Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Response to Chad's Question

After reviewing all of the posts, I have to say that I really liked the question that Chad posted..."Are there any changes to the chronological changes of media representation in a networked age?" However, I am going to disagree with Chad a bit and argue that there have been changes.  While I could in many ways support the claim that there have been no changes, I have to say that our shift into a networked age has blurred the lines significantly.  I argue that Clark's (69) four chronological stages no longer exist in the way presented.  There is no chronological progression (perhaps never was, but that is another argument for another day), and the lines between ridicule, regulation, and respect have been so blurred that it is nearly impossible to say that we as a society are in a specific stage.  Yes, mis-representations of homosexuality, obesity, and the "ideal" individual are rampant; but I am not quite willing to sacrifice our agency as individuals and as a collective culture to media representations.

For example, Hart speaks of the progress that has been made (and the progress yet to be made) of homosexual representations on television; but when one places these shows in the context of the early to mid 90's it is commendable that the debate was furthered through these representations.  In a remarkably short time we went from the Stonewall protests of 1969, to the conspicuous absence of Reagan discourse concerning the AIDS epidemic of the 80's, to the Mary Fisher speech at the 1992 RNC convention, to open media representations in the late 90's.

And while I feel the issue of homosexuality is one that is easy to gravitate towards, it is often forgotten that Married...With Children was a pioneer in television as one of the first sitcoms to employ a nearly all female writing staff.

Essentially, while it is impossible to argue with comments like Kilbourne's that "mass communication has made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual standards, as well as community values and standards" (258); I feel that it is our ability as a society simultaneously recognize, ridicule, and respect that prevents society from flushing down the metaphorical toilet.  The debate over episodes like South Park's "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" allows many to be exposed to homosexuality for the first time, in a way that both respects and ridicules aspects of our reality.

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