TED Conversations

Casey Kitchel

TEDCRED 10+

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The use of professions and disciplines, as a medium for discussing social, political, economic, and environmental issues.

Cameron Russell uses modeling as a medium to discuss and raise awareness about social issues that are important, sensitive, difficult, or uncomfortable to talk about. By placing the social issue of race and ethnicity within a certain context (the example being fashion/ beauty industry, and modeling), it appears to make the issue more comfortable/ less uncomfortable to talk about. With that said, what do other people think about this concept, and if this concept does help to discuss and raise awareness about social, political, economic, and environmental issues that are important, sensitive, difficult, or uncomfortable to discuss, what other professions and disciplines could be used as mediums to help discuss them?

I know I am technically “proposing an idea”. But, I feel like I'm really “proposing an idea” and “asking a question” in the hopes that it stimulates “debate”. TED Conversations, here is a case where I really could have used an “all of the above” option when “starting a TED Conversation”.

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    Feb 11 2013: Pardon my absence for the past couple days! Honestly, I wanted to wait and see how people would respond and contribute. Having done that, I see I could have posed my question better. However, the great thing about ideas is that they can be refined and improved as we go along. I am very appreciative of the feedback so far! And important to note, I want people to understand that there isn't any wrong way to answer my questions and I hope that by understanding this, people will be more willing to contribute.
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    Feb 9 2013: Race/ethnicity and time perspective. If people are going to discuss the first two then they have to add in the third, this way they will understand a lot more.
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      Feb 11 2013: Right on!

      For example, had this discussion been happening back in the times and place of Medieval Europe, we might very well have consulted a court jester on the matters of social issues.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_jester

      Or, in relation to the talk, had Cameron not discussed the trends of fashion and beauty as they are currently, but instead, had chosen to discuss them from the perspective of the 18th century, the talk would have been different.
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    Feb 9 2013: Casey, I am not for sure if I understand your question ... But not knowing what I am talking about has always been my strong point.

    Experts are called as witnesses .. spokespersons .. etc ... in order to prove a point that is being presented. I often use Al Gore for this point. He has a giant carbon footprint and is only there as a "face" in the global warming cause. His past statements and actions do not lend him much credability and is considered a cocktail party joke.

    Most of these people fall into categories. 1) Take the money and run 2) have a ax to grind either for or against 3) for some reason want to be in the spotlight to promoted their book ,, movie ... or join the very profitable talk circle for thousands a talk. To be fair there are those who really believe in the cause but they are usually the volunteers at the lower level. The top spots are politicians who use the system and dupe the believers while using their time and money.

    Just as an example look at economists. Keynesians say keep spending and let the government grow. Austrians say no keep government small and pay the debit down. I am not a economist but I say if I spend more money that I have I am going to jail ... if the National debit is larger than the GDP we are screwed and about to experience some bad things. I wonder why the leaders do not have this same view ... or why they don't go to jail for bankrupting the country. Put a housewife in charge that ever month works to pay all the bills and tries to save a little ... duh she would serve us well.

    Brooke Shields once said I would love to be that skinny (as Ethopians) but all those flies and death would put me off. But we listen to her and other actors as "experts" in ads and as spokespersons.

    My solution is to do your own homework prove them right or wrong and support you efforts from a base of knowledge and never drink the koolade again.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Feb 11 2013: Hey Bob!

      Well that makes two of us, because i don't fully understand your answer! :)

      BUT,

      I do appreciate your response, and I wholeheartedly agree that "doing your own homework, proving them right or wrong and supporting your efforts from a base of knowledge" is essential to better understanding ourselves, other people, and the world we live in.
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        Feb 11 2013: Good, we are agreeing on something but I am still unsure of what you are lookiing for in your question. Help me out here so I can address the issue.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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          Feb 12 2013: Fritzie put it the best way for what I am trying to ask in my question and that is

          "whether it is easier to discuss an issue in a specific context than in the abstract?"

          Hope this helps!
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        Feb 12 2013: Wow an opportunity for me to be both thought a fool and remove all doubt in one comment.

        First I would have to evaluate my target audience. To argue in the abstract with someone who is bound in the specific would be frustrating to say the least. Not everyone is capable of progressing to the next level in either subject mastery or mental abilities.

        You stated "easier" ... my goal would be "productive".
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          Feb 12 2013: Oooooo, "productive". I like that! "Easier" isn't guaranteed, like you mention. If the goal is to be more productive, even if you don't fully win over the audience, I think all the effort isn't completely lost. Just getting an audience to CONSIDER another idea or view point, I think is something of value. And being a little productive, is better than being not productive at all (assuming its going to a GOOD cause, because the role of INTENT is very important).
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          Feb 14 2013: Now if the goal is productivity, what role do you think a medium can play in that? Do you think that can make a discussion/ argument more or less productive?
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        Feb 14 2013: That would depend on specifics. If it were a think tank then there should be no constraints and the medium would only ask for examples or possiably to seek furrther details, etc ... In a corporate discussion he would attempt to refocus the discussion into corporate guidelines, fiscial constraints, manpower and equipment needs, etc ... At a school the medium would acknowledge the thought and advise of state, federal, and fiscial constraints ... In the school and corporate setting the outcome has already been decided and they are seeking input to the operatinonal constraints from lower management or stakeholders.

        As a consultant the intital interview is to advise me of what the CEOs and executive board wants and for me to tell them the best way to achieve it. The real heros of "productivity" evaluations are the time management studies. They save money and manpower ... big bosses love them.

        Whatchathink .... Bob.
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    Feb 9 2013: GREAT idea for discussion Casey! Here is an article that was posted in the conversation thread of Cameron's talk, in which she insightfully perceives her position as a platform from which she can address issues.

    http://www.vogue.com.au/culture/features/cameron+russell+speaks+back,21695

    While some folks criticize her for participating in the modeling industry, I believe that she learned quite a bit, and will use that information for the benefit of others. We cannot as adequately address issues from "outside" looking in, as we can from the inside.

    I was a professional actor, model and named Mrs. Vermont years ago. I can honestly tell you that these professions, disciplines and positions provided a platform from which I could address issues. For example, under other circumstances, I probably would not have had the opportunity to connect with as many people, including the members of the state legislature. BECAUSE I was recognized, and invited by a friend who was a member of the state legislature, to speak to the assembly and various committees, my testimony contributed to changes in laws regarding domestic violence and the dept of corrections.

    How we use the different professions, disciplines and positions is the important peice.
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      Feb 11 2013: Colleen!

      Great contribution and thank you. By the way, I went ahead and read that article (and I am not going to lie, I also took a look at her interview on CNN with Soledad O'Brien). More often than not, i find it is helpful to get multiple view points to understand someone/something or to get a better idea of the "whole" picture. As in design, I can't emphasize enough how critical it is to do good research.
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        Feb 11 2013: Hey Casey!
        Multiple view points are always good, and I believe that in any exploration, good research is important....and fun:>) What did you find in the CNN interview? Consistant with the article? Or not?
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          Feb 13 2013: It can be fun... ;) (you got me there Colleen!) BUT, I think it is important to be mindful, sensitive, and respectful about not being invasive. Especially as a guy! Just by virtue of being a guy I feel like I am automatically labeled as "suspicious". And I really don't think I have to say this but I am going to anyways, "hobbies" like stalking weren't cool before the internet, and they certainly haven't gotten any cooler, or more importantly, any more appropriate since. I always try to follow the rule of don't do anything to anyone else I that I wouldn't like to be done to me. So I try my best to tread lightly and to be respectful. Certainly there is some admiration there too, but definitely more out of respect. And I think you will agree with me in saying everyone deserves to be shown some respect, regardless of how they look or where they are from.

          Honestly though, I think it was okay the little bit of research I did because the three of those sources are public material (and I feel that's an acceptable place to draw the line at). But it feels a little uncomfortable anyway, or maybe that's just because Cameron's talk is seeping into my conscience. Awkward and uncomfortable! XP
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          Feb 13 2013: Having addressed "that" part of your response Colleen :) , I feel I can move on and proceed to address the latter part of your response.

          As far as I can tell, Cameron is consistent all the way across the board. I happened to read the article before I watched the interview, when in fact the article in Vogue was published after both her TED talk and the CNN interview, and i think that helped to prove her honesty and support the message she is trying to convey.

          First, I want to point out that Cameron always emphasizes that she is grateful she could use modelling as a way to pay for her education. If I could have, I would have too! College isn't cheap, and it doesn't appear it is going to get any cheaper anytime soon. I'm sure she has an opinion on that.

          Second, let's face it, she was invited to be on Soledad O'Brien's show, on CNN, all of which people for the most part will agree are well respected and reputable sources. Soledad doesn't invite just anyone on to her show, and she certainly doesn't recommend anything to other people (or her own daughters) to watch if she didn't think it were important or equally important, trust worthy. Cameron's responses to the questions all seemed honest, thoughtful, and respectful. Even to the modelling related question asked by the "middle-aged white guy".

          As it appears to me, they all match, and they all support each other, and that in turn backs up Cameron and her cause. She seems to have a positive out look on what she is doing and where she is going (because she is going) and from the article, even on the more negative experiences she has encountered. Hopefully she will be back on Soledad's show discussing social issues, but NOT on the fiscal cliff! (PLEASE!) I would prefer that that matter would resolve itself before then in a way that wouldn't be detrimental to the future of everyone!
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        Feb 15 2013: Casey,
        Sorry I didn't respond sooner to your two most recent comments. I've read them several times, and I'm a bit confused with the direction you would like to take in this conversation.

        "Fun", to me includes being mindful, sensitive, and respectful.

        I do NOT perceive you, or label you as "suspicious" because you are a guy.

        I am totally in the dark regarding your comments about "stalking".

        I totally agree with you that "everyone deserves to be shown some respect, regardless of how they look or where they are from."

        Have I said something that causes you to think/feel I am NOT respectful? You not respectful?
        You say..."it feels a little uncomfortable". I don't understand your discomfort.

        I have supported Cameron and her talk, and it feels like you are trying to convince me to do so?
        Are you preaching to the choir?
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          Feb 15 2013: Sorry Colleen!

          I didn't mean to come off like that. I wasn't trying to say that you think of me as being suspicious, or that you don't respect me, or anything bad like that.

          In the short time since I joined the TED community, I have quickly come to view you as one of the more mindful, respectful, wise, and trust worthy people.

          I think I may have read too much into your comment, and I think I overreacted. I hope you can forgive me.

          Sorry.
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        Feb 16 2013: Casey,
        Nothing to "forgive" because I did not blame you for anything. I simply could not understand your comments.....thanks for clarifying. Sometimes, folks kind of go off on "sub-topics" in these conversations, and it's difficult to keep track of the topic!

        Thank you very much for your kind and generous feedback....I appreciate that:>)
  • Feb 9 2013: Sometimes abstract is good.
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      Feb 11 2013: Abstract: as in disassociated from any specific instance.

      But also could be interpreted as, and i wasn't aware of this until recently...

      Abstract (summary): "A part of academic literature which is used to succinctly communicate complex research" (Wiki).

      Who knew!?
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    Feb 9 2013: Are you asking whether it is easier to discuss an issue in a specific context than in the abstract?

    I think that is true in general, but if you wanted to engage my fifteen year old son in a discussion about race and ethicity, or my two daughters at his age, by focusing on beauty, fashion, and modeling, they would all have been lost.

    I think the key is to raise issues in a specific context with which those you mean to engage will be familiar. The population of staff at school might work if the people you want to engage are kids or school staff. The classroom itself might work. The contexts that make good cases will depend on what people are familiar with where you live.

    Role playing is another way of bringing cases to life.

    Forgive me if I have misunderstood your question.
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      Feb 11 2013: To answer your question Fritzie, yes! :) I meant to ask "whether it is easier to discuss an issue in a specific context than in the abstract."

      The more examples I find, the more I think it is true too. (I'll be sharing some examples soon!) And if I'm not mistaken, Cameron uses her experience as a model to address social issues because she saw its potential to engage people. So, as I think you bring up, whatever issue is being addressed is important, but also is HOW you engage the audience. I believe public speakers are always striving to speak TO their audience, never OVER, or UNDER, so the intended message will reach the most number of people.

      I'm really glad you brought up "role playing". I intentionally used profession and discipline because of their relevance to the talk and kept it as such in the hopes someone would suggest the idea that something else besides a profession or a discipline could be used as a medium.
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        Feb 11 2013: It's useful to toggle back and forth between concrete example and abstract thought. Too often people do not test their biases about how things work against reality. It is easy to stay superficial that way.

        Of course it goes the other way too of people's sometimes drawing conclusions they believe to be universally true from a few anecdotes.
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    Feb 14 2013: Does anyone have any feedback on the examples I have provided?
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    Feb 14 2013: It's about time I toss out some examples that I think fit what I am looking for. SO... here it GOES!

    1) Political satirists such as Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, who have created pseudo news report talk shows to address social, political , and (I would make the argument) for whatever they feel needs to be addressed.

    2) Chefs, especially sushi chefs. I recently watched "Jiro Dreams of Sushi". Now this example is kind of complex in my opinion because it's in a movie. Jiro Ono is a real person, but the views and concerns of his restaurant are being expressed within a movie that was shot and directed by someone else who is telling Jiro's story. But within the movie, there is a segment where Jiro's eldest son, Yoshikazu Ono, addresses the concern of over fishing and the potentially devastating effects that could have.

    3) The "All-time popular athletes" who could use their experience within their sports to address the issue of the use of performance enhancing drugs.

    4) Former politicians who for a nicer way of putting it "misbehaved" during their term in office could discuss the effects of such "acts" that society for the most part has deemed unacceptable and how those "acts" help to undermine the institutions they fight to protect.

    5) Now this last one is kind of special because it involves puppets. I would like to know what people think about the use of such items as a puppet by an individual who is addressing an issue, and its use to help distance themselves from the issue they are addressing? (Which apparently the 50 1/2 state is ahead of the other 50 states in using.)
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    Feb 12 2013: Here is some food for thought. I am going to miss Wyatt Cenac.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-13-2012/talking-heads