Sut Jhally

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Sut Jhally (born 1955) is a professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, whose work focuses on cultural studies, advertising, media, and consumption.[1] He is the producer of 40+ documentaries on media literacy topics and the founder and executive director of the Media Education Foundation.[2]

The Media Education Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit established in 1992 which "produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical reflection on the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media." Their aim is to inspire students to think critically and in new ways about the hyper-mediated world around them.[3]

Also the author of 6 books and numerous scholarly and popular articles, Jhally is a public speaker and teacher. He has won the "Distinguished Teacher Award" at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where the student newspaper has also voted him "Best Professor." He has shown his films and lectured at many colleges and universities nationally and internationally. He was named one of New Woman magazine's "People of the Year" in 1992.[2] As of 2015, Jhally teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses which focus on media, public relations and propaganda, as well as gender, sex and representation. [4]

Jhally, in a speech from 2010 on the threat of advertising, states that "advertising is the most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history and it's cumulative cultural and political effects unless very quickly checked will be responsible for destroying the world as we know it. In the process of achieving this the masters of the advertising system, global corporations bent on nothing but private profits, will be responsible for the deaths of millions of people, mostly non-Western. In addition the peoples of the world will be prevented from achieving true happiness. Simply stated our survival as a species is dependent upon minimizing the threat from advertising and the commercial culture that has spawned it."[5]

Jhally was born in Kenya, and raised in England. After completing his undergraduate work at the University of York in England, he moved to Canada after accepting a scholarship to the University of Victoria. He continued his studies at Simon Fraser University, where he received his PhD[6]


Jhally is often highly critical of popular culture, advertising, as well as various aspects of US foreign policy.

In his 1991 video "Dreamworlds" he describes the image of women in music videos as male adolescent fantasies: young and pretty, willing and eager to please men, saying no when meaning yes, often reduced to outward appearances and body parts. He concludes that an unhealthy attitude towards sexual violence can be fostered by these videos, and calls for balancing them with other cultural representations of sexuality. When MTV complained about his use of parts of copyrighted music videos, he claimed fair use and contacted the media about the story.[7]

In the 2004 video Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land he shows the influence of Israeli propaganda and PR on the United States public opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the 2004 video Hijacking Catastrophe he argues that the "war on terror" has been used by U.S. officials as a pretext to project military power across the world.[8]

In his 2006 video Reel Bad Arabs he explores the vilification of Arabs in American cinema, following Jack Shaheen's 2001 book Reel Bad Arabs.

Video documentaries[edit]



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