Rodney King: Social Video and Societal Change
Video has always been a social medium. People have gathered to watch and discuss moving pictures in theaters, living rooms and bars for years. Those conversations were frequently continued and extended around the office water cooler and elsewhere. Entertainment, sports, politics and news. Long before YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and smart phones we have been watching, sharing and commenting.
Occasionally, the video elicits a response that truly impacts society.
Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.
Massacre in Tiananmen Square.
Embedded reporters on the ground in Dessert Storm.
And then there was – 20 years ago – Rodney King. An amateur videographer with a camcorder captured a man being cruelly beaten by uniformed policemen. It was broadcast on TV news and struck a raw nerve in the America psyche. There was shock, disgust, hate, love, anger and fear. Violence erupted when the officers caught on camera were initially found “not guilty” on April 26, 1992.
I will not post the violent, sad video but will share this CNN report on the anniversary of the beating that woke up a nation:
Three days after the looting and shooting began the band Sublime recorded a song about that day justice was not served. It begins:
April 26th, 1992
There was a riot on the streets
Tell me where were you?
You were sittin’ home watchin’ your TV
While I was participating in some anarchy …
The anarchy and violence led Mr. King to utter his famous question – “Can we all get along?” and it started a conversation that led to change. Change for the good. Some of you may agree, some may not, but most acknowledge that more change is needed.
I will not go into that in this post because I’m here as a social video marketing and PR strategist, not a social activist. My primary intent is to provide another reminder of the power and social nature of video - marketing, PR and news video in particular. To that point … Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk video was a VNR produced and distributed by NASA.
Peace, love, prosperity … Impressions, awareness, engagement … it’s all GOOD.
Larry is president of Latergy, a video services boutique that provides multimedia content strategy, production, distribution and measurement services to professional communicators. Prior to Latergy, Thomas pioneered online video marketing and PR as co-founder and president of PR Newswire’s MultiVu and COO of Medialink Worldwide, a NASDAQ company that was sold to a VC-backed competitor. He lives in NJ with his wife, Sherry Lynn, and their plethora of pups. Contact him at lthomas@Latergy.com.