HOW NO EXCUSES WORKS: BACKGROUNDER
An integrated multi-lingual global communications campaign designed to prevent violence and abuse
The No Excuses campaign is an integrated high-impact multi-lingual communications campaign designed to prevent violence targeted at the abuser.
Its creator, the Canadian human rights campaigner and animation producer and director Firdaus Kharas, launched the campaign at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on April 18, 2011 via a press conference.
Available free of charge in multiple languages, the campaign consists of eleven humorous animated shorts of 30 seconds each. The campaign was produced by Caitlin Delaney and Jesse Cressman-Dickinson of Canada, Brent Quinn of South Africa and Jasmine El Mulki of Jordan and Switzerland and animated in the Netherlands and South Africa.
The creation of the campaign over three years is the subject of a documentary by Chispa Productions entitled The Animated Activist. The documentary, shot in seven countries, will be released in the spring of 2013.
The No Excuses campaign may be found at www.noexcusescampaign.org. The launch at the United Nations may be found at http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2011/04/press-conference-firdaus-kharas-on-a-new-campaign-to-prevent-domestic-violence-and-abuse.html
The campaign meets the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Number 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women.
Eleven humorous animated shorts of 30 seconds each
The shorts are designed to be seen by the general public and be behaviour change communications addressing the viewer directly.
The campaign is:
Animation allows the viewer to be more accepting of messages. Animating creates the type of suspension of disbelief required for a shift in mindset. Through the genre of animation, viewers of both sexes, irrespective of culture, ethnic group or age, are presented with a new preventative approach.
Animation also has the advantage of being non-threatening, non-authoritarian and accessible cross-culturally.
Animation has the ability to cross cultural boundaries, be acceptable to all people, and be adapted for dubbing or sub-titling into numerous languages. Animation has not been used to make the shorts appeal to children.
The combination of animation and humour results in media for preventing family violence that is non-threatening, non-authoritarian, ground-breaking, persuasive, new and innovative. The campaign uses animation and humor to relay an anti-violence message by bringing the viewer to the serious points being made. This is the first time humour is used on issues like preventing rape, sexual violence, physical violence, verbal and other forms of abuse.
Despite the real horror of violence, humour is used as a weapon to discourage and challenge the unquestioning endorsement of violence. This is done by presenting the perpetrators of violence as the ‘fall guys’. The abuser is the brunt of the gags.
In each short, it is the hegemony and not the victims who get its comeuppance. Via clever reversal of expectation, the essence of good animation comedy, each short will challenge the target viewer to question their own cultural paradigms.
Each short will help break the code of silence around abuse using the non-threatening and inclusive power of comedy to get people talking.
Domestic violence is a problem that happens within families in every country in the world. It is not forgiving of race, religion, ethnic group, history, background, economic status, age or gender.
These mass communications will transcend cultural boundaries to reach people in many diverse ethnic groups and cultures. The concept is global, designed to reach into millions of people’s homes throughout the world.
Every aspect of the creation of the media, from concept to the final product, including character design, scripting, voices, music and all other elements are designed to result in intercultural communications. The campaign messages are designed to counter the influence of culture on communications, overcoming barriers to intercultural communications and dealing with the numerous social, economic and political problems relating to the status of women and children in different cultures.
This series on family violence prevention follows from two similar very successful global series of animated shorts created by Chocolate Moose Media, The Three Amigos HIV/AIDS prevention programme, currently in use in over 150 countries, and The Buzz and Bite malaria prevention campaign, currently in use in over 50 countries.
The campaign is designed to prevent and stop violence within families. The campaign will address violence within families generally but will specifically include a particular message: violence is not inherent to any person’s culture and can never be engaged in, justified or rationalized as a right of a person, especially for reasons of race, religion, ethnicity, history or background (collectively referred to as “culture”).
This animated campaign against violence will attack the myth that exists within certain communities and ethnic groups that violence against women and children is acceptable or justifiable because of the perpetrators’ cultural background. The campaign’s aim is to show that violence within the family is violence, pure and simple, and cannot be rationalized under the veil of culture.
This campaign is unique as it is targeted at the abuser. It challenges potential or current abusers to change their negative behavior.
Most strategies to deal with violence within families are reactive and victim-centered. They focus on self-defense, victim-advocacy, counseling, women’s shelters, hot-lines, and other post-violence measures. These measures require the victim to take responsibility for preventing the violence and largely fail to hold the abuser accountable for their actions.
The messages, targeted at the abuser, are focused on preventing violence within families. They do not focus on the potential or actual victim.
Through eleven multi-lingual 30-second animated shorts, Chocolate Moose Media focuses on the issues surrounding violence within families.
The eleven topics chosen to convey messages have been carefully and deliberately chosen. The topics were chosen after months of research by a team of five people in three continents.
Each short ends with a tagline, a behavior change message targeted at the abuser, on prevention of violence within families.
The shorts are self-contained and are not in any order.
The eleven humorous animated shorts communicate messages on:
The short is designed to stop all forms of violence within marriages.
Tagline: Marriage is not a license to abuse
The short is designed to stop all forms of violence against children by mothers.
Tagline: Mothers, never use violence
3. Violence against children by fathers
The short is designed to stop all forms of violence against children by fathers.
Tagline: Fathers, find another way. Do not abuse.
4. The escalation of frustration into abuse
The short is designed to get men to deal with frustration without being physically or emotionally abusive.
Tagline: Do not let your frustration escalate to abuse.
5. Sexual violence
The short is designed to end sexual violence.
Tagline: Do not engage in sexual abuse.
6. Violence in the form of rape generally
The short is designed to stop violence in the form of rape under all circumstance, including between family members.
Tagline: You can never justify rape.
7. Violence in the form of rape in situations of war and conflict
The short is designed to stop violence in the form of rape under all circumstances, including at times of war or conflict.
Tagline: A uniform does not give you a license to rape.
This short is designed to teach men that violence against women is not a man’s right.
Tagline: You do not have a right to commit violence against women.
This spot is designed to teach young adults that they can break the cycle of violence.
Tagline: You can break the cycle of violence
This spot is designed to state clearly that violence can never be justified, including for reasons of culture (race, religion, ethnicity, history or background).
Tagline: No culture, religion or tradition is an excuse for you to use violence.
This spot is designed to prevent abuse that is verbal, non-physical.
Tagline: You do not need to hit to hurt. Stop verbal abuse.
The look of the series is truly global.
CMM has created animated characters that can travel the world. The characters will look and be acceptable to all cultures and ethnic groups, no matter where located.
The approach to the design of the characters is to create highly stylized animated characters without any recognizable clothes or human features.
Facial and human characteristics, clothing and backgrounds will not be culturally specific but highly generic in look.
The viewer will not be able to distinguish the skin, skin colour, hair colour, eye colour or facial features that might cause the viewer to apply a stereotype and identify the character as being from one ethnic group or another.
Animation is used so that the viewer can suspend his or her belief enough to watch the messaging, however, the look of the animated characters and the clothing, sets and props will draw enough of a parallel to relate the characters to the audience.
Similarly, the background music and audio design are global enough to travel the world without being identified with any single country or ethnicity.
The campaign’s goal is one billion viewers in 100 countries. The shorts are very widely distributed and seen.
The campaign is distributed free of charge to television broadcasters, radio stations, health clinics, hospitals, doctors, non-governmental organizations, women’s shelters, children’s shelters, all levels of government, universities, schools, libraries, community groups and other users across the world.
All the spots in multiple languages can be downloaded without restriction at www.noexcusescampaign.org
Message Design and Development:
Chocolate Moose Media created and disseminated the messages via a careful, systematic, tried and tested method. This method includes:
This series on family violence prevention follows from two similar successful series completed, The Three Amigos HIV/AIDS prevention programme and The Buzz and Bite malaria prevention campaign. Lessons learnt from those series are invaluable in creating and implementing this series.
This series on prevention of family violence will build on the success of previous global animated campaigns by Chocolate Moose Media, particularly on children’s rights, on preventing HIV/AIDS and on preventing malaria infection.
The Three Amigos is a series of purposely-varied animated shorts that use humour to counter the spread of HIV/AIDS. The series, directed and produced by Mr. Firdaus Kharas, was adapted under his supervision into 44 languages, thereby enabling a potential reach of approximately 80% of the world’s population in their own language. The Three Amigos has been used extensively in a wide variety of countries, ranging from liberal democracies to conservative theocracies, from countries in southern Africa where AIDS is rampant, to countries on the threshold of a possible AIDS crisis in Asia and Eastern Europe. Broadcasters have donated millions of dollars worth of free air time to air the series, in some cases up to 20 times a day. Thousands of health clinics, hospitals, non-governmental organizations and universities across the world in over 150 countries use the series.
The series has received 30 international awards including a prestigious Peabody Award and hundreds of articles in many languages have been written on its creation and impact. Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the principal supporter who has called the series in an open letter “a powerful communicating tool” and has written “in creating The Three Amigos short’s (you) have made an outstanding contribution to the campaign against HIV infection in providing material that can be easily understood by most people irrespective of language or culture”. Hundreds of testimonials from around the world have been received from every walk of life, from powerful government officials to AIDS educators to ordinary people who’s behaviour has been influenced by the series.
Buzz and Bite is a series of 30 animated shorts to combat malaria infection. When completed in 40 languages, the campaign will consist of 1,400 animated and audio shorts, making the series one of the world’s largest short campaigns on any subject. Currently the series is available in 22 languages and more versions are still being done.
The series, created, produced and directed by Mr. Kharas, features two humorous animated anopheles mosquitoes to stress the importance of using bed-nets to prevent malaria infection. The series was launched by Mr. Kharas in Ottawa and in New York (at the United Nations) in advance of World Malaria Day, April 25, 2008. The series has the strong support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Creator: Firdaus Kharas
The No Excuses campaign was created, produced and directed by the Canadian human rights campaigner Firdaus Kharas.
Firdaus Kharas has been referred to in the media as a “world renowned” director and producer of animation, documentaries, television series and film. His main avenues are short- and long-form animation, documentaries, short films and television series. In 1995 Mr. Kharas founded Chocolate Moose Media, a hybrid social enterprise to undertake both for-profit and non-profit media activities.
Describing himself as a social innovator, his current work is a mix of for-profit television series and non-profit campaigns. He focuses on innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest issues by creating various types of media to effect societal and individual behavioural change through mass communications spanning across many cultures and countries to better the human condition. An article on Mr. Kharas in a university publication said “individuals can make a difference…. He is living testament to it”. Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, captured Mr. Kharas’ philosophy well in a headline: “I’m just trying to make a small contribution”.
For the last 18 years Mr. Kharas has created innovative media specifically to create society-level and individual behavior change across the globe via a process he calls Culture Shift. Please see www.cultureshift.tv for more information about his media that positively influences audiences’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.
Mr. Kharas creates global communications programs to confront and overcome the many fault-lines that separate human beings: languages and cultures; religions and ethnicities; traditions and histories; stereotypes and stigmas; racism and prejudices; hatreds and fears.
Among other topics his media have dealt with are: governance: universal values, human rights, children’s rights; literacy promotion; education: early childhood education, middle children’s education, street children, children at risk, training in mass communications; migration: refugees, child refugees; health: dementia, suicide; disease prevention: HIV/AIDS prevention, malaria prevention; Vitamin A deficiency; violence: rape within families, rape in a situation of conflict, various forms of sexual abuse, violence against children, using culture as a justification for violence, perceived rights to commit violence within families, gender-related violence; culture: the preservation of cultures especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Mr. Kharas has created, directed and produced 2,395 animated behavior change communications shorts in 6 series, used in over 150 countries, after adaptation into over 90 languages with a potential reach of over 5.75 billion people in their own language. The campaigns are on children’s rights, universal values, HIV/AIDS prevention, malaria prevention and domestic violence prevention. Mr. Kharas is currently creating a campaign to shift millions of people away from harmful sources of energy like burning kerosene towards clean, renewable solar energy. On most of his campaigns, Mr. Kharas assembles and directs volunteers to create these campaigns, paying himself for all costs for producing, marketing and distributing the campaigns free of charge to any requester anywhere in the world.
In long-form television series, Mr. Kharas has produced: the first pre-school animated series in Arabic; the first animated series based on African culture; the first animated pre-school series in Holland; the first English-language daily hour-long drama in Asia and other pioneering series seen across many countries. In documentaries, Mr. Kharas hasproduced several documentaries related to human rights, in particular on children’s rights. He recently completed two behaviour change films related to dementia and a documentary on a child refugee claimant. He is currently completing a feature-length documentary on caregiving to people with dementia.
Mr. Kharas has received several awards personally, including the United Nations Peace Medal from the UN Secretary-General, the medal of the World Federation of UN Associations, an Honorary Doctorate and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater, an Honorary Fellowship from a university in London, the Global Development Award and the ReelWorld Trailblazer award.
His work in mass communications has garnered over 70 international awards. These include the prestigious Peabody Award, CINE Golden Eagle, Telly, Platinum Remi, Chris, Hugo, Golden Reel, Davey, Gold World Medal in New York, Grand Festival Award (Berkeley), Accolade, Silver Globe and First Prize at the Chicago International Children’s Festival. Mr. Kharas’ work has been strongly publicly supported by Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Further information on Mr. Kharas can be found at www.chocmoose.com