Goodbye Fake News, Hello Selective News

The Media Can Filter Your Perception

Publishers decided what news the public got to read since the manual typeset presses created single page newspapers. There were always more stories than printed space available. But today, the selection process is changing based on technology and demographics.

Social_MediaBack in the 1980’s magazines released regional versions of their articles that were slanted toward its recipients to build more customers. People in the large cities received more liberal editions than the folks living in the Bible Belt. Advertisers could be more specific about who their audience was and create relevant messages.

Our printless society took selective publishing to another level. Millions of niche publications suddenly had a voice and was capable of attracting a very specific demographic. Advertising soon followed with a selection process that allowed you to determine who saw your ads.

Targeted Ads

I placed an ad recently for an automotive shop that was very specific. Since women make 80% of all car decisions, I targeted only women. Due to the average nationwide cost of keeping a car well maintained and what percentage the average person budgets, I selected a specific income window for each given household. My demographic profile then narrowed the focus of the ad campaign more precisely.

The end result was only women that fit the parameters saw the ad pop up on their computer screen or mobile device, while they searched or used a social media. There were 7,913 women that saw the ad, 23 that clicked on the ad, and 3 that responded to the ad—The selection process meant that it only cost the company about $23 to get three new ideal customers who spent $200-$600.

Can you imagine a world where you only get the specific ads you care about?

Now fast forward into the brains behind the largest social media firms. It suddenly dawns on them that they can save the country from a devastating blow to our national unity. They already own a solution that can bring peace across all social media platforms, reducing the controversies that divide families, communities and political parties.

What if the platform team filters who gets what?

Selective News

An article popped up this week about one company showing heavy support to the LGBT community on pro-LGBT pages, but not on pages that hold a more conservative perspective. Individuals known for supporting LGBT all saw the information, while conservatives never knew the company promoted the LGBT agenda publicly.

This technology has been used for years to focus advertising and is now positioned to focus “news.” Companies that support the left can now say it boldly to liberals and then turn around and support the right’s ideals to conservatives, convincing both sides that the company fully supports their ideologies. And, with the massive support people of faith bring to conservative organizations, liberal companies can now seek their support by angling their messages accordingly.

Consider the political candidate who can speak generally and moderately in public, but in detail to his or her liberal crowd, followed by speaking affirming words to his or her conservative crowd seconds later. The candidate will appear perfect to all voters and capture the election, while the non-savvy candidate won’t know what happened.

Then consider news companies only giving you the news that can specifically alter your perceptions and control your decisions, or how about presenting the stories that always make you comfortable and passive.

Can someone rise to power using social media that you believe, while pulling the wool over your eyes? In today’s technology focused profiling atmosphere, the answer is simply, “yes.”

A Simple Solution

The only way to avoid such a controlling society is to use face-to-face communications and gather together people where everyone wants to learn the real truth. Also important is creating an atmosphere where the sharing of ideas is more important than winning someone over to your perspective. Our survival from falling into the latest propaganda trap is merely to communicate truth, while exhibiting an open mind with our neighbors, friends and families.

How do you know that what you are reading and hearing from your favorite source is the real truth and not the one produced to keep you from taking some form of action against those in power?

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Mentors Breathe Inspiration into Creativity


My Home Town Movie Theatre

When I mentor young filmmakers in how to develop their style and breathe life into their films, I often watch their eyes close me out from their thoughts. They are adamant about making sure the film is theirs and they don’t want anyone to give them a helping hand. This is problematic for a collaborative art form.

The idea of inspiring someone to a higher level of art can only come from words of encouragement, difficult moments of challenge, and the sharing of conceptual ideas. The word, “inspire,” means to “breathe into” or to “infuse with life by breathing.” That means someone has to do the breathing of new ideas to help the filmmaker get his mind cranking.

The creative process requires an environment of ideas, enthusiasm and energy. These are tools that help us gain experience from others and expose our minds to various styles and artistry. The shared wealth of history creates a powerful form of influence that brings the young filmmaker to a higher level of art than his or her counter parts ever achieve. Yet, Millennials seldom want to collaborate.

Inspiration of Mentors Stir Our Heartfelt Voice

The best thing that happens in a collaborative process is the deep sense that your own ideas demand to be heard. From deep within the gut comes this voice begging to resound. The inspiration of mentors draw out those deep ideas from within us and we suddenly find a way to express them. The inspiration brings our ideas to the surface so we can take action.

Unfortunately some people think that when you share a creative idea with the hopes of inspiring them, they think you want them to use your idea. But that is far from the truth. The mentor only wants to get the filmmaker thinking about something they never finished thinking about—that special something that resides deep within their heart.

I was mentoring one filmmaker who wanted to create a world that lacked water. The scarcity drove many to kill for a single cup of fresh water. The original script had a sign in it that made the idea of water scarce, but I suggested he find a way to demonstrate the rarity of water instead.

His latest cut of the film had the water sewn throughout the entire story as the key driver of all decisions made by every character. It became obvious that the liquid was such a rare commodity that everyone’s life changed in the presence of fresh water. Within that setting his protagonist could then mature and become a person who questioned his selfishness and chose to demonstrate love sacrificially.

While I gave him a handful of ideas that were plausible to demonstrate the scarcity of water, he was inspired enough to come up with his own unique ideas. Not one of my suggestions made it into the film, which was good, because my goal was to inspire his convictions and expressions. His choices worked.

The Journey of Understanding

Film is an emotional medium that comes from the heart. Those who hold to conservative standards make conservative films. Those who understand the liberal first and then make conservative films takes the audience on a journey that ends with a conservative view that makes sense to all, not just those with likeminded ideologies.

By finding inspiration from both sides of the political spectrum, a filmmaker becomes more powerful in the messages he can send to an audience that’s hungry for answers to the latest societal issues. But closed-minded conservatives who only focus on their views can present nothing of value to the liberal.

And what good is a film that only reaches the likeminded?

Film is not necessary when used as a tool of validation. It’s only necessary to help opposing viewpoints be understood. When film demonstrates the potential results of an idea, while touching the emotions of everyone watching, the audience is able to buy into the concepts and consider how they might apply within their own life.

For this reason I hangout with liberals and conservatives. I read both sides of every issue. And, I create paths through story that will take an audience to the life-breathing conclusion that cries out to be heard. These actions breathe creativity into each viewer so he or she is capable of altering their life with healthier choices.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Difference Between Talent and Genius

MemoirsMagic is a word that falls short of explaining the difference between the artisan who is wildly talented in his craft versus the person that is a genius in that same craft. Yet we can understand that Michael Jordan was a genius on the basketball court and Beethoven was a genius in the concert hall.

German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer found the distinction between talent and genius easy to delineate.

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

American Novelist Jack Kerouac, a writer who felt he had nothing to offer but his own confusion, found the roles between talent and genius clear.

“Genius gives birth, talent delivers.”

The difference between the two elements that rise from deep within the artist does not separate him from the pains that all artisans experience. Jan Swafford shared in Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, his tragic and triumphant genius that made him an outsider. She stated that he was “utterly sure of himself and his gift, but no less self-critical and without sentimentality concerning his work.”

Swafford also shared her perspective on talent versus genius:

“Genius is something that lies on the other side of talent… Talent is largely inborn, and in a given field some people have it to a far higher degree than others. Still, in the end talent is not enough to push you to the highest achievements. Genius has to be founded on major talent, but it adds a freshness and wildness of imagination, a raging ambition, and unusual gift for learning and growing, a depth and breadth of thought and spirit, an ability to make use of not only your strengths but also your weaknesses, an ability to astonish not only your audience but yourself.”

Being self-aware, Beethoven described genius in his letter to Emilie:

“The true artist has no pride. He sees unfortunately that art has no limits; he has a vague awareness of how far he is from reaching his goal; and while others may perhaps admire him, he laments the fact that he has not yet reached the point whither his better genius only lights the way for him like a distant sun.”

Skills are taught and will accompany inborn talent, but genius is that elusive element that births the wow factor. Genius is not learned. It is what I describe as a supernatural gift that allows the artisan to create things that no one else considers. It gives him a vantage point on life that no one else can see without him manifesting it within his art.

A good example might be the author who gets writer’s block. He may be a skilled writer, but the talented continue to play with words until the story comes together. The talented has several books inside of him waiting to come out, but the genius has an unlimited supply of stories to share for his lifetime.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Oddity of Friendship


Seneca, Roman philosopher

In the world of entertainment there are fans and super fans, all of which become “friends” in social media. In the world of business there are co-workers and managers, also listed as “friends” in social media. This is also true in religion, government and education.

But is it meaningful?

How friendship looks through the eyes of 21st century inhabitants seems to be dictated by mobile devices. The art of friendship has disintegrated through the politically correct posturing of social media and the lack of personal attention given to others.

My recent trip to Michigan in support of a long time friend caused me to wonder how many of my “friends” I would support through their grief. More perplexing to my psyche was the question about which ones might support me.

I came to realize that the depths of friendships we have are solely of our own making. Oh, it’s a two way street through the give and take of life events as they unfold, but we still choose our friends. We also determine how much vulnerability and intimacy we bring to each relationship.

I heard one person say that they only look for friends that will not judge them. Yet, everyone judges whether or not a person is worthy of his or her time and friendship, and rightfully so, as we only have time for a couple intimate friends.

The first-century Roman philosopher, Seneca, wrote letters on the two pillars of friendship: “a friend is a person with whom (one) may be sincere;” and, “one who seeks friendship for favorable occasions, strips it of all its nobility.”

I’m all too familiar with the person who wants to strike up a friendship to advance their career or social status. Fair-weathered friends are far more common than most think and happens within all levels of society. We can even lower our standards for the sake of what we too can draw from a relationship.

But let me be clear, I’m not condemning partnerships designed to move businesses forward or give life to charities, but rather I’m speaking to that intimate level of friendship that we all desire deep within our hearts. I’m speaking to the friendship where each involved will willfully give their life for their friend should circumstances require such a compassionate resolve.

True deep friendship is not about what we might gain from the other person. It’s about what we give of ourselves to maintain the relationship.

Seneca said, “He who regards himself only, and enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly.”

My recent travel out of state was a seed sown into my friendship that may or may not ever be reciprocated. I was okay with that idea, as I was giving to the friendship not drawing from it. The day I need to draw from it will come soon enough in the scope of life’s ups and downs, but for now I needed to make a compassionate deposit.

Seneca had additional thoughts on how to capture more true friends than false ones when he said, “If you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken and you do not sufficiently understand what true friendship means… When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment. Those persons indeed put last first and confound their duties, who … judge a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him. Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself… Regard him as loyal and you will make him loyal.”

Judging a person by their character and ability to maintain information as a confidant is of great value when deciding to let them into your heart for a meaningful relationship. Guarding your heart from those who don’t qualify for intimacy is even more critical.

Over the past few years I’ve met many good listeners and people of good report. The character of many has caused me to step up my personal efforts. But, finding a person who will not share my inner most thoughts with another person has come up empty all too often.

Most people of good character, in the name of love and wanting what’s best for me, report back to someone who tries to watch over me. Oh, I don’t mind a mentor or two, but I long for that one person who will keep my comments to themselves—someone who is willing to be a true friend.

The oddity of friendship is perplexing. We all have lots of secondary friends that are of great value. We have even more fair-weathered friends who support us circumstantially, which can be helpful. But, so few of us have that one friend who will keep our deepest, darkest secrets.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

First Results from #OscarSoWhite

ghostintheshell.jpgAbout a year ago, Hollywood was ablaze with the #OscarSoWhite controversy encouraging studios to give more opportunities to “women and actors of color.” Not just opportunities, but equal opportunities. Giving little thought to what the viewing audience wanted, studios jumped in with immediate change.

The first few films saw studios take male roles and swap out the leads with women. Sony kicked things off with a remake of Ghostbusters starring women in the originally created male roles and placed men in the supporting roles. The film was a financial flop falling short of its breakeven point by $70MM.

Instead of doing a remake with women, Warner Brothers altered the formula slightly by creating Ocean’s 8 to contrast the Clooney/Pitt franchise. The story is about Danny Ocean’s sister pulling together a female team to knock off the crime of the century by hitting New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Analysts are already suggesting that the films’ June 8, 2018 release will fall far short of its all-star cast budget.

Marvel varied the swap out mix when it announced its decision to change Iron Man to a female lead. The next plot has Tony Stark walking from his Iron Man persona; a black woman who’ll be called Ironheart fills the void. Since the largest grossing actor in the world, Robert Downey Jr., plays Stark/Iron Man and Ironheart is played by a relative unknown, analysts fear Marvel will be forced to slash its budget dramatically to counter for a huge drop at the box office.

Disgruntled fans of the above films demanded their franchises not be destroyed by swapping out men for women in lead roles, but instead suggested the women be given their own stories/films/franchises. But how’s that going?

A couple studios green-lit tentpole films starring women in roles originally written for females. Scarlett Johansson was tagged to star as Major in Paramount’s blockbuster film Ghost in the Shell. And, Gal Gadot was cast in the large budget Wonder Woman.

Ghost in the Shell was the first tentpole film to release and flop due to pressure from the social media PC police. A minority group of Americans hyped the Internet with words about Scarlett Johansson “whitewashing” the “Asian” role. The stir caused many to wait for the video rather than packing out the box office.

Analysts thought the Johansson vehicle would succeed because it was based on a highly supported title and would give anime its long overdue exposure to the global marketplace. No one expected the social media police would assume that the non-descript racial role of the woman inside of the shell was actually Asian and blast Johansson for “whitewashing” the role.

Those interviewed in the Asia Pacific region were shocked that Americans took offences on their behalf. Contrary to social media’s PC comments most Asians love Johansson’s work and wanted to see her fan base drive the global proliferation of big budget anime, but the social police brought an end to that dream.

WWarmpitThe social media PC police also attacked Gal Gadot for shaving her Wonder Woman armpits. The outpouring caused Warner Brothers to put the film back into postproduction and color her light under arm skin tones a darker shade. This childish turmoil forced Warner Brothers to consider how social media might negatively impact their budget, which likely was the cause of the evaporation of its massive ad dollars—the film is now being promoted with a fraction of its original budget.

Taking roles away from men rather than giving new roles to women isn’t working at the box office. Nor is one minority group hindering a film featuring other minority leads. Both bad choices leave the field open for male driven films to bring in the box office money—the least risky films for studios to make. And, politically the least diverse films.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Rise of Generation Z or iGen

iGEN.pngWhere has time gone? Generation Z is now the largest population group in the United States and has the greatest amount of disposable income. They are quickly becoming the new movers and shakers, while many are still focused on figuring out the Millennials.

This new generation is made up of an interesting mix of ideals since some of their parents are Gen Xers and others are Millennials. The first portion of the group (mid 90’s) grew up during the Great Recession with 9/11 driven security issues being a major factor in society. They are also the first group of individuals to be raised in a ubiquitous Internet society with 40% admitting to their smartphone addiction.

This unique positioning of the Internet in their lives has given rise to some calling the generation: iGen. They are also known as Post-Millennial, Homeland Generation, Plurals, The Founders, etc. The names come from published white papers in the advertising and marketing industry. It typically takes several years of observation for the group name to solidify, and since Gen Z started around 1996 and is still being birthed today, the final labels won’t lock in for some time.

Twitter and Instagram are their go to apps with Snapchat and Periscope following close behind. Gen Z does use Facebook, but only because they feel a commitment to community and that’s the place where most people hang out. With that said, it’s important to note that Gen Z enjoys following everyone’s shares, but rarely shares their own information. They prefer to keep things private.

In the U.S., 55% of Gen Z are non-Hispanic Caucasians, 24% are Hispanic, 14% African American, 4% are Asian, and 4% Multiracial or Other. As a group they are very diverse in their acceptance and prefer authenticity to polished imagery. They are opposed to “photoshopped” pictures, preferring real life imperfections.

The most important factor concerning Gen Z is their need for stability, something the millennial generation upset with its ever-changing community views on what’s right and wrong. In an attempt to stabilize their lives, Gen Z has become highly educated through Internet based self-education.

Gen Z is fiscally moderate to conservative. They fear huge college loans and many are jumping directly into the workforce to avoid debt. They seek stable jobs filled with purpose, where they can make a difference in society. They believe in continuing education, but not through the school system.

The workplace is becoming more complex because the things and processes that company’s finally figured out would work for Millennials does not work for Gen Z. Due to Gen X and Millennials parenting styles, leaving much of life for Gen Z to figure out on their own, Gen Z are quickly becoming more entrepreneurial. This trend leads to more start up boutiques that will function globally in order to survive. Gen Z’s Internet savvy will empower small global companies to pop up anywhere.

Bonds will develop between the boutique businesses to act like a large corporation on important projects. Gen Z’s drive for purpose and making a difference will give churches the opportunity to define purpose and help Gen Z’s to apply it in life. But if churches don’t fulfill the need, politicians will step up and gain political leverage by defining purpose.

The oldest of Gen Z turned 21 this year and is ready to make a difference in his or her workplace. They are also poised to impact our communities with a new perspective and purpose. The one thing we can count on is that the formal direction the generation will take will not be in keeping with the Millennials’ dreams or perspective.

© 2017 by CJ Powers