Welcome to “Los Angeles Hashtags Itself,” the Podcast

by Brettany Shannon


As we now understand, digital media intersect with nearly every aspect of contemporary urban life. Scholars across disciplines research the economic, political, and social implications. For planning and policy, this refers to the place-based promises and perils of digital culture.

In this limited series podcast, we will hear from representatives of various Angeleno private and public organizations leading the critical trend of using digital media for urban and social development.  We will speak with a community benefit organization, a cultural journalism outlet, a media artist, a private developer, a technology company executive, and a transportation specialist. This diverse group serves as both a reminder and an analytical insight that digital media are neither just “useful” nor peculiar to the sharing and cultural economies, but fast becoming standard to the practice of material and social placemaking. Further, the podcast will elucidate for Bedrosian listeners the guests’ sectoral commonalities and differences, illuminating the shifting context in which planning, policy, and development operate in contemporary city making. We hope you enjoy.

Details about the podcast

What does the title mean?     The documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) by Thom Andersen commonly makes top ten films about L.A. lists. This status is significant not least because of its wide critical acclaim but also because, until 2014, it was available to audiences only through special screenings or rare personal copies. The cult classic comprises a “cranky” and intentionally “didactic” narrator describing how many L.A. movie directors, “know only a small part of the city. And that part has been tapped too often.” The film unpacks the consequent and myriad ways Hollywood has represented and misrepresented the city in film over the years, and Andersen’s social, economic, and architectural critique can be placed with the works of Mike Davis and Norman Klein for their identification of Los Angeles as a socioeconomically fragmented, too-often amnesiac metropolis.

Yet the Los Angeles of this decade is different from the dystopic one found in Andersen and other’s works. We still struggle with deep fragmentation, social and environmental injustice, and increasing unaffordability. But Angelenos today are more interested in and engaged with L.A.’s public spaces, its history, its multiculturalism, and creativity. There is an optimism where there was not before. Digital culture is not the sole cause for this transition, but it certainly contributes because, with it, Angelenos can access previously unknown places and tell the stories of their neighborhoods themselves. The fall’s six conversations will show how people from various sectors use digital media to represent the city, or how “Los Angeles Hashtags Itself.”

How often can I listen?     You can hear new episodes on about the second and fourth Thursdays of September, October, and November. Archived podcasts will continue to live on the Bedrosian Center website, as well as your favorite podcatcher.

Who might like this podcast?     We have designed this podcast to interest as diverse a group as possible. If you like art, community benefits organizations, cultural journalism, real estate, transportation, and the technology industry generally, we hope you will find something worth hearing.


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