February 2013 Archives

Response to Bettie article

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In Julie Bettie's article Rosanne and the Changing Face of Working-Class Iconography, she discusses how television shows have transitioned from portraying the working-class as white males, such as Archie Bunker, to white females and African Americans. Not until the late eighties did women start taking over the face of the working-class. Stepping into the spotlight was Rosanne, with her humorous outspoken manner. Audiences welcomed the show with ease because they felt that they finally had a show that was "real". Audiences didn't have a problem with Rosanne leading the show but the original writer did, which I found interesting given the new "norm" of the depicted working-class in television. In an interview Rosanne discusses of "he [the original writer] couldn't understand that the female character could drive scenes, that the family functioned because or her, not in spite of her"(p.127, Bettie)
Personally I like how television shows have adapted to reflect how the majority of families work today. We no longer see the majority of moms staying at home during the day but rather they are out working in order to contribute to the family income. I remember when I was little and my mom went back to work for the first time in a few years. At that point, the majority of my friends mothers were still stay at home moms and the majority of television shows featured a stay at home mom. As the years went by, more and more of my classmates' mothers were going to work and television shows were beginning to reflect this new norm as well. Looking at popular television shows today, like Pretty Little Liars, all of the girls' moms work and hold important positions like the fathers do. Aria's mom is a teacher, Spencer's mom is a lawyer, Hannah's mom works at a bank and Emily's mom has to go back to work and gets a job at the police station. It is important for television shows to adapt to the new norms because audience members want a show that they can relate to on some level but also have that feeling of envy. The only problem I have with television shows today is that all of the families are well-off. Yes the both parents hold jobs, but why does that mean that the family automatically has a good lifestyle? You hardly ever see financial trouble or families having to budget. A lot of this, I believe, is due to the fact that viewers use television as a form of escape from reality. My question is: Will the media ever produce a show that accurately depicts the majority of families in America? Does the audience even want to watch a show like that?

Class Dismissed and DQ

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In this article Bettie described the changing representation of classes on television, specifically the working class. She discusses how in the past white males were who we saw on TV in working class positions, but now we are seeing working class white women along with black males and females. In her discussion of Roseanne she mentions it was Roseanne's goal to change the perception of the working class woman, Arnold wanted to show what it's really like and how women can have control. People who watched the show said they could relate because it was real to what they have experience in life. I think the most interesting part of the article was the call to action in the conclusion, we need to better represent classes and races in television. We should also make sure that we are not separating the two when looking at TV, and fall back into the white male stereotype.

DQ: Does it matter how race/class are represented in the media? Does it have to (should it) reflect reality?

"Class Dismissed?" response and DQ

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In Bettie's article about how television is defining the image of the working class she talks about how Roseanne was going up against the mainstream image of the working class citizen. The stereotypical working class citizen is normally portrayed in television shows as a white male. Roseanne set out to give us a working class female who defied those stereotypes. Bettie points out that class, race, and gender have all been entangled as the working class is increasingly composed of people who do not represent the unmarked categories of whiteness and maleness. I really sided with Bettie in this article when she notes that the working class is made out to seem like a blue-collar or hard hat white male. When I know that this is not the case in the actual world and there are many other races as well as females who make up the working class. I think that Roseanne really helped us see that. She seems to be in control of the house which often times the working class male seems to be in charge. Roseanne is a great representation as the article states that the working class is made up of mostly women. Overall I found this article to be interesting and it really shed a light on the working class that I was not totally aware of before.


As a society will we always have "classes" to place ourselves in or will we eventually break these labels?

Response to Julie Bettie and DQ

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I was really impressed with the amount of research Bettie did to compile her evidence. Furthermore, I think her analysis of Rosanne was nothing short of meticulous, well thought through. I liked how she talked about the working class transcending from dominant white male caricatures to the heavy usage of blacks and women. I even liked that towards the end of the article, she brought up some misrepresentations of race and class or as she put it, "common sense" understanding. It is here where Bettie brings up one of Jhally and Lewis' point, which is how the media perpetuates a false sense of equal opportunity turning exceptional cases of upward mobility into the rule.

I especially enjoyed reading her analysis of Rosanne because none of what Bettie was talking about wasn't evident to me since I was only a kid when I watched the show before. Reading this gave me a bunch of "ah-ha" moments, seriously. Rosanne challenged the social structure of class as it was known and made a complete mockery of it. Doing this, she in some ways empowered her viewers and women in particular. She was the wife, but she wasn't quiet, submissive, or inferior to the likes of her bosses or other people who would place judgment upon her. One quote that stood out to me, "The show routinely provides a fantasy response to working-class women's attempts to sustain self-esteem in a world where they have little control." Very fun read.

Discussion question: When Bettie addressed the response from someone who didn't like Rosanne, she brought up a great discussion question in my opinion. Are working-class representations in Rosanne inherently negative or threatening to middle class viewers? If so, why?

Response to "Class Dismissed?"- Julie Bettie

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In her analysis of television's portrayal of the working class, "Class Dismissed? Rosanne and The Changing Face of Working-Class Iconography" Julie Bettie discusses a shift from working-class narratives that revolve around the "hard-hat" white male stereotype to story lines that incorporate the perspectives of the formerly invisible white woman, and women and men of color. The trend in sitcoms about the working class all too often portrayed the working-class man as "incompetent, arrogant, and bumbling" (128) while his wife was typically juxtaposed as, "the voice of authority, sense, and reason" (121). Rosanne is noted as one of the first wildly popular sitcoms that reverses the trend. Rosanne, the female lead, drives the storyline, Rosanne gets all of the laughs, Rosanne is the voice delivering lines about the hardship of the working-class. And she does this all so realistically that working-class women in the audience can easily relate to her positionally. During a time when many shows on television failed to recognize the hardships that the vast majority of the country was struggling through in regards to employment and finances, Rosanne told the truth. Rosanne was the opposite of the fabrication of the American dream.... instead her show allowed us a rare window into reality. Rosanne certainly doesn't adhere to the image of the typical working-class wife who is the constant voice of reason who always cares about being a mature, wonderful mother. In fact, the dominant personality traits she displays are coded as "male", and this is one of the main reasons why this show was so revolutionary. I think Rosanne is hard for some people in a society used to media that denies a working-class existance to watch because it tells the truth: women actually can take up space, houses are messy, people are struggling with money, and kids are unhappy with their parents.

Discussion Question: Bettie includes a quote where Rosanne is describing the original writer for her show's inability to understand that "Rosanne" as a character is a working-class woman who isn't a victim and isn't passive, but in fact drives the scenes and makes the family function. Why aren't there as many narratives detailing the reality of life from the perspective of the working-class woman? Why does she get lost in our media?

Class Dismissed?

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In Julie Bettie's article, Class Dismissed, she argues that the "Archie Bunker stereotype of the white working-class man as head-of-house may be replaced by images of white working-class women and black working-class blacks". She supports this claim by citing many examples from the well known television show, Roseanne. I resonated with the part when Bettie talked about how Roseanne was one of the first to portray this idea of the "superwoman" image. Meaning the women had an impressive career, a husband and kids, was healthy and in shape, and still had time to have a hot dinner on the table for everyone. I can relate to this because I have a mom and a dad that have very demanding careers. When I was born in 1990, it was still pretty uncommon for women to have full time, demanding careers. None of my friends mom's worked, but it was just normal for me that mine did. And now in today's society, it is even more common for women and motherls to have careers and I believe that being a stay at home mom is in the minority.The show Roseanne pretty much stood for everything opposite that is ideal of feminine. However, I feel like a lot of the media and shows on television still portray the woman as susie homemaker or not as superior to men.
My discussion question would be why do you think television shows and producers are still making shows portraying the female gender in a certain way? Do you think it will ever change? How? What does it mean for us as a culture?

The Changing Face of the Working-Class

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feminism.jpg Julie Bettie's article Roseanne and the Changing Face of Working-Class Iconography explains the transition television had with portraying the working-class from being solely white males to white females and African-American males and females. During this time, around the late 80s and early 90s, the women especially began to be portrayed as the head of the household; holding things together, working multiple jobs, and taking care of the family. One of the main reasons that fans loved Roseanne, as stated in Bettie's article, was that it was so "real". One of the things that we had talked about last class was why we choose to watch what we watch on television, which was how it was relatable and similar to our own lives. We as a society prefer to watch things that are similar to our own lives, and something that doesn't discourage us from the way we are/act or make us feel uncomfortable by not being in a higher class in society. With that being said, it doesn't surprise me that shows such as Roseanne were popular because women were gaining more rights in the workplace during that time, and also taking more responsibly in the household. They were becoming more independent.

Television wasn't the only form of media that was picking up on this trend either. Music was made that told stories about women taking care of the family and being somewhat of a "superhero". The song that comes to my mind right away is Mr. Mom by country artist Lonestar. The song talks about the husband losing his job and then staying home to raise the kids, while the wife went to work.

I use to think that the media base always produced what they wanted us to see and become (ex. starting the latest trends), and in most cases they still do, but the media seems to follow the American society in this instance. Society seemed to be the first to change with the women rising up in the household and in the working-class environment, and the media followed by creating lead female rolls in order to go along with popular viewing trends; those listed above.

Thus, my topic question is: Why doesn't the media follow the general public more often, given the fact that our society watches relatable life experiences, instead of trying to mold us into something we are not? Why does the media give us far-fetched stories that makes us forget about normal life, thus making it unrelatable?

Reaction to Bettie's Article & Simpsons Episode

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In both the Simpsons episode we screened in class and the Roseanne episode discussed in Bettie's article, the working class, stereotypical gender roles, and struggle are presented as humor or comedy. The fact that Homer doesn't understand his own finances and Roseanne's jokes about her kids' nutrition and affording groceries are jokes, when in fact these represent stereotypes and real struggles the working class faces. These examples make me wonder why we need humor or comedy to face these realities and struggles. And what does this do to our view of the working class off screen? Do we really understand the difficulties families face if we do not experience them when they are depicted as jokes on television? I think this is a problem because not only do the articles we read this week discuss under-representation, but I think another issue is misrepresentation. Not all working class men are bafoons and not all women fit this stereotype of a housewife who outsmarts her husband and holds the family together. But why is it presented this way such a high percentage of the time? Why can't Roseanne's financial struggles or worries about her children be presented as a serious problem when in fact many families face the same issues and probably do not recognize it as funny. This all makes me think that we have become so accustomed to the idea of the working class being below us, even if we may in fact be a part of it, that depicting them as strong or serious on television would be too much of a change in our predetermined ideas of class. I think this demonstrates the point we made in class about everybody considering themselves to be middle class because that is depicted as the most normal or comfortable. Overall it just makes me wonder why we feel the need to reenforce stereotypes on television that we otherwise see as untrue or even offensive. It appears that television makes it more okay by using humor. These articles and examples make me think we are less interested in political correctness or breaking stereotypes and more interested in entertainment.

Discussion Question:
Do you think if we stopped portraying class differences or gender roles as funny or stereotypical on television it could at all change our ideas or feelings about class? Would people even watch? Why or why not?

Class Dismissed? Response and DQ

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Roseanne said she wanted to change how women are perceived in family sitcoms. The woman is no longer the victim. She has control. The article points out that Roseanne successfully portrayed the working class mom as the opposite of the Leave it to Beaver mom or the mom on The Cosby Show. It seems that the media likes to pick on these lower class families and sort of play up their ignorance. With The Cosby Show, that involves a more upper-middle class, the audience still gets a good laugh, because it is usually the kids that are acting silly, and it takes the parents to point out the silliness in their behavior. How accurate is this a reflection of popular culture in the real world? Are these accurate portrayals of women and/or families in different classes and is it offensive to real people of said classes? Can audiences just get a good laugh from watching these characters on screen knowing that it is not real and that people in the real world have more control of their lives?

Class Dismissed? Reaction

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Even though this concept of the primarily white, male considered to be the center of every family sitcom in the past, I was shocked at the statistics stating that the "working class" seemed to fit a higher class category. As stated in this article, "One study of 262 domestic sitcoms from 1946-1990 found only 11 percent of the shows had blue-collar, clerical, and service workers as heads of households. In contrast, families like the Huxtables (The Cosby Show), headed by a physician/husband and lawyer/wife, become "average among the privileged populace of television"" (119). Although these statistics have dramatically shifted over the years, I find it very interesting how specific and defined the characteristics are of an "average" sitcom show and family.

This makes me question, why is it that we do not often produce realistic shows, (besides reality tv) that show true American families struggling, rather than well off families. This question got me thinking, who would want to watch a show having no happy ending or giving us hope of a better life? "They generally omit representations of the structures that trap individuals with high aspirations, or situations that reveal a lack of opportunity and options" (123). We use media as an outlet, a source of vacation to hear and see other people's lives that do not face the hardships we do.

When reading about Roseanne and its challenge in society for being a matriarchal show where the mom is the main character, it is nice to see how popular the show has been even though this was a shift in class and home structure. Shows focused on women and their strength have evolved and formed many more series today. Although this is true, I wanted to focus on the question of, Does it seem possible that media will begin/continue to make shows where it is possible with woman of the house can be the main "breadwinner"? Do you feel this is something our society will be attracted to or they will deny?

Butsch Article

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There are many cases that some classes in society can be underrepresented or misunderstood. Especially, media content has underrepresented working class. How does it happen? According to the article, only few networks occupy producing dramas. Also, there is not various content in media. Since high cost of producing drama, very few large corporations can support it. Therefore, they do not want to make financial risk. They want to produce safe content to lead many people's attention. As a result, only few format of programming occupies the prime time of TV network. Producers also try to follow their networks' decision to save their job not challenge. To avoid risk, broadcasting networks choose repeating same formats.
Network effort to avoid financial risk led the result that they always consider advertising. Since advertisers like full use of their products and glamorize their products, this tendency may affect decision making of media content.
Also, according to Michael Dann, a CBS executive, public might not accept a program about a blue-collar worker. TV networks consider audience when producing TV programs.
Also, their typical format in producing a show or drama continually make stereotype about social classes. That is also for going safe to audience.
I know that that format and financial process in providing TV programs cannot change easily. However, the financial purpose of TV networks is shaping social classes now.

Is there any way to change the way that media draw social classes without any financial risk or risk of losing audiences? Can breaking the old format be a fresh and interesting for audience?

Butsch Article

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Thinking about the stereotype that is made from the working-class buffoon has had little changed, as explained by Butsch, since initial characters have been created in early television. I think about some of my favorite programs from the 90s and they all follow the formula Butsch discusses. All of these men don't have the most glamorous jobs, they aren't great parents and their wife is typically a smart bombshell. I think of a television program such as According to Jim, where Jim, the father, was constantly getting himself into strange situations because of his ego and usually his wife was the one bailing him out. To reduce risk, we see the same formulas played out on television time and time again, but how does this particular formula have success? Could it be that we view the father figure as someone who is commonly irresponsible an their for to personify this idea into media culture, the humor is in the inherent truth? Or is it that we have become so accustomed to these ideas throughout television's history that we don't even think about it anymore?

Now there are shows like Modern Family that find themselves in various standpoints of who plays what role. Are any of these pairings playing this "buffoon" character Butsch describes? I think it could be argued either way. All of the male characters have pretty upstanding jobs that pay good money, by the looks of their houses and items they own. They all are the characters that were exemplified in the early years of television and holds true for those in programs where the men have good jobs. But this program has a twist where everyone sort of takes their turn as playing the "buffoon" mildly, even the "hot" moms.

Take Cam and Mitchell, the gay couple, for example. Mitchell is a lawyer who is can be considered uptight and usually the voice of reason between him and Cam. Cam lies on the opposite end by being, typically, unemployed, could be considered a "free-spirit" and loves music and theater. They both experience their moments, because of their juxtaposition in mannerisms, of getting into strange predicaments.

Week 6 - "Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer..."

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Throughout the reading by Richard Butsch (Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer: Why Television Keeps Re-creating the White Male Working-Class Buffoon), it occurred to me that this topic has been brought up in our class discussions before. It would seem logically that with so many channels to choose from on T.V., there would also be a wide variety of shows to watch. Sadly, that is not the case. "The simple need to make a profit is a structural constraint that affects content" (576) meaning that because all parties are trying to make the most profit, they need to appeal and/or target the largest audience with one big boom! The large networks are unwilling to try anything new because they're too dependent on high ratings in order to to increase their revenues from advertisements. As a business venture, it is safer to avoid risk (putting out a new show is very risky! The audience might not respond well to it and then all the time, cost, and effort going into the production would be lost), and thus this is why we have so many shows that are similar to one another because they have been proven to be successful. Production companies would only want to re-create already successful sitcoms because those are the ones the big networks would most likely choose. Big networks would choose those shows because advertisers know that a large audience will be watching the show and their advertisement has the most optimal potential to reach that large audience. It's really all a cycle, you see. One that seems almost impossible to break free of. And of course, the shows need to be "built around affluent characters for whom consuming is not problematic" to show the lifestyle that the audience could have, and therefor by their products to achieve that status/class/lifestyle. Shows that showcase "working class buffoons" are made to poke fun at. Many of the audience are able to relate to that show a little bit more so in theory, it might make them feel a little better about their life by being able to say "Hey, my life isn't really that bad; at least I'm not Homer!" But I'm still a little puzzled as to why shows like this are still very successful, even though they don't fit the target audience for advertisers who would be willing to splurge. Or maybe they just show ads that have to do more with household goods or family cars? Random thoughts now I'm just ranting so I will leave this be.

Discussion Question: Is there any way we could bring in more diverse and new topics/shows to television? And if so, how could we bring this about successfully?

Response to Butsch

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Reading the article on the representation of the working class by Butsch made me realize how little things have changed since the early years of television. To this day we still see the same stereotypes over and over on sitcoms, and miraculously, the networks are still making money off of it. Butsch attributes the misrepresentation and under-representation of the working class to three factors: network domination, organizational decisions, and the work culture of creatives.

I found the network domination factor most interesting. One of the main goals of the media industry is to minimize risks in order to make a profit. To minimize risks they produce shows going off a formula that has been created and produced multiple times before. They also minimize risks by designing shows that will have an attractive audience to advertisers. They want shows that will be able to easily integrate advertisements and product placements in order to gain more money. In turn, media executives are creating shows largely for advertisers instead of the audience.

I also found it interesting that characters in television series are type casted and largely based off of stereotypes. For instance the "buffoon" Dad is a character we constantly see in prime-time television series; like Family Guy, Modern Family, and The Simpsons.

DQ: With our current economic climate and the vast majority of American citizens being in the working class, do you think this will force media executives to better represent the working class in television? Do you think the media doesn't represent the working class as often or as accurately because they think people would rather see a higher class who they should aspire to be?

Response to Butsch

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Reading this article has opened my eyes to the "blue-collar" sit-coms that once dominated the television. I say this because after truly thinking about the popular shows over the years, it becomes more evident that there was indeed a plan to recreate the working class males. No coincidence. Like Butsch said in the reading, these working class characters were portrayed as idiots who needed supervision. Only thing worse than this is how popular these shows were and that people may have accepted it. There are dozens of other implications here but I was impressed with Butch's ability to break this entire notion down into separate parts. Doing this made it easier to see the bigger picture. Great illustration!

Butsch Article Discussion Question

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Butsch gives several reasons for why he believes blue collar workers aren't as well represented as white collar workers: advertising limitations, tight schedules, and an aversion to taking risks on new concepts. What do you believe is the main reason that networks and cable channels seem to avoid stories about working-class individuals.

Response to Butsch Article

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Richard Butsch, much like Berube, calls my attention to an issue of representation that I previously hadn't noticed: the persistence of well-to-do families in sitcoms. Butsch notes that when he sent out surveys to producers and writers of TV pilots, the most common response was that, "the choice of occupation was incidental to the situation or other aspect of the program idea; thus, it was embedded in the creator's conception of the situation (579)." I interpreted this to mean that the concept of middle class suburban families living in comfort was so ingrained in the producers minds as to what was normal for TV, that they didn't even think to acknowledge that not all of America lives under the same monetary circumstances. This article made me think of one show that breaks from this traditional style.
The show "Two Broke Girls" is a sitcom revolving on two girls trying to make ends meet in New York City. The show entirely revolves around the idea that, "being broke sucks" especially for women in the city. This contrasts shows that revolve around upper-middle class families by focusing on money and class as the source of humor for the show. After reading the article, it makes sense why more shows haven't adopted the element of working-class individuals to add to some of the plots of sitcoms. Television shows are on a tight schedule when it comes to producing new content on a weekly basis, and as Butsch says, "When the general story line and main characters are set, the script can be written following a simple formula (580)." This simple formula allows them to throw out recycled content while still keeping on schedule. When producers and writers add money issues to the story though, they break the traditional formula and risk having to experiment or add new elements to the show. Additionally, today's culture seems so uptight about being politically correct that perhaps they are staying away from shows like "Two Broke Girls" in order to avoid criticism for promoting certain class stereotypes. Unfortunately, the show does little to actually address the issues faced by struggling workers in America, and rather focuses on poking fun at individuals in less fortunate circumstances.

Targeting Advertising to Children

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In response to the video viewed in class last Thursday which discussed how advertising is targeted at children, I can see both sides to the argument. It is a well-known fact that children have a major effect on what parents purchase, especially food. There is the whining method in which a child will complain and annoy their parent until they get what they want, with the parent usually giving in just because they don't want to hear it anymore similar to the Simpson's example in the video. I do think that some advertisers take advantage of children and their naiveness, promoting unhealthy foods and making some products seem better than they really are. However, advertising is an industry and they need to make their profits too. I don't think that advertisers that target young children should not be allowed to advertise (how would anyone know about their product?) but I do think they should have to follow a strict, yet creative set of guidelines when creating their advertisements.

An example from my own experience where I felt like I was led on a little was when I was in 5th grade and my elementary school was fundraising for a new playground. We had a lady come in from a fundraising company to do her sales pitch, she got all of the students, including myself, very excited to go out and sell the products and get all the cool prizes. This instantly set off a competitive vibe throughout the entire school seeing as most of us kids were neighbors and our parents had the same friends that we wanted to sell to. I remember my mother being upset about the situation because myself and other students had become so consumed by selling as much as we could to keep moving up the prize ladder. Looking back now, that sales lady seemed a little deceiving and like she was taking advantage of our age at the time especially since the "cool" prizes that she promised didn't end up being that great. In conclusion, children should be advertised to but with restrictions to avoid taking advantage of them.

Response to Richard Butsch Article

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It's funny how oblivious people can be when being exposed to the media, including television and movies. After reading this article, it was hard not to look back and think of all the sitcoms (and other shows) that I've seen and realize that they are all practically the same. Television has barely changed over the last few decades and this article helped to understand why. If there is something that people will consistently watch, no matter how 'unoriginal', then producers are going to continue to produce them. It's just like our conversation in class about the Batman article, and the fact that people stamp everything with their logo on it because it will sell and make money. For example, "The Avengers" was a huge hit this past year and everything from clothes, to shot glasses, to blankets had the trademark on them. I'm a huge superhero fanatic and have a sweater with the Avengers on it, along with a lunch box, and of course the movie itself. I have been sucked into the obsession, just like people get sucked into watching the same old shows, year after year. In the end, it's what will earn producers money, what will get networks ratings, and what will entertain the audience.

Discussion Question: There are so many types of producers (executive, associate, supervising, etc.), do you feel like we need all these types of producers if we are constantly stuck with the same old television shows?

Response to Richard Butsch Article

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This article by Richard Butsch was a surprisingly accurate representation of how sitcoms have not changed since the first years of television. As a TV viewer I haven't noticed the class difference until I read this article. Butsch provides three reasons for this class distinction. One, that advertisers want the program to compliment context for their ads. Two, dramas (sitcoms) are built around affluent characters that will consume and represents this consumer market our television programs are built upon. And third, is will the program attract the right audience - an audience that desires to be those in their favorite program. This idea that television programs rely so heavily on advertising funding creates an all consumer market.
Another factor to these "cookie-cutter" programs is the pressure from the production schedules. This fast pace is more "achievable through an assembly line process in which several episodes are in carious stages of production and being worked on by the same team of producer, writer, director and actors, simultaneously" (Butsch, pg. 580). This format has it advantages in means of time but produces the same characters or story lines over and over; causes viewers to see the same material show after show. This is also one of the reasons for the class difference and why we see the same successful middle-class families on television. It was not until viewing on broadcasting stations began to fall that producers started to take risks in what they produce. However, even with these new innovations in the television environment, Hollywood culture's image has remained almost the same. Due to this we still see the same middle-class, consuming families on our television programs.

Discussion Question:

"The media culture. The small, closed community of those engaged in television production, including Hollywood creators and network executives shares a culture that includes certain conceptions of what life is like and what the audience find interesting" (Butsch, pg. 581). This culture is still seen today with in other formats like reality TV and youth/single oriented shows broadcasting is moving towards since segmentation. Why do we "the audience" find this media culture appealing when we know it is false?

Response to Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer

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This article is another article that brings to light how influential the industry is in the content we see in the media. Not only does it highlight the industry's influence, but it also brings to light the importance of how class structures are represented in television. He brings up shows from the '70s and '80s such as This Flintstones and All in the Family. I can recall watching All in the Family because my parents used to watch it. The working class dad is definitely represented as a buffoon. When I first thought about it I thought the media has come a long way and they have better represented the working class, but the article points out that that is not necessarily the case. The few shows they have brought out to represent the working class still feature buffoons. He brings up the market and how producers have to make decisions quickly and usually decide on a program that will bring in viewers, even if it is a show that will represent the working class as a fool with the women being smart and organized people. He also brings up that network decisions also come with advertising in mind. Again...it all comes back to the industry and money making. Producers seem to be more concerned with what is suitable for them and the market instead of what would be more suitable for the television audiences. He does mention television audiences being a factor in what is chosen as a program, but not for the right reasons. They only speculate what the audience wants and what they think is the right audience (often just to boots ratings which then boots profit). I understand the media industry is fast paced, but I don't think that making quick decisions should be an explanation. It just seems like an excuse to me.

Discussion Question: Women have become more widely represented in the media in positions of power, but as the article points out, working class men are still represented as buffoons. Besides what the article has pointed out, what could be contributing to this continuous representation? By displaying the man as a working class buffoon and the woman as a organized and smart...is the media trying reverse the old gender roles that used to be seen before the feminist movement?

Ralph, Fred, Archie and Homer Response & Disco. Question

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The more readings we complete, the more amazed I become at how much the media industry influences content. I become more aware of the incredibly complex system behind each and every media text and more surprised at the fact that most people (including me, before this class) don't know about it. Richard Butsch's article provides an eye-opening account of how the media industry influences class representations. He describes how, for decades, big network television productions featured almost exclusively characters from the middle to middle-upper classes: businessmen, lawyers and doctors, for example. When a working class man did appear (which was very rare) he was characterized as a dumb and lazy "buffoon" surrounded by more respectable and successful females. As I was reading the first half of this article, I was thinking to myself, "Wait, he's talking about shows from the 1970s and 80s...Times have changed! Nowadays there are plenty of shows featuring working class men." King of Queens immediately came to my mind. Much to my surprise, he later mentioned this very show, and reminded me that, although modern working class characters are more common, they are STILL buffoons! On King of Queens Doug is a goofy, sloppy delivery driver while his wife Carrie is polished and put-together. Butsch reminded me that just because a certain image has become more common (working class men) doesn't mean that the associations with the image have changed (stupid, unsuccessful). More, Butsh tells us that the only reason the image has become more common is because of, once again the industry. Everything ties back to the industry. When the big broadcast networks started to suffer, they "began to seek a downscale audience on the premise that they had already lost the upscale audience to pay-cable" (582). Many viewers may applaud television producers for widening their scope in recent decades, for finally featuring working class people and thereby giving them an identity. But this is why it is so important to be media literate, to realize the industry and profit-driven motives behind everything on television. And to realize that the "identity" being granted to working class folks is an insulting, pejorative one.

Discussion Question:
Can you think of any media texts that disprove Butsch's theory about the working class buffoon?

Consuming Kids

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The documentary we watched on Tuesday was extremely interesting to me, especially because it made me reflect upon my own childhood. Today, children are constantly bombarded by media images, especially with the new developments in technology. Looking back now at my own childhood I can notice how much I was bombarded with media images just as much, it was just in different forms. For example, in elementary school when I logged enough hours reading I was rewarded with a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. At the time, I never realized the tight ties between the school district and businesses. However, there were times where the school tried to fight the bombardment of media images with programs such as TV Busters. TV Busters was a way in which school staff motivated students to quit spending time in front of the television and get outside. They would do this by drawing names of students who participated for a reward of a "free day" at school. Not only did the school try to fight media image bombardment, but so did my parents. In my household, my parents wouldn't allow television until after we had played outside for a couple hours and finished our homework. My parents also watched television shows with us and helped us become aware of product placement. It concerns me that our society has become so reliant on technology, our children especially. It isn't unusual to see young children with cell phones and iPods so it should be our job to cut down on the media messages children are bombarded with. I feel that the best way to do that is to get parents and teachers to encourage more time for reading and playing outside than being on the computer or watching television.

Discussion Question: If we decide to regulate advertising to children, what would the regulations be? How would they work? Would it hurt our economy?

Consuming Kids Discussion

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This documentary was so interesting to me because it made me reflect on my own childhood. As a child, it hadn't even occurred to me that my parents were trying to raise me to be more media literate and less affected by the hyperconsumerism depicted in the media, but it's clear to me now that that's exactly what they were doing. My brother and I weren't allowed to watch TV hardly at all and my parents didn't have cable at all so we weren't exposed to Disney channel or Nickelodeon, we weren't allowed to have any gaming consoles or go online without them, and were encouraged to go outside. When we watched movies, we were almost always watching with them and my mom would make a game out of spotting examples of product placement so that my brother and I would understand the persuasive intent of the product's inclusion. As a child, I felt that I was being deprived of watching TV and doing anything fun, but as an adult I can tell that my parents were really doing their job pretty well. It's interesting to think about my situation with parents who raised me to be more media literate as opposed to the situation of many children whose parents aren't really putting much effort into it. This results in what was discussed in the documentary with children being big time consumers with brand loyalty and how this adversely affects their self-esteem. Children today are faced with a barrage of messages and are more likely to sit around watching TV than going outside and playing actively or even staying in and using their imaginations. It's somewhat concerning to think about how these children will grow up and what the effect on society will be.

Discussion Question: What can parents do in today's media infused age to help their children be more media literate?

Decoding Advertisements

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I found it very interesting how Williamson was able show all the strategic parts of an advertisement that have a very significant effect on the consumer. For example, she talks about about how color is used as a technique in which the advertiser uses to draw connections between the product and other things. She states that color by itself doesn't have any effect on the advertisement, but the meaning comes only from the connection the color makes with the rest of the ad. She uses examples such as a cigarette pakets and a cup of coffee- both having white and maroon with a hint of gold. The assumption is that because the containers are the same, the products must have similar qualities. Like a this delicious looking cup of coffee, these cigarettes are also delicious-mild with a suggestion of richness. She explains how its these little manipulations are often seen without cognitively realizing it, but consciously we are still able to say "I want this product".

Discussion Question: What do you think are some of the most easily identified or most common signs that we see in today's advertisements and why?

Decoding Advertisements

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I thought William's article was very interesting and thought-provoking. A couple years ago, I took a class in the journalism school called "Media and Popular Culture". One of the main activities we did in class was analyze advertisements. Semiotics was a word I heard every time I went to class. We had lots of practice deciphering ads in terms of semiotics and identifying the sign, signifier, and the signified.
Williamson talks about this mythological nature (referent system's) that advertising has. I agreed with the author when she compared the way that advertisements translate statements to the world in the same way that a car will do so many mpg. "The advertisement translates these 'thing' statements to us as human statements; they are given a humanly symbolic 'exchange-value'.
Before I was educated about this types of meanings and translations in advertisements, I never would have known about semiotics or that there is a process that goes into both creating and interpreting an advertisement.
My discussion question would be, because more and more advertisements are becoming digital, do you think we need to construct a new system for the way that we decipher those digital/online ads? What would the process be?

Decoding Advertising Response

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Williamson's article was a bit slow moving for my taste, but I do think there is an incredible amount of important information that is deserving of our discussion. Williamson says, "Obviously [advertising] has a function, which is to sell things to us. But it has another function, which I believe in many ways replaces that traditionally fulfilled by art or religion. It creates structures of meaning" (374). Williamson gives the example of marketing "diamonds" as a symbol of "eternal love." These statements here are very powerful. Williamson is describing the process by which advertisers try to sell us things based on our values, ideals, hopes, and dreams rather than delivering simply the product itself. Williamson explains the ways in which advertisers try to transform the language of objects into that of people. I'm very interested in this concept. How many times to we purchase something simply because of how the signifier in the ad is producing meaning? The Old Spice commercials, for example, often depict an extremely buff man who is displaying the stereotypical characteristics of a "strong" and "masculine" man describing all of the manly, extravagant things he is going to do today. What does any of that have to do with Old Spice body wash (signifier)? Not much... but it does portray a strong sense of masculinity (signified) which is what sells the product in the end. Williamson's piece has increased my awareness almost to the level of paranoia about the mythological languages and sign systems running rampant through our advertising. I am now running through the biggest purchases of my life so far wondering if I bought them for what they actually do, or what they "mean".

Discussion question: What are some examples of major signifiers we can recall from print or television advertisements that we've seen and how do they try encourage us to identify with the meaning that is constructed? (Example: A fresh-faced Britney Spears early in her career supposedly promoting a popular soda brand sings, "Pepsi, for those who think young.")

consuming kids response and DQ

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I found the documentary consuming kids to be very interesting. I could really relate to all of the things in the documentary since I grew up in that time period. Personally I was unaware that there are no restrictions on advertising to kids. Companies are targeting kids any way they can so they can get the child's loyalty to their brand for life. They made an analogy that kids are sponges that pick up information. We are surrounded by advertising almost every second of everyday. The difference between children and adults is most adults are able to detect the advertising and their message while most kids cannot. This causes the kids to have things like spongebob on everything. Once a child becomes emotionally attached to something like spongebob, the child cares for him and almost develops a relationship with him. The example shown in the video is one child states that she LOVES scooby doo crackers. Her mother asks her if she has ever had them. The child responded with no, but they are the best crackers. By putting scooby doo as the theme of the crackers the advertisers are causing kids to believe that their crackers are better simply because they have their "friend" scooby doo on the box. I think the main point to take away from this documentary is now a days advertisers are going above and beyond, targeting kids in schools and everywhere just to get their brand loyalty. I think they made this out to seem unfair as I believe it is.


Should advertisers be able to continue their hard targeting of kids or is it negatively affecting the kids by forcing these advertisements onto kids?

Consuming Kids & DQ

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This documentary was eye opening to me for sure. As a child, I grew up with many of the things they talked about as completely normal to me. I didn't think this was a problem until watching the clip in class. I was shocked to see how the media and advertising is shaped around children, and uses their sense of love to attach them to figures that are then sold to them. I personally think it is immoral and totally wrong to subject children to this type of advertising, and purposely use their nagging & emotions to get their parents to buy these toys for them. I'm upset to know that this was a regulated field and the government decided to deregulate it, which is essentially throwing the kids to the advertising wolves. I think there should be some limits to advertising to children, especially in their schools. I understand that parents can play a role in filtering what their kids see but they don't have much of a vote in schools.

If we did choose to regulate advertising to children in the US, what would some of those regulations be? Is it important to have them? What are some of the consequences of both sides of the argument?

Consuming Kids

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The first part of the documentary "Consuming Kids" was captivating. It was interesting to relay back to my own experiences as a child and what kind of media I was exposed to. Although my mom limited our television time as children, our exposure and commonality for having a screen in front of our faces increased as we got older. I tried to experience this documentary as someone who may be in opposition to its content at various times throughout the film. I was sucked in and convinced easily that kids are becoming consumers too young, but then I thought further to the tactical approach and vibe the video was giving off. The music playing illustrated an impending-doom type of atmosphere and became a fluid part of laying out the terrors the film was exploring. I also tried to think from an advertising perspective about how, naturally, marketers are going to target the biggest and best audience that are going to be purchasing my product. If children have this much buying power, they are going to be targeted in a variety of ways. Although I kept this opposing opinion lingering, I still don't think it is right to have this abundance of advertising toward children. They can't comprehend what is being done to them and parents can only do so much to shelter their children from the media glare.

With the passing of "deregulation", what can be done by the advertisers to take in the fragility of their viewers, but still maximize their profits? How might the public serve to subvert children's viewing habits of these optimal advertising schemes?

Decoding Advertisements

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Honestly, I thought this article was a little dry, and even confusing to start off with, probably because she got started right away by talking about her first book. Of course, I haven't read that so I immediately assumed the whole article would be complex. However, after the preface and foreword, and once the introduction and actual excerpt from the book began, I found a lot of the information useful and interesting. For example, a lot of people don't realize that advertisements are a huge part of our life, it's inevitable. You would literally have to be holed up in your apartment for you're entire life, and even then, you wouldn't be reading magazines, watching television, or using the computer. Just by walking down the street you are encountered with tons of ads. We've been so consumed with ads that one object can symbolize an entire meaning. One of the examples from the reading was diamonds; which are actually a mineral, a rock. However, the way that they are portrayed in ads, makes people use them as a symbol of eternal love. There are also those advertisements that 'talk'; for example, "say it with flowers". Overall, I find myself to be a very media literate person and have thought about all of this, but for those who maybe aren't as media literate, I think this reading is a very good 'road map'.

Discussion Question: What do you think is the most effective way of advertising something? Television, magazines, internet?

Decoding Advertisements Response

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Something I really liked about Judith Williamson's article was how she acknowledged almost immediately that advertisements can not be avoided, even by those who do not watch television or read papers because "the images posted over our urban surroundings are inescapable". And she is not trying to argue or measure how much different people see advertisements, she is just making the blatant point that they are everywhere and they affect us, all of us. She says that advertisements have an agenda other than just to sell products, they create meaning. She describes this as not only using and recognizing the qualities required to sell us something, but also what those qualities mean to us, like a car with high mob meaning thriftiness or savings to the consumer, not just an efficient car. I found this point interesting because I think gives great perspective on something that happens in all ads. We are not just being sold an item; we are being sold an idea.

There was one idea in particular that stood out to me in the reading, and that was the ideas Williamson shared about products and our ability to buy things as a way we think about and determine class as consumers. She says manufactured goods work as a means of creating class and it is part of a need to feel a sense of belonging or a social place. I think this is very true, we measure our own and others wealth (socially and economically) often by "things". And I can see how advertisers play off this ideology and use it as a tool against consumers to sell us a product, or I suppose sell us a class or social standing. I suppose I had always realized this connection, but I think the author does a great job of putting into the perspective of advertisements and how that affects us.

This is why it is important for us to try and understand advertisements and how they may affect us, but in order to do so we must understand how and why they produce meaning and what they claim to say versus what they may actually say. I thought Williamson did a good job of explaining this, particularly with the Good Year ad and explaining how the image and staging were just as, if not more important to the ad's message than the actual tires or the written message.

Discussion Question:
Do you think these tactics used by advertisers to convince us to buy their products shows that companies have a good understanding of who their consumers and target audiences are and understand what we want? Do you think we find it flattering or noble that companies understand what we want or are they tricking us/using us as consumers? Do you think the customers are important to the companies or is it just about selling product?

Response/DQ for "Decoding Advertising"

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I thought it was interesting how Williamson says that use of manufactured goods is a means of creating classes. Advertising creates an ideology: needing to belong to a certain social place. Products can give us, the consumers, that feeling of belonging. I kind of find it sad that advertising has created classes and different social groups. I understand it's business, but by perpetuating certain conditions for living, advertising has made people feel like they always need more or need certain products to feel like a valuable member of society. We do need material goods, and advertisers know this so they give social meaning to those goods.
If advertising began to remove social meaning from their products, how much would our society change? Is it even possible?

Blog Post - Week 5 - Producing Identities

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"Producing Identities" definitely caught my attention when it brought up the phenomenon that having an "identity crises" was something new and becoming more dominant in the American culture by the 1950's (219). This was shocking to me because all my life you hear about the youth rebelling because they are still trying to find out who they are and what their place in society is. It's sort of the cultural norm; if you didn't go through it at least once in your life nowadays, it might seem a bit strange. I know for a fact that I went through it, a little later than some, around my senior year of high school and now my junior year of college. So it makes sense when they say that "this identity crises was assumed to be linked to the growing power of media (and media images) in the lives of these youths" (220). If I'm not mistaken, the television started making its debut in the 1950s, allowing young people to see if they fit into the images that were being broadcast on the television shows. They started questioning their identity with media, even though the media may not always present the most truthful reality. Media seems to have an even bigger effect on our "identity crisis" because they are in full swing of trying to create and market to different identities based on "demographics, taste cultures, and lifestyle clusters" (224). They are actually creating the identities for us to identify with! I find that very intriguing and smart on their part. Our consumer lifestyle has shifted from what the product/service offers to the lifestyle it creates. I work at Abercrombie and honestly, it is all about the "lifestyle" that A&F has to offer, not the goods itself. As a Model/Associate, we are there to showcase that particular lifestyle and ultimately, sell it. I have heard many people say "you pay for the brand/logo" and it is true. You pay for what the brand represents, whether it be Michael Kors, Lacoste, or Target Brand Generic! It's interesting to see how marketing works and this article touches base on so many details that many of us don't realize but know that is true when we are forced to take a good look at it.

DQ: How would you feel if all media was completely deleted from our lives today? Do you think many people would have a hard time "finding" who they are and their place in society, finding their identity? Or has the media made it to easier for us to identify with an identity so that we don't necessarily have to find one?

Producing Identities

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Chapter 8 was about how audiences' identities are created and influenced by the media. I was not surprised to learn that in the United States, people are viewed as consumers, whereas in other countries people are viewed as citizens or the public. I found the history of the construction of the audience market really intriguing in how successful the media was at these constructions. Because of mass production and the availability of multiple products and product alternatives, companies had to find new consumers for their product. To do this, they had to convince the audience that they needed new products and items, instead of just waiting for people to buy. Media and advertisers began to create a new self-identity for the audience in which the solutions to their problems were materialistic items.

I think this process of making the audience a market is what has made our society very materialistic and self-centered. People still believe that what they buy will give them status, and it's often the reason for why you would buy, say a Mac over a Toshiba. I think advertisers have invested a lot of money to keep this process up, as all agencies have account planners and market researchers who help define audiences and cater the message best to each audience.

Do you think that treating people as a market or commodity is negative for our society? And if so, how? Do you foresee people still being sold as an audience and treated as only consumers in the future, or will this change?


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The article is about identities produced by media. Media has produced identities of unity among people and difference between people. Identities can be defined by religion, nationality, and work. Also, media creates representation of cultural identities and shape social life. Therefore, people often consider the media effect as very strong. Media produce sense of people's identities politically, socially, culturally, and economically. Media makes them through communication. In this communication, the notion of audience is important. The term of audience is used for any particular purpose of media products. I especially felt impressive about audience as consumers. Media consider and make relationship between products, messages, and audience. Media tries to focus on reaching their audience in order to convey their messages efficiently. Through defining identities, media persuade people as consumers and commodities.

Is there any way that people construct their identities without media strategies? What can be difference from what media makes?

Producing Identities Response

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I found this article extremely relatable because this is the area of study I personally enjoy learning about. The effects media has on its audience is unbelievably strong, and it has the ability to persuade people to do and believe nearly anything. This article touches mainly on the specific audience that is interpreting and using the various forms of media, highly effected by cultural differences, age, gender, and numerous other demographic features. As stated in the article, "advertisers want to focus their messages where they think they'll be maximally effective" (223). It is impossible to advertise and create a specific media that will pertain to all audiences, it has and will never occur.

Because of this, the article focuses nearly entirely on the idea that the Audience is a market, and comprised entirely of consumers. We, as Media consumers, are a commodity in order for this industry to continue selling to us. They have the option to choose who their audience will be based on the content, while we, based on our demographics, have less control over media intake than we think. This article goes on to discuss, "the three most common and persistent ways of describing market types are through demographics, taste cultures, and lifestyle clusters" (224). In my personal opinion, I feel demographics have the largest impact on our Media intake, and because of these demographics, our taste and lifestyle clusters vary. Because I am a 20 year old female, I will accept much different forms of media than my 53 year old father. These demographics shape each individual person's taste in media.

Discussion Question: Why do you think it is that our society has evolved so much that it now primarily relies on Media to determine our social identities? Do you feel that the effects of this strongly Media dominated society are primarily negative or positive?

Producing Identities and Disco. Question

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The key point of "Producing Identities" lies in its description of the audience as a market. It characterizes the audience as both consumers and commodities. First, the article claims that "a market identifies a subset of the population as potential consumers of a particular identifiable product or set of products" (223). All types of media do this; for example, MTV's program Beavis and Butthead identified young people as consumers and included offensive content to tailor specifically to them. According to the article, the transition to a collective consumer identity is a recent one. It seems so natural to think of ourselves in terms of what we buy rather than our other roles, so natural that we forget that people were not always this way. I have often thought of an audience in terms of consumerism, but before reading this article I hadn't thought of audience as a commodity. When I think of commodity, something produced in order to be sold for a profit, I normally think of something tangible. But the article describes how audiences are indeed bought and sold, specifically by advertisers. If a television program has higher ratings, an advertiser will pay more to be able to reach that audience. I was shocked to learn that programs can be cancelled solely because their audiences are not attractive to advertisers; this happened with Gunsmoke and The Beverly Hillbillies. I think, as consumers, we often assume that we have the power to buy what we want, to not buy what we don't want. But in pursuing media literacy, we must always keep in mind that media have an incredible power over us and are constantly buying and selling us as commodities.

DQ: The article suggests that we have discovered at least some ways to avoid advertisements. We often mute commercials, switch to another channel during commercials and prerecord shows without ads. Do you think this has had a significant impact on our identities? Why or why not?

The Power of Media Blog Response and DQ

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This particular article I feel rings true on many levels of media production and consumption. It highlights how media serves a purpose in producing social, political, economic and cultural identity. One particular section that stuck out to me was when Grossberg writes, "Fans identify themselves with a particular media product, star, or style (221)." The first thing I found interesting was Grossbergs assertion that audiences are in fact fans of a particular media, not just consumers. I believe this to be true based on the fact that so many of us regularly watch shows and find ourselves either critiquing or identifying with the characters. Our media consumption has gone beyond the need to be entertained and has transformed into a need to feel as though we are a part of the story.
Later in the article, Grossberg talks about how commercials are beginning to become more forthcoming, especially in the Super Bowl (230).The first thing I thought of when reading this was the Budweiser Super Bowl commercials. Budweiser is a multi-billion dollar beer brewing company that has gained a reputation for producing great Super Bowl ads. The 2013 Super Bowl was no exception. Budweiser ran 6 super bowl commercials in 2013, totaling around 34.2 million dollars. The "Black Crown" commercials make us want to identify with the lifestyle of slender, young adults having a great time at a big party. The "Superstitions" commercials spoke to the sports fan in all of us and allowed us to identify with those moments when everyone enjoys a beer as they cheer on their team to victory. In this case, Budweiser isn't making these commercials to inform us about how much better of an economic decision it is to purchase Anheuser-Busch's line of beers. I believe they are doing exactly what Grossberg writes about, causing us as fans to identify with a product, star, or lifestyle.

Discussion Question: Grossberg writes that advertisers seek to gain the visual and auditory attention of those watching (231). Since we have read arguments about how passive we have become as viewers and listeners, how do you think advertising has changed recently to try and finally grab our attention?

Producing Identities

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This article is the core of what scholars study in relation to mass media. The main idea in this article is that us (audience/consumers) produce an identity through the mass media. Even though each of us is composed differently with demographics, interest and background the mass media still affects us all. We provide ourselves with an identity through different dimensions, those being: economic, social, political and cultural.

The second main idea is that we, the audience, are consumers. That the media is used as a way to promote a certain image that we are aspire to become. This enhancing marketing not only through advertising but the ideas produced within programs as well. "You also learn you are a student or a girl and what that means through the variety of cultural and media texts that represent such identities" (Producing Identities, pg. 221). This is how mass media creates us into consumers - through showing us our identities in mass media texts. Ultimately consumers (audiences) have become a commodity that is bought and sold through the networks to earn a buck.

Discussion Question:
Scholars claim mass media has shape not only what we view (such as media conglomerates dictating content/messages) but has also shaped our identities in the dimensions of political, social, economic and cultural. But in what ways have we (the audience) shaped the mass media? Do we have any influence on that type of identity the media is shaping us into?

Producing Identities Response and DQ

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This week's reading, "Producing Identities", focuses on the ways in which in the media produces people's sense of who they are and who others are. It explains that the audience and identity contains two dimensions, these being market and cultural identity. What I found to be the most thought provoking was the concept of the media making people believe that they are consumers. "The people who purchase and enjoy the products of the media often think of themselves as consumers as well. And insofar as they are successfully constructed by the media as an audience for the media, as a particular market type, people will often think of themselves in these terms. That is, by linking individuals together within the category of a market, at least a part of their identity is defined by their participation in this market" (Grossberg 224). Everyone has the need for an identity, to be able to define themselves in a way that differs them from everybody else. Nobody wants to consider themselves as average, or not unique in some way. This is why the passage from Grossberg about the media constructing people into identifying themselves and others by their participation in a category of a market bothered me. Mostly it bothered me because I really agree with it. I think of myself as a consumer, and I also have linked others within the category of a market, meaning that the media has shaped how I identify people.
Personally I hate the thought of another person thinking they know who I am by observing the products I buy, and I believe I share this opinion with mostly everybody. This is why the passage from Grossberg quoted above affected me, the media mind fucks you into believing that your identity is connected with superficial products that they produce for a profit. It's an extremely hard task to define who you are, or what makes you you. However, I don't think the media should have any control on how we define our identity, there is more to a person than what he/she chooses to consume.

DQ: How can we identify ourselves and others without the help of a consumer society? Are people's lives defined and measured by the consumption of goods and services? If so, why?

Producing Identities

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Producing identities was an article that I thought was a fairly easy way to understand who we are as people and as an audience. It becomes clear that we are what fuels the media to continue to display what they are. Advertisers select their audience because they know they are more likely to sell their product to certain audiences. I thought it was interesting that the article brought up how much research goes into figuring out how and who are watching what to figure out if their advertisements are being successful. Many points in this article were brought up that many of us especially as being educated college students can relate to.

He starts off the article by mentioning how the issue of identity became evident in the 1950's and has evolved since then. We get our identities through the dimensions of political, social, cultural, and economic...it's important to understand this because with the ever changing technologies I think as well as the article, that not many people are finding their identities through these channels and more through the media. Advertisers use the audience as a market. We are what shapes what we see. It seems there is nothing we can do about this though. It would be impossible to stop advertisers. You wouldn't be able to avoid them because even if you stop watching television they are still in our radio, newspapers, magazines, bus stops...everywhere.

I thought it was interesting to see how the audience is constructed as a media market. How there is a bunch of research that is put into who is watching what so that they can put the information and products they want out there through different groups and purposes. It is true that we are constant consumers by purchasing the products we use. But how much of that is from advertising? I rarely see an advertisement and decide yes, I am going to purchase that specific laundry detergent. I believe it may work for food, though. If a new product is advertised that looks good I will sometimes go try it if it is something I would like. Car commercials can be entertaining, but how are they really selling to an audience? If I see a commercial for a Chevy that looks cool doesn't mean I am just going to switch to that. I just think it's interesting to look at advertisements that would and wouldn't actually impact your consumerism.

I do believe that technology has changed the media a substantial amount as the article. It makes it harder for advertisers to research what everyone is and isn't watching because of internet watching and devices such as TiVo. Overall the article does a good job of getting people to become self aware of how they are getting their identity and how their identity is influencing the media market. It was very interesting to think about my own consumption and identity choices.

Discussion Question:
Do you think it is bad for our self-identities to be getting much of our information from the media, that there is a shift from the other dimension in which we gain our identities? It is brought up how much advertisers target the audience as a consumer and commodity, do you think it is possible to have television/media without advertisements? Or would that destroy the media culture?

"Producing Identities"

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Although it is somewhat short, the chapter "Producing Identities", brought up a number of good points. Some points I have discussed in previous classes and the points are very relevant and some of the points were new to me and made me think. As an American college student, I see myself as very similar to many other college students. Some people say that college and your 20's is a time for "self-discovery" and to find out who you really are. Although, I think that everyone goes through some sort of that stage in their lifetime, I don't think it is that difficult to figure out who you are and what you want. Like I said, I always thought of myself as a typical college student, but reading further I realized that although I am Caucasian, blue-eyed, and blonde, I have other traits that set me apart and make me unique. There are many other students on this campus that have the same physical traits as me but they are probably not all Catholic, straight, American, middle-class, North-Dakota raised, Vikings fan, and the list could go on. The article taught me that although many of the students that attend this university look generally similar, everyone has their own identity that sets them apart.

A topic that has come up a number of times in previously classes is the evolution of technology into advertising and media. The article states, "Technology has created serious problems for advertisers and the media." I agree with this statement. Yes, technology has given us many great things and found quicker ways to get tasks done or can make things much nicer. But, for example, if technology helps create an attractive new ad but technology also creates a device that can make the consumer skip the attractive new ad, it is only doing bad things for us. As a consumer, I really like recorded TV and being able to skip commercials because to be honest, no one really likes watching commercials. However, on the advertising side, it is a serious problem, if no one is watching the advertisements; it could be the end of advertising, especially for radio and television.

The thought of an audience being thought of as a commodity was interesting to me because I had never thought of an audience like that. However, that is exactly what it is, the audience is what is going to purchase and produce a profit. It's a funny concept to think that television show producers go shopping for their advertising by pretty much advertising their audience and hoping a product will match up with it and want to during the show's commercials. I can definitely see this causing a dilemma for both sides if one had a difficult audience or another had a difficult show to find advertisers for such as the Beverly Hillbillies. With how much advertisers need to spend to air their ads, they better hope they are advertising on the right programs.

Discussion question: Will a law every come out that requires consumers to watch commercials on television or radio in order to keep the advertising business alive? Is it a human right to dismiss these commercials or should we be required to watch them in turn for having the privilege to watch the program?

encoding/decoding discussion question and response

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Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding to be a little difficult to understand right away but I what felt as though it mainly focussed on the dynamics of how messages in media are produced by the" encoders" and how they are percieved by the audience, or "decoders". Hall believes that the media is open to many interpretations, meaning that whoever is producing media might deliver different meaning than what the receiver actually takes away from it. He breaks it down by first describing encoding as the production of message while decoding is it's reception. He then goes on to discuss four types of "readings", or the different ways in which the audience decodes media texts and how they everyone is impacted differently. I agree with hall because everyone co es from different backgrounds and have different live experiences, so of course thats why we must decode messages differently.

Discussion question: Hall provides us with 4 specific ways in which meida texts are decoded by audiences; domninant, negotiated, oppositional and aberrant reading. He believes that "Dominant code is the "ideal-typical case of perfectly transparent communication". Do you agree with this statement and if so, why? If not, which in your opinion is the ideal way to decode media texts?

Up with Chris Hayes and DQ

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The Up with Chris Hayes interview as well as the reading for Tuesday really opened my eyes. To a certain extent, the general public is unaware of the monpoly on our media-- and even when they are they may still think they are in control. I did for a very long time and still have to convince myself that I'm NOT in control of what the media publishes as a consumer. It's hard to escape the thinking that we control what they publish because we have to like what they write. We don't have to like what they right for them to publish as long as we are looking to them for information, and taking them as the expert. It is scary to think that most of the nation only has one "expert" or newspaper to go to, and no one to counter that opinion. I personally don't think that we are going to be able to escape the media's reach in our politics or lives, unless something drastic changes.

What are some ways we can try to educate others about the media giants and their sway on the media? How can we help people become more skeptical about the information they receive and give them resources that give the opposing view?

Up With Chris Hayes Response

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I was very interested by this segment from Up with Chris Hayes. It's interesting to think about how lucky we are here in the Twin Cities to have two different thriving (as well as any newspaper can be nowadays) newspapers. We are lucky to have the chance to be exposed to news from different viewpoints since the Star Tribune is known to be more liberal whereas the Pioneer Press is more conservative. It's atypical for people to receive both newspapers so people are perhaps not exposed to both opinions on a regular basis and are therefore more likely to simply choose the newspaper that more closely aligns with their personal viewpoints. However, as touched on in the Up segment, when there are two newspapers, there's more competition and more pressure on the newspapers to report accurately and not just completely avoid reporting a news item. This is also interesting to think about in current times with how popular blogs have become as a source for news. The advent of blogging has put a lot of pressure on newspapers since people now have a free source of news.

Discussion Question: Do you agree or disagree that blogging is serious competition for the newspaper industry? Would you consider blogs a reliable source of information? Would your parents?


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Hall's reading poses a new way of thinking about the structure of encoding and decoding messages. He believes it to be a process of "complex structure in dominance sustained through the articulation of connected practices, each of which, however, retains its distinctiveness and has its own specific modality, its own forms and conditions of existence." To me, this means that encoding and decoding media messages is an extremely complex process, and a lot of outside factors go into one's determination of the message. For example, their culture, religion, way of life, belief system, and their own pre-dispositions. In other words, some codes may be learned at an early age.
I think of advertisements when reading this article. The article talked a lot about connotations and denotations. For example, when I think of scarves I think of winter. However, an advertisement could completely change the look of scarves, maybe placing a beautiful woman on a yacht with her silk scarf blowing in the wind in the middle of the blue ocean. My question would be, do you think it is possible to create an ad that everyone would universally perceive the same message?

Response/DQ to "Encoding/Decoding"

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I think it's really interesting how Hall talks about "meaning" of texts. A meaningful exchange isn't possible unless the message is correctly decoded by the receiver. The message must generate the intended reaction of the audience. This makes me think a bout positionality. When a media text is encoding a message to an audience, does the audience's positionality affect how they decode that message? I think it does very much so. So how do different types of media use this to their advantage? Can a media text appeal to different audiences/people of different positionalities even though it is sending the same message to them?

Up with Chris Hayes


I wanted to discuss the segment from UP with Chris Hayes that we viewed in class Tuesday. What an interesting topic from something that is broadcast out into the world. It is rare that we get a glimpse past the world the media is constantly feeding us. Isn't it interesting though how controlled the situation seemed to be? Chris Hayes seems to be great at his job in this way. At any point when people started to talk over each other, even just a little, or get upset, Hayes would swoop in and find a way to agree with everyone while lightening the mood. He speech is comfortable, but he sounds knowledgeable. He is perfect for a program like this where a variety of, perhaps, unspoken topics are presented in a round table forum. The network and producers know they can't just cut things out in a panic, it would go against the message they are trying to put out there originally that is their willingness to speak as one of the media outlets controlled by big media conglomerates. So in order to avoid issues of uproar, Chris Hayes controls the show and he does so effortlessly. He knows how to deal with opposing opinions and how to shuffle words around so that the audience and his round table members are on the same page always.

Discussion Question: If more conglomerates used one or more of their media outlets to discuss their power, would their be a cultural change in understanding? If so, would the reaction be positive or negative? Why?

Discussion Question from Thursday's lecture: In a television program like The Bachelor, are their implications of societal expectations? Does the media want the images portrayed to be replicated somehow in society?

Blog Response to the Clips in Class

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I found the videos on the TV new series UP with Chris Hayes to be really interesting and prevalent to what is currently happening in media today. The first video we saw addressed this idea of no competitors = no comparative or challenging stories and facts. Once I heard this I reflected on what I current see in the media. On linking networks under one conglomerate powerhouse (1 of the big 5) they show the same point of view or ideologies. It was shocking to make this discovery because the media shouldn't decipher how we see the world but rather provide information to help us form an opinion of the world. I also found it scary to hear some journalist are scared to disagree in ideologies with their owners because they do not want to get fired with all the current lay offs.
I felt this video brought to our attention, as media scholars, an alarming notion: the notion that we need to start being aware of the medias messages and their control of content. We need to be subjective with what we believe and question that which we don't value as true. Especially when it comes to news happening in American politics or foreign affairs.

Discussion Questions:
Will we ever go back to an objective media and how do we get there? Or will the conglomerates simply keep merging until they are controlled by one?

Response to Stuart Hall's "encoding/decoding"

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I found this article by Stuart Hall to be the most difficult yet. He brings up a point early about the traditional and linear way to view communication as a sender/message/receiver loop. He encourages us to think of it as more of a continuous circle of production and distribution. He talks about the importance of a subjects "means." He states that without meaning there simply cannot be any consumption. In his diagram on page 223 he displays his encoding decoding idea as a visual. He shows it as a loop but one must encode, program the means then decode it to be able to consume the information. He spends some time about naturalized codes in which is not simply the "naturalness" of the language but the depth and how universal those codes are. I also found it interesting when he spoke about denotation/connotation as strictly analytic and how we must not confuse analytic distinctions with those in the real world.

Hall speaks about a dominant cultural order where social hierarchy is clearly divided by regions. Do you believe that the United States has a dominant cultural order?

Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding

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Stuart Hall is a highly influential cultural theorist. His encoding/decoding model, albeit somewhat difficult to grasp, is considered to be revolutionary in the field of cultural studies. Although I have to admit I am not entirely confident in my interpretation of this particular piece of writing which I've found to be less accessible than the others on our syllabus, I am curious about discussing and gaining a better understanding of Hall's model of communication with the class. In Hall's model of communication, he refers to each point in the process as a "moment". I am interested in the importance that Hall places on finding meaning in the message throughout these moments, "Before this message can have an 'effect' (however defined), satisfy a 'need' or be put to 'use', it must first be appropriated as a meaningful discourse and be meaningfully decoded" (223). The message has power if we know it has meaning, the two concepts are intertwined. I am interested in Hall's identification of the three hypothetical positions or perspectives from which the audience may be decoding televisual messages. The dominant-hegemonic position "takes the connoted meaning full and straight" (174), the negotiated code or position "contains a mixture of adaptive and oppositional elements: acknowledging the legitimacy of the hegemonic definitions to make the grad significations while making its own ground rules" (175) and the oppositional code "detotalizes the message in the preferred code in order to retotalize the message within some alternative framework of reference" (175). I'm looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of Hall's model of communication or encoding/decoding and finding out from which positions our class is interpreting media texts.

Discussion Question: Hall explores the idea of misunderstandings and how they might arise during the process of message communication between the sender (television producers) and the receiver (the audience). Reasons for confusion may include, "The viewer does not know the terms employed, cannot follow the complex logic of argument or exposition, is unfamiliar with the language, finds the concepts too alien or difficult or is foxed by the expository narrative" (173). Is Hall suggesting that mass culture as a whole prefers entertainment that contains simple/easy to decode messages rather than something logically complex? Do we agree?

Response to Stuart Hall's "Encoding/Decoding"

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This article had a lot to it. I had to read it through more than once just to be able to write a blog post. Hall stresses the importance of understanding the concepts of encoding and decoding and seeing them as a process of circuit that makes up a communicative event. Encoding is transforming or converting information from one form to another and often inserting a preferred meaning or idea that they want the audience to find in their decoding, or experiencing/interpreting the encoded information. But in decoding the information, a person's perception or or understanding is affected by their own experiences. Hall puts this in the context of television and media explaining how companies include "codes" or ideas into their products they hope the audience will understand and there are three hypothetical positions and reactions Hall lists in response. This is just the basic ideas and terms from the article as there was a lot of examples to take in.

Does an encoder trying to understand or predict their audience really affect whether or not the message will be decoded with the preferred meaning? Is there really any way to understand/comprehend how an audience will understand or decode something when Hall points out that it can often be decoded differently on an individual level?

Encoding/Decoding Response and DQ

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This week's reading "Encoding/Decoding" by Stuart Hall was in my opinion our most difficult and abstract reading so far. It indulges in the process of a communicative event in the media, such as a television program or advertisement. He explains that the message from of a communicative event is the necessary form of appearance of the event in its passage from the source (media) to the receiver (audience). "The 'message form" is a determinate moment; though, at another level, it comprises the surface moments of the communications system only and requires, at another stage, to be integrated into the social relations of the communication process as a whole, of which it forms only a part" (Hall 167). The message form is an important moment in the event but it only comprises the surface moments of the communications system, which I believe to mean that it doesn't really contain content. Since the message form needs to continue to be integrated into the social relations of the entire communication process, it is merely a platform or stage in the proces of a communicative event.
The encoding process of a communicative event is taking the new information and storing the message mentally. The decoding process is the reverse of encoding, it takes the new information from the message and processing it into a new format, or being able to understand the actual message the sender is trying to communicate. In between these two processes, Hall states that the event is the programme as meaningful discourse. "At a certain point, however, the broadcasting structures must yield encoded messages in the form of meaningful discourse. The institution societal relations of production must pass under the discursive rules of language for its product to be 'realized'" (Hall 168). It appears that language is the deciding factor in communication, if the language of the event can't be understood or comprehended the intended message is lost in between processes.

DQ: Is language a part of every single communicative event? Is it possible for the media to successfully deliver a message to the audience using no language at all? Or is no language in itself impossible because of implicit cultural norms?

"The Big Five" ain't all THAT bad..

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So it seemed that yesterday people were all operating under the pretense the Big Five are a bunch of evil doers with nothing better to do than poison the minds of the American public. Let me first say that yes, the Big Five is to blame for alot of misrepresentations of many groups of people. Having most of our media coming from just 5 outlets may imply that we lack diversity and perhaps it implies that we are continuesly fed that of which we do not want. My fellow media analyzers, I assure you that is NOT the case. There are 5 conglomerates who own most of the media but check it out, they also supply "niche" media for basically any type of person. If you're ever feeling like the Big Five is depriving you, I challenge you flip through your channels on the television, look through all of the magazines ever made and so forth. What you will find is there is something for everyone to relate to. This is done on purpose. It is in the best interest of these conglomerates to stay in tune with what's relevant to people.

Is the media business perfect? Absolutely not! But labeling the 5 successful companies, (because that's really all they are) as evil or depriving is a synical way of analyzing a media that is so complicated and mulit-dimensional.

So I pose a question for the class: After much thought and analysis, is it completely bad or good (or a little of both) that our media is ran by five conglomerates? If bad, are these conglomerates fully to blame for what's in the media as well as negative impacts on people who view it?


The Big Five

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I thought this reading was very interesting and educational. The two common themes I got from this article were power and money. Large corporations have been able to increase media ownership because they have shared values that are reflected in their news and pop culture. They are also a major influence on government. Dominant corporations have a huge influence over the public's news, information, ideas, and political attitudes. By being able to control the media, they are able to influence their audiences, public life, and perceptions of politics and politicians.
My question is what would happen to the public or how would it affect our lives if one of these conglomerates merged with another or went out of business?
Also, what are the problems that come with media ownership? Are these businesses well regulated?

The Big Five Response & Discussion Question

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While watching TV, going to the movies, or reading news online, it seems like we have a huge range of media offered in the United States. However, many people would be shocked to know that there are only 5 major players in the media business. Being a Communication student I've learned this over the years, but without doing your research it may take a very close look and research to realize how interconnected media channels really are and the business behind it.

What I found most interesting was the breadth of ownership of some of these conglomerates. For instance, I realized that Disney owned ABC network and ESPN, but I never realized that at one point they also owned a hockey team. I was very surprised at Murdoch's history and empire. I did not know that Murdoch bought sports teams so he could gain more money by being both the buyer and the seller of broadcast rights. The fact that Murdoch was granted the only waiver of the US only ownership law, further enforces the fact that the media is a political economy. I think this shows how crooked the media business can be and shows how political economy effects media. It also shows how many deals go around behind doors that many of us will never know. It is now extremely hard for an independent media company to survive and get exposure because of the Big Five.

Discussion Question:
While reading I was thinking about the Motion Pictures Association of America and their rating system. Do you think a movie that is owned and produced by one of the Big Five has an advantage over independent films, and if so how? Do media conglomerates effect media diversity and representation in the United States? If so, how?

The Big Fives

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The reading show me that how few big media companies have earned their power and operated their business with the government and other business. I read it by connecting their business, or pursuing their profit, and the primary goal of media corporations. The big five corporations killed many other media companies according to the reading. As a result, I thought that people got the narrow their insight about the world or society or options related to media. Each media corporation might have different viewpoints and different interest relations, which helped people get various media contents. As the big corporations became bigger, they would pursue more power in media industry. This led to the result that they cooperated or dealt with the government. Of course, they had to operate their business. However, their businesses are little different because their businesses are related to people's right to know about the world or society and right of surveillance. In the situation that the big, major corporations are occupying nearly all media industry, what they are doing could be an unnecessary gatekeeper. They could block people's eyes. That was because it was possible that they blocked coverage of a political issue for their profit or deal with the political leaders. In addition, they have enough money to run various advertising and have power to get permits for their advertising. This can make them earn more and more money while small media businesses lose their occupancies in media industry. This result would make worse situation.

Discussion: what can prohibit the parts of media business that excessively pursuing money, interest, and power? Did their business develop the media industry positively or negatively? Are there any cases that major media corporation distorted information or became a negative gatekeeper because of their profit?

The Big Five (Chapter Two) Response

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I was very intrigued by the beginning quote for this article, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Men, such as they are, very naturally seek money or power; and power because it is as good as money." I couldn't believe how much media and the control has evolved over the last thirty years. It's shocking that by 2003, five men are handling the work for all media corporations that once took a hotel ballroom full. With the amount of media released on a daily basis, it is insane to think about the pressure and organization these five men and their corporations must deal with. The media business deals with an insane amount of revenue annually, as stated in the article, "The Big Five hunger for the $238 billion spent every year for advertising in the mass media and the approximately $800 billion that Americans spend on media products themselves" (30).

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Clearly media has a very strong effect on our society. Do you feel this reliance and dependability us citizen have formed for media being less important and significant than it is, or do you feel it will continue growing?

"The Big Five"

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Reading about the top five media conglomerates, also known as "The Big Five", gave me a good look into the professional world of media. Interestingly enough, it seems that although it is a media business, it is alike other business industries in many ways. All of the "head honchos" know each other somehow and are all competing for the same type of business. Money and market share the basis for everything.

Out of the five men who head these media conglomerates, I found Rupert Murdoch's the most fascinating. He seems like an excellent business man that knows how to get things done. I was surprised by his method of purchasing professional sports teams to obtain broadcasting rights. He also was able to own his Australian company and have his tax benefits but somehow got around the law and was able to start Fox. Murdoch is a man of success and reading about him is inspiring.

It is mentioned on page 37, "Once adless cable programs have accumulated a large enough audience, grateful for the absence of commercial interruptions, the program owners seem unable to resist selling their audiences to eager advertisers." With this book being released in 2004, I'm sure that was the tip of the iceberg for programs such as DirecTV, DVR, and Tivo where commercials can be skipped completely. Nine years later, this is a major issue for advertisers. In my own experience, I would much rather watch something on DVR and skip all of the commercials as well as watch an episode in 40 min rather than one hour.

Overall, I was surprised to find out how many television channels, radio stations, magazines, etc. are owned by the same companies. With a media conglomerate there seems to be a lot of horizontal integration going on and them covering more than one area of media.

Discussion question: The number of major media conglomerates have shrunk down to only five, with new forms of media, will this number stay as it is, continue to shrink, or grow?

The Big Five Response and Discussion Question

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Bagdikian presents an interesting history of the formation of the Big Five largest media corporations in the U.S. Implicit in Bagdikian's argument is the idea that five companies controlling the majority of 37,000 different media outlets can result in skewed, biased information. Bagdikian begins the article by discussing how the Big Five became the Big Five due to helpful legislation. The politicians believed that the more they helped the media, the better the media would represent them. Similarly, I think Bagdikian's argument could be applied to how a fewer media outlets can result in a skewing of information.

First and foremost, a company's sole purpose is to make a profit. As long as the companies follow the law, this isn't a problem in my view. Media corporations are no different, their business is just to entertain and inform us. Often, businesses have to make deals that may not be so popular if known to the public, luckily some of these businesses have access to the control of media information so that they can keep their dirty laundry from being aired. For example, a Saturday Night Live skit involving a cartoon depiction of General Electric and all of the behind-the-scenes business that the company was doing, was promptly removed after being aired and wasn't available to be seen ever again until recently. The skit blatantly stated how General Electric's factories had cancer-causing PCB emissions, and how GE was working hand in hand with politicians in order to get their company signed on to lucrative weapons contracts. This is just one of numerous examples of large corporations controlling the outward flow of information from their channels. This is a pessimistic view of the growing power of media conglomerates, but is necessary information for viewers to know in order for audiences understand that what is on the TV may not always be true.

Discussion Question
The trend for the past thirty years in media has been comprised of mergers and acquisitions. Do you think this trend will stop in the future? Will we see two, or even just one major media corporation in the future while all others cease to exist or have been bought up?

"The Big Five"

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My dad always warned me that large corporations are just out for money. From that I always knew that everything in the media-large corporations and business was all about money, but I didn't know the extent of it. This article clearly lays out the big five that control pretty much everything in the media. I didn't realize so much was owned by so few. The article mentions that by 2003, five men controlled all the media that was once run by 50 corporations. In my opinion, even fifty corporations is not many to be running all of the media business in the U.S. It's interesting to see that even the rivals partner with each other because they know it will make them more money. It obviously all comes down to money. Murdoch would use his political power to get money (when he lunched with Carter and got the loan for his airline) and manipulate what he was doing just so it came out to more money in the end. I found it interesting that some of the companies owned part of or all of some sports teams. Sports is a large part of entertainment, but to own the team seems a bit strange to me. Who am I to judge though? It's all to get more money and control what they want to be seen on the air. A couple times the article talked about someone buying out another company so that they would have another medium to communicate what they want to be seen on TV. They would have more channels to display their messages. Political Economy at it's finest right here. I found it interesting that they owners of Viacom started out just as a family business and bought out a "debt-loaded friend" which ended up turning into being the owners of the fourth largest media conglomerate in U.S. When I read about Murdoch I was disgusted. He is a corrupt man who doesn't care about anything, but money, himself, and his political views. The Paley family actually didn't upset me because they were just doing what they needed to get by, and ended up taking a failing CBS company and turning it around. It just seems to make me feel better that they weren't greedy people who were just digging wherever they could to get money.

I also found it interesting that not all of these large conglomerates have had 100% success. Many times there is tension high up in the company and some have neared bankruptcy. If all these corporations with massive media networks own so much and continue to expand owning magazines, books, publishing companies, cable channels, and even sports teams...why do they still run into money issues? I'm sure much of it is attributed to the economy, but much of it I think is also attributed to the ignorance of the owners. They are so focused on money that I believe that it ends up leading to losing instead of gaining much of the time. I could be wrong.

This article has just really made me think about the things I watch and where I watch them. It angered me that Murdoch owns so much because I do not like how he does his business, but I watch things on Fox here and there, for example and at home we have DirecTV, which he owns. You can't avoid these corporations. I don't believe it is really possible because everything we watch appears to be owned by one of these five or if Murdoch doesn't own it (for example), he is partnered with the other company that does.

There is an example of how adless cable programs attract an audience which then get subjected to commercials again after there is a large enough audience. I think this is true with Comcast and it's OnDemand feature. They promise adless, but many programs will have a number of advertisements anyway.

Dicussion Question: If these corporations listened to what consumers and the audiences actually wanted (adless, for example), would there be a different attitude in how we view and analyze media or will it always be deeply scrutinized? Is it even possible for media corporations to listen to their audiences?

"The Big Five" Response & Disco. Question

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For me, "The Big Five" clarified very well the concept of political economy. I had no idea that media was owned by so few people nor was I aware of the seemingly infinite connections between all the companies, owners, labels, etc. The section of the article I found most surprising was the one about Murdoch's News Corporation. We discussed in class how, when analyzing a piece of media from the political economy perspective, one must consider not only the fact that the owner wants to make money but also the fact that he may have non-money interests as well. Murdoch definitely does. Besides making a profit, he has used his tremendous power in the media industry to promote his extreme conservative politics. He owns Fox, arguably the most conservative television network. He also used his ownership of influential newspapers to help Conservative Margaret Thatcher get elected prime minister. But what I found most interesting is that money always seems to triumph over his other interests. As the author notes, in 1980 he lunched with President Jimmy Carter (whose political ideology was in direct contrast to his own) in order to be awarded a huge loan for his airline. He also featured stories praising certain liberal politicians in order to woo them and gain more corporate power. I think it's certainly important to consider a media owner's non-money interests, as they can definitely affect what he produces. However, I think the example of Murdoch shows that in political economy, the bottom line really is money, money, money.

Discussion Question:
Why is it important for us as media consumers to be aware of the Big Five? Do we have some responsibility to try to spread the media wealth out more equally? Is this possible? Does it matter that media ownership lies in the hands of only five men? Why or why not?

Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!

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I found this article to be very interesting, especially because I'm also taking a class right now about the business of pop culture. I completely agree that much of pop culture is manufactured and thusly, the cultures that we live in. We look to media as a representation of our lives and the world we live in, so it makes sense that these huge media conglomerates control so much of what we consider to be our culture. It also makes sense that profit and risk reduction are the main driving factors for the media produced by these huge conglomerates. It seems that these companies have discovered a great strategy for creating huge franchises and fandoms who will purchase more products associated with the franchises: take something with proven success and make it huge. This has been seen lately with Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and even the most recent Batman series.

Discussion Question: Given how segmented our society has become since the Batman films were produced (due in part to these huge media conglomerates trying to make even more money), do you think that these huge franchises have a greater or smaller effect on our culture?

Response to Eileen Meehan's article

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Meehan argues that another dimension must be added to our analyses of media generally and of Batman specifically. Meehan states that economics must be taken into account when analyzing the media. She later states that to understand Batman, then, requires that that our analyses of intertext, and of fandom and other audiences, be supplemented by an economic analysis of corporate structure, marketing structures, and interpenetrating industries. She then begins to discuss Warner Communications Inc. and their ups and downs in the 80's, along with their merger with Time Inc. Meehan discusses that corporations put out their media for the sole purpose of making a profit off of the product. As for Batman, they had to see if it would be a profitable movie. They changed Batman's image to suit the male viewer, who was the majority of the comic book market at the time. His image was changed to "the dark knight." WCI tested this by releasing a comic book and the book sold out within a couple of weeks. They then released a novel which also did well. That confidence combined with profits WCI had earned off of it's other films and sources of income gave WCI the confidence to put Batman on the big screen. They got Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton to headline the movie to create anticipation. Also they released the soundtrack (by Prince) before the movie. Batman was a hit and Meehan was able to break it down economically to see why. WCI used it's assets other than the film itself to ensure the movie was going to be a hit.

Discussion Question: Meehan said that media corporations only put out products they believe will earn them a profit. How does this interfere with the news? Are they giving us what we want to hear that will get them more viewers or are they giving us what we need to hear as citizens?

Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman Response

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This reading is probably one of the most interesting articles we've read so far in this class, and has to be one of my favorites. I think one of the biggest reasons why I believe this is because I am a huge Batman fan, and a huge superhero fan in general! I never knew how much work, cooperation, obstacles, etc. went into building a franchise, or into just getting it started for that matter. I just thought conglomerates took ideas or things that they knew were popular or would do well and turned them into something bigger. It never occurred to me that something that is so popular today had a hard time taking off, especially after all the different movies (ones with Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Christian Bale), comics, clothing, and other merchandise that are still being made and sold today.

Discussion Question: Batman has become a pop culture sensation over the last 20 years with all of its different movies filled with various actors, characters, and plots that sell clothing, soundtracks, jewelry, and other merchandise. Do you think that every single movie that starts out has as much of a hard time taking off (even to this day), or has it become easier over the years to know which movies and other projects will or won't do as well? Examples?

The Business of Show Business

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"Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!": The Political Economy of a Commercial Intertext by Eileen R. Meehan allowed me to explore a side to the film industry that I had never really rifled through before. When Meehan says, "Profit, not culture, drives show business: no business means no show"... I am finally understanding intertext, fandom, and the business strategies that are being utilized time and again behind the scenes of a film that look at the film itself as simply one element of the product line that is "Batman" or "The Twilight Saga", for example. Meehan explains that creating a film is a business decision. Filmmaking is a risk! Some films are wildly successful while others flop. Through this reading I'm coming to realize that for the first time the heavy importance that film financiers put on turning a profit not only from ticket sales to the film itself, but accompanying action figures, character coffee mugs, halloween costumes, etc. These products perpetually threaten to permeate the protective layer of the film screen and flood in to other untouched corners of our reality, where our backpacks and toothbrushes wait anxiously to be branded with depictions of our favorite characters. It is so easy for the general public, myself included, to become so excited for a blockbuster film to hit the big screen that we don't realize the entire franchise towering around it that can generate an obscene amount of money. Meehan explains that mass-produced culture is a business. Films become wildly popular 1) because of our taste, and/or if we feel that whatever we are lacking in our real lives is temporarily available within the world of the story, quickly allowing us to become sutured within its context... but also 2) there is a great deal of thought and care put into creating a culture around the film: music videos from a film's soundtrack are targeting MTV/BET/VH1 viewers, toys/games/costumes sporting images of the cast draw in young children, even fast food packaging in the film's fashion convinces parents to purchase that happy meal for their daughter or son so she or he can eat out of a cartooned cardboard box and push a mini-batmobile around. It's ridiculous! But the film business industry knows what works. There is also a discussion of how film producers control the number of big releases per year, leaving "hot films" only christmas season and the 3 month summer stretch to debut the supposed "big earners" or films that are bound to generate the most profit. I could write on this forever, but I'll stop and say although what I read truly fascinated me and leaves me curious, this is just further reason for me to cling even tighter to my indie films :)

Discussion Question: At the end of her essay, Meehan says, "To understand our mass media, we must be able to understand them as always and simultaneously text and commodity, intertext and product line." Although the film itself is highly visible and publicized, we must not forget ways in which it can become a sales campaign for other random products simply by plastering on its faces and names. Why is it important as students of media literacy to question the relationship between a show and a show's business?

Batman Reading Blog and DQ

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I found this reading very interesting. I'm sure others in the class already knew about how media conglomerates structured their sales of media with repackaging and recycling, but I had no clue! I always thought that what the media and companies did was because of buyer/consumer demand. I still think in many ways it is because they have to send out little tests to see if it is what the people want and then determine their next move of what to produce. I thought it was interesting when the talked about the interpenetration of media industries that were once separate as a way to increase profit and decrease cost. Obviously this isn't done by the demand of people, but it is a way to feed people what they want.

DQ: Is there any danger in these companies acquiring smaller businesses to be more cost effective on their end? What does that do to the consumer?

Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!: The Political Economy..."

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This article mentions about financial structure in media industry by focusing on Batman series and WCI. By reading the article, I could obviously remind that media industry, including films and comics, is a business for revenue. By reading it, I felt that I am be surrounded the package of media conglomerates. Their advertising, show, and product line became our culture now. Also, I believe that their business have obviously developed the culture. According to the reading, the sentence - "our discussion of economics reminds us that text, intertext, and audiences are simultaneously commodity, product line, and consumer" - seems like that media conglomerates only focus on their revenue although these are importantly part of our culture now. Actually, I felt like that money, or conglomerates' pursuing revenue, is making our culture.

Can their business planning related to media, such as recycling, licensing, or interpenetration, be a contribution to our culture? Or, what problems the parts of culture made by money can make?

Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman Response

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This article truly discussed and emphasized the up and down struggles and obstacles The film and comic industries faced. They found ways of making more profit, increasing sales, and maximizing all media forms. It commented on the idea of "underground comix", where Adult or semi-inappropriate material could be discussed in comics without being negatively advertised in the media. They also, though, did not achieve the mass recognition and circulation as Superman and Batman.

The article goes on to discuss the releasing of Batman in comic form as well as a film series. As stated in the article, "WCI's use of the Batman product line to feed its internal markets for media products indicates how media conglomerates bring together media industries that were once distinct and separate" (56). Based on this statement, it is apparent how trivial this release was for the production industries.

After analyzing this article, I have established my own discussion question to be considered. As stated in the article, Batman became a "must see" film. How can modern American make movies and films today have the same effect on society today that Batman had on our community back in the late 1980's?

Batman Reading Response and Discussion Question

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This weeks reading titled "Holy commodity fetish, Batman!" was by far my favorite reading we've had thus far. I found it very interesting in learning how a major media conglomerate such as WCI created a cultural production like Batman through different economic structures. The reading opened my eyes to the fact that profit is the driving factor in the creation of cultural productions, and that the only real demand is the demand of the media conglomerates in making more money. "The interpenetration of the music, film, and video industries does not arise in response to demand form movie goers, record buyers, or comics subscribers. Rather, this interpenetration is orchestrated by the conglomerate in its search for more profitable and cost-efficient ways to manufacture culture" (Meehan 56). The thought of manufacturing culture captured me. I remember my Batman tighty-whities and getting the Men in Black soundtrack for christmas, both of those things were a product of manufacturing culture.
Large media conglomerates basically control everything when you think about it. They control what we see, what we buy, what we hear, and even sometimes what we read. It's them compiling economic resources into what we call culture. "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 62). I believe this to be extremely important in us forming media literacy. We must recognize our mass media is one thing and one thing only: a business. Society is nothing but one big customer in the media megastore.

Discussion Question: Is it possible to manufacture culture without mass media? How can we be the ones who demand what we want to see in the media?

Post #3 - "Is Google Making Us Stoopid"

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As I was reading Nicholas Carr's writing piece, "Is Google Making us Stupid", I found myself agreeing to many of the things he was saying, especially the "symptoms" of "Googling" or reading on the Internet in general. When describing the changes in concentration of using the web, he is dead on, "I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do". I'm sure most of us can agree to this new lack of concentration. We no longer read in depth articles online; that is not what the web is made for. We want the info to be spit out quick and to the point. So when web articles are longer than two pages, many of us find ourselves searching for another article, not realizing that that particular article may carry the answers we seek. I find this short attention span I have now gained most difficult when carrying out the task of reading a literary text or text book for school, where the reading is most dense and packed with loads of information. Interpreting the text and making the deep connections while I read and after I read is one of the most daunting tasks nowadays, when in fact I used to love reading textbooks in high school and middle school. History, social studies, science...I loved it all. I could not get enough of the information; I even asked my AP Euro teacher if I could keep the textbook. Who does that? But back to Google. The founders want it to be the perfect search engine, organizing "the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"..."processed with industrial efficiency". When I read that, I though to myself, that is a good idea. I would love to have the world's information at the tip of my fingertips. I kept reading and then I stopped when they spoke about how they want to "build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale". I pondered this idea for a moment, really thought about it. I was fascinated by the idea, like how are they going to manage that? But nothing is ever impossible nowadays. Then the idea of it scared me. Will this "artificial intelligence" called Google, control my mind? In such a way that it will tell me what and how to think when I "search" for information (giving my a bias, certain viewpoint, etc)?? Will we end up as minor players in our lives and how we live? Could it turn into something where the government (or Google) controls us like in Residence Evil or The Truman Show? Creepy!!

Anyways, my discussion question is this:
Some people in the past have said that the printing press would bring an end to the high forms of knowledge, when in reality it has really helped society get on its feet. Now some people are worried about the way reading on the Internet has changed how we read and that it will be for the worse. What are some positives do you think reading on the web will create? Will we ever go back to reading textbooks? Will future generations even be able to decipher the messages in Aristotle's work or Shakespear's?

"Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

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As I sat down to read this article Sunday night I found myself skeptical at first with Carr's argument. But as I turned page by page into this long article I found my attention drifting from the Super Bowl, to email, to Facebook and eventually back to the article. After further review, I find myself in complete acceptance of this argument Carr is making. The Internet as a medium is "chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation." This is due to the fact that information displayed on the Internet and in our browsers (such as Google) are in "a style that puts efficiency and immediacy above all else". This I have found causes us to decode the message or article simply by the headline or the first phrases that pop up when it is searched on Google. This system of fast searching is beneficial to browsers as well because the faster we surf the more opportunities Google can gain information on us to feed us advertising. The last point Carr makes is about information overload. He claims there is no "complex inner density" to thinking anymore instead the thoughts and information are stretched and artificial relying solely on technology for the answer.

Discussion Question:
"The more pieces of information we can access and the faster we can extract their gist, the more productive we become as thinkers." In what ways has this new form of obtaining information helped us as innovative thinkers? Or in what ways has it hurt our creative thinking process from this information overload?

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

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Before I had even read the article the question posed in the title had my brain trying to examine what the content could be about in relation to what I already know and how I feel about Google. I thought about how Google, and the internet in general, are constantly feeding us with information. As he discussed in the article, we no longer have to go searching through pages and pages of a manuscript trying to find the information we are looking for. Google's company states that they want the search engine to be something that "understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want." The idea of information access in an instant gives us less time to work our brains or be forced to critically think about something on our own. Instead, we find our answers on Google and skim the segments of the answers we have received. This follows along with Carr's argument about our minds being less able to handle a constant stream of words, such as a novel or long article. He states that after a few paragraphs his mind begins to wander. I think this is an interesting sentiment in its entirety. I have found myself numerous times amidst a long article or novel assigned for class where I begin to think of other things. I find this most common when I am not fully interested or engaged with the subject matter. I feel like saying that Google relates to why we can't focus for longer amounts of time isn't the best and most compelling argument. I agreed with most of what he was saying and thought he had interesting insights to the world of streaming information, but I feel like there is another side to his claims he is not addressing. We live in a society that is fast-paced in many aspects. Of course we turn to information and expect it to be delivered similarly to all else. Google is feeding into the way media resourcing has evolved. He states "the last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It's in their economic interest to drive us to distraction." They are a business and they are adapting and doing what they can to maximize information and profits. I think the world is headed in a particular direction technologically and in regard to how we receive information. We need to take the responsibility to make time for reading at longer lengths and exercising our brains so they have more focus and whatever kind of stability we are looking for. We can't change media and advancements in technology, but we can find the time to be responsible for ourselves.

Discussion Question: What do you think of the idea of our brains being supplemented by artificial intelligence? Do you think it will become a necessity?

Is google making us stupid?

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I could very much relate to almost everything in Carr's article. It scares me that I could relate to so much of what he was arguing. I really don't think that I read with intent and for fun in my leisure time like I used to. When I read, I usually read with a purpose and try to fulfill that purpose in a relatively short amount of time. I hardly ever go to the library anymore, because everything I need is online, or on a library reserves page. I do believe that reading, in the traditional sense of the word, has died. There are millions of people that do not even read tangible books anymore, they have kindles, e-readers, iphones, and ipads for that. Why go to the library when you can have a digital one of your own? My discussion question would be what does the class think our future will look like? Will we still be able to communicate efficiently in person, or will the Internet be the predominant way? Will we still have print journalism? Will we still have libraries?

I found Carr's argument in "Is Google Making us Stupid" very interesting. Although the article was published 5 years ago, I think it still is very relevant, if not more relevant than it was in 2008. Since 2008 Google has grown even bigger with new inventions like the Google Driverless car that give humans even less responsibility and requirement of thought. I agree with Carr's argument that technology and search has affected our attention span, but I'm not sure I agree that it has affected our deep thinking negatively. In terms of attention span, I agree because as I began to read the article the first thing I did was scroll to the bottom to see how long the article was. I also found myself continuously scrolling to the bottom of the page to see how much reading I had left. I think this had a lot to do with the medium; as I'm normally used to short articles online.

I think Carr does a good job at the end of the article of explaining his reasoning behind his argument. The fact that he admits he is anxious and skeptic makes the argument more relate able. I agree that the web is changing the way we think online, but still wonder if it will forever change our ability to think and read in print. Books do not have banner ads and side article suggestions encouraging us to stray from the article. It will be interesting to see how the way we learn and attention spans adapts to media in the future.

Discussion Question:
Do you think the ease of finding information on the web has affected the way all generations read or just the generation that grew up with it? How has technology and online information changed education and curriculum and how do you foresee it changing in the future? Do you think that the positives of online search outweigh the negatives?

Reaction to Carr's Article

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I think Carr's essay is very relatable, especially to our generation who has grown up in somewhat of a digital age. When he talks about concentration and attention, particularly when reading, it makes me think of my own experiences. While I like to read a lot for fun, focusing on long articles or assignments can be difficult when the Internet has produced a generation that is accustom to having information at the tips of our fingers at all times instantly. It has definitely had an impact on our attentions spans.
And Carr does explain the perks of the Internet and technology, like the fact that we can look up information constantly or browse an article in minutes with the important info summarized or highlighted already for us, but he also points out that there are negative effects. I don't think we always consider how the Internet can hurt our learning or reading skills because it seems to be so helpful in getting us to where we want to be faster, but we come to rely on it to think for us. I think this point is extremely relatable because even though it has made schools and work more efficient and allowed people to interact online, it is important to be able to unplug and know how to think and learn without a computer doing the work for us. Technological skills are great, but social skills and skills of the mind are important as well. It is one think to know or find information, it is another thing to really absorb and understand it by reading in depth or thinking it through on our own.
One thing I found particularly interesting about the article is how much it made me think of my parents and how their use and reliance on technology differs from people my age. My mom works in the electronics industry and my dad creates websites and does computer program training, and even though they are both around computers all day, they still approach technology differently than I do. They didn't grow up relying on it or even being around it the way I was, so when they have a question their first response isn't always to "google it". I feel they have a different thought process and maybe have more, or at least social and mind skills than people raised with the Internet. They read the paper, the actual paper, not an online news site. They play board games and read for fun even though they have iPhones and apps galore. They use the Internet and technology, but also separate themselves from it and have different ways of thinking and finding information. This article does a good job of explaining that the Internet is an extremely useful tool and is a great resource, but it is not ideal for us to rely on it.

Discussion question:
Do you think articles and ideas like Carr's do or will ever truly make a difference on a large scale? It is easy to read the article and contemplate one's own relationship and reliance on the Internet, but has the Internet grown too large and important to ever be slowed down or relied on less? Can we ever return to a place where our brains are used more than the Internet? Is this a bad thing?

Is Google Making Us Stupid? Discussion Question

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In what ways do you think the internet has produced new skills and abilities in its users and creators?

Response to Google articles & Disco. Question

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I can absolutely relate to Carr's experience not being able to focus on long pieces of writing. Almost every time I'm reading something extensive, I quickly get fidgety and feel the urge to move on to something else. Carr provides a convincing and logical explanation for this phenomenon, arguing that the overload of information on the Internet has changed the way we think and ruined our ability to focus on one thing for too long. I think his age (49 when he wrote the article) adds to his argument's cogency; unlike me, he vividly remembers a time when he was able to slowly absorb long pieces of writing. I didn't really start reading until after the Internet had already become a powerful informational force. Because of Carr's positionality as an older man, he is able to make a connection that a younger writer couldn't have made.

I was really disturbed by Google founder Sergey Brin's comment, "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." I can't believe that this type of artificial intelligence is Google's goal! I think these corporate Google men are so focused on being the richest, the most technologically advanced and the most legendary that they don't realize they're trying to destroy what makes human beings so special! Knowing certain things and not knowing others makes each of us unique. I am much better off having a small pool of information in my brain (and being able to respond to it creatively, emotionally and morally) than I would be with "all the world's information." Already I feel the Internet stifling my independent thinking and uniqueness.

So what do we do about it? That's where Carr article falls short, according to Shirky. Although Shirky agrees with many of Carr's premises, he characterizes him as a Luddist whiner who offers no suggestion for what to do next. However, I Shirky doesn't seem to provide any clear answers either. He merely admits, "We must find new ways to focus amid new intellectual abundance" without clearly identifying what those new ways should be.

Discussion Questions:

So how DO we curb this Google trend? What are our responsibilities as media consumers to ensure that the Internet doesn't continue to inhibit our thinking skills? Shirky says, "We must find new ways to focus amid new intellectual abundance" (354). How might we go about this?

Is Google affecting our memory? Since we can pull up any info at any time, do we have to remember things anymore--and does this matter? Are we freeing our brains for more important things? Or are we giving up a valuable piece of human cognition?


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As I read Nick Carr's article I noticed a lot of similarities to what I felt and what he was saying. He mentions that a lot of people don't have the patience to read scholarly articles and I would have to agree because I noticed myself getting anxious and just wondering when the article would end. I believe this has a lot to do with how we have been raised. Everything is done today on the internet. Only when I was in Elementary to maybe Middle school do I remember actually having to find books and research them. And I have to admit that I would usually find a quote or two just to satisfy the other sources requirement and would still find most of my information on the internet. I know when students are asked to use a magazine or book from the library, many times they are frustrated and irritated. I will admit I have been there. I believe this happens because today's society is also very on the move. Everything is done in a hurry and many times students don't want to have to go to the library and find the book and then read enough to support their thesis. An on-the-go society only leads to impatience in libraries and more online research.

Now I don't think Google is making us stupid. In fact, I believe it helps us to obtain information in a more efficient way. We don't have to go to the library and physically find a scholarly article to back up our work. We can do it from the comfort of our own homes and can many times find more on the internet. I love being able to access nearly any information that I'm searching for. Carr brings up the idea that writing isn't as intelligent as it used to be, but I think as times change, writing and thinking styles change as well. Carr mentions Nietzsche's change in writing style when he uses the typewriter and can "let his words flow again." This is just another example of how technology can change writing styles and is an example of how we've gotten to where we are today.

I agree with the article that is a response to Carr when he mentioned that the internet has brought reading back. With the internet we can download books onto our kindles, phone, and iPads. We can read more articles and websites on the go with our devices in today's technologies with the internet. Carr mentions that people do more skimming of articles now and don't actually read things. This may be true to an extent, but I know when I read something I had to read everything, skimming just doesn't work for me...so Carr is a little wrong there because there are definitely people who still read all of an article or book and use them for research. My sister is working on her dissertation and researches and reads books all the time. The libraries aren't dead. Technology and society are just changing.

Discussion Question: With today's busy society and constantly changing technologies, do you think Carr was overreacting in his article, or do you believe that this is actually something to be worried about? Is there a real concern that the readily available internet will lead to lower intelligence?

Is Google Making Us Stupid? Blog Response

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The two articles we read for Tuesday touch on the impact that instant access of information is having on American intelligence. Carr argues that our attention spans have decreased to the point where we know longer are willing to sit down and read a book or article. Shirky argues that this decreasing attention span is nothing new and this social panic goes as far back as Socrates criticizing written language for hurting our ability to remember stories and information. For this particular technology, the internet, I seem to side against Carr.
I've heard several arguments that language and writing today are not as intelligent or beautiful as they used to be. I would argue that today's language is not less intelligent but just different than in the past. We have thousands more words today than during the Elizabethan era when Shakespeare was writing it eloquent sonnets and plays. Literacy in America is nearly 100%, a number that would have been ridiculous even a few hundred years ago. Similarly, Carr argues that we lack the skills today that were so basic before the internet came around, "research that once required days...can now be done in minutes (156)". The skills that may have been necessary even thirty or forty years ago, memorization, rapid writing, and extensive research, are merely giving way to new skills that rely on understanding technology and making it work for us. We have the ability to navigate vast internet databases, organize thousands of pages of research into an easily accessible catalog, all while relying on a language of zeros and ones. I believe what we're experiencing is an evolution of a different kind of knowledge, but not a lack of knowledge.

Response to: Is Google Making Us Stoopid?

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While reading the article, "Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" I noticed that I could relate to the article a lot. Growing up with the emergence of the Internet, I have experienced much of the changes that it has brought on, good and bad. Although much of my education has consisted of using the Internet, I do remember the days where research was done in the library by looking at physical articles and books. The Internet has made significant changes in our lives in regards to time and efficiency however, I do agree that it has also brought on a sense of laziness in humans.

I agree with Carr that when I am reading an article online, such as this one, I almost have a sense of anxiety and am constantly looking at how long the article is, how much more I have to read, etc. Sometimes I find myself skimming over online articles and not actually reading it word for word. It seems to have come true that our minds are changing with the evolution of the Internet. It is difficult to do research in books or read an article in its entirety when I know that I could do it much quicker on the Internet or find a shorter summary of some type. Maybe this type of thinking is here to stay whether we like it or not. It doesn't seem like the Internet is going to slow down anytime soon and I think things will only get quicker and more efficient. I just wonder how we can go back and recapture the mindset we used to have before technology did many things for us. It seems to me too though that how you think and your mind set are choices. If one wants to read a long book for pleasure, then do so. If someone would rather do their research with books rather than the Internet to better obtain their information, do it. Some people seem to be okay with the fact that they rely on the Internet for most things and that is their choice. I think if someone is worried about their thought process becoming too Internet-involved, then they should do something about it.

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