Declare your independence: Why independent media matters
This is the final post in the series "Declare your independence" exploring why subscribing to Bitch is so important. This post is guest-written by Portland State media studies professor (and Bitch subscriber) Jil Freeman.
Most people feel overwhelmed when they hear that six major conglomerates own 80% of the world's media products. And while I'm pretty certain that anyone of us could take Rupert Murdoch or Summer Redstone in a cage match, when it comes to besting them in the corporate marketplace it feels, well, like an unfair fight.
Much of my work revolves around railing against the ills of big media. No matter how many shocking figures I can quote or how many examples of how corporate media products facilitate and sustain sexism, racism, homophobia, and classism, it always ends with the same question: "What can we do about it?"
The good news is that there are many things we can do to help alleviate the problems created by corporate media; the better news is that there is something simple and easy you can do right now. Supporting independent media, like Bitch magazine, is a surefire way to level the playing field. Independent media provides access to voices and perspectives that aren't traditionally welcomed in the corporate media system (often because they are critical of that very system).
Marginalized voices often threaten to undermine the very tenants of that which builds profit for these media giants: making people feel crappy about themselves so that they buy what advertisers claim will make things better. The feminist and queer voices that appear in the pages of Bitch aren't interested in producing consumers, they are interested in providing thoughtful, inquiring and critical readers—readers that are, quite frankly, bad consumers. Bad consumers are those are people who think about the claims being made in advertising before buying. Bad consumers are people who are aware that the messages created by media culture shape our cultural landscape; that a little sexism may be good for body spray sales, but it is bad for the state of gender equality. Bad consumers are those who see their purchases as political and social commentary, they are more than aware that they aren't just buying a product, but supporting every claim and message that accompanies the product. Bad consumers know that advertising isn't limited to commercials and ad spots in this day and age; it's cloaked to pass as entertainment and information. These bad consumers aren't good for corporate media and so they are made invisible and ignored in the wasteland that is corporate media.
Supporting independent media transforms this wasteland into a rich and diverse dialogue where these unheard and ignored voices become powerful beacons of social change. Reading and subscribing to Bitch holds corporate media accountable by allowing us to be more than mere consumers; it engages diverse viewpoints and challenges the dominant majority. Supporting magazines like Bitch is the first step in declaring yourself as a not only a bad consumer, but a badass one as well.
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