I found the discussion on Wednesday to be extremely useful is showing the "white trash" side of the middle class views and how the middle class had become more naturalized. But for as many examples as the class gave of shows depicting this middle class lifestyle, I think it we should also look at the opposite side of the spectrum. I feel like as often as we are seeing shows with middle class families we are also beginning to see more and more shows showing families with a ridiculous amount of wealth. Gossip Girl which is about rich white families and students who sport designer outfits, have personal drivers- basically the best of every, show an extreme side of what life could be. As average middle class we are used to identifying with shows like Rosanne and maybe even King of the Hill as far as relating, but making shows with such extreme wealth is an interesting opposition to the naturalized view of middle class families. Another example of how wealthy has become more prevalent is in "reality" TV shows. Shows like the Real Housewife series (which I am unashamed to say I love) are ironically trying to depict what is real in the United States when the true reality is that shows like Rosanne depict it best with a normal working class family. This outlandish lifestyle of first class everything, diamonds, and big-boobed blonde trophy wives offer an escape for what we know to be a reality. Is that why they do so well ratings wise? Because we are sick of, or maybe just used to, seeing our own lives reflected in shows like Rosanne and we are trying to break out of the middle class TV mold?
February 2013 Archives
On Wednesday we talked about Essentialism and how it ties in with Rosanne's remark "Poor white trash". As Bettie states, whiteness is referred to the middle class. The assumption is that when whiteness becomes a 'problem' it needs to be named and the problem "trash" meaning in poverty or poor. One thing I'm curious about is when other races use terms like "ghetto" or "fob" (Fresh off the boat). The word ghetto is often used by Blacks and the word fob is used by Asians. It's interesting because when we think of "ghetto", we often think of black people and how it immediately ties in with "poverty" especially when it is used to describe something or someone. Same thing goes for the word "fob", used to describe asian immigrants. When the term is used, immediately we think of asian immigrants who cannot speak English. These are all examples of essentialism because we assume these characteristics are tied in with the identity race. As for the unmarked identity, these racialized term are both assumed of a lower class. Although I liked the fact that Bettie talks about identity and identity markers in relationship to essentialism, I would of liked it if she also talked about how these terms are seen from other cultures and races.
Before reading the Butsch article, I was not aware of the connection between advertising and a show getting on the air. It makes sense that TV networks want to play it safe and air programs that will appeal to advertisers. When Butsch mentions that advertisers want to "glamorize their products" it is understandable that they would not want them to be associated with an unglamorous show. Another point in this reading is that, given the middle-class background of most TV producers, creating a show about working-class characters would be too time-consuming. "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 finds interesting." So he is saying that the shows that make it onto a major network are a reflection of the views that these middle-class producers have on life, and other views are usually ignored, which is sad because it means that shows are created from the same, narrow class perspective.
I really enjoyed the Beattie article. I watched Roseanne a lot when I was a kid and, being from a working-class family, I remember feeling like it was the only show that I could somewhat relate to on a personal level. In the reading, Bettie says that one of the biggest reasons for the show's popularity was because viewers thought the Connors were like "real" people "as opposed to the 'middle-class characters of most sitcoms.'" That was how I felt when I was a kid, like the Connors could be people who lived next door, or in my neighborhood. There was one thing that I did not point out when I was leading the discussion on this reading. In the 1980s one of the most popular shows on TV was an NBC show called Family Ties. It featured a middle-class Midwestern family. In one episode, the father (who is the manager of the local public television station) brings home a painting from an art auction held at the station. He says he felt bad because it was the only painting that was not sold. The painting is of dogs playing poker, just like the one the Connor family has hanging in their living room on Roseanne. Obviously, the Connor family likes this painting, or else it wouldn't be in their living room. On Family Ties, however, the father (who really doesn't like the painting that much) shows the painting to his wife and says something like "I don't know, I thought maybe we could put it over the fireplace" and she looks at it (obviously disgusted) and says "How about in the fireplace?" Throughout the rest of the episode, the father tries to hang the painting in the kids' bedrooms and they all get angry about it and tell him to find somewhere else to put it. That is one way in which shows that try to portray their characters as "classless" end up making a statement on class, whether it is intended or not.
I am now viewing television in a whole new way because of our readings and discussions that took place this last week. I was oblivious to the ever popular "buffoon" character being a regular appearance for the vast majority of television shows. I mean, I always knew that every show had to have a goofy character for comedic relief, but I didn't see that this character is also usually correlated with being "dumb," or "incapable." But time and time again we see these characters reemerging. Is it because we have grown comfortable with the "buffoon" character and now we expect to see someone fill that role on every show? Why isn't there a sarcastic and hilarious CEO on screen? These generalized roles are ever more evident after reading Bettie and Butsch.
With that said, I also find the topic of race and class to be a sensitive subject in regards to television standards. Typically, I don't pay attention to these things either, but I am in awe of how many shows broadcast this "standard." It's almost discriminatory how these typified characters are portrayed to be real people. For example, on Wednesday we spoke about the racially loaded term "white trash" that is frequently used on Roseanne. I learned as a young child that if I don't have anything nice to say, then not to say it at all. I'm offended that she sees herself in this light and has the audacity to consider herself of that standard. Frankly, this isn't a message that should be put on television, despite the "humor" that accompanies it. I don't think its funny to mock the working class in this way.
I never really thought about or notice the stereotypes that are on TV before, until after these two readings. People race, gender, and social class are definitely a big part of television. When I watch TV, I don't really care what is on TV I just watch something for the sake of watching TV and to kill time. Now that I have read and thought about it, there seems to be a male buffoon on almost all sitcom. An example would Tim Allen, his character on Home Improvements was always getting hurt because he would not do things "normally" like his friend would suggest and did it his way which was foolish or stupid. I don't know if I am using this key term correctly but I think this sitcom had an androcentric view because its focus was on Tim the father, who usually took care of all the issues at home and work. The wife's role seemed to be limited in the show. The second article was interesting because in order to portray the working class better they needed to make sure that the character's weight appropriate by finding heavier set people. I don't understand why they had to do it this way, I never really follow the show closely but every time I watched it I thought it was really annoying because she would talk so loud.
This was a one day week for me, so I can not write about what happened Wednesday, but I can speak over the reading. I spoke in my response about how the male buffoon is a common theme among sitcom television, and I really hadn't noticed that until now. I spoke about how Family Guy is another perfect example of a middle class family where the father figure was portrayed as a stupid character. He may be loving, and he may mean well, but he is often stupid and makes poor decisions, especially with money. Peter is often buying extravagant items that the family can not afford like helicopters and tanks.
The second reading over Rosanne was also interesting. The episode that we watched really helped the reading come together. Rosanne is a show where the family doesn't really have that much money. This is shown by their house, their body types, and the way that they talk. I thought it was interesting how it was written that the body types were selected because a fatter person portrays the middle class better. This is stereotypical obviously, but I totally agree that it further pushes the illusion. I also thought it was interesting that Rosanne was very aware of their economic status, and she made comments on it constantly throughout the show. This was very different from other sitcoms.
I found the whole idea of stereotypes on tv to be very interesting. One thing that came to mind when talking about the white male buffoon role, is the television show Parks and Recreation. I think that this show is a great example of how to avoid the male buffoon stereotype. I think the evolution of the shows main character Leslie Knope is the perfect example of avoiding the stereotype. In the first season, which is only six episodes, Leslie Knope is practically a female reproduction of Michael Scott (the white male buffoon from The Office, a show with the same producer), but at the beginning of the second season before it was too late for the character they did a complete reverse with Leslie, making her a strong empowered female character, that in my opinion is one of the best, if not the best role models on television right now. While the character Andy could be seen as a buffoon character, he still has a lot more depth and smarts than the typical stereotype, and continuously surprises other characters on the show by what he is able to do, when they don't expect much from him. I was just wondering if anyone else who watches the show feels the same way about how they transformed Leslie away from the stereotype or if there are any other shows that come to mind that successfully avoids the white male buffoon stereotype.
Unfortunately I was unable to make it to Wednesdays discussion due to a spontaneous killer cold. BUT! I wanted to talk a little about how this idea of the "Buffoon" has been hereditarily passed through years of television. There are imminent themes of dumbness in relation to gender that are so evident throughout common television shows. The Office, Family Guy, King of Queens, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Even more serious television shows featured on more exclusive channels like Shameless show some sort of patriarch with nonchalant and irresponsible behaviors. I almost feel that this theme gives men a bad reputation. There are plenty of women that play into the roles men play on television. If women can fall in love with Edward Cullen because of his mysteriousness, then they can just as easily begin to look down on men for being portrayed in such dumb and "buffoonish" roles. For another example, women have been portrayed in domesticated and motherly roles for years, and now- people associate housework and the caring of children with women. Still, women in television are becoming the more dominant characters of the household. Television rarely promotes egalitarianism in family households, that broken families are now monopolizing television shows. Its a shame that the nuclear family is somewhat disappearing, and broken families are more relatable to audiences.
I found all of the articles and discussions this week to be very interesting. Especially Butsch's article about the working-class buffoon role present in many media texts. I remember in class talking about why the working class is usually presented as buffoonish and as someone to laugh at. I was trying to figure out why this is true in media today. What I realized was we, as media consumers, are looking to be entertained by TV and movies. We want to experience something new and interesting that we wouldn't have the opportunity to experience in our own lives. If you look at some of the most popular shows on TV right now some stand out as being very far from what any of us will likely experience in our lives. Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Weeds are some of the big ones. We want to believe that our lives could potentially be immensely different if given the chance. When we see the working-class featured in media, they are not in a serious or dramatic context, because we don't aspire to be working-class. We aspire to have exciting and unique lives so we classify the working-class as less than ideal. Because of this we tend to look down on them and, as Americans tend to do, we make fun of them, make fun of their lifestyles. It's a sad realization, but also an interesting way to decipher the issue of class difference in the media.
I found the class discussions and screening especially useful in understanding readings from Bettie and Butcsh this week. The concepts of intersectionality, essentialism, and ideological hegemony are the big take-away points for me. I find that I encounter essentialist and ideologically hegemonic points of view in many facets of life, be it personal, academic, or professional. While we are in a time where we are expected to have a broad and global perspective, and work in integrated, interdisciplinary fields there are still some heavy unspoken norms present - no matter where you look, and not just in the media.
Although how these concepts can be applied to media literacy can be crucial because we must consider that any media text has the potential to reach a very large population, especially network television. Television shows like Roseanne are not intended for only working class or middle and upper class audiences. Because they are designed to appeal to a broad audience base these shows have an even greater potential to reinforce problematic views in the class structure. I think it is here that the concept of intersectionality is useful in understanding how the images of race, class, and gender can be perceived by diverse audiences.
A white, male working class individual is likely to have a different reading of the show than a black, male, working class individual, and so on. While I do agree with Bettie that Roseanne breaks from the established trope of the working class family in television to extent, I still feel the program is problematic because it relies on negative portrayals of race, class, and gender demographics that are experienced by many. Whether we are laughing at ourselves, or laughing at others.
I enjoyed the readings about the representation of social class in Butsch's and Bette's writings this week. I always wonder why they portray class in the sit-com examples we watched in class, such as The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, and Roseanne. Just as Butsch states in his article, the male characters are coming from lower class status, and acting like buffons in everyday life. However, is this really an accurate portrayal of how the working class, blue collar workers act today? I think we enjoy these crazy characters and others like them for pure entertainment. We see them acting ridiculous with their spouses, at their jobs, and struggling to make ends meet. I think these shows are funny in order to make the working class hardships just another part of life, and we just embrace them instead of look down upon them. I think another common theme from Bette's article was the change of the working class family, and the women of the house becoming employed as pink collar workers in order to help in financial hardships. I think it shows the power for women, but at the same time, she mentions that these women are working jobs that men used to work for less wages. This exemplifies the reoccurring theme in class of white male power in society, and how colonialism changes society. Finally, I thought the links we found to upperclass families and working class coming together in one show, such as Boy Meets World and The OC to showcase the power of the wealthy. In these shows, the less wealthy individuals are more likely to get in trouble, and need to be "saved" by the upper class citizens in the town. Is this truly represented in society today? Overall, both articles and class discussion opened my eyes to classism in television and other media texts, and how much it can impact our viewpoints today.
What I'm interested about from this week is how class has been constructed in order for people to put stereotypical claims to certain groups of people, based solely on the socio-economic class affiliated with the characters of certain television shows. In Butsch's piece, the idea of the "working class buffoon" was talked about as well as how that idea implicates the female role in the household of working classed families. I found that article interesting because the females in the shows Butsch talked about tended to be strong characters who had a lot of pull in what the family planned and how the family operated. This idea seemed to go with Bettie's piece about the show "Roseanne" because of the idea of a strong willed female character who wasn't passive. While Butsch focuses on the "buffoon" aspect of the working class, Bettie looks more towards the "real life" aspects that "Roseanne" displayed while staying away from the stereotypical working class "buffoon". I also really enjoyed reading about how Roseanne Arnold created such a large fan base from "Roseanne". The idea of having a strong character who was so like the real world lives of other working class people was a good idea for fans to grab hold of and appreciate. The two articles from this week made me think critically about the implications of displaying different types of spins on the working class. by having the working class shown on television for many people to consume, it seems as if the way people from the working class are displayed doesn't necessarily fit the actual mold the working class fits into. I also find it interesting because so many of the people consuming these television shows don't belong to the working class, but rather the middle class.
Please post your discussion questions to Bettie below and use the following to guide your note-taking:
1. What does Bettie mean by the "longstanding, ideological representation of the US as a classless society" (126)? Why is this a problem for Bettie?
2. What does Bettie mean by "unmarked" when she discusses the categories of whiteness and maleness (126)? Why does this matter to media studies?
3. How does Bettie view "responsibility" in the representation of working class themes (131)? What, for her, would count as "responsible" representation as you understand it?
4. What is the ideological functioning of rhetoric of "the family" in debates over class and wages? How do empirical realities complicate this ideology? Why does this matter (132-134)?
5. How, for Bettie, are class and gender performed on Roseanne? (135-136)? How does Bettie view these arguments/performances as enacting a cultural politics (137)?
6. How is class racialized, according to Bettie? How does she unpack Roseanne's phrase "poor white trash" (139-140)? What does she mean, in this context, by "unmarked," naturalized, visible and invisible? What do you think?
After reading this article by Butsch I never really put much thought into the characters and how family life was structured. Now that I have I can totally understand what he is saying in the article. I also did not realize when I use to watch these shows on TV how similar to each other many of them were at the time. The way some shows portray the working husband as a profession who brings home the money. While the wife stays home and tends to the house and the children. Or in cases like "I Love Lucy, the husband is still the professional mature working man but Lucy is portrayed as a "buffoon." This quote stuck out to me, "Inverting gender status in working class but not middle - class sitcoms is a statement about class." I am wondering how these types of sitcoms came about and why they were structured the way they are. Today I can name a few shows like Modern Family and The Middle, which are similar and different at the same time. Both shows involve families with three kids and going through every day struggles. But one family (Modern Family) is upper to middle class, with more "modern" types of families displayed. Such as divorced, gay and remarried relationships. Phil one of the main characters is portrayed as a "buffoon" in the show. The Middle is a lower class family, where both parents do not have promising jobs and do not bring home a lot of money. I am interested to see how sitcoms then and now have changed? What is different about them and are their any that are still just like some of the shows back then.
While reading this article, I never actually thought about the characters being all similar with similar jobs. I remember the article stating how sometimes the jobs characters were given were just because of what the writers were familiar with, not necessarily for any given purpose. It reminded me of my TV show last year, when my partner and I were writing character bios, and we just sort of randomly picked a job more so than it to mean anything. It also made me think of the stereotypes we see in television, and how they keep getting regurgitated into everything we see. One example I can think of is a favorite show of mine Fringe. Olivia Dunham is the main character, and a woman who is an FBI agent, and more of the action hero, contrary to the typical stereotype. Due the the complexity of the show and the bio-science events that pertain to the show, she still needs the expert scientist and his son to explain to her all the nitty gritty details. Do you think even shows that try to push past the stereotypes still fall into others more subtly because they really can't draw away from it?
This article was interesting, because it brought to light the look we get from television on middle class families. Another example that wasn't discussed in the article was the show "Family Guy". Peter is the father who sometimes wants the best for his family, but really makes a lot of poor decisions, and is very dumb.
I have learned about advertisements controlling what is put on the air, but it is really shocking to see just how much they control. I see how it's possible, however, because they truly are the income of the network. Are there any other popular examples of advertisements completely controlling what went on the air?
Happy Sunday Everyone! This article was really informative. Actually, It kind of made me annoyed that there is so much control in EVERYTHING that we watch! The networks are like that one boyfriend that controls everything that you do because he thinks its "better" for the relationship... Pff. The article states, "Using their market power, the networks have maintained sweeping control over production decisions of even highly successful producers from initial idea for a new program to final film or tape". My question is, why all the fuss? I mean, I know its because of money and risk. But I find it somewhat offensive that this world that they've created of chosen media is all repetitive. I'm confused because i feel that advertising is all about pushing the envelope, but in television, they only allow shows to air which they know to be replicas of past successful shows. Its kind of weird because I never really noticed this about television. But it is somewhat true that our shows follow a theme based on advertisers and the pressure to stick to familiar concepts.
Both of the readings for this week talk about rationalizations for colonialism. One of the main reasons given for the justification of colonialism was the "civilization" of those in the colonized nations. Colonial nostalgia is one of the ways that white people justified colonialism, ignoring all of the negative aspects that came with it. The notion of "otherness" that we discussed in class was key to the practice of colonialism. The people of Africa, for example, were seen as separate from whites due to their perceived inferiority. This perceived inferiority was also a way of justifying the mistreatment and exploitation of Africans. Racial stereotypes were perpetuated over the years and allowed colonialism to continue. The idea of whiteness being "normal" and everything else being inferior was a theory that made it easier for whites to continue colonization efforts, because white men believed that they were more "appropriately masculine" than men in the colonized nations.
The McClintock reading also talks about the "common sense" approach to imperialism. She says that imperialism was not only about economics, but also about culture. I was unaware of the obsession with cleanliness in England during the Victorian era and did not realize how extreme the ads for soap were. It is very sad to read about advertisements said to work so well that they can even turn a black person's skin white, and therefore improve that person. The Pears' soap ad with the white boy helping the black boy "remove" his blackness stood out. Today, it is so sad to think that at one time the sentiment behind this ad, that being white was superior to being anything else, was prevalent in our society. The ad is especially cruel in its depiction of the black boy as still having a black face, meaning that while the soap may help a black person look more "respectable" by making their skin lighter, they will still essentially be black.
Who would of thought all this racism could of come from a bar of soap? I found this week to be very interesting and brought up a lot of could conversations about racism in advertising and what imperialism had done to shape the minds of people during some of the first advertisements. During the "Soft-Soaping Empire" discussion I found the picture in the slideshow very helpful in not only giving examples of the advertisements, but helped to analyze what messages were behind them. The advertisement I was the most focused on was that of a little white boy washing a a young black boy with the Pears soap. After washing he took on white qualities from the neck down which as a class we interpreted in a number of different ways. How I interpreted it was that being clean= white, and therefore masculine. Also, as Heidi pointed out it was made to appear as though the African American boy could be "cleansed" but not entirely. This idea could put at ease the white, or elite audience as if to say "don't worry we will still be in control." It was an interesting and thought provoking point to make and further instilled (and clarified) the idea of what imperialism is and its importance in advertising history. These incredibly racist soap advertisements helped to regulate and normalize these terrible things that were being done to impose the western culture onto the civilization. By being able to show what was "good" and correlating it to "white" these soap advertisements showed what it was to be a "man" and how to live a good, clean life.
The hidden meaning behind the majority of advertisements that have existed is mind blowing. As a class, we discussed the signifiers/signified in a few Pears' Soap advertisements which were some of the first ads ever created. One ad in particular stood out, which was the picture of two toddlers, one white and one "black." In this image, the white child is scrubbing the black child of the "blackness" as the advertisement claimed something about cleaning the complexion. I'd like to take the oppositional view and ask if maybe the advertisers weren't trying to "erase blackness" like we discussed in class, but maybe the child rolled around in some mud and was taking a legitimate bath. I understand that racism and discrimination was prevalent during this time period, but I hate to think that these people were so blatant in their advertisements. It was normal for civilians in this era to go without baths for weeks and my thought is that it was just a dirty child being washed by a clean kid with Pears' Soap.
I'm also in awe of how dominant the "white man" vs "man" debacle is still somewhat prevalent in our society. For example, in the 2011 blockbuster, Captain America: The First Avenger (which was originally a comic book from the 1940's) Steve Rogers is a frail young man with the heart of a soldier who undergoes an experimental treatment resulting in success and his physical transformation into beau-hunk, the epitome of every woman's fantasy. In order for Steve to gain any respect for his courage, brilliance, and sacrificial being he needed to change his physical self. I believe that this aspect is still in existence; women and men continue to follow the "survival of the fittest model" wherein we are more attracted to the people who look and behave in a strong manner, if I may be so brazen to claim.
These topics still reign in our everyday life, but I am relieved to see their bright appearance dwindle as our media literacy develops.
I thought the article on the soap advertisements was interesting because of how it was used to help start advertising in the world. I thought that the soap seem to play a big part of determining social status at the time, which out of all items why would they choose a soap? Just because a person can be clean they can be accepted in a certain class to me seems bogus. I guess from the readings, this era was maybe the start or beginning of colonialism and racism and it was okay for people then. I think that advertising this way was offensive but maybe it was ok and accepted because it was the first of its kind. I admit that some of these readings are hard for me to follow and understand. The class discussions and presentations by a peer were very helpful in breaking down the readings and key terms.
I found the most interesting article from this week was the article on soap. I'm an English major so I've had to study a lot in the Victorian era my the British Literature classes I've taken in the past. One interesting thing I found from the article was how the usage and advertising of soap had changed the face of what it meant to live in the Victorian era. I've read a lot of Victorian era novels and articles and one thing that I noticed in my reading was how sterilized the relationships between people as well as the actions of the characters are. In my British Literature class I'm in now, we discussed how in many Victorian era novels sex doesn't happen, babies just appear. As well as no one ever talks about washing or bathroom use except maybe the mention of washing one's face in the morning. I also found it really interesting when reading the McClintock article because I thought of the book The Secret Garden. In the book, Mary Lennox is the main character who grew up in India for a long period of time before her whole family died and she moved to England. In the book she is always very offended if anyone thought she would appear "black" when they heard she was coming from India. The amount of times black people were put down in the book is almost an immeasurable amount. Black people are always thought of as dirty or just as "the work". This is true for a lot of books throughout the Victorian era. By reading the McClintock piece I realized how much British people especially put much more than needed thought into how clean they were as compared to how clean people were from different ethnic groups. This step in marketing soap has forever changed what Western culture thinks about being clean. Today, walking around a store means being bombarded with hundreds of types of items to help clean a person. There are many times when my friends talk down to people who don't shower as often as "what is considered to be acceptable". I find the way soap was originally marketed and advertised to be very cruel to black people or people from the lower classes. It's interesting to also see how those ideas have developed in recent years.
In reading Enloe and McClintlock this week I found that returning to the roots of imagery in advertising is especially helpful in recognizing ways in which imperialist ideas are encoded in today's media - especially in the way that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been transmitted by the media. Of course, we are dealing with different imperialism in modern society, and colonialism has a different face than in the Victorian era, but there are clear connections between the binary oppositions of then, and the reasons for going to war over the past decade. We are casting western democracy as the only civilized discourse for a nation.
War has definitely been commoditized in our society, and the economic implications are perhaps far more complicated than the economics of selling soap. Wars are sold as the only means for protecting freedom and democracy in America, and binary oppositions are used to make war the morally correct choice, erasing the mass violence that occurs behind the images of liberating others and dismantling dictatorships. While I believe commodity racism is active in present-day war propaganda, the images that came out from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are interesting because they function in as binaries that expose truths not typically evident in media surrounding war. However the formal structure is similar to that of The Pears soap ads.
It will be interesting to see how these images of torture enter the media studies dialogue, especially as images in journalism media tend to polarize from ultra-constructed to the complete amateur.
This week we touched on nationalism, imperialism, and racism. They all tied together well, and the readings we had were very interesting. In "Nationalism and Masculinity", the topic was just as the title states. The essay talked about colonized people, and how the American's and Europeans went to "civilize" them. They would take pictures of women from the colonies that they overtook and send them home as postcards to show how they were overtaking the land. We talked about how we are not really sure if the women consented to these photos, if they were compensated, or if they were simply forced to do it. They then spoke of men vs. white men and what the differences were. This essay spoke of the racism of colonization and how the whites just felt that they were better, and they made the people feel as if they were helping, but they were just exploiting them for labor and goods.
The second reading was "Soft-Soaping Empire". This was about the first advertising. The commodity was soap, and the ads that the companies were using were extremely racist. One particularly racist ad was of a black boy being washed by a white boy, then he comes out of the tub white as well. We talked about how the boy wasn't completely white, giving the consumer the idea that they (whites) would still remain powerful over the blacks, because they can't really erase all of their blackness. There were a multitude of symbols in these ads like the soap itself, mirrors, and white clothing. All represent cleanliness, white supremacy, and wealth.
I thought that the discussion about soap advertisements was very interesting this week. One of the most interesting parts of the ads and our discussion was the idea of purity. I understand the idea of whiteness in these times and being of a different race or lower class was looked at as a bad thing or unacceptable. However, I think that in our world today there still exists an obsession with cleanliness and trying to be something you're not. Obviously there are social expectations for keeping yourself clean, but I think with all the different hygiene products available in the world today and all the different body sprays and perfumes the human population is obsessed with being clean and smelling clean. It is no longer an issue with race, but people who smell nice and are deemed clean are seen as successful and of higher class. However, if someone smells bad and is dirty they are looked down upon and people assume they must be of lower class or poor. It's not the same issue as when soap advertisements first started, but I think it's interesting that a similar situation and obsession has stayed around for such a long time.
I found this week's discussion on soap advertisements during the British colonial times to be very interesting and thought provoking. It was really interesting to learn about how the whole idea of advertising began, and I never in a million years would have guessed that it was began during British Imperialism and that it started with soap. I also found many of the images on the advertisements to be rather disturbing and obviously racist. I thought the in class discussion on Wednesday about whether or not the people behind these advertisements back then had any idea about the different types of persuasion that advertisement companies use today, and the idea that everything in today's advertisements are planned out and if that was the case with these early ads.
Thank you all for your input during my presentation on Soft Soaping this past Wednesday! First I think everyone made some really great points about how this world still uses indirect themes of racism, and I do find it curious. This kind of goes to show that we cannot stop it. It has been happening for so long that I think people just accept that there are certain whiffs of racism throughout our lives that are unbeatable. Do we just settle for this? Or are people tired of fighting? I made the point in class that there are magazines that are geared towards black women, and then there are magazines geared toward white women. We didn't vote for this division, it is just the way that magazine companies decided that their product would sell better. Maybe we inadvertently voted by picking up the magazines with our own race on the cover, but we never vocally asked for separate magazines. This just makes the case that we DO still have themes of racism in our lives whether we recognize them or not. I'm definitely not making the statement that we should stop fighting the system, or just allow this, or even that it's ok. But I am pointing out that there are some issues that may perpetuate with, or without our voice. If anything, I think by reading "Soft Soaping" we can have a better understanding of how major issues are subliminally inserted into our media that unconsciously encourage people to believe certain things. To believe that all of this started with a simple soap advertisement is quite astonishing, actually. I understand why studying these topics are so relevant now, whereas before I kind felt that this class could become a bore. Luckily, I'm finding the readings and information way more moving than I had previously thought.
First off, I think the presentations and class discussions this week have been great. But I think I took a different look on McClintock's piece than many other people would. I know that our assignment this week was to look at racism in advertisement in the Victorian era, but I kept thinking about how it's still around today. Someone in class said that our society pays too much attention to racism, and I completely agree. I think any half-witted journalist could almost purposely get someone to sound racist in an interview, and then publish the discussion just to start a controversy. The same mindset applies to advertising. If you wanted to find something about an ad that you could spin off as racist, it probably wouldn't be too difficult.
When I mention to someone up here that I'm from Orlando, the person I'm talking to thinks I'm going to brag about the ocean, the theme parks, the weather, or the girls down there. The one thing I'm most proud of about where I'm from is the fact that I grew up in a really diverse area. I also come from a diverse family. I am half Mexican and am only second generation Mexican-American (my complexion hides that pretty well), and I have a black god-daughter. When I moved up here it was a huge culture shock for me. Now that I've lived here for almost 6 years I think I can make an accurate assessment of how I feel about diversity up here. I'm not singling out anything that was said in class this week or any one person. I spoke to Heidi and decided I would share my view on the topic because I felt it might be different than most of yours.
I think most people up here haven't experienced diversity at all, let alone know a lot about racism. Most of my friends up here have never left this state, and they hardly go very far for vacations. A majority of them go visit another city or a cabin located somewhere in the Midwest, or even still in Minnesota. I mean come on, I know people who have attended the same high school as their grandparents did. I'm not attacking small town life at all either. I dated a girl for five years who's family lived in a farm town of less than 500 people. I've had my share of experiences in suburbs, inner-cities, and in small towns. I think each area have their own share of pros and cons, but one thing remains constant between most of them in Minnesota. NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, MOST EVERYONE IS WHITE!
Sure, you can say "Are you kidding? Have you ever been to North Minneapolis?" I've heard that line a thousand times since I've moved here, and my answer is yes. I lived off Olson highway in North Minneapolis for two years. Most major cities have an "urban" population in some sorts (including Orlando). I don't consider the North Minneapolis argument a valid one because I think people use it as a crutch to claim this state is diverse. So you can argue that where we live is diverse, and that area is very close to us. But in truth, North Minneapolis might as well be a million miles away for most of us. As someone who lived there for a while I can say that many of you are blessed to not actually live there. Hearing gunshots outside my window at night, having a homeless person get into my car with me and demand money, seeing a man beat a woman, and being classified as "white boy" for two years wasn't that much fun. But I don't regret my experience there at all, and it taught me a lot more about a culture I thought I understood.
Being a journalism major, I tend to utilize facts and statistics to back up my arguments. Minnesota is 85.3% white, and Minneapolis is only 63.8 white (you have North to thank for that low number). Downtown Orlando is the exact same way, and there's areas there where I wouldn't even drive through at night. In comparison, Orlando is 58% white and 53% of the population is either Black or Hispanic. But the real way to find out if a city is diverse is to look at the surrounding areas.
From downtown Orlando you have to drive about 45 minutes to an hour to truly leave "Orlando." After a long drive you get to areas such as Windermere (95%) to find areas that are mostly white. Thanks to highways like 494, 394, 35W, 169 and 100 a majority of the towns around Minneapolis are within a 15 minute drive from downtown. Bloomington (79.7%), Edina (88%), St. Louis Park (83%), Golden Valley (85%), Eden Prairie (82%) & Minnetonka (90%) are just a few examples of places located near a major metropolis who's population is mostly white. When I moved up here as a high school my dad decided to send my brother and I to Shakopee high school because it was "one of the most diverse of the suburbs." Shakopee is 77% white, and is still considered diverse by many who go there.
I'm aware that some people at the U aren't from Minnesota. We have a lot of students from Wisconsin and Iowa here at the U. I'm Sorry, but the argument doesn't get much better for those states either. Wisconsin and Iowa are both 88% and 93% white. I'm in my second semester at this school, and I'm shocked at how much racism actually comes up. In a class last semester we were talking about the economy/job loss, and how we should go about fixing the problem. A girl raised her hand and said, "I think if all these damn illegal Mexicans stopped taking our jobs, our economy would be better." Whether that statement is true or not, the fact that she had the audacity to say that in front of 300 people completely shocked me. I've also heard the term "colored woman" used in a class. And I heard more than enough racist remarks in classes about how "Obama only won because all the jobless Black people voted for him so that they could keep getting welfare." Those are exact quotes from students, and they're only a few example of things I've heard since I arrived at this school last September.
I'm sorry about all the stats above, but I found them necessary to arrive at my point. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this school and where I live. I also understand that we can't decide what state we are born in or where our parents decided to raise us. This is where I think literacy comes into play. Being literate is defined as "having knowledge or skill in a specified field." In this class our focus is on the media, but literacy isn't limited to a classroom. When talking about any controversial subject we should all be aware of how literate we are on that certain subject. I think if most people from the Midwest said they truly understand diversity and the effects of racism, I'd have to disagree with them. That'd be like me saying I'm literate enough to have a detailed conversation on hunting or ice fishing, I know I'm not capable of doing that. I'm not literate enough about that topic to have an accurate opinion.
I've had friends tell me about how they learned so much through study abroad, and that they now completely understand the culture from which they were immersed in for the duration of their trip. I think study abroad is a great program, and I've been to many different countries outside of the U.S. But going somewhere and learning about something for a few weeks, or even a few months, doesn't mean you completely understand it. We are going to study media literacy for 5 months. Are we going to be experts after those 5 months? Would our comments be able to stand up against someone who has been studying media literacy for years? Probably not.
My point is this... Be careful with your opinions on delicate matters. You never quite know who you might offend with your opinions. Racism is still very prevalent in our country today, whether we want to believe it or not. As I said earlier, I do agree that our media can go overboard sometimes when talking about racism. You can place the blame on the media or advertising for feeding into those stereotypes. However, I don't think it's fair to make light of the claims of minorities because some of us think they're just BS and that people are too sensitive to racism. After all, how many white people in this county truly know what it feels like to be discriminated against by a large population? Not too many. Most places we go around Minnesota, we are constantly surrounded by white faces. We should all be self-reflexive when talking about racism. In doing so, think about how much being around all those white faces may affect our lack of ability to understand a topic such as racism.
Sorry for grammar mistakes, I have two others papers to edit so I didn't have time to go through this post. Also, my intention wasn't to generalize everyone from here. I said "most" or "majority" because the statistics back that up, and I don't think I ever said "all." I Just wanted to give you a different perspective. Thanks to those of you who made it to the end. Hope I didn't offend anyone.
This week's readings from Enloe and McClintock, as well as our class discussions and presentations, opened my eyes a lot to the power of advertising during the colonial era. Back in the Victorian Era, white males were in dominance, and their power was shown in the images of the soap and other similar advertisements of that time. I believe that this time period marked the start of the continuation of racism and sexism that we still see today. White males were viewed the superior of all humans during this time period, and was helping to "save" all other humans. I enjoyed the example in class about the Disney movie, Pocahontas. This movie shows the progression that colonialism had in the US years ago. A white, strong, "ideal" man was coming to rescue the "otherness", or Native American population living on the land. He believed that the white man knew what was best for the other populations without actually taking the time to understand how they may be happy and currently living. I think this view, unfortunately, is still present today. Until Obama, every president was that of the colonialism power decent, white and male. Many CEO's and business executives today are still fitting into the largely white and male population. The white male is seen as powerful, and needs to take care of the females at home, or continue to change countries, such as Afghanistan, to meet their expectations of how a country should run. I think this image since the Victorian Era has definitely diminished, and racism has decreased. However, as Enloe states, nationalism is still very present today. I think as much as we try to think it has disappeared, there will always be that underlying thoughts of superiority that we view in the white male population in our country today.
In today's discussion about soap and commodity advertisement we only briefly talked about how much advertisement has changed up until today. Some examples discussed was how "race", in a sense, is still being advertised to promote certain groups like for different races, class or genders. Although we don't advertise base on "racism" anymore (rarely), I think more importantly today we are advertising based on a universal culture; tradition and or norms. Is there a commodity culture only within certain groups or is it known nationwide? Can it be both? As we also discussed in class, the way you dress, act, or talk can is also a way of a person to appear more 'white' middle-class. If you think about it, this is a universal culture because "whitening practice" can be seen throughout the world. For example, whitening creams are used to lighten your complexion to make you appear "more white" or think about colored contact lenses many minorities wear today. As McClintock states that "Soap offered the promise of spiritual salvation and regeneration through commodity consumption, a regime of domestic hygiene that could restore the threatened potency of the imperial body politic and the race" (210). It's not just about what you put in your body to "purify" your uncleanliness but also about what you put on to hide flaws, conceal or make less visible . So in similarity, the Victorian Era compared to today's hasn't change too much with advertisement. Sure it's not as racist as it is today but it still uses the 'whitening practice' tactic. On the other hand, advertisers are also advertising a 'camouflage' to hide our insecurities like the examples I mentioned above.
I enjoyed this weeks discussion, it was a nice change to have our peers lead the reading discussion. I gained a different perspective on the readings. Both of this weeks reading were long and hard to completely follow. Discussing them amongst the whole class and hearing from classmates made the concepts much more clear to me. It was interesting to read in the Soap Empire article about the "real" first advertisements we were exposed to and the effect that happened after people viewed them. It was really interesting how highly they valued the soap and how it made you in a higher class status if you used it weekly. I think that the fact that racism was so bluntly used in the ads and the fact that some of our classmates pointed out that its still employed somewhat today. The example in class that was brought up was magazines. How there are some magazines geared only to black women, but there aren't any that are just geared towards white women, they are geared at "everyone." Everyone meaning mostly whites, but it doesn't specifically say that, but the majority who consume it are white. I feel like if we just had a magazine that bluntly said it was for the white female it would get a lot of criticism. The same goes for the channel BET, if we had a WET I think we would be harshly criticized and be seen as racist. But is it racist for the BET to have their own channel? Or the latinos to have their own spanish network? I do not necessarily think so but if we were to make a all "white" channel we would not hear the end of it. I think this is because we are the majority it would seem as though we are secluding everyone else? Thats not necessarily what I believe its just something I would think our society would think that. It is interesting to think about it all.
Please post your discussion questions on Richard Butsch's "Ralph, Fred, Archie, and Homer" below. Please use the following questions to guide your note-taking as you read:
1) How do class and gender intersect in this essay?
2) What does Butsch mean by ideological hegemony?
3) How does the political economy of media participate in the re-creation of "the white male working-class buffoon," according to Butsch?
4) Why does this matter?
5) What is the role of advertisers in this process?
6) What do you think of this? Do you see other instances of this or similar phenomena?
My question is really straight forward. If you read her description of the soap commercial on page 214, involving the two kids bathing each other. How does that make you guys feel when you're reading it? Have you ever looked at an ad as simple as that and then come to the conclusion that it's somehow racist? It makes you really think about how the simplest things can mean so much.
One of the reasons McClintock is interested in the fetishistic dimensions of imperial advertising is that it calls into question Imperialism's constructed "rational-irrational" binary. Colonial discourses often mobilized this binary (Imperialists-as-rational versus colonized peoples-as-irrational) to justify European imperialism's "rational civilizing mission," which exploited so much of the world. The use of fetishism (i.e., the investing of objects with magical properties) in advertising demonstrates that the logic of colonialism was never "rational." Investigating the fetishism of advertising can reveal some of the fantasies that were operating within cultural imperialism. At the same time, it can also shed light on the ways in which colonial commodities themselves worked to advance the imperial project (whether in the minds of Europeans or in the cultural and economic processes of exchange). Use the following questions to guide your reading:
1. On the surface, soap advertising marketed bars of soap. What else, according to McClintock, was being marketed (i.e., what values, norms, meanings, etc.)?
2. How did soap advertising sell the project of imperialism itself? What kinds of narratives and myths did it use?
3. What does McClintock mean by "commodity racism" (209)?
4. How did soap function as a "fetish object" in the colonial imaginary (211)?
5. What are the 4 fetishes that "recur ritualistically" in imperial soap advertisements? What kinds of meanings did these fetishes produce?
6. What were the things that were hidden from view by these fetishes? Why do you think this was so?
7. How did imperial commodities participate in the "domestication of empire"? What kinds of gendered and racialized meanings did this process produce? (219)
8. McClintock writes, "more than merely a symbol of imperial progress, the domestic commodity becomes the agent of history itself" (221). What does she mean? How does the commodity not only *represent* imperialism, but actually participate in it?
Good Afternoon Everyone! The movie that we watched on Wednesday really resonated with me. I never really thought about the idea that children are so influencial in parental decisions. The numbers that were displayed in the episode were really shocking. If you think about it though, when you're young your parents and guardians really care about how you'll end up. Sometimes they forget that money is just an opportunity cost, and that the easiness of a simple purchase done over and over again can really amount to a negative outcome. I see children crying over sticker packs, candy, transformers cards, et. al, all the time. Many of the parents give in, mostly because the kids are making such a scene at the checkout line. Importantly enough, have you ever notcied how in check out lines at grocery stores, Target, or Walmart; how all the fun kids stuff are located lower on the shelves so that kids are more apt to discover them? Just like with adults, all of the gift cards, DVD's on sale, candy, magazines, and gum packs are just located there to taunt you. It is literally, impossible to leave Target with 1 item. As you stand in line, you are bombarded with countless items that scream at you to buy them. After all, retail is the hub of the money making business, and any way that they can encourage us to spend, is the winning way in their book. I also briefly discussed in class about how whether or not major companies really intend to effect us this way. Maybe Its my faith in humanity, but I would like to believe that people arent out there purposly manipulating out minds and terrorizing our lifestyle choices. IN all of this talk about political economics, I want to believe that this negative effect of advertisement is completely accidental. On the other hand, I am someone who really tries to make the best out of sticky situations, so maybe I dont have an objective enough personality to really understand the contents of whats given.
Cyntia Enloe maps out colonial constructions of nation and gender, arguing that it is necessary to understand these constructions (and the histories of conquest), if we are to understand how gender is mobilized in nationalist movements.
Media, including postcards, photographs and nostalgic Hollywood cinema, are key parts of this construction.
1. What were some of the racialized and gendered meanings behind colonial constructions of masculinity?
2. How did colonial postcards reflect as well as participate in the construction of colonial masculinity? More particularly, how did images of women from colonized areas participate in the construction of colonial masculinity?
3. What does Enloe mean by Hollywood nostalgia? How has Hollywood film participated in these constructions? Can you think of any examples of the kind of colonial nostalgia that Enloe mentions? What do you think are its implications?
4. What do colonial constructions of gender render invisible?
5. Why, for Enloe, are these constructions necessary for understanding anti-colonial nationalist movements?
6. How do you think postcards operate in today's media culture? Do you see exoticism in tourist postcards today? If so, how does exoticism work in postcards today? Have you seen legacies of the images that Enloe mentions?
7. Are there ways in which contemporary postcards (or other travel media) communicate meaning and participate in the reproduction of power relations--whether gendered, racialized, or linked to national identity, for example?
8. Do you think this plays a role in the way gender within national movements is constructed and mobilized?
9. Do postcards today participate in the production of gendered forms of nationalism? If so, how? If not, what do you see as differences?
The readings this week were a bit more dense than the previous weeks, but I do declare that our class discussions make a huge difference. I am so fascinated by how methodical advertising agencies are when promoting their products. More specifically, the strategies they use to target children. I'm writing after viewing that video in class on Wednesday that also weaved into our class discussion. I understand that advertisers exist to promote products, but some of the extent they go to is absurd. "Advertising to generate demand for products increases ales without reducing prices," writes McChesney. The statistics he provides were also shocking, but it proves how effective advertising strategies are.
I've become more aware of these strategies thanks to Williamson's essay and now McChesneys. Earlier this week I witnessed an extreme example of product placement on the Ellen Degeneres show when she mentioned how fabulous Serta SleepNumber beds are and proceeded to gift her an entire audience of 400 with brand new Serta mattresses. Clearly Serta profited from her purchase and I'm sure their sales increased after their broadcast on the air.
One of the most interesting parts of McChesney's writing was when he talks about the control that companies have in oligopolistic markets: "Firms in oligopolistic markets have more control over their fate: they are price makers, not price takers. This is a much more desirable market structure for a firm than is a competitive market; it can lock in profits, through maintaining higher prices, because new firms probably won't enter the market." This makes sense because obviously, a company would rather do business in an industry with low competition than in one with high competition.
Another good point that he makes is when he explains the logic behind advertising. It is done, in part, to attract new customers without cutting prices, which would cost the company money. "Advertising to generate demand for products increases sales without reducing prices." Many parts of this reading reminded me of the Williamson article that we read. Especially when McChesney talks about how products in most categories are essentially the same, so in order to sell a particular product, the manufacturer has to convince the public that their product is different from the others in a way that makes it more appealing. This, according to McChesney, is how brand identity is created.
McChesney also mentions that the amount of advertising is increasing, but he also notes that the more ads that are shown, the less people pay attention. An advertising executive is quoted in the writing as saying "Eventually there will be entire channels devoted to commercials." This seems paradoxical. If the public is really becoming disillusioned with advertisements, why would an advertising executive think that anyone would want to watch a channel that had nothing but commercials? As McChesney writes, advertising is appearing everywhere these days. Because of this advertisement saturation, one would think that the public's attitude toward ads would be becoming more negative than anything else, and McChesney does write that people are becoming indifferent to excessive advertising. The concept of everything being sponsored and our values being reduced to commodities is pretty disturbing.
I missed class on Wednesday so I have to go off of what was talked about in class on Monday, and the reading from this week. I think the clip we watched on Monday relates a lot to the McCheseney piece. The very first line of the reading uses one important word, "corrupt." In the clip we watched in class about Fox News, I think that very same word could be applied. The reporters and editors in that piece were trying to tell us how corrupt the media is due to these large corporations controlling everything. Earlier in the semester we were just talking about advertising, but that clip showed us that even the news is somewhat corrupted.
On page 143, in the last paragraph, McCheseney talks about the decline in advertisement. She quotes an ad executive as saying, "The greater number of ads, the less people pay attention to them." I don't know if I necessarily agree with that conclusion. I don't think we aren't paying attention to ads because of the excessive amount of them. I think we we are paying less attention because more people are becoming media literate. Many people are aware of the big corporations that control everything. That dominant control is why more and more companies are turning to crowd sourcing for their advertisements.
On a personal note, I had a bit of a problem with that clip we watched on Monday. Not because the clip was bad for class, but because I'm trying to become a journalist. Not a day goes by in school where I don't have someone bring up the fact that journalism hardly exists anymore. I think our generation needs to find ways to make sure that we don't let advertisers or big news companies control what we think is "news."
In our discussions this week regarding political economy analyses of media and manufacturing corporations, hyper-commercialism in advertising, and the Consuming Kids video we talked through many feelings of discontent for the ways that advertising is so pervasive. The readings from this week suggest that the results of a deregulated environment for advertising, and media corporations could be detrimental to our health, the development of our children, cause shifts in our economic system, and alter democratic practices in our society. All of these realities are extremely troubling to me.
The idea that the powerful individuals responsible for practicing such dangerous modes of marketing are merely working within the confines of an economic structure that they are required to is dangerous as well. To me resigning to "that is just way it is" is ultimately the manifestation of a failed democracy.
I personally feel that individuals in control of corporations who's products, and marketing harm our environment and the public health of our people should be held to similar standards as those who commit premeditated violent crime. Our government has serious issues with holding wealthy CEOs accountable for their actions, as reinforced by the Youtube video that we viewed on the "Monsanto" Investigators special, and recent hearings on the financial system collapse of 2008.
Until we are able to view the exploitation of our nation's inhabitants, and the destruction of our environment as unethical despite the economic gains associated with such practices, we are likely to continue to be lead by governments that fail us, and the planet. Like McChesney states in the closing of the Age of Hypercommercialism, we must "reconsider the whole idea of commercial sponsorship as a way to fund media." In many ways this means that we need to reinvent the way we communicate.
After watching "Consuming Kids" it brought up a great discussion on if this is ethical and the changes that we have seen in the way that kids have grown up and experienced childhood- all due to this hypercommercialsm that they were born into. I have 3 younger siblings ranging from ages 6-10 and I can definitely see the effects that growing up in this media filled world has had on them. For my two younger sister especially it is all about what the new brand name thing is, or the cool new toy that they must have, which always comes from so random new show on Disney channel or what they had heard about on the radio. I find it fascinating that they put so much effort into what is new and the "must have"item. Knock offs are not an option for these girls, and Im not sure if thats because for their age it isn't "cool" or if its because they have such a brand loyalty to say, American Girl Doll, that the Target brand clothes for them (that are 65$ cheaper STARTING) just don't resonate as the same value. They have ipods, a cell phone, a TV in their room, friends at school, etc. all showing them what is the best item to own and what things they should buy next if they want to fit in. Its all about changing fads and the advertisement industry does one heck of a job branding these clothes, toys, shoes etc. and making them seem priceless. I find it incredibly sad they cant enjoy the little presents and gifts anymore and are always going for worth. Unfortunately this was just the society they were born into.
I think the Hyper commercialism piece was very interesting because of how everything is moving towards this style. The video "consuming kids" was also very interesting. I find that advertising to kids works well because when I go grocery shopping my son, he will want to pick the brand name product that has his favorite cartoons characters on the box instead of the cheaper brand with nothing on it. I always ask why and he tells me he saw it on TV or in a movie. As a parent I find this kind of advertising very annoying but it is a very affective way to market to kids because sooner or later the parents will give in buy it for the kids. It is a great way to maximize profit with little risk. It is still the same tactic used when I was growing up except in this time in age technology has blown up a lot. There is the internet, cell phones (smart phones), way more video game systems now then 20 years ago. The way advertisements can shown on all sorts of technology is just crazy and not just TV anymore. This made me look back to when I was growing up, it is still the same concept except to a more extreme way because of the technology now a days.
This week was interesting, and it was many that way because of the video we watched, "Consuming Kids". The topic of advertising set towards children was the most interesting to me in our readings, and to watch a movie on it just kept me thinking even more. This film was great because it really opened my eyes to look deeper into the subject of child focused advertising. These children are accounting for about $40 billion of their own money, and $200 billion of their parents in this economy. I find that amazing and honestly very motivating for advertising companies. That is a huge chunk of change to go after, and now I can see that many kids aren't just being looked at as some random part of the economy, but very sought after buyers. I think that it was also intriguing to think about how kids don't only influence what type of cereal is in the cupboard, or what type of juice is in the fridge, but they are helping pick what kind of car a family buys or what type of furniture the family furnishes the home with. This was completely new information for me. I also thought it was interesting to look into the minds of some of the advertising companies. The companies not only want to get the kid to buy a certain product once, or inform their parents for some purchases, but they want to weave themselves into the mind of the child. They want to get the child so brand loyal, that the kid thinks they need that product, or that the product helps define who they are. This not only gets big business when they are kids, but in some cases it can influence what they buy for the rest of their life. I find this true for myself as well. I am extremely brand loyal to coca cola, for example, and it is probably because my parents never bought a pepsi product when I was a kid.
From this week, I found the video we watched on Wednesday to be the most interesting to me as well as the most alarming. I found by seeing the effects of commercials on kids made me think critically on the complications the deregulation of advertising towards children has created. I found that McChesney's piece also highlighted the complications and problems that advertising has created for parents of children who consume everything in the media as well as for the children who grow up being branded. It was interesting to read about how McChesney thinks that the regulation of advertising would be the best solution to the hole that has already been dug for the ultra-consumer kids that have been in the works of being produced for decades. I also agree that there must be some kind of regulation put upon the high stream of advertising that targets the kids of today. While the kids grow up, they don't develop the tools necessary to realize that they are being targeted by producers and advertisers. To develop the needed tools to realize the amount of money producers and advertisers wish to take from the children and their parents is something that kids should be taught in the very beginning of their life judging by how much kids consume as of late. I also think it is necessary for parents to realize what advertisers are doing with their ads and to try to teach their kids about the dangers of believing what is stated on television, in their games, in newspapers, magazines, etc. Parents need to learn how to ween their children away from nagging them to gain what they want from different ads. The whole idea of how much advertising and consuming effects our culture was another interesting thought I got from this week's reading and film.
The one thing that I found the most interesting this week in class was the "Consuming Kids" video that we watched. I found the whole concept of advertising to kids very interesting, because while I knew that advertisers targeted to children, I didn't realize that it was to this extent. The whole concept of creating franchises just so children will recognize the characters on so many different brands and will automatically make them think those brands are better because they recognize the character on it. I also found the idea of the "nagging factor" kind of disturbing. I know that nagging and not taking no for an answer is something that children do, the I found the fact that there is actually a concept of a "nag factor" and that it's part of advertising surprising.
The video we watch in class "Consuming Kids" was very interesting to me and I am actually in the process of watching it in another class. While I agree that all of the advertisements to kids and advertisements trying to appeal to kids is excessive, I do not think that it is as problematic as most people do. I understand that kids have far fewer life experiences and therefore have much less ability to differentiate between what is a show and what is an ad, but I think the fact that advertisers keep targeting younger kids shows the failure in their plans. The sooner kids are exposed to such blatant and direct advertising the sooner they are able to identify the difference between what is an ad and what is a television program. Because of this, advertisers have to target younger children to account for the desensitization of the children who were previously targets of their advertisements. In my other class we talked about how it's not always the fault of the advertisers that kids are affected this way, but it is also the responsibility of the parents to help their kids realize what is meant for entertainment and what is meant to be and advertisement. In the video it mentioned that some schools are considering including some sort of media literacy courses in elementary schools so children are less susceptible to the media messages today. I think this is a great idea, but I think the more traditional curriculum is more important. Kids can learn on their own what media attempts to do to them.
Through the readings and the video examples, I learned a lot this week about political economy, and how hypercommericalism is having a huge impact on society today. In the video, "Consuming Kids," I thought it was really interesting to see the change in advertisements aimed at children from the 1970's to today. I think a number of factors contributed to children's spending behaviors back then, including the absence of electronic toys and technology, more free play, less money circulating around the economy, and most importantly, the regulations on advertisements aimed at children. Once the deregulation started when Reagan became president in the 1980's, the media and capitalism worked in together, and paved the way for the hypercommericalism we see aimed towards our youth today. Corporations main goal is to maximize profits, and will venue down any avenue to get there, even if its bombarding the minds of young children. As McChesney states, "The five largest agency groups in the world do more than three-quarters of the industries business." For smaller companies to succeed and stay in business in this world, they must put out heavy advertisements to gain new customers, and avoid horizontal monopolies from forming in their toughest competitors. In the end, children will continuously be bombarded with advertisements as the nature of our political economy. It will only be until further regulation is placed upon corporations that we might see a change.
One thing that stood out to me in today's discussion is how Hyper-commercialism evolved and changed from the 20th century to today. The video briefly mentions this from the1960's-1980's but I think it is also important to consider how our technology has changed with advertisement. As some of you may know and learned from Professor Squires class, children in the early 20th century use to sit down with their families in the living room to listen to radio, how children wanted to be entrepreneurs, play a musical instrument for entertainment. Times where broadcasting (before t.v was the new thing) had music, soap operas and little commercial advertisement. One thing I still question is how much different would it be, in today's society, if advertisement was limited like how it was the early days? How would we know what to buy, where to go, what to purchase, or what to do if it weren't for advertisement? Say for example you want to buy a child a really cool toy and you want to know where to get it. First thing you would do is search it on google and find a ad list of the many choices of toys you can choose from. If it wasn't for any "media" where we can get any of our information from, we wouldn't know what is available to us. Although I am not saying that hyper-consumerism towards children, parents or just anybody is necessarily a good thing but hasn't it helped us in some ways good and bad? As I mentioned earlier in my other blog posts, media is everywhere and we're surrounded by it anywhere we go thus we have to limit what is being exposed so that we can also limit our spending. The best thing spent on children is time, not money.
This weeks article by McChesney, "Hypercommercialism," and the movie we watched in class today Consuming Kids made me analyze myself growing up and kids today. I was born in the 90's and I can still name some of the things I had, and wanted from seeing them on TV and in stores. I can remember always wanting my mom to buy my brother and I Scooby Doo snacks because we watched the show regularly and thought the snacks he ate on the cartoon were the same thing. I think with the deregulation on advertising there is no going back. Ad's and advertising is everywhere. Even if you did not let your child watch TV they would be exposed from school, being outside and seeing ads and through other kids. I think that advertising at kids isn't a horrible thing that these companies are doing, but I also do not think its the best thing they could be doing. These companies see the buying power kids have in their families and they are cashing in on it in any way they can. When you have kids in your household your buying habits change, from the type of car you buy, the places you will travel and the products you consume. Are they kid friendly? Are they practical for a family of 3 or more? Advertisers know the hold they have when they advertise to kids. They hope that even if the parents say NO to what they want the child will keep asking till they get it. I think a huge part comes down to how the parent deals with the child. If they let their child constantly get their way when they put up a fight the child will continue to do that behavior. Same goes for children with technology, if parents let that consume their children at a young age that they do not go outside or do things that kids who don't have that advantage then its their problem for what results. I don't necessarily think kids who have iPads or iPhones are bad its just how much access they have to them. For examples starting in January of this year the Farmington school district implemented the use of iPads for 1st graders to 12th grade, and they seem to be having some good results. The elementary children are not aloud to take them home but middle school on up are aloud to keep it for the year. Personally I would prefer the old school text book for school but I do not think its bad that they have this. We are a technology driven society today, keeping this things from kids won't do them any good day today. I am not saying a 10 year old needs and iPhone, just that the use of some technology wouldn't be harmful when under supervision.
Stuart Hall's writes of encoding and decoding, but there were a few moments when I felt I decoded out of the reading. This essay was particularly difficult to follow. One of the above topics I can write on involve his terms and definitions of "dominant or preferred meaning," "negotiated meaning," and "oppositional reading." I understood dominant meaning to be the message that the majority of audiences agree upon in pertinence to specific ads. As for negotiated meaning, this refers to "the exception to the rule." I relate to the movie "He's Just Not That Into You," wherein women discuss their relationship problems in regards to the majority, however there are particular "exceptions to rules" which make each couple unique and encourage these women not to look into the exceptions, because they are an exception to a different rule... if that makes any sense. Oppositional reading is the process by which a member of the audience critically analyzes the information put forth before them and refrains from bias, remaining objective. This is where my mind boggles, because earlier we talked about how a person can't be completely objective and yet, Hall is referring to oppositional reading in which viewers read/listen to facts objectively, forming their own opinions.
Here are a few questions to think about as you read. Please post your discussion questions for McChesney below.
What are oligopolistic markets?
What, for McChesney, is the function of advertising?
What is "image" advertising? Why does this matter?
What is the relationship between advertisements and TV content? (see 144, 148, for example)?
What is the relationship between advertising and social inequality? (That is, which consumers does advertising seek to address? What are the social, cultural and political implications of this? Can you think of some specific examples?)
What does McChesney mean when he calls the contemporary media landscape a "whole new paradigm" (153)?
What does McChesney see as the tension between hypercommercialism and democracy? Please use examples and be specific. Do you see similar tensions in other media examples?
And for fun, here is a clip from the Seinfeld episode McChesney mentions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhbMqjnYNfI
In the reading Hall talks about how dominant codes messages are able to take an "effect" through influence, persuasion, entertainment and behavioral consequences. One thing Hall also mentions in the reading are how these messages play a role in violence. Not necessarily teaching violence but messages about violence (202). We hear topics about this everyday about how serial killers were involved and connected to violent video games in the past. But doesn't this also connect with other types of media like music, books, broadcast, internet and so forth that can also and potentially tie in with violent behaviors? It seems to me that violent video games are the only target and if so why aren't these other types of media taken into consideration? And if video games are really the problem, what kinds of regulations might we expect? Media is everywhere and there's simply no other way we can avoid them. So the situation to violent behaviors, it's a part of our job to choose what we want to be exposed to; what our families and children might be exposed to because it seems that nowadays, it is really corrupting the minds of the youth. For example, on a lighter side, a type of social structure media (dominant code) are social networking sites like facebook. We go on it everyday and spend long hours reading updated statuses because it's easy to connect with all our friends and family, we're able write about our lives, how are day was, edit our profiles and etc. But being apart of these dominant Hegemonic culture is only adding into this cultural norm and eventually becomes a sort of naturalized behavior. Try shutting yourself off from the internet for just one day and realize how productive you will be and how much better you feel. We are all so drawn into all these types of media that we become almost addicted and it is obviously affecting our time, health, thinking and behaviors. These are just some of my thoughts. Please feel free to comment.
We covered a lot this week and I think we have a lot to uncover. I was pleased with our discussion on Wednesday while evaluating our advertisements in relation to the Media Literacy reading. The idea of never truly being objective especially resonated with me, as I have never thought of objectivity in that way before. I mean, I've had discussions in various classes about being objective, but I hadn't thought of it in terms of unachievable. We come from different backgrounds, with different biases which will influence our opinions about nearly every every topic we encounter. No matter how hard we try to ignore our preconceptions, they will ultimately creep into and affect our opinions. As for the Media Literacy reading, I was intrigued as to how oblivious the public is/can be to the intentional messages advertisers place in their campaigns. After pondering their strategies it became clear in how effective their messages can be in such subtle ways! I'm learning more ways to decode media and better understand the world of advertising.
My question is not so much about something Meehan specifically said, but more about the main example of the article. This article talks about Batman, and "Bat-mania." My question is, is this reference fair? Batman is something that most of us were aware of before we entered elementary school. This media and these "corporate imperatives" do not have to work that hard to push Batman because it will have a large following anyway, especially after the success of the previous Batman film. I think this argument is good, and I agree with a lot of what Meehan said. However, I think that this argument could have been better suited for a movie like The Hunger Games. Sure, that movie had a lot of fans before it came out, but that movie is no where near as well known as Batman is. Would this argument be better if he used a less popular example? I think so.
After reading the article "Holy Commodity Fetish Batman" I focused on the idea that "word of mouth can make or break a movie. Maahen goes as far as sating that "word of mouth can break a designed blockbuster, or elevate an obscure Movie to the status of a cult film or even a sleeper" (p.306).This is a bold statement, but one that I agree with. Especially in an age where social media is so relevant and is constantly being overloaded with public opinions and news feeds about trends of what to see and what not to see. In my personal life I can say I have not seen a movie due to posts I see on Facebook about a particular movie, or abundance of tweets ragging one. My question is, with social media become more and more prevalent, how are these media conglomerates (who have no say in our media voice) dealing with the backlash? Is it becoming harder and harder for film producers to sell their movie because of it?
After reading the article "Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman," it made me want to go out and watch all the Batman movies all over again. I forgot almost how big those movies became and all the remakes and spin offs that came after its original in 1989. Batman created chaos in the United States during that time, not just in the movie theater but every where else you went as a marketing strategy. I want to know more about the mass produced culture, and how it came to be the way it is today. Everything today I feel is for a profit, and to make money for someone aka media conglomerates. Being a whole business in itself makes me think that the people who govern it and control the market are driven by greed as well as success. Has it always been this way, was there ever time mass produced culture was different. Also I would like to discuss a part in the article about "profit, not culture, drives show business, no business means no show." Is there still things that are driven by culture and nothing else in the media system today?
Good Evening Everyone! So, I 'm in the mood to reflect on some of Stuart Halls idea's that we went over in class on Wednesday. First, did anyone realize that Hall was born in 1932, making most of his dent on sociology and hegemonic studies that of the 50's? I feel like the timeline of articles like this really makes an impact on our thoughts. Mainly because, I feel that It's really interesting that some of the points he made are still issues that we deal with today as a modern society. I also feel that its quite interesting how he brings about this idea of heirarchy where some of us wish to operate within the framework of producers, and those who are in higher social statuses. I also think, at the other end of the spectrum, how weird it is for some to feel totally immune to the messages that come across subliminally in our media. I'm actually suprised that this is a category becuase I didnt think it was possible for people to look the other way on such sneaky media tactics...
Hall's "Encoding/Decoding" article was very complex and somewhat hard to follow. On page 204 he mentions connotation and denotation which reminded me of the signifier/signified concept. In analogous form, it seems as if "denotation" (the "literal" meaning of a sign) is in line with "signifier", which is the material object in discourse, and that "connotation," which Hall defines as "the more associative meanings for the sign which it is possible to generate," is aligned with "signified", which is the meaning of the material object in discourse.
Also on page 204, Hall notes that signs "acquire their full ideological value" with connatative interpretations and that it is at the "connotative level of the sign that situational ideologies alter and transform signification." On page 206, he notes that broadcasters are concerned that the audience is not getting the right things out of the programming. Sometimes people watching a particular show do not understand the way the show is being presented due to unfamiliarity with the terminology used, the subject matter, or the manner in which the material is presented.
Another interesting point that Hall makes is on page 207 when he talks about "systematic 'over-accessing' of selective elite personnel and their 'definition of the situation' in television," and how this is done "inadvertently." Here, I saw Hall's point to be that the dominant groups of society control the things that we see on television and how those things are presented. Another interesting point that Hall makes is on page 207 when he talks about "systematic 'over-accessing' of selective elite personnel and their 'definition of the situation' in television," and how this is done "inadvertently." Here, I saw Hall's point to be that the dominant groups of society control the things that we see on television and how those things are presented. This leads to a very narrow range of perspectives through which messages are communicated to the public.
I think that today people (in the United States, anyway) are much more cynical than they used to be. Many people today, it seems, operate with the "oppositional code" Hall talks about. Especially when he mentions people reading into things that people debating an issue bring up. It is a reflection on the feelings of disapproval that many Americans have towards the government today.
After reading the Encoding and decoding article I found myself a little confused on what the Dominate, negotiated, and oppositional terms were/ what they meant. My original blog question reflected this so when I found out that we were going over it in class I was relieved. The most helpful thing I think we did this week was go over what exactly dominant, negotiated, and oppositional meanings were in groups. By using visuals it was much more helpful to understand exactly how the terms were supposed to be applied. I found that the oppositional reading of an article seems absolutely ridiculous. As i am not an advocate for things it was hard to put myself in a critical position when looking at something as simple and cute as a puppy advertisement trying to sell dog food and trying to come up with a oppositional way of reading it. Over all I really enjoyed doing hands on work like that and think we should do it more often.
After reading the Encoding/Decoding article the first time I thought it was confusing and hard to follow. I read it a second time with a better understanding but was still quite confused on some of his terminology that he used. The class discussion really helped cleared up the confusion about his terminology and what he was actually trying to get across. I thought the exercise that was done in class regarding to dominant, negotiated and oppositional meanings was very useful in helping understand the concepts. I never really paid attention to any advertisement before but now that we have been looking at different ways of analyzing ad and what the media wants us to see or interpret it kind of makes sense now. For my analysis of an advertisement I chose an ad that was promoting the new multigrain Pringles potato chip. I thought about how many people will see this ad and run out to buy it. For me personally, when I see multigrain any product I am not going to run out and buy it but maybe if I was really into eating healthy I would consider it. It kind of a tough week for me to fully understand it all, but looking forward to what is up for next week.
What I took away most from this week was the information from Hall's piece. I found it interesting how signs have particular meanings that producers attach to each sign or advertisement. I found the in class assignment we had on Wednesday to clear up what the Hall piece had to offer. After we went over the information about polysemy and what exactly the term meant, I found the examination of media texts to be a lot clearer. With the three different types of readings a media text can have. I find it fascinating now to look at different media texts and imagining what the general population with their dominant reading thinks of specific texts against what the audience with the oppositional readings may think. My question of the week is if the dominant readers will change in the years to come. I wonder if the dominant view on an issue such as gay marriage will change how media texts will change how couples are viewed or changed in the media. I found that Williamson's piece laid out how advertisements or other media texts display a certain amount of information in what is visible in the text, but the signified meaning is what the viewers see in the text that isn't laid out by the producers. I also find that the overt and latent meaning of media text can also be tied to how Hall's piece covered the polysemy of media texts. Both pieces furthered my knowledge of how people view media texts and how they feel about each piece that is available in the media.
I am not sure about the rest of you guys, but I had to read through Hall's article at least twice before I could even understand a little bit of what he was trying to say. I still feel as though his wording could have been a little better because I think his concepts are not that difficult to understand. Also, that American Idol video was very well done - I'd give it an A - but when it was over I literally had NO idea what the project was about. However, I found that magazine ad activity we did in class to be extremely helpful. It was amazing how quickly the definitions started to click once you put them with an ad. I think working in a group helped with some comprehension too. I enjoyed both Williamson and Hall's readings, and I definitely feel like everything we have read so far in class are somewhat linked to one another.
I liked how Hall gives us a visual on page 201 to help us follow the exact way encoding and decoding works. Hall also clearly states his definitions of all the key terms we went over in class. It is very useful to look at ads and realize how different everyone can look at them (dominant, negotiated and oppositional). Overall I thought the article was useful, just sounded too "scholarly" if you ask me.
I found a lot of what was discussed this week to be very interesting and very helpful in understanding some of the basic foundations for this course. The Advertisement Analysis was really interesting, and I even though we had discussions about other advertisements in class prior to the assignment, I felt that it helped to focus on one advertisement while working out the different aspects of it on my own. With the encoding/decoding article I, along with what seemed like a lot of other people based off of their posts, had trouble completely understanding what Hall was talking about, but our in class discussion along with the magazine activity helped me get a better understanding. One thing that I found interesting about both our readings this week was the ideas and terms that were presented (sign, signified, signifier) along with the different ways to look at advertisements (dominant, negotiated, and oppositional) all things that, I feel I apply to today's media without even realizing it, so to read about it and to get a better understanding about why we might view the media or certain ads in a certain way was very thought provoking
I really enjoyed Hall's article about encoding and decoding media messages. I'll be honest when I first read through the article it made very little sense to me and I had trouble grasping the general concept of the piece. However, once we discussed it in class and did the in-class activity it made much more sense. I especially liked the idea that each media message or text can be read in the three different ways (Dominant, Negotiated, and Oppositional). After class I went through some different media texts in my head to identify the three different views for multiple texts. One of the biggest ones I thought of was the show Toddlers and Tiaras. Yes, I'll admit I have watched an episode or two, but I'll just blame that on a friend who enjoys TLC a little too much. If you are unfamiliar with the show, mothers, and very rarely fathers, take their little girls to pageants and have them all dolled up and compete in pageants for money and prizes.
The dominant reading of Toddlers and Tiaras could be that these parents are trying to find something their child enjoys and can excel at, much like starting a child with sports or academic programs. These parents are simply looking out for their best interests by entering them in these pageants. The negotiated reading could say that while the pageants may not be the best outlet for their children's talents, the parents have their best interests in mind and are only trying to help them in the long run. The oppositional reading could be that we need to teach girls at a young age that if they aren't pretty enough to win a pageant they should change things about themselves. The contestants are often wearing copious amounts of makeup, wigs, fake teeth, and spray tans.
Whatever your reading of the show is, it is easy to see that it can be seen in many different ways and therefore it is a very compelling media text to analyze and examine.
This week was all about the traditional "sender receiver model" and we looked at a couple different examples of this. First, we read Williamson's article on advertising, then wrote a brief essay over the subject. In my personal example of advertisement analysis, I discussed a Canadian PSA on seatbelt safety.
I have always known about inner context and "hidden" meaning in advertising, but it was nice to read Williamson's article because she went much deeper into the subject. I learned some new terms like "signifier" and "signified" which stand for an object and it's meaning in the simplest form, respectively.
The next article we discussed was Stuart Hall's article on encoding and decoding messages. Hall presented many new items to the idea of message interpretation including what I found most interesting; the three interpretations of a media message. The dominant message, the negotiated message, and the oppositional message were all talked about this week (more specifically Wednesday). I found this very interesting, because I have only looked at ads for their dominant message. I see an ad, maybe look a little deeper, but always see what they want you to see. The idea of a negotiated message and an oppositional message was very interesting to me.
I liked our group activity on finding a magazine ad and putting this idea of multiple messages to the test. Our group found that even with the simplest message, multiple meanings can be brought forth anywhere from "You'll look good with this lipstick" to "I will never buy this because it is tested on animals." I am really starting to realize the depth of not only an ad, but also what it would take to work in the world of advertising. Very cool.
I enjoyed all of the readings this week, and learned a lot more about ideologies, signs, and encoding/decoding media messages. While writing the Advertisement Analysis, I looked into the Williamson's article in more depth, and found some interesting conclusions that he made. I found that the product, or signifier, not only can be used to find meaning in the advertisement as the signified, but in many others ways we often oversee. I often can see a product being used as a generator in advertisements today. This correlates with the ideology of the advertisement. Every consumer should find a personal connection with the product being advertised, or it is not effective. A product that is used as a generator in an advertisement goes from representing an abstract feeling to actually generating and becoming that feeling. It allows the product to become more than just a sign, but a creator of the feeling in an emotional experience. The product has begun to do more than just reflexing an emotion, but enhances its effectiveness by desired feeling from the product. I think this is a very effective technique, as it pulls on our emotional sides and creates feelings of want and desire.
In discussion in class, I was able to clarify a lot of the terms in Hall article, and became more comfortable with the concepts of encoding and decoding. The idea of polysemy stood out to me a lot as something that can both help and hurt the media industry, and is applicable in almost every advertisement. For example, in a shampoo advertisement, one person might see long, luscious hair, and instantly believe that the particular shampoo was responsible for the results. However, another person might look at the advertisement, and just think it was touched-up, and not worth their money to try a new product. I think advertisements can be both successful and unsuccessful, and depends on the audience viewing it. This is way it is very important to target advertisements to certain programs and magazines with your desired age group and ideologies. There are a lot of medical and life insurance advertisements found on daytime TV, due to the large population of these programs fitting into the elderly populations. A cartoon programmed at the same time would have completely different advertisements about toys and fast food, as targeted to the typical audience. Even as advertisers specifically try to show their advertisement to the particular target audience and aspire for the dominant reading to occur, there will always be different opinions floating around, resulting in a large amount of polysemy and different messages being decoded.
In processing the Hall and Williamson readings I better understand how ideologies become dominant across the culture spectrum. Specifically, it is interesting to me how the oppositional readings of any text can ultimately result in a set of hegemonic norms with their own power structures, dominant media texts, and ideologies. I think of this in relation to my own experiences in art, music and activism. Social, political, and economic hierarchies also exist within communities whose initial reading of any mainstream text is likely to be oppositional. I suppose this why understanding Hall's structure or "circuit" of encoding and decoding, along with Williamson's breakdown of advertisements into signs, signifiers, and signified is essential to understanding media regardless of your location in society.
In looking at texts in my own surroundings, periodicals, news sources, blogs, etc, it is clear to recognize the referent systems used to transfer meaning onto a product, even when the product has no material form, but is an ideology. Here is where I can clearly see Williamson's notion that advertisements are selling us ourselves. Even when a text assumes that by nature their audience opposes the dominant consumer market. The producers of such texts are focused on selling you your opposition. Your opposition to dominant capitalist culture is naturalized and thus is more likely to result in a dominant reading, and potentially influences your cultural interests and ultimately what you consume - and thus an economy exists.
In questioning the conduits by which meaning travels in society, I find that social media platforms have the tendency to facilitate a shift from the oppositional, back toward the negotiated, ultimately resulting in a dominant reading...But that is a different discussion.
After reading the Encoding/ Decoding article in our course packet I was somewhat confused on what I had just read. I wasn't sure if I read to fast or what my issue you was it was just harder for me to grasp the concepts of it that well. Once we did the activity in class with choosing a magazine article I got a much better understanding of the article. Going over each of the chosen ads helped me grasp the material better, and I was able to look at other ads and pick out the dominant, negotiated and oppositional meanings of each. It is interesting to look at the article and pick out the preferred meaning, what the advertisers wanted you to get out of their ad. Then looking at the oppositional meaning of the ad which is what I will do sometimes and I did not even know it, until this class. I criticize ads that I have seen that promise certain things that I have tried or sound too good to be true. There are plenty of products I have used that promise certain things and do not deliver on those promises. Now I feel as though when I see ads I am going to have those thoughts running through my head. I never really gave much thought to ads when I would see them, but the short time in this class has changed that. For my analysis of an advertisement I chose a Starbucks ad because its my favorite coffee place and I feel like I see ads for their drinks all over.
Please post your discussion questions to Meehan's article below. Here are some questions to think about as you read Meehan's essay:
1. Think of this as a "how-to" example of what it would look like to do a political economy analysis (that is, analyzing media in relation to the economic relations in which it is produced, distributed, consumed, etc). What seem to be the steps?
2. What does Meehan mean by "commodity fetishism"? Her use of the term is implicit. She is referencing a commodity form that veils the economic and social relations that produced it.
3. What questions does she seek to answer?
4. How could this be done with other media objects?
5. How is Meehan's analysis different from Williamson's and Hall's?
6. How does the political economy of media affect how content gets produced and distributed? How does it impact what kind of content gets produced? How do you think it affects what kind of content does not get produced or distributed? Why does this matter?
7. How can Meehan's piece inform how we critique/use/consume/make media?
Please post your discussion question on Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding below, using the following to guide your reading:
1. How does Hall understand what he calls the "televisual sign." How does this differ from the sign in Williamson's sense?
2. How is Hall using the terms denotation and connotation? How does this differ from the use of these terms in traditional linguistics? Relatedly, what does he mean by the phrase the "fixity of meaning"?
3. Polysemic means having multiple meanings (or having the capacity for multiple meanings). Why is this concept important to Hall's essay?
4. How is Hall using the concepts of "ideology" and "discourse"?
5. What does Hall mean by "hegemonic"?
6. What is the difference between "dominant or preferred meaning," "negotiated meaning," and "oppositional reading"? Why are these important for Hall?