Representing the ‘Other’

If you think about the last time you watched a movie with an African American character, it is more likely than not that that character was a racial stereotype and not a main role. Typically they are cast as the servant, the thug, the comedic best friend, the ‘independent’ woman. Film maker Spike Lee comments that “In order for the characterisations of African Americans on television and film to change, blacks need to achieve positions of power in those industries, where they can have some control over the images that are produced.”

TV shows and movies are no longer just a source of entertainment, but education. Portrayals of other cultures must be ‘correct’ in every sense of the word. If children grow up watching misrepresentations of cultures, they will naturally think that the way they are behaving and being treated is acceptable.

It wasn’t until 2009 that Disney released a children’s movie with a main character being from African American descent.  The Princess and the Frog features the main princess Tiana as a hardworking waitress who dreams of opening her own resturaunt – a significantly different persona to the typical Disney princesses who quite often have no ambitions of their own besides marrying the prince.

Famous Youtuber ‘GloZell’ visits Disneyland and gets emotional when she meets the princess Tiana

Many people in our culture are so used to racial stereotypes that they aren’t even aware that what they are saying is racist. A stereotype that come to mind include Asians being smart but being bad drivers. According to Asian American writer Jessica Walton, “The problem with stereotypes is that they are so ingrained and so commonplace that they have become invisible. They can be perceived as harmless and as comfortable and normal as your living room chair – except of course if you are on the receiving end.”

Racism and misrepresentation in the media of other cultures includes both physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem and high blood pressure.

So what can we do about it?

There is a current idea that being “colour-blind” – will stop racism. However being colour-blind is to basically pretend that race is not an issue in society and that people don’t notice race. There are differences between cultures and pretending to ignore these differences is not going to aid the social injustice.

There is therefore a great need for other cultures to have a fair (and accurate representation.) If a certain cultural group is represented in a similar way again and again, that image being portrayed becomes the norm.

Gender and the State of the Newsroom (Glass Ceiling; Mind Your Head)

It’s 2015.

Women are more empowered than ever.

‘Feminism’ no longer a word only said in private in fear of persecution.

There have been substantial improvements regarding the rights of women.

But why is it that in our newsrooms, females are still not being recognised as just as capable as their male counterparts?

In Australia we statistically have more female news reporters than men. However this isn’t actually as great as it may appear. Women in newsrooms are typically covering the more ‘soft’ news stories – the weather, lifestyle and celebrity gossip. These women are scrutinised daily by viewers for everything other than their journalistic capabilities. And interestingly, there are very few women in journalism in a leadership position.

Their clothes, their makeup, their hair seem to all be more important than how they do their jobs. This became really clear when Karl Stefanovic wore the same suit for an entire year on The Today Show. His year-long protest-prank was to make a comment against the double standards his female colleagues face.

When Googling, “Australian News Readers” I was prompted by these options

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 4.11.12 pm

So even though there is finally an equal number of females working in media, there is still a considerable difference between the types of news that the different sexes cover. Louise North attributes this inequality to the fact that women have long been denied from key editorial leadership roles in news organisations around the world. North states that a common obstacle to career progress (and therefore attaining leadership positions) reported by women journalists is the problem of male attitudes.
Similarly, Naomi Milgrom, (Owner of Sussan Retail Group) was quoted saying, “Women in leadership roles never come about spontaneously. It requires a culture that supports women. It only happens when leaders of companies create policies and initiatives to stimulate such a culture.”

So to rid the glass ceiling in journalism, there needs to be a conscious effort to promote women and to focus on their skills rather than their appearance.

It is very evident that there needs to be a massive change in newsrooms to put an end to the gender inequality present, and that this change is only going to come about with a conscious effort. Female journalists need to be seen and represented as more than their appearances, and the clothes that they wear.

The Hidden Costs of Media Use

In China in 2013 there were 257,000 premature deaths across the country due to air pollution known as PM2.5. That’s an average of 90 in every 100,000 deaths.This is due to the corporate business models used by many of the large companies operating in China at the expense of their workers. Although there are a multitude of companies operating their factories in China, there is one company who can afford to be more environmentally friendly. Apple. As one of the most profitable and influential companies, I feel they definitely have a greater responsibility for ethical leadership.

iphone real price true cost

After the suicide cases, Apple workers now have to sign an anti-suicide contract pledging that they will not attempt to commit suicide. Anti-suicide nets were installed on the outside of all the dorm windows so that the workers would be caught and brought back to work.

The workers are also made to work in inhumane working conditions, as well as having to work up to 98 hours of overtime in a month – three times more than what the Chinese law states.  Additionally, workers are only allowed to take one day off every two weeks.   A considerable amount of Apples profit can be attributed to the cheap labour costs they employ in their factories. This includes hiring under age workers. The normal wages for an employee are around $17-$22 a day.

The workers are forced to live in communal dorms with around 24 people living in each room. The workers can be woken at any time to start work. Days before the original iPhone was released, the workers were awoken at 3am when Steve Jobs made the decision to change the screens from plastic to glass.

Companies are continually sourcing rare minerals to fulfil the high production demand for new forms of technology. These minerals are dangerously extracted in order to improve the functionality of devices, with no concern for the environment or the workers employed in these dangerous environments to extract these minerals.

iphone real price true cost

Another great concern is the build up of toxic E-waste. It is having massive impacts for not only society as a whole, but for the developing countries who usually fall victim to being developed countries dumping grounds.

In a statement, Apple said: “Apple is committed to ensuring the highest standards of social responsibility throughout our supply base. Apple requires suppliers to commit to our comprehensive supplier code of conduct as a condition of their contracts with us. We drive compliance with the code through a rigorous monitoring programme, including factory audits, corrective action plans and verification measures.”

It is obvious that Apple are not displaying social responsibility and are putting profits over the health and safety of their workers. There needs to be a massive shift in the laws and regulations in China to improve the working conditions of every factory. The current regulations are obviously not even sufficient enough to provide their workers with basic human rights.

Black(and blue)fish – Stop Orcas in Captivity

I’ve never had pets of my own. To go to someone’s house for a sleepover and find out they owned a cat or dog was the most devastating news I could hear, and ultimately it meant I would have to go home.

But I’m not heartless. I’m just allergic.

The topic for this week was “A Bloody Business: Communicating animal suffering” and boy did that live up to its title. Sitting in my tutorial and watching clips of animals subjected to cruelty for the pleasure of humans was a really eye-opening topic for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve never actually been able to be around animals, but I’ve simply never thought about cruelty towards animals before.

Like most other kids, I went to the aquarium as a special treat. I thought it was amazing, seeing all these wild creatures that we wouldn’t be able to see under normal circumstances. But what you don’t think about is how those animals came to be living in an aquarium, what they’re missing out on, and the family that they got taken from.

Watching Blackfish changed all these thoughts. I watched in horror as baby Orcas were trapped and kidnapped, leaving behind an inconsolable mother crying out in long-range vocals for her baby.

It reminded me very much of the Stolen Generations – with hindsight it is obvious to us how unforgivable these acts were. With all of this knowledge, why are we repeating history and inflicting this pain on to our wild Orcas – a species that has been proven to have a phenomenally developed emotional capacity.

In this aerial view of SeaWorld, you can see how little room the orcas have. Inside the circle is Tilikum, whose nose and tail appear to be able to touch both sides of the tank at the same time.

Lori Marino, a neuroscientist prominently featured in ‘Blackfish’ states

“If you look at, say, the brain of an orca [and] the brain of a human, it would be difficult to say that the human brain was capable of more emotional depth than the orca brain, because what you see in the orca brain is an elaboration on the limbic area that the human brain doesn’t have.”

It is evident that the Orcas in captivity are suffering. The average lifespan of an Orca in captivity is only 9, but in the wild orcas live lifespans similar to that of humans, and can live up to 70-80 years. In the wild, there has never been a report of an orca harming a human being. But in captivity it is a very different figure; there have been three known deaths of orca trainers since 1991 and many others have been injured.

To me it is really clear that we as a society need to have a discussion about the treatment of orcas in captivity, and figure out if we are prepared to continue this detrimental cycle for human enjoyment.

Digital Storytelling; A Reflection

My final project for BCM240 is to create a digital story relating to the material we have studied in Media, Audience and Place. With the objective of getting my audience to think about how media practices and audience experiences are spatial in nature, with research, I had to pick a digital platform to convey my story.

When I first looked at the BCM240 assignment 3, I was overwhelmed and found it difficult to gauge what exactly was being asked of me. I was also unsure of which topic I should pick, and would be interested in enough to sustain over a few weeks. After much deliberation I decided to research piracy in Australia, it is a topic that I am very passionate about because I feel we are deprived of TV shows because of our location.

What I found very interesting whilst researching was that lots of attention has been placed on the fact that Australian consumers are the biggest pirates in the world. There are news articles published daily about how Australian’s are in fact the world’s worst pirates. But no research has been undertaken to discover the reasons why this is so.

It was really intriguing as to why the Government and other stakeholders would rather spend their time and money persecuting pirates and blocking torrent websites rather than delving further into the qualitative side of it, and asking why these people are pirating.

Therefore I found there is a huge need for research to be undertaken in Australia by distributor companies. The stakeholder I proposed my research to is Foxtel – I think it’s imperative that they begin to respond to the wants and needs of the pirating audience instead of fighting against them.

I felt most distanced from my project a few weeks back when I had created a survey via Survey Monkey and found the people I had invited to undertake the survey were slow at replying. After a friendly reminder, I found my results picked up. Analysing the results was very interesting but I felt I expected the answers I got, as I feel the exact same way that majority of the consumers do. The people who filled out my survey also seemed very passionate about the topic which confirms to me how great the need is for change in Australia. I would be very interested to actually pitch the idea for research to Foxtel or alternatively Netflix, and see their reasons for not providing an on-demand service for a reasonable price in Australia.

Throughout my project I found it very helpful to discuss my project in class and hear my classmates ideas and suggestions for my project, as well as hearing their ideas and how they were approaching their own projects. My tutor Susan was also very helpful in offering guidance.

After completing my project I have really gained a lot of knowledge, not only on the topic of pirating, but how the consumers of Australia feel about it. I have also learnt a great deal about digital storytelling – and how it aims to share emotional stories through global platforms to engage with the audience. I chose to present my digital project on the platform Storify after researching a few different platforms, I decided upon Storify as it is really effective in digital storytelling. Not only does it present your writing, you can incorporate other peoples posts/tweets/photos/graphs, or any other information from the internet. By linking them, it not only makes your point more credible, but avoids plagiarism as every source is correctly stated. It definitely helped me to share my story in a more flexible and creative way.

Storify position themselves as “the easiest way to find, collect, and share what people are saying all over the web.” As a popular news and story site, it is a really effective way to stimulate discussion among consumers, and to appeal to an effective stakeholder organisation.

If I was to complete my project again, I would employ better time management skills, allowing enough time to not only revise my ideas, but spend more time looking at feedback and comments from users of Storify. I would also spend the additional time to interact more with other users and people interested in the topic.

My Digital Project can be found here along with a full list of references.

Goodnight, not Goodbye

So now I find myself at the end of my blogging for BCM240.

Looking back over the past 9 weeks of blogging, I have learnt much about media audiences and place.

I found it much more enjoyable to compose a blog post if I could personally relate to the topic or had some kind of experience relating to it. The weeks that involved me to leave my comfort zone and blog about an unknown topic saw me undertake a very different process. Instead of starting off with my experiences of the topic, I found myself looking at other students blogs and researching interesting angles I could take. A post that stands out in my mind most is my ‘Real Life?’ – Never heard of that server’ post, in which includes details of the NBN. Before this topic I had personally never given the NBN much thought, if any! It was definitely interesting learning about the promises and the areas that are connected to it. I felt this post was overall flat, as I couldn’t add any personal experiences or anecdotes that I would usually draw upon for my blog post.

My blog layout definitely reflects my graphic design skills (which consist of editing my Myspace layout back in 2007), and doesn’t look as professional and appealing as I hoped. However I struggled with the settings and found that was the best I could achieve without spending 48 hours on just the layout. The side-bar contains a Twitter feed and categories for my blog, which is probably the most high-tech aspect you’ll be seeing on my blog. I feel I could have utilised Twitter more during the assignment, but WordPress and Twitter are pretty much the only two platforms on the entire internet that I am the least familiar with, and it doesn’t come naturally.

Throughout my posts I tried to keep paragraphs short, with no more than a few sentences in each. This is my personal style, and this reflects what I like reading when it comes to other peoples blogs. I feel large paragraphs look unappealing and are less likely to attract viewers. The same goes for additional graphics; pictures, memes, YouTube clips, you name it, are all featured throughout all of my blog posts as I feel it breaks up the writing, and adds an extra depth to the text. Additionally, the Youtube clips in particular usually help explain my points in ways that would not be possible or interesting with words, or provide extra information for those readers that want to hear more.

I also include multiple links in all of my posts, I feel hyperlinks make your reading more credible as you have research or other sources backing up your points. I prefer to have these links in-text rather than in a list at the end, so that it is obvious to the readers which reference belongs to which piece of information. There’s nothing more overwhelming than looking for a reference and scrolling down to find 239 references.

My favourite post is ‘Cookies. And not the edible kind,’ which I found really interesting researching and writing because I have assigned much thought to just how ‘tracked’ we are. I also thoroughly enjoyed writing this post as I had a personal story about my little sister looking up ‘Ferret harness’ on Gumtree and is now constantly flooded with advertisements on Facebook about ferret harnesses being sold in her area.

The same applied to one of my most recent post, ‘Media Regulations in 2014; a Reason for Panic’ in which I discuss the need for media rules and regulation, and the need for issues such as internet privacy and inappropriate viewing for children to be added to the dialogue. Having the chance to research and blog about an issue such as how the Internet has blurred the lines between acceptable and non-acceptable viewing for children is really eye opening for me, as I feel it’s never discussed. Piracy is a hot topic issue among society, but I find the topic of children having little to no Internet regulations more morally disconcerting.

Similarly with my post, ‘The Bystander and the Camera Phone‘, was quite confronting for me to research and write about, as I have never given thought to how it was actually legal be photographed without seeking permission in public places. It made me rethink my own habits, as I have taken a few ‘sneaky Snapchats’ of stranger’s doing/wearing something unusual, sleeping in a public place, or doing something of comedic value. But I had never given thought to the fact that I wouldn’t like someone taking a photo of me without my permission. I felt even more selfish when I tried to confront my public subjects and ask for their permission to use their image, and couldn’t even bring myself to ask for permission.

All in all, blogging about media, audience and place has been a blast and has opened up my writing to a whole lot of different topics that I might have never given more thought to. Although keeping up with one blog post a week and writing about the NBN has definitely been challenging at times, I’m proud of my blog and I hope I gave a few of you my readers a couple minutes of enjoyment with my posts.

Writing for an audience is definitely an invaluable skill to have, and starting up my university blog and blogging every week has inspired me to create my own fashion and beauty blog, (although I used this as an opportunity to explore Blogspot; sorry WordPress). Writing to an audience really isn’t as daunting as you think it is before you start! The biggest struggle will always be choosing a blog name that you’re stuck with for eternity.

goodbye

Australian Films Crash and Burn

When I say Aussie film, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Wolf Creek? Crocodile Dundee? Australia?

And which actresses and actors do you think of?

Hugh Jackman? Nicole Kidman? Cate Blanchett?

Australia movie image Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman

There’s a certain stereotype that surrounds Aussie films. But in 2014, this generalisation could not be more wrong.

We all love Australian television. As Garry Maddox from the Sydney Morning Herald stated,

“At a time when Australians are watching so much local television –with House Husbands, Offspring and Winners & Losers all having more’ than 1.3 million viewers last week – a series of local films have failed to work at the box office this year.” 

winners_and_losers_2014_19edo4e-19edo4m

With Australian television rates better than ever before, what is it that makes us cringe when we hear the words Aussie movie?

Fingers of blame are being pointed at the Australian audiences that choose to view the Hollywood movies at their cinema instead of choosing a homegrown movie.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason asserts that “There’s a fundamental Australian issue here that we almost don’t recognise our own talent,’’ says Mason.

However I don’t think this is the problem. I think the stereotype of Australian movies – bad accents/generalisations of Australians/the use of the word Sheila can be blamed at the types of movies that were being produced in Australia decades ago. With all the phenomenal technology of the 21st century, Australia can now produce works such as The Great Gatsby – a movie that 20 years ago never would have been pegged as an Australian work.

According to 2011 analysis by Screen Australia, only nine per cent of all viewings of Australian films occur at the box office. The other 91 per cent are spread across TV and DVD.“But while local films perform poorly at the cinema, they do pick up large numbers of viewers on secondary platforms.” news.com.au,’September’2014′

And why exactly is this? It’s because the Australian movie industry that once was left a lasting impression in our minds. With Australian’s now wanting more Hollywood movies/drama/gossip than ever, Australian film is a risk. With the ever-increasing price of movie tickets, of course people would rather see a movie produced in Hollywood over Australia because it has a better reputation.

There is therefore clearly a huge need to do something to improve this gap, and that is to:

Improve the stigma attached to Australian movies.

As a researcher, I would be very interested in conducting some qualitative research on Australian film audiences. This could be done by undertaking research to find out why Australian’s are picking Hollywood productions over Australia’s. This could include questions regarding the lack of advertising, lack of times and locations that the movie is screening at, and qualitative information such as where they would best respond to advertising for Australian films being aired.

Currently, Australian films are very limited in distribution, with 82% of Australian films being released on less that 100 cinema screens, and 39% are distributed to less than 20 cinema screens (Screen Australia 2009, p. 3). Boosting these numbers would automatically increase sales; people now are busier than ever, and if they have time to go to the movies they aren’t going to travel to Surry Hills to watch an limited edition Aussie production, but they are going to go to their closest Event Cinema or Hoyts.

Andrew Traucki, the writer/director of  Australian movie The Reef, acknowledged that a big problem – one too common with many local films – was that his potential audience didn’t know the film existed. Asked what kind of movie he would have made with double the budget, Traucki said: “My initial impulse would be to say (that) I’d just make the same movie and spend three million on publicity.” From this statement alone it is very evident of the reason behind the lack of Australian ‘box-office hits.’

Put simply, Hollywood can afford bigger budgets and in turn have a ridiculously larger amount of advertising than Australian producers are investing.

References

– 2011, ‘Flop films bring funding into focus’, Sydney Morning Herald, April 7, accessed 14 September 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/blogs/cinetopia/flop-films-bring-funding-into-focus-20110407-1d5d9.html&gt;

– Screen Australia 2014, Top 100 Australian films of all time, ranked by total reported gross Australian box office as of January 2014, Screen Australia, viewed 27 September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/mrboxaust.aspx&gt>

– Screen Australia 2009, Australian films in the marketplace: analysis of release strategies and box office performance, Screen Australia, viewed 27 September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/cmspages/handler404.aspx?404;https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au:443/getmedia/f78eb112-340e-4760-96c0-ad4d436f8a8e/Release_boxoffice_20Nov09.pdf&gt>

– 2014, ‘Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them’, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September, accessed 14 September 2014, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/story-fnk853hr-1227057559133&gt;