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I want to do something constructive about media violence. I know the best way to hurt them is to boycott their advertisers and kick them where it hurts. Its a matter of contacting these companies and tell them we will no longer buy their products.

Can you help us narrow the field and give us a starting point to follow as to how to proceed against these advertisers? Thanks.


Lauren & Kevin



Dear Lauren and Kevin,

Thanks for expressing your outrage against the media. It's so much healthier to do something rather than just waiting for someone else to do something. I hope that it proves to be a good experience for you and that you begin to make a dent.

The problem with complainig about magazines who "sell sex" is quite simply -- that sex sells. I have yet to see an entirely effective campaign created to really challenge the mainstream media. I think that best thing to do is to both believe in and support alternative media -- places like Bust, Bitch and Colorlines -- all offering a more comprehensive or complete perspective. Bitch magazine recently did an interview with Jean Kilbourne who wrote Killing Us Softly -- as well as other books, which challenged the current media stranglehold on creating a certain brand of pop culture.

My problem, however, with Jean's work, including what was outlined in this article in Bitch, is that she complains a lot about the media and leaves only generic responses when others ask what they can do. For instance, she advices us to "pay attention," fill out magazine subscription cards with messages such as "feed your models" or "stop exploiting women.," and she asks us to lobby and to boycott products associated with bad advertising. I certainly support all of measures, but I'm not sure they are what will work.

I think that consumer power can work, but it needs to be on a large scale. It's more effective to be fighting as an insider -- someone who knows what should be done because you care.Also, I think that letters can be effective, especially if in those letters you propose more reasonable solutions.

Part of the problem is the media doesn't understand what we do want -- we say we don't want that, but we don't say what we do want -- so I would be clear about that.

Good Luck



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