A Conversation with Sut Jhally [Blog] – Generation Justice

By Pauly Denetclaw 

On the morning of November 7th I got the profound opportunity to interview Sut Jhally, one of the leading scholars on deconstructing media. He is currently a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

In preparation for this interview I read several of his articles. Each one pushed me to question my reality and to critically analyze everything within it. I began to look at media and advertising with a goal to deconstruct it. I started to notice the inequalities based on skin color and gender within mass media. After my interview with Professor Jhally I had a better grasp of the importance of deconstructing media and being media literate.

One quote that will stay with me for the rest of my life is this:

“There’s no such thing as communication that doesn’t have something behind it, that it is always constructed by someone. And I want people to be active in the construction of their own world because if you’re not active in the construction of your own world then you’re a victim of someone else’s construction.” – Sut Jhally

This quote changed my life because I realized it’s true. Media constructs our reality and defines our ideals. It has such incredible power over us yet many people don’t realize it. You have to recognize who is constructing your reality and why. For example, I have always felt inadequate in my appearance. I wasn’t skinny enough or light enough and I put certain physical characteristics on a pedestal. After talking with Sut Jhally I asked myself “why?” It’s because I have been bombarded with messages saying that my worth as a woman lies in my physical appearance. From there I realized media reaches into every part of my life, and I have to be vigilant in order to combat certain negative perspectives the media tries to spoon-feed me.

As I continue my journey through life I will always remember Professor Sut Jhally’s powerful words. I will question my reality and encourage others to do the same.