In this blog, I want to first address something that has been on my mind in the last few weeks and has recently become more and more exacerbated over the past couple days. News media outlets that I follow such as Bloomberg, Businessweek, Business Insider, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, CNN, CNBC, etc. have all posted about how radically different cities and streets in some of the world's largest metropolitan areas have looked during this pandemic. I want to draw attention to what the media is publicizing because while it is true daily life has looked and felt different for everyone in nearly every corner of the Earth, the media's representation of the visual impact of the coronavirus can at times be downright misrepresentative of what is actually going on around the world. For example, the image below is the 110 freeway in Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I have taken this freeway hundreds of times, albeit less than normal since LA started to become hard hit by COVID-19. During this last week, I have driven on this freeway at least three times and it looks NOTHING like the picture below. It is almost as if the media is intentionally trying to falsify information so as to deceive the world, and it honestly makes me very frustrated. Articles from Bloomberg with titles like "This is What the World Looks Like After a Month of the Coronavirus Pandemic" simply serve as clickbait, which is sad because they keep people ill-informed.
I understand the media's push to keep people indoors and their attempt to use scare tactics, such as with images like the above, to help stop the spread of the virus, but in grim times like these, I firmly believe their needs to be a proper balance between hope and realism. For example, according to BuzzFeed, just two weeks ago John Krasinski, Hollywood actor turned director, launched his own channel "Some Good News". I was so happy to finally see something like this being put out, but of course this gets little media coverage as compared to articles reporting anything to do with "flattening the curve". Two days ago, he hosted a prom for a class of seniors who unfortunately will not be able to have their own in-person gathering this year due to the coronavirus.
Shows like his are bringing positivity to millions of people who need it most right now. During Thursday's class I was also reminded of a positive consequence of this global pandemic: decrease in pollution. Drops in pollution levels are apparent all across the globe, as much as over 50 percent decreases in some cities according to Forbes, which is opportune timing in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a worldwide event established by U.S. senator Gaylord Nelson, that will occur on Wednesday, April 22nd. Last class we discussed how Earth Day came about the year after the Moon landing and was meant to serve as a reminder of the beautiful world we live in.
Earth Day could not come soon enough for people who need to see some light in the world and artists are responding with works that demonstrate their appreciation of our world in correlation with current events, something I think we all like to see. Stella Q, a member of the "Artist for the Earth Movement", crafts a beautiful video demonstration of her works titled Mother that showcase the last 100 years or so of industrial evolution juxtaposed against the "trap" of COVID-19 that we are all in. It feels like she makes the argument that society cannot seem to find a perfect balance between good and harm just like the media cannot find a perfect balance between hope and realism. Through Mother, we can hear her frustrations about how the world has to be pulled apart by this illness in order for pollution levels to fall. She calls for an urgent sense of togetherness both during and after this crisis that helps return the Earth to her former glory, warning that if we do not act fast (represented by the ticking clock in the cover picture below), the Earth as we know it will certainly not be as metaphorically beautiful on the inside as it on the outside.
I, like Stella Q, am appalled by the division we see across the globe in a crisis like this. From political bickering to ignorance of the current situation, the world seems to becoming more torn apart than ever before. Hopefully, Earth Day will inspire change and restore community sentiment that will allow people to come together and focus on fighting this virus as a unit instead of quarreling against each other.
Tenreyro, Tatiana. “John Krasinski Threw a Virtual Prom With Billie Eilish, The Jonas Brothers, And Rainn Wilson.” BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed, 17 Apr. 2020, www.buzzfeed.com/tatianatenreyrowhitlock/john-krasinski-threw-a-virtual-prom.
McMahon, Jeff. “New Data Show Air Pollution Drop Around 50 Percent In Some Cities During Coronavirus Lockdown.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 17 Apr. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2020/04/16/air-pollution-drop-surpasses-50-percent-in-some-cities-during-coronavirus-lockdown/#4473adcd557b.
McGinty, Jo Craven. “What Will It Take to Flatten the Coronavirus Curve?” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 27 Mar. 2020, www.wsj.com/articles/what-does-it-mean-to-flatten-the-curve-to-fight-coronavirus-11585301402.
Rovella, David. “This Is What the World Looks Like After a Month of the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 12 Apr. 2020, www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2020-04-10/what-the-world-looks-like-after-a-month-of-the-covid-19-pandemic.
Rogers, Kathleen. “11 Facts About Earth Day.” DoSomething.org, 17 Apr. 2016, www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-earth-day.
Q, Stella, director. MOTHER. MOTHER, 10 Apr. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=xObKBqnzJUU.
Q, Stella. Mother. Photograph. 2020. https://www.earthday.org/campaign/artists-for-the-earth/
Fallon, Patrick. The Usual Busy 110. Photograph. 2020. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2020-04-10/what-the-world-looks-like-after-a-month-of-the-covid-19-pandemic
Krasinski, John. Some Good News. Photograph. 2020. https://mashable.com/article/john-krasinski-some-good-news-virtual-prom/