Beyond “Youth Voice”

I’ve been extolling the virtues of youth-adult collaboration as a framework for media production, but the work isn’t easy.

On the one hand, there’s the tendency to blindly celebrate “youth voice,” as if young people always speak in counter-narratives, as if self-expression is always emancipatory, as if youth media is more “authentic” than any other produced, stylized, strategic message. American Studies scholar Nicole Fleetwood writes provocatively about the politics of authenticity in the youth media world in the academic journal, Social Text.

On the other hand, there’s the tendency for adult producers to get overly involved and invested in media making with young people. We take over the process and want to script the product. The director of Conscious Youth Media Crew calls this tendency “adulteration,” which seems like the perfect term on many levels.

Authentication versus Adulteration–two tendencies to watch out for as we set out to practice and theorize collaborative media production.

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