BCM110, it’s been a good run

Blogging for BCM110 has really given me a chance to discover what my writing style is, and has made me feel more comfortable in writing for an audience. I’m glad to say this happened sooner than later, as it’s a must have for my dream career; it wouldn’t be the best look for a writer of a magazine to feel too awkward about writing something that other people will read. It was definitely nerve racking to start a blog though, and I think the awkwardness of introducing yourself on a new blog is kind of inevitable (for me anyway).

Before BCM110, I never gave much thought to the media and the theories and issues surrounding it, especially media ownership. Before picking up a magazine, tuning into my favourite radio station or flicking through the news channels, I wouldn’t think about who owned that source or why they would portray something in the way they did – I would just see the news on and figure it must be right, because well, it’s the news.

I especially found the discussion about the Media Effects Model very interesting, as I have always been interested in what the medias role really is in regards to the violence in society. Furthermore, learning about the tragic murder of Jamie Bulger which really struck a chord with me, and the medias ‘supposed’ role in the murder (and influence of Child’s Play 3) on the killers.

I also really enjoyed learning about the art of semiotics and signs, and now find myself over analysing regular ads to find hidden meanings!

Reading and commenting on other BCM110 students blogs also really helped me further my understanding on many of the topics, and I found it very interesting getting other perspectives on topics, similarly with the blogs that shared my perspective. This experience has definitely helped me shape my understanding of the media and the issues surrounding it.

Furthermore, I have learnt that the media has many purposes, and thus not to just accept what I read, watch or hear, but to actively criticise it and perhaps find another meaning.

Thanks for reading!

Not just a Modern Family

ImageMy Grandma commented while watching an episode of Modern Family that she was quite taken aback at how the show presented some issues (such as the gay community) as very “normalised.” However in the 21st century, these issues are actually more relevant and more accepted than ever. And that may just be because of shows such as Modern Family, which comically focus on the issues of today and contribute to debate in the mediated public sphere.

The public sphere is a metaphor, which refers to a place where members of society meet to converse about relevant concerns and topics. The mediated public sphere refers to the medias role in this public sphere and provides a place where these common issues can be presented and debated.

This mediated public sphere is evident in Modern Family, as it deals with contemporary issues and situations by utilising comedy to create debate on what it means to be a family, and inevitably, what the definition of a family is today.

Some issues focused on include divorce, second marriages, a large age gap, step parents, gay couples, and adoption. Lily’s adoption (from Vietnam) by gay parents Mitch and Cam, shows an integration and diversity of races, similarly with Gloria and Manny’s Spanish heritage.

Not all possible family structures are presented, however many are mentioned in episodes, such as single parent family units, surrogacy, and teenage parent family units.

Ty Burrell (who plays Phil), comments that shows such as Modern Family have the “power to help bring about social change, and have done so already”

This is especially relevant in regards to Mitchell and Cameron’s gay relationship – the couple’s lack of affectionate displays in season one actually led to a debate, and involved a Facebook campaign from fans urging to see the couple be more affectionate.

Issues such as these contribute to the mediated public sphere by conveying to audiences “day in and day out, gay people living the same lives as everybody else,” which presents that people in these categories and groups are a real part of the world today in the 21st century, and should be accepted.

Through presenting these issues using humour, it creates a more lighthearted and comfortable way to approach issues which may be controversial to some people. For example, when Cam and Mitch’s friend Sal is planning to get married and asks them if they are alright with her getting married – when they can’t legally marry, Cam comically replies, “What kind of people would we be if we denied you or anyone the right to marry,” Mitch adding, “hash-tag politics”.

Therefore, the show presents more than just a ‘Modern Family’, and deals with many issues of today, as well as contributing issues to debate in the mediated public sphere.

Thanks for reading!

The Golden Age of Media Bias

We read newspapers, watch news broadcasts,  listen to the radio and read magazines. But do we ever stop to think about just who exactly runs these media stations and what their ideologies are?

The diversity of media ownership in Australia is declining; this means that we are subject to fewer opinions, and surrounded by the same few media giants (perhaps bias?) beliefs regarding issues and news.

But does this matter?

Yes! Media critic Danny Schechter comments, “the danger of this kind of media concentration is that it robs democracy of diversity. It robs viewers from being exposed to a wider range of views.” This can be very dangerous in some circumstances, a key example would be Hitler and the Nazis, when they eliminated all opposing media, and thus had complete control over what was published and aired.

With hindsight it is clear from this role of the government in the media that such strong ideologies being imposed on the people – and a lack of opposing views, can trick them into believing such ideologies.

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Furthermore, even though all media sources relay the information differently, they may be owned by the same company and only presented differently to attract a variety of audiences. For example, the magazines FAMOUS, In Style, WHO and Home Beautiful are all owned by Pacific Magazines (part of the media empire Seven Media Group) – which is owned by Kerry Stokes; so even though there are different people relaying the information; they’re all just puppets in front of a cunning media giant.

In regards to Australian media ownership, majority of the different media networks belong to News Corp, Seven Media Group and Fairfax Media; which own networks over a lot of the media industry, including: film, magazine, publishing, sports & television industries. Australian media ownership is reportedly ‘one of the most concentrated in the world’, with 11 of the 12 capital city daily papers being owned by either News Corp or Fairfax Media.

So, next time you watch the news, read a newspaper or magazine or listen to the radio, just ask yourself which company owns this source, who owns that company and what are their ideologies?

“Provocative” or just downright offensive?

This week in lectures we discussed how ‘the image cannot lie’, referring to signs and semiotics. Many advertisements contain these signs and controversies so as to stand out and be remembered. The advertisement I have chosen to analyse is a part of an ad campaign from Georgia USA on child obesity, put out by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

I personally found these ad sets completely offensive, and therefore as a highly controversial set of images, I chose to deconstruct them for this weeks assignment. The one I chose to focus mainly on was the image of the girl, which reads “WARNING – it’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

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The signifiers and signified included in this image include: the issue of obesity, the fact that it’s a black and white image; which conveys no happiness and even perhaps no hope for the child. Also, the salient image of the red writing suggests that it’s not acceptable to be overweight, as the colour red is usually associated with danger. Furthermore  the girl’s body language; her arms crossed and facial expressions of a blank, sad stare, indicates her isolation due to her weight.

There was a quote in the article the set of images originally came from which I found very ironic, as they refer to the expressions of the children as “bullied faces”, when the photo and the statement in fact is doing just that, by singling them out as obese, they are hurting the exact people that the ads are aimed at.

Furthermore, another quote from the article “It’s very provocative and makes people uncomfortable, but it’s when people are uncomfortable that change comes” really stood out to me and my friend Caitlin when discussing it in our tutorial this week, as the advertisements are not stating facts – like other “provocative” ads such as the visual TV advertisements on smoking; but are offensive and shaming to these children and others like them. In conclusion, I don’t see anything wrong with a controversial advertisement to catch the viewers attention and stick in their mind. But when it goes past the ‘factual’ and into the downrightly offensive, I think the motive behind the images needs to be re-evaluated.

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obbesity

(Some other images from the ad campaign)

Thanks for reading!

The Media Effects Model

When issues such as violence and antisocial behaviour arise in society such as the Port Arthur Massacre and the case of Jamie Bulger and his 10 year old murderers, is it appropriate the finger of blame is pointed at the media. The media effects model looks at the notion of causality (the chain of events), starting with the violent behaviour portrayed through media and influencing the negative behaviour in society.

violenceIt’s obvious to me that the media plays a huge role in the lives of everyone in society. But what is the extent of their influence? And is it fair to blame the media instead of the more logical reasoning behind these actions?

I certainly think it’s easier for society to blame the media, instead of evaluating the real effects, effects that perhaps may have slipped through the cracks of those societies, or which they ignored or failed to recognise. Prominent social issues, such as history surrounding the individual, issues of poverty, abuse and unemployment all need to be addressed.

The foundation to the model is based on studies which have been undertaken in fabricated circumstances, often taking place in laboratories and under un-natural conditions, or where the experiment is clear to the subjects what is asked of them. A key example of this is the ‘bobo doll’ experiment where children viewed a doll being hit and then were placed in a playroom with one. In this instance, the children would have realised what was being asked of them, therefore the study is not legitimate.

Futhermore, the effects model heavily limits its criticisms of violence to fictional mediums such as video games and movies. Real life news reports are not reported to be an issue. This raises a lot of questions, seeing as the violence broadcasted on the news depicts real life violence, and the violence represented in video games and movies is fictional. Why is it that this real life violence is acceptable and fictional violence is the cause?

With all this in mind, I would like to leave you with a few questions,

Would you be more inclined to copy a real-life situation of violence, or a cartoon depiction of violence?

And why doesn’t the violence in media affect everyone? How can it supposedly affect some people substantially and not others?

Introduction

Hi there! My name is Sarah Plowman and I am a first year student studying Communications and Media studies at the University of Wollongong. I went to St Patrick’s College Sutherland and I live in Kareela (yes the Shire, please hold your judgments!) I am hoping that on completion of my course I can start a job in the magazine industry, which has been my dream ever since I started reading Barbie magazine when I was about 6. It is also this passion for magazines (and my inability to part with them), that somehow inevitably made me the avid magazine collector that I am today. God help my family (and house) if I accidentally leave my straightener on one day, because a fire and my room with my colossal magazine collection would not be the best match.