Reflection Time!

To be honest, in week one, I didn’t really know what to expect from BCM110. In the beginning,  the thought of expressing and sharing my views publicly on WordPress freaked me out and put me off —I have always been self conscious of my work and to have it displayed for the whole world to see was pretty scary! However, now I really appreciate it. It has not only helped me to develop my own critical and analytical skills, it has also made me more confident.

The past six weeks of study have confirmed my critical thinking of the role of media in our society. I have always been quite skeptical of the media. As a young adult who likes to keep up-to-date with current and political affairs, it angers me when I am only given a restricted viewpoint. My research of the 2013 Federal Election made me realise how media ownership can have a negative impact on the core values of democracy. Such values are compromised when the media abuses its centralised power and projects its own narrow views. I like to form my own informed opinion; not be ‘spoon-fed’ an opinion. Elizabeth Hart’s reading reminded me of the importance of being cautious of the messages I read and understanding the relevance behind the creator of those messages. 

I also learnt about the ‘media effects model’ and how it invalidly claims that there is a direct link between what individuals consume from the mass media and their subsequent behaviours. While I agree that the model adopts a ‘backwards’ approach and unfairly  blames the media for anti-social behaviours; I do believe that the mass media has created a new modern culture which has shaped our behaviours and attitudes. My BCM studies further cemented this belief when I examined the relationship between the media and body image issues amongst young men and women. Kate Bowles’ reading made me more mindful of how representation (which is deliberate and conscious) in advertising can have a significant psychological impact on the audience’ understanding of what is considered ‘right’, ’real’ and ‘normal’. Similarly, Mitchell Hobbs’ reading proved to be useful in understanding the techniques employed by the media to convey messages to its audience. As a recipient of media texts myself, I am now more aware of the power behind semiotics in advertising.

Through WordPress and the Moodle Twitter feed, I have been exposed to a multi-faceted views and perspectives of my fellow BCM students on media-related issues. I have throughly enjoyed reading the blogs of other students. It was comforting knowing that other students had similar views to me. However, I have also been challenged and confronted by other viewpoints. This is good as it has encouraged me to see issues from different angles. I also really enjoyed viewing the additional material, texts and examples other students referred to in their blogs. One post I found quite interesting was Courtney Berthaly’s Is social media to blame for anti-social behaviour? blog, which considered parents’ roles in fostering their child’s social media use. I also enjoyed Deekw93’s The Image Cannot Lie blog, which taught me about the sad truth behind cage-free eggs and chickens.

In closing, my BCM110 WordPress journey has been an enjoyable and rewarding experience. I have learnt a lot and I am grateful for this opportunity!

…However, I could also have done with Ryan Gosling lending me his scarf when I was blogging 😉

kinopoisk.ru

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‘The Project’ as a Mediated Public Sphere

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The ‘public sphere’ is a metaphorical term which describes an undefined virtual space where individuals can publicly engage, interact and debate over issues of general interest with one another (McKee 2005, p.4).

The Channel Ten show, The Project is one example of a ‘public sphere’ where a broad range of social, political, economic and moral issues are discussed by the panel. Topics covered on the show include: daily news, same-sex marriage, animal cruelty, pornography, political issues etc. In fact, some of these issues  —such as Gay Rights —are not even discussed by the traditional, institutionalised media. I personally love how the panel discusses —as oppose to simply informs —these issues in an informal and casual manner with a mix of their own personal perspectives and opinions.

As opposed to your same old, yawn-worthy, old school news bulletins, The Project discusses relevant topics with a touch of entertainment and humour. As their slogan asserts, ‘It’s news done differently’. For example, the show regularly invites celebrities —such as Jared Leto, Rebel Wilson, Will Ferrell —to join the panel. However, some might criticise this approach as being too trivialised and fragmented. According to Jürgen Habermas, the ideal public sphere should:

deal only with serious issues of real importance…it should refuse to dumb down to consumers…It should only engage in rational, logical argument: not emotional or spectacular appeals. And it should be unified and homogenous, refusing the fragmentation of niche audiences and different kinds of culture (McKee 2005, p.14).

While this structure is more informal, it’s not fair to downgrade it as ‘trivial’. In fact, unlike traditional news, The Project also engages and encourages young people to join the conversation on important issues. The Project is in the top 15 shows for 13-29 year olds. This is important as the young generation is the future of our country and there must be a healthy debate amongst young people in order to stimulate new ideas and a better direction for national, as well as global affairs. Furthermore, while I believe celebrity issues are unnecessary in the public sphere, I agree with McKee and believe that such issues —as well as issues relating to entertainment and sports —are vital parts of culture (McKee 2005, p.30). As the post-modern commentators claim, ‘different groups think and communicate differently about issues and we should respect that’ (McKee 2005, p.17). 

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 6.38.19 pmThe Project directly involves its viewers to contribute to the show’s content and facilitate further debate. For example, The Project offers the public to have their say and share their thoughts on stories they have watched on the show. Public members can also offer tips for future stories and send breaking news. This demonstrates a shift in the way news is told in the 21st century. Unlike the old school days where media content was told in a more monologic manner, today we live in a dialogic media landscape, whereby the public can directly contribute to the news and in essence, dictate and direct what should be classified as ‘news’ (Bruns 2007). Furthermore, through the use of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, individuals can directly and instantaneously join the conversation from their own living rooms. 

Therefore the Project is a great example of the ‘public sphere’ as it empowers individuals to discuss, debate and formulate their own opinions on a variety of issues —this is a sign of a healthy democratic society.

Here is a clip from The Project when Ron Burgundy from Anchorman decided to share the daily news with a comedic twist:

Reference List

Articles

Bruns, Axel (2007) Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. In Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC.

Knox, D 2014, ‘Andrew Bolt to Replace Charlie Pickering on The Project’, TVTonight, 1 April, viewed 9 April 2014 < http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2014/04/andrew-bolt-to-replace-charlie-pickering-on-the-project.html

McKee, A, 2005, ‘Introduction: the public sphere : an introduction’ in Public Sphere: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp1-31.

The Project 2014, Your Say, Tenplay, viewed 9 April 2014 < http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/your-say>

Video

Alvopenrescue 2010, 7pm Project Puppy Farming, video, YouTube, 21 September, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwmDBl9LE6o

Australian TV Fan 2013, Election Project Channel 10 Highlights, video, YouTube, 7 September, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVTjUl3PSno>

Bianca Walker 2013, Rebel Wilson on The Project, video, YouTube, 18 February, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-MWSO_-4Yk

BunyipBlue1 2010, Gay Marriage Debate in Australia, video, YouTube, 16 November, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbYk1TTyORA>

James DeWeaver 2014, Jared Leto ‘It’s all Good’ LIVE Australian Tv Interview FULL 27-3-2014, video, YouTube, 27 March, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEuTj523uCo

RoveOnlineClips 2012, Will Ferrell Interview on The Project (2012) -The Campaign (Plus PM Julia Gillard), video, YouTube, 7 August, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9VAOYiMlyM

The Project 2014, Porn Addiction, video, 9 April, viewed 9 April 2014 < http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/extra/season-5/porn-addiction>. 

WAWProductionsAU 2013, Ron Burgundy Vs. Ray Martin (The Project, 25/11/13), video, YouTube, 25 November, viewed 9 April 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_wED8BW6NQ>

Welcome to the Age of Murdochracy

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Media organisations are among the most powerful social, economic and political weapons on Earth. They have the ability to influence and control public on matters across the spectrum. However, such pursuits prove to be more dangerous when that consolidated power is only shared by the top few media proprietors. The centralisation of media ownership threatens freedom of expression and limits a diverse public discussion on relevant issues. As Elizabeth Hart claims, it damages ‘the quality and depth of national and international media’ (Hart 2011, p.400). This clearly reflects the current age of Murdochracy, with giant media mogul, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited controlling 70 percent of metropolitan newspapers and 23 percent of the regional dailies (Hart 2011, p.406). In certain cities, such as Brisbane, the only newspaper available to residents is Murdoch owned. Given Mr. Murdoch’s vast hold on the newspapers, his moods and beliefs prove to be a ‘game-changer’ in Australian politics.

Rupert Murdoch arguably shaped the direction of the 2013 Australian federal elections through his continuous character assassinations of then Labor leaders, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. While Murdoch supported Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election, the 2013 election was all about Tony Abbott. Thus Murdoch used his newspapers as a platform to express his own Anti-Rudd opinion. For example, throughout the campaign, The Daily Telegraph’s front-page aggressively slashed Kevin Rudd and the ALP. On the first day of the campaign, The Daily Telegraph’s headline bluntly held ‘KICK THE MOB OUT’. A few days later, the front page actually compared Kevin Rudd to a Nazi. It was clear that majority of the newspapers were against Rudd. Media Watch reported that in the first week of the election campaign, half of The Daily Telegraph’s political stories were anti-Labor, while none were against the Coalition. In the following weeks, 59 were anti-Labor; four were anti-Coalition; three stories were pro-Labor; and 19 were pro the Coalition. These stories were clearly personal attacks against Rudd himself, not the policies or performance of the actual government.

Seems hard to believe? Check out the the front pages of these newspapers:

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In response to such limited coverage, GetUp!, an independent online activist group, launched a campaign against Rupert Murdoch, which essentially claimed that Australians could choose their own government. GetUp! even created an advertisement, which was banned from airing on Australia’s major commercial TV networks. Click here for more information.

Elizabeth Hart claims that ‘whoever owns the media, owns the message’ (Hart 2011, p.402). Therefore, it does matter who owns and controls the media because the projected narrow message can have a profound impact on the way in which individuals form their own views. In the age of Murdochracy, it is arguably more difficult for individuals to form their own opinions. Perhaps our opinions are an extension of Rupert Murdoch? Nevertheless, the example of the 2013 Election campaign demonstrates the way in which media ownership goes against the principles of democracy. However, despite such concerns, Australians can still resort to social media —i.e. GetUp!— to express their opinions. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are great spaces for individuals to share and receive a variety of different viewpoints. Therefore, it is still possible to have an open and rich discussion on political affairs.

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Reference List

Articles/Online Sources

GetUp! 2013, Get this ad on the air, GetUp! Organisation, viewed 28 March 2014, <https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/media/murdochs-election-campaign/get-this-ad-on-the-air>

GetUp! 2013, Why we were banned, GetUp! Organisation, viewed 28 March 2014, < https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/media/murdoch-ad-update/why-we-were-banned

Hart, E 2011, ‘Case study 6: media ownership’, in J Bainbridge, N Goc & L Tynan (eds.), Media and Journalism : New Approaches to Theory and Practice, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria, pp400-408.

Lallo, M 2013, ‘Anti-Murdoch ad banned from television’, The Age, 3 September, viewed 28 March 2014, < http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/antimurdoch-ad-banned-from-television-20130903-2t37c.html

McKnight, D 2013, ‘Rupert Murdoch and his influence on Australian political life’, The Guardian, 7 August, viewed 28 March 2014, < http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/07/rupert-murdoch-australian-election-2013>

Media Watch 2013, Rupert Tweets, The Tele Repeats, ABC, viewed 28 March 2014, < http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3834127.htm>.

Taylor, A 2013, ‘Rupert Murdoch Got What He Wanted In The Australian Election’, Business Insider Australia, 8 September, viewed 28 March 2014, < http://www.businessinsider.com.au/rupert-murdoch-got-what-he-aimed-for-with-the-australian-election-2013-9>

Video

Getupaustralia 2013, Thanks Rupert Murdoch, but Australians can choose their own government, video, YouTube, 27 August, viewed 28 March 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grqp-JQMFuM

MWVideo AU 2013, Rupert Tweets, The Tele Repeats, video, YouTube, 26 August, viewed 28 March 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5q7ZwV2kZE

Skins Sportswear: Racism At Its Finest?

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The Australian sportswear company, Skins Sportwear has a history of bold and controversial advertising which has led to litigation in the past. However nothing would beat their 2008 controversial 45-second “Beyond Reason” commercial, which scored numerous headlines deeming it as racist, inflammatory and needlessly provocative.

The “Beyond Reason” commercial for Skins denotes African-American athletes training and competing in athletics, sports and fitness. The visuals are accompanied by a voiceover which reflects the views of African-American athletes who claim that Black men and women are better athletes because they are genetically stronger and tougher and thus have natural prowess. What does this connote? The company controversially uses this as a supposedly compelling reason to buy and wear their Skins -Why? Because if you want to compete with the superior Black athletes, then you must wear the Skins product.

“We’re faster, we got more skill, got the stamina. Superior athletes. You know when it comes to the physicality of a sport, the African Americans have the advantage. It just comes naturally to us. You got to look at our ancestry. We were born warriors. Natural instinct. It’s like a killer mentality. If you look at the way a black male is built, more muscle, stronger, If you want to be like us….”

As you can imagine, this commercial was received with great backlash and generated outrage across the internet. Beneath the surface of the commercial, it clearly challenges the idea of egalitarianism -are we not all equal? Is it not possible for us to fulfil all our dreams regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, class etc? Surely it is. I also think that this commercial could  potentially send the wrong message to young non-African American children who are aspiring athletes. These concerns reflect Mitchell Hobbs’ assertion that ‘rather than seeing the truth behind a sign, we only see the myth connoted by the image’ (Hobbs, 91). Here, there are two myths: firstly, African-American athletes have an athletic advantage due to their genetics; and secondly, you must wear Skins to overcome your disadvantage. Furthermore,  it is important to note that the social and political context  in which we live today, has influenced the response that this advertisement is racist.  Jacques Derrida argues that ‘signs, as units of meaning within a language, are defined by the ontological values of a particular community of language users…’ (Hobbs 2012, p.92). Thus this text should be understood through the subjective values and beliefs embedded in our language (Hobbs 2012, p.92).

 While the commercial was not aired in America and England, it definitely got the people talking. Managing director Anthony Gregorio admitted that such a provocative text was part of the marketing strategy as it gained so much public relations coverage. Thus while it may not have been deemed in a positive light, the “Beyond Reason” commercial succeeded with being under the spotlight.

What do you guys think about this commercial?

 

Reference List

Article

Hobbs, M, 2012, ‘Semiotics: making meaning from signs’, in T Chalkley, A Brown, T Cinque, B Warren, M Hobbs & M Finn, (eds.), Communication, New Media and Everyday Life, Oxford University Press,  South Melbourne, Victoria, pp83-96.

Online

Australian Identity Forums 2008, ‘Racist Sportswear Brand Says Black People Superior’, viewed 15 March 2014, < http://australianidentity.net/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=239

Lee, J 2008, ‘Racist Charge on Sportswear Campaign’, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March, viewed 15 March 2014, < http://www.smh.com.au/business/racist-charge-on-sportswear-campaign-20080312-1z0u.html>

Video

John Davidson 2008, Skins Sportswear Ad, video, YouTube, 12 March, viewed 15 March, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeUCEzMXov4>. 

Who’s to Blame? The Media?

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The mass media has become a significant and permanent force in our society. Indeed, it has created a new modern culture as it not only promotes products, but it also influences moods, behaviours and attitudes. However the effects of the media have generally been viewed in a negative light as the media is usually blamed for anything that appears to be unhealthy in our society.

One criticism has been that the media has created a more violent and anti-social society (Gauntlett, 1998). While I agree that children and adolescents are easier targets, I do not agree that the media can entirely be blamed for such behaviours. The media appears to be an easy target for such violent acts, when in fact, there are other factors which can also be attributed to the negative behaviours. This was exhibited through the 1999 Columbine school massacre where majority of the blame was attributed to Marilyn Manson and his ‘dark music’ for the shootings. Sensationalised headlines such as ‘KILLERS WORSHIPPED ROCK FREAK MANSON’ circled the globe. The more obvious and contributing factors -i.e the loosely implemented American gun laws; the poor dysfunctional family backgrounds of the killers; the mental state of the killers -were ignored. This incident exemplifies Gauntlett (1998)’s criticism of the way in which the ‘media effects’ approach works ‘backwards’ and fails to look at individuals rather than society.

‘The ‘media effects’ approach…[starts] with the media and then [tries] to lasso connections from there on to social beings…’ (Gauntlett, 1998).

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However, in certain situations, the media has had a profound effect on individuals. This is particularly evident amongst young girls and their insecurities in relation to body image. Whether it be magazines, billboards or the barbie doll, women are constantly confronted with images of thin ‘perfect’ -and usually photoshopped -bodies which are defined as ‘beautiful’ and ‘desirable’. A study conducted in America indicated that 80% of women felt insecure after seeing images of women on the television, while two-thirds of women were influenced by underweight models in magazines. See this visual diagram for more statistics (source: http://www.raderprograms.com/causes-statistics/media-eating-disorders.html). Considering such alarming statistics, it is clear that the media has a responsibility to change the way in which women are portrayed.

Thankfully, certain companies are beginning to promote are healthier body image. My favourite example is the Dove campaign:

Despite such observations, in my opinion, the media’s portrayal and promotion of images is a mirror of society as well, and not merely an initiator. The media feeds the hungry. Thus, before we can criticise the media, we must also consider the culture we have created. Perhaps we are equally accountable for what the media feeds us.

 

Reference List

Online

Gauntlett, D 1998,Ten things wrong with the media ‘effects’ model’, theory.org.uk, viewed 13 March 2014, <http://www.theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm&gt;.

O’Hagan, S 2000, ‘The Fall Guy’, The Guardian, 4 November, viewed 14 March 2014, < http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/nov/04/weekend7.weekend1

Video

Doveunitedstates, 2012, For Real Women, By Real Women – Show Us Your Skin, video, YouTube, 10 April, viewed 14 March 2014  <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsnEkTvq0-c>.

Tim Piper, 2006, Dove Evolution, video, YouTube, 6 October, viewed 14 March 2014 < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U#aid=P8OgBDT5VvQ>. 

 

 

Introduction

Hello everyone! My name is Jyotsna (pronounced Jos-na) however most people know me as Jos. I am in my third year of studies in Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Media Communications double degree.

I’m not exactly sure with what I would like to do once I graduate however I am interested in law reform. I am passionate about many issues, particularly in relation to education, gender and marriage equality, human rights and animal rights. I am also fascinated by the powerful role of the media in our society. As Jess C.Scott puts it, ‘people are sheep. TV is the shepherd’. Sometimes I question whether this society is really real or is it simply a construction of the media? Are we merely dolls in the mass media’s doll house?

 Anyway, back to my introduction to you all, here is a list of random facts about me:

  • I have two cute budgies -Daisy and Timmy. I love them very much and i’d like to think that their attempts of biting me is a form of their love…no?

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  • I start and end my day with green tea. Yes, I am addicted.
  • My favourite band is Coldplay. I also love The Temper Trap, Muse, Green Day, the Chilli Peppers, Lanie Lane, Missy Higgins, Imagine Dragons, The Rubens, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars.
  • My favourite book is Yellow Star -Yes it is a book about the Holocaust. I love history and I really enjoy reading historical novels based particularly during the era of World War I and World War II.
  • My favourite show is Offspring -although (for those who watch the show), I’m still struggling to deal with Patrick’s death! 😦
  • I love winter fashion -coats and boots all the way!
  • I struggle to sit and watch movies that are longer than 90 minutes.
  • I love cricket -I am Indian after all. My favourite cricketer would have to be the South African bowler, Dale Steyn! Am I the only one who thinks he looks like Daniel Craig!?

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  • I wish to go on exchange to Germany next year. Ich kann auch Deutsch sprechen. Just for laughs, this meme should summarise the German language for you all:

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  • I love Thai food nomnomnom.
  • I love baking! I’m a little Masterchef at home.
  • I have a crush on Tony Jones.
  • My favorite comedians would have to be Carl Barron and Russell Peters.

Anyway, i’m looking forward to meeting my fellow BCM students this semester. I’m pretty excited for university this year -I have a feeling it will be a good one 🙂