Media Analysis: Nonny de la Peña

This week, the two media analysis teams presented two works by Nonny de la Peña, bringing the themes of social justice and virtual reality together.

The two works discussed were Hunger in LA and Out of Exile. Hunger in LA is a VR reality recreating an eyewitness account of a man falling into a diabetic coma at the LA food bank, right after a woman working at a food bank screams that there was too many people and there is no more food to give. Viewers are placed in center of living room, constantly forced to shift attention. Many people who experienced this in VR cried and felt helpless. Nonny de la Peña places the user in the event rather than just reporting, and uses real life audio. While this creates an extremely immersive experience and allows viewers to be more invested in the story, I think that a flaw may be that people may not want to experience something in VR that is so serious and disturbing as this tragic event. Because it is hard to watch, not many people would recommend it. A big criticism of the current state of journalism is that its been sensationalized. Issues like hunger, stories that aren’t sexy or salacious don’t get covered because its difficult to communicate them in an engaging way. In this sense, Hunger in LA challenges the conventions of news report, journalism, and advocacy for social justice. Out of Exile similarly places the viewer in the center of a coming out story that went violent. It is based off of Daniel Ashley Pierce’s actual recording of his family verbally and physically accosted him before kicking him out of the house because they disapproved of his sexuality.

I found the TED talk presented by team 2 discussing journalism and VR idea for Hunger in LA interesting. The speaker says that through these VR scenes,  you remember the story with your entire body, not just your mind. By putting viewers on scene in the middle of the story, there is a whole body sensation like the viewer is actually there. Rather than just hearing the story, or have it being reported, VR definitely allows viewers to be one hundred percent immersed.





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