So Long!

After transferring from a course of bone dead material to BCM I was immediately brought back to life with the content we have covered. During the last six weeks learning about the physical nature of media I have been able to step outside of the public realm from an audience member to that of an observer, in which I have found it a very rewarding experience.

Covering the effects model early on really aided this transition and generated a moment of self-reflexivity, as I immediately became aware that I had conformed to the belief that “TV makes you fat”. Combined with an enhanced perspective on how to read an image, my approach towards interpreting the media has become effectively critical in everyday life.

Exploring the impact of culture on ‘signification’ I believe enhances our understanding on issues ever present within society. One of these major issues being the relationship between children and the media. There is, unfortunately, a strong collaboration between child stars and a dramatic fall from the heavens. Most recently seen in pop star Miley Cyrus. But is the media the issue or are we once again playing the blame game?

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It has been noticed that “over the past decade, the fashion industry has started using younger models and now commonly portrays 12 year-old girls as if they were women”. Images such as the Roger David one above, have fuelled the argument that children are being continually exposed too and apart of over sexualised material. Thus creating what is known as a ‘moral panic’ within society. Moral panic is defined as “a threat to societal values and interests” (2014) But this raises my question… If we as a society are so concerned with keeping sex behind a closet door why are we continually surrounded by it? In the developing era of modern society sex was expressed as an art form and worshipped. A prime example being ‘The Vitruvian Man’ by Leonardo Da Vinci

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Before studying this BCM course I would of immediately disregarded the image of the young girl above. The context behind this ad provokes a view of he girl in a sexualized way. The camera angles show her “averted eyes, wounded facial expressions, and vulnerable poses mimic the visual images common in pornographic media”. How disgusting are you for looking at her like! She’s only a child! However as suggested by Gauntlett one of the ten things wrong with the ‘media effects model’ is that society has made no attempt to understand the meaning of the media and relies on unjustified conclusions and unified beliefs, leaving no room for expression or interpretation. But that’s exactly what an image of this genre needs, its a work of art (for some) deserving recognition and multiple opinions.

I don’t see sex in the media going away, its simple sex sells and entices people. So perhaps as a society we need to grow up and adjust our belief system. Teach our children right form wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, so when these images are flashed between the latest episode of Game of Thrones (which by the way is way more explicit than any of these images) children will be able to maturely deal with it. Don’t underestimate the kids for Christ sake!

Children and young people in advertising, Commission for children and young people and child guardian, viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.ccypcg.qld.gov.au/pdf/…/children-and…/Corporate-Fact-Sheet4.pd…

Gauntlett, D, 1998, Ten things wrong with the media effects model, Approaches to Audiences – A reader, Arnold, London, Viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm

2012, Premature Sexualisation of Children, Women’s Forum Australia, Viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.womensforumaustralia.org/significant-issues/premature-sexualisation-of-children

2014, Moral Panic, Wikipedia, Viewed 14/4/2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic

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Who really is the Biggest Loser?

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With the ever evolving world of media comes a change towards societal ideologies. As TV has dramatically advanced in the last 15 years from crime and first responder shows to the spectacle of reality TV, so has the public sphere. Once hailed by Habermas as a realm for which public opinion on social, cultural and political views can be shared, modernists are now claiming it has been depredated “by the forces of consumer capitalism”. And what show is bigger and larger than any other reality TV show in Australia? The Biggest Loser of coarse!

Never being a fan of the show I found myself completely drawn in during the latest season finale last night. I “oohed” and “ahhed”, laughed and cried with the rest of the audience at the amazing transformations undergone. The most recent winner Craig had lost 79.8kg throughout the series. A life changing amount weight. The Biggest Loser is one of many shows that trivialises important issues an in this case they are obesity and weight loss.

McKee discusses the impact of relations between media and the public sphere claiming that “only in the mass media that vast populations of people can come together to exchange ideas” If that is the case The Biggest Loser is promoting an unpractical solution to obesity and weight loss that many will not be able to achieve. The contestant who go on this show put their entire lives on hold for months to lose weight. 66% of Australian men are overweight. Imagine of they all decided to ‘take work off’ what would happen to our workforce? It would be severely depleted, that’s what!

The public sphere was evolved to create a sense of freedom and equality. Its fundamental purpose has been exploited with individuals within reality TV shows selfishly exploiting this ideal in order to enhance themselves. Michelle Bridges personality figure has grown tremendously with her appearance upon the show. Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation grew 350% in one year (Fitzsimmons, 2014), assisted by her appearance on the show. No personal grudges against her success, but in context to the structural transformation of the public sphere programs, much like the Biggest Loser, are commercializing it.

I am a strong believer in equality and the right to shares ones opinion but in this new wave of craze TV, including reality shows can make a mockery and abuse this power to manipulate and confuse the audience. The idea of exploiting people struggling with weightless shouldn’t be paraded to this extent. Many people claim the show as a motive to get out and be active! But from experiencing it fro an audiences perspective it mainly promotes entertainment and laughter.

Huijser, H, Little, J, 2008, GetUp! for what? Issues Driven Democracy in a Transforming Public Sphere, Democracy Under Fire: the uses and abuses of democracy in the public sphere, No.16, Viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_16/article_06.shtml

Fitzsimmons, C, 2014, Michelle Bridges’ empire of body transformation, BRW., Viewed 14/4/2014, http://www.brw.com.au/p/marketing/michelle_bridges_empire_of_body_Uhiqs5JDpkfxDWy2Eh78dK

2011, Jürgen Habermas’s Public Sphere explained (summary), The cultural studies reader, viewed 14/4/2014, http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/jurgen-habermass-public-sphere.html

 

Surrendering Control

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On average Australian adults are exposed to six or more hours of broadcasting services every day either from watching TV at the end of the day or listening to the radio on the commute to work (Albon, 1998). That equates to over 2190 hours each year. But who regulates and controls the media paraded in our face? The dynamics of media ownership within Australia have been shifting in recent years with many proprietors within the industry encouraging a review of traditional laws and legislations. Legislators have always been concerned about the power of electronic media’s influence on public opinion and therefore have in place laws denying any licence holder access to 75% or more of the current population (Albon, 1998).  

“No medium of entertainment… has such powerful influence for good or evil as broadcasting” (Albon, 1998)

In recent weeks Malcom Turnbull has questioned the validity of these existing laws claiming they are a “crucial barrier” in network mergers (Wilson, 2014). However, the reasoning behind such strict ownership laws is to promote a diversity of opinion. By lifting existing laws who’s to say the major power players such as Rupert Murdoch or James Packer won’t buy up the entire industry? The concentration of media ownership within this country allows money and power to be utilised as a filtration system of content. Rupert Murdoch already currently controls half of the newspapers in Australia including online. Imagine enabling him to buy a TV network then a radio station. Our major source of information would be streamed directly from him. Being CEO of News Corp already grants him the power not just in the editorial line but covering some issues and views than others (Beder, 2004)

Without consciously knowing it we are living in a world where are personal opinions and thoughts are moulded to the ideology of large corporations. The Frankfurt School of thinking addressed this issue by introducing the ‘Critical Theory’ and critiquing the ideologies behind natural science. By attempting to place one-self outside of philosophical strictures and the confines of existing structures we can be reflective, self-critical and avoid any pretensions towards absolute truth (2014)

Media regulation and ownership honestly never crossed my mind or captured my interests before, but through the development of this blog post it has challenged me to look beneath the superficial story line and more at the production. I’m quite frightened to think if we are all fed this one ideology of the world how are going to be able to move forward and evolve as a society…

Albon, R,  Papandrea, F, 1998, Media Regulation in Australia and Public Interest, Institute of Public Affairs Limited, Victoria Australia

Beder, S, 2004, Moulding and Manipulating the News, Viewed 9/4/2014, http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1043&context=artspapers

Independent Australia, 2012, http://www.independentaustralia.net/article-display/stop-rupert-murdoch-owning-every-australian-newspaper-and-tv-station,3899

Wilson, L, 2014, ‘Communications minister Malcom Turnbull flags media ownership charges’, 9th March, Viewed 7/4/2014, www.theaustralian.com.au/media/communications-minister-malcom-turnball-flags-media-ownership-changes/story-e6frg996-1226849380555

19th February 2014, Frankfurt School, Wikipedia, Viewed 10/4/2014, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_School

 

Beyond a Social Media Site

Instagram has rejuvenated the world of photography. Building a bridge that connects art and culture to the forefront of the world, with the simple click of a button transforming its initial audience into amateur photographers. The platform itself creates a domain to share and explore your ideas, a quality not easy to find in reality. 60 million photos are posted daily with more than half of this number dedicated to the infamous selfie (Smith, 2014). But where did this profound sense of power and self-awareness develop from?

When looking at the Jenkins theories of convergence he discusses the role of the consumer and its dynamic transition from once a stationary position stating that “the new consumer is active”. (Jenkins, 2004) This concept is clearly evident when exploring the audience involved with Instagram. This belief has been achieved through the growth of the technology and therefore the audience and thus we saw the creation of the prosumer.

Prosumerism, the consumers of the product are simultaneously creating the product. Brilliant! It seems so simple that is almost stupid but it works. For Instagram creators Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger they made $1 billion dollars off it. People now have the ability and the right to control what they want to see. If I want to follow an account about goats I can! The audience has now become empowered to surround themselves with the media they WANT.

The reason behind the success of Instagram is quite simple, accessibility. Traditionally the process to share a photo with your friends was long and tedious; I know I was always losing my memory card! But once Instagram came to play editing, filters and sharing was all in one convenient snack sized pocket. The innovative ‘front camera’ took over the world allowing ultimate selfie shots and even more options for artistic expression. Selfie with a mango, selfie in a tree and Kim Kardashian even exploring the possibilities with her failed attempt of an elephant selfie just the other day.

As a species it is integral for our survival that we belong and I believe Instagram encourages participation from all corners of the world. It’s an app that can unite communities and cultures together by learning to embrace and interpret other images.

“It’s about having an audience for what you produce and participating in an audience for other peoples photos” (Jessica Zollman)

Jenkins, H, 2004, Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 1, pp. 33-43

Prives, G, 2013, Instagram and its Impact on the World of Photography, Digital Photography School, Date Accessed 4/4/2014, http://digital-photography-school.com/instagram-and-its-impact-on-the-world-of-photography 

Smith, C, 2014, 65 Interesting Instagram Statistics, DMR Digitial Marketing Ramblings, Date Accessed 4/4/2014, http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/

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Instagrams Casual Simplicity

Out of thousands of photo applications available to us why is it that Instagram has so triumphantly taken off? It’s actually quite simple. It simply was the first, best one available to us. Constructed around an element of ‘casual simplicity’ it enables each individual to feel as if there is some artistic merit to their work (Bolt, 2011). Looking beyond the screen how does Instagram embody the ideology of convergence Jenkins so passionately describes? Technology and society share a synergistic relationship, learning and developing off one another. Jenkins explores this perception illustrating the impact media convergence has in altering the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audience(Jenkins, 2004) thus resulting in a continual transitional nature of media. In 2010, when Instagram was founded, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger strived to achieve a site where

“We were able to translate photography from being a form of self-expression into a form of communication” (Kevin Systrom)

By creating a template, a blank canvas for individuals to use they empowered the audience by granting them control over what media they personally selected, providing a safe haven, supportive of each and every single persons ideological beliefs. This concept is a recent revolutionary change seen within many social media platforms, where consumers are influencing the production and distribution of media content. Just as Jenkins described, the modern age consumer is becoming an active participant, literally taking the media into their own hands.

Instagram has simply been able to achieve this phenomenon through meticulous attention to detail, not only in creating the images but delivering them. The relatively high quality of technology available to ‘amateur’ photographers permitted images to be taken at a similar standard to that of a DSLR camera(). Being able to discover new images simply by scrolling down your newsfeed, searching hashtags or even exploring the ‘Popular’ page grants individuals to search the media they wish to seek.

By allowing the community to take over control, the ability to shape direction over cultural influences has become more democratic, compared to a small collective group of a few authoritarian figures. However, this change hits like a domino effect. A transition within the cultural industries ignites a new way in which materials circulate. A rising the question of regulating media content, an issue of concern as accessibility increases how to we moderate appropriate content entering our homes and work places? This period of change has encouraged a new ideological belief where it is up to the individual, to again play an active role in what they believe is applicable to their families.

Convergence is a never ending process which will continue to alter the way our media, and therefore our communities are natured. Instagram, at the moment is just one tool leading the pack that grants individuals their social rights. I just hope people will be able to accept that we don’t all think alike.

Bolt, N, 2011, Why is Instagram so Popular: Qulaity Audience and Restraints, Techcrunch, Date Accessed 3/4/2014, http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/27/why-instagram-is-so-popular/
Dishman, L, 2014, Instagram is Shaping up to be the Worlds most Powerful Selling Tool, Forbes, Date Accessed 3/4/2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/lydiadishman/2014/02/13/instagram-is-shaping-up-to-be-the-worlds-most-powerful-selling-tool/
Jenkins, H, 2004, Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 1, pp. 33-43
2011, Start up Story: Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Behind the Hustle, Date accessed 4/4/2014, http://behindthehustle.com/2013/01/start-up-story-kevin-systrom-of-instagram-2/

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The Bottom Line

Can you recall setting up your Instagram account? We all take care in the essentials such as creating a funky username, email address and a cheeky profile picture, something a little ‘unique’ or different to the classic selfie. Then it comes down to the nitty gritty, the “Terms and Conditions”. We’ve all seen it but how many of us have actually read it? I know personally I’m guilty to ticking the little box and continuing on with the fun stuff…

Before the breakthrough of social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram it was a common understanding that ownership of your creation was automatic. However, once we have agreed to the open content form of licensing held by Instagram we are agreeing to allow others to copy and modify our works. Floating around in that tini tiny font we all ignore to read Instagram’s rights and it immediately states,

“Instagram is a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service” (Instagram, 2013)

In English this means that for users agreeing to the terms and conditions of Instagram, you will lose the exclusive right to use that content (Bartier Parry Pty Limited, 2013). You are also granting permission for Instagram and third-party groups to use the content however they please for free.

Until now I was completely in the dark and grasped no concept on the issue. However, since exploring deeper into how this system works I honestly have become very reluctant to post any material on social media sites. Apart from raising the obvious issues of money and payment, it also exploits ethical dilemmas of stealing and copyright and can make one question whether society can keep up with the rapidly evolving word of social media. Can traditional social constructs manage these arising issues?

In 2013 the UK Government passed an act called the ‘Instagram Act’, simply meaning that all your images now belong to everyone. The act allows widespread commercial exploitation of unidentified or ‘orphan works’, images where the right holders are unable to be contacted (The A Register, 2013). A very similar situation to how businesses and franchises use Instagram.

The benefits Instagram receive from using this form of licensing allows them to make commercial gain by licensing the images we provide for them.  The bottom line is we won’t get any compensation for our images and in the event money has to be returned to the advertiser we could be held liable even tho we were kept in the dark…

Be careful kids and think twice.

Delsack, C, 2012, Who Owns Photos and Videos Posted on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, Law Offices of Craig Delsack LLC, 30/3/2014,  http://www.nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/who-owns-photos-and-videos-posted-on-facebook-or-twitter/

Orlowski, A, 2013, UK GOV Passes Instagram Act: All Your Pics Belong to Everyone Now, The Register, 30/3/2014, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/29/err_act_landgrab/

2013, Terms of Use, Instagram,  30/3/2014,  http://instagram.com/legal/terms/#

2013, We Promise We Probably Won’t Use It – Copyright Ownership on Social Media, Bartier Perry, 3/4/2014 http://www.bartier.com.au/publications/publicationPrint.aspx?PublicationID=402

2014, Instagram Statistics, Nitrogram, 3/4/2014, https://nitrogr.am/instagram-statistics/