MEDIA MASH: Grass, the Movie

Ads Amuck

It's so obvious, the Masher is surprised that it hasn't happened before now.

Entreprenuer Dan Shifrin has paved the way to yet another level of commercial intrusion into the public sphere. Shifrin's company, Autowraps.com, has borrowed the concept of wrapping schools and transit buses with advertisements and is now applying the concept to privately owned cars.

According to Blair Tindall of the San Francisco Examiner, Autowraps already has 5,000 car owners signed up at its Web site, all offering their vehicles to advertisers (including Dryers Ice Cream and Yahoo, two companies worthy of boycotting just for contributing to this new ugliness) for a monthly fee of $400. That's $400 for a full wrap, mind you, but drivers can also get $100 for window wraps or $250 for half wraps. Not surprisingly, Autowraps prefers SUVs because they have more advertising surface.

Currently a San Diego company, AutoWraps is moving to dot-com hell -- the increasingly over-advertised environment of San Francisco -- to add to the visual pollution of a city of the verge of being wrapped to death.

Grass Will Get You High

There is a wonderfully funny and tragic new film called Grass, directed by Ron Mann, opening May 31st at the Film Forum in New York City. The Masher had a preview of the film and was on the floor laughing at Grass's portrayal of marijuana propaganda over the past 70 or 80 years.

Drawing effectively from original archival footage, the film captures the ludicrous themes of decade after decade of anti-weed propaganda. Some years the government claimed that smoking pot would make you a deranged killer; in other years you'd become moral depraved; in still other you might start associating with African Americans -- portrayed with contemptible racism as heavy pot users. In those years, the propaganda warned, smoking a joint with an African-American buddy would lead inevitably to breakdowns in national security. Go figure.

Despite how funny it is, the film has its tragic side. The stupidity of endless years of propaganda brings into question the sanity of our country and its elected officials. It seems that no one in power is capable of learning lessons and acting to protect the population from the anti-pot hysteria. As the film's Web site, Grassthemovie.com, documents, 3,470,545 people have been arrested for pot during the Clinton administration thus far. In other words, one person gets arrested every 52 seconds. If anyone has any illusions that Clinton/Gore has been beneficial to the fabric of society, contemplate the number of screwed up lives and destroyed families caused by the drug war. And ironically, as many have noted, "educational" efforts -- like Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign and the Dare program -- have actually led to increased drug experimentation by young people, since these messages have so little credibility.

Grass, the Movie is so good that Woody Harrelson jumped at the chance to narrate it and the Masher predicts it will achieve instant cult classic status. There will be a Gala Movie Premiere Opening/Benefit for NORML on May 22 in New York.

Tom Paine.Com Hits The Times Where It Hurts

The Masher loves it. TomPaine.com, which has bought the right-hand bottom corner of the New York Times op-ed page every Wednesday for most of the year (pricey real estate), may make the Times regret that it did the deal. In a delicious screw you, TomPaine's ad this week documents the Times' truly horrendous op-ed coverage of the IMF/World Bank protests. Go check it out at TomPaine's site, or in the paper (on Wednesday) and see for your self.

As documented by FAIR, The Times' op-ed page allowed nary a single word of praise or even considered thought on globalization, a topic much of the world has come to understand is cruicial to our future health. In fact, the Times unleashed a bevy of four writers and columnists to scribble a truly inane collection of diatribes. Talk about out of touch! Here are a few examples:

On April 19, David Frum penned an unsubstantiated attack against the activists, describing them as incoherent, intellectually gutless people who "hate dams and airports and economists." On the same day, Paul Krugman dismissed critical viewpoints as the "rarely fact-checked" notions of "a small, relatively privileged minority" that would harm the poor. Thomas L. Friedman, after misrepresenting the analyses of many IMF/World Bank critics, angrily concluded that they are "contemptible," a group of "economic quacks" who deserved to be labeled "The Coalition to Keep the World's Poor People Poor" and given "the back of your hand."

The Masher interprets this embarrassing display of sophomorics disguised as analysis as the economic elite running scared. These writers' unconscious boiled over in anti-intellectual bombastics to hide the fact that they, like most neo-liberal pundits, have been left behind by their errors and their inability to face globalization with democracy and heart. Listen up guys (and of course they are all guys) -- the people are passing you by.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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