I don’t watch a lot of television. This is partly because I live in university accommodation where I have to share a television with hundreds of other students, and partly because I can’t stand a large portion of the shows currently holding airtime. And of all the genres available, it’s reality TV that really grinds my gears.
In this television sort, selections of over-embellished citizens paint crude representations of the public sphere. In their ‘reality’ the viewers see them churn through their daily traumas resulting from irresponsible affairs, gratuitous shopping sprees and flamboyant social events – brain-deadening entertainment that offers amusement to viewers who are desensitised to greater global issues.
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Shows such as Big Brother and Keeping Up With The Kardashians appeal to me about as much as swimming through a sea of stinging jellyfish does, but somehow I seem to be in the minority. I am immensely glad that when I want some insight on public opinion (on a topic of my choice – NOT about the latest Kardashian affair) I only have to look to the online forum.
If there’s one huge benefit of our contemporary media conditions, it’s the universal accessibility of information. The negative aspects of online communication facilities such as Facebook and twitter will forever be scrutinised, but it can’t be ignored that these sites have opened up opportunities for group discussions, sharing of information and instantaneous news updates that were previously unheard of. While it remains necessary to discerningly filter through online material to find reliable sources, it is refreshing that we can now have access to unedited public commentary on any subject. The fact that people can voice their opinions (and be educated of the general public opinion) through comments made on blogs, online news articles, YouTube videos etc. is liberating when compared to the otherwise censored distribution of commercial news forums, or – dare I mention – the cringe worthy discussions generated in reality television series.
At the commencement of my BMC110 studies, perhaps this was the most refreshing (and naïve) thing to hit me. I had never before sought out opinion pieces such as blogs as a source of public commentary – I didn’t have twitter, and didn’t even fully understand the value of Facebook in distributing and selling information.
I can thank my parents for having brought me up in full awareness of negative media effects. However, I still found it very interesting to look further into the theories surrounding the development of the media effects model – in particular, the use of research such as the Bobo Doll experiment, which was defectively designed to achieve a certain end result.
I’ve always enjoyed the analysis of controversial media content so I found Week 3’s content particularly interesting and loved searching for material for my blog. The following week was the most informative week for me however, focussing on media control in Australia. I had never realised the shocking extent to which our news sources are limited! I definitely endeavour to have a much more judicious attitude towards my reception of any ‘news’ since that class!
Overall, the start of BCM110 has delivered all the goods; I’ve gained a greater understanding of the functioning of the Australian media system and I look forward to delving deeper into the subject next term.
Rosencrantz: “It’s alright. I’m demonstrating the misuse of free speech. To prove that it exists.”
Perhaps Attorney-General George Brandis could take a leaf out of Tom Stoppard’s satirical play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Earlier this week, the Federal Cabinet member justified his defence of bigots by quoting an Australian’s right to free speech. Still, his statement shocked and offended many, and inspired me to take a closer look at the way in which ‘freedom of speech’ is cited to excuse deficient journalism.
I recently read The Stalking of Julia Gillard, by Kerry-Anne Walsh. It turned out to be one of the most enlightening books I have ever read. The author, an experienced political journalist with 25 years’ experience in the Federal Press Gallery behind her, devotedly chronicled the political events surrounding Gillard’s leadership scuffles from June 2011 to April 2013. It states the bare facts of every political happening sans embellishment and outlines the incessant ambush of one-sided, deceptive media coverage that directed public opinion, ultimately resulting in Gillard’s humiliating downfall. The book succeeds in bearing light on what was arguably the ugliest and most insalubrious political battle of Australia’s history.
I was left reeling at my newfound understanding of the appallingly entrenched control that Australian political journalists have in directing power and success.
Walsh at one point comments on the relentless barrage of media speculation surrounding Gillard’s ‘impending demise’ that was hurled at the public, despite the fact that the then-Prime Minister still commanded over 75 per cent of her party’s support: “Or do journalists know this, but their ‘reporting’ is propelled by a need to keep the bosses happy by dishing up sensational stories in a competitive market?” (p.83)
This then begs the question – who is necessitating such fallacious reporting? The biggest challenge that Julia Gillard faced as a political leader was in maintaining positive command of the media. Inconveniently, the primary Australian media suppliers (Fairfax Media and News Corp) are controlled by right-wing moguls Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch. In addition to endorsing their own political views through their influence on public opinion, it is forever in their best personal interests to create dramatic headlines, generate shocking stories and fuel pubic speculation – in other words, their primary drive is in big business.
So while Australian citizens (yes- even the press) do have the right to speak freely, the public ought to bear in mind the ulterior motives of our media corporations claiming to deliver ‘unbiased news’.
Walsh, K-A 2013, The Stalking of Julia Gillard: How the media and Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister, Allen & Unwin, Australia.
Stoppard, T 1966, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Grove Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.
It’s the ad that took social media by storm… the fake ad, that is. You will no doubt be familiar with the circulating image that claims to be an ad for pre-owned Aston-Martin cars and which bears the caption, “You know you’re not the first, but do you really care?” A scantily clad female is depicted with one leg resting suggestively on a kitchen bench. The ‘ad’ has (not surprisingly) enraged many social media users; it blatantly objectifies women by likening them to cars, available to be desired and then used by men.
Amusingly, this is not in fact a genuine Aston-Martin ad. Any cluey viewer would have picked up on the typo – “pre owed” cars – and true media detectives have sourced the photo back to the January 2012 issue of Playboy Germany, featuring Rosanne Jongenelen.
However, it turns out that the first part of the slogan – “you know you’re not the first” – is not original, having previously been coined in a set of controversial BMW advertisements, the first of which appeared in Greece in 2008. It was consequently banned. This ad was void of the line “but do you really care?” because BMW anticipated that the audience would intuitively recognise the connotation.
The original ad uses a different image (another woman, posing seductively for the camera), although it denotes the same message. The tagline reminds viewers that, despite any number of previous partners that the woman has had, she remains just as enticing to potential future suitors. One guess at who the target audience is.
It may seem peculiar that the Aston-Martin version has received significantly more publicity than the BMW original did, but when one considers the expansion of social media since 2008, it is hardly surprising. In fact, despite the abundance of negative criticism surrounding the recent revival of the slogan, ultimately, the notion that ‘all publicity is good publicity’ stands true. As a resident of a university college myself, I can confirm that the ad first came to my attention through its being excessively ‘shared’ and ‘liked’ by my tasteful co-residents (all 19 and 20 year old males, all responsible for satiating and inspiring each others’ fantasies; all, “for the boizzzz”).
The notion is of course that sex sells. An alluring photo, coupled with an effective tagline to deliver a controversial message consequently went viral in the social media; and Aston-Martin probably has a spotty, pre-pubescent boy to thank for masses of free publicity, commendably marketed to its key demographic.
What kind of a man are you? I mean, are you even a real man? Are you gallant, brave, a good dancer, patriotic and devastatingly handsome? Well here’s an easy test. If you’re in your early twenties and there is a blushing pin-up gal hanging adoringly off your shoulders then you’re on the right track. You are, by definition, a ‘real’ man.
If you happen to be one of the unfortunate buggers who do not currently fit these criteria, then fear not! The US government has a solution for YOU! Join their submarine service and trot off to war, and you will immediately acquire all of these coveted traits. In the near future, you will return from war, victorious and glowing with charisma – only to be confronted by your ultimate battle. You will be forced to fend off the inexhaustible onslaught of lustful women throwing themselves heedlessly into your attention. But their efforts will be in vain, because by now, you will have found your perfect woman; the love of your life. God save America, right?
This war poster, published in the US during World War II, is a prime example of manipulative advertising. It romanticises and venerates the concept of war, failing to depict the ugly reality that awaited the thousands of young and accomplished volunteer servicemen who yielded to its ‘glory’. However, the poster delivers no more than the enduring marketing prototype. You see, the direct goal of any advertisement is to influence its audience; to affect the way that people behave. I’m sure that most people will agree with this simple concept. And yet, speculation is rife about the media’s negative impact on the well-being of contemporary society. The rising levels of obesity in first-world countries: directly linked to the number of hours spent in front of a television. The countless women suffering from eating disorders or harbouring a poor body image: all thanks to the media’s single-sided promotion of the one, unobtainable, ‘ideal’ look. Violence in children: due to their contact with comparably violent computer games and television shows.
I understand the correlation between a child’s persistent media contact and various behavioural exhibitions. However, I can’t help but wonder whether the finger is being pointed at the ‘media’ – an unspecific body – so that actual people do not have to be held directly accountable. Because, while watching television excessively will statistically result in an overweight child, surely a parent/guardian should ultimately be responsible for ensuring their child’s balanced lifestyle – including maintaining a healthy diet and promoting plenty of regular physical activity. Surely, as a child’s crucial source of guidance, the fiduciary bears the onus of educating their child about the nature of commercial marketing?
Ultimately, I believe it is a personal decision to spend time in front of the television; by doing so one accepts the inevitable barrage of consumer marketing, violence and excessive sexualisation that constitutes contemporary television content. Media and marketing strategies have evolved with technology, but the concept is eternal, and human beings will forever submit to it. It’s time that people take a step back and have a proper gander at the broader situation.
The President and Fellows of Harvard College 2014, Television Watching and ‘Sit Time’, Harvard School of Public Health, viewed on 13 March 2014
Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, Inc 2011, Body Image, Our Bodies Ourselves Health Research Centre, viewed on 13 March 2014
Debatewise: Where Great Minds Differ Violent Video Games, Music and Film are Resulting in an Increase in Violent Behaviour and Crimes in the Real World, viewed on 13 March 2014
Hi – you there! Yes, you with the face. Welcome to my blog! Only read ahead if you are prepared to be inundated by the opinions and whimsical fantasies of a (probably) naive and somewhat scatter-brained uni student.
I habitually say things far too confidently for my relative level of expertise, only to find myself awkwardly scrambling to justify the grounds of my ‘rookie’ statements. However, in this blog I aim to correct that narcissistic habit so that I can put forward well-considered and appropriate arguments whilst still managing to convey my opinion.
Now, disclaimers aside (it had to be done) – who am I? First year Communication and Media Studies student (majoring in Journalism), second year Law student. Studying at the University of Wollongong, born and bred in the upbeat* city of Canberra. I have always been seriously confused about my life direction, but at the end of year 12 convinced myself that I was destined for a life practicing in the medical sciences. Then I didn’t study for the UMAT test and consequently failed to be accepted into medicine at any university. Then I realised that I had always been a much higher achiever in the humanities subjects and at the last minute renewed my university application to Law/Communication and Media Studies. Then I freaked out about my radical change of heart and took a year off to travel the world instead of starting my degree. Unable to postpone my studies any further, I finally accepted my offer at UOW and re-entered the world of textbooks and all-nighters at the beginning of 2013. A year on, and I’m lovin’ it!** Although the “studying” side of things often seems less-than-idyllic, my raging college social life seems to pull me through with a smile (and many hangovers). And the beach!.. I think I’ve always known that I was meant to live the coastal life, and Wollongong sure hasn’t disappointed.
My year of carefree travel ignited a passion in me that can’t be satiated; I love lime milkshakes; I do tend to follow political discourse avidly until I become entirely overwhelmed and frustrated by it and retreat to the equally intense but slightly less qualified(?) news stories featured in Woman’s Day. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years’ time but I hope that it involves a stable job that I adore and which allows me plenty of opportunities to see the world.
Thanks for tuning in!
*if you’re into politics. Which I am, occasionally.
**still not much of a fan of Maccas, however.