The Last Post …

Alright, here it comes … the almighty reflection. In completely the required blog posts for bcm110 I have certainly gained a broader knowledge of the media: its flaws, strengths and tactics.  I’ve learned to think beyond what the media force feeds us through broadcasted news and social media platforms. In completing these weekly posts, I have also developed a certain style in my posts which, to me, has greatly improved over the course of the past six weeks, especially with composing my bcm112 posts as well. And although I find writing comes quite naturally to me, there have been a couple posts on which I had writer’s block or simply had to stop and put away for a couple of days. A topic I really enjoyed was that of week 3’s lecture on Semiotics. Through learning about how to read an image I have gained a heighten sense of knowledge when I look at an advertisement for example and I find that I can look beyond the images or text and deduce a greater meaning.

You want controversial? Well you got it.

You want controversial? Well you got it.

From reading other student’s blogs its been made clear to me just how high the standard of blog posts are! I am seriously so amazed at some of the posts I’ve read; the writer’s ability to suck me in and draw emotions from me with their media content its just fantastic. I found it really useful to view other peoples perspectives on the topics we ere given each week as it gave a broader discussion and viewpoint to what was being said and I highly value everyone else’s opinion.

 

Thanks for reading :)

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

On the whole, I found this entire blogging escapade to be genuinely enjoyable and enlightening. I’ve learnt so much from when I first started the course, I mean I didn’t even know how to keep a blog and now look!  I’ve gained a real sense of confidence and accomplishment in completing this assignment and I feel confident in my broadened knowledge of the media!

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“I think your hair is a bit shopping mall”

When the everyday teenage girl turns in the tv, looking for her reality television show fix, she may end up turning to Australia’s Next Top Model, a competition run as a reality television show, in which a panel of judges “search” for the next big model in Australia who has it all.  Each year countless numbers of young girls aged 16 and up line up for hours in a Westfield near them to audition to be on the show, only to be told that “I think your hair is a bit shopping mall.” (Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 5. 2009.DVD) Eventually 12 contestants are chosen and the competition is broadcast over 12 weeks of thrilling and over-dramatised television. And how, do you ask, are people actually sucked into watching this kind of crap entertainment?

Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 5

Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 5

Well, first of all the show appeals to the mainly female demographic ranging from teenage girls to middle-aged women. They love over-dramatisation within each episode, they offer the viewer to live vicariously through each contestant on their journey to fame and fortune; there’s no denying that modern day women love a good old rags to riches story. They feel the pain of the contestants as they are forced to have their haircut or dyed or when the contestants get in trouble for putting on weight when they’re supposed to be eating healthily and exercising OH MY GOD SHE PUT ON 2 KILOS, HER PHOTO-SHOOT WILL BE RUINED THIS WEEK NOOOOOOOOO!

And who could forgot Sarah Murdoch’s finest moment in television?

The editing techniques used to create these over-dramatic episodes each week allow the audience to empathise with the contestants who face the very apathetic judges. They pull the heartstrings of their viewers, often resulting in them reflecting on their own personal issues or inspiring them to achieve their goals. According to Lewis Turgoose, drama “makes the audience relate and sympathise with the characters. This is done through a mixture of cleverly written script,  a heightened level of tension and good use of editing.” (Turgoose, Lewis. “Drama Genre”. 2010) Seems simple enough, right? Yet in the modern mediated public sphere, reality television shows such as ANTM also contribute to the continual debate on the “ideal” body for women and healthy versus skinny. This leaves their viewers with a lot to think about after the show. And I must admit, as an avid watcher of ANTM and The Biggest Loser, these dramatic effects used really do turn me into an over-empathetic blubbering mess who either feels inspired to lose 10 kilos or put 10 back on.

Who controls the media? Well you certainly don’t.

When I take a moment to think about what kind of media I use and who controls it, this is what I come up with; I use Facebook, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, I read magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar(ACP Magazines) and Frankie Magazine (Morrison Media) and I now have a wordpress.com blog (Automattic). In these media platforms there exits an underlying measure of control from their owners.

Frankie Magazine

Frankie Magazine

Within these platforms and the media they publish, for example fashion articles in Harper’s Bazaar, there are underlying ideologies of the media, which are being conveyed through the glossy articles and ad campaigns that are published within the magazine. Even the advertisements and news supplied on Facebook contain these ideologies for the public to see and respond to.

For myself as an avid user of these media platforms it is important to me to understand and recognize these ideologies in the ads and what they are conveying in terms of cultural divides within society and develop my own in response to those projected by the media in order to understand my position in society and where I stand.

Harper's Bazaar

Harper’s Bazaar

A good example of this critical thinking was developed by a group during the 1930’s by the name of “The Frankfurt School” whom where are group of like-minded Marxist thinkers headed by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. They developed a way of viewing and analyzing the role of the media in terms of researching it in a cultural and critical way, in order to deduce the ways in which the society it was conveying was incorrect and how to correct it.

The role of the media is continually being blown-up as just appeasing the wishes of those who control it and that it’s an “ideological state apparatus”, which in a way is damaging its overall image. But does it really matter who controls the media? If we concentrate on Australia’s media ownership we can see that 11/12 capital city newspapers are owned by Fairfax Media and Newscorp, both of which are companies owned by Rupert Murdoch. Seems a bit od, am I right?

If I consider the media I use everyday and ask myself do I actually trust these sources, the answer for some would be no, which is sad but true. Take Facebook again, the operators of Facebook own everything you post, comment, private message including photos and to me this just doesn’t seem right. One false move and your online image is ruined; forever to be owned by Facebook.

Champagne and Ladders.

What first comes to mind when you see this advertisement? You’ll probably notice an extremely attractive woman (Scarlett Johansson) holding a bottle of expensive champagne (Moet) standing on top of a ladder. Quite simple right? But if you actually take a step back and deconstruct the image in order to deduce what message is being conveyed, it might just be conveying a whole new height of meaning (pun un-intended).

Ow my eyes, too much beauty. Scarlett Johansson in the Moet & Chandon ad campaign.

Ow my eyes, too much beauty. Scarlett Johansson in the Moet & Chandon add campaign.

If we first come down to brass tacks and look at the image closely we see that there is a woman, standing on a ladder in a pale blue dress holding a bottle of champagne amongst several champagne glasses stacked upon each other in what appears to be a ballroom type-setting. Now if we look at these basic factors, its hard to come up with any greater message other than if you drink this champagne you may end up on a ladder and you’ll be a very attractive blonde woman in an expensive looking gown. Seem simple? Bear with me …

Now this may seem simple but there isn’t actually a bigger picture that we’ve deduced from these elements or “signifiers” of the adds and in order to discover these, we must look at the signs which convey meaning by looking more closely at these images…

If we take a second look we see that the unbelievably attractive woman on the ladder is successful (and damn fine) Scarlett Johansson, who is in fact holding a bottle of expensive French champagne Moet (Moet &Chandon), with an almost cheeky facial expression; she’s looking away from the camera which suggests that she might have been caught in the act of drinking the champagne and is embarrassed by the fact that she’s now standing on a ladder surrounded by thousands of champagne glasses. The pale blue dress may represent her innocence, supported by her facial expression in addition to the glasses, which convey her fragility in this very situation. The tilt of her head may also suggest this. The glasses may also suggest that this champagne is not to be consumed by the everyday Joe Blogs (took that name from my Year 12 Business Studies teacher, ha) as it’s classy, expensive and should not be wasted. The positioning of Scarlett on a ladder above all the glasses also conveys a certain air of superiority, as it can be said that the champagne is “above” its competitors.

So now we’ve analysed the elements of the image, what is the message that the marketing team of Moet are trying to suggest? Is it that their champagne has an expensive image, which they’ve shown by the amount of champagne glasses and the endorsement by wealthy and attractive actress Scarlett Johansson and should therefore be only consumed by attractive wealthy people? Perhaps … I’m sure you’ll probably come up with your own ideas of what this advertisement is really saying. After all, who doesn’t love a good glass of champers?

The media “effects model”, just what is so wrong with it?

In other words. what isn’t wrong with the media “effects model”? As David Gauntlett points out in his article “the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their behaviour have remained persistently elusive”, so upon reflecting on this statement and the extent of his article, i found myself asking the question why are there no clear answers as to the effects mass media has on modern day society? In the past and still today, as Gauntlett points out, studies have taken the wrong approach to uncovering the effects of mass media, often showing to be very predictable and direct in their findings.

So after reading this article, there were three main points that stood out to me:

1. The “effects model” attacks the social problems of its subjects in a backwards manner:

Instead of focusing on the source such as the personal context of the individual, researchers tend to start their research with the media and try to draw their own conclusions on how they’ve affected the indivual. However, social factors should definitely be considered as the studies which begin with the focus on the individual rather than the media tend to draw different conclusions which may be misinformed and therefore not c0mpletely accurate. This “backwards” approach looks at the individuals rather than the society they are a part of, rather than society, in relation to mass media and as Gauntlett states: “the backwards approach fails to look at the bigger picture.” So wise, so true.

2. The “effects model” considers children to be incapable or incompetent:

In saying this, when studies of children’s behaviour are conducted using the media “effects model” they often refer to the developmental stages of a child’s life as a hierarchy of stages, often generalising them instead of individualising each case and considering them for the skills that they don’t appear to posess – they are observed as being totally dependent on adults with no apparent social skills or any idea of how to conduct themsleves in their natural environment (much like the teenagers of Gen Y nowadays come to think of it…).

3. The “effects model” is often based on misinformation or artificial studies:

Because of this fact, sociological studies conducted on the effects of mass media (there I go again, please excuse the repetition), are often expensive to and time consuing, so to the sociologists/researchers it only seems right or practical to focus on creating studies that are simple to conduct and of which are characterised/shaped by elemnts of artificiality and as a result, these heavily outnumber the extensive studies mentioned. These “artificial” studies are usually carried out in laboratories or what the researchers term “natural” settings, in situations where (unnaturally), a researcher will arrive unannounced to observe and note the activities they will immerse themselves in. Now because the real studies are conducted in an unnatural environement or assimilation of real life, for example a questionnaire, they aren’t actually capturing the interpersonal interactions that humans have with each other; rendering said information to be artificial and therefore cannot be equated or compared with other cases of similar nature.

So it has been made quite apparent to me that there is quite a lot that is not correct with the media “effects model” which leads me to question how this model is continually being used if its negative effects have been exposed? As Gauntlett points out about the model, “it assumes that the medium holds a singular and clear-cut ‘message’ which will be carried unproblematically to its audience.” hmmm … lots to ponder!

 

Hello

Well here it is, my first post! For those who don’t know me (i’m assuming that’s the majority of people) my name is Aiyana and i’m from Robertson in the Southern Highlands. In choosing to study the Bachelor of Communications and Media I am somewhat following in the steps of my journalist half-sister whose success as a food writer initially inspired me to get into the journalism field. I also really enjoyed doing 4 unit English last year in year 12 and writing is something that i find comes to me quite naturally. I hope to combine my interest in the fashion world with my skills in writing to one day (hopefully) obtain a position at one of Australia’s leading fashion magazines … well that’s the plan for now anyway. I hope you enjoy my blog and any comments or feedback are greatly encouraged!