The Media and Everything In Between

complex_fluid_1Large

Well here we are half a semester into my first year of communication and media studies and the time has come reflect on the journey thus far.

So what have I learned?

A more appropriate question would be what haven’t I learned because I have already gained so much but if I had to sum it up into words, I’d say that the one quintessential thing that keeps asserting itself to the top of my thought patterns is that the media is complex.

elarleveling

By complex I mean its dynamic, its contradictory, its undefinable, its ever changing, the list goes on and on, here allow me to explain…

In week 1 I learned that the media was powerful in the sense it has an effect on almost every aspect of your life. At the same time I learned this was not true due to the issues associated with the media effects model.

true-false

In week 2 I learned that nothing in media was what it seemed and that everything within media operates as a sign in terms of denotation and connotation.

00010400

In week 3 I learned that the media was controlling as it allows dominant forces, such as the Murdoch family, filter the flow of information. On the contrary to this, I also learned that the media was liberating as it allows that the opinions, viewpoints and beliefs of people everywhere to be heard all over the world.

ctrl

In week 4 I learned the media is controversial and can lead to debate within the public sphere, however, it is also enlightening and can lead to the acceptance and or understanding of issues within this same sphere.

203PublicSphereDetail

This week I learned that while we are watching the media, the media is also watching us.

surveying-surveillance

And through looking at the blogs of my fellow students and conversing with them about their blogs, I have found that everyone interprets the media differently. We all went to the same lectures, where given the same materials and yet no two blogs are the same. Everyone has alternating perspectives when it comes to different aspects of the media.

contradictions

So you can see what I mean by complex. The media is not just entertainment or politics but everything in between and that is one thing I have learned.

the-in-between

Advertisements

Virtual Vulnerability and Traumatic Triggers

Image

In March 2012 the now released Tomb Raider was torn apart by the media when it contributed to a heated debate within the mediated public sector over the controversial use of sexual violence as a plot shaping and character developing device within the context of a video game.

Before getting into this debate, let’s take a look at what sparked the controversy in the first place. It all started during an interview with Ron Rosenberg the games executive producer. Within the interview Ron stated “We did a lot of research into survival and people who survived extreme situations”. “One of the recurring themes was that people who survived had this mantra of just keep moving, you see that in the beginning of the game.” “Then towards the end we start to really hit her, and to break her down. Her best friend is kidnapped, she’s taken hostage, she’s almost raped, we put her in this position where we turned her into a cornered animal.” From those words debate spread veraciously.

outrage

The fury unleashed by these statements was swift and condemning, which prompted Crystal Dynamics to release a clarifying statement claiming the scene was “threatening” but “Sexual assault of any kind”  was “not a theme” covered in the game. Having played the game myself I reuse to refer to it as a ‘rape’ seen as I believe that is a major misinterpretation of what the scene is about (especially due to the fact that no rape actually occurs), however I cannot deny that this scene is vividly disturbing and emotionally triggering. Take a look for yourself…

While no rape occurs there is an undeniable connotation of sexual violence and female vulnerability as well a dramatic insight into the traumatic implications of taking a life. I wonder though is this really a bad thing? I mean these  issues are real and I feel help create a realistic transformation of character, as we witness Lara evolve from a vulnerable girl to the strong, brave, gun totting heroine we know today.

lara1

tomb_raider-625x1000

The debate was however that these issues shouldn’t have been touched upon and that it is unethical to use sexual assault or extreme acts of violence as a transformation device because they may trigger deeper emotions within people who have experienced real life trauma. Blogger and victim of real life violence Ashelia writes  “If you don’t hit the right series of buttons, she’s choked to death in front of you” “I was so taken aback by the scene, a video game had never made me feel this way in my entire life—and I wasn’t sure what I thought about that. You see, it shocked me so much because twelve years ago, my father choked me in that manner”.

I feel that although this game uses controversial and somewhat disturbing subject matter, it uses it in a way that is not inappropriate. The issue has been blown out of proportion largely due to fact that people see Lara as a victim when instead they should see her as a survivor. Ashelia later writes “Tomb Raider triggered me and that’s ok, maybe that’s even good.” It healed me”.. “It made me realise that, much like Lara Croft, I survived as well”

“I am a survivor and I am alive and so is Lara Croft”

Weapons Of Mass Consumption

2897134-3x2-940x627

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.

newsstand_v11-2

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?

338-0113221123-corpnews

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.

You-shall-not-pass

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.

2591071_orig war-of-the-worlds-by-orson-welles

Pepsi CAN-troversy

get-the-skinny-diet-pepsi

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.

Sofia-Vergara-Diet-Pepsi-set--10

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.

get-the-skinny-diet-pepsi 2

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

To Be Or Not To Be I’ll Ask The TV

f312839414_violence_xlarge

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.

Doom-2-screenshots-3

Context Is almost always disregarded

Context Is almost always  disregarded

Who Am I Again?

3c9e97220ef111e2a24f1231381b7fe3_7

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.