“Asians in the Library” Video: Random Thoughts

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PRDude

The newest video sensation fueled by YouTube and inexpensive and easy-to-use tech toys like the FlipCam has nothing to do with crying babies or pets engaged in comical antics.   No, the “vlogosphere” now has a new star, one with blond hair, an apparent fondness for too-tight tops and push-up bras and speech patterns probably honed through many visits to shopping malls in the Valley.

The subject in question is Alexandra Wallace, a student at UCLA who studies political science, visits the library and more than likely will  have no friends of Asian descent for many years to come.

Here’s the scenario: Ms. Wallace posted a video “rant” on YouTube where she complained about Asians who talk on their cell phones in the library.  She goes on to say Asian students at UCLA have parents who do their laundry and purchase their food.

Watch the original, found from the link above, or visit YouTube to view the many responses and parodies to Ms. Wallace’s original production.  As this is written, the original version had 1,035,297 views, while some of the reactionary videos have garnered close to a half million views.

The PRDude doesn’t comment about subjects involving racial stereotypes, world thoughts from blond political science students or related topics.  But here are some random thoughts:

  • Ms. Wallace and a few of the other “commentators” utter a few of the words you really shouldn’t say in polite company.  Some advice: Video evidence of potty mouth won’t help your career opportunities.
  • College students still go to the library? I’m impressed and amazed. Back when I attended Illinois State University in the mid 1970s, we had to go to the library because that’s where the books  and knowledge were located. Can’t students today just Google a question?
  • This post will take me around 45 minutes to research, write, review, add links, etc.  Th0se who recorded and posted videos spent at least that much time.  Don’t we have better things to do with our time?
  • The “Asian library rant” is a true example of a video going viral. And, it exposes how this great nation — built and rebuilt — by peoples of all races and nationality still has a long way to go in terms of addressing stereotypes.  Perhaps someone at Fox News or MSNBC will offer commentary soon.  (Imagine a debate between Glenn Beck and Lawrence O’Donnell.)
  • In other parts of the world, Northern Africa and the Middle East for example, people who take opposing views to what the government requires you to believe get arrested or shot.  Here in the USA, we can make unpopular, and perhaps stupid, opinions known and publish them for all to absorb.  The worse that can happen is ridicule, and maybe a lawsuit.

A few final thoughts from a true public relations perspective on this scenario:

  • The administration at UCLA should use this opportunity to open up dialogue to address racial stereotyping.
  • Colleges from coast to coast could build awareness for enforcing a “no talking on cell phones in the library” policy.
  • We all should view the original “rant” and its subsequent responses to realize that sometimes it’s better to keep comments private.


Japan & Other Stuff, Random Thoughts on a Friday

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PR Dude

Here are three thoughts on a Friday evening.  The first attempts to put some perspective on a story that has kept the world riveted for a week.  The second poses some questions I’d like answered, but may never learn “who or why.”  The third is just an observation on something that has helped define and shape modern society; and me, too.

Earthquake. Tsunami. Fallout. Since the earthquake and tsunami, then the resulting nuclear reactor meltdowns, ravaged Japan a week ago today, I’ve spent many waking hour trying to put the past seven days into some sort of perspective. Like any sane, rational human being, my heart goes out to the Japanese people. The images of devastation are surreal, awe-inspiring and heartbreaking.  How could an act of nature (or God, based on your beliefs) cause so much destruction so quickly?  How could one of the most advanced, well-prepared nations on earth be virtually powerless to quickly cool down  damaged nuclear reactors?

From an almost simplistic point of view, I wonder what role public relations and communications can do to help Japan and its people.  In January 2010, when the earth shook, left ruin and brought death and misery to a poor nation like Haiti, I wrote a post offering some suggestions on the power behind public relations to bring awareness to Haiti’s tragedy.  I don’t think we need to take that step with what’s taking place in Japan today.

Words and pictures will define the Japan earthquake years and generations from now.  I offer this word: Apocalyptic.  From the thousands of images, still and video, taken these past seven days, this one grabbed me by the lapels:

A rescue worker musters a smile while holding an infant.

It shows hope and humanity.

Japan rebuilt itself into a global powerhouse after the crushing defeat in World War II. It will rebuild again, hopefully better and smarter regarding nuclear energy and coastal development.  If you want to help Japan, follow this link.  As I write this, the nation is being hit with after-shocks registering 5.9.

Those Lurkers on LinkedIn. From the “anonymous LinkedIn user” to “someone at Acme Industries,” I wonder who purposefully reviews my profile on LinkedIn.  For the record, I have a very robust profile, with 383 connections, 30 recommendations and much business and educational content. I’m a member of 18 groups, and I manage two.  The PRDude blog is included in the applications on my profile, and I regularly post updates and questions, and make my thoughts known.

Sometimes, my profile is opened five or six times a day. So, to all who visit the LinkedIn version of Edward M. Bury: What do you want?  Drop me an email.  I just want to know who you are.

It Use to be More Than Just Rock and Roll. This news item caught my eye (and ear, I guess) today: Bob Geldof, he of the Irish band the Boomtown Rats and driving force behind the Live Aid humanitarian music concerts in 1985, issued this manifesto as the keynote speaker at the South By Southwest music/film/technology summit in Austin:

“Rock ‘n’ roll needs to be against something. It can’t just BE,” he said.

Furthermore:  “There will always be great songs that don’t suggest anything other than being a great song. But where are our Ramones or our Pistols today?”

Must say, I agree with Geldof. There’s been some tremendous new music the past several years — at least when talking sharps and flats. But what the heck are any of the true rock and rollers of today singing about?

In the past half-decade, we’ve gone from an economy that seemingly was on an unending upward projection to one of high unemployment, out-of-control government debt and spending and sagging real estate values.  Oh yeah: Polls reveal most Americans aren’t too happy or optimistic about the future.

Who’s writing songs that address these subjects?  (Well, besides U2 sometimes.)  Who’s writing songs that capture these tumultuous times?  Who’s writing songs of anger?  Songs of hope?

Born in the 1950s, I came of age in the 1960s.  Songs from my early years still resonate and inspire emotion today.  Is anyone writing this kind of stuff today?