Weapons Of Mass Consumption

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The mass media is a force of grate power, as he who controls the flow of information, controls the extent of knowledge. So when it comes to the control and ownership of the media magnitude can be a dangerous thing. Yet, even with knowledge of this danger being well known, Australia’s distribution of media ownership is one of the most concentrated and disproportionate in the world.

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Australia’s media ownership is so heavily concentrated that there are only really to major corporations in control of news media, News Corp and Fairfax. Together they own 11 out of the 12 capital city daily papers. News Corporation, controlled by the Murdoch family own: 25% of Foxtel, 70% of the metropolitan daily news market as well as a stake in channel 10. Fairfax control: 21% of the metropolitan daily news market, several magazines, such as Business Review Weekly, and the radio station 2UE. These are just a few examples of the extent of their empires. (source: Media Ownership and Regulation in Australia’, Rob Harding-Smith)

So what does this magnitude of concentration mean to us? Why does it matter who controls the media?

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The answer to this stems from the concept of Ideology. Ideology is a system of ideas or beliefs. It represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.  With Australia’s media being owned primarily by the Murdoch family, there is no doubt they have an influence over the ideology of everyday Australian’s, as they control what information we are exposed to. Filtering of information prevents us from forming individual opinions as we are unable to see the full picture. This grants the Murdoch family the power to influence public opinion and even elected governments. Diversity of media concentration prevents this from happening as this gives consumers exposure to many different viewpoints and interpretations allowing them to form their own system of beliefs. If all news is based on opinion it does not give audiences the facts to decide things for themselves.

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One of the best examples of just how strong the medias influence over peoples beliefs is the story of Orson Welles’ 1938 theatrical radio narration of  ‘The War of the Worlds‘. The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated news bulletins and as a result some listeners, took it to be actual news. There were several accounts of widespread panic over the belief that an actual alien invasion was taking place. This story, as crazy as it sounds, just goes to show that people often base their beliefs on what they here and see on the news. So it can be said that news has a substantial impact ideology. This is why ‘who controls the media’ is a matter of unprecedented importance.

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All Your Property Is Belong To Me

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We live in an age where copy right acts have gone beyond the point of no return and with the internet freely allowing us to copy at will, it has become increasingly difficult for every day people to know where to draw the line when it comes to the use of other peoples intellectual property. Copy right is very important and highly necessary don’t get me wrong, without it no ones ideas, creations or property would be safe, but has copy right gone too far? To what extent should the Digital Rights Management (DRM) have control over what we as consumers and prosumers are allowed to have access to and or manipulate?

So basically DRM is any form access of control technology that inhibits uses of digital content that are not desired or intended by the content providers.  Sounds simple enough right? The problem is though, it isn’t.  The aim of DRM is to protect the sellers of digital content and give them continued creative control. However in today’s digital  world it is hard to specify what digital content can and can’t be controlled. As a result we as consumers suffer from these restrictions and are at times completely dumbfounded by the ridiculous nature of the bans we are subject to.  Did you know it’s illegal to sing Happy Birthday in a public or commercial context due to Copyright laws?

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Almost everything is protected under copy right and it is almost impossible not to be considered a criminal in today’s digital society. Every time you watch a video on Youtube you are most likely infringing on some form of copyright. That music playing in the background, do they have permission to use that?, that hilarious Lord of the Rings parody you just watched, was it officially approved? Every time you surf the net you are quite literally downloading digital data that you did not create.

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What this means for society is a block on creativity and innovation. How are people supposed to expand on an idea if they can’t even use an existing one without being sued for stealing intellectual property. Now days almost everything has been done before so the idea of coming up with something entirely new is unfathomable. This causes us to take a step backwards from innovative growth.

In 2011 the  American Entertainment Consumers Association attempted to prevent a change to current copyright law that would include not just the unauthorised distribution and replication of copyrighted works (like pirated games and bootlegged movies), but also “public performances by electronic means.” ECA said in its statement. “We don’t need this draconian measure that’d make criminals out of millions of Americans who just want to share their enjoyment of their favorite entertainment.” That is the problem with DRM, the extent of it’s restrictions can extend to a point where suddenly people aren’t allowed to do simple un-harmful things like upload a cover of a song or a review/walkthrough of a video game.  Only recently EA was under scrutiny for its Sim City fiasco, in which they refused to let players (who had legally purchased the game) to play offline or even save their game files on their own computer, claiming that although they purchased and therefore ‘own’ a copy of the game, the game in no way actually ‘belongs’ to them and everything created within the game was in fact the ‘property’ of EA games itself.

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Copyright laws can be ridiculous, that is where Creative Commons come in. CC’s allow creators to specify how and to what extent their creations can be used. Are CC’s a shining beacon for the future of copyright laws? perhaps, but they are still not without fault. Not many things fall into the creative commons category due to the fact that is a rather difficult process to actually sit and specify the limits of your digital product use. So what does the future Of Copyright legislation have in store for us? who knows? but I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where absurd bureaucratic protocols stifle my rights as a consumer left, right and center.

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Pepsi CAN-troversy

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In 2011 Pepsi Co Inc found themselves in hot cola, with the strategic release of their new ‘skinny’ diet can at the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week. Considering Diet Pepsi is a brand with major market awareness and a core product that is practically unchangeable, it is easy to understand why they would turn an image overhaul to refresh their branding. This new image, however, was not received well, due to the fact that some felt the whole ‘Skinny’ approach reinforced dangerous stereotypes about women and body image.

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It wasn’t so much the can itself that raised the controversy but rather the Marketing behind it. The fact that they called it a ‘Skinny’ can is what raised the most eyebrows. I wonder would people of reacted the same had they called it a sleek can?

Off course the tag line that went along with the cans release (Get The Skinny) didn’t help much either. By using this slogan and by releasing the can at New York fashion Week, along with several campaigns by famous models and designers Charlotte Ronson and Betsey Johnson, Pepsi gave a strong interpretation that ‘skinny’ was beautiful and fashionable. Suddenly we saw images of thin, glamorous (and anorexic) models endorsing the product, subsequently they were also endorsing the idea that skinny = glamorous.

Because we all know you have to be 'Tall' and 'Skinny' to be 'Runway Ready'

Because we all know you have to be ‘Tall’ and ‘Skinny’ to be ‘Runway Ready’

Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo made a statement, “Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks”.  Did the chief marketing officer for Pepsi just compare “slim” to “attractive” and “stylish”?

Pepsi claimed that the “taller, sassier can” was made in “celebration of beautiful, confident women”,   The National Eating Disorders Association on the other hand claimed they took offense to the can and said the company’s comments were both “thoughtless and irresponsible.”

Why can't I look that skinny?

Why can’t I look that skinny?

In my opinion, Pepsi was not trying to reinforce the stereo type that ‘being skinny is better’ but rather introduce the idea that ‘drinking diet Pepsi makes you thinner’ because at the end of the day they were trying to sell Pepsi’s and what better way to sell more Pepsi than to market it to women who are concerned with body image and want to maintain weight.

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This whole fiasco is a perfect example of how branding and advertising act as a sign in terms of denotation and connotation. Pepsi aimed to denote one thing (Pepsi is fashionable) and instead connoted another (skinnier is better). This is because different people have different ideologies and therefore read things in various ways. Pepsi simply released a thinner can and from that people came to the conclusion that ‘Skinny’ was Beautiful due to the connotations the slim can created.

Sources : Article by Sarah Skidmore  Blog by Abe Sauer

The Effects Of Convergence

After attending my second lecture for BCM112, it became apparent to me that Media is a dynamic that is constantly changing and developing ,always moving forward into a new improved era of convergence. But that to most people is obvious, as new technologies are always going to mean newer platforms and mediums of communication. The interesting thing about this is not the change from old to new media itself, but rather the way in which this change in convergence effects media industries, technologies and audience. Theses three aspects of media are connected by and therefore heavily impacted by convergence. A small change in one has a major impact on the others.

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When technologies are improved, new ways of communication are created and become more accessible. With this level of accessibility audiences are suddenly  becoming more more involved with media, they are no longer just passively listening or watching it, they are actively creating it. This change in turn affects industries as now there are issues with the flow of content across multiple channels. Audiences are inundated with a plenitude of entertainment options and no longer look to industries to cater to their needs. Eventually this cycle of change returns back to technology as people then start to change the use of these technologies in a way that was not originally intended by the industries that created it.

In order to give a better example of this chain of effects I look to my chosen convergence platform GamesSpot to justify what I’m taking about. Games are an entertainment form that are created by industries with an intended purpose; to be played right,  however forums such as GamesSpot, give audiences a chance to go beyond just playing the Game. They use this emerging technology (the forum) as a continuation of the game. The forum allows people to discuss game concepts, share their own interpretations of a game and imagine new alternative story lines and endings. Game forums even create a way for people who have modified the game in some way to share that modification and let other people play it. This effects the gaming industry as now countless versions of their games exist and are being played all over the world. As well as this, forums effect how a game is played in the sense that an abundance of information is readily available about the game. People no longer have to figure things out for themselves or solve puzzles, as the answers are provided for them or cheat codes are available.

http://au.gamespot.com/downloads.html?dlx_type=mods

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To Be Or Not To Be I’ll Ask The TV

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We all know that the media plays a major role in influencing our everyday lives, from the clothes we wear, to the places we go, even down to the people we vote for. (I mean if this was not the case than advertising wouldn’t even exist), But to what extent does Media play a role in shaping who we are as individuals? and at what point do we seriously stop blaming people for their own actions and start passing blame onto the media for its influence and or ‘control’ over those individuals?

In today’s world there are some who perceive the media to be a medium of unethical mass control and domination, this grim perception of the media is created by the concepts of The Media Effects model and The Cultivation Theory. These concepts suggest that mass media has a powerful and direct effect on audience behaviour and that prolonged exposure to negative media results in high levels of desensitisation.

What’s wrong with this idea is that it is often miss interpreted, misguided or one sided and almost always forgets to take context into account. Take The Columbine Massacre for example; It was almost too easy for News outlets everywhere to focus the blame for the entire event on violent music and video games for the sake of a good story.  As David Gauntlett states in his article ‘Ten Things Wrong With The Effects Model’ “The Effects Model tackles social problems backwards”, This was case with Columbine, as while the media was blaming violent games and heavy music for the massacre, they weren’t asking questions they should have been from the start such as; what sort of social environment were the killers brought up in? and what mental state were they in at the time of the killings?

The idea that violent video games lead to real life acts of violence is a very one sided opinion that disregards the idea of context. While it’s true these games do desensitise people from violence, the violence is set within a fictional context and does necessarily mean the people who play them are desensitised in real life. Yes, the columbine killers played Doom, and yes they committed  terrible acts of violence, but what the News does not take into account is that thousands of people play Doom every day and have never even committed a single crime. That is the problem with the Media effects Model, it only takes into account part of the story and not the full picture, therefore resulting in a misguided or one sided point of view.

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Context Is almost always disregarded

Context Is almost always  disregarded

Who Am I Again?

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Hello everyone and welcome to my blog,especially my fellow students of both BCM 110 and BCM 112.

So, who am I might you ask?… no you didn’t ask?, well that’s too bad because I am going to tell you anyway. My name is Katie Berton and I am a 19 year girl from South West Sydney, studying communications and media studies; much like some of yourselves.

I think I can safely say that my greatest passion in life (besides Video games of course, oh and lets not forget Star Wars) would have to be communications. I am probably one of the only people on the planet who actually enjoys watching adds. The funny ones, the horrible ones, the poorly acted ones, even those classic shouting adds, you name it, I love it. As you may have figured out by now my intended major for this Media and Communications course is Advertising. My life ambition is to one day be an Advertising account executive for some fancy agency in the city somewhere, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t really mind which avenue of communications I venture along, as all aspects of the media interest and excite me.

So, what more can I tell you about myself?, hmmm lets see. Well I am a self proclaimed nerd, I love all things sci-fi and I practically live on my computer. I adore video games and worship the works of Tarantino. I quite literally intend on seeing every zombie movie existence and I am an adamant follower and firm believer of conspiracy theories. Musically I consider myself to be very diverse, however I always find myself returning to the genres of punk, grunge, alternative, metal, hardcore and synthpunk. My favourite artists include: The Distillers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bloc Party, Crystal Castles, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, Hole and System of a Down.

Well That’s enough about me for the moment. I’m sure you have other very important things to be doing and I have some immensely important Games to be playing

Thank you for listening

Katie Out.