The Pop Culture Collaborative is an coalition of several large philanthropic partners, that promotes left-of-center visions of diversity and plurality in American popular culture. Part of this promotional agenda is to use pop culture as a medium for challenging cultural narratives through art. It is a fiscally sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a left-leaning philanthropic organization associated with the Rockefeller family network of liberal philanthropies. 1
In 2019, the collaborative participated in a joint project with the Norman Lear Center, Future Perfect Lab, and the Media Project Data that aimed to identify the connection between television program preferences and political ideologies. The report identified three categories of citizens: blues (who are described in the report as liberal), reds (conservative), and purples (politically independent). The report indicated that blues watched news outlets like MSNBC and programs such as “Modern Family” that espouse more progressive leanings. Reds were also described as older, and thus watched more TV since much of the demographic is retired. Reds were found to be six times more likely to watch Fox News than blues. Participants in the survey were asked to rank social/political issues as they personally prioritized them, and the report authors drew connections between participants’ rankings and the TV program they prefer. 2
In 2018, Pop Culture Collaborative published a report identifying ways that the organization says Muslims are being maligned in media. The author of the report, Maytha Alhassen, who was awarded a fellowship at the collaborative, identifies one example of Muslim tropes with the introductory song “Arabian Night” from Disney’s Aladdin. Disney decided to change the lyrics which originally read “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” in 1993 to describe the desert climate, “Where it’s flat and immense and the heat is intense.” 3 Alhassen lists several movies and characters that she says undermine the safety and moral character of the Muslim community in America and, at times, brings in the Trump administration as evidence to her thesis. 4
Bridget Antoinette Evans is the executive director of the Pop Culture Collaborative. She has centered her career in areas that intersect pop culture and social narratives. Evans is also the founder of the culture change initiative Fuel: We Power Change based in New York City. 5
Outside of pop culture, she has publicly opposed international laws prohibiting homosexuality and has been a public supporter of women who have accused record executive Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct. 6 7 Simmons, who has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous women, allegations that he denies, stepped down from his executive positions with Def Jam Records and other companies following the accusations. 8 9
In 2019, Evans appeared to have compared President Trump’s immigration policies to the Holocaust in a Facebook post quoting Anne Frank. The post was originally from an account that was deliberately comparing the Holocaust to the modern immigration policies on family separations at the border and deportations. 10
Strategy director Tracy Van Slyke has a similar background to Evans, having worked for liberal cultural advocacy groups and participated in public forums on social matters. 11 Slyke writes often on issues through a progressive narrative, notably calling the children’s TV program “Thomas and Friends” a sexist show. 12 She has been critical of President Donald Trump, using her Twitter account to oppose his administration’s policies. 13 14 15
The Pop Culture Collaborative consists of a number of major liberal institutional philanthropies. Funder partners include Unbound Philanthropy, Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Ford Foundation, General Service Foundation, JPB Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the Omidyar Group’s Luminate, and Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation. 16
- Rojc, Philip. “Inside a Funder Collaborative Seeking Social Justice Through Pop Culture.” Inside Philanthropy. Inside Philanthropy, August 10, 2017. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2017/8/10/meet-this-new-funder-collaborative-seeking-social-justice-in-pop-culture.
- Blakley, Johanna, Erica Watson-Currie, Hee-Sung Shin, Laurie Trotta Valenti, Camille Saucier, and Heidi Boisvert. “Are You What You Watch?” Politico, 2019. https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016a-4bf0-da8e-adfa-6bf35f120001.
- “Disney Agrees to Change Lyrics to ‘Aladdin’ Song.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, July 10, 1993. https://apnews.com/068c3b4d3b232799318b9effac586251.
- Alhassen, Maytha. “Haqq & Hollywood: Illuminating 100 Years of Muslim Tropes and How to Transform Them.” Pop Culture Collaborative, October 2018. https://popcollab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/HaqqAndHollywood_Report.pdf.
- “Bridgit Antoinette Evans.” Pop Culture Collaborative. Accessed February 25, 2020. https://popcollab.org/about-us/about-bio/.
- Evans, Bridgit Antoinette. “Fighting Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Laws… With A Pen.” HuffPost. HuffPost, February 2, 2016. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/uganda-anti-homosexuality-bill_b_1285970.
- Drury, Sharareh, and Katie Kilkenny. “#MeToo Activists Pledge Support for Russell Simmons Accusers Ahead of Doc Premiere.” The Hollywood Reporter, January 23, 2020. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/metoo-activists-survivors-pledge-support-russell-simmons-accusers-record-premiere-1272135.
- Henderson, Cydney. “Ahead of Documentary Premiere, Russell Simmons’ Accusers Detail Alleged Violent Assaults.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, January 15, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2020/01/15/russell-simmons-accusers-detail-alleged-assaults-ahead-documentary/4482152002/.
- Victor, Daniel. “Russell Simmons Steps Down From Businesses After Sexual Misconduct Report.” The New York Times. The New York Times, November 30, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/arts/russell-simmons-sexual-harassment.html.
- “Bridgit Antoinette Evans.” Bridgit Antoinette Evans shared a post. – Bridgit Antoinette Evans. Accessed February 27, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/bridgitantoinetteevans/posts/10157699789027033.
- “Tracy Van Slyke.” Facing Race: A National Conference. Accessed February 25, 2020. https://facingrace.raceforward.org/speaker/tracy-van-slyke.
- Slyke, Tracy Van. “Thomas the Tank Engine Had to Shut the Hell up to Save Children Everywhere | Tracy Van Slyke.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 22, 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/22/thomas-the-tank-engine-children-parents.
- Hogg, David. “If Every Human Life Is a Sacred Gift from God Why Do You Believe We Should Protect Guns and Not Kids? @RealDonaldTrump.” Twitter. Twitter, February 5, 2020. https://twitter.com/davidhogg111/status/1224889706732773376?s=20.
- Harris, Kamala. “Abortion Bans Won’t End Abortions; They Will Just End Safe and Legal Abortions. #SOTU.” Twitter. Twitter, February 5, 2020. https://twitter.com/KamalaHarris/status/1224889776387608576?s=20.
- Warren, Elizabeth. “Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Is a Constitutional Right and Congress Can Act to Protect It. We’re Going to Fight Every Right-Wing Lawmaker’s Attempt to Overturn Roe v. Wade. Https://T.co/1s11vyuGa4.” Twitter. Twitter, May 17, 2019. https://twitter.com/ewarren/status/1129472412763004928?s=20.
- “Partners.” Pop Culture Collaborative. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://popcollab.org/partners/.