Association „Social Margin Center“, the organiser of series of international conferences named “The Global Human Rights Forums” strongly believes that young people have great potential and the society must provide them more opportunities – to learn and develop, to explore and exchange experiences. With this aim, at the 2nd Forum which we organized this May in Belgrade, we provided space for young people – students of our project “School of Media Literacy”. Ten students took part in the program and we hereby present you four of them – Veljko Stanojević, Milica Lukić, Uroš Đurović and Katarina Sremčević. They were selected to speak at the opening ceremony and present their own research papers. Today, we are discussing with them their plans for the future, views of the world, and the benefits that this experience has brought to them.
“My peers did not build opinions and attitudes and this type of topics are often avoided.” (Veljko Stanojević, 17)
This is the first time that you participated in an international conference and spoke to some of the most engaging human rights activists from all around the world. How many young people have the opportunity to participate in such programs?
– Uroš: I believe that there are more international conferences than before, but young people do not have the habit of visiting them. We should spread awareness about the importance of this events.
– Veljko: Young people who truly want to develop themselves independently find the way, but the truth is that the lack of interest comes as a result of having very few opportunities. For me, this conference was the best experience so far, but that was the only opportunity for a young person like me to express my opinion.
– Katarina: If we talk about Belgrade, the opportunities are good, but for students from students from other parts of the country a lot of programs are not available. In the internet era, as an multimedia generation, such things are much more important for use than classical ex cathedra education. The age of globalization requires international activism and networking of young people from all over the world.
Milica and Veljko, as high school students, were the youngest participants in the conference. The conference brought to light very serious topics, such as gender-based violence or refugee crisis. Is it important for your peers to have the opportunity to learn about these topics?
– Veljko: Exactly because there is not much content for young people it is very important for them to get involved. My peers did not build opinions and attitudes and this type of topics are often avoided.
– Milica: Honestly, I was not aware of many social problems at all. This opportunity meant a lot to me because it provided me the basics for everything I do now and what I plan to do in the future.
“Having the opportunity to talk about something that inspires you and what you want everyone to hear is an amazing feeling. It is a chance that everyone should get.” (Milica Lukić, 18)
The topics you have presented are primarily focused on young people. Milica, your topic was “Imposed concept of the ideal beauty.” What was your motivation for this research and how much these concepts affect you and your peers?
– Milica: I have chosen this topic because it directly affects me and my peers on a daily basis. The media now have incredible power, what they show is taken for granted and not reviewed, that is the case with the looks also. The image that is imposed through the media is unrealistic, photoshopped, unattainable, but teenagers do to understand that. Girls aim to look like someone who is popular and glorified. This problem is very noticeable on social networks on the daily basis. That’s why I wanted to write about it and provide an alternative that can not be found in the media.
Veljko, your topic is also focused on young people. You spoke about the romanticization of mental disorders on social networks, primarily on Tumblr. Young people often interfere with terms and define sadness or disappointment as “depression”, and massively share thoughts like “suicidal people are only angels who want to return home” and perceive it as “romantic.” How dangerous this phenomenon is?
– Veljko: This is a relatively new phenomenon, that’s why I chose it. Young people are very vulnerable to the impact of social networks, Tumblr is no exception. Young people in the process of discovering themselves find different ways to draw attention, the presentation of mental illness as “romantic” is just one of the mechanisms. However, it is very important to understand what is the cause and what is the consequence. Although this effect is very dangerous, the main problem is insufficient information about mental disorders (above all, what exactly these diseases are) and then their romanticization.
“Apparently, there are more women in journalism, but when you look deeper you can see that ownership of the media and all leading positions are still in the hands of men.” (Katarina Sremčević, 20)
Katarina, as a student of journalism you have dealt with women in the media. How did this topic intrigue you to explore it further?
– Katarina: Lectures in the “School of Media Literacy” really intrigued me. I think this is a very important topic, but it is neglected in media. I originally wanted to write about female journalists and their position in journalism, but I picked women who were represented in the media space because I thought they had less freedom and less space to express themselves. I wanted to draw attention to this problem.
How do you see the position of women in journalism as a future journalist?
– Katarina: Considering that in a society with authoritarian attitudes the position of women is generally bad, the situation is also reflected on journalism. Apparently, there are more women in journalism, but when you look deeper you can see that ownership of the media and all leading positions are still in the hands of men.
“Emirates represent the concept of “masculinity” that invests in Abu Dhabi, which represents the principle of “femininity” that fascinates and seduces with its natural beauty.” (Uroš Đurović, 20)
In the process of studying media messages, it is equally important to study mass media and also mass culture. At the “School of Media Literacy”, Uroš mostly wrote about cultural topics, and one of that topics he also presented at the conference.
– Uroš: I am very interested in the influence of the popular culture. Subtle messages sent this way, whether created intentionally or accidentally (because of the rhyme or metrics), affect the image of the “others”. They are often accompanied by colorful staff in the video clips, whereby the transmitted message is even more influential. This is exactly the case with popular music with oriental motifs.
Why exactly these motifs appeared at this moment and what is the representation of the “Orient” and “Exotic Other” in our music?
– Uroš: Popular music in Serbia has been “enriched” in recent years with topics and motifs characteristic for the Orient, both in the lyrics and visually through the videos. What is particularly interesting is that the period of rapid expansion of these songs coincides with the construction of “Belgrade Waterfront” project, which is mostly financed by Arabian companies and also this is a period of great popularity of Turkish and Indian TV shows. The motives of Abu Dhabi and the Emirate are particularly interesting in this research because they appeared in a lot of places in the same relation. That’s exactly the relation between femininity and masculinity.
Emirates represent the concept of “masculinity” that invests in Abu Dhabi, which represents the principle of “femininity” that fascinates and seduces with its natural beauty.
For the end of the interview, is there anything you would like to highlight?
– Milica: I would just like to add, as someone who had the opportunity to participate in the conference and speak in front of a group of great intelligent people from all over the world, that everyone should experience this kind of things. It’s a way to emprove yourself on so many levels, to hear different opinions and experiences and to learn a lot about yourself. Having the opportunity to talk about something that inspires you and what you want everyone to hear is an amazing feeling. It is a chance that everyone should get.
Interviewed by: Nemanja Marinović
The 3rd Global Human Rights Forum will be held in Belgrade 26-28 October 2017
The call for applicants and speakers is open.