WE ARE THE 99% has become a popular slogan related to the Occupy movement. The 1% refers to the top wealthiest people in society that have an excessive proportion of capital, political influence, and the means of production. Mostly referred to the US, this phrase has been addressed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders through his stance on representing all Americans and not just the 1%, making this a key policy in his campaign. Here in the UK the iconic Guy Fawkes masks are worn in protest over the dominance the middle class has over the working class, particularly in issues like student loans and university rent prices. Going to a few of the protests for this type of issue myself, with the students of UCL (the university my sister attends) proved to be very eye opening in the respect that their halls has the highest rent rates in the country and their conditions are abysmal but nothing is being done about it. The fight for equality in our society is one of the most important issues that we face today.
BLACK LIVES MATTER is an organization and a statement that I believe in. In order to effect change and ensure that we are all equal it is right that these protests take place because no matter what progress has been made when it comes to racism it is absolutely incorrect to say that we live in a world where all races are treated equally – no way. America is the most predominant place where this can be seen in action, which is highly reflected in my research in true crime documentaries (as all of them were American cases) and where the most change needs to avail. The constant discrimination is ridiculous and that is why I have chosen this bold title to show support of the organization and what they strive to achieve in society as if it continues for much longer the already fragile fabric of our world with tear apart in ways I can’t even bear to imagine.
Donald Trump & The Central Park 5
On May 1, 1989 Donald Trump took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to reveal this message: BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE. With Trump’s heavy influence over society at the time (which has unfortunately seeped through to the present) it was argued by defendants for the Central Park 5 that this inflamed public opinion. Protests were carried out outside Trump Towers in October 2002 with protestors chanting “Trump is a chump” demanding Trump issue an apology to these boys who served years in prison for charges they were exonerated of. After the $40 million settlement was issued to the Central Park 5, Trump wrote an editorial for the New York Daily News stating that the settlement was “a disgrace” and insisting that the group’s guilt was still likely: “Settling doesn’t mean innocence … Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.” This man is the lowest of the low and I can’t believe he is even being considered to run a country.
FEEL THE BERN. Bernie Sanders is an American Presidential candidate in this year’s race and he is the best. I think that it’s important to comment on global issues as well as national ones so it is here where I choose to give my support to Sanders using his very well known campaign slogan. His policies are incredible to say the least; pro immigration; plans to reduce gun violence by doing things such as banning semi-automatic weapons; moving for a policy of unilateral military actions and regimen change, believes everyone should pay their fair share of taxes therefore expanding Social Security; legalise gay marriage everywhere; believes health care is a right not a privilege and will provide affordable quality care; provide a $1 trillion investment to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure; believes that our criminal justice system is broken and that our civil liberties and rights to privacy shouldn’t be the price we pay for security; will cut US pollution by 80% by putting tax on carbon pollution, repealing fossil fuel subsides and make massive investments in energy efficiency and clean, sustainable energy such as wind and solar power creating a 100% clean energy system, which is not only possible but also affordable and will decrease our dependence on foreign oil; making tuition free at public colleges and universities with a lower student loan interest rates for current and future borrowers; believes there should be a budget that improves the lives of all Americans, not just the people on top; will reverse massive transfer of wealth from working families to the top 1% and put millions of Americans back to work, defend freedom and human rights, and relentlessly combat terrorism.
100% clean energy system, which is not only possible but also affordable and will decrease our dependence on foreign oil, is probably the most important policy that Sanders will put in place if he wins this election as the need for foreign oil is the predominant reason for all of these wars. Bernie you’re a legend. Even though we cannot officially vote on this occasion, I think that this campaign offers us in the UK, and in any other country, an excellent platform to cast our vote in this way as it does affect us in a big way in turn as we are known allies with the US.
The Labour Party finally has a leader. Jeremy Corbyn has lit a fire under the left wing and his opposition to Cameron’s ridiculous policies is a very powerful force to be reckoned with. Through his many beliefs, for example, that a national education service modeled on the NHS should be established and that state-funded academies and free schools would be forced to return to local authority control while university tuition fess would be scrapped and replaced with grants if he were in power and that we shouldn’t support air strikes against Islamic State in Syria are key reasons why he should be in power. David Cameron has led us down a destructive path and doesn’t care about hearing what the people want, he doesn’t care how this effects the ‘everyday’ people but solely focuses on ways to benefit the 1% which is absolutely infuriating. JEZ WE CAN is a slogan of support for Corbyn as he continues to challenge Cameron’s ‘reforms’ and I fully believe that come the next election it will have a different outcome as I think that right now the faith in the government has been lost as some of the younger generation boycotted voting, but we can afford to not be heard which is why this a luxury that we cannot afford to voluntarily give up.
The decision of whether to leave to European Union is in my opinion a no brainer: stay. Truthfully, I don’t even understand why this question has even been raised and the thought of leaving has even been a consideration to David Cameron. It would cripple our country and the decline in our current economic crisis would decline even further, not to mention how many jobs would be lost and trade that we as a country are dependent on would cease. In my opinion Cameron has really shot himself in the foot with this one as he has raised the prospect and possibility of potentially leaving the EU but then sends leaflets costing £9 million to produce through every letterbox in the UK telling us all the reasons we should stay. Confusing: definitely. Definitely, changes could be made but it is not worth risking the great relationship we have made with fellow countries in the EU, as I don’t think there is really much to be corrected or amended. It is an unnecessary issue but is the first that I can legally vote for so I am very much looking forward to casting my vote to remain in the European Union.
Many if not most of the world’s environmental issues including climate change, air pollution, oil spills, and acid rain are derivative from our dependence on fossil fuels. The heat-trapping gases produced through the burning of fossil fuels are the dominant cause of the ongoing increase in the temperature of the global atmosphere. A demand that fossil fuels stop being extracted and burnt are how the term KEEP IT IN THE GROUND has sparked as the slogan for this protest. Climate change is real (I’m agreeing with Leo here) and it is something that is and will continue to effect my generation greatly but even more so for the next generation so it is vital that we fight to make a change that will help better the environment to prolong the earth’s life. So many young people are completely unaware of these environmental issues and how they are destroying our planet but it is so important that more people can learn about these issues, as they will have a huge impact on your life no matter what.
The fact that some countries are refusing to let the Syrian refugees through their borders is beyond nothing short of disgusting and disgraceful. I seriously do not understand that, as they had absolutely no other choice as if they were to stay they would be putting their lives at risk. I think that them leaving shows great courage and speaks volumes about how many casualties this civil war has caused. In my opinion, it shouldn’t even be a question it’s this simple: let them in. The most logical step of putting yourself in their shoes should come naturally – we’re all human so we should all help these millions of people that have the bravery to seek a better life and leaving everything they had behind. This is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time and I think making the statement for OPEN BORDERS shows support for the people living this crisis that so many people ignore.
The phenomenal artist Ai Weiwei has an interesting philosophy that he lives by and applies to his work: art is action. In his latest endeavor, he has embarked on the journey with the Syrian refugees as they make their way through the world after being forced out of their home. Ai Weiwei has monopolized on the platform that social media and technology has on society by using Instagram to document his work and the people he has encountered on this journey. The encounters with the law enforcement prove to be very telling and the documentation of the protests and seeing all of the different camps is so compelling as you see people that are actually experiencing this and going through this – having to leave their home. It only makes me that much more grateful and makes me want to be so much conscious about not taking things for granted. From how the media have been known to twist things as they essentially work for the government, makes it that much more important that someone neutral show us the reality of the situation.
When I think of Katharine Hamnett having a design career before the launch of the ‘Katharine Hamnett’ brand itself it seems odd to me that she did any other type of designing since the idea of a slogan t-shirt has become synonymous with the brand. But her heavily unformed designs at a previous fashion house does, in a way, pave the way for the work she is now known for as her t-shirts are too uniform in terms of the weight of the statements and the high level of impact they create. It’s not just her ethical business philosophy and the fact that she has won the first ever British Fashion Award in 1996 and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Fashion Empire (BE) in the 2011 New Year Honours that I have chosen her brand to use for my anti fashion ad campaign but the voice that her clothing has and how she uses fashion in a different way to everyone else – she raises important issues of society and expresses her opinion in the simplest yet boldest way. My idea for the anti fashion campaign using the Katharine Hamnett brand is to put my own statements out there on issues that are current in today’s society using spray paint instead of having them printed, keeping the ‘Katharine Hamnett’ type. The reason for spraying the message onto the clothing (which will all be recycled) is so that anyone who doesn’t have the money to buy the ‘Katharine Hamnett’ pieces (where a percentage of the proceeds will go to the perspectives organisations) can download the stencils for spraying them on themselves onto their own clothes, getting themselves a Katharine Hamnett inspired garment at no cost. Hopefully this will then inspire people to make t-shirts with messages of their own.
Looking at these photographs from Hamnett’’s runway shows from both 1985 and S/S 2004 show how Hamnett takes her simplistic yet incredibly impactful statements and can adapt them to a trend relevant to the times and deliver them with a bang, which only makes her that much more remarkable as a designer. Another aspect I admire about her is that she fully embodies her brand as she too speaks out in interviews and doesn’t just let her t-shirts do the talking as shown in this interview with The Guardian in 2008 expressing her views on racism in the industry:
“The catwalks are full of white dogs, cosmetic companies don’t like black models – the racist bitches. I have no idea why when it’s obvious that black girls are just so genuinely much more beautiful than Caucasians, who have clearly got the short straw. Black girls have much better body shapes and it’s such a shame. I just think there should be a bit more of a balance.”
Hamnett’s ad campaigns prove to be very natural and wearing the t-shirts in a fun and freeing way, worn by people from a diverse age range in order to appeal to the market of everyone! I plan to emulate this approach to my campaign but I think only using one model, making the t-shirts and the statements they hold take centre stage, really driving the message home. I think that with the types of issues I want to comment on in my anti fashion campaign I think it would serve me best to use a young adult as my model as it is at the upmost importance to appeal to my generation as well as the next so I think it’s imperative to have a youthful face behind it.
The Staircase is the second documentary by the Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade. Airing in 2004, the film’s subject is author Michael Peterson who was tried for the murder of his wife Kathleen. Peterson allowed the filmmakers complete access to his life and home throughout the trial in order to present his authentic self to the public despite the verdict at trial. To me as a viewer, this showed his honesty and the fact that when certain aspects of his personal life were uncovered he didn’t shy away from them he allowed everything to be unveiled and completely took ownership for whom he was which made me believe that he was innocent.
Presently Peterson is awaiting a re-trial after many appeals being denied by the court. The rise of the ‘owl theory’, which concludes that Kathleen Peterson was attacked by an owl that is what is responsible for her head injuries and effectively, her death, is a theory that many believe to be fact not fiction which has caused controversy in his case. Also, it was revealed that some small owl feathers were found in her head wounds, which the expert witness failed to mention in court. The evidence given by one particular expert witness, dealing with the autopsy, is one of the main reasons why Peterson was granted a re-trial as they provided miss-information to the jury, which may have swayed their vote.
There are many important factors in this case that led me to want to include this in the research for this brief with the primary element being that of corruption. The fact that key witnesses gave false testimony while testifying under oath is absolutely disgusting to me and how anyone can justify twisting the truth just to win a case when an innocent man’s life is at stake is beyond anything I can comprehend. This one verdict has completely derailed Michael Peterson’s life as this has defined him – everything prior to that moment, all of his achievements are discounted and discredited which makes me realise that this documentary paints the picture of a true injustice.
The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst is my favourite crime documentary (and I admit that I have watched it for a total of six times) that follows the life and crimes carried out by billionaire, Robert Durst. Directed by Andrew Jarecki who also directed a feature film based on Durst’s life entitled ‘All Good Things’, which is what led to this documentary when Durst himself, thinking an interview would be a good idea to show his side of the story, approached the producer of the 2010 film. Durst was tried for the murder and dismemberment of neighbor, Morris Black, as well as being accused of killing best friend Susan Berman (which he is currently awaiting trail for after being extradited back to LA after facing gun charges in New Orleans) and has also been linked to the disappearance and or death of his first wife Kathie Durst. Being acquitted for the murder of his neighbor Morris Black’s, while he was ‘on the run’ staying in Galveston, Texas and masquerading as a deaf mute female was absolutely baffeling to me especially since he admitted to the dismemberment on the stand during to the trial, claiming Black was murdered due to ‘self defense’.
The documentary comes to a shocking end when Durst’s microphone was still hot when he went to the bathroom after his final interview with Jarecki, he muttered the words that will follow Durst forever, “What did I do? Killed them all, of course.” This was the result of Jarecki confronting Durst with a letter Durst wrote to best friend Susan Berman that had been discovered by her stepson that led him to believe that Durst sent the letter to the police that led to the discovery of her body which, in his words, “could only have been written by the killer”. This discovery was made as the documentary was filming which brought great excitement and suspense to the film as it presented the uncovering of new evidence linking him to yet another murder which completely shocked not only the audience but the makers of the documentary themselves as the entire time Jarecki treated Durst just like anyone else and was open to what he had to say but it becomes apparent that this puts everything into perspective for Jarecki and his team as in the final interview Jarecki is incredibly nervous (as would anybody be) about confronting Durst with the idea that he wrote the infamous ‘cadaver note’. Packed with suspense, intensity, emotion and the uncovering of the truth made this documentary something that will stay with me forever.
Being the type of person that has that obsessive strain in her DNA, I fully utilise that and did very much so with this case. For months, I researched and researched Durst and his many links to murder. In some respects I like to think of myself as a little detective scouring the web for any new information about Robert Durst. In many ways this documentary revolutionised true crime documentaries and cemented it in pop culture, as it has become an obsession that has swept the nation. This spark of interest in uncovering the truth and being exposed to true and real events in sometimes more enjoyable for me than watching movies as it really allows me to be emotionally invested and urge me to want to help which leads me to think about so many other things happening in our society. This documentary shines a light on the idea of entitlement and money giving you power because there are so many instances in this case where I think Durst wanted to get caught, to challenge the system simply to prove that money can make you get away with murder and make that person believe that they’re untouchable.
Making A Murderer
Making A Murderer is the most recent crime documentary to become an international phenomenon after The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst. The documentary was directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos and aired December 18 2015. Making a Murderer explores the story of Steven Avery who served eighteen years in prison for the sexual assault attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen, before being exonerated in 2003. In 2005, he was arrested in connection with the murder of Teresa Halbach, a local photographer, and later convicted in 2007. The series also covers the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was also charged in the murder. The series was filmed over the course of ten years and exposes the audience to many twist and turns making it one hell of a ride.
The reason why I am not only looking into crime documentaries but have chosen these projects in particular is because they all highlight and shine a light on the justice system and how in some (if not all) cases there is mass corruption at the forefront. In Avery’s case there was the prospect of a conspiracy theory being brought into question by his attorney and, as he was pleading not guilty, the idea that police officers were planting evidence in order to get Avery convicted was a key part of the case. After all ten episodes had aired there was controversy surrounding the series as it was reported that vital parts of evidence were ‘left’ out’ of the documentary, not allowing the audience to have all of the information to decide whether they agreed with the guilty verdict the jury arrived at. As a viewer, each episode raised many concerns with both parties, those being Avery and the police handling the investigation, as certain information would be shared to sway you one way and then you would be hit with the compelling nature to feel the opposite. This is the only documentary where I have ever felt conflicted about a defendant’s innocence, which proved to be very unsettling, and quite a ride as my mind was constantly changing throughout the series.
The Central Park 5
The Central Park Five is in my opinion one of the best crime documentaries ever! Directed by the legendary Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon the film aired in 2012 and shocked the world. The infamous Central Park Jogger case was the subject of this documentary and takes us through the journey of how five teenagers came to be wrongfully convicted in what I can only describe as a highly racist case. The New York Times described the attack as “one of the most widely publicized crimes of the 1980s.” The five defendants spent between six and thirteen years in prison.
The documentary presents analysis to suggest that the police should have connected Matias Reyes, who eventually confessed to the crime, to the case at the time that it happened. DNA evidence identified him as the sole contributor of the semen found in and on the rape victim. How the police failed to miss this extremely vital piece of evidence I have no idea but if you watch the film it soon becomes apparent that as the case gained media attention the police become desperate to find the ‘perpetrators’ even if it meant exploiting young boys who were innocent. Watching the interrogation tapes where it is so clear how the officers are bullying and manipulating the boys into falsifying confessions and even placing blame on each other which is even worse as not a single one of them had done what they were being accused of doing but that just didn’t seem to matter.
The five convicted juveniles sued New York City in 2003, nine years prior to the release of the documentary, for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination, and emotional distress. Ken Burns said he hoped the film would push the city to settle the case against it. The city settled the case for $41 million in 2014, after Bill de Blasio became mayor. As of December 2014, the five men were pursuing an additional $52 million in damages from New York State in the New York Court of Claims.
Fuelled with pure drama and raw emotion, this documentary extracted such strong emotions from me that I don’t often develop when watching documentaries as some fail to emotionally engage with their audience as they simply just state the facts and don’t fully attempt to tell the story. This documentary links to the organisation ‘Black Lives Matter’ which is definitely something I will be focusing on later on in this project as this case was a huge act of racism and massive protests took place to free the boys and really just seek justice as this case gave America the chance to prove their justice system was fair but instead it only exposed its corruption.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders of Robin Hood Hills was directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky and aired in June 1996. This story covers the trials of three teenage boys who came to be known as the ‘West Memphis Three’ in West Memphis, Arkansas. Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were the three teenagers accused of the murder and sexual mutilation of three young boys. The film was followed by two sequels: Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.
Following a successful decision in 2010 by the Arkansas Supreme Court regarding recently uncovered DNA evidence, the ‘West Memphis Three’ reached a deal with prosecutors. On August 19, 2011, they entered Alford pleas, which allow them to assert their innocence and were sentenced to time served, effectively freeing them.
For this case the primary link that led to these boys’ arrests was that of their physical appearance (that of a gothic aesthetic) and the type of music they listened to such as Metallica and other heavy metal bands. This proved so strange to me as well as the way in which the prosecutor went on to use their ‘religion’ as a means for the murders and that were part of a satanic ritual. Although no concrete proof was entered into evidence by the prosecution and it was clear that some of the ‘witnesses’ they called upon gave false statements that were simply fabricated to adhere to their ‘story’ (as one actually admitted to it whilst on the stand) the boys were still found guilty.
The Thin Blue Line
The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 documentary that was one of the first crime documentaries’ to spark the phenomenon that is ‘true crime documentaries’. Directed by Errol Morris, this film that depicts the story of Randall Dale Adams, a man convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit presents the way in which the justice system failed Adams. After his sentencing, eventually Adams’ case was reviewed and he was released from prison approximately a year after the film’s release.
The documentary itself proved to be quite slow and usually the ‘acted out’ parts add drama and suspense as well as a sense of realism to the story, however in this case it was just the same scene repeated over and over again which deemed to be rather pointless and unnecessary, leading me as a viewer to become marginally bored. The story itself proved to be completely circumstantial and evident that some ‘witnesses’ only came forward due to there being money involved and only picked Adams out of a line-up simply because he seemed to fit the bill. It still shocks me at just how much they got it wrong when all of the evidence pointed to the real perpetrator, David Ray Harris, who was eventually convicted of the crime of shooting and killing the police officer. This was one of the first documentaries to ever lead to a man’s innocence being uncovered as Adams’ case was reviewed after the release of the documentary.
Murder On A Sunday Morning
Murder on a Sunday Morning is a documentary directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade that was released 2001 and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2002. Its subject is the Brenton Butler case, a criminal case whereby a fifteen-year-old boy was wrongfully accused of murder. Brenton Butler was arrested and tried for the 2000 murder of a tourist in Jacksonville, Florida. The prosecution’s case relied heavily upon a positive identification made by the victim’s husband, and on Butler’s confession, which the teen claimed was coerced. The film follows Butler’s defence team building their case for his innocence, which is what the jury found him to be in this case. The fact that the major reason for Brenton’s arrest proved to be simply because he was black absolutely disgusted me which is my main reason for including it in my reason on the rebellion against the corrupt system because it is not something made up, it is real and must be stopped. The fact that the husband of the victim just plucked him from off the street as Brenton was walking past the motel is just shocking to me and the fact that this stuck and even went to trial is just ridiculous.
In my opinion this was the start of the craze behind true crime documentaries as this was a case that shocked so many people, me included. The discrimination, evidence of police brutality and racism clearly depicted in this case has fuelled my response to this theme and to explore the organisation ‘Black Lives Matter’ as this project progresses as this is something that I am very passionate about.
My macro trend for the main theme of ‘Rebellion’ was the rebellion against the corrupt system. In today’s society it has become a common ‘trend’ to protest for your beliefs and to stand up against corruption and injustice. In London alone I have attended several protests, mostly for the student loans against the government, where people are no longer afraid to express their feelings on major things that affect our lives in a paramount way but we have no power over as those in ‘power’ decide it for us. These images I have taken and included in my mood boards evoke a sense of urgency and unity in terms of the followers of these causes in a fight against the system that has cheated so many people out of essentials such as education, which is a right not a privilege. But it seems that being ‘privileged’ is the only thing that the Tories care about – helping the rich keep their wealth whereas others not so fortunate who have great potential to succeed are not given the opportunity simply because their bank account doesn’t contain the right amount of zeros at the end of it.
With political issues being very much at the forefront of society at the present with the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the EU Referendum, it is only is only fair that we look upon our government to reflect the views and standpoints of the people instead of entitled suits with an agenda. These are issues that I will go into more depth on as the project progresses as this is something that I definitely want to take into the development of my anti fashion campaign as this is something that I am incredibly passionate about and feel is something that needs to be spoken about on a global scale so that the people can be heard. The decay and the destruction of our belief in the government are mirrored in the textures presented in this mood board, as they are all sharp, in a state of decay, rough and harmful.
It makes me so angry to hear people in my generation saying that they’re going to boycott the EU Referendum election because they hate the government but they don’t see that by doing that the only person that hurts is themselves as this is detrimental to our future and you should take your future in your own hands so you know that you’ve done all that you can to get your opinion to be heard. The rebellion here is simple, we just want the system to hear us and be fair and just which is something that they haven’t been in a very long time and unfortunately not what I see when I envision the future.