That’s All Folks!

Well well! It’s been 6 weeks since i had my panic attack from having absolutely no idea of how to write a blog! What a monumental moment! But hey – look at me now. During this time i’ve been inclined to excavate the ‘inner-workings’ of my mind on topics that i had never even considered before i took this subject. So let’s revise!

BCM110 has undoubtedly made this an interesting ride. From week 2 we absorbed the concept of “television makes you fat” and what the media is currently being blamed for within society. Through this we recognized that audiences are portrayed as gullible victims and individuals who are easily influenced. But is media the only factor contributing to ‘why our child is fat? Why are they violent? Why are they an introvert?’ etc. We concluded this with a big fat NO.
Week 3 introduced me to ‘The Image cannot lie’ and the affects of semiotics on the denotation of an image. Translating a sign, or signifier, to it’s literal meaning. Here, I learnt that all images are representations and their relationship with what they represent is arbitrary. Ideologies also came into play with the conclusion that an individual’s interpretation of a media text arises from their own ideological position.
To continue, lecture 4 highlighted the controversial debate of media ownership and sparked the question, does it really matter who owns the media? Personally, i found this topic the most interesting purely because it was something i was completely unaware of beforehand and now it’s a topic i bring up with friends and family. I am now mindful that diversity in media ownership is declining, increasing bias as well as the legacy of the Frankfurt School which displayed the cultural and critical research into the role of the media and what is wrong with society in regards to media.
The mediated public sphere was the topic of week 5. This concept was probably the most difficult for me to grasp but let’s see how i go. The public sphere is perceived by McKee to be a metaphor of how individual human beings come together to exchange information and opinions about what matters to them in society. The mediate public sphere can be witnessed within a majority of mass media and has also been scrutinized for being too trivialized, too commercialized, too fragmented, too apathetic and relies too much on spectacle.

And now we’re here in week 6 and the topic we are faced with is media issues as well as the concept of moral panic which can be evidently seen when considering today’s youth. A case of moral panic in children is exhibited through the 10 year old model Thylane Blondeu who appeared in a 2011 issue of French Vogue. The cause for concern was exhibited by her sultry poses and looks ‘beyonImaged her years’, all while being dressed in unsteady high-heels, a deep v-neck dress showcasing her ‘cleavage’ and full-blown makeup. So is this considered child exploitation? Some individual’s don’t consider this to be a problem. That she is simply doing a job. While others are disgusted by the excessive sexualisation of this young girl. The opinions of Liz Lockhart state, “The Vogue spread is entitled ‘Cadeaux’ – the French word for gift. What a gift these pictures are for perverts and paedophiles“.
So is this just illustrating ‘fashion’? Is it really just a case of art? Chloe Angyal suggests not. “This isn’t edgy. It’s inappropriate, and creepy, and I never want to see a 10-year-old girl in high-heeled leopard print bedroom slippers ever again“.
It is also important to address not only how it affects Thylane herself but also how it affects the children like her. The messages it is sending to them. Shari Miles-Cohen of the American Psychological Association (APA) states, “We don’t want kids to grow up too fast…We want them to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age”. Further experts from the APA suggest,  “Sexualized images can have lasting effects on the young girls who see them.. It can affect how girls think about femininity and sexuality, promoting ‘appearance and physical attractiveness’ as key values. It’s also linked to low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression”

In conclusion, I’ve ended surprising myself with how much I’ve enjoyed pondering topics and learning from my peers and academics each week. Who knew an assessment could be so fun haha.
That’s a wrap!!

Hannah.

References:
– Turnbull, S 2014, BCM110 Lecture Slides 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, University of Wollongong

– Johanson, M 2011, ’10-Year-Old Vogue Model Sparkes Controversy With Sexualised Photo Spread’, ibttimes.com, viewed 13/04/14, < http://www.ibtimes.com/10-year-old-vogue-model-sparks-controversy-sexualized-photo-spread-824691 >

– Lockhart, L 2011, ‘Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau Vogue Images Labelled ‘Obscene’ by Mental Health Advocates’, mentalhealthy.co.uk, viewed 13/04/14, < http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/news/712-thylane-lena-rose-blondeau-vogue-images-labelled-‘obscene’-by-mental-health-advocates.html >

– Moisse, K 2011, ’10-Year-Old Model’s Grown-Up Look: High Fashion or High Risk?’ abcnews.go.com, viewed 13/04/14, < http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_MindBodyResource/10-year-models-grown-high-fashion-high-risk/story?id=14221160 >

– Image: viewed 14/04/14, jasperandjane.com < http://jasperandjane.com/child-model-thylane-blondeau/ >

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The Bachelor and the Public Sphere

The mediated public sphere can be deciphered as a medium to which public opinions and perspectives can be formed without any influence or force. The most common channels these opinions take place today is through media outlets such as television programs which can undeniably evoke debate and personal expression depending on the social, economic or environmental matters raised.
Allen KcKee illustrates five pivotal concepts in relation to public sphere within the beginning of the 21st century. They establish that: it is too trivialized, it is too commercialized, it relies too much on spectacle, it is too fragmented, and that it causes individuals to be too apathetic. So is it true? Now that we’ve heard these notions, can we apply it to our favourite news programs, documentaries and reality TV shows?

The Bachelor is one Australia’s ‘guilty pleasures’ but once again, this reality program falls under the critiques of the mediated public sphere in regards to ‘it relies too much on specticle’. It begins with the slow motion panoramic of a rugged, yet sensitive, man looking out over the cliff-face, pondering the meaning of love. All his life, the nice, attractive, rich man has somehow managed not to find love and so this is his last chance to make things right. So what is the logical thing to do? Hand picImagek 25 desperate women, put them all in the same house and shove numerous TV camera’s in their faces – of course!
To summarise the show, a group of attractive women compete for the attention and ‘love’ of one attractive man but is love really the reason thousands of viewers tune in every week? I say no. What really grabs our attention is the drama. The rivalries. The bold yet embarrassing attempts to win over one man. And what do you expect? A house full of women living together and all pining over the one man (that they don’t know) is just begging for a toxic environment. It can be argued that these women are not even in love with him. According to Andrew Clements, “they are just in love with the idea of love” because let’s face it, true love is hardly something that you can achieve by ‘signing up’ or ‘entering a competition’. The odds are slim, hinting at the idea that The Bachelor is also ‘too commercialized’. It is just another way to make money by taking advantage of the audience’s weakness for love and controversy, demonstrating an opportunity for personal perception and debate and, in turn, a mediated public sphere.

References:
– Lisa McLeod 2009, ‘Why I Hate The Bachelor’, huffingtonpost.com, 03/04/2014, < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-earle-mcleod/why-i-hate-the-bachelor_b_173318.html >

– Brandon Clements 2012, ‘Why I Hate The Bachelor’, brandonclements.com, 03/04/2014, < http://www.brandonclements.com/2012/02/why-i-hate-the-bachelor/#comment-583317682 >

– Cappy Writes 2013, ‘The Bachelor: Everything That Is Wrong With America’, cappywrites.com, < http://cappywrites.com/2013/01/08/the-bachelor-everything-thats-wrong-with-america/

– McKee, A 2005, ‘Introduction: the public sphere’, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 1-31, 03/04/2014, <  http://ereadings.uow.edu.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/mckeea2.pdf >

The World According to Murdoch

Media ownership. I’ll admit, I’d never really given it a second thought and until now, I’d never consider how much it impacts my daily life. But upon being asked to consider ‘Why does it matter who ‘controls’ the media’, my research led me to believe that those with more economic status and indeed, those with more financial authority, have the dominance to influence an entire nation.

It is to my understanding that media ownership has been restricted to an extremely limited number, but regardless of that number, these figures of supremacy have no difficulty monopolizing the mass media market. So does it matter who controls the media? What are the possible repercussions of such unprecedented power?  For one, we have the immoral development and increase of corporate businessmen who possess unfavourable power purely because of their financial status. For another, we have the unethical influence that these individuals obtain, resulting in a multitude of perceptions being changed or altered to fit a ‘seeming’ majority. We can also see a HUGE opportunity for bias and self-advancement.

ImageRupert Murdoch is a prime example of these consequences listed. He is famously known for owning 70% of Australia’s newspapers as well as a various amount of online newspapers. Some would argue that this amount of control is dangerous, and i would agree with them. Murdoch has been convicted numerous times of subjectivity, specifically in regards to politics. David Flicking states that “..Labor leader Rudd has been depicted as a bungling Nazi commandant, Kermit the Frog and a bank robber in Sydney’s best-selling Daily Telegraph..“, undoubtably dehumanising the politician and restricting the views of the public. Murdoch also illustrated his bias views on the front page of his ‘Daily Telegraph’, taking advantage of the first day of the election campaign with an image of Kevin Rudd with the prominent caption of “Kick This Mob Out”.
Paul Sheehan proclaims that “...Why Murdoch wants Rudd to lose the coming federal election is not merely political, it is commercial. News Corp hates the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN)...”. Murdoch sees this as a threat as a NBN would sabotage his ‘Foxtel’ TV operation due to efficient downloading of movies, music and other content.
These words emphasise a personal vendetta against Rudd that is not only unethical but unprofessional, supporting the theory that who controls the media and how that media is controlled is crucial to society.

References:
– David Fickling 2013, ‘Rudd Sees Bias as Murdoch-Owned Media Dominate Australian Readers’, bloomburg.com, 28/03/14, < http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-27/rudd-sees-bias-as-murdoch-owned-media-dominate-australia-readers.html >

– David McKnight 2013, ‘Murdoch and his influence on Australian political life’, theconversation.com, 28/03/14, < http://theconversation.com/murdoch-and-his-influence-on-australian-political-life-16752

– Paul Sheehan 2013, ‘Murdoch’s vicious attacks on Rudd: it’s business’, smh.com.au, 30/03/14 < http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/murdochs-vicious-attacks-on-rudd-its-business-20130803-2r65x.html >

– Image Source: 2013, ‘Daily Telegraph’, dailytelegraph.com.au, 30/03/14 < http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/consign-rudd-to-the-bin-of-history/story-fni0cwl5-1226691046953 >

The Downfall of Ethics

The infamous 9/11 terrorist attacks not only terrorised the city of New York, but the whole world when two hijacked planes crashed into the north and south towers of the world trade center claiming 2753 lives. It was through the lens of his camera that Richard Drew, a Veteran Associated Press photographer, took one of the most controversial photographs to date. The image of ‘The Falling Man’ undoubtedly evoked controversy globally after its publication in The New York Times. The emotions of thousands were heightened as it depicts a man free-falling from the top of the north tower to his death. However, the re-occurring question is: Did the man fall without option or jump voluntarily?
Image
Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and how they are interpreted within an image or text. It recognises how meaning is created from a subject. ‘The Falling Man’ is embodied by a range of signifier’s and denotations (physical representations), followed by an array of what is signified, which conveys the actual meaning of the subject arising from an individual’s psychological response. The denotations illustrated include his overall body expression. There is something frightening about how relaxed he looks throughout his plumet. He appears that he is in total control of how he is falling… hands by his side, left leg casually bent.. as if he has come to terms with his fate. The connotations of this however, are controversial. Was this an act of suicide? An illustration of a man’s momentary weakness? Viewers of this image declared it simply unethical to release such a graphic photo as it “…exploited a man’s death, stripped him of his dignity, invaded his privacy, turned tragedy into leering pornography…” (Junod, 2009).

The words of zmwebber propose that the signifier of the image exhibits distinct, vertical and parallel vectors represented not only by the man’s back, arms and leg but also by the World Trade Centre. It controls the viewer to look downwards and even feel like you’re falling with him, evoking a sense of confrontation and controversy. Another signifier includes the lighting of the image. The left-hand side of the man demonstrates darker-shading while the right-hand side demonstrates a juxtaposition of lighter shading from where the sun is shining. It is also on the right-hand side that the casualty is leaning over the most, helping aid the connotation of hope. “… it could also generate a deeper meaning to the possible beauty of death. It may possibly give hope to Christian beliefs that he is ‘going to a better place’…” (zmwebber, 2012)

References:
1) Tom Junod 2009, ‘The Falling Man’, esquire.com, 23/03/14, < http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0903-SEP_FALLINGMAN >
2) zmwebber 2012, ‘Documentary Photo Analysis “The Falling Man”‘, wordpress.com, 23/03/14, < http://zmwebber.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/documentary-photo-analysis-the-falling-man/ >
3) Joe Pompeo 2011, ‘Photographer behind 9/11 “Falling Man” retraces steps, recalls “unknown solider”, yahoo.com, 24/03/14, < http://news.yahoo.com/photographer-behind-9-11-falling-man-retraces-steps-recalls-unknown-soldier.html >
4) CNN Library 2013, ‘September 11 Anniversary Fast Facts’, cnn.com, 24/03/14, < http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/27/us/september-11-anniversary-fast-facts/ >
5) Image: See reference 1)

Social-Media Made Me An Introvert…

The progression of the 21st century has, without a doubt, exposed humanity to the growth and expansion of media masses. It seems as if no matter where you position yourself in today’s society, a technological glow surrounds a large portion of individual faces from gadgetry such as: televisions, mobiles and laptops. However, one of the main audiences who are stereotypically judged for the use of this technology are young teenagers. The youth of today are being continually scrutinized over their ‘excessive’ use of media via social-networking, leaving their parents apprehensive of the possible negative impacts that may arise.

Media has been exceedingly blamed for an ‘addictive’ nature and anti-social uprising in today’s youth, but can this notion be justified or is it purely a case of overprotective parenting? It is true that some adults have tendencies to be overly cautious of their kids, ‘bubble-wrapping’ them with the intention of protecting them from the ‘horrors’ of the world. Often, kids are not allowed out of the house for non-planned activities. They can’t ride their bikes around town by themselves or walk the streets of their neighbourhood for fear of the rare, media induced cases of ‘child abductors’, ‘serial murders’ and ‘superpredators’.
Danah Boyd, author of ‘It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens’ supports this idea through her research of this generation’s teenagers by interviewing them in regards to their online lives. Her notions illustrate that teenagers would rather speak to each other in person – the issue at hand however, is that their parents restrict them from doing so, leaving social-networking as one of their main outlets for socializing. One teenager even admitted that not having an account restricted his social life as he struggled to keep informed of any social activities and found it difficult to stay connected with people in general.Image

“Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They are addicted to each other” –  Danah Boyd

The thorough research of Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Centre, discovered that the most avid texters are also the teens who are most likely to spend time with friends in person. “..69% of heavy texters (100+ texts a day) talk daily on their cell phones, compared with…43% of light texters (0-20 texts a day)…”. Through this knowledge, one form of socialising does not replace the other. It compliments it. Disproving the anti-social theory.

A further question we should ask: Is media developing at a pace that is much faster than parents are able to adapt to? It is clear that adolescents and parents have differing perceptions of how to be sociable. Teenagers simply see social media as just another opportunity to participate in public life and this concerns parents purely because they have had no experience with it.

“Any new technology that captures widespread attention is likely to
provoke… full-blown panic. When the sewing machine was introduced,
there were people who feared the implications that women moving
their legs up and down would affect female sexuality. The Walkman
music player was viewed as an evil device that would encourage
people to disappear into separate worlds, unable to communicate
with one another” – Boyd (2014, p. 28)
References:
– Amanda Lenhart 2012, Teens, Smartphones and Texting, pewinternet.org, 17/03/14, < http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/03/19/teens-smartphones-texting/ >
– Clive Thompson 2013, Don’t Blame Social Media If Your Teen Is Unsocial. It’s Your Fault, wired.com, 16/03/14, < http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/12/ap_thompson-2/ >
– Maher Budeir 2013, Is Media to Blame, Or is it Just a Case of Bad Parenting?, muslimmatters.org, 16/03/14, < http://muslimmatters.org/2013/06/05/is-media-to-blame-or-is-it-just-a-case-of-bad-parenting/ >
– Dannah Boyd 2014, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, danah.org, 17/03/14, < http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf >
– Image: 2013, Teens-On-Facebook, filehippo.com, 18/03/14, < http://news.filehippo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Teens-on-Facebook-e1380137788964.jpg >