Viewfinder: Producing Video: A Voice of Freedom

Let’s face it, we live in a really big world. When the groundwork was laid for American democracy, the world was a much smaller place. A small group of men decided previous methods of government were insufficient and they created a new society based upon freedom of expression. Several fundamental pillars of the "American Dream" assure freedom of expression through freedom of speech, free press and freedom to assemble. However, I can’t imagine that our founding fathers could envision our world today, where those freedoms have been taken to an extreme.

Back in 1776, it was still a challenge for people to have their opinions heard. Freedom of speech was the official policy, but it was not easy to get people to listen. Freedom of the press existed, but buying a printing press was cost-prohibitive for all but the wealthiest. A few people, like Thomas Paine, managed to get published and be heard. He authored a small pamphlet titled "Common Sense," in which he maintained, "the cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind." Paine passionately argued for independence from Great Britain, illustrating the importance of free expression, in which just one small, dissenting voice can start a revolution.

The American Revolution guaranteed these freedoms of expression, but now our world is much larger. There are millions of voices clamoring for attention. However, business entities, a.k.a. corporations, far more influential than individual voices, dominate our world.

Today, we find ourselves playing a very small part in a very big world. Large corporations provide the most powerful voices of opinion. The entertainment industry, comprised almost entirely of corporations, dominates the TV screens in our homes, the movie screens in our community theaters, the speakers in our automobiles and the headphones attached to our portable audio players. The advertising industry also dominates each of these mediums and even litters the landscape with billboard messages. All of this make some of us feel very small and insignificant. Worse yet, some of us feel like we are only here to serve the interests of big business, which has no interest in virtues like building character, seeking the truth and the quest for knowledge and understanding. Those things are of interest only to you and I.

The small simple act of making a video message, be it a half-hour public access TV show, a video short about our family’s history or something as simple as a wedding video, is the ultimate manifestation of the dreams and visions of our founding fathers. They desired a system in which the individual was free to express himself openly.

The competition for an audience is fierce. However, it is very important to express yourself via the technology of video.

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