posed is still one of "rights"...the majority vs the minority. The right to express minority journalistic views is alive and well in any democracy as long as the government (nation-state) doesn't allow any majority to restrict them.

      And being a "modern capitalistic" democracy isn't the determining factor, nor should it be. Don't confuse "democracy" with "republic". A democracy means the citizens get to vote for their leaders. But in a "Republic" government, once the voter grants their vote to a given candidate, the voter has granted that candidate the "right" to make decisions FOR the voter...not to only make decisions the voter AGREES with.

      I totally agree that most people don't use "critical thinking" in their everyday decision-making. But to say that journalism alone is responsible for "free people" not having access to factual unbiased information is not accurate. I choose where I want to get my information from. If I could NOT do that, it is quite possible TED would not even exist here.

      Your "fear (that) most 'free people' no longer think through critical ISSUES on their own" appears invalid. Everybody thinks through issues on their own prior to making any decision about them. But I will agree that if they allow themselves to be manipulated in their own final decision by any outside influence like special interest groups, advertising, or group-think associated with membership in a organization they belong to (or other factors), then they may not be using good individual critical thinking skills.

      This discussion centers around "rights". To introduce "modern capatalist democracies" into the discussion as a negative factor affecting the rights of either the majority or minority appears off-topic. Last time I checked, the minority has just as much "right" to get rich as the majority does.
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        Aug 25 2012: Is the equal opportunity to get rich the key measure of equality in modern democracies? And if modern democracies are working why do 1% of the population control the overwhelming majority of wealth and why have so many fallen into permanent poverty and permanently lost accumulated wealth and have little or no hope of regaining even what they once had?

        I would agree with you that modern democracies are synonymous with capitalism..and not long ago moderated a conversation on that there at TED..Income equality was never expressed as a goal of our society. No expression of freedom from want, human dignity, safety and security in old age, right to a quality education, stewardship for earth was included in the constitutions of modern democracies, nor in the world's first democracy in Greece.

        Feyisayo, who I know from other conversations here at TED to be a very wise and deeply insightful man, is asking a key question about what we mean by freedom and democracy in asking what impacts and costs, what losses are associated with the"majority narrative" and its reflection in mainstream culture..art, architecture, music etc.

        In my community we often say there is no unity without diversity. We mean by this a unity that is very different from the main stream narrative, the tyranny of the majority..it is more about how a truly inclusive society, where all voices and cultures and traditions are in the narrative of a nation what emerges is a co-intelligence a common wisdom that is about humanity, about earth, about serving life.
    • Aug 25 2012: The majority is a tyrant where ever it is called such. It's a label with a rhetorical agenda to paint the majority as the oppressors in a democratic government.

      I really dislike this loathing of a "biased journalism." ALL JOURNALISM, IN FACT, ALL texts have biases. It's the first thing they teach you in a liberal college education. As long as the text was written by a person with an opinion, there is a bias in the text, either in what they choose to say or what they choose not to say. This post has a bias, the post above me has a bias. With this in mind, to accuse journalists of bias is absurd. False reporting or blatant lies might be what you are looking for. Welcome to the rhetorical world!
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        Aug 25 2012: Thang Tran, would you not admit though, that some scholars and writers valiantly try to find some sort of balance while others choose no such restraint. Yes, it always is there for we have opinions and feelings. Do you not feel, as I think Lindsay is trying to express that the societal impetus to curtail ones's own bias has seriously diminished?
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        Aug 25 2012: Thang,

        We have had many in depth conversations here at TED on the decline of the 4th estate and its implications for democracy , freedom. and human rights. I refer you in particular to two we had last year with Alisa Miller of NPR . See Also Alisa's Ted Talk which describes the structural changes which result in in complete and inaccurate reporting..ege fewer news bureaus, fewer personnel, more reliance on fewer sources who control the flow of information.

        When the control of information is specifically about manipulating the opinions of the majority, lulling the majority into a detachment from reality which gives the plutonomy free reign, . A recent example
        was main stream media coverage of the Egyptian uprising. and the Libyan Civil War.

        When I refer to the "tyranny of the majority", I am referring principally to a majority who are alienated, disenfranchised, and not engaged in the hard work of being an engaged, informed vigilant citizen in a free nation. majority who are easily manipulated into compliance with an agenda that doesn't serve humanity, doesn't serve life, doesn't serve earth.

        Without the tyranny of a disenfranchised disengaged majority it would not be possible for plutonomy to hold control over all of us..it would not be possible for virtually every modern democracy to be a corporatocracy instead of a conviviocracy.

        In part, classrooms are part of the problem. Schools don't teach critical thinking..hey don't "grow" and cultivate individual empowerment or foster an inner alinement with service to humanity, to earths people now and in the future, to earth herself now and in the future.. Main stream education grooms future generations into compliance and complacency.
  • Aug 23 2012: in any democratic nation the rights of the minority are often overlooked because they hold less political value than those of the majority. Although once in a while they will apeal to the minority to give them an edge over the competition. This is the major downfall of democracy, one which many people do not understand and vent rage over in political forums (often misdirecting it against the ruling party)
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    Aug 19 2012: I apologize for getting so into this topic but I cannot resist one real plug for my nation of which i am so proud. Where does everyone think all those planes that were in the air when the events of 911 transpired landed?. You guessed it- Canada. We took them all and people who had very little opened their hearts and homes and welcomed them in. As a nation, we try to be good neighbours.
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    Aug 29 2012: I don't know about a nation, Feyisayo, but I work for an institution where minority rights are embraced and often promoted. We cannot impact people's opinions on a mass global scale, but at a university and community level, I know I am doing my part. And that is all we can ask in the bigger scheme of things.
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    Aug 27 2012: For example, when you are told that a film is a South African film, and the film turns out to be about South African Indians, would you ask for the 'authentic' South African story? Because some people expect everything African to be black. What happens to the White South African or Indian South African? What happens to their story?
    When there is a story about rich black Africans living in the nice neighbourhoods of Abuja, Lekki(Lagos) ; isn't there a tendency for most people who are familiar with the images of the poor Africa to disbelieve the story of rich Africans and ask for the 'authentic' African story?
  • Aug 27 2012: I think it is possible.

    If the mainstream is a market, and if people with goods and services to sell (to the mainstream) are the industry, the industry would naturally seek a market, even in the sense of ideas. People may look for narratives that seem familiar. So, when familiarized with "Mainstream thinking," people may seek just the same.

    Not all life may occur in any one cultural mainstream, though. No industry is an island to itself.

    In a more personal comment, I think it's safe to say that Diversity keeps the mainstream afloat
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    Aug 27 2012: Do we know for sure that democracy truly exists? On top of that, are the majority in the position to know what's "right" for the human race to evolve? If not, are the minority government groups taking advantage of that?
  • Aug 27 2012: What notion of 'rights' do you subscribe to? If you subscribe to "positive rights", Western Europe is mostly a white wall, to borrow your metaphor. If you subscribe to just "negative rights", the mere fact that each country has its own currency means that all countries are, at best, grey walls.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights
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      Aug 27 2012: I mean the right to be heard. For example, when you are told that a film is a South African film, and the film is about South African Indians, would you ask for the 'authentic' South African story? Because some people expect everything African to be black. What happens to the White South African or Indian South African? What happens to their story?
      • Aug 27 2012: Feyisayo, I believe you have diluted the concept of 'rights' too much for it to be a useful concept. The way I see it, the concept of 'rights' has meaning only if we have some agencies to discourage its violations.

        Let's take the example of food instead of films. I haven't been to South Africa, so let's assume South Africa has one 'authentic' local cuisine. Let's also assume that South African Indians have their own cuisine which has evolved to use the ingredients available in South Africa, but prepared in a manner distinctly preferred by South African Indians, but neither by other South Africans nor by 'proper' Indians. Would you claim that South African Indian food 'right to be eaten'? What action would you propose be taken against people who do not want to eat it because they prefer 'authentic' South African food?

        I'd probably watch a film about South African Indians, if it were well made. But I'd find it absurd, and even a bit distastefully imposing, if the maker insists that *he* has a right that *I* watch the movie.
  • Aug 26 2012: I think without ignorance we can not define anything as a truth. So mainstream is a way of us learning what is overlooked or disregarded. "Mainstream' allows people to be lead by leaders. Without a collective agreed upon 'decent and right choice', people would be at a loss as to what to do and be directionless. Which would mean the wealthy could not confuse them as easily, and the leaders could not have people 'tow the lines'. Societal mainstream beliefs go back as far as we have recorded correspondence. So in essence doing away with mainstream culture could lead to mass chaos or perhaps anarchy. Which means the governing powers would not encourage it, and shall forever encourage the 'white wall' to be seen as ideal. If there are too many spots the 'white wall' would be be painted over by someone else. Instinctively we can't have that because we have our bloodlines to perpetuate. The most diversity I expect we may see is the spots on the white wall gel together via the internet and such to make different walls. However, those walls are being monitored and may only gel as long as they do not pose too much of a threat to the perceived well being of the white walls in the world.
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      Aug 26 2012: So, we can agree that a society would inevitably have a face, or an identity; and that identity has to be determined by the majority?
  • Aug 20 2012: In INDIA minority has more power than majority(Hindu).
  • Aug 20 2012: NO!
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    Aug 19 2012: No. Those who work for giant media corporations are CERTAINLY under such pressure, but all artists are not. But even if they all were, that is no excuse for the individual to remain willfully ignorant, and to be led, like sheeple.
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    Aug 19 2012: The United States was SUPPOSED to be such a country. It's written constitution severely limits those things that government may legislate. However we lost that constitution in a coup d'etat (bloodless) and it was replaced by British Common Law, which is an unwritten constitution of judicial precedents and law, so it is no longer the case. Sadly.
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      Aug 19 2012: Do you think creators of art are under some sort of subtle pressure to only create works that will be approved by the majority?
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        Gail . 50+

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        Aug 19 2012: No. Giant media corporations than run television shows have their own agenda,and they are not subtle about pushing them. That does not mean that all artists sell out their vision for $$$ and power.

        It is the job of citizens to inform themselves rather than become sheeple who are controlled by those with money interests that cause harm to both the majority and the minority. It's all smoke and mirrors with them.
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          Aug 19 2012: Unfortunately it is easier these days to be ignorant without being aware of it; because people fall into the trap of always taking popular opinion as the real state of things.
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    Aug 19 2012: From what i see of my countries political merry go round is that it seems to rely on public rank opinion,media quoting tweets,blogposts and the fact that 90% of us have developed a fatal attitude called "Who else is there, so why not him" but then our population is best described as an average suburb in a mega city.
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    Aug 19 2012: "Is it possible to avoid the art, social and media classification called 'mainstream'?"

    No it isn't, because 'mainstream' is the standard, it is the thing that everything else reacts to. If there was no such thing as 'mainstream' then there would be no standard, and the Nujabes-style hip hop wouldn't be considered "underground" (which is a term used to basically describe anti-mainstream) anymore.

    If there were no such thing as "bad" music, how can we tell if certain music is good or phenomenally great?
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      Aug 19 2012: But the fact that some things are popular does not give us enough information to decide if they are good or bad. Now, if a popular thing is bad, does it still have the right to be the standard? Or the mainstream?

      Dont forget that the fact that an idea or a practice has popular support does not mean such can not be wrong.
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        Aug 19 2012: Sorry, I didn't mean to say that mainstream = bad/good, they're separate things.

        Something that's bad is subjective. If enough people believe the thing is bad, then that thing is the new mainstream standard for "bad". So if enough people think something is good, that becomes mainstream, as you have said, enough people have painted the wall white. What makes something mainstream and standard is the number of people who use/believe in it. I personally don't like mainstream music, but I am only one of a handful of guys who want to paint the wall black.

        "Dont forget that the fact that an idea or a practice has popular support does not mean such can not be wrong."

        True dat, mainstream is directly correlated to popularity, and independent of what's good/bad or right/wrong.
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    Aug 18 2012: I think Canada is usually such a nation. We have strong human rights legislation that set in stone individual rights and we normally go a long way to ensure them. I think that in media, the most interesting stories are the anomalies or the unique story. No one is really interested in the story of the norm are they?

    BTW I am not bragging about this= we are just good at keeping track of the ways we screw up and try hard to make sure we never forget so you will often see our national failures on infomercials where we remind ourselves of things we did well and ways we screwed up - like the way we built our national railroads.
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      Aug 19 2012: Please tell me more about the way Canada built her national railroads.
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        Aug 19 2012: This is a part of our history that we are rightfully ashamed of but we try to learn from so this is the actual segment that you would see on Canadian TV for many years. Today Canada has a huge populaton especially on our West coast from Asian nations. We may be slow learners but we do learn.

        http://youtu.be/o87MgkGAqeU

        Part of the Canadian spirit we are proud of comes from what we were notL

        http://youtu.be/5zlnoH5lCsk

        Underground railroad from the USA ended in my little town where I raised my kids.

        http://youtu.be/fCy-c4EQVWQ
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          Aug 19 2012: Do you think a film will do well at the box office if it is a story about something that society is ashamed of?

          I know the importance of focussing on the story first, but filmmaking is capital intensive, and it would seem a filmmaker has to observe the audience's tastes and make something that would sell.
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        Aug 19 2012: Dear Feyisayo, The above were for TV and we paid for them through government policy but to answer your question apart from that = all great and sellable films tell great human stories and mostly they are happy so my guess as a consumer is that one must find a compelling story and find an uplifting part. I would pay to see how SouthAfrica's forgiveness tribunals worked with Desmond Tutu. But that is just me.
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        Aug 28 2012: Do I think a film will do well at the box office if it is a story about something that society is ashamed of? I think Roots is one of the best films ever made. I believe people like to be reminded of mistakes that society has made. As oppossed to turning a blind eye, you get to fully grasp the struggles and it makes you a more empathic and compassionate person. Instead of being ashamed try and focus on the advancements in civil right that have been made. I don't think many people would have believed 20 years ago or even 10 for that matter that an African American would become president of the United States.
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      Aug 19 2012: Learning from mistakes is indeed an important part of this, so countries get better at noticing when systems do not work in accordance with the professed principles of that nation. In my local art museum we have a large exhibit of stunning Native American artifacts all related to Potlach and one room consists entirely of articles made and used in Canada when it was against the law in Canada for First Peoples to celebrate potlach.

      That prohibition was lifted maybe fifty years ago.
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        Aug 19 2012: Fritzie, Canada had a British flag when I was a girl and we really sang God save the Queen when I was a girl so we have a difficult time deciding what was actually us and what was British policy. We have 14 separate Aboriginal nations among our peoples and when others criticize Native policy we hardly know where to turn. The British in the paternalistic 'wisdom' outlawed many cultural things.


        Here is another Canadian moment:

        http://youtu.be/cJSta2LPi2Y

        The good thing in this one is that is shows the Canadian propensity to always remember a kindness.
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          Aug 19 2012: I know. Countries struggle with whether they want to be a melting pot and beyond that whether melting pot means homogeneous gruel or chunky stew.
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        Aug 19 2012: Fritzie, this is what I mean. Some aspects of the culture are promoted in all the mass media platforms; but some aspects are only admired in a museum.

        A storyteller who aims at maximum social impact would prefer the mainstream media to the museum.
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          Aug 19 2012: As I do not live in Canada, I cannot speak to the way the cultures of first people are celebrated in mainstream media or in other ways in Canada. Debra can likely speak to this, as she lives there.
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          Aug 19 2012: I am not sure I am the person to speak to this Fritzie because to my mind, they are part of ME. One of My own grandmothers was half french and half Iroquois I am told and I have shared that the other was a poor orphan who was shipped from England at 13 as an undesirable BECAUSE she was an orphan.
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        Aug 19 2012: Thank you Ken, You captured something that IS what Canadians are all about.
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        Aug 19 2012: You might also be interested in this:
        an uncle on my mother's side explained to me that my father's brother was a hero who helped to liberate Holland during the 2nd world war. I was an adult and I never knew because no one ever talked about it. I found this on Wikipedia:

        The regiment landed in Italy on 19 December 1943 at Naples and saw action soon and frequently thereafter. The bloody battles of Cassino and the Liri Valley, the Metfa Crossing, Ceprano, The Gothic Line, Missano Ridge, Coriano, the Lamone River Crossing, and Coventello were grim testimony to the regiment’s fighting effectiveness. In February 1945, the Hussars sailed from Italy to Southern France, and then moved by rail to Northwest Europe. After refitting the tanks, the regiment went into action in Holland, breaking through to Putten in mid-April. The regiment then moved north for the final actions of the war at the Delfzijl Pocket where 3,000 German soldiers surrendered to the regiment. On 26 January 1946, the regiment arrived in Halifax and the next day reached Sussex, New Brunswick where it was demobilized.