Archive for October, 2008

[.internet.beef.]

Haha. Could you imagine? This just made me laugh. That’s it. J

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Social Use/Implication of Technology and Media – [.news.is.entertainment.]

After my rant about cell phones in my “ecology of the media” blog, I am brought right back to topic six which is asking us to explain another medium that we can admit, has shaped our lives. I wanted to go in a bit of a different direction this time. I am not going to choose a type of technology but more of a medium; the news. Our lives are in the news, reflect the news and are controlled by the news.

Taking Media Studies in University is almost as close as you can get to being involved with the daily worldwide news. For at least one of our classes it is mandatory to watch, understand, and be tested on the news. Every day, I am reading the Toronto Star to find out about murders, watching CityPulse for new health advancements and listening to the radio for gas prices. Whichever medium the news is being communicated through, I am definitely affected.

Each news ‘deliverer’ has a unique view of ‘how it all went down.’ Different news channels and newspapers tell the same story, from the same day, and somehow provide completely different information. Why is this? It could be the people they talked to, the time they arrived, and the biases or involvements they already have with dealing with similar issues. The news relates perfectly to the article we were given titled, “What nice handwriting.” It “is not just what is said but how it is said.”  

The news gives me permission to take curiosity in this world and also to prove to me that we are selfish beings. The news consists of different types of stories. The good, the bad and the weather. The news opens with one or two shocking news reports that are completely devastating. This is followed by a local story that touches my heart. Then these may flip flop back and forth before giving me the weather, getting me back in track with my own life. I say we are selfish because the news is simply entertainment for most. I watch it, then maybe talk about it for a day or two, then forget about it. Losing my cell phone for the day hits me harder than a serial rapist escaping from jail. It is sad how we just watch everything around us.   

My reactions from what I see on TV make me who I am, because I have my own biases as well. I see three people debating on TV and immediately say, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, she’s in a fantasy world, and well…he’s just a complete tool.” So who am I going to vote for? It all depends on my initial instinct to what I see. Referring to the news as a medium that influences my life couldn’t have been better timing. Exactly one week from today is the Canadian election.

Please watch this video and have as good of a laugh as I did.

Of course, if anyone knows The Onion News, they know it is a fake news broadcasting company. This was a very literal view of how most watch the news. However, this was just some comedic relief to the intense review of the world. The news is just that; a summary of what society views as ‘important,’ in less than 10 minutes. J

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Theory/Praxis – [.hegemony.equals.media.]

When I read the description for this week’s blog, I truthfully had no idea what those three terms in the brackets meant before actually writing. Ideology, hegemony, and media literacy were all new to me. I had heard these words in my days, but there would be no way that I could give you an understanding of them, because I didn’t really get them myself. This led me to the World Wide Web!

After learning briefly about all three, as well as other media themes, it was hegemony that triggered the most interest in me. The very first thing that I learned was that hegemony was involved with Marxism, meaning it involved some kind of idea with a theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class, all in hopes to arrive at a higher form in society. The term was coined by Antonio Gramsci who claimed to focus on human subjectivity. [1] He was finding patterns and links to figure out why the majority of one social class has dominance over others.

The interesting thing about Gramsci’s theory was that it didn’t only concentrate on dominance alone, but leaned more to the side of assimilation. This doesn’t just mean how the government is run, money is spent, or clothes are worn by the different classes. It refers to how the dominant class, slowly casts its perception of the world on everyone else, eventually becoming the norms of the society, and being seen as ‘common sense’ and ‘natural.’[2] When we look at the United States “melting pot” country, we are headed down the right path.

Not only in the United States is this happening though. Maybe Canada as a country isn’t as patriotic or robotic as the States, but if you take one look into our media culture, we are just alike. Media is a practice for everyone, because it isn’t one specific thing. It knows what all ages like, and what it will take for all ages to use. Whether it be that new straightening iron I bought off the Shopping Channel, or my weekly catch-up on my favourite TV show Gossip Girl, our society is blending as one.   

I found a cool quote in Mythologies, which is actually referring to myths themselves. However, I am going to take this quote and replace the word myth with media. “…[media] hides nothing. Its function is to distort, not to make disappear. There is no latency of the concept in relation to the form: there is no need of an unconscious in order to explain [media].”[3] (Barthes 121) I really do think this explains the secrecy behind media. Media is just there. I wake up to my mediated radio alarm clock, slip into some mediated choice of clothes, text on my mediated cell phone, and go to class watching and listening about how media has me running in circles. As hegemony explains, whether or not the society likes it, or even realizes it, people’s norms begin to change to what they most dominantly are surrounded by.

I have discovered that the topic of hegemony has a world of its own on the Web, branching off on comics, disputes and debates, and even fires toward the US Government. Hegemony and media come hand in hand because they will forever be part of our ‘accepted’ society. Gramsci noted that “common sense is not something rigid and immobile, but is continually transforming itself” (Gramsci, cited in Hall 1982: 73).[2]

This was just an interesting ‘board game’ I found based around hegemony. Take a look, you may find something funny, but so true. I know I did. J 

[1] Cuneo, Carl. “14 Major Issues or Dimensions or Meanings of Hegemony.” Hegemony In Gramsci’s Original Prison Notebooks. Oct 6. 2008 <http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/soc/courses/soc2r3/gramsci/gramheg.htm&gt;

[2] Chandler, Daniel. “Gramsci and Hegemony.” Marxist Media Theory. Apr. 10 2000. Oct. 6 2008 <http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/marxism/marxism10.html&gt;

[3] Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York. 1972.

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Deconstructing Advertisements – [.the.good.the.bad.and.the.ugly.]

I really took my time with posting my blog this week, because I was searching for the perfect advertisement. During my search, I came across some that were scandalous, others that were clever and most that were full out stupid. I didn’t know how I wanted to depict advertisements because you could go on a rant either way. Advertisements are there to get companies names out, and the way they present their name is going to determine how the average person portrays the company. I really am tired of all the negative buzzing about organizations and want to recognize and congratulate those who have used advertisements to their true benefit.   

 

There were a lot of really cool ads that I wanted to list here, however, I want to critique two in particular, which are putting awareness out there.

 

 

 

The 1st one is a very clever way of telling you not to drink and drive. To see something that says, “RESERVED FOR DRUNK DRIVERS,” makes you ‘double take’ on what you just saw. It is easy to relate to in a sense that every time we see a drunken accident, the car is wrapped around a tree, a pole, or another car. It is a scary thought to look at that picture and think that perhaps next time you see this same spot it could be a completely different scene. It also kind of makes you laugh for some reason, even though it is a very serious issue. These advertisers have appealed to so many of your senses that it’s insane. You can almost picture an accident happening before your eyes. You hear the horns, smell the burning rubber, touch the shattered the glass, and even see the victims. I really do love getting awareness out there about something that affects not only other drivers, but pedestrians as well.

 

Secondly, I loved the bench add because it was funny, and something that can apply to so much more than bench space and water usage. A bench is something you walk or drive by every day, and we only take notice to it if something is strange. Whether people ate sitting on it, or it is completely empty, we don’t need to look at it. That would be like looking at every fire hydrant we pass. They are virtually all the same. This bench, however, is different so it catches our eye. We look at that bench and say, “Wow, so true.” Whether you relate those five words, “USE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED,” to the food you taste, the media you see, or the water you touch and use, it is a great motto. Once again, almost all our senses have been reached. McLuhan much?   

 

One of the top reasons why I liked these ads was because it wasn’t trying to directly sell a specific product to you, but more so the idea behind it. It was making the public aware of what their organizations fight for, and work hard to accomplish.

 

I really got into the “Understanding Comics”  book last week and one topic that was mentioned in the book was that every person perceives the same thing differently. Whether it is their opinion on a certain issue, or literally their physical sight of something, different people have different views. In the book it reads, “I’ve never seen the earth from space firsthand, yet I trust that the earth is round… I have never been in the house across the street, yet I assume it has an interior, that it isn’t just some big movie set!” This motto can apply to everyone and anyone. In my leadership class, my Prof. held a water bottle in his hand at the front of the class and asked a person on his left to describe the look of it, than a person on the right to. Each had a similar ‘outline’ for the bottle, but when it got down to the nitty-gritty’s such as label colour and indentations of the bottle, the two students had completely different views. Did this make one student more right than the other? No. It’s literally just how they saw it.   

This advertisement can be viewed as really well done, or a waste of money and time. It really depends on who you are, and the bias’s you already have. You know my view. What’s yours? J

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