A Reflective Perspective

Looking back over my past five blog posts it’s interesting to reflect on what I’ve learnt about the media. I think we are all guilty, myself included, of readily accepting assumptions when it comes to the media today. Taking a nuanced approach to the topics each week allowed for me to think of the role of the media in a new light.

The theories aligned with blog posts one and two I believe played the biggest role in changing my beliefs about the media. It was really fascinating to have to take step back, push all my assumptions away and think about what was actually wrong with the media effects model. It taught me not to accept everything at face value i.e. such as the idea that violent video games cause violent people and that the media isn’t always “the bad guy” when it comes to the role it plays in society. It was also interesting to see the media’s role in influencing audiences in terms of advertisement. One concept that I particularly found fascinating was the idea that we never see an image rather a representation of an image which was filled with messages that the media wanted us to consume. By using a real life example this confirmed my belief about the role of the media in the persuasion of the audience.

By reviewing other peers’ blogs it also was interesting to see how different people reacted to different theories and ideas. As students we were all consuming the same information however all coming up with varying views. Reading differing responses shaped my view to the role of the media. The greatest example of this was courtneyshalavin‘s post about media control. Instead of looking at media control in terms of the conglomerates she looked at how the audiences shaped media control. I had never even thought to think of the topic media control from this perspective and it was interesting to see how a students perspective on what she believed the role of the media was.

Overall I think that these blog posts have helped to confirm that the media is closely intertwined with society and have a very large impact on the way that we live our lives.


Honey Boo Boo in the Mediated Sphere

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The reality television show which follows the life of the southern, overweight, seven year old sassy pageant star Alana Thompson. Do I need to say much more? Being a self confessed follower of the show it is easy to understand how the show can lead to mass debate within the mediated public sphere.

Exploitation of children is the under riding call of debate within the mediated public sphere. Christopher Zara, 2012 in his article argues that children like Alana are far too young to give “informed consent” when entering reality television and the consequence of thrusting a seven year old into the national spotlight has overseen a volatile mix of inflated ego and diminished boundaries. Another issue, which draws debate in the mediated public sphere, is Alana and her families “pleasantly plump” state. It is fair to say the show promotes behaviours that lead to obesity particularly seen in Alana’s class one-liners: “I wish I had an extra finger, then I could grab more cheeseballs.” (Alanna Thompson). Jane Valez Mitchell expresses in an interview “When I see this I become outraged because we have an obesity crisis in the country. It is codependent enabling. It’s an outrage”.

The show has even led to debate on quite surprising topics such as poverty. “The show gives viewers unfettered glimpses of lives lived near the poverty line” (Jamshid Ghazi Askar, 2013) and has called for question in the mediated sphere whether viewers respect or ridicule of the poor by watching this show. On one hand the show has been described as a solution that soothes the aches and pains of busy lives” because the show is a form of entertainment that is approachable, fun loving and light (Jeremy Wo, 2012) but on the other, it has been used by viewers as a way to make themselves feel better by comparison (celebuzz, 2012).

An example of Honey Boo Boo in the mediated public sphere is the popular YouTube series Kids React. The children were asked to watch a number of clips from the show and then asked to give their opinions on issues that had been identified with the show.

So it seems although Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is an example of modern day “trashy television” there are a number of serious issues which can be derived and debated in the mediated public sphere.

Media Control

Hey Digital Diary Followers

Most of the media has been absorbed by large conglomerates, ‘families’ or chains (Meier). Looking at the media I consume it is very easy to trace it back to two or three major companies. The Walt Disney Company funnily enough owns one of my personal favourite shows – Revenge. The notion that there are only a handful of companies controlling our media raises some interesting questions on the issue of control and the impact that conglomerates have on consumers.

Meier states the global merging of the media industry and traditional corporate power encourages the spread of certain values often creating a conservative, “common sense” view of the world. This can be seen in the case of Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation’s perspective on homosexuality. It has been noted that the company has often taken a very conservative approach in regards to issues dealing with homosexuality. Distribution channels such as Fox news have made links to homosexuality and pedophilia and the New York Post has been seen as a reliable source of anti-LGBT material and has been associated with being “virulently homophobic” (Mohammad, 2011).

These values in regards to homosexuality can be rooted in Murdoch’s ideological position on the case:

“I believe it is wrong. I’m considered homophobic but I think that the family – father, mother, children – is fundamental to our civilisation.” (Maza, 2011)

Because of Murdoch’s personal ideology the consumers of his companies media seem to be receiving a biased messages on homosexuality. This can in turn have very lasting effects on the consumers because they are valuing information, which comes from an individual’s perspective of the issue.

Another issue with control is when a company raises concerns about corporate greed. Although we know News Corporations perspective on homosexuality it didn’t “apparently hate the gays enough to not make a buck off them” (Mohammad, 2011).  In 2011 New Corporation published Wedding Pride – a magazine aimed at catering to newlywed gay and lesbian couples in New York where advertisers were making up to $5,400 for first page advertisement (Maza, 2011). This example raised the question for me should control be given to companies who are purely driven by the greed for money? It is important to ask why it matters who controls the media because ultimately it is the consumer who is affected by it the decisions made by corporations.

An Advertisement That Will “Blow Your Mind Away”

Hi Digital Diary Followers

Advertisers of Burger King shocked their audiences in 2009 after releasing an extremely controversial advertisement promoting their newest sandwich, “The Super Seven Incher” (Lantry, 2009). Although the advertisement was printed in Singapore and was not linked to any American advertisers as such it sparked mass outrage. Mark Duffy and advertising copywriter stated:

“I’ve seen a lot of sexual innuendo ads and this is about the worst, especially for something as mainstream as Burger King. I was a little repulsed by it. It’s really misogynistic to women and it’s also unappetizing.” (Lantry, 2009)

Looking at the sign myself it is easy to see why the advertisement draws in so much negative attention. On a first glance I see the denotation of a blonde haired woman about to take a bite into her “Burger King Super Seven Incher”. However when I look into the connotations of the image I think of sex, pleasure, desire and hunger. The use of red lipstick it immediately draws my mind to the connotation of love, desire, lust and deviousness. The vector of the burger leads my eye to her mouth and coupled with the salient bold writing of “blow” I am immediately drawn to think of the act of oral sex. Because of the ideological perception that sex produces pleasure the audience connects the idea of eating the burger with pleasure that is associated with a sexual act. This in turn is meant to leave the audience wanting to try the burger. However not all people may associate the act of oral sex as pleasurable and may find it highly grotesque turning them away from trying the burger.

The sign plays an interesting role because of the sexual shock tactic that it uses to grab audiences’ attention. It is said by Scott Purvis that people are 20 per cent more likely to recall sexually explicit advertisements however this is not seen as persuasive advertisement because the audience generally isn’t interested in the product itself (Lantry, 2009).  Because sex is mainly used to grab attention it can be referred to as the “borrowed interest” effect (Daye, 2008).  However there are many cases where sex sells advertisement has resulted in long-term success. Calvin Klein managed to generate one billion dollars in annual revenue on a brand that is strongly identified with sexuality (Daye, 2008). So the question seems to be not weather sex works in advertising rather when is the best situation to use sex in advertising? (Daye, 2008)

Media Scapegoating?

Hi Digital Diary Followers

When issues arise in society it is very easy for us to fall into a “point the finger” culture and naturally it is usually the media who is scapegoated for our problems. Many people would be aware of the various negative media clichés that exist today. However when one delves deeper into the issue we find that there is, in fact, little reliable evidence to show what media actually does to us. (David Gauntlet, 1998) suggests this is because the media effects research has taken the wrong approach. Interestingly enough until I was actually asked to question this notion I readily accepted most of the assumptions written about the media.

An interesting point to consider is that we don’t take into account that many of these media effects tests take place in sterile, laboratory settings (Gauntlet, 1998). It is obvious that this would have a clear effect on the subject because they know they are undergoing testing. It also removes them from an environment in which normal media habits would take place therefor leading to unreliable results. It is also noticed that there is an outnumbering of small scale simple tests to large scale sociological studies meaning information consumed from the these small scale studies may not be as reliable because they were completed on a lower budget in limited time.

Another issue is that effects research often starts with media as the problem rather than looking at individual factors (Gauntlet, 1998). By looking closely at other issues such as family history, religion, peers, diet, location etc. it is often found that these are the issues which cause problems such as violence rather than the consumption of media. This can be seen particularly in the case of 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. Even before Seung-Hui Cho’s name had been realised several specialists had already presented video games as the underlying cause including Jack Thompson (Ferguson).

However the Virginia Tech Review Panel stated that:

“He was enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do program for awhile, watched TV, and played video games like Sonic the Hedgehog. None of the video games were war games or had violent themes”.

Cho also had a number of other underlying mental health problems and had undertaken stalking behaviour towards female students previously (Ferguson). By looking closer into the details it was obvious that the media was not to blame for this tragic event rather the individual traits of Cho.

So while the “media effects model” can provide us with some interesting conclusions we should not readily consume everything that it tells us. We need to look at the bigger picture instead of just jumping to assumptions and immediately blaming the media for our own  problems.

Go On Have A Stalk

Hi Digital Diary followers

My name is Emily however if you ever see me around campus or in class feel free to call me “Bauer”. You may ask why “Bauer”? It’s my last name and I asked people to use it after realising that I had the dilemma of having a common name. Funnily enough now, you are probably more likely to get a response from “Bauer” rather than Emily. Another thing I’m recognised for is my hair. I’m a natural red head and it doesn’t take one long to realise that I’m pretty proud of the fact.

I decided around Year 10 that I was interested in media and communications after doing work some experience at a radio station. During my final years of school I also found I had a real passion for history and decided the HSC wasn’t where I wanted to finish my study of it. Hence my degree: Bachelor of Media and Communication Studies/ Bachelor of Arts (Deans Scholar). I’m currently undecided as to where I want to direct my Media and Communications degree in terms of my major however in 5 years time I would hopefully like to see myself going into radio.

I have to say my guilty pleasure media habit is YouTube. I’m a sucker for daily vloggers. If you don’t know what a daily vlog is let me enlighten you – it’s kind of like online reality television. I don’t understand why I am so addicted to watching them or even how I begun liking them however I find it interesting that people can be so open about posting their everyday life online. My favourite vloggers would have to be CTFxC, Shaytards and BFvsGF. So if you watch any of these feel free to let me know because I am still yet to find someone else who shares the same strange interest. Besides this I’m also a chronic Facebook user…but then again aren’t we all?

Another thing I’m really good at is rambling about nothing.