AC’TIV•IST Soup for the Social Justice Soul

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The webseries is an often snubbed medium. It is written-off as sub-par and too easy: any kid can grab a camcorder and some friends right? Webseries has often been viewed as television’s disowned cousin. The truth is that webseries is the future of entertainment and the most honest medium in existence today; it is also so often, due to low budgets and time constraints, a labor of love.
Still, it takes something special for just any webseries to rise above the din of the rest, because anybody can grab a camera and some friends. The internet is for most, though not all, free and easily accessible. No one makes a webseries for the money, because there isn’t much to be made. Even the most well known and frequently awarded series are constantly grasping for sponsorship.
How does a webseries break through this? What is the aforementioned “something special”? A webseries has 5 to 10 minutes to not only hold its audience’s attention, but to keep that audience interested enough to come back again in a week’s time for another 5 to 10 minutes. That something special is evident when a webseries is able to entice its viewers, despite so little time, week after week. AC’ TIV•IST does just that. In only 6, 10 minute episodes, Sam and her crew will steal your heart and keep you coming back for more.
Sam, the main character, gives her heart and soul to a cause–ending Israeli occupation–and this is paralleled by the heart and soul the show’s creator, Joshua Wolfsun, has given to the project itself. His commitment, and the commitment of his cast and crew, is evident in the additional content the show provides each week. AC’TIV•IST has faced those very familiar webseries challenges of little time and little money, and is still somehow very intelligent, enticing, funny, heartbreaking, and as fast-paced as any well-sponsored webseries or big-time television show. It also bears the mark of the deep commitment that comes with making art simply for the sake of making it.
AC’TIV•IST reminds us that student leadership is not without its pitfalls, breakups, spouts of anger, accusations of anti-Semitism, unintentional racism, or accidental killing of school mascots. Sam admirably pushes on anyway, making an effort to involve the Palestinian Student Association in her crusade against the school and not letting her personal issues distract her from her goals of justice.
Her struggle hits very close to home for those of us who are or were ourselves student activists. Our misdirected optimism as freshmen was not unlike Lois’, and our obsession when we took leadership just as vicious as Sam’s. Activism is painful, but for the student activist it is non-optional, because our passion drives us. We have all snubbed our significant others, and been unduly cruel to our friends and partners. Social justice is not immune to regretful moments, but it is ultimately rewarding and encourages us to grow. Many of us have had to deal with the disapproval or disinterest of our parents. Those of us who are white have certainly been guilty of isolating or ignoring activists of color, or worse, the very people who we are fighting for. Activists will enjoy the series for its nostalgia, but also for the lessons it has to teach us.
If I’ve lost some of you, don’t worry. I’m well-aware that the student activist, especially the activist with Sam’s ferocity, is a rarity. We are a unique breed, and don’t worry, it’s really not all it’s cracked-up to be. But, AC’TIV•IST will even hold the non-activist’s attention with its heightened conflict: Sam’s mother runs the school she has chosen to fight against and hates her daughter’s sometimes impolite passion; a deer is run over and subsequently shot…oh, and a deer is the school’s mascot; and Sam’s boyfriend represents just the right balance between compassion and pig-headedness. You might be afraid that I’ve turned over every one of the show’s cards, as it is only 6 episodes, but I’ve barely told you anything. That’s because AC’TIV•IST is absolutely saturated with relevant and interesting content.
So, while you’re scrolling through the web, do stop by the AC’TIV•IST page and sit for a spell. You won’t regret it.

Kylie A. Gorski is an alumna of Union College in Schenectady, NY with a B.A. in English and a minor in Anthropology. She will be attending the New York State Writers Institute this summer and was this year’s recipient of the Eugine I. Yudis Prize for prose fiction, and a recipient of the David Brind Memorial Prize in English. Kylie spent much of her time at Union as a leader in social justice, particularly relating to the LGBTQIA+ community, and is a member of Union College’s newly ratified Committee on LGBTQ+ Affairs. She is also a student, faculty, and staff ally trainer for the college. She was awarded this year’s Prize in Social Justice Leadership at Union. Kylie is also a poet, an épéeist, and she enjoys writing short fiction.