News, trust, and “truthiness”

Satirical news programs, as stated in my last blog, are a form of culture jamming which are directed towards entertainment. In most cases they do not tell the whole truth of the story, just what the audience will want to hear. Since these programs are usually made by an average person in society, their opinion on news will be similar to that of the rest of the public sphere. Since the consumers make up most of the population these satirical news programs that poke fun at political and other leaders, those seen as “higher class”, is the reason for such success. Justus Duntsch seems to agree when she states that, “the majority of viewers are most likely not watching these shows for an honest window into politics, humorous entertainment is what brings them into the public sphere so it’s a bit of a back door for a solid culture jam.” (http://justmediaculture.wordpress.com) It is one of leveling the playing field, and make the average Joe feel better about himself by watching some stuffy rich so-called leader in society be humiliated and exposed. It is because of these aspects of spoof news that these programs can not be trusted to deliver reliable news reportage. Montana Highley (http://montanahighley.wordpress.com/) agrees when she says, “in many talk shows they touch on information that is news worthy, but instead of making it all informative, they will have fun to keep the audience watching.” Real news broadcasts from authentic news stations tell the entire story with all the gruesome details, they gain viewers through the reliability and trust that these stories are always accurate. While satirical news is out to please and entertain the viewer, Carla argues that “these shows are indeed humorous, but are more of a comedy show rather than a news reporting station”. (http://cacpcf.blogspot.ca/). There is also a sense of seriousness about news stations like CNN and CTV because they tend to report stories about tragedies occurring around the world along with political news. If they were to make a joke of the news people would be very offended. Rick Mercer and The Daily Show have their own place in entertainment news but they should never be taken as truthful, or more reliable than traditional news reportage. 

Is the fake news the real news?

In todays world we not only have news, but news that makes fun of other news. Satirical programs such as Rick Mercer and The Daily Show are mainly for entertainment not educational purposes, but does this news contain the real news? In all reality no it does not, it is merely a mainstream form of culture jamming. O’Shaughnessy and Stadler state that “the objectives of culture jamming often include conscious raising (raising awareness of social and political issues) as well as using the media to criticize media and dominant culture.” (2012. p 214) It is important to not always trust this information for it is an opinion not fact. A show like Rick Mercer however requires some knowledge of the real news to get the puns he is making about the state of politics and the government. Technological advances make it so we do not have to sit down to watch the news because we can get it on devices in our hands within seconds and at a time convenient for us. Therefore because of the entertainment element of satirical news programs, they become the more desired. Also these spoof programs may help to see the information provided to us by the government in a different way, “often [satirical news programs] actively try to denaturalize the media images that we see every day by making us notice and question their underlying messages.” (Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler. 2012. p 214) Fake news has triggered a much needed reevaluation of journalism’s relationship to politics and culture. It is important to make sure that in the making of these spoofs, the line between serious news and news that can be joked about is not crossed. It is because of this that some viewers may not like certain opinions and stop watching because they feel offended, but overall this has revolutionized news and significantly enabled political mockery to reframe the portrayal of meaningful issues in the public sphere.

Another reason the working class tunes into these types of programs is to see the people above us in the system fall and have their weaknesses revealed to the world. It has been felt for nearly a century that the government always keeps their dirty little secrets hidden and choose what they want the general public to know. Thus a distrust and in some cases a dislike is established, which is why entertainment is generated out of mocking these supposedly higher class beings.

 

O’Shaughnessy and Stadler. 2012. Media and Sociey, Fifth Edition. Oxford Press. 

Demonstrable demographics! (Response 3)

The pervasive effect of advertising is in many cases defining who we are, those who step outside of the norm are criticized to the point where it either becomes cool to rebel and be different, or those individuals simply diminish from society. An example of this is the gay/lesbian population, they put up with so much for so long but never gave in that now anyone who comes out is seen in many groups as a strong person because they are willing to be different, and challenge what many social groups think of as right or wrong. They are in a sense, winning the battle of interpellation. However even in such groups of people stereotypes and ideologies are still somewhat followed. Matthew discussed a Dove advertisement that was utilizing the overriding goad of preserving ‘manhood’. The male depicted in the commercial, out of curiosity used females dove shampoo. He very quickly came to the realization that somehow this made him much less of a man, so he rushed to the store and bought dove for men shampoo. In some kind of attempt to redeem himself. This ad is attempting to identify with men that they must, at all times, be the manliest, toughest version of themselves, even alone in the shower. Or else this makes him somehow less than the rest of the male shampooing population. Brandon also chose a similar ad, with the ever-so famous Old Spice Man, the epitome of the manliest man on earth. Old Spice is also the proud creator of one of the most arrogant slogans in history: “The original. If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist”. (http://www.thebrainchildgroup.com/blog/2010/06/old-spice-body-wash-marketing-new-slogan/) Yet Brandon proceeds to say in his blog that “I know I have purchased their products on numerous occasions. I, find the scents of their products to be of a pleasant variety, and many of the people who I know also use their antiperspirants and body washes.” (http://bkennedy94.blogspot.ca/2013/11/what-heil.html) This gender identity was pushed on us from birth, boys are wrapped in a blue blanket and girls in a pink. That is just the way it is. And if we veer away from that, even for something as meagre as shampoo we are, in a sense, breaking the gender ideology. Who even came up with the fact that testosterone must be affiliated with the colour blue, trucks and manly smelling shampoo? Matthew best worded it, “It is because of interpellation that men find such significance in adhering by their masculine roles. They find their identity in their masculinity because this is how men self-identify with themselves and other men in society”. (http://matthewfamele.wordpress.com/what-the-hail/) Looking at this from a woman’s perspective I can see how this would work, considering all women want is to look younger and prettier. Why would such a thing change for men? It is just more widely recognized that females are affected by media because it causes us to go to drastic measures such as eating disorders. 

In Christine’s blog she discusses a makeup ad with a massive picture of a photoshopped Jessica Alba as its focus. Females can identify with this actress that they have seen in many movies of the type generalized that women like and have therefore fantasized about the wonders of being Jessica before seeing this ad. Therefore Revlon is re-triggering this desire, but also giving a glimmer of hope by silently stating that if you purchase this makeup you can, at the very least, have skin like Jessica Alba. Which is one step closer to being her. Christine states that, “girls will often form an ideology of expectation to look the same way as girls are that are advertised in the pictures. Once this idea is developed, females are engulfed in a product buying cycle in attempt to reach an image that is ultimately unattainable.” (http://christinemerrill2.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/what-in-the-hail/) It is simply how we are programmed, but of course the advertisement agencies already know all of this and think of the our demographic as weak and vulnerable to this strategy of self improvement. In the end it does not matter if you are male or female, we all have one thing in common: we want to better ourselves. This desire may always be the key to moving products off shelves, because even after we entirely recreate ourselves, there is always something newer and better that we are convinced we just can’t live without.

What The Hail?

Dell University (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3keW-_eheEk) is a commercial broadcasted on television for a Dell Ultra-Book. A fancy name that means laptop. It is directed towards university students, mainly male who are generally living in North America. Being a first year student myself at Brock University, I can make an educated assumption that nearly 95% of the student population owns a laptop. The advertisement depicts two room mates. One being a popular, more good looking guy who has two ladies swooning over him just because he has the infatuating new Ultra-Book. The other is a less than average looking boy with glasses who is sitting enviously with his older generation laptop. We are trained to always try and better ourselves and be the most attractive version of ourselves we can be. But by giving in and believing all of these lies, we lose ourselves along the way. O’Shaughnessy and Sadler ask, “would being fatter, thinner, more attractive […] change how you feel about yourself and how you are perceived by other people? So, in our identity we internalize particular ways of thinking, feeling and believing, we take on particular ideologies. One of the most interesting aspects of the new media technologies is in relation to identity.” (2012, p 184) Dell understands the internal desire University students have to fit in and be accepted by their peers and they utilize this vulnerability to manipulate its consumers. They know most teens secretly have insecurities and just want to be in with the cool crowd and be liked by everyone, so why not hit the consumers where it hurts? Tell them how much less of a person they will be without the Ultra-Book. We are brought up to be what the ideologies of the world say we should be. Thousands of advertisements surround us every day and all they are telling us is how we can better ourselves because on our own we just are not good enough. Just being yourself is not going to make you any friends, its the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the food you eat, the laptop you own. It all points to a certain type, and if we aren’t a type, then we’re nobody at all. O’Shaughnessy and Sadler think “this is particularly true of television and radio, where there is often a ‘direct address’ by announces to ‘you’, the listener. Such modes of address give us our identities and subjectivities.” (2012, p 186) The text states that a mode of address “refers to the way a text speaks to or addresses its audience.” (p 186)

In the case of the Dell Ultra-Book, the mode of address is very offensive when analyzed and displays a lack of creativity in advertising. Their target was the insecurities of University students and sex. Maybe this strategy will move the product off shelves, but when one stands back and looks at the larger picture, we realize the amount of other advertisements that are targeting using the same approach. The influence it is having on the actual people consuming this product should be consulted.  How many times do we have to hear and see that we, ourselves are not good enough before we actually believe it? Or do we already? The state of mental health in teens and young adults in the 21st century, who have experienced an onslaught of these types of ads their entire life, must be astonishingly low. It has gone mostly undetected because it is such a gradual affect and no other generations up until now have been faced with such a ‘right here and now’ type of media.

Reference

O’Shaughnessy, M. Stadler, J. Media and Society. 2012

Wanted: the media what we need

It is said that youth today are willfully unaware of the news and political world, however if we were aware would it even matter? Professional adults do not care about a teenagers opinion and our voices are always quieted when we do try to reach out. Thus the reasoning behind the extraordinary success of social media like Facebook and Twitter. Teenagers are heard by other teenagers because that is the only audience that sees each other as somewhat equal.  Therefore those kinds of virtual environments tend to be where those groups hang out. Professional adults believe youth is ignorant to politics and government yet there is nothing they are doing to display that information to us in a way we can understand. It is also not outwardly communicated that any teens are wanted in those environments. In the words of Amy Lowe, “I think it is very easy to find media that we don’t want but are taught to think we want it. It has become the norm to have to comb through the muck of media to find stories that are of your interest or that are valid pieces of journalism.” (http://lifeoflowe.wordpress.com/) Even when trying to do research for a project it is very difficult to find reliable sources from the internet because a claimed academic journal could have been written by a closet poet for all anyone knows. In the words of  Hunter Lackey, “Many years ago the media had a reputation as a very dependable news source, but had recently abandoned that status.” (http://lunterhackey.blogspot.ca) Society today has such a mix of entertainment and news based media that it has become difficult to differentiate between them. Because of this youth seem to gravitate towards celebrity news instead of focusing on the political news, it is nearly inescapable from our lives. Even if we have no desire to watch that horrid new Miley Cyrus video, it it thrown right in our faces, “I vividly remember people telling how stupid the [Miley Cyrus] video was, and thought to myself that I would never even bother watching something or ridiculous. It only took about a day or two for me to give in to my curiosity.” (http://keenbeau80.wordpress.com/) By videos going ‘viral’ they are viewed in many countries by millions people, and talked about and shared on many social media sites. It is nearly impossible to escape the grasp of the viral video, that is plastered everywhere we look.

Blog Post 2: The Media We Want

Based on knowledge from this course I believe we want the media we get. We do not know what we want until we see it somewhere else and then make the conclusion in our minds that life will be better if we possess it. With the way advertisements are being portrayed now a days we see thousands of new things every day that we realize want and are willing to work long hours for. When it comes to me, shopping is my weakness. I’ll go shopping simply for something to do and end up going home with bags of clothes I know I don’t need but subconsciously want badly enough to spend a whole paycheck I slaved for at minimum wage. Styles are constantly changing for one purpose, to keep the consumer wanting more and coming back with their wallet open. This does not only apply to clothing but to technology, vehicles, housing, food and nearly every product on the market. Styles are constantly changing, the new replacing old, because god forbid we drive a rusty car or wear last seasons sweater.

Knowing this, the begging question that remains is: what in our minds makes us choose to buy the blue sweater over the green sweater? Or the iPad over a Samsung tablet? In the words of O’shaughnessy and Stadler (2012), “the media [has] to sell themselves successfully to large numbers of the population: they have to win big audiences in order to be economically viable and survive.” (p. 37) Knowing this, companies try to use their ads to convince the consumer that they simply can not live without their product, they are some how lesser than everyone else if it is not in their possession.

The media world is made up of two kinds of people; the producers and the followers. The producers study the consumers like prey, they learn their weaknesses and vulnerable areas and take advantage of them full force in attempt to make the consumers eye stop at their brand the next time they are out grocery shopping.

I agree with the second model based on the relationship between media and society, “the media [does] affect what people think, what they believe, and how they behave. The media construct our values for us and have a direct effect on our actions.” (O’shaughnessy and Stadler. 2012, p.43) From the time we were very young brands and commercials were constantly surrounding us. I remember I would sit with a pen and paper when commercials came on and create my endless christmas list. Moon shoes were what I wanted most because the boy next door told me he once jumped 12 feet in the air at his friends house. I begged my parents and a few years later they were finally in my possession. I used them for maybe half a day and since then they have been collecting dust in my garage. I realize now the only reason I wanted them was because everyone else had them, I saw them on television, and because the boy next door convinced me how much better my life would be with moon shoes. I feel like I owe my parents a very sincere apology for all the useless plastic I begged them to buy for me.

Reference:

O’Shaughnessy, M., & Stadler, J. (2012). Media and Society, (5th ed.). Australia & New Zealand: Oxford University Press.

 

Blog Response 1: Media Impact on Others

When reading over other classmates responses about how media effects their lives, I discovered some opinions that made me think and realize also apply to me. In the blog by mb12qe I noticed the concentration on body image displayed through the media and all of the negative effects it can have on people of almost any age. She elaborated especially on teen girls and how it is constantly portrayed on all media sources to lose weight and be toothpick skinny. Mb12qu said “Supermodels bodies are shown everywhere, when you turn on the TV, when you see a billboard or when you read a magazine, they are all that you see and I start to see myself as not good enough.” (http://mb12qe.wordpress.com/) Models are 5’ 10” and weigh 90 pounds. This weight is nowhere near healthy, but it is what is accepted and even encouraged by all media sources. There is always a new diet pill to try or abdominal exercise to do to get every girl ‘beach body ready’. I have noticed over social media especially girls have a large obsession with a thigh gap. A space between the top of your legs defines you as ‘better’ than someone else, or so the media encourages us to believe. 

 

Looking at media from a Alexandra’s perspective however leads one to believe media has more of a positive contribution to society. She states that, “Watching the news has a positive impact on my life because I am being informed about world events and also what is happening in my community.” (http://alexandradeyman.wordpress.com/) Being up to date on the local and world wide news is very important and is made much easier and convenient through Smartphone devices. The usage of data allows us to access databases without any direct internet connection. I believe she makes a very valid point on how media can be used to positively effect peoples lives.

 

With Alexandra’s view in mind, I can’t help but to agree with Evan who believes media is dumbing down the English language. Especially in the younger generation. It is nice to believe that they are using technology and media to learn more about what is going on in the world like Alexandra had stated, but this is just not the reality of the situation. Evan argues that, “”mass media” in our society changed our true English into a much lesser, lazier, slang driven English and I do not think we should be letting our language be massacred by keyboard warriors and people who think its “fun” to make our language simplistic and rather stupid.” (http://evanwallacecpcf.blogspot.ca/) It is very true, instead of face to face communication everything is written down in small messages and sent wirelessly within a matter of seconds. This expands on my original post where I argued that people are lacking social skills because of the lack of in-person communication. 

 

I have come to the conclusion after reading over many posts that mass media has more of a deconstructive, rather than constructive quality. Soon who knows, we may never leave our beds to go to work in the morning. Just open our laptops and log in.