Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Not Will Ferrell (@itsWillyFerrell) 2/28/12 12:20 AM #TheThingIHateMost about Twitter; finishing a good tweet, having -1 characters left, and then having to decide which grammar crime to commi

Monday, February 27, 2012

From an Audience to a Director

I totally agree the idea that the arise of network media is the birth of e-democracy. Citizen journalism is craving a space in mediascape. How technologies like Web 2.0 and Internet could change our mass media to what extend is still remind to be discussed.

Is there any way to integrate different media with our own control and contribution?  One interesting case is The 84th Academy Awards last Sunday Night App. I could image how people watched the first Oscar show on a black and white TV or through radio, but this time we can view it from iPhone.

The Oscar app is not only just an on-line video app that allows you to watch a live stream, but an app that allows you to be the director at the backstage. People who downloaded the app already have access to original video from last year’s show, photos and Twitter integration in its new magazine-style format. Additionally, all video views are tracked through iCloud, so viewers can stay synched across multiple iOS devices.

There are four special camera views that is available to users. they car watch all of the cameras on a grid at all, or watch through a specific camera, such as the backstage, the speech camera, or the photography shooting camera. Also, this app is highly associated with twitter, you can watch the show at the same time play some games through twitter.

This app provides a fun interaction to the audience, and also let the audience contribute to it's own Oscar show (they call it "Oscar My Picks"). This is the first trial of putting  a format of media which usually belong to TV to a smart phone platform. So can we still call mass media as "the end of conversation"(Ferrarotti, 1988)? I'd rather call it "the start of new conversation by mass contributions", at least a TV show that directed by the audience themselves.

I think it is just a beginning of how we can integrate different media together, on a new platform. And I am also looking forward more interaction on this platform.

Citizen Journalism

"Our worst enemy may be ourselves. Corporate journalism, which dominates today, is squeezing quality to boost profits in the short term. Perversely, such tactics are likely to undermine us." -Gillmor, Dan (2004)

Gillmor definitely foresaw the future when he wrote this, because today corporate journalism is put in check by citizen journalism.

According to Layla Revis (November, 2011), citizen journalism is changing media and democracy. She said that, "these citizen journalists fight to create a well-informed public in which media also serves as moral education. This philosophy radically departs from mainstream journalism, an overarching goal of which is to sell its product. Citizen journalism, on the other hand, allows marginalized people to reclaim their voices, to tell their otherwise silenced stories firsthand." Campaigns such as Arab Spring, Occupy Wallstreet, SOPA, and the revolution in Egypt have benefited from the safety of anonymity and freedom of speech that characterize social media. Social media enables citizen journalism to speak up and out when the major news outlets are blocked by the government e.g. China and Iran and even in instances when time and resources get in the way of the traditional and corporate journalism. These new journalists now act as a conscience to the corporate journalism.

read the article by Revis »

Cyberculture and Identity

I just read an article about every 60 seconds in social media this weekend. The inforgraphic showed amazing data about how social media inundate the web with their status updates, tweets, and photos in a single minute. http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/25/60-seconds-social-media/

“Every 60 seconds in social media, two million videos are viewed on YouTube, 700,000 messages are delivered by way of Facebook, 175,000 tweets are fired off into the ether, and 2,000 Foursquare check-ins tell the world where we are.”

It’s not that surprised to see the heavy usage of social media in today’s society, but it made me thinking about how the new social media sites become competitive in this fierce competition. Pinterest launched on March 2010 which was just about two years, but it has already become one of the top 10 social networks. Why do you think Pinterest become so popular in this short period of time? What do you think about the development of social media in the next decades?

Pramod Nayar’s article talked about cyberculture identity issue which reminds me of a new policy for weibo (Chinese twitter). “Cyberspace allows one to pick an identity, to masquerade, mimic, and transcend bodily identities and interact with the world as somebody else. In a world where race, class, gender, and sexuality ca become obstacles in interactions with the world, cyberspace allows one to choose an identity that may have nothing to do with one’s “real-life” gender or race.” Since it’s not necessary to use real identity, people could pretend to be others and misrepresent news to the masses. It always happens that someone use a celebrity’s identity to defraud fans on microblog. Misrepresentation is also a common issue due to the freedom of cyberculture identity. Due to these reasons, weibo launched a new policy which encouraged people to register with real name and information. I think it should be helpful to control identity thief and misrepresented news, but people who enjoyed anonymous posting will lose interest in microblog. What do you think about cyberculture identity?

Digital Media: A curse or revolutionary?

The development of new media has progressed rapidly, and while some find it's advancements to be astonishing and life changing other's view it as detrimental and problematic. I'm curious how you view advanced in technology, more specifically what the internet has done to our public and private selves.

Douglas Rushkoff (2003) described developments as renaissance, and acknowledged the shifts in our capacity to understand and in our perspectives. I agree with this idea, and I believe that these shifts are altering our conception of how the world functions.

Education is a large part of my life, and I see this influence when we look at the education system. People would rather believe this idea of digital mythology that Steve Woolgar (2002) presents. People fixate themselves with false information and these tales that come from the internet. Social media especially become a main influence on our work, home lives, social lives, and interactions we have with others. There is a shift in what we once understand as normative. Digital media enables us to talk, but does it help advance us? I feel educationally it has the ability to offer us things, but also it can be problematic. Students are becoming more reliant on their laptops and feel the need to be on them in class, not always to look at powerpoint lectures, but to be on facebook. They are no longer present.

This video sums up my views.

"All" shapes and sizes...

I stumbled across this today and it falls in perfectly to part of last weeks discussion... women, sizes Small, Smaller and Smallest... Levi's curves

A more comedic commentary from Tina Fey...

Cyberculture and the Rise of the Meme

Although the techy lingo made it sometimes tough to read the Nayar reading about cyberculture, I found it fascinating that the author always made a point to say that all that happens in cyberculture happens in the actual culture. Hrm. Better let the author better explain that.

"Cyberculture, cyberspace, and virtual reality remain deeply embedded in very material conditions." - p. 3

"Cybercultures are driven by material considerations of profit and power, and affect people in their real lives. All this goes to show how technology must always be seen as contextual, and treated as technoculture where meanings, values, and functions are integrally associated with the object. Culture and technology are therefore not distinct but linked." - p. 6

For some reason, while reading this, memes kept popping into my mind. If you're not familiar with memes, here's what Wikipedia has to say:

A meme (play /ˈmm/; meem)[1]) is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.[3]

In my mind, the definition to meme is found at the website memebase.com. Basically, people take pictures and put funny captions on them. Yep, that's pretty much it. But the fascinating thing about memes is the culture that has developed around them. There are now over 20 niche sites branched off of memebase.com: LOLdogs, LOLcats, etc. There are also more colorful memes, such as Bachelor and Bachelorette Frog, Good Guy Greg, Depression Dog, and Paranoid Parrot, just to name a few. Some people--like my husband, for example--check membase as often as they check their Facebook account. It truly is a cyberculture.

The interesting thing about memes is that, for the most part, they express elements of the human experience, things that we can all relate to because we've experienced them, too. For example, one of the first memes I ever saw was about Google-ing a symptom you are experiencing and thinking, based on the search results, that you're going to die. Because--and let's be honest--who doesn't Google migraine symptoms and think they're going to die of a brain tumor?

Paranoid Parrot Googles "headache."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Evolution of the Web

After reading Emergent Media and Public Communication, it made me ponder the evolution of the web. We remember the Web and it’s first stages in the Web 1.0 era. Well, a lot has changed since then, and that means there are more changes on the horizon. The Web continues to evolve and transform the way that products and services are marketed on the Internet. To und­erstand where the Web is going, we need to take a quick look at where it's been.

Web 1.0
Web 1.0, or the World Wide Web, was the first stage of the Internet. Webpages with hyperlinks were the extent of the Internet. The Web had static pages instead of dynamic user generated content (GPC). The websites were not interactive; instead they were static, containing information for the visitor. Under the Web 1.0 strategy, marketers developed applications that users could download, but they couldn’t see how the application worked. Web 1.0 was impersonal, descriptive, professional, and presented many facts.

Web 2.0
After Web 1.0, Web 2.0 came around and changed the world of advertising, as we know it.  Web 2.0 was officially coined in 2004 by Dale Dougherty, vice-president of O’Reilly Media Inc. Web 2.0 includes, but is not limited to audio blogging and podcasting, tags, RSS and syndication, social bookmarking, Wikis, multimedia sharing, social networking and more. We are more familiar with Web 2.0, because that is the Internet we know and use today. Overall it is the Web that provides a two-way form of interacting and communicating.

Web 3.0 & Beyond
Of course, Web 2.0 will continue to progress and will eventually transform into what may be called Web 3.0. Although we do not know what the future holds for the Web, there are many speculations. Many believe that the Web will be further integrated into our every day lives. For example, you may be able to ask your browser questions like, “Where should I eat dinner?” and the browser will keep a track record of your likes and dislikes and take into account your location. This may be similar to iPhone’s Siri, but much more advanced. This idea may effect how we access our news. Also, many believe that human interaction will decrease and we’ll depend on the Internet more. Also, humans will literally have the Internet at their fingertips, anywhere and everywhere they go.  Where do you see the future Web 3.0 leading?

Girl Gamers

How do women use ICT's for their own empowerment?

The above picture is the group of girls known as Frag Dolls
A Frag Doll (according to the Frag Doll website) is "a gamer girl with the skills to dominate in multiplayer shooters.  An unabashedly geeky female who is proud to love games and geek culture."

When I got to the Gender and Sexuality section in the Nayar reading I immediately though about Frag Dolls.  Now, I am not a female gamer (unless you count my mad skills with MarioKart) and the only reason I know about the Frag Dolls is because I know an actual female gamer who did her senior research on girl gamers.

Her small study affirmed what Nayar said about the role of women in the making of technology.  Because women are "rarely involved with the design and research that create the technology" (Nayar, p. 18), the most popular video games are not usually designed with a female target audience in mind and girl gamers are surrounded by a lot of negative/derogatory feedback from those individuals (primarily male) in the gaming cyberculture.

The mission of the Frag Dolls is to "promote video games and represent the presence of women in the game industry" (Frag Dolls, 2012).  These girls "are known not only for being skilled gamers in multiple games, but for their advocacy of female gamers" (Frag Dolls, 2012).  Which now brings me to my thoughts about representation.

According to Nayar, "stereotypes from the real world pervade even passing, camp, and drag on the Internet, thus suggesting that even cyberspace is as gendered as the real world" (p. 18)  It's great that a group of females are standing up for other females in the gaming world but what are they actually saying about female gamers?

The Frag Dolls are using information and communication technologies as an advocate for female gamers.  Nayar also said that cyberculture activism runs the risk of remaining "at the level of the virtual, with little or no impact upon the real world" (p. 12) and can create a false sense of empowerment.  The girl who I talked about earlier who did the study on female gamers said that the main insults male gamers gave her when she (or her female friends) would play multiplayer games, were insults about her possible appearance and/or her role in life.  Players would call her a "fat ugly bitch," or a  "dog-faced whore" or tell her to "get back to the kitchen where she belongs."  This same girl also did a survey that she distributed to only males about their perceptions of female gamers, and nearly all of the males in the study indicated the prevailing sentiment that female gamers were most likely unattractive.

I am connecting this thought process to last week's readings and class conversation, but if anyone hadn't noticed already, the Frag Dolls are "hot," for lack of a better descriptor.  I don't see one greasy pimple or nerdy cowlick on their flawless "geeky" forms.  Now, this is where it gets confusing because the Frag Dolls are "breaking" the stereotype in the gaming cyberculture that female gamers are "unattractive" however by doing this they are are inadvertently reinforcing the gendered stereotypes (even in the virtual gaming world where people probably don't see each others faces that often) that your appearance matters.  As a female you can be a successful gamer and look totally sexual and feminine while doing it.  Empowered?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CNN: "What does beauty mean to you?"

In light of yesterday's conversation, I thought this was interesting:

Here's the link to the magazine I tried to talk about last night with Jamie Lee Curtis on the cover. Clearly I didn't remember the details. It's a good story though. http://www.more.com/news/womens-issues/jamie-lee-curtis-true-thighs

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is this 1959?

"It's hard to believe that this is 1999 (or 2012) and not 1959. The more things change, the more they stay the same." This quote from the reading by Kilbourne struck me this week. Just when I think we've made progress in this area, a Super Bowl commercial runs like Go Daddy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phF1ibedivw
One of the more disturbing things I read recently is the surge in young girls having plastic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 219,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed on people aged 13-19 in 2010. The most popular procedures for this group were rhinoplasty and breast augmentation. Mothers and daughters are sharing the same plastic surgeon for breast implants to help with "self esteem issues." Also on the rise is body piercing and tattooing which has risen from 10% to 25% in recent years. "Advertising is one of the most potent messengers in a culture that can be toxic for girls' self-esteem," says Kilbourne. Do you think those of us entering the advertising have a responsibility to affect change? Do you think it is possible?

Gender, Media and Idenity

In a visual society like ours, the structures of how we represent gender is integral to how we view ourselves and each other.  As Jhally stated in Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture, "It is because these conventions of gender display are so easily recognized by the audience that they figure so prominently in the image-system. Also, images having to do with gender strike at the core of individual identity; our understanding of ourselves as either male or female (socially defined within this society at this time) is central to our understanding of who we are" (p. 81).

Advertising uses "cultural norms" as a paradigm when imagining ads or marketing campaigns. If advertising is to be effective it needs to resonate with an audience.  How can advertising work to change culture and society if it is using the same paradigms to do so?

Here are some examples of how gender is used in interesting ways to break up demographics and target audiences for good causes:



Do these help change society or do they only promote the status quo of gender representation?

What is this?!?!

As I was reading Who(se) am I? The Identity and Image of Women in Hip-Hop I couldn't stop thinking about Sophia Grace and Rosie Brownlee -- two tutu-wearing princesses that sing and dance to rap songs on Ellen Degeneres.

At the end of the article the author suggests that we shouldn't blame artists for the tension between their words and the image that they project -- they're a commodity and their image is shaped by their record labels.

"Imagine an artist looking lustily into the camera while critiquing the gaze she is giving you, or discussing the sexism implicit in the sexy dress she is wearing. Although the strategy might simply give rise to further conflicted images, there is the possibility that it would force the listener to critically read the image."

Watch Sophie sing Nicki Minaj's Super Bass (with commentary on why she likes the song, and what she thinks it means).

What is this? A little girl -- dressed in a ruffly tutu and tiara with a back-up dancing cousin, singing about a boy who has deep pockets, buys her diamonds, and makes her panties come off... What! How's that for "forcing the listener to critically read the image"?

But wait, there's more! Now watch this.

Enter Nicki Minaj in her own tutu-type getup, belly and cleavage prominent repeating the message for the young girls to stay in school. Again... What!

It's hard for me to take this message seriously, especially after watching her video (see it here) and reading the lyrics. I admit, these are not the nastiest lyrics out there, but still seem quite inappropriate for an 8 year old to belt out in front of a crowd (whether or not she knows what she is singing about). Although the author says we should, it is hard to get past the sexual images and grown-up material present it Nicki's typical presentations to the world.

Nicki Minaj Google image search.

myprinkfriday.com (Nicki's website for her new album).

An example of what the author is talking about in the article -- speaking one way but looking another: Fly.

The opposite *viewer discretion advised*: Stupid Hoe

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy

That title. It can only mean one thing: Bobby McFerrin. The image in my head is of him singing this song, but in the music video. It's difficult, beyond perhaps, for me to imagine the song apart from the image of ole Bobby.

This association intrigued me. So, Sut Jhally's essay "Image-Based Culture" got me to mull a bit. I'll zoom in on this phrase: "Fundamentally, advertising talks to us as individuals and addresses us about how we can become happy."

I wanted to briefly consider an example of advertising, to gauge it's construction of happiness. I'd like to explore the high-fructose corn-syrup campaign via SweetSurprise.com: http://www.sweetsurprise.com/

(I would embed the video but it has been disallowed by request on the YouTube site) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl9vZYj-aJ4

Of note, in particular, at least for me, are the images on the website: sweet surprise.com in juxtaposition to various text quotes from accredited health practitioners. The question: is there really a difference between cane sugar and high-fructose corn-syrup? Some yell NO! Some shout YES! Which is it? Regardless, the images featured in the ads are clear: happiness.

There are five distinct images--featuring four distinct ethnicities. The themes are consistent in each of the images: family + healthy food (read HFCS) = smiles, i.e. happiness.

The argument here isn't meant to get into the physiological or biological and chemical compositions of either. Though I do believe there are chemical compositional structures of difference that do influence endorphin production within the brain and that do have effects, the issue at hand is of the use of images in relationship to text.

"Get the facts," is the tagline of the campaign. As if facts are clear-cut and interpretation can be kept to a minimum. There are various elements of cost effectiveness for the market in using HFCS over pure cane sugar. I get that. What's difficult is that we don't necessarily see (or "feel") much difference in the use (or, at least we don't tend to be consciously aware of such) of one versus the other. As much as I do, I know that others can and do claim that they don't (feel negative effects).

As Jhally notes, "autonomy" and "control" of one's life, self-esteem, a happy family life, etc. are the fundamental desires of consumers which are not connected (necessarily) to goods. But these commodities are intertwined. As Jhally goes on to note, there is at times a "religious" quality, a salvific notion to products. And sometimes this comes by way of minimizing negative side effects and associating unnatural products with natural products.

I digress. I was intrigued with the simplicity but ubiquity of the image-based culture ideal, of how they work in relation in the negotiation of meaning. If only Howard Beale were still around:

Neil Postman and The Today Show

Being an early riser and creature of (slightly elderly) habit, I watch The Today Show every morning--mostly for the news, mostly because the anchors are friendly, and mostly because there aren’t many other options to choose from at 7 a.m.

Neil Postman presents an interesting claim about televised news broadcasts in The Age of Show Business. “A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis. And we must not judge it too harshly those who have framed it in this way. They are not assembling the news to be read, or broadcasting it to be heard. They are televising the news to be seen” (p. 87-88)

In this reading, Postman characterizes television, and news broadcasts, as being inherently entertainment-based. Aside from any personal views people may have about broadcasts and alleged biased content, I got to thinking about my beloved Today Show and how, in reality, probably only half of each broadcast is really dedicated to the hard news Postman prefers.

There’s the occasional, “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” segment.

The awkward Smucker’s Birthday announcements with Willard Scott.

And, my personal favorite, the “Bow to Wow” series of made-over shelter dogs.

In terms of visuality, Postman seemingly argues that televised news is silly and lacking in credibility because it’s all for show—the “friendly anchor” we share our breakfast with, the news stories that are edited to taste. Honestly, though, how many of us would really want to watch the monotony of everyday life? As discussed in class/past readings—TV is/was an opportunity for democracy, opening us all to new places, new people and new stories with more efficiency than print or radio ever could. We have to “see it to believe it.”

“Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television” (p. 87). So what if news anchors have a little fun with it? 

Political Advertising Then and Now

I enjoyed all of the readings for this one. Jhally describes in “Image-Based Culture” that the image-based influence has spread to the realm of electoral politics. It being an election year and our recent discussions of televised presidential debates, I found one of Jhally’s statements interesting. Jhally stated that there is evidence that suggests that George Bush won the 1988 presidential race because he ran a better ad and public relations campaign. I think one might argue that same point for Barak Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Jhally goes on to say that politics is not about issues; it is about ‘feeling good’ or ‘feeling bad’ about a candidate—and all it takes to change this is a thirty-second commercial.

Negative advertising has been a foundational piece of political advertising for years. However, how many of us would say that we find this method effective or informative? To me the negative tone of political advertising turns me off to the candidate placing the ad than the candidate they are portraying in a negative light. As we are in the middle of the republican primary, negative ads are in full force.

Take this example from the Newt Gingrich campaign aimed at Mitt Romney titled “For the Dogs.”

In contrast, look at this example from Ronald Reagan’s 84 presidential campaign “It’s morning in America again.”

That Ronald Regan ad is arguably one of the famously effective political advertisements of our time. It sparks the emotion that Jhally discussed in “Image-Based Culture” without the negative undertones of many of the political ads out there today.

I’d be interested to hear what other members of the class think. Would you rather see the Regan ad versus the Gingrich negative ad? Does negative advertising spark any particular feeling or emotion toward either of the candidates?

Is every American like a gossip girl?

Article “ Representing Gay Men on American Television” talks about media representation, which reminds me of what I think about American people before I came to US. American shows became very popular when I was in my undergraduate. Everybody was watching and talking about “Gossip Girl”, or “Prison Break”. The shows gave me the first impression of American people, especially the girls at my age – open, free, fun, endless party, beautiful dresses, and smoky eyes. Especially, I don’t understand why, in Gossip Girl, Serena and Blair could date Nate, while still being the best friends. The representation of American people’s life challenged my thoughts and my view of the life at my age.

But when I came to US, I realized it is different. Although the show might represent a certain group of people in the US, the American life is actually pretty normal, just like us. The difference does exist, but it reflects the culture and tradition of this country.

So I am thinking, the media or television shows might represent some characteristics to audience within the country, who are able to understand it right, but to audience outside the country, such shows might mislead the perception of them towards American people. 

Impact of Different Shades of Skin Color Among African Americans

Wale (feat. Chrisette Michele)-Shades



Linsanity in Media

Just a day after reading the article for this class entitled "Representing Gay Men On American Television, this story about NBA up-and-comer Jeremy Lin broke. It got me to thinking about how media, and not just television, portrays Asians.

There has undoubtedly been huge media buzz surrounding Lin's underdog story with fans' delight in the basketball star even being dubbed "Linsanity." However, despite Lin's apparent positive outlook, his stardom doesn't come without setbacks.

This article from the Washington Post presents an interesting viewpoint that, since a large amount of basketball players are Black Americans, their history is more well known and they are more widely accepted than Asians in basketball. And I think they make a good point.

The article quotes Guy Aoki, head and co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, saying "Because reporters 'don’t want anyone to think they condone the word’s use, they came up with the ‘N-word,’ ” Aoki said by telephone from Los Angeles. “There’s no such thing as the C-word . . . is there'

When the Madison Square Garden Network flashed a graphic of Lin sticking his tongue out, superimposed in the middle of a fortune cookie, Aoki wondered aloud: “Imagine if 80 percent of the league were Asian American. And a black player’s face was put in the middle of fried chicken and watermelon. How would that go over?"

The point that sticks out to me in all this is that stereotyping can present itself in all sorts of light. In this instance, black Americans are more prevalent in American basketball, and thus, are more better understood in this context. We stereotype Black Americans as being good at basketball the same way we stereotype Asians as being good with technology and the same way me stereotype homosexuals as being fashionable. And while these stereotypes include positive qualities, they are still something America must combat. This seems to happen most frequently through the four steps discussed in the class article.

I think Rob King, ESPN’s senior vice president of editorial, print and digital media sums it up well when he says, “The minute everybody starts patting ourselves on the back over reaching some kind of conclusion on the issue of race, something like this happens and makes us realize how far we have to go."

Misrepresentation of minority groups as one ideological effects of media

I found the Hart’s reading about representing gay men on American television extremely insightful, and I feel like a lot of his opinions also talk to other underrepresented or misrepresented minority groups as well. 

The concept of the four stages of media representation – nonrecognition, ridicule, regulation, respect (Clark, 1969) - is a very important for us to understand how an non-represented groups gradually blend into the mainstream images of mass media and own the right images.  However,  a lot of underrepresented groups have not come into the “respect” stage yet, and it will be a long journey to reach it. Even today, homosexuality is still typically associated with AIDS and other sexual diseases, which is definitely a misrepresentation formed with the aid of mass media.  Just as Media is such a strong force which can shape the public view. It almost has an ideological effect, and it is controlled by the powerful few to manipulate the masses. Because more than often, I feel like some groups are misrepresented on purpose. They are misrepresented not because of the ignorance of the producers, but because of the profit-driven mentality of the stakeholders. Think about this, if every gay man on television shows appears to be just like everybody else, there would be less stimuli to audience’s curiosity thus less viewing rate. This also reminds me of some other untruthful stereotypical perceptions that formed by media to exploit audiences, for example, Asian women being sexually submissive.

Today, as networked media develops at an amazing speed and scope, I can’t help wondering:  how would the new media alter the path of the four stages of media presentation? And how would it help to correct the misperceptions of the underrepresented groups in a new way?

Impact Images

Reading DeLuca's article, "Making Waves" on image politics and environmental activitism, I thought about how often movements use images, shocking images, to make an idea stick with us.  Like ASPCA ads against animal cruelty (Nope, can't link to a sad puppy photo).  Or texting and driving. Or the World Wildlife Fund. Or any number of ads (warning, this link is a graphic).  Organizations want to grab your attention among a steady stream of images.

A recent image campaign that is shocking is the anti-tobacco "Truth" campaigns (and funded by Phillip Morris in a settlement). In a 2005 article, the Citizens' Commission to Protect the Truth "...credits truth® with reducing the number of children and teen smokers by 300,000 from 2000 to 2002."The Commission was made up of every former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and Health and Human Services; every former U.S. Surgeon General; and every former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In case you don't remember, check out this body bag video to see how shocking the Truth ads were:

Kevin DeLuca, “Making Waves,” Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism (New York, NY: Guilford Press, 1999): 1-24.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native Americans

While reading "The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media" by Stuart Hall, I was reminded of Sherman Alexie - a Native American writer and filmmaker.  (He wrote the story and the screenplay for Smoke Signals - it's a great movie if you haven't seen it.)  I appreciate the film because it forces viewers to consider the stereotypes and political hardships that are a part of the Native American world.  Alexie uses humor to address some of the stereotypes that many believe filmmakers and other media have perpetuated for years (as seen in the clip below).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An Image-based Culture and the "you can have it all" complex

I found similar themes running throughout the Jahlly, Kilbourne, and Perry articles about how images portray certain ideas, in particular, about females (I will focus on females - namely girls here for the purpose of this post). 

Jhally wrote that "the marketplace cannot directly offer the real thing, but it can offer visions of it connected with the purchase of products" (p. 79). Marketing/media images are constantly bombarding girls with the "you can have it all fantasy," which is limited not only to material goods but also to certain lifestyles. One disturbing trend which has come about is in the past couple of years is the glamorization of the pregnant teenager. For example, take a look at this magazine cover with teen mom, Bristol Palin on it:
While Palin is supposed to be a spokeswoman for the consequences that can come when having sex as a teengaer (or at least not having safe sex), not only has she apparently managed to land on the cover of "People" magazine, but she also has managed to graduate high school, have a healthy baby, and still look like a million bucks. Are young girls really supposed to believe her argument that the consequences of sex are not worth it? (Look at the caption below her photo.) Because she sure is making those consequences look glamorous. While the MTV show, Teen Mom, appeared to be a bit more realistic in what the lifestyle of a pregnant teenager is like, the media went ahead and made that look pretty awesome too, by allowing the girls from that show to gain a celebrity following:
(Wow...they sure do look like they are struggling as the caption suggests - especially with their airbrushed faces and designer matching outfits!)
Another show that was originally created by (ironically) "The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy," called "The Secret Life of The American Teenager," on (ironically) ABC Family channel, which seemed to just further glamorize life as a pregnant teen by showing young girls you can still look awesome, have great hair and clothes and carry on with your everyday life as a high schooler even if you get pregnant:

Part of Perry's argument was the conflicting messages that powerful females send through the behavior and images they put out through media. "When the who articulate subjectivity are increasingly presented in visual media as objects rather than subjects, as they are now, then their statement to the world is ambiguous at best" (p. 140). This "loss of control over one's own image" that Perry refers to is an interesting concept to consider when thinking about how images are constantly seeming to tell girls they can "have it all" through magazine covers that promote impossible thinness, flawless skin, beautiful clothes and accessories, a great lifestyle with an education and a good job and disposable income (to of course, purchase all of those "must have" products they are constantly peddling), and of course, the power to attract the perfect man. Magazines, TV shows, commercials, and online media seem to be more and more promising women that they can do all of these things and be happy. With the media making it look easy for young women today to look glamorous, raise children, get an education, have an awesome job and an awesome wardrobe, what happens when girls try to work towards this and fail? The covers of magazines (in particular) are very contradictory these days, promising girls that they can lose 10 pounds while simultaneously promising the best chocolate cake recipe ever.

Finally, Kilbourne's quote, "powerful women are seen by many people (women as well as men) as inherently destructive and dangerous" (p. 262). This quote really stuck out to me because it reminded me of the media's (often very unkind) treatment of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, who are often both portrayed as dangerous man-eaters. Take these images and juxtapose it to the media's treatment of Michelle Obama - she is seen as less threatening because her HUSBAND is the President and she is the awesome housewife and mother, not the woman in the power suit trying to run as president herself (does the media thus see her as a "safer" powerful woman?).

Miss Representation

Just thought I'd post this up here in light of this week's reading by Jean Kilbourne: "Cutting Girls Down to Size."

Miss Representation is a documentary-turned-movement addressing the current state of how the media portrays women, from movies to fashion to politics and beyond. I'm working on a proposal to try to get the filmmakers to present a screening of Miss Representation here at UNL, and I think once you watch the trailer you'll agree that this documentary--in conjunction with our readings this week--would definitely be a good idea.

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Group 4 Chapter Summaries

56. FDR and the White House Mail from Public Opinion Quarterly (1956) by Leila A. Sussman
Chapter 56 discusses the communicative and political functions that mail provided between FDR and the mass of citizens.

  • Any personal letter to FDR was to receive an individual and thoughtful response.
  • Presidential mail allowed Roosevelt to keep a pulse on the issues that were concerning the public masses.  
  • FDR used content analysis to find general trends in the mail, but that was not a replacement for him to read through letters himself.
    • The letters were his form of qualitative research
  • This was also a tool, which prompted topics for speeches, fireside chats, etc.
57. Notes on a Natural History of Fads from American Journal of Sociology (1957) by Rolf Meyersohm and Elihu Katz
Meyersohn and Katz draw on the interpretation of popular music and fashion in the mid-1950s as a precursor to today’s studies of styles and subcultures (410).
  • The process which fads operate is typically confined to subgroups in society (410).
  • Each new fad is a functional alternative for its predecessor: this hit for that hit, etc.(410).

Several approaches to the study of fads:
  • Function of fashion for society, groups and individuals.
  • Fashions examined in terms of specific content and many attempts have been made to relate a trend or style to a Zeitgeist or “climate of opinion” (411).
  • Fashion system seen in the interaction among producers, distributers and consumers.
  • Fourth approach studies the origin of a given item—conditions of acceptance, characteristics of those whom the innovators influence, shifts from minority to majority acceptance, its waning and where it goes to die (411).
  • Stages of a fad can be isolated and studied. Each stage has been described as paving the way for the next stage.
  • Fads are not born but rediscovered. Meyersohn and Katz give the example of R&B music rising to the top of pop or mainstream music charts.
58. Mass Communication and Socio-Cultural Integration from Social Forces (1958) by Warren Breed (p. 417)
If the primary function of mass media was to spread information among the masses. Breed theorized that media had a secondary function in society that served the latent function of enforcing the status quo.
  • By expressing, dramatizing and repeating cultural patterns, both traditional and the newly emerging, the media reinforce tradition and at the same time explain new roles. (p. 418)
  • Literature reflects, shapes and controls society by omitting certain aspects of society or culture.  Without representation in media, society can effectively ignore on culture or norm.
  • Reverse content check found most of the omitted ideas in mass media were politico-economic significance, religious significance, justice, health and family issues.
  • Individuals who have stature within mass media can use undemocratic means to their ends.
  • Media not only protects ‘pressure’ groups but also protects the community from ‘pressure’ groups.
  • Overall Findings:
    • Values and behaviors highlighted as well as individuals; doctors, leaders, judges, mothers, clergymen, GIs overseas, etc.
    • Values of religion are linked to social processes taking the form of ritual (p. 423).
    • The stating of unpleasant facts maybe be prevalent in all forms of social communication.
59. Modernizing Styles of Life: A Theory from The Passing of Traditional Society (1958) by Daniel Lerner (p. 426)
Daniel Lerner documents ways in which the modern social life is seemingly displacing the ancient regime of tradition in the Middle East.
  • “I am thankful that the good God created us all ignorant. I am glad that when we change His plan in this regard we have to do it at our own risk.” –Mark Twain
  • “The people of the area today are unified not by their common solutions but by their common problems: how to modernize traditional life ways that no longer “work” to their own satisfaction. “
  • “Middle Easterners more than ever want the modern package, but reject the label “made in the U.S.A.”
  • …millions throughout the Middle East are yearning to trade in their old lives for such newer ways in what modernization promises to most people. The rapid spread of these new desires, which provide the dynamic power of modernization, is most clearly perceived in the coming of the mass media.”
  • “A complication of Middle East modernization is its own ethnocentrism—expressed politically in extreme nationalism, psychologically in passionate xenophobia.”
  • “The expansion of psychic mobility means that more people now command greater skill in imagining themselves as strange persons in strange situations, places and times than did people in any previous historical epoch.”
  • “Thus the mass media, by simplifying perception (what we “see”) while greatly complicating response (what we “do”), have been great teachers of interior manipulation.”
60. The Social-Anatomy of the Romance-Confession Cover Girl from Journalism Quarterly (1959) by George Gerbner
This is a study by George Gerbner about confession magazine covers.  Gerbners study analyzed the influence of the cover girl image combined with the influence of her position in the verbal context.  This study answered questions such as “How does the cover girl actually perform her task of confession magazine salesmanship?  How is the apparent contrast between the cover girl and her verbal setting resolved in perception?  What is her image in the eyes of the viewer?  How does her juxtaposition with the contrasting verbal context affect her assumed personality, status, functions?” (p. 436)
  • Three different covers used in the experiment:  One with only the verbal material (Group V), one with only the cover girl’s picture (Group P), and one without any alteration (Group T).
  • Group V perceived the cover girl more negatively (Bad, false, foolish, unsuccessful, powerless, unimportant, and a hard creature), and wrote short and negative essays about their perceptions of the cover girl’s personality
  • Group T perceived the cover girl more positively (good, kind, true, successful, soft, wise, powerful and important) and wrote lengthy essays with the most positive assertions and defended cover girl’s personality.
  • Picture of the cover girls designed to the specifications of the romance-confession market transforms the impressions created by the supercharged verbal context of the cover (p. 438).
  • Effects of verbal context on her image are subtle.  When the verbal context was absent, the girl’s success rating went up the most (p. 438).
  • Mass media content reflects, in ways both explicit and implicit, the imprint of concrete circumstances of its production (p. 439).
  • The dominant cover girl image appeals to society as a representative heroine who overcomes the surrounding negative verbal context that shares her cover space.
  • Art-editors conceive of the romance-confession cover girls as a projection of the readers’ self-image.  Her function on the cover appears to be analogous to the inside heroine’s function of identification.  The editorial prescription calls for a heroine who may be outwardly plain and sinful, but not unsympathetic. (p. 440).
61. The State of Communication Research from Public Opinion Quarterly (1959) by Bernard Berelson (p. 440)
  • Communication research is withering/dying
  • Past research stems from 4 major approaches
  1. Political approach - Lasswell
    1. Base - Broad politico-historical approach; concern with power
    2. Propositions:
      1. Propaganda pushes the intensity of the situation to extremes: facilitates catharsis  if interest is low, and precipitates crisis if interest is high.
      2. Political symbols circulating among the power holder correspond more closely to the power facts than do symbols presented to the domain.
  2. Sample survey approach - Lazarsfeld
    1. Base - Social psychology moving toward sociology
    2. Propositions:
      1. People tend to expose to communications whose content is congenial to their predispositions.
      2. Communication exposure “pushes” people to a decision, but mainly in line with their latent attitudes
  3. Small-groups approach - Lewis
    1. Base - Experimental psychology moving toward social psychology
    2. Propositions
      1. Pressure to communicate within a group on a given topic increase with the discrepancy within the group, the cohesiveness of the group, and the relevance of the issue to group moral
      2. Pressure to communicate to a giving individual within a group decreases to the extent the member is not wanted in the group
  4. Experimental approach - Hovland
    1. Base - Experimental psychology moving toward social psychology
    2. Propositions:
      1. One-sided communications are more effective with those initially favoring the position taken; both-sided communication are more effective with those initially opposed
      2. Recall of factual material fades with time, but initial opinion changes are strengthened, especially when in line with prevailing group attitude (sleeper effect).
  • 6 minor approaches to communication research
  1. The reformist approach: represented by the Commission on the Freedom of the Press; concerned with organization, structure and control of the mass media, and particularly with considerations of public policy.
  2. The broad historical approach: represented by David Riesman and Horold Innis. Concern - “Is it science?”
  3. The journalistic approach: represented by the professional schools and such people as Casey, Nixon, Schramm, and others. Concern with control aspects of the media, characteristics of communicators and “practical” interests.
  4. The mathematical approach: represented by Shannon and Weaver
  5. The psycho-linguistic approach: represented by  Osgood and Miller
  6. The psychiatric approach: represented by Ruesch and Bateson
  • The last three define communication differently and lead to different problems
  • Researchers greatly expanded the field of communication but many researchers have either died, left the field to explore other fields or are no longer teaching
  • Future major points of focus include:  Combinations, Comparative studies, Economic analysis, Socio-historical analysis, Popular culture, “Mass” communication, Practical affairs
62. The State of Communication Research: Comments from Public Opinion Quarterly (1959) by Wilbur Schramm, David Riesman, and Raymond Bauer
Schramm focuses on a more pessimistic approach to the future of Communications research. He describes the founding communication approaches (448):
  • The political approach represented by Lasswell
  • The sample survey approach represented by Lazarsfeld
  • The small-groups approach, represented by Lewin
  • And the experimental approach, represented by Hovland.
  • Schramms argues these approaches are “playing out” and the outlook is dark for communications research.
  • However, communications research has helped make a bridge between the professional teachings of journalism and political science and ancient intellectual strengths of the university.
Reisman offers are more humane vision of what communications research could be (446):
  • He argues that work in the field of communications is inviting because of its very ambiguity and lack of structure. There is room for people with an interest in literature, social sciences, economics and aesthetics (449).
  • Reisman also asks if mass media is creating a homogenous national culture.
Bauer developed the notion of “social indicators” to supplement the more traditional and economically oriented view of what statistical measures are important in social research.
  • Argues that early approaches carried with them necessary over-simplications which have become clear because the approaches were pushed to the point where they exposed their own limitations (453).
  • A shift now to primary concern with the substance of the problems with less commitment to a particular device of investigation (453).
  • Communications shaping attitudes and behavior.
63. What Is Mass Communication? from Mass Communication: A Sociological Perspective (1959) by Charles R. Wright
Wright discusses audience, experience, and institutional mode of production as a means of defining what mass communication is.
  • “Mass Communication as it is used in this Study is not simply a synonym for communication by means of radio, television, or any other modern technique. Although modern technology is essential to the process, its presence does not always signify mass communication (455).”
  • The audience should satisfy three requirements to be considered mass communication:
    • Large: Somewhat a subjective term, and may be difficult to justify what is considered “large”
    • Heterogeneous: “…occupying a variety of positions within society (455)”
    • Anonymous: Recipient ultimately remains unknown to the communicator
  • The experience for a receptor could be portrayed as transient, rapid, and public
  • The communicator is usually a large complex organization
  • Technology has driven this new form of human interaction—mass communication
64. Social Theory and Mass Media from Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science (1961) by Thelma McCormack
This article is Thelma McCormack’s attempt at offering a functional theory of the mass media, and to suggest new criteria (not taken from other disciplines or from the technology of the media) for evaluating the media which emerge from it.  She analyzes the present stage of communications research, the contributions of Marx and Freud, and then offers her hypothesis.
Present stage of comm. research
  • The major challenge to social theory in the field of communications lies in healing the breach between the disciplines of communications studies and urban studies.  These two bodies of knowledge are inextricably related. (p. 457)
  • Discussions of urban life present a picture of interpersonal relations in marked contrast.  Face-to-face relationships are disappearing.  Traditional communication is perceived as an “art” or a discipline to be learned.  (p. 458)
  • Mass urban society, then, is secular society; and it reveals itself most typically in the erosion and deterioration of the informal face-to-face relationship (p. 458).
Marx and Freud
  • Ideas are reflections of social systems.  Knowledge, according to this view, is not autonomous, outside of culture, but socially determined.  To be fully understood it must be examined…as a mirror of the aspirations and anxieties of people living in a given social structure (p. 459).
  • Freud: Attitudes are only terminal extensions of a deeper personality organization which seeks to preserve itself. Our approach to experience, then is selective:  we take from it only those parts which nourish and protect the self…Therefore, propaganda or informational material which “threaten” an individual’s self-image are ultimately ineffective. (p. 461)
  • Mass media as a social institution:  First, some form of media consumption is almost universal in modern societies, second, the media outlive their audiences.  Third, the primary functions of the mass media are socialization and social control. (p. 462)
  • The mass media are a temporary substitute for other institutions—institutions which have, for one reason or another, declined but can be made once again to function properly.  (p. 463)
  • Society is moving towards a trend of segmentation and fragmentation, the unique function of the mass media is to provide both to the individual and to society a coherence, a synthesis of experience…The supreme test of the mass media…is how well it provides an integration of experience. (p. 463)
  • Hypothesis: mass media are a social institution created by the demands, social and psychological, in a secular society, demands for an awareness of the connections in modern experience and our involvement in them. (p. 463)
  • The real problem for both theory and research is not impersonalized but depersonalized relationships. (p. 463)
65. Television and the Public Interest (1961) by Newton Minow
This selection was Minow’s first public address given after becoming the chairman for the Federal Communications Commission under JFK’s administration.
  • New FCC chairman is worried about the industry’s lack of responsibility in regards to public interest
  • Public interest = not what interests the public, but rather what is best for the public (industry responsibility is needed)
  • A majority of TV programming is a “vast wasteland” (p. 467)
    • Children spend as much time watching TV as in the classroom
    • People are likely to choose to watch entertainment (the wasteland), but the industry has a responsibility to provide a healthy programming diet (public interest)
  • Sponsors should know that buying a share in this industry means “buying a share in public responsibility” (p. 469)
  • Worried about how other countries would view the U.S. based on what they seen on American TV programming
  • “Television has grown faster than a teenager, and now it is time to grow up” (p. 471)
66. The Kennedy Assassination and the Nature of Political Commitment from The Kennedy Assassination and the American Public (1965) by Sidney Verba
This selection uses JFK’s assassination and the public’s reaction to it as a basis for analyzing American’s commitment to politics.
  • Historically, a king’s story showed human drama and the king himself stood as a symbol of society and nation
    • Engaged people intellectually and emotionally
  • However, in the West, politics is viewed differently – leaders (presidents) seems to only be seen as secular
  • But Verba argues that Kennedy’s assassination could show a reintegration of the political system
    • Americans had seemed detached from politics; however, JFK’s assassination brought the nation together on an emotional level (all people at all levels – politicians, media, etc.)
  • American politics had/has an absence of rituals
  • The ceremonies associated with JKF’s assassination allowed Americans to come together – through shared information and emotion as shown by the media
  • This shared experience allowed Americans to recommit to the democratic system
67. TV Overseas: The U.S. Hard Sell from The Nation (1966) by Herbert Schiller
This selection is critical of American style broadcasting, which relies on commercialization and consumerism.  Schiller also posits that the commercialization of broadcasting is spreading.
  • Before TV, the US was alone in having a commercial radio broadcasting system
  • After the advent of TV, most broadcasting is done commercially
  • Consumerism must grow; to expand more, the markets needed leave the US borders
  • While other countries tried to maintain a more socially responsible broadcasting system – US advertising continued to push… and eventually was able to establish a hold in foreign markets (“spillover” from countries that allowed for this kind of broadcasting would eventually lead to it being allowed in that country… and it spread from there)
  • Attention now on space and satellites
    • Commercial beat cultural in the race to space
  • Third World countries will not be able to escape the effects of commercialism in their futures either; Western commercialism is already entering their boarders