In the article Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer, Richard Butsch describes the way in which the working class man is portrayed in the media today. He uses the term "buffoon" to accurately describe this role. The dictionary definition of the word being "a ridiculous but amusing person, a clown", one can easily get a picture for what this means. In basic terms, middle and working class men are portrayed as being stupid, clumsy, goofy, and having no common sense. They are often shown as the person who works and put's the bread on the table, but other than that, is not really worth much. Sure, the character is dearly loved by cast mates, but is also shown up by most of them. One of the biggest things that he describes in the article is the image of the working man's wife as being not only gorgeous and successful, but also much more intelligent than he is. She is shown as the down-to-earth parent that understands what's going on and can work as well as keep things grounded around the house. A good example explained in the text is that of the show King of Queens. In this show, the audience is given that the couple (Doug and Cari) are a loving couple who often share in playful and joking banter. For a majority of the show, Cari is a successful business woman, while Doug works as a truck driver for a company much like UPS. So, Doug has the lesser paying job. But he is also shown to have less power over their house (her father lives with them). And she is shown as having most of the power. In general, Doug is made out to have little say and an even smaller backbone to stick up for himself. He has the least paying job of the two and is not taken very seriously at all. Overall, it seems as though our media shows these roles as completely opposite of the way that our society really works. In society today, women are NOT given the respect and held higher than men. That idea is entirely flipped in real life. So, other than the idea that it makes for good comedy (because the idea of a woman being more intelligent than a man is SIMPLY RIDICULOUS), the thought process does not make much sense. So, my question about all of this is: Why do we consider these roles to be so funny? Why do you think Americans enjoy watching this role reversal so much that they give good ratings to the shows with these stereotypes? And then, try to imagine what the media world will look like in 10 years. Will we still have the same ideas and shows showcasing them? If not, what will the change look like? Where else could we go from here?
September 2012 Archives
As said in this passage, men, in the past have been portrayed as the "head of the house" in TV shows for years. As women continue to grow in society, and this is something that people are supportive of and are impressed to see, do you think that it will become the norm someday for women to be portrayed this way in a popular TV show in the future? Would it receive high enough ratings?
The role of the working class buffoon has been popular in television shows for decades. My question is: do you see television shows straying away from this role in future or is this a trend we will continue to see? Also, how have the series changed are perceptions of the average American working class male?
By Ashley Stopperan
In Butsch's article, he states that "to avoid risk, network executives have chosen programs that repeat the same images of class decade after decade." I personally believe that networks want to avoid risk but my question is are they really creating the same images of class? I think we could discuss how, even recently, television is coming out with unique shows that portray men and women much differently than how they were portrayed 20 years ago. Do you agree with Butsch's argument?
In Richard Butsch's article "Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer: Why Television Keeps Re-creating the White Male Working Class Buffoon, Butsch talks about the persistent stereotypes of white, middle class male characters portrayed by Hollywood. Butsch explains some of the reasons and logic as to why male middle class stereotypes have been so persistent and longstanding. In Butsch's opinion, there are many reasons that range from risk avoidance by the production companies, to the creator's own personal background in a middle class family. The question is, should we care? According to Butsch, the average household's television use was seven hours per day during the 1970's and 1980's. Clearly, television, and the messages and stereotypes they provide, has an impact on our lives, especially when television is so time-consuming. The question is, what are the affects that these stereotypes are having on us? Do these stereotypes affect the way we see whole groups of people, including the average working middle class man? More recently, are such shows as "Moderin Family" affecting the way that we, as an audience, view what a family should or should not be? Does a show like "The Simpsons" affect not only the way we view a working middle class man, but also how we view working class families, corporations, and other important functions? Are these affects something that can be judged or measured? If not, is it something that we should be cautious about when viewing? What is the extent to which these stereotypes affect us as a culture? Should we be concerned? Are the way we view and measure stereotypes, from working middle class men to families, ultimately being decided for us? Do we want these stereotypes to be pressed down upon us from an institution like Hollywood whose main goal is public attraction, advertising, and revenues? If no, what should we do as culture differently?
I would say Butsch makes a very good point about what affects all the final decisions when deciding what type of sitcom or series to develop. The most obvious to me was the point she made about the networks and producers sticking to tried and true formulas in creating the new shows. When it boils down to it, it's all about money. And if they know something works to make money why would they change it?
As I read through the text, particularly the parts about the buffoons and blue-collar husbands, I couldn't help but see Peter from Family Guy the entire time; as all of his giggling, running about, and immature inappropriate jokes flashed through my mind. While I read through the author's explanations of why blue-collar buffoon worker is the man of the house, etc. I began to think of some other reasons I thought might contribute to it as well. And my question for Butsch would be what she thinks about the following: In Family Guy peter is the buffoon blue-collar worker husband. Viewers of this show obviously like the crude jokes that involve basically every common stereotype out there and a large portion of the time sexual references or jokes towards women. I just thought about this and how this is common in a lot of shows. Its not necessarily possible for the wife or woman in the show to be the buffoon because all the sexual gender biased jokes typically would be said by a male. There are obviously a lot of stereotypes about how women should act and I think as the producer of a show they will realize that a male character will be more likeable by viewers playing the buffoon role than a woman might be because people wouldn't want to a woman farting, swearing, and drinking beer at the bar with friends. A female character strongly limits the potential "jokes" to be said by the character.
As television is affecting the world, they still portray what the typical family would prefer not to have, the working class buffoon father. Like in the article that Butsch writes about the multiple shows that portray the father niche as the "buffoon." The show I am most familiar with is The Simpsons, and America seems to continue to portray this. This may be perhaps its portrayal of what the majority of society has become and a somewhat slap in the face as to what can be turned around. As more women have increasingly started to have more graduate degrees, even run for the president and other high congressional positions, the role of dominance may be changing and the US is trying to show this through Television shows. We as a typical American family assume the wife usually with not have a job and just be a housewife, and the father supports the family only on his incomes, makes the family decisions and overall is the leader of the group. These shows not only do the opposite but more shows have developed to become like this. My favorite in particular is Family Guy.
I actually wrote my autobiographical paper on Family Guy and the reason I love the show is the humor mostly based on the buffoon father, Peter Griffin. I stated that the show influenced me to never become like this family, it showed me that Peter is actually not a "family guy" and a father hopefully none would become. Butsch quotes someone saying that these shows are mostly based upon "the media culture." It has become culture to us to expect these more so realistic shows. (that may be a bit exaggerated but is what society is becoming more of) With the multiple references that Butsch gives such as King of the Hill, King of Queens, and the new Cosby Show, we can see how much it is increasing, with show advertising, and ratings increasing. Perhaps this has all happened because people are more accepting to the fact of reality that the father role is a working class buffoon, rather than a rich smart perfect doctor.
DQ- If in these shows the working class buffoon father figure is so acceptable and humorous, when would it ever be in real life? Once in my psych class, we went over switched roles of wives working and fathers staying home, and as history repeats itself, when can this ever be acceptable? I personally would want my husband to be smarter and more rich than I.
In the article "Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer", Richard Butsch makes three main points regarding factors networks face about program decisions: risk avoidance, the need to produce programming suited to advertising, and whether the program will attract the right audience, noting that they all go hand in hand in creating programs that will see success. Because these networks get the bulk of their money from advertisers it would make sense that advertisers are their number one priority, and if the advertisers are happy than the audiences perception comes second to that. On the other hand, if the content is too repetitive and similar to other media programs as far as representations of class, gender, race, etc., it could be assumed that the audience will get bored and venture off to a different program, missing all of the commercials featured on that network. Do you think that is the case, and If that is the case than shouldn't the audience come first? Do you think that audiences generally gravitate to programs that are similar to each other and illustrate ideological hegemony? or do you think that audiences are looking for new genres for entertainment, like they have for reality television over the last few decades?
Many parts of this article contained statistics that I had either heard before or what I had figured to be the case. There were however, some things that were new that I found to be intriguing. At first I figured it was just easy to showcase a working class man of the house to be the comic and buffoon. Possibly just for comic relief, but it was interesting that it was something able to be recreated. If the producers and big companies knew that a previous show was successful, they could duplicate the same sort of character and they could have a hit. Even if the majority of shows were/are not representative of the actual American population, finding something that works and duplicating it makes the money.
The other part that goes into that is the fact that these companies want the shows to be marketable and be able to use advertising. That is the explanation Butsch gives for why the working class is so underrepresented and the more affluent characters are heavily used. They want those certain ad campaigns and products to sell, so if they can find a show that aligns with those values they will use it. It makes sense because it is easier to picture a richer character purchasing and driving a nice vehicle rather than Homer Simpson. The connection is easier to make and therefore the possibility of a sale is more likely to happen. Even with the decline of network television ratings, they still made use of this "buffoon" stereotype. It makes me wonder if this stereotype on television will ever fade away, or if it will always remain somehow? I would be interested to see what the popular television series right now looked like when their pilots were first pitched. I wonder if the use of class and occupation were a big determining factor, or if these shows were more of the innovative programs the network tried to use to boost ratings? Why do these shows with the working class still work in our society? The characters can come off very stereotypically, but is it because they are so relatable to the majority of our culture?
This reading has been a topic of discussion in several of my classes both this semester and past semesters. It's a topic that not a lot of people think about unless prompted, but I think it's really important to think about and analyze as media helps to cultivate our worldview. Today's sitcoms are not much different than they were in the past and I thought Butsch did a good job of explaining why. I thought Butsch's statement about why representations of the working class man have been so consistent over the years, to be a very good summation. He stated, "The prevalence of such views of working-class men well illustrates ideological hegemony, the dominance of values in mainstream culture that justify and help to maintain the status quo." I don't think our values have changed very much over the years and stereotypes about class have also stayed the same.
This article reminded me a lot about the challenges that novelists often face when trying to produce new work. The anxiety or 'writer's block' that author's feel and experience when attempting to write a piece that is both unique and original is the same anxiety that media producers feel about creating new media content, only different. I found it interesting how much Butsch stressed the idea of network executives need to avoid risk when choosing programs. Instead of taking a risk and branching out into the unknown they continue to stay with what works and choose programs that have the same representations of class and race, gender, etc. I think there is something to say, however, about risks that have produced success, such as reality television. Nothing has ever been achieved without a substantial amount of risk, and I think that with reality tv, a young genre of television, seeing the success that it's seeing, networks are being forced to take on a greater risk to evolve with the fast changes in popular culture and mass media.
A lot of the information in this article I already knew. Yet, it made me think a little harder about some of my favorite shows and how they relate to older shows. How I Met Your Mother has a lot of similarities as Friends that occur throughout the series. Even now the major networks are trying to re-create old shows. Shows like X-Factor and The Voice are good examples of this. They are knock offs of the show American Idol. I understand why the networks do this because of the low-risk but I would really like to see more shows that are original and brand new. This would lead to a lot better television.
Discussion Question: Do you like that shows are "recycled" and proven to be good or would you like a new type of show?
As I was reading this article, I thought about what I think of when I hear the words working class. Immediately, came an image of a white male in his 30's or 40's working in some kind of factory. Next I tried to think of a TV shows on today that show what I pictured as a working class in America. I am not sure if I could not think of any because I do not watch a lot of TV or because not many exist. As my discussion questions I was wondering what are modern day TV shows that show the working class in any form? Also, why is the stereotype of working class a white male and not females or other races?
Butsch attempts to explain Networks' reasons behind their reliance on stereotypes for their shows. These stereotypes are: smart and respectful men paired with either "equally" respectable women or a buffoonish wife for middle-class families vs dumb idiotic "working-class buffoons" paired with a much smarter and successful wife as working-class families. What I seemed to notice from Butsch's article is his somewhat dislike of this portrayal of working-class men.
The first thing I was wondering about while reading was what Butsch's point for this article was. Was he simply trying to point out the stereotypical networks? Or was he attempting to create a movement? To create some sort of ripple/change in Network television by showcasing their actions to the public?
Then as I continued to read, I noticed a depiction of working-class and middle-class families that I did not like. YES, the depiction of buffoonish husbands/men is definitely wrong, but what rung a bell for me was the portrayal of women in each "family type". This is, when a woman is portrayed as dumber or reliant on her husband, the family is of "middle-class" or even "upper-class" but when she is smarter or "too-good" for her husband, the family is portrayed as "working-class."
So I wonder, must women forever be portrayed as reliant on a man to be successful? For her family to be happy and successful? For her and her family to achieve the "American Dream?" From what I've seen, society is slowly changing; there are more smart stay at home fathers than ever before. There are also more middle-class families with the wives as the main "bread provider." The stereotype that single-mother families or buffoonish fathers are working-class seems to be deteriorating since many of these families do not only consist of such stereotypical family members: there are single-father families and both equally intelligent (definitely not stupid) parents.
So I wonder, do networks really not notice this message they are sending? Or is this supposedly based on actual studies and examples of "working-class" families? I understand that shows usually depict extreme stereotypes--after all, as Butsch tried to explain, these stereotypes make creating a lot easier--however do shows really not understand the possible messages they are sending? Or am I the only person who notices this sort of stereotyping? Or is it that this "stereotype" has just been embedded in our minds as it has been for creators of shows as Butsch mentioned? Does this make it OK for Networks to portray such stereotypes? What must we do in order to cause a change? Or are we OK with these stereotypes?
I think Butsch brings up a lot of useful and true discoveries in this article. I had never really thought about how sitcoms portray men, only women. Now that I think of it, women/moms are usually portrayed as smart and witty.
But here's what I've been wondering about: Do you guys think that its possible that producers are portraying working class men as buffoons in respect to the realization of women's rights? The author talks about how men were portrayed well until the 50s when women were beginning to be seen as intelligent equals to men in the media. And do you think this outbreak of women's rights cause producers to latch on to what viewers knew was true all along (women are smart) and cater to it? I don't mean to sound sexist, but I don't think the timing of these buffoon-centered sitcoms and the realization of women as intelligent people is a coincidence. What do you all think?
This article isn't very new to me because I've noticed that many sitcoms involve the 'buffoon' husband and common sense wife. This template for sitcoms has apparently worked over the last forty years because media producers have used it over and over. This is partially to reduce risk because it has been proven to be popular. The article gives examples of the men from show like the Simpsons, the Flintstones, All in the Family and the Honeymooners. But even though the author, Richard Butsch, only gives examples from the 50's-90's he talks about how the number of sitcoms are declining and more reality TV shows are popping up. I think there are more sitcoms now than there has been in quite a while. Shows like Modern Family, Family Guy, the Middle, and the Office all are examples of types of sitcoms. All of those excluding the office are family centered and include a male middle class buffoon. Reality shows are going up because of the success they've had recently but along with that sitcoms are extremely popular with a huge audience.
My discussion question is this: Although there are many sitcoms that have began airing recently including buffoons, do you think that these shows have a different audience and 'taste' than those from the 50's - 90's ? Many of the sitcoms these days are focused on comedic awkward situations within the family and neighbors unlike the sitcoms of generations past which focused on wife/husband humor.
One significant thing this article points out is that network TV ratings are lower than ever, and for the first time have not increased because people are watching less television, but still watching television shows. Many people now use Netflix and/or Hulu. Will network TV eventually disappear forever? How will the networks deal with this possibility? How ARE they dealing with it currently? If television is eventually nothing more than subscriptions on websites, it seems that the way to go would be to produce a wide variety of shows to cater to the wide variety of tastes/entertainment desires.
The article also mentions that advertisers also have a say in what shows are aired, when, etc. If we all eventually simply subscribe to a television-like website, what will the advertisers do? I sincerely hope television changes for the better, because our world is always changing and the quality of television shows on the air these days is quite poor.
When I was reading about the dominance of network TV diminishing, I wondered what direction TV is moving. With the emergence of Netflix and Hulu, will we eventually move away from television stations and just subscribe to shows? And how will this affect advertising? Will this help open up media to better representation of working-class individuals, minority groups, etc.? Has this happened already?
I'm glad we read this article, for the past couple of years my friend and I have had discussions about how sitcoms portray working class families. One is that the men are consistently portrayed as dumb, clueless individuals who usually have very attractive wives who put up with the antics of their spouses. Shows like King of Queens, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Home Improvement have fed into this stereotype. However I do think that this trend has started to change in the past 7-8 years. Partially because of the emergence of cable shows and the decline of the traditional sitcom. But you still see these stereotypes emerge in shows like Modern Family with the Dunphys. And I don't think that time-constraint is a good excuse for type casting. I've seen numerous shows who are successful in the half hour time slot without falling into type casting. I think this is just a lazy excuse.
But I think the American audience is just as much the culprit for these typecasts. If the shows don't have viewers, the show won't last, in knowing this it's clear that TV viewers have power in this relationship. By supporting shows that consistently typecast a certain group of people they're feeding the problem. There have been plenty of shows to attempt to break the mold but a lot have been unsuccessful (some have although like I said before). So I think this is definitely related to the advertising article we read. The media can be partly blamed for stereotypes and underrepresentation of minority groups but ultimately, they're catering to us and it's up to us to make the decision of what to support.
Richard Butsch brings up an interesting point in speaking of the prevalence of working men and how such views illustrate ideological hegemony, the dominance of values in mainstream culture that justify and help to maintain the status quo (Butsch, 119). Butsch looks at three levels of organization: network domination of the industry, the organization of decisions within the networks and on the production line, and the work community and culture of the creative personnel.
In my blog entry, I will be focusing on the level of the Hollywood input - program production. It was really interesting to hear about the use of simple and repetitious stereotypes of working-class men. Whether it is back in the 90's, or today, there are those shows with men that are highly stereotyped as the "blue-collar worker suddenly appointed corporate executive." Whether it's a scary movie or a comedy film, you will most likely see this in today's movies. All of this time, I thought it was just a social norm and the way films have been reeling viewers in. Little did I know that a lot of producers stick to what is familiar to them whenever possible due to time constraints. There is also the possibility of producers risking losing their jobs, which no producer would ever want to go through.
Discussion Question: If it weren't for the creator's time schedules, do you think the issue of working-class men within the industry could change in 5, 10, or even 20 years? Why or why not? If so, in which ways do you see it changing? For the better, or for the worse?
On page 124, in the right hand column. Butsch says, "This decline of broadcast network hegemony began to influence sitcoms. The networks even began to fear that people might not only leave the networks, but desert television altogether for other entertainments, especially the young turning to the Internet." The article talks a lot about why networks make certain decisions. Like I talked about in my blog, the decisions are based on what they can do with time constraints & without risking their jobs. However, I like how this links back to the articles we have previously read about how much we use the internet. Do you think that some networks will disappear in the future because of our time spent online? Do you think that changes in the stereotypes for sitcoms or changes to anything will make us get off our computers and back on the couch? .... That sounds terrible. Maybe we should all just go outside for a whole day and get some fresh air.
This article also brings up another question for me. So far, we have read articles about discrimination in:
Women, men, blacks, gays, etc.
Does anyone feel like fighting against discrimination in any field is already a battle lost? Is there ANY possible way to come up with a solution? Or are we going to be listening to our kids on the phone some day, describing learning the same things we are right now?
I think that this article brings up a few interesting thoughts. Kind of related to the last four articles, it's not stuff that we would really recognize unless we actually read about it. It was interesting to see the kind of, "assembly line", that goes into one tv show. (The networks, the process of every decision, how the producers can relate to the story-lines they create, etc.)
However, I think that throughout the whole article, I had one main theme that stuck out every time that it mentioned the stereotype of working-class men:
Why "reinvent the wheel"?
In the first section of the article, Butsch explains how the networks have more power over what is being put on television than the producers. They "have sweeping control over production decisions," so the producers do not have much of a choice but to stick with what they know: middle-class men. The networks also have to consider their own jobs and that is why they do not like taking risks, they too, stick with ideas that have had success in the past. Trying out a new idea could potentially mean losing their job. So, again, why reinvent the wheel? Also, changing the attitude of the sitcom will change the advertisements invested in those shows. So much can be affected by change, it seems to me like any change will be a recipe for disaster for the producers and networks. Unless these networks can take a leave of absence for a long time to completely reconstruct their programs, I think we should all just get used to men being buffoons on sitcoms.
While reading through the Article "Fear of a Black Planet" I could not help but have questions and my own comments pop into my head. A large portion of this I did not agree with, although there are definitely things Tricia Rose talks about that I think are accurate. First off, I am a Caucasian 22 year old college student and the only music I listen to is rap. And all sorts for that matter, from the most "ghetto" and "hood" songs that rap about drugs, woman, and gang bangin' to music written by white college rappers who rap about trying to make it through college and still be famous. There is a massive collection of rap music out there that written by all different people in all different styles. I have been to a few rap concerts as well as a few other concerts. It irritates me that she talks about how this assault of rap music and the rap venue violence is related to America not liking blacks or not wanting their "influence". The fact is, a rap concert brings in thousands of young people (whether they are black or white) Many have potentially been drinking or on drugs, they are piled into a huge stuffy open area and scream and jump for hours. The fact that it may be a black rapper or mostly black guests at the venue is irrelevant. Depending on the artist and what they rap about in my eyes in the key and depicts the crowd that will come. And in most cases rap music attracts people that have the potential to be more rowdy or violent because of the portrayed lifestyle and activities these people hold valuable. I have been to a Bob Dylan concert two different times and Ill guarantee there is just as many security guards and measures in place at any rap concert, just as there would have been a Michael Jackson concert. If a concert was held and the band was famous and loved for singing songs about smoking meth, whether the singer and guests were black, blue, white, or gold, the guests that showed up to the venue would be questionable to say the least. The truth is no matter what large public venue you are at, precautions need to be taken and the security needs to be in place. Rose said she felt "Harassed and unwanted" because she had to be searched before the concert. In my opinion, I prefer everyone to be searched, the skin color is irrelevant, the truth is no one can be trusted nowadays with all the shootings and bombings.
I cant remember now if she named the concert she went to, I dont believe she said the artist. My question for her is has she thought about what the majority of rap talks about and speaks to the youth? Whether it's black or white youth. Yes, there is a very gentle and intellectual side to rap if you listen to the right style or artist but although I love rap myself, I have no trouble admitted a huge portion of it talks about illegal, unhealthy, and dangerous lifestyles that children should not idolize.
After reading through the chapters assigned a lot of things stood out to me that made me understand and realize the encoding and decoding in the articles. In one article I found interesting, the main point was on the view of pornography. Everyone has there own views, it is degrading, it's bad for you, it goes against religion. Some people are for it arguing that people have their own choices in life and they should be allowed to do what they want. I truly believe that porn is hurtful to any sex, male and female. It is not just women in the industry, and like they said in the article, there are more gay relations in pornography now. People need to understand that it is a hurtful, and in a lot of peoples views, degrading business. But what I feel now has changed is we are being shown these things through different sources now, not just pornography. Movies which are rated R are starting to have more detailed sex scenes as well more nudity. And now to my biggest things is books, the hit seller that just came out is 50 shades of grey and that book is all about sex, it speaks of SM in it, a girl is signing a contract in it for sex. It is not just pornography that is putting out this bad look. It is everything now, teenagers are reading 50 shades of grey, and its not like teenagers aren't watching pornography but it still shows that there are multiple things in peoples lives that show this abuse or degrading acts. Not just pornography.
DQ: Do you think this sexual view of women should just be stopped at pornography? This article talks about the sexual abuse, and how the way pornography portrays the women in a bad way, but now movies these days are doing the same things, maybe less exposure but it still has affects on people. Also books like 50 shades of grey, it is very detailed and sexual. Do you think we will be able to stop this view of women with all these things out there portraying them as just sex symbols?
As I read through the articles for today's discussion, the one that really stuck out to me was "Misguided, Dangerous, and Wrong." As a young woman who holds herself to a certain standard, I've always seen pornography and the porn industry as being wrong. I have always seen intercourse as something that is supposed to remain intimate between two people and have, quite frankly, been quite disgusted with some of the things in the media (including the porn industry today). To me, it's always been a questions of morals and moral issues, though. It has not been about what the industry itself is saying about women and this, so called, intimacy shown in porn. I always thought that these women that performed in these films were wrong in themselves. That there was something morally wrong about them and that they had it wrong. It was their decision to act a certain way and they had complete control over what they were doing regarding the film. As I read through the article, however, I found myself taking a bit of a different stance on the issue of porn. Reading through the article, I found myself sort of taking the side of these women. It became less of an issue of their own moral identities and more about how the system has driven them into such a field. Many of these women come from underprivileged backgrounds and are not given a good example of how they should be intimate with another person or how they should use themselves and their minds to get into a career to support themselves. They don't seem to know much else other than to use their body to make some sort of money. On top of that, once they begin filming and being a part of this video making process, they're exploited like no other. They are violated and taken advantage of to the fullest extent with no regards to them as human beings. And the images that they are often forced to film surely do not help the idea that men have power over women, especially those in the porn industry. It's one of the most degrading things that I personally believe a woman can do or choose to do. I guess this article gave me new eyes to see women in porn and to sympathize with them rather than point fingers and criticize them for the ways in which they're leading their lives. Yes, to an extent it is the woman's choice whether or not to be in a porno, but they are often times fully taken advantage of once they agree to be in the video.
Overall, I found this article very interesting in the sense that it gave me a new way to look at the porn industry and see just how patriarchal our society really is. I guess my question for discussion this week is: Do you think that, if the tables were turned, and MEN were in the position that women are in (within the porn industry) today, would we be having a difference discussion? Would people put up more of a fight? Because this type of exploitation has become okay..since it's women. Would it be different if roles were reversed and men were being taken advantage of?
By Ashley Stopperan
I thought Tricia brought up some interesting points in this article, some pretty stereotypical and some representing how rap music was defined during the time (something I was not aware of).
My discussion question based on this topic is how do you think an article written today on black cultural politics would differ from the one Tricia wrote in the 90s? What has changed in the last twenty years based on racism as well as stereotypes in the music industry that may make this article now seem outdated?
By Ashley Stopperan
I wanted to focus this week's post back on what we discussed in class. After breaking down how Stuart Hall speaks to the audience in his article, I have a better understanding of what he is trying to say. I personally agree with him because there are so many outside factors that affect how we perceive or encode a message, especially with the various forms of media today. As an advertising major, I understand that getting the message to the audience is not only important but it is very difficult, which relates back to what Hall discusses.
From an advertising point of view, messages need to be delivered a certain way in order for them to be understood a certain way (the context, the form of media, the marketing message and the portrayed brand image). However, there are obviously factors that can not be controlled in the encoding process such as the audience's culture, background and personality.
I definitely enjoyed learning from Hall's point of view because it put a different spin on how I see communication through the media. Sometimes as decoders we have to dig deeper and understand the psychology of the audience and see things from their point of view in order for the message to be encoded properly.
When reading the passage about pornography, I couldn't help but go back to all of my previous judgements about the porn industry that I have had for a long time. It all began when the shoe on E! came on called The Girls Next Door. It was about Hugh Hefner's not one, but three girlfriends who all lived with him at once in the Playboy mansion. I couldn't help but be intrigued by the show, but I was also quite disgusted. Being a girl, I wonder what it takes for girls to get to a point of being someone's one of three girlfriends. It's very demeaning and most of these girls backgrounds were of low income families who didn't have much support from their parents helping them be the best that they can be in life. I feel as though women are exploiting themselves sexually in order to get famous when there are so many other great opportunities for women today.
DQ: I am wondering how people can read these magazines and not immediately think to themselves about how someone such as these girls dads would feel if they knew you were looking at this? Isn't there a fine line behind sexual pleasure and doing what is morally right as a human being?
Reading the article, "Fear of a Black Planet" made me very annoyed about the way other people treat those they do not understand or know everything about. It is human nature to notice that a person is different from you based on their hair color, what clothes their wear or their race. It is up to the person doing the judging how they treat that person after judging them that makes a difference. Some people treat others poorly based on their judgments while others use these judgments to treat people the way they want to be treated. Unfortunately these judgments become integrated into society and become negative stereotypes.
I can only relate to the author's experience of being patted down and searched a little bit. As a freshman, going to the new football stadium every student was searched and put into two lines; one for women and one for men. What are times in your life where you felt judged based on negative stereotypes of society?
The articles that we were assigned to read for this week seem to carry the same underlying theme of encoding and decoding the message of the advertisement or the intent of the type of media.
While reading the Seiter article I found it interesting she questioned whether ads like the Johnson ad, are intentionally only using blonde hair blued-eyed babies as the focus of their ads for some sort of power-play, or could it be that's how the brad remains identifiable, through the use of the same type of marketing techniques.
Rubin's article highlighted the dangers perceived from the consumption of pornography and the behaviors associated with SM. She eludes that being exposed to certain types of media such as this creates adverse effects on the individuals who consume it. But is it the intent of the porn industry to create these violent and angry images that Rubin is claiming that we perceive as violent and angry. Or is the pornography industry just trying to provide entertainment to a specific demographic who has a particular interest/fetish in SM without any sort of bad intention?
Rose's article mention the fear perceived by the white community from the political stance of rap's powerful political stance and influence. Is the way that these messages are sent out that creates the fear or is the fear born out of the messages produce from the rap music? I immediately though example of this circumstance, 1988 the song F*** Da Police by NWA that caused a sensation throughout the black and white communities with the underlying sense of violence and racism attached to the titles of the song, it was later explained that violent acts towards cops or an underlying sense of racism was not what the message of song was really about.
Dine's article compared and contrasted the differences between the pornography industry and their influences and appeals to society. It was explained that pornography is seen to be palatable if it is view in a soft-core form, because it's associated with high class-- seeing as it's tastefully done, ex. Marilyn Monroe in the first spread of Playboy and the lifestyle articles. But if they intent of the pornography become too distasteful then it's seen as low class, ex: magazines such as Hustler. I find it interesting that the perception whether of pornography is accepted in our society stems from how society perceives its intended purpose.
I found the article "Misguided, Dangerous and Wrong" to be very interesting. As a modest woman, I am not a huge supporter of pornography but I do not think it should go out of circulation because it can be offensive. This article has changed my perception on pornography through how it might show violence to women and how it shows women being abused.
One argument against pornography is that is it promotes violence towards women. The author brings up the point that mass media can be just as violent as a pornographic movie. An example of this is the movie, Hills Have Eyes 2. In this movie, there is a scene of woman getting raped by a disfigured man as she is screaming and shown being tied down and becoming bloody. I would say this is more violent than the typical porn that is produced in porno movies.
Later in the article, the author describes how one woman views a pornographic movie as a "photographic record of a women being abused." Abuse is involves force or power over someone in most cases, in a pornographic movie, the actress has agreed to be in the movie so it is therefore not abuse. Also these supposed scenes could also include some type of special effects or appear to be real but in actuality are fake. All media is out to change the way we view the world, why should pornography be any different.
I found Tricia Rose's "Fear of a Black Planet" article to be very interesting as she raised points regarding rap music and black cultural politics in the 1990s. Her opening paragraph about picturing folks dressed in "high-top sneakers, chunk jewelry, baggy pants" is a fashion statement that is still popular amongst rap concert-goers even today, not just in the 90's. Also, getting checked at the door beforehand, no matter what race you are, is something that is still an active practice today. I just went to a concert a couple of weeks ago, and my purse got checked in case of any dangerous times and/or liquids.
Reading this article reminded me a lot of Summerfest, one of the world's largest music festival held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Summerfest hosts numerous artists with very different concerts ranging anywhere from rock, rap, techno, etc. In such an atmosphere where the Summerfest festival grounds are extremely crowded and people are intoxicated, fights are bound to happen. Imagine the amount of frustration if someone tried to cut you in line, or try to move in front of you during the concert. The Summerfest security guards perceive the festival-goers (specifically teenagers/young adults) as a "dangerous internal element in urban America" as Tricia Rose puts it. The element of Summerfest allows individuals to roam about freely, which in return can threaten the social order.
Another point I found interesting within Tricia Rose's article is when she states, "Rap music is fundamentally linked to larger social constructions of Black culture as an internal threat to dominant American culture and social order." I think this is especially on behalf of rap music's lyrics, which imply language of liberation and social protest.
Discussion Question: Do you believe the "violence at rap concerts" label is being used to contain black mobility and rap music or to diminish violence against blacks? Why? In which ways have rap music and black cultural politics changed in the 1990s? Have they changed for the better or for the worse? Do you think censorship in rap music would benefit black mobility and rap music when performed live or not?
As I was reading the Racial Representation and Dreams article, I noticed that it stated the obvious. I am personally an asian person myself and don't mind any of this racial representation. It mentions the arguments that the advertisement thinks about the consumer race rate and I think that can be the strongest argument. If it is a product that mostly non colored people buy, it is most likely they would portray someone of that race using, servicing, enjoying, that product! And vice versa, if there is a product that mostly Hispanics may use, most likely they would portray that race on that advertisement. I mean I don't think there is any harm in that, but barely to maybe scare off those not of that race, but if it is a great product, it will sell. I'd like to turn it over to an opposite form of commercial, it is a P&G Olympics commercial, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMunV1Y4X2o&feature=fvst) and they portray 4 different races and it is a beautiful commercial. I linked it to this article because it somewhat contradicts it. Like I had mentioned, they use the 4 different races mostly to try and give off the message like the theme of the Olympics, to bring this Wold together, (and in this case sports), but they use multiple races who they would like to portray, and choose the races accordingly to the the sport that the country most likely excels in. It is very interesting because like it being 4 different countries, they are alike in the sense of this theme of the commercial, A mother being there for them along the way. Although it is not a direct advertisement, P&G does not fail to throw in some of their brands' logos in the end, People affected by the comercial may support P&G more and actually buy their products more, (like myself..)
I just like how there are many different aspects to this commercial and linking it to this article. *might I mention they also did not fail to launch the same exact commercial (with subtitles) in many other different countries.. A greatttt indirect advertising method)
The article on Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding allowed me it to link to some information I learned in my other classes. When we first think about communication, we think about a message and a reply and this is what encoding and decoding exactly means, but to be more specific, it means to correctly understand what that message meant to be able to give a reply back. I think a really large controversy here is art. Many art pieces are created to give off a message, or at least portray its title, yet the decoder can sometimes never pinpoint it. Art is especially a tricky one, because it can have so much opinion, feeling and emotion in it, a decoder may not be able to decode the message the artist was trying to portray.
Another field, such as advertising will usually have a very clear message, probably something that uplifts their product or service so the decoder can see how great it is and be convinced. Advertisements can be a form of convincing encoding, whereas art is just a story telling encoding. I personally like art myself and that is why I decided to mention this controversy. Till this day sometimes when I look at an art piece, I wish the message can be more easily encoded. Such a beautiful piece needs to have some meaning behind it..
I guess I've never thought of pornography as a women's advocacy issue. I've always just thought that those women were gross and had no dignity, but not making a statement for all women.
I'm curious to see how other women in our class feel about it. Do you think pornography is a statement for all women saying that we are submissive and abused? Were your views on this issue changed after reading these chapters?
Also, for the guys in our class, do you think men view pornography as a statement that all women should be like that? I'm not asking if you think that specifically. I'm asking if you think that over time pornography has changed the way men see women in our society?
One more thing, does anyone else think that this author generalizes a lot (I wrote about this in my blog entry)? Particularly in the first chapter about race in commercials. Let me know!
I guess I've never thought of pornography as a women's advocacy issue. I've always just thought that those women were gross and had no dignity, but not making a statement for all women.
I'm curious to see how other women in our class feel about it. Do you think pornography is a statement for all women saying that we are submissive and abused? Were your views on this issue changed after reading these chapters?
Also, for the guys in our class, do you think men view pornography as a statement that all women should be like that? I'm not asking if you think that specifically. I'm asking if you think that over time pornography has changed the way men see women in our society?
One more thing, does anyone else think that this author generalizes a lot (I wrote about this in my blog entry)? Particularly in the first chapter about race in commercials. Let me know!
The chapter 28 article about pornography/anti-pornography reminded me of a documentary I once watched. It was called Inside Deep Throat and it was about the porn film titled Deep Throat and how it started a sexual revolution in the 1970's. The female lead actress in Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace, claimed to have been coerced/forced to make the film. She claimed that her boyfriend at the time held a gun to her head and threatened her life if she did not make the film. People of the anti-pornography stance claim that pornography is violent and women must be forced to do some of the things featured in porn because what sane woman would participate on their own? If Linda Lovelace's claims of being forced into porn are true, then they prove that the anti-pornography people are correct in saying that sometimes women are forced into the porn industry.
I don't know about you guys, but I thought the author of this book was particularly extreme in her wording. I did agree with most of it, but she used a lot of "always" and "definitely" and "never" type words. I understand that this helps her sound persuasive, but I think those extreme words are rarely true or useful.
An example is on page 103 of the book when she is talking about the Teddy Grahams commercial and how it relates to race:
"This commercial exemplifies many of the rules which seem to govern the representation of children of color in Saturday morning commercials. First, they are always outnumbered by whites."
It's not to say that I don't see the validity in most of her claims, but this author becomes a little less credible in my mind when she makes generalizations.
Nevertheless, I appreciate her objective view of everything related to pornography. She stays very open in explaining why some people are against it and why some of their claims may be out of context. I don't know if my mind is changed, but I definitely view magazines like Playboy and Penthouse a little differently.
I thought Ellen Seiter's article about the "whiteness" of commercials, wait, domestic commercials, was quite interesting. She brought up something that I feel most of us probably have noticed before but never questioned. However, after reading her article, I realized something: I was trying to "defend" these commercials.
By "defend" I mean I tried to find excuses for why they are dominantly white, that there is no problem with them. Then I realized I was really defending myself and my own way of thinking. I admit, when I think "empowered" or "American Dream" I think of a white person or a white family. Then there's "ghetto" where an image of a black person flashes before me. And, as Seiter pointed out, "trendy" I think of a black person...perhaps it is because I was brought up thinking that this is true? Or at least I've heard and seen this more often. On television, commercials, from friends and family. For some reason, these "stereotypes" are just as what Seiter explained.
As far as I know, it seems the USA is the only country where "ghetto" is quickly paired with a race/ethnicity. In Europe there is no ethnic group that is considered "ghetto," there may be a general idea of what is "ghetto" but they would not automatically link it to blacks (at least this is what I've heard from my sisters who studied abroad there).
So, I wonder if the media began portraying blacks in the same way as whites, would this change society's idea of "ghetto" or these stereotypes of minorities and whites? And did commercials generate these stereotypes or are these commercials created with these stereotypes because people already believe in them? If the media began to portray blacks as they do whites, would the population's views and hard-driven stereotypes be changed or must the audience force the change? It would be rather interesting to see what would happen if every firm began to practice what Burell is doing: portraying happy African American families.
I found "Misguided, Dangerous, and Wrong" (An Analysis of Anti-Pornography Politics) to be the most intriguing to me. One of the things that really stuck out at me is when Rubin, who makes a valid point, "The notion of harm embodied in the MacKinnon/Dworkin approach is based on a fundamental confusion between the content of an image and the conditions of its production." This can be true for not only pornography but also fight scenes, death, rape, etc. in movies & tv.
I guess my question could be taken as one to just think about, but it makes me wonder why there are groups out there who are so anti-porn. Why not focus on something you can do to actually HELP women who are ACTUALLY getting abused? Instead of just dogging on porn and spending hours on slide shows of "violence in porn," why not spend hours helping out those women who actually are victims of violence? Like Rubin, I'm not saying that girls in the porn industry have never been abused, but lets also keep in mind that not 100% of porn-stars are victims.
Reading "Fear of a Black Planet," I saw a lot of the themes we've talked about in class arise. Especially when Tricia Rose was describing how D'Agostino interpreted the rap concert. In what ways did you see positionality and Hall's encoding/decoding process?
So with the target audience of Playboy that Hugh Hefner is targeting they add upscale advertisements and articles. With the popularity of the magazine growing and becoming a mainstream name, should those advertisements stay the same, or get 'dumbed down'? Do they still stick with the audience they want to have, or do they change and adapt to the audience they actually have?
I thought it was very interesting to read how Playboy has become what it is today. Growing up, I knew what the magazine was famous for but reading this article it's almost like the women aren't the main attraction for a lot of readers, it's more about supporting a certain image. While some people bought it for the centerfolds obviously, a lot of men bought it because they wanted to increase their status and pursue the dream of being a "playboy." Although I don't agree with his content, Hefner was smart to tap into the affluent male demographic because in the 50s and 60s the males were the ones making the money, rarely would a woman make a lot of money independently. However, I don't like that women are used for masturbatory purposes in these magazines or the internet nowadays (just about all the media too) like the article says.
It belittles the woman to an object that is useful for a shallow purpose and can be thrown away in the end. And I agree/disagree with Rubin's analysis that Porn is not the only problem in regards to women's rights but I think that porn and sexualization of women in the media factor largely in the degradation of women. So I guess I disagree with Rubin in that sense. But in no way is it a black or white issue cause there are many contributing factors.
This article reminds me of every single time a new genre of music comes out. You have two different sides of the argument. The people who have taken in the new music and actually enjoy it and the other side of people who blame it on the problems in the youth. Of course there are plenty of ways you can go after that, for example, Tricia Rose's point of view. Personally I can not stand articles like these because they take a point of view and are strongly biased about it. The reason why I found her article to be an irrelevant argument is because of the artists she mentioned where the violence and discrimination was happening. Public Enemy and Ice Cube (will include N.W.A. since he was a member of the group) were very violent musicians back in the early 1990s when this came out. With songs like F*** the Police it was no wonder why there was extra security at all these events. It would be extremely dumb not to get extra help for concerts with those kinds of songs whether they are Black or White musicians. Also, I think that this article is extremely outdated for our times.
Discussion Question: Clearly the author of this article felt there was a social prejudice against fans of rap music in the early 90s, What type of genre do you think causes this kind of riff now?
I thought Chapter 28 had a lot of good arguments about the dangers of anti-porn politics. The most compelling argument that I thought Gayle Rubin made was the fact that Anti-porn activism is taking away from more important forms of activism that women could be taking towards equal rights such as job discrimination, unequal pay, sexual violence and harassment. An example that Gayle Rubin used, was Andrea Dworkin's statement that porn is at the heart of female condition and that it truly defines who women are and how they are treated. Rubin then goes on to explain that claims against porn brought about by anti-porn activists such as Andrea Dworkin, are both misdirected and ineffective. Do you agree that anti-porn activism is actually more detrimental and misdirecting in the effort of women's rights, or do you think it is a necessary step towards equality for women?
Upon reading this article I couldn't help but find myself questioning what my own stereotypes were of different races in advertising. The different examples that Ellen Seiter listed in the article are not necessarily stereotypes that I have even considered when evaluating a form of advertising. For example, she states that "one of the most common stereotypes of white infants and and small children in advertising is the go-getter". She then goes on to say "the go-getter is not a stereotype available for the representation of black children". I do not feel that this is a commonly held belief or level of interpretation that viewers get when they see commercials featuring young white or black children. Then again, maybe it's because I am white that I don't see the subliminal messages misrepresenting African Americans? Regardless of how people perceive advertisements I don't necessarily believe that these representations of race in advertising are as picked apart by the average consumer, as Ellen Seiter does.
Also, I found this article to be very relatable to our conversation about semiotics. More specifically, this article hits on the idea that we can define or understand things as they exist in relation to one another and that they can be explained by their differences. If we did not have a basic foundation for the stereotype of "whiteness", we would not be able to define blackness and if it were not for the positive stereotypes of each races, we would not be able to define what is considered to be a negative stereotype.
This article is also very relatable to Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding article because everybody has a different reading of media texts. While one person may have a dominant reading of an advertisement that has 3 white babies and 1 black baby playing together all smiley and giggly, another person may have more of a negotiated or oppositional reading of the text and perceive the advertisement in a different way, thinking the black baby was left out and in isolation and outnumbered by his or her white playmates.
In the chapter reading entitled "'I Buy it for the Articles' Playboy Magazine and the Sexualization of Consumerism", Gail Dines talks about how Playboy became so successful. In Dines view, Playboy did a great job of out-competing the competition. Playboy chose to focus on the soft-core side of porn thereby attracting more advertisers. In addition, Playboy was successful at creating a lifestyle for its readers in which higher societal class and wealth were focused on. Playboy chose to show high priced commodities in its shoots and cartoons, often featuring its male cartoons on private yachts, at the golf club, or in a private mansion, all while surrounded by beautiful, big breasted women. This sort of consumerism portrayed by Playboy, with its women being the ultimate commodity, appealed to a wide demographic of male readers. Because of this, Playboy was able to be very successful, and may well be the reason that even today Playboy is the number one men's entertainment magazine. The question is, do we agree with Playboy? Is Playboy's focus on high class consumerism good for readers and the portrayal of women? Should women be viewed as the ultimate commodity? Are we okay, as a culture, with this view of women? What are some of the possible negative or positive consequences of this view? Also, do we like that big-name advertisers like Mercedes are ultimately supporting this view of women by displaying their advertisements in Playboy magazines? Should we care? How do we feel about the impact and messages that Playboy is sending to such a large demographic of male readers?
This article was a little hard for me to follow but I understand that we receive images, things such as commercials or ads and that we break those down into what we feel about them. My question is how many ads do you think we read wrong or misconstrue? Do you think there are a lot of ads that we miss out on the full purpose, and why would the companies make them so hard to fully decode?
As we were forewarned, I thought that this article was a little difficult to follow at times, which became a little frustrating when trying to come up with my discussion question. I am wondering in your own words if you had to sum up the article as a whole, what would you say Hall is trying to tell us about messages and communicating in as simple of terms as possible?
By Ashley Stopperan
My discussion question for this article is a little more broad. I understand some of the underlying meanings behind what Hall is talking about but my question is what is the overall message he wants us to walk away with? Is this article simply a psychological analysis of how messages are produced, or is there a deeper meaning that he wants readers to understand?
In Stuart Hall's article "Encoding/Deconding", Hall talked a lot about the underlying codes of media and advertising. Hall then went on to talk about how different advertisements affect people in a variety of ways. Hall talked about the different versions and orders of advertising, and the different types of codes that people use to interpret these orders. My question is, do we agree with Hall? Do we agree with the orders, codes, and versions that Hall lays out for us? And, if we do agree, or disagree, what does this mean for us and how we view advertisements in media?
Do you agree with Stuart Hall's paradox that events must become a story before it can become a communicative event? Why or why not? In which ways do successful advertisements get decoded? Do you believe all viewers spend a large amount of time trying to decode messages within the advertisement? Is it necessarily important for viewers to decode every single message they see?
The article mentioned that television companies research the effectiveness of their ads. My question is how many messages do you think you misconstrue when watching tv? Is it something that is common or uncommon?
Hall suggests that when encoding a message, the senders have an implied meaning. When recievers are decoding it, they usually interpret it in their own way depending on their life experiences, beliefs, etc. Because of this the original meaning is lost and there is no longer a point to the message. My discussion question is this: How important is it for media producers to make sure their message gets across? What can producers do to (particularly advertisers) to ensure the meaning of their message is not lost when decoded by the audience?
My question after reading this article is, "Can this method of reading encoding and decoding messages be used to create store concepts?" Like advertisements, a type of media, messages are used to set a mood and project the "correct image" on to the brand.
I was looking at the other posts and I was seeing a lot of confusion about the article, so for my blog post I am going to do my best to break down a bit of it for you! I can't breakdown the whole article, but I'll do the part that was most interesting to me! Also, I'll add in some definitions that I had to look up myself while reading because I did not fully understand.
A) Media Discourse: symbolizes the systems of thoughts and beliefs that determine how people understand and interpret the world.
B) Encoder: The sender/the producer of the message
C) Decoder: The receiver of that message
A) We choose to read encoded messages from one of three standpoints.
1) The Dominant-Hegemonic Position: This is the "preferred reading" in any kind of media text. This is when the receiver decodes the message the way it was intended to be decoded.
*Note, this doesn't always happen because it depends on a persons previous associations, social situation, and personal experiences.
2) The Negotiated Code/Position: This is the position where the receiver will accept some angles of the dominant meaning, but will also change or decline some of the aspects to better suit their own understandings or goals. As Hall puts it, the receiver/decoder, "operates with exceptions to the rule."
3) The Oppositional Code/Position: This is where the decoder takes the opposite position of the encoder. The decoder will create their own version of the message with a completely different intention. Hall says, "decode in a globally contrary way."
To me, this was the part of the article that made me do a lot of thinking and I was able to think about it while watching TV! :-) And, I was watching the commercials way more closely than I have in the past! It led me to an interesting conclusion/thought....
I never want to work in advertising!!!! These people who make commercials and ads spend all of this time encoding messages but then all that work can't be "right" or "wrong." This hard work can be done but it is completely up to the receiver to decode the message the way they want. It is like persuasion in one snapshot or one 25 second commercial.
This also leads me to my discussion question, do you think that advertisers ever have a hard time encoding a message because they don't really agree with the message they're sending? Let's take smoking for example and the ads that make it look cool, do you think the people who make those ads are all smokers? To go into advertising, do you go into a field that fits with your beliefs and understandings of the world because otherwise it would be too difficult? Just some thoughts....!
The Stuart Hall article titled "Encoding/Decoding" dealt a lot with the underlying meanings in messages. Spoken, written, televised, and many other kinds of messages can mean different things to different people, even depending on the culture of the people processing the message.
One part of the article discussed the way television and movies portray certain non-white races. The "Injuns" who are always violent savages. The "Mammies" who are always plump, stern (and yet loving) black women. These stereotypes were created long ago, and the media doesn't usually use them outright, but there are still subtle hints. If the media continues to portray these and other races this way, will people always think of these certain races as what they are on TV or in movies? Does it even matter how non-racist people are? Will they still go along with what the media is telling them?
The article talks a lot about how media is encoding and some messages are changed. How much different would life be like if nothing was kept hidden from us?
Because I am the discussion leader for this article, I don't want to go too in depth with my online question because I have several prepared for class. :) But here's one to throw out there that we can continue discussing tomorrow:
Can anyone explain why meaning structures would cause asymmetry (or improper decoding) in Hall's communication model? In other words, why would miscommunication occur between two people and not between others? It makes sense intuitively in considering positionality, but I'm interested to see if we can really describe why people could completely misunderstand something if they speak the same language.
This should be an interesting discussion because this article was pretty dense!
See you all tomorrow!
I found this article to be very short but also very challenging to read. I needed to look up a definition for encode and decode. Encode was defined as converting a message while decoding was to translate a message. The article used the words connotation and denotation to mean encode and decode, respectively. This led me to think about watching television as many of the examples given involved that activity. What kinds of television messages do we denote and which ones do we connote? How does our culture affect the way we denote and connote messages?
Like mentioned in class, this article was not very long, but it was jam-packed with a lot of information. From what I got out of it, I thought it was interesting, but I still do not think I fully understand what Hall was saying. I know he brought attention to the critique of the traditional linear model and how it can be produced and sustained by linked, but distinctive moments. He also brought up another approach where it works as a continuous circuit. That was something that I had never really thought about before. I've learned the sender/message/receiver model, but never thought about the alternatives to that model. It brought up ways in which people comprehend messages and if no one interprets it or finds meaning, the message in essence is lost because no consumption happens.
As I asked in my discussion question, I was very interested in the way he talked about television and its aural and visual combination. I am still a little confused by the whole thing, but basically certain messages or codes become widely used and therefore lead to them being naturalized. Is that kind of like when we think of a word like genius we can automatically come up with an image like House or any of the guys from The Big Bang Theory? The linguistic word is something that we associate as being "natural" or common, so my understanding of what he said is that images will come along with a word. I understand that the coding is still there, but is not necessarily seen to be apparent. Once I am able to fully understand Hall's argument, I hope this will make more sense to me.
In this article by Stuart Hall, he talked about how iconic messages can be read as being natural. With television it brings many elements together and I was wondering why you think that happens? With almost every linguist word we associate a visual meaning and visual sign, so why does he say it only happens with iconic words? Why don't all the words we know associate with a visual sign and possess some of the properties that linguistic sign has?
The article mentioned that with communication global aspects should be taken into account. when we think about communication with the world we have to consider so many aspects such as culture, respect, religion and so on, so how can we ever encode specific messages not to be disrespectful, or use a method so that the message being decoded is decoded the way we meant it to be?
In the article, Hall says, "The codes of encoding and decoding may not be perfectly symmetrical...the degrees of 'understanding' and 'misunderstanding' in the communicative exchange-depnd on the degrees of symmetry/asymmetry (relations of equivalence) established between the positions of the 'personifications', encoder-producer and decoder-receiver." I am a little confused to what this means, is he saying that the audience/decoder may have trouble understanding the message since they don't have the same background/knowledge as the producer/encoder? And is it possible for the audience to have perfect understanding of the encoder's message?
James Potter's "Defining Media Literacy" immediately caught my attention with its opening paragraph. I really liked how he said that we can be much more media literate. It was encouraging to read how there is considerable room for improvement. Potter talks about three important components: reading literacy, visual literacy, and computer literacy, in which you need all three to be media literate. All three components are useful when building a knowledge structure. He also speaks about the importance of information. He also speaks about the importance of information and skills, and states that the more knowledge structures you have, the more an individual can decide which factors from the media he/she can accept or challenge. Which one do you believe plays a larger role when interpreting the media: Having a high level of media literacy, or an individual's personal values and beliefs? Why? If more, or none of the above, what other factor(s) do you think play a role when interpreting the media?
I just want to state that I am a huge fan of batman, from the comics, the TV cartoon and then to the movies. I am also a very huge movie fan in general and big into entertainment. I was really interested in this whole article because it introduced things to me that I have never noticed before or really paid attention to. Some things that WCI did seem, wrong to me like them recycling things from the past just to make more money. But isn't that a part of the entertainment industry? It is to make money. So my question is, has learning these things companies do and have done ruined your view on the entertainment industry? Because for me it hasn't but I could see how it could to others.
After reading the article of how this creature/superhero/logo we can all picture in our minds makes me think about what is followed in this same fashion today. Just as WCI spent millions of dollars to start this "batman" legacy, I'm sure they made billions in exchange. Till this day almost everyone can think of at least one thing that relates to batman. Today our marketing/ advertising companies too use different methods to relay accross one product, which is totally different now, also these days we have led to free advertising. The examples are instead of people buying batman sweaters, and putting ad's on batman websites, these days there are free sweatshirts with brands printed on them (great example- TCF Bank) which is a hidden advertisements, people giving away their pens with logos on them, people using free websites such as facebook and twitter to promote their company. I mean these days we accept so many free things when really we're walking billboards in exchange. My questions are, to what extent does a company need to hand out "free" things in place of their advertisements, I mean we all know batman too well, there are no free things needed for that. (yet if there was a free batman t shirt handout at a screening with a mile long line, I am sure we'd pick that over the free pens and frisbees with the logo of an unknown company) And to what extent do these free things actually assist the marketing? I mean have you really followed someone in a company t-shirt just to grab the phone number to call them later about their products/services? I have never..
After reading the article about the Batman movie, it got me thinking about what my friend does for her job.Last weekend, I helped her at a bar movie promotion for Resident Evil Retribution. At this event we handed out free t-shirts and put up movie posters around the bar. Also as part of the promotion was a special on all Bacardi drinks with the main featured drink being a Zombie-tini. I realized that she was helping further the cycle of consumer America. How did the movie production companies realize they could make so much money by joining with other companies for promotion of their movies? Will this trend continue in the future or will it die out?
Reading the commodity batman article got me thinking a bit about the newer movies that are coming out in more recent years. From the short amount of the batman film we watched in class I thought the Batman turned into a commodity the second the newsman/media became interested in getting a story from the police officer. He wanted to "sell" the batman. This article talks about how mass produced culture is a business. Well of course it is, that's why its mass produced because many want it and will pay for it. So anyway, I was wondering what people thought about older films and newer films, do you think movies/films have become more of a commodity today than they were say in 80's? Many movies today do not gain much profit other than when they hit the box office so I was curious if the film makers were more about toys and extra stuff in the past than they are today.
I was really interested with how they talked about the marketing of this film. The marketing ploys in 1989 were very in-your-face and direct with the same message broadcast everywhere (radio, TV, shirts, ect.), whereas the films now have more of a subtle tone. Did the people actually like and want to see Batman because they thought the actually movie would be good, or was it because of the marketing campaigns in place? Do you think all the added extras have an effect, or do you think the movie would still have done as well if a more subtle approach would have been taken?
In an over-saturated media industry, every once in a while a company must produce something that stands out or at least generates enough revenue to make up for failed productions. When WCI almost over-expanded themselves into bankruptcy, they needed to come up with something that would help them get back on their feet. They sold some assets and continued concentrating their money only on the profitable aspect of media. To prevent another almost-failure they began to recycle their material. After the movie Against All Odds was released, they released Phil Collins' song for advertising, music videos and other uses. In this way, WCI didn't have to spend more money on production costs but increased their revenue through different media outlets.
In 1988, when WCI decided to spend $30 million on the production of Batman, the comic industry had moved from selling to children to adults and DC comics was struggling. Batman had proved to be a successful comic in the 70's so WCI was sure that it would be a hit. To ensure this was the case and to prevent backfire, WCI used producers that had already proven themselves in the movie industry, used a well-known artist, Prince, to create the album, and employed a director that had a good track-record with WCI, Tim Burton. In addition, WCI licensed Batman to toy makers, costumer makers, collectible makers, etc.
My discussion question is this: Which manner of revenue do you think was most effect for WCI? Consider who they used to work on the movie (Prince, Tim Burton, etc) and who their target market was.
Eileen Meehan's "Holy Commodity Fetishism, Batman!" states, "The film per se becomes only one component in a product line that extends beyond the theater, even beyond our contact with mass media, to penetrate the markets for toys, bedding, trinkets, cups and the other minutiae comprising one's everyday life inside a commoditized, consumerized culture."
Meehan didn't really go into much detail when referring to "commodity fetishism." Her use of the term is implicit. Luckily, I took a course two years ago (JOUR 3745 - Mass Media & Popular Culture) where I learned about the term "commodity fetishism." Commodity fetishism is "the tendency to attribute to commodities (including money) a power that really inheres only in the labor expended to create commodities." The effect of commodity fetishism is caused by the fact that, in a capitalist society, the real producers (in this case, WCI) remain invisible. Granted, WCI did a remarkable job with the marketing of Batman as a whole. However, how many of us actually thought about WCI when thinking of Batman and all of its profitability?
Discussion Question: Between Marx's critique of commodity fetishism and the idea of cultivating brand loyal for your film, how has marketing these products for films changed today? Have they changed at all? Do you think producers are still using Marx's critique of commodity fetishism as a form of business profit today? Why or why not?
Although I know that I am one of the few people of my generation who isn't completely obsessed with the Batman movies, I was definitely intrigued while reading this article. I find it so interesting to really pick apart the way that a brilliant company such as WCI put on their thinking caps and were able to capitalize on a movie in such a large number of ways. For people to come together, look at a film about a superhero, and brainstorm ideas on how to really milk this movie for all it's worth is amazing, and when I sit down and think about it now, this has been going on for much of my generation, however, I have never thought to really think of how amazing it is that truly is to branch out as far as they did. From plastic children's dinner plates, to the legendary artist Prince and the "Batdance" song, Batman was truly sensational in all areas.
DQ: If Batman were just being created today, arriving in theaters in 2013, what are some of the new, most extreme things that you could imagine a company such as the WCI investing their money in solely to create the biggest bang possible for the new movie?
This article is about Batman, the company that owns Batman, and how Batman became such a big hit. The company, WCI, quickly figured out how to milk Batman for all its worth. While coming up with new material the company also "recycled" old material to create new products that sold well and made profits. The example given was when the company ripped the music from the films to make film soundtracks, something that is still done in a successful way today.
Batman was created a very long time ago, but the use of characters created by individuals is still done today. Are the creators of successful, popular characters comfortable with there characters being used to generate profits for huge companies? Does the public often know what the companies stand for? For example, if the company that owns a certain character donates money to pro-life organizations, would a fan who is pro-choice still be a fan of that character and still purchase paraphernalia? Do many fans of characters/shows/etc, do research into the companies that own them?
In the article "Holy Commodity Fetish Batman!: The Political Economy of a Commercial Intertext", Eileen Meehan explores the marketing techniques that transformed a blockbuster movie into a powerhouse. I really thought this was an important and interesting article to read. It brought to light the ingenuity of Warner Communications Inc. and showed and showed how their tactics would change the marketing of movies for years to come.
Some of the ideas behind marketing Batman were completely revolutionary. They capitalized on the hype and success of the movie through branding. There are a few very good examples of this. One was through products in stores. Batman had a logo on pretty much every product, from costumes and toys to displays and food. By doing this, fans had another way to connect to the film and the company had another way to generate revenue. The second tactic that was interesting to me was the use of the the well-respected musician Prince in the soundtrack. This not only attracted fans of Prince to the movie but increased the sale of the soundtrack itself. These ideas combined amassed millions of dollars for the studio.
I have to admit that I have bought into branding several times before. It was much more likely when I was younger however. I remember that I used to love the show Gargoyles. I would watch it all the time and when I heard they came out with pajamas that came equipped with removable wings and a mask, I had to have them. I also used to always get soundtracks to the Disney movies I liked. More recently I went to see a movie just because an artist I liked did the soundtrack. It was Tron and Daft Punk was featured in it. The movie didn't look too good but because I was fan of his work, I went to see it. I believe my experiences are shared by many people and it is a marketing tactic that proves to work well.
Discussion Question: Do you believe that the influence of technology has changed the type products being marketed? Has it created more sales of media products rather than things such as toys?
In Nicholas Carr's article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" he states that the Internet is changing the way we read. He believes that the Internet is using methods such as "skimming" while reading through a scholarly journal article, or an e-book. On the other hand, Clay Shirky's article "Why Abundance is Good." states that the abundance of information given to us by the Internet is a good and resourceful thing. Based upon both of these articles, and being a current college student, do you think the Internet has changed the way you read and process information whether it is a scholarly journal article on a specific topic or an entire e-book for your class? Are you consciously aware of which way you retain information best? If so, do you believe you retain certain information better electronically or through print media?
Reading through Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" immediately made me think, "No, it's not." A lot of people take Google for granted, when in reality, it's a great tool. Google and the Internet itself is a form of communication to find out information faster than before. For instance, while I would be in class a few years ago without a smart phone, I wouldn't become aware of certain news happening in the world until I got home later in the evening. In today's world, I can just go to a news app/website, or Twitter and find out immediately. In this sense, I do like having the world at my fingertips and knowing what is going on. However, I do agree with Carr and think there is a certain extent where the Internet draws the line. Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives--or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts--as the Internet does today.
A recently published study of online research habits, conducted by scholars from University College London found that people with access to journal articles, e-books and other sources of written information were using these sites and performing "a form of skimming activity." I agree with Carr's point on this and the study made because I have found myself skimming through articles before. I am aware it's a bad habit, and I try my best not to do it. This is why I don't purchase e-books, and prefer to buy the actual textbook. When I have the actual textbook in my hand, I actually read it, highlight important points, write notes, and actually process the information to my brain. Another distraction on the Internet is all of the advertisements and the bouncing back and forth between different sites. I believe activities like such truly diminish the learning, thought and creative processes. However, I do believe the Internet is a very powerful and helpful tool if you use it to your advantage, but also correctly.
This article gave some interesting insight into the Batman franchise. I'll admit, I wasn't too taken by the article until the last section.
Meehan writes, "Yet, although that campaign's primary purpose is to earn revenues and decrease production costs, it also "sells" ideologies-visions of the good, the true, the beautiful. Herein lies the contradiction of capitalist media: to understand our mass media, we must be able to understand them as always and simultaneously text and commodity, intertext and product line" (Meehan 61-62).
To think of everything in media as a product of some man in a suit trying to make a profit is a little sad, but unfortunately, I think I agree. Why would anyone work so hard to make an awesome product without getting paid for their work. However, I'm wondering if this theory applies to all types of media. Does every newspaper or novel writer write with the sole purpose to make something that will sell well? Do TV news reporters write only with ratings and money in mind? Is money really what drives the content of all of the media we digest on a daily basis???
The article, "Holy Commodity Fetish Batman" brings to light as to why and how the branding of blockbusters movies all started. The article also points out the ways in which movies are promoted and sensationalized even before they hit theaters. Through promotion and branding of blockbusters such as Batman movie production companies such as WCI, are able to control the level of success a movie could potential receive. Production companies have even become even more cleaver and found that if they limit their major releases to twice a year and limit the amount of films that will compete against each other then they will make more profits based on opening weekends.
To be honest, when I was younger I easily bought into craze of the newest movie coming out. I dragged my parents to McDonalds to get my favorite character in the movie that I just saw. I also had to own the soundtrack to all my favorite movies; Free Willy, Lion King, Pocahontas etc. But when became I much older the advertisements and promotions had a less of an effect on me. Although I know the techniques have progressively become more clever I just can't find myself buying into the whole commodity that is blockbuster movies. However, this is not the case for many other people who have fallen into the spell of the sensation. Since 1989 the growing trend of bringing graphic novels to life on the big screen has reached its pinnacle. Graphic novels such as the Avengers, Spiderman, and the latest installments of the Batman saga have rocked the blockbuster charts for over a decade.
Will there ever be an end to the commodity that is Batman, or have productions companies such as WCI, found the golden ticket to movie promotion success? Even without doing well at the box office, movies today still have plenty of opportunities for people to buy into the brand way before a film's release, sometimes with promotion starting at least a year in advance. Even if the film then tanks the movie companies have still made a significant profit off of the anticipation.
It truly amazes me that movies such as Batman have become such a iconic brand in our pop culture. Whether it's good timing on the part of movie production companies or societies need for an escape from reality, movies have replaced more conventional means of media as a means for an escape. And although books have become popularized again, this is due in large part to internet forums and discussions, they don't stand a chance in toping sales at the box office. And what I find truly astounding are people who now have a mentality that there is no need to read a book with the idea that it will become a movie sometime in the near future.
DQ: With all of the above considered, is it to our advantage that we buy into the commodity that is the film industry, or is it cheapening the sophistication of these literary novels which were once intended to be?
The article for Wednesday, "Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!" relates to a lot of the discussions I'm having in some of my Journalism classes about the idea of distribution across media boundaries and how it's impacted society. With the rapid digital advances we have experienced over the last couple of decades, media conglomerates have had to change their business strategies significantly. With the rise of media giants such as Time Warner, Disney, etc. there has been little opportunity for smaller companies to expand without being bought out by their large and profitable competitors. Do you think the expansion of media conglomerates is detrimental to society as far as a lack of diversity in the type of media content we are seeing? Do you not think it has had a significant effect on society? Or do you only think it has had an effect on those who are in the media industry itself?
I found this article to be the most interesting one we have read so far. Before I never really looked to much into this type of situation but after reading and finding out what Warren Communications did to market the batman movie and create a lot more revenue I became really intrigued. The sheer genius that went into all the research prior the the Batman movie was simply amazing. By researching and installing different tactics to a variety of different markets WCI maximized their target markets and revenue.
One of the most interesting parts of the article was when they were talking about using Prince for the soundtrack. Before I never would of guessed why they did it I would of just thought they did because he was a popular musician at the time. What I didnt realize is how they used him to target vastly different demographics of potential movie-goers. By using him in the movie they had tapped into the female population as well as the African-American population because of the "Batdance" song. Overall, WCI did a remarkable job maximizing their revenue from the movie, music, apparel, comics, and much more.
Discussion Question: WCI did all of this back in the 1980s when technology was not nearly what it is today. With that said what are some of the ways companies maximize their target markets now when they are creating new products like movies, tv shows, etc.?
By Ashley Stopperan
Meehan brings up a good point in her article,
"Profit, not culture, drives show business: no show business means no show."
My question is, do you think profit is still what is driving show business today? Or is it our culture and our technological world that is driving its success? Or do you think that it is a mixture of both?
In the second section of the Batman article, Financing Recovery: Recycling, I found it to be pretty interesting. I felt like after reading this part of the article that I was getting ripped off for the purchases I have been making, especially on iTunes. I have purchased so many music videos and movies and tv shows, and now I can see the similarity in all of them and I wonder why I was so easily fooled and never took time to recognize the repeating parts in each one. It also made me feel like the "Show Business" industry isn't even about "entertaining." Obviously, that is what it does, and it is good at doing it. I feel like now I don't even want to go spend money on the movies and music and other things because the show isn't just about entertainment, it is about how much money Time-Warner can save/make by reusing things. Should I be mad and upset at that? Is that like getting mad at seeing someone re-use a water bottle? I guess I just feel like entertainment to me seems less genuine then before and I was wondering if anyone else felt the same way.
To start off, we can all relate to this article. At some age in time I'm sure we're all anted computers/ smart phones to be able to do what we are doing today, I mean this blog itself is the perfect example. We write our blog entries on opinions, questions, and just comments we have about many articles we have read online. We are able to respond to or answer someone elses' discussion question. The web literacy is a form a communication with a conversation. Why yes, we can do this with print and ink, but may take hours, days or maybe even years to publish. The web is an amount of seconds, depending on your wpm that is.
We do get some form of reading down, and I actually learn many new words online, through the simple click of a button, I can look it up on the online dictionary. Whereas I may be lazy to care less about an unknown word to actually look it up in a dictionary, or maybe take some time to turn on my laptop, wait for the wifi connection and then look it up. Literacy online is quick and easy to access. We can easily find something we may be looking for by using a search machine, or using Cntrl+F for something specifically on a page, we can never do that for book and ink. The vast selection of reading on the web is also positive. I however do think that books should never go out of existence; it is a reminder of our publishing days, the dog eared bookmarks, the smell of old paper and simply being able to write notes on it with our own handwriting.
As children may be using the web as more resources, I feel that they may do so but always still should keep books in their bookbags. Some articles/ other interactive programs online maybe more fun (and like I said easy to access) but at their growing age should be used in moderation until they learn how to handle media/ web literacy.
In Eileen Meehan's essay "Holy Commodity Fetish, Batamn!", Meehan uses the example of the 1989 film "Batman" to talk about how a movie is made from start to finish. Meehan states that she "will argue that another dimension must be added to our analysis of media generally and of "Batman" specifically. Namely, economics must be considered if we are to fully understand the texts and intertexts of American mass culture." Meehan goes on to talk about how certain ideas, text, intertext, actors, directors, promotions, soundtracks, marketing strategies, and product lines are taken into consideration when making a film. In her essay, she does a great job of describing just how much economics comes into play when making a movie. In fact, she argues, from a studio's point of view, it is all about economics. The studio is concerned about whether their potential movie prospects will generate revenue. Because of this, Meehan concludes her essay with the statement "our discussion of economics reminds us that text, intertext, and audiences are simultaneously commodity, product line, and consumer." The question is, what exactly does this mean for us as an audience? Do we agree with Meehan's argument, or disagree? Do we believe that text and intertext are simultaneously commodity and product line? If so, what are the results of such a reality? Are they good, bad or neutral? If cultural economics transforms to economic culture, is this something that we should be concerned about, and conscientious of? Or, should be just accept this as a natural reality?
After reading this article, it almost feels as though the main event is not the movie anymore, it's the products that go along with the movie. The focus seems to have shifted from the art to how to best make a profit. In knowing what goes into movies nowadays, how might we use our increased awareness of this process to better understand media texts?
In the article "online, r u really reading" Rich Motoko argues that the internet has changed the reader and how we obtain and read. He states we have a hard time paying attention to articles that seem to long, or books that may start slow. I was wondering If everyone truly believes we have changed the way we read and obtain knowledge, and is it the internets fault?
I feel there are pros and cons to the reading we do on the internet and I was wondering what some of your view points are?
Rich Motoko struck my attention very fast in his "Online, r u really reading?" article. This article was very interesting to me because I found my self relating to different points he makes thorough the article. He talks about Nadia, a 15 year old girl who seems to be very much addicted to the internet. He writes that she spends several hours a day online reading, writing and chatting with friends. What I find most interesting is the time difference between me and Nadia, and i'll explain.
Nadia was 15 back in 2008, I would have been right around 15 as well, but whats different and similar is the lifestyles from her age back in 2008 to my age now. Back in 2008 I would have been on the internet but not for school, not for reading but for more so the games and the videos, I loved the internet and still do, but with age I feel came the want and need to start reading articles and stories. I was young, only reading books because of school and because I wanted decent grades, Nadia was reading for her entertainment and as her fun. To me this is great, she wanted to better herself with knowledge, now it may not be Shakespeare she is reading but at least she is reading something. I feel that when it comes to reading, online or books, the main point is that you get through the whole thing and you obtain knowledge from it.
As I look back now, I wish I would have done more reading. If I would of read more books or more articles online I would be a stronger reader and have more knowledge. I feel this reading that Nadia was doing could only better herself, it is stimulating the brain and creating a larger knowledge for her. Like I said before, it may be stories for her entertainment but it is getting the brain going and it is also getting her thinking.
The internet has made me a better reader to this day because I am reading things and obtaining knowledge. I feel the more you read the stronger your knowledge is so I do not agree that the internet is bad for you. It may have changed the way we read, but it could be worse and if I could take a guess, I bet Nadia to this day is doing pretty well in the reading field.
By Ashley Stopperan
Rich talks a little bit about how teachers should or should not be implementing digital teaching in the classroom. I frequently find my classes, and the readings within my classes, to be outdated. I would rather be taking courses that dig deeper into the world of social media and how this type of communication is affecting us instead of reading from a textbook that is 5 years old.
My question for you all is what are your thoughts about changing what we learn in the classroom? Some areas of study, like marketing/communications/advertising are continually changing so should we be learning more about the web versus reading from textbooks?
By Ashley Stopperan
I really enjoyed this article because I can fully relate to it. I am not much of a reader and I certainly choose the internet over a book. My passion for being on the web, like Nadia, has led me to the career path that I am most interested in: writing for the web. Yes, I agree with what Rich says about how the internet is affecting our focus and concentration. However, the way one has to write online versus in a book is much more fascinating to me because it takes strategy. Everything we read online is marketing itself because it needs to hold our attentions as long as possible.
I specifically related to Rich's quote, "In fact, some literacy experts say that online reading skills will help children fare better when they begin looking for digital-age jobs." This is extremely true because almost every company is using social media as a way to communicate with customers, and employers are looking for people who are skillful with this kind of communication. I believe that having internet skills in this era is far more important to getting a successful job than being a frequent reader.
Lastly, I fully agree with this quote in the text: "It takes a long time to read a 400-page book. In a tenth of the time, the Internet allows a reader to "cover a lot more of the topic from different points of view." As a frequent browser of the internet, I have found that I learn better and gain a better perspective on things when I have to the options to read from different authors or bloggers.
I overall thought Rich's article was powerful and did a good job tackling both perspectives of the literacy debate.
In Allan Berube's "How Gay Stays White and What Kind of White It Stays" opening paragraph presents us with the stereotype of the social category "gay man." He states how in the United States, the dominant image of the typical gay man is a white man who is financially better off than most everyone else.
To be completely honest, before I came to the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, I did not have one gay friend. I attended a private and Catholic high school in Wisconsin. However, once coming to the University of Minnesota, I found myself making friends with specifically a lot of gay guys. All of the friends I made were not the stereotypical 'gay white man' Berube describes in his article. I have befriended white, African American and Asian friends within the gay community at Minnesota.
Throughout the article, I found myself comparing differences amongst the gay population and antiracist movement from then and today. I definitely see where the gay white man stereotype derives from, especially through media promotion of the high income, brand-loyal gay consumer market. However, I do feel like times have changed today. Berube proposes the question of whether or not a gay white man will have a lasting interest in fighting racism or will they sooner or later retreat to the safety of the gay white refuges. Today, I feel like the gay community has such strong beliefs that they would have a lasting interest in fighting racism.
Discussion Question: Allan Berube speaks about a night where he arrived at his favorite disco bar in San Francisco where he discovered a picket line of people protesting the triple-carding (requiring three photo ID's) of gay men of color at the door. He calls this racial exclusion - policing the borders of white gay institutions to prevent people of color from entering. Comparing it to back then, do you think the hard work of identifying such practices has been taken up more so by homosexual people of color, or heterosexual people of color in today's world? Also, does this differ much from the civil rights movement? Why or why not?
After reading Potter's article on Media Literacy, I was intrigued when he mentioned operating at a "higher level of media literacy" enables us to "control" the media. Which means we can control what and how a message affects us as well as how we interpret and respond to it. However, we still have our own beliefs and values, regardless of how media literate we are on a subject, wouldn't we still agree or disagree with a media message just because we already agree/disagree with it beforehand? Even after becoming much more media literate about a topic, would we still allow the message we agree with to strengthen our own pov and then disregard the other argument? Is this not another way to control the media?
In Motoko Rich's article, "Literacy debate: Online, r u really reading?", Rich looks at how people, particularly children and teenagers, are reading. The article tries to tackle the pros and cons of internet reading. On one side, it is argued that internet reading is bad because it replaces novel reading, negatively affects our concentration abilities, causes frequent internet readers to have lower reading comprehension skills than frequent novel readers, and possibly rewires our neural circuits. But on the other side, it is argued that internet reading is good because it still makes us read (rather than watch television), helps us to view multiple different view points on a topic, and helps us to find and pinpoint the information we want faster. The question is, do the pros outweigh the cons? Do the beneficial effects of internet reading outweigh the negative consequences? Should people like Zachary Sims, who have dyslexia, be asking themselves the same questions? Or should the consequences of internet reading, both negative and positive, be looked at on a personal level? Is internet reading really something that we can universally condemn or universally praise? Or are the pros and cons of internet reading something that should be condemned or praised on an individual basis?
Rich Motoko's "Literacy Debate: Online R U Really Reading?" provided me with very insightful information from both good and bad sides regarding the Internet creating a new kind of reading. The article made me think back to my teenage years and if I could relate to Nadia, who didn't really like reading books, or if I actually read books as a teenager. The fact is, I did read books as a teenager. I wasn't your typical "book worm" per say, but I did enjoy a good book here and there. Certainly, there are factors that influenced this decision. First, I did not have my own laptop as a teenager. Instead, we had one computer for the entire family (my mom, dad and I). I had both time and website restrictions on the computer. Secondly, my parents were and still are the type of parents that push me to read more books, and I am very thankful for that.
Personally, I have different reasons than Nadia when using the Internet. They include checking my e-mail, and reading the news. I love reading the news on the Internet; I find it to be more convenient and a cheaper route. In today's world, e-books are offered whether it's for school or leisure reading. I am proud to say that I have never purchased an e-book and most likely never will in my lifetime. Sure, it is cheaper, but I know I wouldn't truly grasp the content if I were reading it on an iPad, computer, or Kindle. I know myself, and I know I don't have the attention span to read a book electronically. I am old fashioned in the sense where I love to buy, hold, read and smell the actual book. This argument aligns with Motoko's point about the differences in reading in print versus reading on the Internet.
Discussion Question: Overall, I do find the Internet to be useful in different ways such as e-mail, networking, research and reading news. In which ways do you find the Internet to be useful? Not useful? Do you believe the benefits of Internet reading outweigh the disadvantages? Do you think reading books is an important activity that should still be stressed upon today's generation of children and teenagers outside of school? Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with Konyk, and believe reading books expands the thought process and imagination?
Potter states in What is Media Literacy that "operating at a higher level of media literacy gives [us] more control over the media." By this he does not mean we can control what is presented in the media. Instead, from what I understood, he meant that we can control what and how much we are exposed to. He also mentions that we must understand that the media is only an interpretation of the person who created the specific media piece--i.e. journalist's pov in his/her article. Furthermore, he states that being media literate allows us to generate our own understanding and point of view of the media (and info presented in the media). By this he means that a person operating at a high level of media literacy will not easily fall for whatever the media presents to them. Instead, they will generate their own ideas whether it be against or agree with what is presented.
Considering this, I wonder if a person's own values and beliefs would affect whether they agree or disagree with a certain media message? Perhaps a person's pov has already been decided beforehand about a certain media message, regardless of whether or not they are operating at a high level of media literacy. Wouldn't they still believe in the "truths" of the media message that is similar to their pov? Would a person just ignore a message that was against theirs? Even after understanding the other argument, wouldn't, couldn't they just avoid it so it won't obstruct their pov? Is it as easy as what Potter makes it seem? By operating at a "higher level of media literacy" are we able to accurately agree and act upon the "correct" or "best" decision?
After reading both assigned readings I've come to wonder why is it that parents and the older generations have a predisposition towards online reading?
When comparing book reading to online reading one can see that they have similar purpose to inform and entertain. These two types of media both require critical thought and challenge information from the reader's perspective. Not to mention the fact that online reading allows the reader to go above and beyond traditional book reading and comment and interact with other who have read the same material.
As I read this article it made me think about the google article as well. Like Zachary Simms the interviewed teenager, I also do feel that the web is more for like "conversation" and reading is more of one way. So as they say that digital literacy (may..) become a school subject, it is always helpful in someway, we can get that 400 page book summarized on a page, but at the same time we can use it in moderation. So my question here is would you ever sign up for a digital literacy class, if offered? and in what way is it specifically different. I mean you can "read between the lines" in an ink printed book but you can do the same for reading on the web. There are many pros to technological advancements and we always complain that it has taken away some aspects of life, however would we ever go back to the days where reading online never existed? I don't think so.
I really enjoyed reading the "What is Media Literacy" article this week. I think the author created a strong argument of what it means to be highly literate in media.
One section that stuck out to me as being especially intriguing was about our control over the media (page 11). I liked that he said it is impossible to not expose yourself to the media because even if you tried, the media would still have control over you because it is causing you to pull away from everything. Also, even if you try to go all hipster and not read/watch anything in the media, you would still be indirectly affected by the media's influence on "our institutions of government, family, education, and religion" (Potter 11).
This section reminded me of a discussion we recently had in my Intro. to Communication Theory course where we decided it was completely impossible to not communicate at any time. Even if you shut yourself away in a room by yourself, you are still communicating to the world around you that you want to be alone or that you're angry or sad.
It appears that these two discussions are related because media always involves communication. Deja vu!
I really agree with Potter that the more knowledge structures you have, the more you can decide which pieces of media you accept or challenge. I think this is the vital purpose of a class like this. We all need to expand our knowledge structures to not always fall prey to media exactly the way the authors intend us to. Also, being a Comm student allows me to analyze even more deeply the intention authors have in creating their messages so I can only take in information that aligns with my personal world view. I'm so glad I'm in this class!
As I read through this article, so many things went through my mind. First, it made me reflect on how I grew up and the ways that I learned to read and write. When I was growing up, the use of high speed internet was a relatively new thing and it was not a given that everyone had the use of the internet. Because of that, most of my assignments in elementary/middle school were all in paper format. Therefore, I grew up knowing and using paper for things like taking notes and writing papers. Fast forward to my college career, and now it seems like most of my assignments are all either on the internet or at least on the computer. Long story short, I've experienced assignments both on and off the computer, and to be honest, I definitely prefer my assignments and readings to be in paper rather than electronic. My first reason for this is because the computer poses a huge threat of distraction. Combining my assignments with distractions does not help much with procrastination. I can only imagine kids today, using the internet for homework, being overwhelmed with distraction because of their lack of self control (at their age). My second reason for this is because I think there is definitely something to writing things out that a person just cannot get from using the internet and typing. This is why I still, to this day, hand write all of my notes when I'm in class and when I'm studying. I think it is majorly important for the learning process for the brain to have to process the information coming in enough to then write it back out- whether it's writing answers or simply copying something down. As for reading for leisure goes, I do not like reading online at all. There is something about having a book in my hands, feeling and smelling the pages, that makes the whole experience. I also feel that there are, again, way to many distractions with reading online. When I go to read an article or story online, I have to get past and ignore about 50 or so advertisements just to focus on what I'm trying to read. Even then, I find advertisements placed directly in the paragraphs of my reading! The brain has to take in so much extra sensory information while using a computer/internet to read that it's hard to focus on the meaning of what you're reading and nearly impossible to find yourself immersed in the reading.
Don't get me wrong, here. I completely understand the importance for kids to learn how to use computers and the internet. The internet is a great resource and there are infinite possibilities for learning within it. However, do I think that kids need to spend all of their time on the internet? No. And I surely do not think that they need to be taught how to read via the internet, nor should they be tested on it. There still needs to be an emphasis on reading text on paper and in books. Kids should be taught study skills on paper, because there is nothing quite like being able to annotate in pencil and highlight on a paper or in a text book. The information just does not get ingrained as well while using a computer and putting a screen between the information and the reader.
I guess my question for discussion would be, do you think kids should be taught how to regulate their time on the internet? Meaning, should they be taught the difference between electronic resources and paper resources, the dangers and downfalls of electronic resources, and how to regulate their time between both? Would that be an effective compromise between the sides of this argument? And should there still be an emphasis on the study skills and resources that are not available on the computer?
In reading the "What is Media Literacy?" article, one thought kept popping up in my head: if we are all so literate in media now because we are constantly exposed to it in this new age of technology, are we illiterate in activities/other areas of society that people used to be exposed to more? In other words, there was a time when media literacy did not exist, or if it did, it was mainly focused on books and political culture. This means that people used to spend their time doing other things and being more literate, or advanced, in those things. Does that mean that we are now too engrossed in popular media to be literate in old-fashioned activities? This question may have an obvious answer, but it is still puzzling me a bit.
Everyday I use the internet for many things. I usually check my e-mail, my online calendar, Facebook or Moodle for upcoming assignments. Sometimes I might also watch a movie on Netflix or watch a Youtube but I rarely use the internet to read. I find reading on the internet very distracting. I either want to go to a different web page or have trouble following the words on the screen. What are your feelings about reading on the internet? Do you enjoy it, dislike it or are you indifferent and why? What kinds of skills are used in reading on the internet versus reading printed material?
It is very clear that children growing up in today's society must be able to use the computer. On a daily basis, a person receives a lot from various media resources, especially the internet. Some people prefer reading on the internet while others prefer reading a book. I never realized just how much of a debate there is about reading printed material or reading online.
Although I am a big supporter of the internet, I do not enjoy reading online. If a professor assigns a reading that can be found online, I usually print the article. Something about having the article right in front on me so I can write on it and highlight sentences makes it easier for me to comprehend. While reading online, I feel distracted and loose my place easily on the page or want to go to another website. I do not understand how people are able to comfortable read online without being distracted.
There were many areas of this article that I found really interesting. The first thing that caught my eye was the title itself, "Online, r u really reading?". Right from the beginning you got a sense that something was missing from the action of reading online. The use of 'r u' really represents how reading styles have changed. Yes, not all articles and things online make use of these web abbreviations, but it shows that the formality is not the same as in books. The Internet provides resources and articles that are to the point and do not necessarily have all the extra parts to develop a story. It is a more concise way to get information, even if it is just in bits.
The next part of the article that interested me was the story about Nadia. The article did portray both sides of the argument pretty well. There were good examples for both, and I really had to think about what I actually thought my stance would be. The reason why the story of Nadia intrigued me is because yeah, she was not reading books, but rather on websites where should could read longer stories and even contribute, but she still didn't fully get what she needed. She might have been able to be more creative, but her writing and speaking skills were not up to par. At the time she was a 15 year old girl who could spell simple words correctly, nor form grammatically correct sentences. In the long run, I think this will effect her more negatively because college isn't a walk in the park. She will have to learn the hard way that writing and speaking skills are essential to obtaining any degree, or even getting into a good school. Not only will it effect college, but also her job searching later in life. Most companies want literate and well educated people in their positions, so by not learning that first hand in her earlier years I think she is ultimately hurting her chances to be that published writer she aspires to be.
Throughout this article, it went back and forth about the opposing sides to this debate. For those who think the Internet and its reading habits are bad, and do not foster the kind of reading skills needed, I want to know why they have not looked more into the situations like that of the boy with dyslexia? I realize the article was written in 2008, so maybe there has been more research on it, but how was a boy who essentially could not read books or actively participate in class, able to fluently come up with information and piece it all together? Yes, it was not found through reading a large novel to access the information, but he read articles and was able to decipher between the good and the bad. Why should it matter the method he retrieved the information? If it works better for him and his learning style, shouldn't that be what is most important?
Do you think texting and Twitter have contributed to our shortened attention span? By having limited characters for comment (Twitter) do you think that affects how we communicate? I'm sure it has effects on our grammar skills. If not us, at least the kids growing up now who are handed phones and iPads in elementary school. And one more question, do you think we will need to learn how to write anymore or will typing replace it in the next 5-10 years?
As I was reading this article I found it harder for me to take a certain stance on the different views. This article did a really good job of taking both the positive and negative stances to reading on the internet, and I liked that for a change. I feel like the past articles have been very one-way focused, so it was refreshing to read something different. Because this reading had both sides, I decided for this article I wanted to focus on all of the positives.
One thing that is positive about kids reading online is that most jobs are "digital-age" jobs, and will require a decently tech-savvy individual. This is pretty true. I don't think there are many jobs out there that do not require some kind of internet & technology background. Another positive that was pointed out was the ability of the youth to be able to understand the world and the way it works. As brought up in the article, things don't always go from A-Z in the world, they don't always go in order. So, because of the jumping from one web page to another, this helps young kids understand why the world doesn't always go in a certain way either. The one other positive that I liked was being able to read on topics and get many different point-of-views. I am a regular pleasure reader, but I have never really thought of what other people may have thought about the book, or what theme or lesson they learned, but I like that you can read about that online, that is pretty cool!
I thought that this article was pretty good at representing both sides of the argument whether the Internet is hurting or helping us in regards to reading. I'm torn and unsure where I fall between the sides. On one hand, I've experienced the lack of concentration that Carr talked about in our previous article but I can totally see why kids nowadays (like the one in the article) would rather read on the Internet because it's quicker and more interactive.
Also, it helps you to read and process different information quicker and more effectively. It's great too to think that if you're on the Internet, it pretty much means that you're reading. Whether it's Facebook, ESPN, Amazon, or just emailing, you have to read in order to complete these tasks. One thing that I'm concerned about though is that there's not a lot of research that has been done about the short and long term effects on us. There's some but not enough to truly understand if things like Google and smart phones lead to increased ADD or what kind of effect on our eyes does staring at a computer screen for hours produce? Hopefully we aren't in such a rush to experience the new technology that we neglect what kind of world we're creating for us and the next generation.
Discussion Question: Online, r u really reading?
When I was reading this article, I was thinking, "What else can possibly come up? Hasn't this class covered it all?" As I kept reading a few different thinks popped out and caught my attention. I find it really interesting that some countries "will participate in new international assessments of digital literacy." However, the United States will not. This kind of made me think for a second on how that would work out... would it be fair to all children? I guess my question is what would state testing benefit from adding this into the tests? What would this tell you? Which kids can afford computers, and which can't? I know this isn't a part of the U.S. testing yet, but if it was....?
The literacy debate article was interesting for me because of all the examples that it used. There were multiple children that were discussed along with their internet and reading habits. I agree with a statement in the article that said the internet will help people when looking for digital age jobs. I believe the internet is just as educational if not more educational than traditional books. I think this because of the massive variety of information and sources out there on the net. The trouble lies in what the children and young adults are doing/reading on the internet. Very scholary articles can be found and read but most of the time it seems people are reading fun articles or chatting online, another strong point brought up in the article.
I think this article itself shows that the internet can bring you because within this article there were statements like "Critics of reading on the Internet say they see no evidence that increased Web activity improves reading achievement. 'What we are losing in this country and presumably around the world is the sustained, focused, linear attention developed by reading,'" but then there were other "research finding" that suggested otherwise. The country needs to find a way to strike a balance between the two of internet and book reading. Both are very beneficial and a must in learning.
Discussion question: A boy named Hunter fell in the lower 10% of his class for traditional reading skills yet the upper most quartile for online literacy. Do you think this is something worth measuring and discussing? I say yes because like in the article, being able to use the internet effectively will help children in the future get jobs because if the job market as well as the high technology oriented jobs. Even a lot of business's are "paperless" requiring a lot of online/computer work.
In the article "Literacy Debate: Online R U Really Reading?", Rich brings up the idea that "the web is more about a conversation, books are more one-way". Do you aree with this statement? DO you think that reading a vast array of articles on the internet is more enriching than reading a book that is more one-sided?
Rich also raises the question if students should be taught how to use the web. Do you think that web skills should be required for adolescents in school, or do you think they are unnecessary?
In his article "Defining Media Literacy" James Potter discusses the idea that we need to have "strong knowledge structures" about the real world (factual information and social information), in order to analyze media effectively. Do you agree with this statement? Do you think that you are able to analyze different forms of media just as effectively without real world experience in that particular area in which you are analyzing?
I found the article "Defining Media Literacy" by James W. Potter to be very thought-provoking. It really made me examine my level of media literacy and even inspired me to work towards achieving a high level of media literacy. I thought his definition of Media Literacy was fair and just and I especially liked when Potter used the metaphor of wanting to "learn about the earth". He listed off several examples of how one could go about studying the earth, i.e. building a 100-foot tall tower, climbing up it, and using that as a perspective to study the earth. He then stated "The key to understanding the Earth is to build lots of these towers so you can have many different perspectives in order to enlarge your understanding about what the earth is." I thought that this was a powerful example of how it's important to broaden your knowledge and build "towers" of knowledge in order to be able to effectively interpret and analyze media.
Another part of the article that I found interesting and important was when Potter talks about the role that experience plays in how we interpret and analyze media messages. I feel like we can all personally relate to this. I for one, can relate to a lot of movies about family, relationships and friendships because I have had various long lasting relationships and friendships and can thus identify with a great amount of movies that portray similar experiences. I cannot, however identify as strongly with the sport of football. I know the rules and understand the foundations of the game but I have never played on an organized team, or even "for fun" for that matter, and therefore football does not resonate with me as much.
I personally think this article, and series of articles read for this class period are super interesting. I think Nicholas Carr brings up very good points, and really made me analyze how I go about reading or viewing things. His argument is that our minds have great plasticity and are able to be shaped and molded. This means that within his argument he believes we lose concentration, the ability to delve deeply into a text, and even the ability to ponder a text. I think in some aspects this is very true. I know for me, with everything being so fast-paced I often find myself skimming articles or not really paying attention to what I was reading. The main thing I got out of what he was saying is that we are losing skills - we are slowly digressing with the age of the Internet. Yes, that might be true, but what if it is just our skills evolving in a way that is to keep up with this fast-paced environment?
As of yet, we have not been able to fully predict the consequences on what the digital media is doing to our society, but I think it is intriguing to look at it at a different angle. Instead of losing all of our skills and processes that are considered "normal", I think we might just be adapting and adding new skills. There are so many new options when it comes to the Web, and I think we are not substituting or getting rid of, but rather switching it up and figuring out a way to keep up. We are developing a new set of skills.
In Nicholas Carr's article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid", he talks about how we are losing many different important skills like our attention span, depth in the learning, and ability to ponder the text, but what if we looked at it like we weren't losing anything rather just changing how we do it? Why do we automatically think they are substitutions in the way we process text rather than new skills replacing old ones?
Based upon this Google Article, do you think all these young children these days should be given ipad's, kindles, smart phones, etc. to use (either it be used for games, texting, reading, etc..) or keep it to the traditional books with paper, binding, and ink as well as restrain them from getting technological devices only when they get older?
Why is it a problem that we now think more abstractly than before, & have many ideas and thoughts floating around in our head, rather than just having one thought or idea?
Nicholas Carr's work "Is Google Making Us Stupid" is an interesting
take on the way the internet is affecting our lives. Carr argues that
he, as well as other people, are starting to think differently than
did in the past due to the simplicity of the Internet. He says that
reading in the past was always easy for him and he could do it
continuously. However, after years of using the internet it has become
much more difficult. One of his reasons behind this is that his mind
expects information to be easy to receive and easy to process just
like how it is presented on the internet. Some of his friends share
his perspective as well. They said that it is hard for them to stay
focused on a long article without being distracted.
This article really hits home with me. It was hard for me to get
through the entire article without checking my phone or computer. In
fact, while I have been writing this blog I have checked up on ESPN,
which is another tab I have open. This really leads me to believe that
the internet has changed the way we think. Like Carr, I used to be
able to read all day. I used to love it. Now I can't even read a book
for more than an hour without getting bored. The only aspect I don't
agree with in this article is the title. I personally don't think
Google or the Internet is making us more stupid. It is just making us
more impatient. If anything the Internet is making us smarter. We are
exposed to more information than ever before which could be good or
bad depending on the content.
Do you think we will move towards an all electronic based library in
the future or will there always be a place for paper media?
In Nicholas Carr's article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", Carr not only argues that the internet is changing the way we read, but that internet reading is changing the way our neural circuits are formed. For Carr, internet reading has brought about new kinds of shallow, short, and brisk reading. Carr argues that the in-depth reading found from reading books is largely being replaced with internet reading, and therefore affecting how we comprehend, reflect, and think. Carr believes that internet reading should be viewed with skepticism and caution. Carr acknowledges that the shift from traditional reading to internet reading comes at a sacrifice, and this sacrifice should be looked at in more depth and caution.
Clay Shirky, on the other hand, believes that the newly found abundance of information that the internet provides is a good and useful tool. Shirky states that "Given this change, the question we need to be asking isn't whether there is sacrifice; sacrifice is inevitable with serious change. The question we need to be asking is whether the sacrifice is worth it." Shirky is not as cautious as Carr in his approach to the internet and internet reading. Shirky believes that there will be inevitable change and sacrifice, and because of this, it is our job to find out if the sacrifice is worth it.
In my personal opinion, I believe that the internet is a tool and should be used in moderation. No matter what tool you use, it will affect you and the way you think. If I were to read many literary works, as Carr stated he once did, then yes, I may be more likely to develop neural circuits that are more in-depth, reflective, and competent. Similarly, if I were to just browse internet websites for my readings, then I may very well develop neural circuits that are prone to soak up small batches of information more quickly and rapidly. It is very hard to say if one medium is better than the other. Both have potentially positive and negative consequences. It is my belief, therefore, that each tool should be used in moderation so that certain neural circuits are not forgotten, while others do not become too strong.
By Ashley Stopperan
My question for this post revolves around this specific quote in the article:
"'As we are drained of our inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance,' Foreman concluded, 'we risk turning into pancake people--spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.'"
I am wondering if people believe that we can really have an impact on our futures of becoming "pancake people." Can we really avoid the speed and dominance of technology? If searching the web has become such an addiction and is proving to have negative affects on our brain developments, is there really any way that we can avoid it?
By Ashley Stopperan
I specifically found myself relating to Carr recognition that today we read more than we did 30 years ago, but it is a different kind of reading. I definitely find myself constantly reading e-mails, text messages, twitter updates and online news which is more often than when I used to read 10 years ago. However, I can relate to Carr when finding that I have become a faster learner, and a more impatient reader. As a college student, I wish my mind didn't think like this; wanting to skim and get to the point quick in any text I use for research or homework. For example, even reading Carr's post was difficult for me to focus because it wasn't short enough for my liking. He also mentions how the rest of media is changing because of the way people are adjusting to the internet, which is something I have noticed as an advertising major. "...magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets."
The other point Carr makes that I relate to is how our generation's personalities are changing because of the use of technology. I have a more difficult time talking on the phone with others because typing up an email is easier and less confrontational. This is definitely evidence of what Carr explains because if there was no internet, my friends and I would not be so accustomed to nonverbal communication. He references 2001, where "people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine." The very thought of this scares me because I feel that we are all on our way to becoming like machines and way overdependent on technology. This article inspires me to teach my further children about the importance of using non-technological items whenever possible, because atleast my childhood has helped me shape who I am. (Playing outside vs inside with an Xbox or Ipad like kids do today).
In Nicholas Carr's article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", Carr not only argues that the internet is changing the way we read, but that internet reading is changing the way our neural circuits are formed. For Carr, internet reading has brought about new kinds of shallow, short, and brisk reading. Carr argues that the in-depth reading found from reading books is largely being replaced with internet reading, and therefore affecting how we comprehend, reflect, and think. Carr believes that internet reading should be viewed with skepticism and caution. Clay Shirky, on the other hand, believes that the newly found abundance of information that the internet provides is a good and useful tool. Shirky states that "Given this change, the question we need to be asking isn't whether there is sacrifice; sacrifice is inevitable with serious change. The question we need to be asking is whether the sacrifice is worth it or, more importantly, what we can do to help make the sacrifice worth it." So, my question, as well as Shirky's, is it worth it? What are the positive and negative consequences of the internet, particularly internet reading? If the internet really does reshape our neural circuits, is this a problem? If it is, does this problem outweigh the potential benefits that the internet and internet reading provide? Similarly, what are some of the other, possibly unforeseen positive and negative consequences of the internet?
After reading through the article, it's reply, and the author's response to that reply, I've come to the understanding that the media has definitely changed how we work. Whether it is how we read or how we write, the way in which we comprehend knowledge has definitely changed since the internet came into play. The research process has become easier, but has it also hindered our ability to retain information? With the information so right at our fingertips, we don't have to hold onto it. We can simply type any question into the search bar and find what we were looking for. I guess my question is, is it affecting our actual capacity for knowledge?
I do agree with the response to the original article in the sense that I think the author may be overreacting or looking into things a bit too far. I don't necessarily think that our entire culture has changed because of the internet. He did not take into account all of the other factors that have changed in the past 50 or even 10 years. Those things totally come into play when considering changes within human behavior.
As I was reading through these articles, the main thought that came to my mind was about our capacity for knowledge. Either it has gotten smaller, we can't retain it as long, it takes us longer to make these memories and connections, OR we have just gotten lazy. And the example I came up with for this was basic math. Think about it. You're in a final exam for some science or even regular math class, and you're moving quickly over the questions when a problem requiring you to use the square root of 169. What do you immediately do? Chances are, reach for your calculator. If not..well, that's what I would do. The answer is easy enough. It's 13. A solid number. But without thinking, you go to your calculator. If not right away, maybe just to make sure you're right. We do these things without thinking. Don't know the answer to a math problem? Calculator. Have a question about anything else? Google. We don't even have to try and remember things because these resources are literally in our pocket, with the use of smart phones.
So, as I stated before, I guess my question is that, is the media really affecting our culture and how we read? Or is it also affecting how we retain knowledge or our ability to retain knowledge overall? Or, to go along with that, maybe we're just completely lazy now?
Before reading Shirky's & Carr's articles I hadn't put much thought into how society has adapted their ways of thinking due to technological advances. In last 12 years or so in school my homework, class projects, & research have been solely internet based & I haven't really known any other way of thinking. And how Shirky & Carr argue bout whether to embrace or resist change is something scholars have been arguing about through out time. I can't say that either one is correct in their way of thinking. I can argue that it's not how we are receiving our information or how little effort it takes to obtain said information, their main focus should be questioning how to determine if the information is correct and how to further use supplemental research to back up the information they discovered on the internet.
I would also like to bring up another point about learning in general. I myself learn by a hands-on approach. If there is anyway I can explore the internet and find a real life example of a lesson I'm learning I find that to be much more helpful, rather than reading a 10 page supplement handed out by my professor. To Carr's dismay, I can also admit that I've used Google to answer a question of mine by typing in the exact question and received just the answer I was looking for, without having to read a long article.
Having unlimited access to information is probably the best thing about the time we are living in now, & the worst. It's the best because as I mentioned before we are granted access to any explanation we want or need. It also allows people to expose themselves to the world in ways in which they may have never have experienced it before. It is the worst because not all of the information they receive is the truth. The internet allows anything to be published, whereas it would have had gone through verification before reaching the public.
I found the article "Is Google Making Us Stupid" and the responses very interesting. A few questions came to mind after reading these set of articles. The author of the article mentions his attention span has shorten after the use of the internet became more readily available. I have heard research relating TV to ADHD but is there any research out there about the internet contributing to ADHD? I also believe the author of the article views how the internet has changed our way of receiving and thinking about information negatively. What are some positive examples of how the internet has changed the way people receive and think about information? How has your internet use changed your views on reading printed material?
After reading the "Is Google Making Us Stupid" article I could only think of how we actually take it for granted. I don't think it is making us more stupid, but rather an easier way to find out information than before. Of course we may not retain it and keep it in our knowledge folder in our head unless significant to us, but easily educates us quickly. Nicholas Carr says that "My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it." I do agree with him in the sense that we can only learn what Google decides to release to us.
I may fear that by the touch of a button we are fed information (either it be false or not) such as Carr does, but it does make our life a little easier. We can personally decide to use other methods, such as primary sources, personal interviews and history records to find any kind of information we may want. This leads me to think when we will be fully dependent on the media for even other things, Sure many digital things can be helpful, but there are many downsides to certain things. For example, the US loves facebook, its a great networking, social and communicating method but what if we never leave our houses to see those people's faces again. This article made me think about this idea.
After reading the article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?," I found the main point to be about how the internet is changing the way we receive and think about information. I agree with this point but I do not think it completely a negative thing as the article describes it. In today's world, people constantly encounter stimuli and we can certainly can not decode it all. Everyday people experience tons of information from various medias. One media people forget about that is the body, which is not an invention of technology. People receive an incredible amount of information through their five senses on a daily basic. Clearly the brain does not take in all of the stimuli a person experiences, it has to pick and choose.
As technology has advanced, people experience even more information overload. Unfortunately, this has made it harder for a person to make the decision of is this information important or not. Although the internet people has enabled people to access information more readily, they also have the opportunity to better decode the information they are receiving. The internet has helped people adapt to taking in more of the stimuli that are exposed to on a daily basis. An example would be if a person asked a question about math. If a person did not know the answer, they would probably look up the answer on the internet. I do not think there is any shame in looking up information on the internet that you only need for a short amount of time.In today's society, people only need to memorize information that is useful to them in their own personal lives.
After reading Nicholas Carr's article, I was left with the impression that we are all turning into stupid robots dependent on "smart" robots. This just does not settle very well with me; it just seems like a very "short-sighted" view at Google and human ability. Does Carr really think that we are becoming stupider just because we lose interest in a few articles or books? As I mentioned in my lengthy blog post, isn't it just because we have come to a point where there are a lot of similar things available now, and I mean A LOT of similar things? Maybe we have just become bored of reading all these "similar" things? So, my question is, should we change how we present our materials or is Carr really right that we are turning into stupid robots dependent on man-made robots that are "smarter" than us, and the only thing we can do is to turn back?
Nicholas Carr made some good points in "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" explaining how the internet has altered our concentration and cognition. Heck, I even found myself committing the very thing he explained in his article! So, I admit! I do skim articles and lengthy pieces then bookmark things and never go back to thoroughly read it. I even caught myself losing interest as I began to read Carr's article and realized how "long" it was.
However, at some point something inside me started to bubble: is Carr saying that we're all going to turn into fat, stupid machines just like the people in Wall-E? Are we all going to end up depending on these, what Carr calls it, "ARTIFICIAL intelligence," or simply put, computers? Is that my future? MY future?
Yes, weird revelation on my part, however doesn't it sound like he's saying we're all going to become idiots who must depend on machines? Is it a new era he's mentioning? Like the Industrial Revolution, are we headed into a Computer Revolution? (If that makes any sense?) Also, this is where I thought Carr may have gotten a bit, I don't know, extreme? Yes, skepticism is good (as he argued in his reply to Clay Shirky), however we mustn't forget that there are two sides to every argument (as Shriky attempted to explain in his article).
So, maybe Google is changing how we think, read and/or even our minds, but so is everything that we are exposed to in media. The point is, at some point the change already occurred so shouldn't we be looking into a way to make this change good for us? And perhaps we shouldn't be complaining about how stupid we are becoming because we lose interest in lengthy articles and books, but we must change with it.
What I mean is, if people are losing interest in books or articles (as Carr states), considering the amount of clutter out there, shouldn't we change how we write or present our materials so it will catch and keep the attention of our audience? There really is so much information available now, as Shirky mentioned, all of which are very similar in style and form, so maybe the problem is not that we are becoming stupider because we are not interested in all the "similar" things out there, but that we have yet to come across something spectacular that will again entice us in this cluttered, mass-information society.
These three articles definitely bring up valid points on each side of the argument but I completely agree with Nicholas Carr's viewpoint. I'm all for advancing technology, mostly because it makes my life easier and a lot of fun. And seeing the advances in the medical field because of technology is amazing. However, if we're progressing to the point where we're so saturated with the internet that we have a computer search engine part of our brain, count me out.
I think a big part of being human is to wonder, not to know everything. Religious beliefs aside, I think everyone can agree that each human is unique and to be cherished. And I'm not about to debate the importance of reading "War and Peace" but I do believe that humans need to have times of quiet, the space to contemplate, just to be. And in my personal life, I've experienced what Carr describes about having less patience with reading and it kind of scares me. Not so much how it affects me, but how it will affect the next generation. Will the internet take over our lives so completely that reading books become too difficult? Call me a skeptic like Carr, but I don't want a future like that.
Both Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky make interesting points about how the internet and media affect the nature of how we think. While the majority of all three articles focus on this central argument I took a particular interest in the references to "War and Peace", the novel that Carr had initially brought up in his article "Is Google Making Us Stupid?". Carr used the example of Bruce Freidman, a former member of the faculty at the University of Michigan, as admitting to losing his ability to read through long novels such as War and Peace. He has a tendency to skim through such novels and finds himself being unable to retain any of the information he is reading. Do you think the internet is responsible for altering our ability to read through long texts because of the way we gather our information via the web? Do you think Carr's claims about the internet changing the way our brains work is true, more specifically, do you think the internet has changed the way you think?
I found these articles to be both relevant and interesting due to the recent popularity such arguments have had regarding technology and its impact on society. I found myself constantly jumping between the arguments of Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky. Upon reading "Is Google Making Us Stupid?",I was drawn to Carr's idea that the internet changes the way we think and alters our mental habits. I thought he used significant evidence to back up his claim, he used credible sources and he backed up the evidence through self-reflexive, thought- provoking ideas.
However, while I find this article to be both relevant and interesting as a topic of discussion in today's society, I do not feel that I can fully relate to the issue of the internet changing the way I think. My reasoning is that I literally grew up with the internet and have nothing to compare it to. I have always had the option of both reading in print and reading on the web. If Carr's evidence is true and the internet alters the way our brain functions, than my brain has grown up thinking like a human search engine. I can relate to Carr in the sense that I too, have trouble keeping focus with long texts but it has always been that way for me (unless the text is of particular interest to me).
As I read Shirky's article "Why Abundance is Good: A Reply to Nick Carr", I found a lot of the counter arguments he made to Carr to be very compelling. He made some interesting points and a good attempt at debunking Nick Carr's credibility and logic. For example, I had initially thought that Shirky was onto something when he stated "But at the heart of "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" doesn't actually seem to be about thinking, or even reading, but culture". But after reading "Why Skepticism Is Good: My Reply to Clay Shirky" I realized that Carr really was trying to make his article more centered on the cognitive effects of the internet as opposed to the internet in regards to culture. Ultimately I do not think that Shirky was successful in his attempt to correct Nicholas Carr's intentions on his google article. Carr came right back and further explained his reasoning in a way that made Shirky's claims seem rather foolish.
In Carr's reply to Shirky in his article, "Why skepticism is good" he sort of reiterates his main point of thinking in that how Google, and the internet in general is rewiring our brain because of how the human brain was meant to change through evolution. I agree that this is possible but also I flat out do not believe the internet has been around near long enough, or even writing in general, to offer any explanation through evolution which takes millions or years. So I guess my question is should people be concerned about what type of reading they do and how often? And if research were to prove that reading books is better than surfing the internet would it ever be possible to reserve the cultural change that has occurred. I don't believe so. The world is constantly changing at a very fast pass. Without the internet the world would be lost.
Given this change, the question we need to be asking isn't whether there is sacrifice; sacrifice is inevitable with serious change. The question we need to be asking is whether the sacrifice is worth it or, more importantly, what we can do to help make the sacrifice worth it. And the one strategy pretty much guaranteed not to improve anything is hoping that we'll somehow turn the clock back. This will fail, while neither resuscitating the past nor improving the future.
I thought this quote from Shirky was interesting because I agree with him on not being able to turn the clocks back. The age of books is declining ( I don't believe they will ever disappear entirely) but I think the way we research, read, and study, isnt a product of Google or what the internet is doing to us, it is just society in general. The world moves faster and faster everyday, with more people in a hurry trying to get done what they need to do and go where they need to go. Google is a product of our environment. An entrepreneur saw that society would enjoy having a search engine with everything at their finger tips because of the fast past lifestyle we all live. I don't believe Carr to be a Luddite and in his "Is Google making us stupid" article I think he brings up a large variety of good points; like the plasticity of the brain. I think Carr sees that there is and will have to be sacrifices made do to the internet and I think his article is just bringing it to the readers attention and allows them to be aware of what's going on. The first paragraph that talks about the ability of being able to read in-depth and concentrate on a book for a long period of time and how that ability is slipping away from many people I think is very interesting and it hit home for me in a big way. It was like he was speaking to me. And then at the end where he says "Be skeptical of my skepticism" I think that is a very important paragraph as well because he is essentially telling people like Shirky, maybe I am not entirely correct but something is going on. And if nothing else hopefully Carr's article inspires more of us to go back and pick up and book and try and do some reading because after all he is definitely correct about culture disappearing with books/reading.
When reading these articles, I had a difficult time taking them seriously or trying to soak up what they were saying because I found both of their sides so extreme and sarcastic. I guess I ended up analyzing these articles more objectively as example texts of exactly what these two authors are discussing. Carr's article is arguing that the Web has made us less able to focus or read long articles, yet he wrote a pretty long one himself. I also found my mind wandering and wanting to read something else while he was explaining that he is unable to read long articles anymore. Coincidence or boring writing? Maybe I am an example of what he is arguing? I'm not sure.
I also feel like Carr strayed off topic, as Shirky said, by starting to discuss the computer's role in mankind throughout history. I thought we were talking about just Google? Just online reading/searching? I was also a bit appalled by the sheer tenacity of each writer. They attacked each other with no mercy. Obviously, Shirky's entire article is an attack (a response, but a bold one). But Carr's response in his Skepticism article attacks Shirky's use of religious language and eventually refers to his whole idea as "techno-utopianism." I guess I just couldn't get over how strange and ironic this type of writing was to actually form an opinion on the subject of whether the internet has caused our society to be less intelligent. It's hard for me to side with either of them when I think they're rhetoric is so funny!
In general, I thought these articles were pretty ridiculous and funny. I particularly liked the back-and-forth comments about Carr being a Luddite. I'm curious to see if anyone has witnessed or noticed any other evidence of Luddism in their personal lives in relation to other types of media (newspapers, blogs, music, etc.). I know for me, my parents have a tendency to act a bit this way (they think their music/movies/tv was the best, but they always say they're "okay" with change). Also what are your opinions on Shirky's opinion of Luddism? Here is a quote from Shirky explaining how he feels about Luddites:
"Luddism is a social version of that, where people are encouraged to believe that change is inevitable, except, perhaps, this time. This wish for stasis is bad for society, though not because it succeeds. The essential fact of Luddite complaint is that it only begins after a change has already taken place, so Luddites are mainly harmless whiners (except, of course, for the original Luddites, who were murderous thugs.) The real problem is elsewhere; Luddism is bad for society because it misdirects people's energy and wastes their time."
-Shirkey, Clay: "Why Abundance is Good: A Reply to Nick Carr"
After reading "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" I had a question in mind to ask, or maybe just a topic to bring up in class? But there was the theme throughout the article about how we don't really "learn" and "contemplate" from the things we read on the internet. I was talking to my mom about college when she was her age, and she was able to recall information right then and there about papers, speeches, so many things she did. I can't even remember what I wrote about Freshmen year! I then realized, my mom didn't have the internet, she used the library. She did about one or two papers and big projects a semester... Was it easier than what we do? No, but there is no way she could have done what we do without the internet. So, do you think colleges would be better off making its student do all writings and research very detailed and COULD they make us do it on things only found in books? Would that make us smarter? It's just something to think about, and is really brought up when Carr talks about Plato's Phaedrus. Is the world really getting smarter? Or are we just good at pretending for the short length of time spent on multiple papers and exams?
So I was reading this article, and I didn't get very far before I knew what I wanted to write about, in fact, I just stopped right there and quit the reading and started writing.... (JUST KIDDING, get it? It's funny 'cause that's what Carr is talking about in the beginning of the article... ) Really, that is what I wrote on, but I did finish the article first :-) So here it is...
For some reason, I couldn't seem to put myself in Nicholas Carr's shoes while reading his article. I felt like what he was saying was almost like a cop-out. If you don't like who you are, or who you have become, CHANGE IT. I understand you are shaped a certain way, like what we talked about in Monday's class, but let us not underestimate the power of the human mind. Like most things, "changing yourself and habits" is a lot easier said than done, however, it can be accomplished with hard work and dedication. You train your brain to do things, and if Carr feels like he "can't" read long books or articles, well, then he should think back to what he did as a child. To when he first started having to do those kinds of readings, and train himself to do it again. It is up to him whether or not he wants to spend an extra thirty minutes of his free time on the computer or teaching himself to get lost in books again. Later in the article, Carr recognizes that reading on the internet and in books are two completely different things... So why doesn't he just apply this knowledge to his habits?
Fortunately, I feel like my mind is still able to differentiate the kind of reading I am doing. I am able to adapt to different readings depending on what the reading is for and the focus necessary for that kind of reading. I also grew up with a learning disability, and I think that all the time spent learning how to focus on the correct things could have potentially helped me in this situation. All in all, I think that people do what they want to do, and they let things like computers and the internet run their thought process and mind. With that said, I feel like this article also has a lesson to teach people. Don't let technology change you, recognize the internet for what it is and what it can do, but don't let it steal away from you skills you took so many years to learn.
I don't know about you guys but I was alarmed by Sergey Brin's comments. Sergey Brin was one of the founders of Google, he said, "Certainly if you had all the world's information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you'd be better off." Call me old fashion but I don't want to be a computer. What are your thoughts? And furthermore, at what point do ethics come in? As absurd as it sounds, is there a point where we have too much technological advancement?
husai024 | September 9, 2012 5:50 PM | Reply
In the essay by Allan Berbue, there was a section when he mentioned feeling hesitation and some fear in regards of posing the question of whiteness among the all white group of gay men in the HIV-negative group. Don't you guys think that this feeling he had in particular should've been the motivator for fighting the whiteness that has been created in gay men society against the people of color, since that the first thing that gay men from all colors fight is racism? Why didn't he engage more colored people in the HIV group since he is bothered by the fact that they are being discriminated?
pelli018 | September 9, 2012 9:02 PM | Reply
In the Berube article, there is a section about the time when the military did not allow homosexuals to enlist. An out and proud African American man tells the story of how he told the doctor he was gay during the physical examination, and how he was let in to the military anyway. He also says that any white man who admitted to being gay was not allowed in, but he was allowed in because they "needed" him to fight in Veitnam. The military assumed he would just get killed and the issues would never come up. But he did not get killed. Since there are likely many gay men of any race that had survived wars and perhaps even done heroic deeds, wouldn't this prove to the military that homosexuals (no matter what race) are as capable of fighting wars as heterosexual white men?
bloo0206 | September 9, 2012 9:06 PM | Reply
In the essay by Berube, the author claims that the mainstream and gay media creates the stereotype that gay men are white and affluent. Do you agree? If so, do you think this has changed in the past ten years (since the article was published in 2001)? What are some media examples of diversity in the gay community?
weis0673 | September 9, 2012 9:51 PM | Reply
In this essay by Berube, I found the sections where he talked about his experiences with the all-white panel and HIV-negative group to be the most interesting. I thought it was intriguing that in a group that are supposedly all similar, he could not get up the courage to talk about the issue of race. For me, I know that if I am in a group of my peers, or people I guess who I find similar to me, I find it easier to talk about issues. Why was is so difficult to bring up the issue of race in a group of people that are all similar to each other? Shouldn't that make it easier since they all are facing the same issue? I know he said he did not want to lose their acceptance or friendship, but why should it be that way? Shouldn't that be the place he feels most comfortable in bringing up issues like this? I can not fully relate to his situation, but I find it interesting and would like to know what is really behind that fear. What makes talking to peers about an issue so relatable to all of them, so difficult?
As I was reading How Gay Stays White and What Kind of White It Stays, I found myself trying to relate to Allen in some way. I understand the failures, one after another, after another... and wanting to give up, and also wanting to keep going. I understand what it is like to have a passion for something that you will dedicate your life to. However, my passion was a sport, it was personal, it only had to do with me. After finishing the reading I had so many questions running through my mind, but the one that stuck out was, "What is it that you want to change, that you would go to those kinds of measures to do so?" I decided to take a break to watch the Vikings game and keep thinking.
The game went into overtime, and I realized I still could not think of a single thing that I would go to such great lengths to change. Maybe, it is because I am a white woman, heterosexual, raised in a small town, and there was always food on my plate. I have also never been a victim of discrimination. I guess my discussion question is not very tied in with the reading, but I think it will help me get to know you guys, my classmates, a little better. So, is there anything that anyone else feels strongly enough about to do what Allen did? Does making that kind of commitment fully depend on whether or not someone has been a victim (directly or indirectly) of discrimination?
How Gays Stay White
I would also like to comment on the section about comparing the civil rights movement to the gay rights movement. The section that I'd like to discuss, in particular, begins on page 244 of Berube's article. In this section, I found it extremely interesting that Berube calls out the irony of policy-makers trying to compare these two movements as separate events in history that never crossed paths but had similarities/differences worth noting. Berube calls attention to the fact that there were, in fact, many gay civil rights activists that were fighting for all of their rights, not just racial ones. Also, the civil rights movement (that is historically focused on race) actually morphed into a larger movement (but not a separate movement) focused also on gay rights.
My discussion question about this topic is if anyone agrees with Berube that these two movements are, in fact, the same movement that has just evolved over time. Or do you believe they are separate enough to compare as separate events? Also, piggy-backing off of the first discussion question, if you do believe they are separate and comparable, why? How? Or why not?
In this week's reading there was a section on the debate whether the
gay rights movement was similar to the civil rights movement. I
thought this was a particularly controversial idea so I thought it
would make a good discussion question. Do you guys see the similarities
the author draws from this analogy, a group of people fighting for
racial equality is similar to another group fighting for sexual
equality? Do you guys think that this was a just comparison or do you
think the two are incomparable? Why or why not?