December 2, 2008

Blog 10:Advertising

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November 16, 2008

Blog 9: Music Genre

November 9, 2008

Blog 8: News Analysis

Viewing Log – Sunday, November 9th, 2008
Teaser: before Broadcast: Stabbing occurs in Dodge Center: Vikings win: Local close election causes re-count.

Top Story: Five people were stabbed in Dodge Center, MN. Interviewed with 2 sisters (around age 13) who were stabbed and survived. The father and mother were killed. 2:30 min.

Local News Story: Historic recount of Minnesota Senate Race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. The race was too close to call therefore there is a state-wide recount. There are several different opinions and heated arguments over the re-count. approximately 2:00 minutes

Top National News Story: President Obama and President Bush meet for the first time since the election. Obama is looking to reverse several of Bush’s policies when he takes office. approximately 30 sec.
Local News Story: An investigation into why the 35 W bridge collapsed and how some money raising is being done for some victims. approximately 2 minutes.

Local News Story: A small Museum closes in Minnesota 15 sec.

National News Story: St. Paul native woman is set to go on mission to outer pace. 30 sec.
Teaser: Vikings win over Packers. Also, Viking with Leukemia hopes to return next year. Weather coming up as well as a story on a famous “stick?. approximately 15 sec.

Commercials: Burger King: Ashley Furniture: Minnesota Ski and Snowboard Expo: Seattle Suttons: Toyota: University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital: Kare11 Weather tip: wear helmet: thanks from Kare11 approximately 30 sec. each

Sports: Vikings beat the Packers in a close game. Interview with Brad Childress and highlights. Missed a 40 yard field goal by inches. Win 28-27. Bizarre Day with 3 interceptions, 2 safeties, etc. More interviews with Gus Ferrote, Adrian Peterson, Ben Leber, Jared Allen, Darren Sharper, and Dave Swartz from Kare11. Tied in story of Gordon who is out for the season. 5:30 minutes

Sports EXTRA: Viking defenseman Kenechi Udeze battles Leukemia. . 1 minute

Weather: 15 second chat between anchors. (joking about getting out winter jackets) Coldest night of the season. High 31 degrees, Low 23 degrees . Gradual warm up through week… low 40’s. Some flurries today. Watched different Radars. Lows tonight could be to 16 degrees. Cold next Saturday. 3:45 min.

TEASER: Preview of tomorrow nights “EXTRA? – about staying young. Packers reaction to loss: Daunte Culpepper back in news.. look ahead at Tuesdays EXTRA (life saving treatment – “Long wait for a heart?) Teaser: 30 seconds

Commercials: Home Furniture: USA Today: Quest: Capital One: Sleep Express: Cremation Society of Minnesota: 3 min.

Sports EXTRA
Sports Scoreboards to Music – 15 seconds
Perk – Packers perspective – interview with Mark Tauser, Mason Crosby (missed kick) Aaron Rodgers, then talked about Chicago Bears loss to Tennessee.. MN now in top of division. Then went on to showcase all the NFL games. PERK Poll –most excited about – No more political ads. Then NBA, Nascar. – Talk about backflips – 10 sec – 3:45 Approximately 4 minutes

TEASER: Preview of upcoming story with skateboards and sticks. 30 seconds

Commercials: Education: Digital Tv for convertor box ( for concert listings in TC: DaVita Clinical research: Kare11 Weather Plus on web: McDonalds Café Coffee: HealthFair11-Flu Fighter clinics: Sylvan Learning Center: Approximately 4 minutes.

“Before We Go?: Toy hall of Fame – a stick joined the hall of fame (a regular old stick- creativity) All four anchors are seated together at the desk in the studio: Julie Nelson, Frank Vascellaro, Ken Barlow, and Randy Shaver and engage in more “happy talk? banter about “what about the paper wad?? as the station’s theme music plays at the end of the broadcast. 1 minute

The newscast started with local news stories about A mother and son who are dead after what appeared to be a domestic stabbing that occurred on Saturday evening in Dodge Center, MN. The story took place at the scene where police had barricades surrounding the house. This setting helped set a somber and somewhat dark mood. The scene then switched from the crime scene to a short interview of the surviving children of the victims who were in the house during the stabbing. This interviewed allowed the audience to become empathetic of the victims and those involved.

The next few stories were Local News stories about the 35W bridge collapse from a year ago and the Senate Rae between Norm Colman and Al Franken. Each story was only about 2 minutes in length. After such a long political campaign in the Presidential race and other offices, I think the coverage on the Senate race was cut short on purpose. As a matter of fact, later in the program, Perk has a poll with the viewers asking what they were most excited about on TV lately and the leading response was “That there were no more political ads on TV? With this in mind, the reporter seemed a little hurried to cover the Senate race, perhaps wanting to just get the story in and not annoy the viewing audience.

Interestingly, the top national story, the meeting of Presiden Bush and President Obama for the first time since elections, only covered about 30 seconds of time. Again, I wonder if the shortened time was in response to the poll conducted and the response of people being tired of politics.

After the national and local news, a commercial break occurred. As I kept track of commercials, I noticed most were centered around personal health and family. I was thinking that perhaps the intended audience for the 10:00 news would be parents of children, therefore ads for health care, home decorating, and education would make sense. Also, within the commercials were short little tips and thank you’s from Kare11, again targeting parents and family. These thank you messages came from the female broadcasters, giving the tone of the thank you a softer, perhaps more sincere tone.

The weather was the next section of the news, comprising of almost four minutes of local and national radar analysis. The weather report seemed more personal to the audience, whereas the reporters themselves engaged in some joking around about how they needed to dig out the heavy winter jackets. I felt this closer personal connection with the audience in the weather section was because it is so local and that everyone can relate to Minnesota weather.

The bulk of the newscast was dedicated to sports, spending nearly six minutes of broadcast talking about the Minnesota Vikings and their win against the Green Bay Packers and an additional three minutes talking about other national sports. Interestingly, very little coverage was given to local high school sports, which I found surprising. The main parts of the sports section was covered by male reporters, including a three minute extra by Eric Perkins. The tone of the sports section was excitement, stressing the importance of the Vikings win.
The last section of the newscast was entitled, “Before We Go? which was a short 30 second story about the Toy hall of Fame and how a stick joined the hall of fame (a regular old stick), claiming the stick is a source of creativity for children. All four anchors are seated together at the desk in the studio: Julie Nelson, Frank Vascellaro, Ken Barlow, and Randy Shaver and engage in more “happy talk? banter about “what about the paper wad?? as the station’s theme music plays at the end of the broadcast.

October 26, 2008

Blog 7: You Tube Critiques: Part 1

After reading the articles, "Cool" engagements with YouTube: Parts 1 and 2, I went back and searched YouTube in regards to the Media Representation of Feminist Portrayals. Interestingly, one of the videos linked to the topic was an excerpt from "Killing Them Softly 3," which was also mentioned in the Trier article, stating that "'Killing Us Softly 3' is a video in which Jean Killbourne presents a lecture that critiques a wide range of advertisements for their problematic representations of and messages about female identities; the video relates to Klien's belief that 'many female culture jammers say they first became interested in the machinations of marketing via a 'Feminism 101' critique of the beauty industry" (James Trier 411).

In the following video, Jean Killbourne is shown at a podium speaking directly to an audience, which give the video a sense of personal connection. One of the first things shown is some statistics dealing with advertising... remarkable in the least, making statements that in the last 20 years marketing has increased from a 20 billion dollar to a 180 billion dollar market. Jean goes on to talk about the various medias and how prevalent they really are. The graphics are still on the screen, giving the audience a chance to focus on the overwhelming statistics, while Jean's articulate and well-spoken voice serves as the background noise. One of the idea's Jean presents, which I find very interesting, is the idea of how advertising sells much more than products, that it sells"values, images, concepts of love, romance, success, and it sells the idea of normalcy."

Through the rest of the video, Jean shows examples of the way women are portrayed, demoralized, and degraded in our culture. Jean also touches on the impact of our youth, how 1 in 5 young women have some kind of eating disorder and how teen pregnancies continue to escalate. As a teacher and coach of young women, I think it our responsibility and duty to address this issue with an exponential fervor and crusade to end this degradation. By showing clips like these to young women and men (who I feel how more of a power to end this) perhaps the image and representation of women can change.

Blog 7: You Tube Critiques: Part 2

In this first video from youtube "The representation of women in commercials" is a collage of several different television commercials portraying women in several different "stereotypical" roles; mother, house cleaner, cook, obedient to husband, etc. The camera angles and lighting vary considerably from clip to clip, but the order and speed of the clips I thought was important. In many ways, the clips went by so fast, that even if you wanted to, you couldn't stop and change of argue them, they simply moved to the next one. This could be symbolic of how the media bombards us each day with these images, never really giving us a chance to defend our opinion or really even create an opinion:

The next video is very interesting, entitled "What a Girl Wants" showing how students in a classroom respond to some modern videos where women are portrayed in a particular manner. The main video discussed was from modern pop star Christina Aquilera's video, "What a Girl Wants." In a classroom discussion, it was interesting to note how the females and the males viewed the video differently, the girls interpreting her message as giving females love and respect. The males, ironically interpreted the video as her asking for affection and sex from from men and learning to control them. When discussing the video "Genie in the Bottle" the females, again, viewed the video as Christina asking to have men "rub her the right way" meaning give her respect. The men, again, interpreted her lyrics and dance as a form of seduction. The second part of the video showed some clips from MTV as well as showing the statistic that MTV is the favorite station of 9-14 year olds in the United States, emphasizing the vast impact of media. In the closing shots of the video they are interviewing an 11 year old girls who speaks of the pressure she feels because of the media. I thought this video was a great illustration of how media DOES effect the youth of today

Blog 7: You Tube Critiques: Part 3

The fourth video I viewed in a search for Media representation of females, was entitled simply " Portrayals of Women in the Media". This fifteen minute collage of media was introduced and narrated by a young female, about high school age, who gave a great narration of how the media represents women. One of the topics which I felt was very thought provoking was the violent imagery of women in the media. This topic stirred a particular emotion in me, having previously worked for a Women's Safe Shelter as a Domestic Child Abuse Specialist. The images show in the media that the video show, not only degrade and dehumanize the women victims, but also symbolically glorify the perpetrator, which in todays society is primarily men. According to the The Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003; "Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. In 2001, women accounted for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence (588,490 total) and men accounted for approximately 15 percent of the victims (103,220 total)." Since 2001, domestic violence has continued to climb, an no matter waht statistic you look at, the violence is being done primarily by men. In my opinion, to end violence, or at least start to minimize it, we need to target young males. Even in response to this video, which simply illustrated the various means that women are represented, one male responded:

"I am a man and I would like to agree with this video fully, but I can not. The question is that these women that pose for magazines, dress sexy, appear in degrading videos, are not forced to do this. Is it wrong, sure but then again it is their choice. Everytime such an issue arises it always seems to be men's wrong doing. If anything this women are willing to do this because of money, if anyone is responsible it is the women who pose or appear in such videos."

What really bother me about this response, as well as tons of similar other responses is that men are continually shifting the blame from themselves to that of the women, the real victims. I think, in large part, many of these women portray themselves in this manner because of their several factors; perhaps the idea that they have been degraded so long, they really don't know the difference in their actions, or perhaps, they are still strongly influenced by the men who make the products, reassuring the women that they are beautiful, sexy, etc. Really, it's a vicious cycle.

The end of the video was interesting as well, showing the "evolution" a woman goes through to become part of an ad campaign, focusing on how much prep work is done to make them beautiful, including perhaps many hours of digital alteration using programs like Photoshop.

The next video also shows various interviews from teenage girls and their viewpoint of the representation of women in the media. Although the video gets cut of in the middle (ironically, appearing to be recorded over by a male) , I think it still helps illustrate women's struggle with image:

Blog 7: You Tube Critiques: Part 4

The next video I selected was labeled "Women and Media" and featured Dr. Cindy Lont, A professor at George Mason University. The camera was positioned in the video to rotate somewhat around the professor with intermediate clips in between her narration. This gave the appearance of the video to be more scholarly and professional, more like a newscast like 60 minutes or Hard Copy. The main focus of the video was to explore and identify trends various medias over time and attempt to differentiate various patterns that are present. Interestingly, they video showed various interviews with people simply asking, "name a famous movie director" After several clips, someone finally mentioned a woman. The point is simply, that women are not recognized or identified in the media without a negative connotation.

The next video was produced by a young female in, perhaps, a high school class. The video appears to be much more "homemade" than the previous videos I viewed, however, the message seems to be the same; women are portrayed negatively in the media and that portrayal has a negative impact on our youth and our society.

Blog 7: You Tube Critiques: Part 5

The main reason I choose these last three videos was because of the diverse content. The first video is from the perspective of a black man, addressing the negative image of black women in the media. Although this video is a attempts to illustrate that some men do see the portrayal of women as negative and are willing to do something about it, I also feel the narrator's use of claiming that black men need to "stand up for their women" alludes to women as property. He also suggest in his video, which is only him interviewing into the camera, that men need to "be men" and fight for their women, even going as far as showing anger and aggression. One of the main problems in society today, I feel, is the male is becoming increasingly dominant and aggressive, especially towards women. Many time, without them realizing that they are doing so, such as in this video. This aggressive, male dominant, claim my territory, fight for my property, take my wife type attitude is exactly what IS driving the violence circle in today's society. How many young black men watch this video and leave with the idea that they need to treat all women with respect and equality? Probably none! Instead, they probably leave with this idea that they need to protect and defend what is theirs, including women. This portrayal of woman as objects and property is part of the escalating violence against women and men in this society. Did you know that women can earn a badge in girl scouts for parenting? Then why, I ask, can't young men earn the same badge for parenting as a boy scout? Not manly enough? Sorry for the rant. (Note: Some profanity is used)

The next video I viewed was focused on the image of Asian and black women. This video, I felt, was very well put together and raised a lot of concerns in the media. As the video claims, the Asian woman is, many times, viewed as "exotic, beautiful, long black hair, sexual, and exotic" and black women are viewed as "having booty, exotic in a native sense, sex slave, and sensual". The video shows many examples of Asian and Black women in the media and does a great job of tying it back to interview questions. I would highly recommend viewing this video:

The last video I chose depicted the sexuality of women in cartoons, a very interesting look at the images and idea conveyed in Disney and other animated movies. Set to some funky music, the collection of video clips does raise some discussion as to the impact on our young through cartoons:

October 19, 2008

Post 6: Media Ethnography

For this week's post I chose to do a media ethnography study on a popular online role playing MMog (massively multiplayer online game) known as City of Heroes / City of Villains. A friend of mine has an account, whereas he makes monthly payments of about $15.00 in order to play. He graciously allowed me to “play? and chat for research.

The first thing you do in the game is create a character, a super hero, which has several different options, including type of hero, beginning powers, costume, body type, accessories, etc. I was pretty surprised at the amount of options. For my test run, I created “Blog Man? (see figure 1), a 7 foot “tanker? (tough guy) with tattoos, sunglasses, long hair, and wielding a giant battle axe, a far cry from my middle age, out of shape, 5’6? portly physique wielding, at most, a stout copy of Dickenson or a gel pen as weaponry.


I must say, I found a certain fascination in creating an “identity? of my own. After I created “Blog Man,? I looked at all the different creation options. Interestingly, I found the options to be limited and geared towards the idea of image. For example, the options for male character physique was “thin?, “muscular?, “massive?, or “average?, which was also muscular defined. The female character creation was even worse, with categories such as “thin?, “cute?, “sexy?, etc, with costumes options of crop-top shirts, mini skirts, bikini bottoms, fishnet stocking, stiletto heels, etc. (see figure 2) With the amount of young people playing games like these, it’s very disturbing to see the character’s attire focused on sex appeal.


Note: According to NC Soft, the creators of City of Heroes, in regards to the amount of users: “As of June 2008, City of Heroes has around 137,028 subscribers in the US & Europe, according to financial reports released by NCsoft in August 2008.?

After creating my character, I played the game for a short period of time where I observed and chatted with the other virtual players on-line. There seemed to be a certain lingo spoken between the characters (members) of the game, using acronyms such as “lvl 4 scrapp lft?, which my friend explained meant a level 4 scrapper (type of character) was looking for a team to be on. In the figure below (figure 3), it shows that if members did not adhere to a certain “etiquette? (such as getting characters killed) that other members would report the behavior to the game designers. I guess the game makers can choose to ban users from the system for “inappropriate? behavior.


While playing, I interviewed a few of the characters and asked why they chose their particular character. One female character “ Bladed Mint?(figure 4) told me that in real lfe she was only fourteen years old, and that she liked her character because all the boy characters thought she was “hot?. Not only was this fourteen year old girl playing the character of a fairy princess in bikini bottoms and fishnet stiletto heels, but she was on-line at midnight on a Sunday night before school.


Another character, “Facesmasher? told me that he was actually a male in real life playing the role of a female. When I asked him why, he replied, “because guy characters with give chic characters free stuff, equipment, weapons, etc.? He went on to tell me that his girlfriend plays this game and he hates it because now she acts and dresses more like her character in the game, which gives her a lot more attention from other boys. This adaptation matches the reversal statement Richard Beach makes about how players “shape the identities of their avatars to succeed within the game community?… and develop social connections with other players.? (Beach 59). In real life, his girlfriend was finding “success? with getting boys attention by adapting her City of Heroes character’s physical qualities and demeanor, much like what was occurring in the game.


While playing the game, I noticed many of the other characters ranged in level and experience. Many of the “noobs? (new players) like myself, had to ask a lot of questions in order to navigate the game. This is similar to Beach’s statement: “In web-based computer games, players participate with varied abilities and expertise, a characteristic that mirrors the reality of lived worlds.? (Beach 59). I also I noticed the more “villains? I killed, the higher the level I attained, which also increased my experience points and gave me more “powers?. This social structure of the game was interesting, there were several players willing to help out the new players and many others who were content on letting the “noob’s? suffer like they did.


After playing the game for a while, I went to a City of Heroes Forum chat room.


The forum was divided into several distinct categories and threads. Because I had just created a character, I decided to observe and explorer the “Character Descriptions Thread.? In this thread were various posts where people shared the descriptions of their newly created characters. Interestingly, many of the descriptions matched stereotypes of adolescent behavior, and when I interviewed a few “characters? they stated that their characters did tend to behave like them, but often times look very different. Below is a few examples of the thread. Ella for example, stated that she “takes a lot of pride in her appearance and tries to dress nice whenever she can? and that she is “currently having extreme personality shifts so at times she may be cold and confident, and at others weak and vulnerable.? I couldn’t track down the real “Ella? but another girl on a City of Heroes chat stated after reading Ella description, “Yeah, that’s how a lot of us teenage girls feel… we have mood shifts because we don’t know what we want? (“Brandy? - CoH chat).

The second character, “Experiment 2.0? also describes an emotional aspect of adolescence: “He has blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin from being VERY anti-social and mostly inside, and a pretty short temper.? The third example I found describes himself as:
“Shane is seventeen and has your standard all-American looks with a dark tan. He is tall, standing at 6’ 2?... “Shane goes on to say: “When not in uniform he dresses as if he stepped out of ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ catalogue?, reiterating the importance of fashion and appearance in the “real world? --- there is no Abercrombie and Fitch store in the game.



Name: Ella
--No last name recorded.

Thread: Anti-Hero 101

Ella in Flight

Ella is a small (5’ 2) thin girl with long flowing all white hair that naturally curls and flawless snow white skin except the starburst pattern around her left eye. Ella appears to be 17-18 years old in physical maturity. (Mentally is a whole other story). Ella’s face and all white eyes are extremely expressive, as Ella is at the core an extremely emotional person.

Ella’s finger and toe nails and the starburst pattern around her left eye change color depending on what Ella is wearing or touching. Her hair does the same to a lesser degree only picking up the highlights of that color.

Ella releases a small amount of pheromone that isn’t strong enough to be mood altering but is always a smell that is associated with something pleasant to the one smelling it.

Ella weighs less than the human average of a girl her size tipping the scale at 70-80 pounds a factor in this maybe that Ella’s tears (milky white) and blood do not obey gravity and tend to free float. She also has a unique bone structure that is stronger and lighter than normal human bones, though this hasn’t been discovered yet.

Ella takes a lot of pride in her appearance and tries to dress nice whenever she can. Until recently, Ella had a problem with modesty that is she wasn’t and often ran (or flew) around in various states of undress.

Most of Ella’s powers manifest with a golden glow. Be it her super strength or her energy auras. Even her heal other manifest with glowing golden bubbles that float toward the intended target. The strong glow forms a halo like aura around her head when she manifests her powers.

Ella is currently having extreme personality shifts so at times she may be cold and confident, and at others weak and vulnerable.


Name: John Ballard.
A.K.A.: Experiment 2.0.

First well-known appearance: Game of Cosmic Chess.
Has Appeared in: Game of Cosmic Chess; Final Fight; 24 Hour Virus; When the World Broke; Crown of Thorns; Super Hero 101 (Cameo.); Meeting of the Minds; And more.

Experiment 2.0: In Flight.

John Ballard: Testing out flight physics.

Experiment in Battle Armour: Ain't it purdy?

Commonly, Experiment 2.0 will wear red armour while on patrol as a hero, with small dashes of different colours so as to not be totally red. He almost always wears a cape, making it known to all of his heroic deeds up to that point. At times, he even seems to have a glow of heroicness, but most say that is simply his armour reflecting the sun and blinding people. (His blue glow on the first costume is this 'heroic glow' thing. It is not mentioned in RPs because it is not visible.)

He wears goggles on his head to either aid in keeping insects out of his eyes, or cover up said eyes in case of explosions. He also wears a PDA on his wrist at times to help him in various situations, but he normally just carries it around in one of his many pockets.

The armour he wears is paneled, split up with each single panel to allow it to slide. This is needed for the hero's spines, his main power, to work. The panels slide from the known areas that spines are to extract from, and voila, shish-ka-2.0.

2.0's powers consist of spines, given through a scientific experiment conducted by a mysterious man named 'Dr. Shimmer' in Crey Industries, and an armour of darkness which usually awakens in extreme anger, danger, or when he is really moody. The rest of his abilities are natural, along with technological advancements like jets, stealth apparatus, and a small device which is unknown as of yet to be based off of 2.0's meetings with Crey and advanced with his diagnostic of Essex in the game of Cosmic Chess, with which he had no idea with what he used to advance it.

He has blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin from being VERY anti-social and mostly inside, and a pretty short temper. He makes jokes about fighting villains, and will help his allies to the end, but piss him off enough, and he will go beserk ((As Hal learned in GoCC when 2.0 tried to kill him and Burning because of Prodder's deception.))

Main hero: Experiment 2.0 Level 30 Spines/Dark Scrapper. (Semi-retired)

Main villain: Blind Messenger Level 22 Necro/Dark Mastermind.

Name: Shane Brennan
--No Hero Name as to date

Thread: SuperHero 101

Shane in Uniform

Shane Casual

Shane is seventeen and has your standard all-American looks with a dark tan. He is tall, standing at 6’ 2?. His eyes are storm grey, but have been known to glow white with lightning when upset and he is manifesting his powers. His hair is kept very short and is a bright blonde.

When not in uniform he dresses as if he stepped out of ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ catalogue. He also tends to dress in layers as he has been known to set his clothes on fire with his abilities. He doesn’t have any heroic costume yet.

October 12, 2008

Post 5: Media Representation

Media Representation:

The media representation of masculinity has changed over the years. Men are increasingly viewed as being wither powerful and authoritative, or smooth-talking exploiters of women. In shows like Two and a Half men, Charlie is looked upon as a ladies man. He is constantly chasing different wonen and sleeping with them (many of them already married). Charlie does not seem to view women as anything more than a sexual conquest. The other male character (the name escapes me) is the father of the boy on the show. He is portrayed as weak and easily manipulated by women. It seems these shows need to typecast men as one extreme of the other.

Even in television commercials for kids, men are portrayed differently. For example, the size of kids action figures has increased dramatically over the last ten years. The commercials of the 70’s and 80’s showed action figures like superman, captain America, etc. with relatively medium physique and muscle structure. The action figures of today are shown as large, massive figures with arm and legs muscles disproportionate to their bodies. Through this imagery, the idea of power is stressed to young men. With the nation becoming increasingly more violent, these commercials and products actual promote masculine dominance.

In other sources, such as Psychology Today, men are analyzed by self image. Whereas airbrushed, studio-model fantasies of unattainable physical perfection make women feel worse about their bodies; and they aren't much good for men either.

Psychologists Deborah Schooler and L. Monique Ward analyzed the media habits, self-image and sexual experience of 184 college males. While media consumption doesn't seem to affect satisfaction with body size and shape, guys who take in the most music videos, prime-time TV and men's magazines are much less comfortable with bodily functions, sweat and hair.

As with women, men uncomfortable with their bodies avoid emotional intimacy and take more sexual risks. According to Schooler, "It's unclear if there's a change in the images men are seeing, in men's body image generally, or if we're now finally asking the right questions." (Psychology Today).

September 29, 2008

Post 4: Critical Approaches to Media Texts

Chapter 4 of Teaching Media Literacy by Richard Beach touched on various critical approaches to media texts. The main focus of this chapter was to illustrate the different approaches and ideologies that the media can take to “help students adopt a critical stance in responding to media texts? (Beach 33). I especially like the educational philosophy of this chapter, stating that “students must reach beyond their own initial engagement responses of simple likes or dislikes if they are to critically analyze media texts? (Beach 33). Although the media is often portrayed as containing inappropriate messages, I do think there is a lot of beneficial media to help educate the youth of today.
The first approach the book talks about is the audience analysis or rhetorical approach to media which examines how media texts use “language, signs, and images to position audiences to adopt certain desired responses, beliefs, or practices? (34). I thought this approach was similar to that of the psychoanalytical, whereas the media is attempting to get in the head of the audience by using images and sounds to excite certain areas of the brain. I think you see this a lot in television and magazine ads. For example, I just recently saw an ad in a magazine for a car company showing a half naked woman wrestling another woman in a bikini. Honestly, what does this have to do with automobiles? The only reason the women were placed in that ad was to get in the mind of the audience to think that maybe having this car will get you attention from beautiful women.
The next approach talks about the semiotic analysis, which focuses on the social and cultural meaning of signs and codes and the narrative approach, which looks at structures or patterns. I found this article interesting in describing how red does not mean stop in all countries. I think the media seems to take an American approach to advertising and very often, do not have sensitivity to others. I also found the narrative part interesting in how genre can influence the interpretation of a theme.
The third critical approach is the poststructuralist approach, which examines “how language categories in media texts themselves influence character and audience’s perceptions? (37). This approach seems to me, to focus a lot on the themes of messages, like good versus evil or right versus wrong. I think this approach could be a very powerful approach in advertising to young audiences. Many children are told what right and wrong is, however, are not often “shown? what the difference is. The media could utilize their range to show young people what is right or wrong.
The fourth approach dealt with critical discourse analysis which looks at media through different lenses or languages. For example, how we view the current political ads will be considerably different if you are a democrat or a republican. The view would be completely different.
The fifth approach the text mentioned was the psychoanalytical approach, whereas the meaning of the text or media is shaped by “subconscious desires, needs and fears? (34) of the individual. I found this article very interesting, especially in regards to the “male gaze? concept. As you watch television shows, ads, and commercials, you can see how advertisers use this as a spin, constantly bombarding young males with images of half nude women and provocative content. It bothers me that the media claims that these images don’t have an impact on young men. This is the approach I chose to be become an “expert? on. After researching the topic, I found it very troubling, although not to surprising, that many people have actually recorded “trauma? from viewing to graphic or explicit media. There have been reports that media imagery of sexual content has inadvertently lead to adultery and the breakdown of interpersonal relationships. O course, the media denies such claims, stating that different viewers perceive imagery differently. Exactly! How an image of a “desperate housewife? is perceived by me is completely different than someone else. I find it absolutely repulsive that the media is allowed to have such shows and even more disturbing that they say there is not that much of an effect on society. In my opinion, the media is the main source of the breakdown of society and the increase of negative social norms and incidences.
The next approach looks at the feminists analysis of the media, which I also chose as a topic of “expertise.? Before I went into the teaching program, I worked in a Women’s Safehouse, known as the Hope Center. My job title was Domestic Violence Child Expert and my job was to work with children on issues of violence and bullying. One of the videos we often showed to young audiences was the same book mentioned in the book, Killing US Softly 3, a phenomenal video showing the impact of media on women and the effect on both women and men. One on the interesting topics in the video deals with the image of the female and male in the media. For example, even children’s action figures have changed drastically over the year, with the male figure increasing in muscular size by at least six fold, stressing the need for power and reinforcing the idea of control and dominance. And who do you think these young men are dominating? Women! Women on the other hand are show much more petite and disproportioned in the bust and hip area. The idea that a good percent of women shown in the media are digitally enhanced is disturbing, considering so many young women strive to match this “unrealistic? look.
The seventh approaches deal with postmodern approaches, whereas the approach looks at the ideas of “progress?, “human improvement?, “enriching technology.? This approach looks at an ideal of becoming better, which certainly has its benefits, however, it also stereotypes an egotistical image of “better?, primarily alluding to western culture ideals.
The last approach is the postcolonial analysis, which examines ways in which “colonial or imperialist conceptions of the world are portrayed in literature and media texts? (42). This approach deals with looking at the rest of the world as more of a “third world? or as very “different? from the norm. This approach, I believe, is a very dangerous approach because it isolates the western culture from the rest of the world, a concept far from the idea of uniting the world.

September 22, 2008

Post 3: Film Technique and Criticism

For this assignment, I will be analyzing a scene from the 2006 Alex Henrick film, Facing the Giants. The film is an action-packed drama about a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure.

The scene I chose is titled “Motivation…period? on and can be viewed at

The scene opens with a pan shot from an unfocused goal sign to a medium shot of a group of high school football players carrying other high school football players on their team and a coach leading them in the exercise. All you can hear at this time is the coached barking out encouragement.

The scene then moves to another pan shot that goes to a 2 shot of 2 players sitting on the ground. One player is dumping water over the other players head, setting a tone of playfulness and fun. The next shot shows all the players sitting on the grass with the coach standing in front of them, showing the entire team in a relaxed atmosphere.

The next shot is a close up shot of one of the players asking the coach “ So coach, how strong is West View this year?? Before the coach is able to answer, another close up shot is taken of another player responding “A lot stronger than we are.? The camera then pans from behind the players shoulders in an up shot and focuses on the coach where he give a short speech about them writing off Friday as a lose already. The camera movement and angle establishes the coach as an authority and someone to look up to.

The next shot goes back to the player who states that he doesn’t write it off if he knows they can beat them. The camera goes back to the moving pan shot and the coach call the player and another player up to him. The camera continues to pan around the players and coach is a slow circular motion, building some drama as to what is going to happen.

The next series of shots is a dialogue exchange between the coach and his player, Brock Kelley. In this exchange, the camera switches to over the shoulder angles to the character doing the talking. This establishes some close up views of the coach and Brock’s facial expressions, which lets the audience get a better feel of what they each think of the situation. The coach is telling Brock that he wants him to do another “Death Crawl?, that is, a crawl on your arms and legs with another guy on top of you. The camera does a quick scene to the rest of the team laughing about the exercise.

Another dialogue exchange occurs, again with over the shoulder views. The sound of the voices seem to increase some as the coach emphasizes that he wants him to “do your very best?, challenging Brock to take Jeremy on his back as far as he can down the field.

The next clip shows Brock carrying Jeremy and the coach walking in front. The camera angle is low to the ground, fairly even with Brocks view and slightly up angle so the coach can be seen. The camera also pans or moves with Brock as he moves. I think this gives more of a distance to the movement, showing each steps motion.

During the crawl, the camera angles are shifted to show close ups of Brock or a quick glimpse of the other players sitting and watching, still laughing at him having to do the exercise. As Brock gets farther, the camera shifts to just the coach who is yelling “Your very best, you said you’d give me your very best?

After Brock has gone farther than anyone has before, the camera pans the players on the side who are no longer laughing, but are up on their knees watching intently. As Brock continues to move down the field, the players are show again in medium to long shots in more amazement. The players now rise to their feet as a slow deep inspirational tune begins to play… all the while; the coach is still yelling encouragement.

The next clip is medium shot of the coach dropping to him knees and moving with Brock, yelling even harder. In the background out of focus you can see the rest of the team now waking with Brock and the coach down the sidelines.

In the next clip, Brock makes it into the end zone and he and the coach have another dialogue exchange. Again, the camera angles are from behind the shoulder. The coach tells him about how important he is to the team and if he shows weakness as a leader, so will the rest of the team.

In the final clip, the camera angle shows an establishing shot from above the field, with Brock still on the ground and the coach walking off. The music rises to be the prevalent sound in the scene.

In my classroom, I think a good beginning approach to studying film technique would be to have the students watch a clip scene by scene and note the camera angles, lighting, and sound and jot them down on a notepad. The students could then get into small groups and view the scene again, debating why the director chose those particular techniques. After being able to identify different components of film by analyzing the individual images, I think it would be a great idea to have them make a short film of their own. I think the text is correct in stating that, “by having the students first learn to analyze the composition of single images, they can then understand how images are used within the larger context of a series of moving images? (Beach 22) By putting together their own film, they would better understand the compilation aspect of films.

The following is an analysis of a PSA, which was made at the school I teach at, and I was fortunate enough to work with the production of. The film may be viewed here:

Shot 1: A quick shot of students walking down a crowded hallway with a girls voiceover stating, “Make fun all you want, but I’m the one forced to work with him on this project?

Shot 2: Close up of the girl (Sami) looking in a mirror and putting on makeup, establishing a tone of conceitedness in her personality. Low music begins to play in the background.

Shot 3: Medium shot of other students around Sami’s locker, listening to her complaints.

Shot 4: Close up shot of a side view of a male student with shaggy hair and earrings (“John?). This shows the “victim? whom she is talking about.

Shot 5: Close up of Sami with a disguised look on her face stating, “He’s so disgusting!? Showing these 2 clips close together established the role of the main “bully? and the “victim.?

Shot 6: Close up of “John? and his acknowledgement of what she is saying. He looks devastated.

Shot 7: Medium shot of other students laughing at her comments.

Shot 8: Medium shot of a few more students laughing at “John?, one girl laughing and saying, “Brian just said you should ask him out,? and then laughing even harder.

Shot 9: Another close up front shot of “John? with facial piercing and a very hurt look on his face.

Shot 10: Fade in. The sound slows down a little and all of the background students move in a slow motion effect with Dan as the focal point in the middle. Dan is still moving in real time, giving the fade in and slow motion a dream effect. This is to establish that Dan is having a flash back. This scene also sets a tone that this bullying has happened to “John? a lot more than once.

Shot 11: Over voice of another male voice, asking, “John, John, are you alright??

Shot 12: The music changes to a piano version of a more upbeat tone as “John? and another student, the over voice (Tyler) have a short conversation. The camera angles shifts to over the shoulder angles to show “John? and “Tyler’s? faces as Tyler asked his to come over to his house after the game.

The intervention of “Tyler? establishes “John? being acknowledged as someone.

Shot 13: A fade out to a long shot of the hallway full of students and you can still see “John? faintly smiling as “Tyler? walks away. On the screen the words “Will you S.T.A.N.D?? fade in over the picture. Although the audience does not know what S.T.A.N.D. is an acronym for, it does represent standing up for someone else.

September 15, 2008

Post Two: Letter to the school board

Dear School Board members,
I am writing to you in regards to your recent revision of the Language Arts Curriculum. I can understand your concern for improved test scores and your argument to go “back to basics?, however, I think you may want to reconsider your decision in regards to teaching media studies and media literacy. It is my understanding that the school district currently does not mandate media studies as a class and for the most part, discourages media use in the classroom. Within the Elk River community, however, I think there is a movement for the expansion of media and technology. As one of Minnesota’s premier “Energy Cities?, Elk River is constantly evaluating new technologies for the conservation and use of energy resources. Where do you think the city obtains its research information and connection with cutting edge technology? Through the media is the answer, and as an educator, I think we too need to expand the knowledge of our students through the diverse media tools that we have at our disposal.
As a teacher of Language Arts, I understand the philosophy of wanting to go “back to the basics? and teach the standards of reading and writing, however, I also feel that the basics can be taught through media genres. And how exactly is media literacy taught? Rick Shepherd of Teach Magazine defines media literacy as being taught through “linked analytic and production activities? (Shepherd 93). As with traditional forms of literacy, "reading" and "writing" are learned together. Although many of us think about television when we consider the media, media literacy takes many different forms - TV, radio, film, print, rock music, the Internet and even less obvious forms like fashion, children's toys and dolls, or T-shirts. These forms of media are what today’s generation of student are using every single day. I don’t think we can ignore that.
Apart from philosophic arguments, there are some very strong practical reasons for teaching media literacy in the Language Arts classroom. First of all, it is highly motivating. As I stated earlier, students use various media everyday, therefore, teaching media starts from interests and knowledge that students already have. From my own personal experience, I think students are invariably enthusiastic about media units, and both the quantity and quality of student writing goes up when they write about the media.
Because students generally have more knowledge about the media being studied than even their teachers do, media study tends to democratize the classroom and turn lessons into exploration. I believe our classrooms need to shift from a focus on content transmission to information management and evaluation. As Shepherd states, “The critical thinking that lies at the heart of media literacy is the real lesson of the media literacy class? (Shepherd 93).
Media literacy is also a great natural integrator, involving virtually all areas of the curriculum. Whether students are involved in production or analysis, I believe they make extensive use of language arts skills. For example, when studying classical literature, student s can use technology to connect with other students and debate or compare the textual concepts, given the student closer insight to the meaning and interpretation of the literature. When analyzing historical literature, students may access libraries and resources from other countries, given them a much deeper understanding and appreciation for world literature and the significance of world events. It should be noted as well that the Minnesota Department of Education has also addressed this issue and have incorporated media literacy as a component of the Minnesota State Education Standards.
Values and attitudes are also always embedded in media texts, which also model behaviors and social structures for children. I do agree that all forms of media need to be dealt with critically, but to dismiss their use, I feel, would do a disservice to the education of today’s youth. The fact is that media occupies a central role in this society. Media study fulfills most of the objectives of an integrated curriculum. The question is really not whether we should study the media, but why it is taking us so long to do it.

September 8, 2008

Post One: Media Literacy

After reading the chapter from Beach’s book Teaching Media Literacy, viewing the different videos, and participating in the on-line chat within our group, it is more evident than ever to me how important media literacy is. I think it’s extremely important to identify that we are definitely in an electronic age and that media has a profound effect on the youth of today. More children are savvy on how to find information on a computer than they are visiting a local library, however, with this new exposure to information, there comes many different problems and concerns.
During our chat, we talked extensively about the second video we viewed with the clay animation. The video brought about some very interesting viewpoints and, I thought, showed how dangerous media can be. When the main character’s words were taken out of context and relayed to the public as completely different than what she said, the validity of media was put into question. Over the last few years I was blessed with being able to teach computer application courses and have seen first hand how much internet media can skew education. In my Computer Applications I course for 9th grade I did a unit on internet validity. First, I had friend of mine, an 11th grade student, make up some information and post it to Wikipedia, a very common site students use for report writing. On Wikipedia, this student made a posting for the Canadian-American War of 1978. I was shocked to see how many 9th grade students believed the information to be correct just because it was posted on Wikipedia. This just goes to show how powerful of an influence the “information superhighway? has on the education of our youth. Because of the lack of regulation on the internet, it can be very difficult to verify information to be correct, therefore, teaching media literacy and the power, as well as the danger, is extremely important.
Also within our chat group we discussed a little about the different classroom approaches to using media. I have observed many teachers who use videos form youtube as a means to “fill? classroom time instead of utilizing it to enhance instruction. I think websites like youtube, teachertube, or other video streaming websites can be a powerful source of education. When teaching about the civil rights movement, being able to view Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech? can be very motivating. However, I also feel like it can be abused. In order to use technology and the media, I think it need to be a companion to the learning process and not a reliance. A lengthy discussion or a response paper from viewing media can illustrate the students understanding and internal feeling associated with the viewing. By not having the students do anything except watch the video, I think the learning aspect is lost. Also, I feel students are less motivated to pay close attention to media literacy if they are not accountable for the content. It was really interesting to hear what other people’s views were on this subject, but all of us were in some kind of agreement that the media needs to, in the least, be discussed after viewing.
I thought the unit in the book about helping students engage with, judge, and appreciate the media texts explained very well how important it is to get feedback from students from media sources. I also felt it was important to allow the students to be able to judge the media literature themselves. By doing this, they are beginning to question validity and quality of media. By taking an open response to different sources of media, I think students develop a much stronger opinion of what is “good? media versus invalid, low-quality productions or products. Through a process of evaluation and judging the students can develop a means of empowering themselves to make better choices and decisions. Through all of these topics, I found myself becoming more aware of the importance of teaching and using media literacy.