Category Archives: BCM110

Kids these days; am I right?

It’s pretty clear that young whippersnappers are tending towards an over-sexualised culture. Unfortunately, their role models from early teenybopper-y are often leading them into this trend. Child stars who seek to transition into a more mature role often take a shockingly jarring approach to this. “These days the practice of youthful stars shedding their innocent images is so frequent it’s almost expected.” (Schutte 2013).

March of last year saw the release of ‘Spring Breakers’, a movie starring several Disney teens. “A lot of teenagers that grew up with Selena and Vanessa have seen the commercials and they think they’re ready to see the movie. Safe to say, I think they’re not.” (Schutte 2013). The director, Harmony Korine, was very deliberate in his casting of the stars, saying “Well, it wasn’t just a conceptual stunt. That’s a bonus. If you didn’t know who these girls are, that they came to my movie representing something, the film would still be the same.” (Barnes 2013).

Scandalous stories like this are implemented to gain attention. Sadly, children and teenagers are often caught up in the kerfuffle stirred up by the media. There has been an evident shift towards this glorification of sexualisation; it will be interesting to see if and how society will turn the trend around.

 

Well, it’s been fun. This process of my blogging for BCM110 is now coming to an end (there’s still more coming for BCM112). In the last 6 weeks, I’ve been able to take a deeper look into how the media functions as a whole. For me (at least), it’s been really interesting to observe how the concepts of the media have tangible, practical application in the way our society functions. By looking at specific cases, I’ve been able to see connections between small events and the way our culture works, and using wildly sweeping statements, I’ve been able to link them together. As someone who was quite hesitant to the idea of blogging, I’ve found that by working on these small snippets of information, I’ve greatly enhanced my understanding of the content, and done this in a way I was able to thoroughly enjoy. For you reading this, I hope you’ve benefited in some way too.
– Brendon.

References:
Schutte, L 2013, Disney girls gone wild! Is the ‘Spring Breakers’ act old news?, NBC News, viewed 14 April 2014, <http://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/disney-girls-gone-wild-spring-breakers-act-old-news-f1C9124340>.

Barnes, B 2013, Disney Stars Throw Off Their Past in ‘Spring Breakers’, NY Times, viewed 14 April 2014, <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/movies/disney-stars-throw-off-their-past-in-spring-breakers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.

Check(this)out

In March last year, the ABC launched a consumer affairs show, ‘The Checkout’, aiming to increase awareness of purchasers’ rights under The Australian Consumer Law. Members of ‘The Chaser’ and ‘Hungry Beast’ came together with experts from ‘CHOICE’ to produce the show, which has gained a lot of attention since its beginning.

The show immediately stirred a response, as presenter and produce Julian Morrow said, “I’m quite proud of the fact that the very first story of the very first episode of The Checkout did produce legal proceedings, that was Craig’s story about complimentary medicines and there are proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court by a gentleman who’s the father of the CEO of Swisse.” (Ward 2014). Despite the ongoing case, the show hasn’t refrained from continually targeting the company, and those similar to it.

The ABC has run a number of satirical shows that focus on specific areas, such as The Chaser’s (War on Everything, Hamster Wheel, CNNNN) and Gruen (Transfer, Nation, Decides, Planet). These shows are renowned for sparking discussion within the public sphere. The Checkout achieves this too, but also provides practical information for its users; “In a way, this is like nationally televised business training.” (Kidman 2013).

Morrow described the way that the show is able to spark discussion, saying, “One of the challenges I’ve set for myself and we’ve talked about with the other guys in preparing this show is it’s kind of about trying to create ways of encapsulating an issue so that it occurs to people the next time they have an issue. Comedy can be a good way to do that. Tell a funny scenario. People remember jokes, they talk about them.” (Kidman 2013).

The program has also launched its own experimental platform ‘F.U. Tube’ for viewers to share their personal gripes. Each episode, the segment shows clips of uploaded complaints and how they were resolved. Now boasting a viewership of over 800, 000, The Checkout not only generates conversation, but results too.

References:
Ward, M 2014, The Checkout targets Swisse again despite open lawsuit, Mumbrella, viewed 12 April 2014, <http://mumbrella.com.au/swisse-211889>.

Kidman, A 2013, The Checkout: Lifehacker Talks Consumer Rights With The Chaser’s Julian Morrow, Lifehacker, viewed 12 April 2014, <http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/03/the-checkout-lifehacker-talks-consumer-rights-with-the-chasers-julian-morrow/>.

FREE PRESS! (with purchase of another press of equal or greater value)

Control of the media is a significant issue, with many different forms of its misuse sparking great controversy around the world. In Australia, there is a fear of corporate domination in our media, as a small number of key figures operate a huge portion of the press. There are regulations which govern the spread of ownership across media platforms and regions. However, there is currently a push to revise them, with the large media companies seeking a more moderate system.

The power that comes with leading these large companies, frequently leads to a heavily one-sided approach to reporting within the business, as journalists will seek the approval of their superiors. Unfortunately, the reputation of fair and balanced journalism in these corporations is often questionable.

In order to maintain a respectable field of reporting, there needs to be two fundamental principles in place; diversity and freedom. You don’t need me to tell you that a large spread of perspectives builds up an objective representation of events, and freedom of the press allows this to succeed.

As Rupert Murdoch said in an interview in 1967, “I think the important thing is that there be plenty of newspapers with plenty of different people controlling them, so that there’s a variety of viewpoints, so there’s a choice for the public. This is the freedom of the press that is needed. Freedom of the press mustn’t be one-sided just for a publisher to speak as he pleases, to try and bully the community.” (Barry 2013). This doesn’t just apply to media moguls though; it affects the journalistic control of governments as well.

Just as our Prime Minister recently stated “The media world has changed beyond recognition over the last couple of decades, it’s important that regulation evolve to match the changing environment.” (Swan & Ireland 2014). Social media is a new issue within this debate, as it poses further questions of ownership. No longer is it solely a matter of who owns the media (companies), but now there’s an additional concern of who owns the media (content).

References:
Barry, P 2013, Rupert tweets, the Tele repeats, Media Watch, viewed 10 April 2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3834127.htm>.

Swan, J & Ireland, J 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott treads cautiously on media ownership rules, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 11 April 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/prime-minister-tony-abbott-treads-cautiously-on-media-ownership-rules-20140310-34gvr.html>.

Rainbow Stars and Stripes

Freedom of speech is a hugely global issue, which spreads controversy alongside any who abuse the right to expression. However, the misuse of free speech takes many forms; ranging from North Korea to ‘Murica.

Westboro
(Wilson 2007)

This image clearly shows some conflicting perspectives. It depicts a loop of protesting and counter-protesting from members of both Westboro Baptist ‘Church’ and the LGBT community. If you’re aware of the members of Westboro, you’ll know they’re renowned for their controversial method of opposing homosexuals, soldiers, politicians, and anyone who opposes their ideology. They’ve built up a reputation by picketing events, using their signs to express extreme messages of hate.

The use of language on the signs is intentionally offensive; designed to provoke a strong reaction, and gain attention. ‘Fag’, ‘Death’ and ‘Doom’ all initiate a deeply emotional response; but in this photo, it appears this particular emotional response wasn’t quite what Westboro was going for. In the foreground of the shot, we see a man draped in a rainbow flag (who is draped on another man). The brightly-coloured cape (and its significance as a symbol of gay pride) draws attention away from the negativity behind them. In this peaceful protest, the two couples fight hate, with love.

A similar tactic was employed after the recent death of Westboro’s former leader, Fred Phelps, aged 84. The family (who are usually eager to attend funerals) decided not to “worship the dead” (CNN 2014) by having a ceremony. Instead, they announced they were to picket Lorde’s upcoming concert. They were met with many protesters:

The free speech debate isn’t just happening in America. Australia is currently challenging the idea of racism conflicting with the right to speak out. What are your thoughts about the proposed reforms to the Racial Discrimination Act; is it bigotry or liberty?

References:
Wilson, M 2013, Protesters, image, Huffington Post, viewed 5 April 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/doma_n_2952712.html>.

Burke, D 2014, Westboro church founder Fred Phelps dies, viewed 5 April 2014, <http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/20/us/westboro-church-founder-dead/>.

NBCActionNews 2014, First protest following passing of Westboro pastor, online video, 21 March, NBC Action News, viewed 4 April 2014, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RT9sS8U2fUQ>

Women in Advertising

Is it possible to fight against your own cause, yet still win on all fronts? Apparently it is.

Advertising faces a lot of scrutiny when it comes to shaping the views of society, but that’s often just an easy scapegoat for critics to create a story out of. In his article ‘Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’, David Gauntlett defines the model of media effects as the idea that “The mass media will commonly have direct and reasonably predictable effects upon the behaviour of their fellow human beings” (Gauntlett 1998). His first criticism is that “The effects model tackles social problems ‘backwards.’” Perhaps this is a better way to view the issue within critical analysis of commercial marketing; to understand that advertisers use specific strategies due to the demand of their audience.

As consumers in a vastly connected world, we have a powerful influence on what we’re shown. Advertising is no longer companies simply shoving their message at us; they now have to be aware of what good we want to see them doing (and how they can disguise the bad). Multinational giant ‘Unilever’ is a prime example of this. Through multiple campaigns spanning over several years, ‘Dove’ skin care (owned by Unilever) has developed itself as a brand of empowerment for women. This was a result of a shifting culture and the changing ideas of ‘real beauty’.  Could this be a company truly interested in establishing an impact for greater good; a pure example for all others to follow? – No.

As established by multiple commentators, Unilever isn’t the patron saint it wants to be viewed as. Unilever is also the parent company of ‘Lynx’, a brand notorious for its degrading depiction of women. “Accusing Lynx of peddling sexist advertisements is like informing Kyle Sandilands that his material is considered controversial. Well, duh” (Funnell, Miller 2012). Consumers are almost accustomed to the brand’s method of advertising, and the brand loves its publicity; good or bad. The issue that causes the most controversy is the connection between Dove and Lynx. Now, it could be said that this is an outrageous act of corporate hypocrisy; however, Gauntlett challenges people to reflect on things in an almost counter-intuitive way. To see how Unilever simply gives its target audiences what they want (or think they want).

Check out more in the links (not Lynx) below.

Photoshop Has Gone Too Far
If Women’s Roles In Ads Were Played By Men

Talk to me in the comments or on twitter @brendoncrossing

References:
Gauntlett, D 1998, ‘Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’, theory.org.uk, Viewed 17 March 2014, http://www.theory.org.uk/effects.htm

Funnell N,Miller D 2012, Sexism dovetails with hypocrisy, Sydney Morning Herald, Viewed 17 March 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/sexism-dovetails-with-hypocrisy-20120620-20ocf.html

Greetings

I’ve always struggled with starting things, and as this is the beginning of something entirely new for me, I’m not completely sure how it’ll work. I know at the very least, it’ll be a place for me to talk about my Communication and Media Studies/Economics and Finance degree. The uncertainty lies in how I’ll incorporate my personal-ness into what I put here.

Will I talk about myself; about how I’m an 18 year-old Jesus-loving guitarist from Dapto, with an obsession for sport, a great interest in maths and science, and an unhealthy addiction to YouTube? – In some capacity, yes. Will it be a place for people to get lost and thoroughly confused by the labyrinth that is my strange (let’s call it poetic) interpretation of how I can use grammar and punctuation of the English language? – Almost certainly. Will it be an outlet for me to vent incessant rambling of petrifying fear, as I delve deep into my mind, discovering horrid, suppressed memories from my childhood? – I hope not.

Regardless, it will be a journey that I venture into, accompanied by (at least) my tutors, lecturers and whoever you are. So, as we press on together, I take pity on you, who by either choice or obligation are reading this incoherent gibberish from the mind of a crazy person named Brendon.

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