Category Archives: Bcm110

Jour 206 Assignment One Reflection

This assignment I found quite difficult. It wasn’t so much the recording and editing which I struggled with, but finding an interviewee. From the discussions in class, I gathered that the emotions of anger, disgust, fear and sadness were the better ones to focus on for this particular task. It is at this point when thinking about who I could interview, where I began to struggle. I knew a lot of people who would have been perfect candidates for an interview like this. However, I felt like because I was choosing the talent, and I was directing the way the interview ran, that I would have been exploiting my friend or family member. For example, with my nan I could have spoken about my dad, her son, and his car accident, with my best friend I could have spoken about her mums cancer diagnosis. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know exactly what to say to make them both upset and I didn’t want to be responsible for dredging up all those emotions.

Nonetheless, I asked around to see who would be willing to help me out. One friend said yes she would do it, but when the day actually came she changed her mind and backed out. Another friend, a theatre student, said she could do it and we’d look at her parents divorce. Unbeknownst to me at the time she was actually planning to act upset and fake cry if she couldn’t do it for real, but again she had to back out due to work commitments. Again another friend said she could help me out but backed out on the day.

Finally my friend Emily agreed to do the interview. Her dad passed away when she was only four and has always been open to talking about it but never fully made peace with what happened. She got quite upset during the interview but I was more comfortable with it than I thought because I came to terms with the fact that she knew what she was getting into, and she knew that I was grateful for her help.

When it came time for editing I remembered all the tips and tricks we were taught and realised I managed to get a really good recording. There were a few times where the microphone was bumped or someone coughed but those were easily edited out. Finding a site with copyright free music was quite easy, but I took longer in choosing the right music. I think the piece I chose fit well because it has the deeper piano sequence to set the mood, contrasted with soft, high notes to set the melody.

From this assignment I gained new computer skills with audio editing, as thats something I’ve never done before. I also learnt to overcome my discomfort with difficult or emotional situations and get a good result.

Reflection of bcm110 so far

When we all sat in the lecture hall for our first bcm110 lecture 6 weeks ago, I was extremely nervous. I didn’t know too much about the media or the different issues surrounding it but was eager to learn. I have never done anything like blogging before, so when we were told that was our first assignment I freaked out a little. I mean, I’ve got a Facebook account but I’m more of a silent scroller, reading what everyone else is up to and watching the funny videos but rarely posting a status or commenting on something. I’ve noticed though, since starting the blogging assessments for this subject and bcm112, I have become a bit more vocal in posting statuses and presenting my opinion more regularly. One thing I enjoyed about the blog assignment was that we were able to read other people’s work and see how their opinions differ to our own, while also getting tips on writing style from our peers.

Throughout the last couple of weeks we have been focusing on many media related topics including, the concept of media effects, semiotics, media ownership regulation and control and the public sphere. For me, the most interesting was the lecture in media effects. I love analysis what causes someone to say or do something in particular so this topic was definitely a favourite. The one I least liked was last weeks because I still don’t quite understand the notion of the public sphere. I know the definition and we discussed it in the tutorial but I feel like its a topic I know the least about.

I have learnt so much in the last six weeks, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. This is definitely my favourite subject this semester and that is partly because of the content but also because of Sue. She is such a great lecturer and I’m sure she could make even calculus seem fun.

What is the public sphere?

According to Jurgen Habermas, a German philosopher, the public sphere is “a domain of our social life where such a thing as public opinion can be formed (where) citizens…deal with matters of general interest without being subject to coercion…(to) express and publicise their views” (Habermas, 1997:105). Basically the public sphere is a metaphor for the place where members of society gather to discuss the news of the community, and the social, cultural and political issues they face.

In “The Public Sphere: An introduction”, author Alan McKee dictates the pros and cons of the public sphere. Some of the points McKee made included that the public sphere is useful for understanding how societies are organised and how ‘liberal’ societies function, it is a useful metaphor because it makes us think about the role ordinary people play in the creation of culture, and it also reminds us that representations in the media aren’t always reality some criticisms of the public sphere or causes for concern are that the media is too commercialised, trivialises issues, concentrates too much on spectacle rather than rational arguments and is too fragmented which is causing citizens to become too apathetic about some important issues. There are two main sides in the debate on the public sphere, one is that the public sphere has been degraded by consumer capitalism, and the other is that it has been enhanced by a changing society and the creation of new public spheres or spaces.

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When the tv show “My big fat gypsy wedding” first aired in the UK, it’s aim was to shine a light on a little understood section of the community, with the first season attracting 7 million viewers. Each episode of the show follows one or two families who are having a big event, usually a wedding but also sometimes christenings. These gypsies or travellers are portrayed as being not poor but they are shown to live in caravans rather than houses so some people see them as being lower class. The events shown in the program are always very flashy and some of the wedding the dresses are over the top and amazing. The “spectacle” includes teenage brides and grooms, elaborate dresses that can weigh in at more than 70 pounds (including one that lights up in the dark), bouffant hairdos, spray tans, stretch limos, and scantily clad female guests.
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However, the controversy around this show is growing steadily. Some members of the travelling community believe gypsies are being shown in a negative way which breeds negative connotations. according to the UK Guardian “The London Gypsy and Traveller Unit lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority arguing that Channel 4’s marketing of the show was offensive and racist.” Meanwhile some people are shocked by the sexism in these communities, eg. The practice of ‘grabbing‘, where men engage in grabbing a girl and dragging her away to try and kiss her. This is an insisted upon courtship ritual in the travelling community. According to an article on newrepublic.com “To watch “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” is to see Travellers and Roma as uneducated, flashy, and closed-minded people who live in mobile-home parks and throw enormous parties”. The article also states that the show portrays travellers and Roma as one group rather than clearly identifying the two groups and their origins, which is seen as offensive to both communities,

A women’s role in a gypsy household is to cook, clean, look after the children and basically do whatever her husband tell her. They are usually not allowed to work and most can’t because they leave school between the ages of 10 and 14 so most are illiterate. The episodes show a girl getting her dream wedding with a sparkly princess dress, but they don’t always get the ‘happily ever after’.

Media ownership and control

Media users these days are evolving into a hybrid of a consumer and producer: prosumer. Being a prosumer involves, file sharing, creating blogs and video posts etc. which is creating a dilemma for the media industry because if people are producing their own content, there is less demand for content produced by high profile companies. Meanwhile there is a decline in the diversity of media ownership, more commonly, people who own media platforms such as newspapers, television stations or the larger companies that own them, have ownership stakes in more than one. Therefore there is less share percentage left for the ‘little guy’ or individual to buy. But why does it matter who owns the media we consume?

Media ownership means that very few organisations or conglomerates have control over the majority of media. Many smaller organisations are owned by these large corporations and therefore controlled by them. The six largest media conglomerates include Walt Disney, News Corporation, Comcast, CBS, Time Warner and Viacom. Each of these control multiple smaller companies with various roles in the media industry eg. TV/radio stations, newspapers and publishing companies.

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These conglomerates have produces cooperation between their various sub branches or companies, such as cross promotion. This occurs when one conglomerate promotes their products through their own media outlets. A great example of this is when watching channel eleven and a commercial for a program shown on channel ten is aired, such as “the project”. This happens because Ten Network Holdings has ownership over 2/3 of channel eleven, with CBS Studios owning the remaining third. Channel eleven advertises channel ten shows because they are told to by the ‘parent company’.

One problem with media ownership today is that because many smaller media outlets are owned by one ‘parent company’ their stories may also be presented with the same bias. This means that the people who consume any of the media produced by the conglomerate are getting the news presented to them in the way that the owner views it, or the side they take in a particular debate. In cases such as this, the presentation could be biased, or they might decline to run a story purely because the owner doesn’t agree with it.

Every formal media message an audience receives is controlled by a conglomerate who decides what information we get, where from and from what perspective. People should remember to keep an open mind and look deeper into an issue or article to see all the perspectives before they make an irrational judgement on it.

The image cannot lie: representation and interpretation

Semiotics is the study of signs, symbols and their use and interpretation. A sign is anything that conveys meaning and is divided into two parts, the signifier and the signified. A signifier is anything that gives meaning, such as a word or image. The signified is the mental concept or emotion that is evoked by the signifier. In semiotics, denotation and connotation are two terms used to describe the relationship between the signifier and signified, and a distinction is made between the denotative signified and the connotative signified. Denotation is said to be the literal or obvious meaning of a sign, while connotation is the personal, ideological or emotional associations of the sign. The connotation of a specific image on an individual is different for everyone based on their age, gender, life experiences etc.

While researching controversial advertisements this week, I came across one in particular that struck a chord with me. In 2008, CONAC: Chilean corporation against cancer advertised their campaign with a specific image and slogan.

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The little boy in this campaign looks to be suffocating with a plastic bag over his head. Looking more closely you can see it is actually cigarette smoke that is causing him to suffocate. There have been various responses to this campaign, some positive: “A plastic bag over the head gives me the willies but I sat up and took notice. Message received”. While others have been more negative: “Since when are images of innocent children suffering appealing to the target audience…it portrays this organisation as killers rather than one who is trying to save children”. I think the aim of the corporation when designing this advertisement, or the denotation, was ultimately to encourage people to stop smoking by shocking them with this confronting image and the related text “smoking isn’t just suicide. It’s murder”. The connotation of this image Is the possible or probable effects a parents smoking will have on their children, and the reference to murder would only increase their guilt.

Another controversial advertisement I researched is also from 2008 and is related to the Victorian government and their views on abortion. The advertising standards bureau (ASB) processed two particular cases regarding complaints about campaigns presented by the Tell the truth coalition, a pamphlet and a television commercial. Both campaigns featured images of human foetuses in various stages of development which aimed to shock the audience. The pamphlet also contained details of the development of a foetus, comments from women who have had counselling after an abortion, and of the health and psychological problems suffered by these women. All complaint made to the ASB were in reference to the graphic images shown and the way the textual content affected women who have lost their children, by choice or not. While researching these advertisements, the only original content I could find was an image of one section of the pamphlet, which I have edited to crop out one of the images that may have offended the audience.

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I’m assuming there is still record of the original advertisements, but based on the complaints detailed in the ASB reports of both the pamphlet and tv ad, I’d rather not see them. The denotation of these advertisements is to condemn the legalisation of abortion proposed by the Victorian government, the connotations of both campaigns affects not only people who have had abortions and their families, but also those people who have had miscarriages or lost their baby to no fault of their own. They are forced to re-live the trauma of their own experience and many complaints referred to the possibility of their children seeing the ad and the psychological effects it could have on them.

What is wrong with the media effects model?

The media effects model is how media and its content can effect the members of society, and what the consequences of viewing the content may be.

One criticism of the media effects model that I believe is an important issue, is that it is not grounded in theory. This model tells us that media and its content will affect the audience in various ways, but is based on the assumption that it will, rather than a solid theory. For example, according the media effects model, watching a violent clip or show will result in the responder feeling the need to imitate what they saw. However, it has never been established why this would happen. What is it exactly that causes someone to recreate a scene they have watched?

While pondering the previous point, another criticism arises. The media effects model is selective in its criticisms of violence in the media. It focuses on dramas and fictional shows and how they affect viewers, while seemingly forgetting about the violent acts that can be seen everyday on the news programs or in the papers. If the violent acts seen in fictional shows will affect the behaviour of the audience, why wouldn’t the same type of content affect someone if it was shown on a news program and actually occurred. For example, in the case of Daniel Bartlam, if his vicious crime was the result of violence in fictional tv shows and films, what would the consequences be if he was immersed in real life violence instead. Another good point is that if this was the result of viewing fictional material, why couldn’t actual footage of violent crimes or scenarios have an effect and why doesn’t the effects model address this aspect.

It seems that there are too many unanswered questions when it comes to the media effects model and more negatives aspects than positives.