Things That Matter

Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

We’ve come to the point in American history where deaths due to gun violence have become what many would call a crisis. According to data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, guns were responsible for more deaths than car accidents were. So it comes to no surprise when certain activists take it upon themselves to bring attention to what many label an epidemic. On Wednesday, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a non-profit organization founded with the goal of “protecting children from gun violence with programs that work”, did just that. The NPO released a short video, titled “Back-To-School-Essentials” that made waves through the internet.

The video begins exactly the way so many back-to-school commercials start: discussing the coolest new gadgets to buy for your kids this Fall.

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

A smiling boy pulls a backpack out of a locker, bragging that his mom got him the “perfect bag for back to school”. A young girl shows off the colorful binders that are “just what she needs to help her stay organized” for the school year. But things take an odd turn with the third student. As the student describes his headphones as “just what [he] needs for studying”, we can see that not all is quite right in the background. As the boy listens to his music, oblivious, we see students running in the behind him, appearing to be panicked.

As the commercial wears on, it becomes even eerier when students are speaking carefree to the camera while scenes of carnage unfold around them. The commercial wears on with each scenario becoming eerier: a girl uses her sweater to bar a door shut, keeping an active shooter out of the gymnasium. A different student uses her new socks as a tourniquet to keep a bleeding student alive. The video ends on a chilling note: a young girl hides in a bathroom stall, tears running down her face. The camera closes up on her as we hear an active shooter enter the bathroom. “I love you, Mom,” she types into her phone.

The video ends with a simple title-card over a black screen: “School shooting is preventable when you know the signs.”

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

The PSA then directs the viewer to find out more about the organization at sandyhookpromise.org. According to Sandy Hook Promise’s About page, the “above-the-politics” organization is made up of “several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012”. Their mission is to “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation”. Their main action-items are to target mental health programs to individuals who are “at-risk” at engaging in gun violence and by advocating for policy changes in order to prevent school shootings. 

As of now, the video has racked up over 1 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours.

The virality of the PSA is likely due to its execution: we’re all used to seeing vacuous back-to-school commercials whose sole intentions are to sell us something. “Back-To-School Essentials” lulls us into a sense of comfort with its upbeat music before jerking us into the current violent reality of school-aged students’ lives. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks every mass shooting in the country, the US has had 283 mass shootings since September 1st of 2019. 

The video isn’t without controversy–some Twitter users are disturbed by how close to home the video’s scenarios are.

In fact, many viewers are finding the PSA hard to watch. On Twitter, users are complaining of tearing up after watching the video. Some even claim to “feeling sick” by the video’s contents. 

In response, some Twitter users are glad of the reality-check the PSA is providing:

It’s evident that making their audience uncomfortable from watching the video was one of the organization’s goals. That way, it makes it harder to ignore the reality of school shootings and their impact on children’s lives.

This woman explained how the video hit a little too close to home:

It seems we’ve come to the point in our culture where we feel we need to buy phones for our children in the event that they experience a school shooting. 

This Twitter user applauded the Sandy Hook Promise Organization’s bravery in committing to their message:

Sometimes the only way to get your point across is to explain, in the starkest terms possible, how dire the situation is. This video managed to convey that in a powerful way.

This Latina was effected by the PSA on a visceral level:

Reactions like this prove that public service announcements, when done right, can achieve exactly what they set out to achieve.

Simply from the Twitter reaction, it’s clear that this video has touched a lot of people.

To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and its mission to prevent gun violence, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.

Steve Harvey Continues To Dig His Own Grave By Ragging On Colombia Throughout The Miss Universe Pageant

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Steve Harvey Continues To Dig His Own Grave By Ragging On Colombia Throughout The Miss Universe Pageant

Dailymail / Twitter

After the 2015 Miss Universe disaster where Steve Harvey erroneously crowned Miss Colombia? who? the winner of the pageant when Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach was actually the winner, we assumed that Harvey would try to be on his best behavior from now on. But of course, Steve Harvey being Steve Harvey, he couldn’t play it straight for too long. And, once again, he’s embroiled himself in another controversy–again, involving Miss Colombia.

From the get-go, Harvey started off his hosting gig awkwardly, immediately addressing his 2015 headline-making mix-up. He then proceeded to make an off-color joke about the fiasco. “Colombia’s gotten over that. They’ve forgiven me,” he quipped. “Well, not all of them. The cartel’s still tripping a little bit”. 

As if this opening joke weren’t offensive enough, Harvey continued to rag on Colombia when announcing that Miss Colombia Gabriela Tafur had qualified for the Top 20. 

After being announced, Tafur approached Steve Harvey, joking with him a little about his his famous absentmindedness. “Yes, I’m here,” she joked. “Are you sure you read correctly? Should I go back?”.

Harvey admitted to Tafur that he was “struggling” with his hosting duties, to which Tafur replied, “You’re forgiven”. Sensing an opportunity to shoe-horn in another narco joke, Harvey said: “You’ve forgiven me, not the cartel…They’re not handling it the same way.”

Tafur, although she looked as if she were trying to be a good sport and smile it off, appeared to become a bit more frozen after he cracked the joke. It also should be noted that the audience didn’t seem to respond well to the joke–there was little laughter to be heard coming from the crowd.

The backlash to Harvey’s joke was swift, with Colombians accusing the comedian of perpetuating negative stereotypes about  their beloved South American country.

The truth is, pageantry is an important aspect of many Latino cultures–especially ones in South America. Part of the reason that many of these women join pageants is to be a positive representation of their country for the rest of the world. 

There is even a “National Costume Show” portion of the competition where contestants dress up in outfits that illustrate an authentic aspect of the culture of their home country. No country is perfect and the pageant isn’t meant shouldn’t be turned into a platform to single out a country and bring attention to its flaws.

Miss Colombia, for her part, took to Twitter herself to drag Harvey for his offensive joke. 

Although many people still associate Colombia drugs, gangs, and violence, its murder rate has fallen to 25% in the last 25 years. In 2016, the Colombian government and the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a peace treaty with the goal of putting an end to a violent civil war that has last 52 years. The treaty included switch illegal crops like coca with alternatives, hopefully minimizing opportunity for drug traffickers. Since then, Colombia’s homicide rate has dropped to an all-time low

Not only was the audience unimpressed with Harvey’s inappropriate joke, but Twitter was too.

It’s one thing to slip up once, make an inappropriate joke, and then stop after you’ve learned the error of your ways. Harvey continued to make Colombia the butt of his jokes and he crossed the line. 

This person made a point to call out Steve Harvey for trying to embarrass Colombia on a worldwide stage. 

Miss Colombia is chosen to be a representative about the best parts of her country. Tafur has nothing to do with cartels. 

This person explained how Harvey’s “joke” was disrespectful to actual victims and survivors of cartel violence.

Believe it or not, cartel violence is an epidemic in Colombia. We guarantee that if Harvey experience the violence in person, he wouldn’t be making light of the situation on international TV.

In an event as globally inclusive as Miss Universe, it’s imperative to recognize that no country is perfect.

Colombians are tired of being thought of as narcos and drug addicts in the eyes of the world. 

This Twitter user was full of kind words for a woman who handled an uncomfortable situation with such grace

I like how @IAmSteveHarvey makes a joke about the cartel to #MissColombia and then cut to her package and she’s like “I’m a lawyer and have been fighting violence in my country.” Get it girl. And Steve, sit down man. #MissUniverse

Brazil’s New Culture Official Says There Is A Link Between Abortion And Rock Music

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Brazil’s New Culture Official Says There Is A Link Between Abortion And Rock Music

IMDB

One of President Jair Bolsonaro’s top officials, the head of Brazil’s National Arts Foundation Dante Mantovani says rock music leads to satanism and abortions. The right-wing conspiracy posits that the social theorist Theodore Adorno, who was influenced by Karl Marx, wrote the entire Beatles’ song catalog to destroy Western civilization. It is completely unfounded and totally fabricated.

Mantovani shared a video on his personal YouTube page explaining how rock music leads to abortions which leads to Satanism. The 11-minute video accuses Elvis Presley and John Lennon of being affiliated with the devil. 

Mantovani says rock music destroyed American values in the 1960s.

“Rock music leads to drugs, which leads to sex, which leads to abortions,” Mantovani said. “At the same time, the abortion industry feeds into something much more serious which is Satanism.” 

On December 2nd, Bolsanaro appointed Mantovani to oversee Funarte, an organization founded in 1975. Once under the Ministry of Culture, after Bolsonaro’s administration eliminated that agency, it is now under the subdivision of the Ministry of Citizenship according to CNN. The purpose of Funarte is to, “promote and incentivize the production, practice, development and diffusion of the arts throughout the country.”

Mantovani lambasted artists like John Lennon and Elvis Presley for introducing behaviors like “hip-shaking” that leads to satanism.  “Lennon openly said, more than once, that he made a pact with the devil — with Satan, in order to be famous and successful,” he says. “In the 1950’s this so-called Elvis Presley emerges with rock music that makes everyone bounce and shake their hips. This is when certain behaviors start being introduced — Elvis Presley, for instance, died of an overdose.”

This isn’t the first time Mantovani has disparaged rock music.

Mantovani seems to believe that there is too much rhythm in rock music which causes people to beat each other. 

“What happens with rock is that the rhythm is always very repetitive. When a musical genre is more based on rhythm it speaks more to the body than the soul,” Mantovani says in a video from 2018 named “Is Rock Music?” “That’s why you see in rock shows people jumping, sometimes hitting each other — in punk rock there is the tradition of people beating each other and then leaving as old friends.” 

The issue with Mantovani’s bizarre views is that they could influence polices. He will oversee initiatives for music events and he is responsible for allocating government funds to music and the arts. In the past, artists have been able to receive up to 60 million Brazilian reals ($14 million) in funding from the government, although Bolsonaro has recently slashed that number. 

The government official also blames the American CIA for spreading the psychedelic drug LSD at Woodstock 1969. 

“Woodstock, that festival from the 1960s that gather a bunch of people, where hippies took drugs and LSD — there are certain theories that suggest that the large scale distribution of the drug was actually carried out by the CIA,” he says in the video. 

Of course, Mantovani is willing to make exceptions for his personal favorites: Metallica and Angra. 

Mantovani claims Metallica and Angra are the exceptions to the rule because they’re good to listen to “when you’re driving in traffic” or “feeling a bit tired.” Angra bassist Felipe Andreoli responded on Instagram, saying he was embarrassed to even be affiliated with the head of Funarte. 

“So much ignorance, so much disinformation, SO EMBARRASSED to have my band associated in any way with this guy. I’m not going to waste my time attacking his comments because, those of us who live off of and know about rock music know that he is delirious,” CNN translated. “It scares me to see such a retrograde, fanatical person in such an important position for our country’s culture.”

Newsweek believes the conspiracy theory, that Adorno wrote the Beatles’ music with Marxist undertones, began to spread amongst the right in Brazil this September, a month before Mantovani made his video. Olavo de Carvalho a mentor of Bolsonaro and a right-wing extremist who once said Pepsi used stem cells from aborted fetuses as sweetener, spread the Beatles conspiracy. However, the conspiracy itself is fairly old.

“The theory seems to have originated with The Committee of 300, a book by supposed ex-MI6 agent John Coleman,” according to Rock Nerd. “This reveals how Adorno, in fact, masterminded the whole British Invasion of the 1960s, although apparently for that the Tavistock Institute (which Adorno had nothing to do with outside the works of conspiracists) was the work of Jesuits rather than Jews. Or perhaps, if you ask Henry Makow, the Illuminati.” 

Newsweek suggests it is unsurprising Mantovani would espouse such strange rhetoric when many in Bolsonaro’s administration seem to be obsessed with rigid, so-called traditional values.