Wexler Illuminates Remedies to The Social Dilemma

Our most recent ADFS film was The Social Dilemma by Jeff Orlowski, a documentary that describes the serious, wide ranging damage being done by the algorithms used in most popular internet platforms.

May thirteenth Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler spoke with ADFS’s Anita Stapen specifically about the threats those algorithms already pose to democracy in America, and what might be done remedy them.

If you missed the webinar, you can view it here: ADFS conversation about The Social Dilemma with Rebecca Wexler.

For more information about the issues raised by The Social Dilemma, see the websites for both The Social Dilemma and the Center for Humane Technology, the organization that is deeply involved in working for remedies to the problems raised by the film.

Professor Wexler also made a number of specific suggestions for follow up:

Their conversation touched on many topics, from explaining algorithms — which Professor Wexler analogized to a recipe for bread making that has now become the bread making machine, where just what’s happening is invisible — to ways of thinking about privacy, company’s responsibility to their customers, even antitrust. If you missed their conversation, you can view a recording of it here

  • With regard to increasing your own privacy, you could use a private browser window if you don’t want to be tracked when you’re searching for something on the web. In Chrome, you can find that window under the File>New Incognito Window dropdown link. In Safari, it’s under File>New Private Window.
  • To learn more about the pros and cons of the privacy laws that are being considered by Congress, and even in California, check out the Brookings report on federal privacy legislation.
  • And to find out about Lena Kahn’s “Hipster Antitrust” check out this article about her ideas, and an Atlantic article about her. Now this amazing classmate of Rebecca Wexler’s is in Biden’s FTC

If You’re Not Paying for the Product, You ARE the Product.

So say the experts in The Social Dilemma, the next film to be presented and discussed as part of The Appreciating Diversity Film Series. Please watch the film and then join us for a talk with Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler on Thursday, May 13 from 5- 6 pm PDT. Professor Wexler will discuss the issues presented in The Social Dilemma, and what we can do to reduce their impact.

Jeff Orlowski’s film, The Social Dilemma, documents the hidden practices that underlie the business of social media. The more we know about the lengths to which companies have gone to keep eyeballs on their sites, the more we understand:

There are only two industries that call their customers “users”… illegal drugs and software.

— Edward Tufte, Yale University

We learn that the algorithms designed to capture our attention are also profoundly affecting our brains and our beliefs in ways that directly threaten our democracy.

65% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.

— Sociologist Monica Lee, internal Facebook report

Other documentaries have raised concerns about the impact of social media on our privacy and even our democracy, but this film has a significant advantage: the speakers in The Social Dilemma are many of the people who got us here, including top executives from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and more.

The experts assure us their intentions were good — even the one whose job title at Facebook was head of “monetization”. Yet all are deeply concerned about what they’ve created, and one confesses that he worked all day on making his site irresistibly seductive and then, when he went home at night,  found himself unable to resist the very algorithmic tricks he helped to create.

The most important lesson from The Social Dilemma is that we should question everything we read online, especially if it is presented to us in a way that reflects a detailed understanding of our inclinations and preferences. And we should resist the “attention extraction model” that makes social media seem friendly and reinforcing. As the New York Times advised,

Unplug and run.

Watch The Social Dilemma FREE on your Netflix account, or through the link that will be sent to you when you register for the conversation with Rebecca Wexler. Then join us on Thursday, May 13, from 5-6 pm, to discuss the film, and what we can do to address the issues it raises, with Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler.

Berkeley Law Professor and Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Rebecca Wexler teaches, researches, and writes on issues concerning data, technology, and criminal justice.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is co-sponsored by the Piedmont Unified School District, the City of Piedmont, the Oakland and Piedmont Leagues of Women Voters, the Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee and viewers like you! ADFS screenings and conversations are ALWAYS FREE.

Crip Camp Follow Up

We had a great conversation last night with Crip Camp directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht. If you missed it, you can view the recording here!

During the conversation, Jim and Nicole suggested several other resources that might interest you:

  • YouTube shorts moderated by Judy Heumann, a longtime leader in the disability rights movement who is also featured in Crip Camp. Jim referred to “The Heumann Experience”, I think he many have meant The Heumann Perspective.
  • Jason DaSilva’s documentary films, When I Walk and When We Walk, about DaSilva’s son’s battle with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, and the struggle that so many disabled people face with our health care system.
  • Denise Sherer Jacobsen’s book, The Question of David: A Disabled Mother’s Journey Through Adoption, Family and Life

You might also want to check out other documentaries related to disability rights that have been shown in our Series:

View Crip Camp, Hear from Directors on January 7

No one at Camp Jened could’ve imagined that those summers in the woods together would be the beginnings of a revolution. Directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht deliver a rousing film about a group of campers turned activists who shaped the future of the disability-rights movement, and changed accessibility legislation for everyone.

Just down the road from Woodstock, Camp Jened was a camp for disabled teens. Filled with the spirit, music, and humor of the era, Newnham and LeBrecht ‘s film speaks to the seeds of empowerment that were planted at Camp Jened. Incredible camp footage from 1971 captures how the campers were finally seen beyond their disabilities. Milestones in the disability-rights movement intersect with LeBrecht’s personal story and the stories of several Camp Jened alums, including then-counselor Judy Heumann. Heumann goes on to drive the effort for disability rights, playing an indispensable role in historic protests leading to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Crip Camp shines a bright light on a paramount and overlooked civil-rights battle, emboldening the disability community to come together and spark great change.

Judy Heumann at Disability Rights Demonstration

Crip Camp acquires breadth and seriousness that neither its early scenes nor its playfully confrontational title suggest.  As we follow erstwhile campers into direct actions, occupations and unsparing encounters with government officials, the film’s approach remains anecdotal and emotional – but what anecdotes, and what emotion!  Footage of a twenty-something Judy Heumann reproaching Eugene Eidenberg from the US Department of Health for piously nodding his head as she articulates once more the protestors’ unheeded demands feels iconic: a masterclass in focused, righteous rage. Heumann, who would go on to advise Presidents Clinton and Obama on disability rights, is a figure of awe-inspiring charisma and determination.

Crip Camp Directors and January 7 ADFS Speakers Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht

Crip Camp opened the Sundance Film Festival and took home the coveted Audience Award this year. Crip Camp leads this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards with five nominations: Best Documentary Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Archival Documentary, and Best Historical/Biographical Documentary. Judith Heumann also received a special honor for Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary. 

Produced by Barack and Michelle Obama under their production company “Higher Ground”,  Crip Camp is available on Netflix, or free on YouTube. Watch at your convenience. 

Join us on January 7 from 5-6 pm when we are presenting a free moderated discussion followed by a  Q and A with co-directors Jim LeBrecht (who is in the film) and Nicole Newnham, on Zoom. 

For more information:  Julie at 510 599-9227 or julie@diversityfilmseries.org

Following up on Waging Change

See the film: Waging Change:

  • If you missed registering for the conversation with Saru Jayaraman and Abby Ginzberg, you can still see the film through 10/19 here: (password: WACHAN_ADFS)
  • Watch the taped ADFS conversation with Saru and Abby here.
  • If you miss the 10/19 cutoff, the UNAFF Film Festival will be screening Waging Change on October 25, 2020.
  • To donate to creating a post-pandemic segment for Waging Change, go to: http://wagingchange.com/donate
  • To sign up for Waging Change newsletter, go to: http://wagingchange.com/contact

To help tipped workers hurt by Covid 19:

  • Make a contribution at www.ofwemergencyfund.org The money goes for relief, but ALSO to help engage restaurant workers to VOTE for candidates in favor of One Fair Wage.
  • In California, Vote No on Pro 22, which attempts to treat gig workers the way that tipped workers have been treated for so long.
  • Check out what tipped workers are doing to organize and apply pressure for more effective legislation at Fight Don’t Starve
  • See what California restaurants that are paying their workers a living wage are doing at High Road Kitchens

Learn more about Tipped Workers and organizations that represent them:

Waging Change makes the case for One Fair Wage for tipped workers, whose Federal minimum wage is now only $2.13/hour.

ADFS is proud to host an October screening and discussion of Waging Change, the inspiring film about the One Fair Wage movement, aimed at raising the minimum wage for tipped workers across the county. The discussion will feature a presentation and Q & A with Saru Jayaraman, who founded the organization One Fair Wage, and Waging Change filmmaker Abby Ginzberg.

One Fair Wage founder, Saru Jayaraman, will speak with Waging Change filmmaker, Abby Ginzberg, during exclusive ADFS conversation on Zoom 10/14.

To maximize our audience’s convenience, the Film Series will provide a free streaming link to the Waging Change documentary for ten days, from Friday, October 9 – Sunday, October 18. The discussion with Jayaraman and Ginzberg will be on Wednesday, October 14, from 5-6 PM PDT.

If you missed seeing the film: you can view it online through 10/19 by logging on here (password WACHAN_ADFS). A link to our discussion will be posted in the follow up post a day or two after the conversation.

Waging Change, completed just before the coronavirus hit, shines a light on the difficulties faced by restaurant servers and bartenders.  The majority of people who serve food in the U.S. restaurants are paid a federal sub-minimum wage of only $2.13 an hour and are forced to depend on tips to feed themselves and their families. Women, who hold two-thirds of all tip-based jobs, are especially affected. Their reliance on tips can lead to pervasive gender discrimination, sexual assault, and sexual harassment at the hands of customers, co-workers, and bosses — and can leave them with little ability to speak up.

“To be a healthy nation, every person who can work needs to earn enough money to support themselves and be treated with dignity. Let’s just start there.” — Jane Fonda

Watch history in the making as labor lawyer and activist Saru Jayaraman and her energized worker colleagues begin their fascinating, long shot campaign to obtain a living wage in restaurants and other workplaces that employ tipped workers. This documentary shows how the restaurant industry can take cruel advantage of its employees and how they are rising up to demand fair wages and treatment.

Witness proof that modern grass roots movements have an impact to make workers’ lives more fair and to protect women from on the job harassment. As huge numbers of restaurant workers are laid off in the face of the pandemic, Waging Change provides a behind the scenes look at what needs to change so that restaurant workers can receive respect and a fair wage.

Bay Area filmmaker Abby Ginzberg has been making documentaries about race and justice for more than 30 years.

Waging Change‘s Peabody Award – winning director Abby Ginzberg told the SF Weekly that her hope for the documentary is that it will raise consciousness among restaurant goers and that it will be used as an educational and advocacy tool as part of campaigns seeking to improve the lives of service workers. Jane Fonda, Lily Tomln, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appear in support of the workers. Nominated for various upcoming awards, this compelling and ultimately uplifting film points the way toward decent treatment and fair compensation for the workers we encounter everyday .

The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the extreme challenges confronted by both these tipped workers and by restaurants. At a moment of historic pressure on American workers, these individuals are fighting back against politicians and industry lobbyists, taking on an effort that is changing workers’ lives and our economy. Waging Change helps all consumers see the important role they have to play in ending this two-tiered wage system. (California is one of seven states that has instituted an increasing minimum wage structure that does not depend on tips).

Follow up Materials for Suppressed 2020:

Below is our speaker Valerie Morishige’s handout, and a link to our screening and conversation, in case you missed it, or want to pass it along to friends!

Here’s the link to the film and discussion that followed!

Here’s Valerie’s handout. (or you can scroll through it below)

If you’d like to get advance notice of our next screening, and don’t already get our emails, sign up for our email list here!

Suppressed 2020 to screen virtually September 17th!

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is proud to present a virtual screening of Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote, on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 4:30 P.M., followed by a talk with voting rights advocate Valerie Morishige.  Director Robert Greenwald’s urgent and timely film focuses on the Stacy Abrams gubernatorial campaign in Georgia, revealing the rampant voter suppression that affected the outcome of the 2018 midterm election.  The film exposes the threat those techniques pose to our elections all across the nation in 2020.

The gripping 40-minute documentary illustrates the problems of long voting lines and uncounted absentee ballots, and how Brian Kemp, who was both a candidate for governor and the Secretary of State in charge of the Georgia election, put more than 53,000 voter registrations on hold until after the election. Eighty percent of those registrations were filed by black residents.  Not surprisingly, Kemp won the election and is now the Georgia Governor.

Stacey Abrams, founded of voting rights advocacy organization, Fair Fight, is featured.

The state of Georgia has been quietly –and illegally– purging hundreds of thousands of valid registered voters from the state rolls for the better half of a decade, according to a blockbuster report from the American Civil Liberties Union just published on September 2. Of the more than 300,000 names that were purged from the rolls, the study discovered that “198,351 Georgia voters who supposedly moved from their registration addresses who, in fact, have not moved at all, and therefore were wrongly purged, a 63.3% error rate.” This is a conservative estimate, however, because the report “left out of this list those voters whose addresses we were unable to confirm,” the ACLU explains.

Valerie Morishege, voting rights activist, will speak and answer questions after the 40-minute film.

Poll workers, who are overwhelmingly seniors and highly vulnerable to the coronavirus, are underpaid and undertrained­ on the electronic equipment used in some precincts. Many businesses and public facilities can’t or won’t provide pace for polling places because of the stringent regulations and the added burden of the patchwork of local public health guidelines for COVID-19. These conditions lead to a scarcity in the in-person voting locations, resulting in long lines and missed opportunities to vote. “Pull back the veneer and you see something really rotten happening. It’s almost like termites,” Carol Anderson, professor of African American Studies at Emory University, declares in the film. “We’ve got to understand: this stuff is very bureaucratic. It’s mundane. It’s routine. But it is lethal.”

These voter suppression efforts and failures in the voting process are not confined to Georgia or other “red” states.  As Morishige says, “We might have all of the fancy policies and politicians saying all the right things about voting in California, but in practice we fail.” We need to make voting accessible for all.

 Please join us for this fascinating (and frustrating) film and learn how to prevent voter suppression right here in California. 

REGISTER for this FREE SCREENING and discussion here!

Gatherings Suspended / Viewings Not!

As we suspect most of you anticipated, we are suspending our community screenings for the time being. 

Nevertheless, we are living in a golden age of documentaries, and we’ve been proud to show many great ones over the years. Our group has also viewed many others that we highly recommend, but could not show for reasons of availability, length, or number of programs we are able to present. Now you can watch some of them while you’re safely at home, during the Coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

We don’t want to overwhelm you — so we’re including just 3 films here — this time all on Amazon Prime, one also on Kanopy (more about that further on). We plan to keep sending you ideas — even after we’re all out and about again, to supplement our regular program!

HONEYLAND (Amazon Prime) It’s a strange and curious thing: part fly-on-the-wall anthropology, part ecological fable, the film sneaks up on you in a quiet yet powerful way. Oscar-nominated for 2019 Best Documentary and Best International film; Winner, Sundance Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary.

LIFE, ANIMATED (Amazon Prime) The inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man with autism who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (Amazon Prime / Kanopy*) A thrilling introduction to James Baldwin’s work, a remedial course in American history, and an advanced seminar in racial politics — a concise, roughly 90-minute movie with the scope and impact of a 10-hour mini-series. It is not an easy or a consoling movie, but it is the opposite of bitter or despairing. “I can’t be a pessimist because I’m alive,” Baldwin said. “I’m forced to be an optimist.”

*If you’ve not used Kanopy before, you’re in for a treat, because at kanopy.com you can stream many films FREE by using your library card. Simply go to the appropriate link below, input your library information, and you will get a certain number of FREE downloads every month at kanopy.com. It’s a terrific resource!
If you have an Oakland Public Library card: https://oaklandlibrary.kanopy.com/
a Berkeley Public Library card: https://cityofberkeley.kanopy.com/

We hope that these films help you get through the next week or two. We’ll let you know when we’re hosting screenings once again, and keep sending you films we love in the meantime.