Posts tagged video

Activist Project – [.turning.out.the.lights.on.the.past.]

What’s up mass comm. class? I know we all have the same feeling right now. Yahoo! This is the last academic blog I will have to write… well for this semester anyhow. But do you know what I JUST realized as I was about to get into my “Activist Project” blog disccussion? I have come full circle in this class. My media autobiography at the beginning of the semester was a “magazine” revolving around the daily damage we do to the environment. Driving to school and using plastic coffee cups were both discussed in my 1 minute presentation to all you bloggers. I have done a lot of reading, a semiotics paper, and 12 blogs inbetween, all leading right back to the environment.

Remember how people used to believe that the earth was the centre of the universe (geocentrism), well they were somewhat correct. Instead, I think it should be called “kosmoscentric” the word “kosmo” in Greek, meaning “people”. It seems like this world revolves around the interest of humans, and our short-term selfish wants.    


Mr. George Stroumboulopoulos, past graduate of Humber College, has his own little activist project going on right now. We have always heard that one small act makes a difference, and George is challenging us Canadians. He wants everyone to participate in One Million  Acts of Green. What is an act of green you ask? Well, it “is an opportunity to help the environment” by “reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.”[1] People who claim they don’t care about the environment are:

a.   selfish (of other people’s future)

b.   scared (of what might happen, so they choose to ignore)

c.   uninformed (honestly don’t know the seriousness)    

d.   all of the above

If you don’t understand George’s message from me telling you, listen to him yourself! J


As you saw in the video, there were a good amount of little green dots with different pictures in each, kind of looking like this:


Each picture represents a different act that you can do. Let’s go through these eight examples together:

(1)     Air-dry clothes

(2)     Carpool

(3)     Caulk drafty areas

(4)     Check your tire inflation

(5)     Clean or replace your furnace filter every season

(6)     Clean the fridge coils once a year

(7)     Do laundry in cold water

(8)     Don’t idle

What do you think the two things I always have in my car are? No, not my sunglasses or my Highschool Musical 3 CD. It’s post-it notes and a pen. Sure, they come in handy if someone cuts me off and I have to get down their plate, but I use it so that I can write notes and stick them on other cars. If someone runs inside and leaves their car idling, I’ll write a kind note along the lines of, “You’re idling car in the middle of the parking lot is killing the environment… not to mention blocking traffic. Please refrain from doing this again. Have a fabulous day. J I love it too when I happen to catch their reaction after reading the note. It’s usually a “how dare someone do this?” pissed off kind of look. A bit of a hypocritical move on their side I say.  

People are getting frustrated by petty “environmental laws” that are being passed, which take 5 years to even be considered at in the first place. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I didn’t: “Now that we’ve re-appointed a government whose policies represent a significant threat to environmental issues, our individual efforts are even more crucial in making our community a little – or a lot – greener.”[3]

Noam Chomsky reminds us that “If our minds were blank slates… we would be very impoverished indeed.”[4] Activist groups are very important because they bring emotions from the heart, and introduce them to other people’s heads. They are able to move away from the  mainstream focus of culture, and look at the picture as a whole. I am looking at my surroundings right now and see my laptop, TV, and light all on. I am blogging at 1:44am. Do I really need to be wasting that much electricity? I think not! I am taking part in George’s OMAOG right now. I am going to turn off my light and shut off my TV. Ready? ……I’m standing up………I’m going now………………DONE! I did my part. Now do yours too! Peace out bloggers. Stay smart, cause I know y’all are! J   

[1] One Million Acts of Green. CBC. 26 Nov. 2008 <;.

[2] One Million Acts of Green – George. 29 Oct. 2008. YouTube. 26 Nov. 2008 <;.

[3] The Hour’s One Million Acts of Green. 20 Oct. 2008. BlogTO. 26 Nov. 2008 <;.

 [4] Manufacturing Consent. Perf. Noam Chomsky. 1992.


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Culture Jamming – [.providing.relief.on.smoky.times.]

Culture jamming is a hard term to grasp at first, even though we are surrounded by it day to day. We see it on billboards, street signs, in emails, and even in videos. Companies thrive off of culture jamming, because the citizens love to see it and feel it. The raw way of putting this jamming is “media hacking, information warfare, terror-art, and guerrilla semiotics, all in one.”[1]

There are different types of culture jamming as well. [2] The first type is commercial which is probable the most well-known type. This type of jamming includes creative ads that are targeted at specific over-consuming societies. The ads can go both ways, aiming at either the consumer or the company. They usually want to get a message out on what and why people buy the specific product.


The second type is political which is less common than commercial, but still just as powerful. Political culture jams generally play on items that people normally wouldn’t take a double look at. Both sidewalks and street signs are favourites for subtly changing their meanings, giving them a clever look and message.  They usually revolve around ongoing issues, or newly developed complaints.


The third and final type is social which is playful in nature and target society in general. Being satirical about a wide range of topics can either be within a town or within a country. They poke fun at little stupid things, as well as expose big names in a comical way. They make us rethink reality and the type of place we live in. They let us smirk, maybe tell a friend, and go on with our chaotic lives.


As clearly described by Lessig, “creative work has value”[3] and culture jammers take these pre-made works, and add some kind of flare to it, giving it that imaginative touch. However, when bad habits are injected into the society and made part of the daily lifestyle, it leaves a wide open door for poking fun. Eating at McDonald’s or buying Nike shoes can easily be discussed when it comes to culture jamming. But when a daily habit occurs that literally drains the pocket and gives you cancer… now we have something. Smoking has been part of societies since 2000BC and was heavily brought into the media’s eye around the early 1900s.

As the years went on, we began to understand the true side effects of smoking, and the hazards they pose on our bodies. Cigarettes are now ‘hidden’ in convenient stores and warnings are placed on the boxes to prevent purchases. However, cigarette sales still continue to boom. This only leads those who care for our bodies to jump on the jamming train. Subjects such as cigarettes are easy targets because they are “aimed at exposing questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture.”[4]  


Funny one by Ron English for sure! But then we see a commercial like this, and it only makes us question how bad it really was back then.


No doubt about it, whether intended or not, ads around smoking have dramatically changed. There are so many spoofs off of anti-smoking commercials that my blog could be listed with videos off of youtube. If you are really interested, check out “funny anti-smoking ads” on YouTube; some of them are pretty good. All in all, what Ian says doesn’t always click right away, but after a bit of research, he makes sense in my books! No questions asked I definitely understand his point of “radically changing the intended message.” Gooooooo culture jamming!  

[1] Dery, Mark. Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs. 10 Oct. 2004. 25 Nov. 2008 <;.


[2] 3 Kinds of Culture Jamming. WebUrbanist. 25 Nov. 2008 <;.


[3] Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics), 2005. 18.


[4] Culture Jamming. CCCE. 25 Nov. 2008 <;.


[5] Flinstones Winston cigarettes commercial. 30 Mar. 2006. YouTube. 25 Nov. 2008 <;.



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Buy Nothing Day – []

week-10-us-corporate-flagI couldn’t find a better way to start this blog off than that picture. Sure there were some neat clips about consumer consumption and some informative videos about large corporations, but this picture just sums it all up. I don’t want to make Canada look innocent here either; this was just a very clever way of portraying North Americans.   

Ever since we were little kids, we wanted an allowance so that we could buy the things we wanted. Our parents gave us everything we needed, but we still insisted on having more. Very few teenagers today have a job to invest in their future but have one so that they can purchase the newest crazes and most up to date gadgets. Malls are never found empty, and outlet centers are always packed. How is it that no matter the occasion, we find a reason to whip out the plastics and start shopping? The problem is that “real wealth is not a sufficient lien to guarantee the staggering outstanding debt.”[1] Banks give us a false hope with credit cards because we are spending money we technically don’t have. That is only one step into why consumer debt has sky-rocketed.  

Buy Nothing Day “is a day to just stop shopping.”[2] It seems like an easy concept to follow. Come on, 365 days of the year, and we still can’t put aside one day and find something better to do? Of course, big brand stores don’t support this 16-year tradition, but why would they? This only turns people away from purchasing into their name and buying their un-needed products. Buy Nothing Day is made to inform the public about: week-10-points-1-21


The interesting thing about Buy Nothing Day is that it “falls on the day after the American Thanksgiving,”[3] meaning there will be huge blowout sales everywhere. Just like in photoshopped magazine covers, the eye is easily fooled. We are immediately drawn to items that have a huge sale sign above them, even if those weren’t our initial shopping list items. Consumer adviser Clark Howard says, “If you just go by what the advertising says, you’ll be totally misled.”[4] Shopping has become a hobby for most people, meaning their homes are cluttered with unneeded things.

I love it when I walk into a store and see something completely pointless and hideous. Whether it is a toy or an outfit, you can find a few of these items in any store. Then by looking at the price tag of these useless things, they usually get put over the top. The creator of the Hello Kitty Hell website agrees by saying it is “truly amazing the crap that people are willing to buy and how much they are willing to pay for it.”[2]

This video made me laugh because of what happens, but it has a bit of more meaning behind it as well.



Did you see all those shopping carts? IN ONE LOAD! That’s insane! Also, these were new shopping carts meaning more than the hundred or so they have already were needed. It is just shocking to see the amount of buggies stores have. Now imagine every single item that gets placed into those buggies on a daily basis. Also, something to keep in mind is how often food is being thrown out because it went moldy at the back of the fridge or frozen foods being tossed because they are frost bitten from being in there so long. Yet somehow, we are still able to look in the fridge and yell, “Mom, there’s nothing to eat in this house!”   

Feel free to watch this quick video before reading on. [6]

I liked this video quite a bit because when we look at ourselves, we really are rats running around in circles. We are told that happiness is just around the corner and so is Wal-Mart. No matter the season or the sale we purchase, and purchase some more. Some people feel that Buy Nothing Day has no effect because people just go back to their old habits the following day. However, it is more of a day to inform, and hopefully inspire others to calm down on the purchases in the future. Some people feel “Rather than tak[ing] my money out of the marketplace for the day, I’ll get a fair trade coffee at a locally owned shop [or] pick up a few Christmas gifts made by independent artists and crafters,”[7] which is totally acceptable as well. Shop smart!  

[1] The Crisis. 19 Nov. 2008. Adbustures. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

[2] Celebrate Buy Nothing Day (no purchase necessary). Greenliving. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

[3] Buy Nothing Day. Media Awareness Network. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

[4] Dratch, Dana. Is that store’s sale really a sale? MSN. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

[5] A Day In The Life Of A Target Employee. 23 Oct. 2008. YouTube. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

[6] Rat Race (live more!). 17 July 2008. YouTube. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

[7] Why I Shop on Buy Nothing Day. 24 Nov. 2006. The Tyee. 24 Nov. 2008 <;.

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Fake News – [.it.isnt.all.bad.]

In a couple of my classes, professors are constantly explaining that news has become entertainment. The 6 o’clock and 11 o’clock news are merely programs entered into our long list of TV watching for the night. News might as well be made up because it has limited long-lasting effects on us. No matter what form you are getting your news it is laid out in the same basic ways in order to keep us coming back. Newspapers are surrounded by interesting real estate ads, while TV news headlines are only followed by funny phone commercials. How can news be taken seriously if our mind is constantly jumping back and forth from horror news story, to everyday civilian life? We no longer question the ideas we are presented with because nothing can shock us in today’s generation. News has undoubtedly “threatened society’s sense of distinction between fact and fiction – of the real and unreal.” [1]  

“Few of us have a sense of how media works” [2] because we have no need to understand it. The only time people investigate the information they are given is when something seems altered. As long as news stays as entertainment, people are satisfied. As ‘Toxic Sludge’ explains case after case, people (AKA us), are constantly being conned into believing lies. Fake news is everywhere we look, because ads surround us no matter where we go. Billboards, TV commercials, newspapers, the Internet and the sides of buses all try to tell us something. However, “thanks to clever public relations [so many facts] simply haven’t been announced.” [3]

No one proves it better than Noam Chomsky when it comes to misinterpretations and the fake world we live in. He repeats, “We live in tangled webs of endless deceit,” [4] meaning we have no choice but to love what we are presented with. “People have the capacity to see through the deceit… but they don’t make the effort,” [4] especially with the idea of citizen journalism. Today, anyone can contribute to the media around them. Whether it be calling in to your favourite radio station, or sending your cell phone video into CityPulse, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information is critical in today’s democracy. [5]

Lastly, no longer is ‘fake news’ a bad thing, for it has been taken to a whole other level. As I have referred to before, ‘The Onion’ has made big bucks off satirical news broadcasts. The topics range from sports, to entertainment, to political, just as the real news does. As a commuter to UGH, I got a good kick out of this ‘traffic solution’ from The Onion News Network. Enjoy.



[1] News as Entertainment and Entertainment as News – Forum Summary. 4 Mar. 1998. CCJ. 14 Nov. 2008 <;.


[2] Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity. New York: Penguin (Non-Classics), 2005. 36.


[3] Stauber, John, Sheldon Rampton, and Mark Dowie. Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! : Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry. New York: Common Courage P, 1995. 178.


[4] Manufacturing Consent. Perf. Noam Chomsky. 1992.


[5] “We Media.” How audiences are shaping the future of news and information. 21 Sept. 2003. The Media Centre. 14 Nov. 2008 <;.


[6] “The Onion News Article.” Tired Of Traffic? A New DOT Report Urges Drivers: ‘Honk’ The Onion News Network. 14 Nov. 2008 <;. 

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Social Use/Implication of Technology and Media – []

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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