Time To Reflect..

Wow, I can’t believe it has already been 6 weeks! In such a short amount of time, I’ve had the opportunity to learn everything there is to know about media. Considering we practically revolve around the media and utilise various forms of media every day, it was great to actually expand my knowledge about the media and study it in depth.

When I first got told I had to create and maintain a blog, I wasn’t that excited. For someone who had never blogged before, I knew it was going to be difficult to comprehend the actual concept of blogging. In fact, I was kind of dreading having to post a piece of text for others to read and essentially critique. As I began writing, drafting and posting more and more blogs it became apparent that it didn’t matter what others thought about my work because they were my own ideas and opinions.

During the past six weeks we have encountered a variety of different issues that the media raises. In week 2 we began with the role of the media and what aspects of the ‘media effects’ model were incorrect. In week 3 we were introduced to semiotics and we learned how to identify both the connotations and denotations of an image. In week 4 we discussed who exactly owns the media we use on a daily basis and whether it matters who controls it. In week 5 introduced to the concept of the ‘public sphere’ and discussed how the media contributes to the mediated public sphere. Finally, in week 6 we discussed privacy and surveillance and also examined the associated concerns.

Personally, I believe this experience has been a fantastic way to introduce Communication and Media Studies. Having to create blog posts based on each week’s topic and readings further assisted in understanding the content and the main issues or arguments associated with the media. Reading other people’s blogs has shown how everyone explores the different issues raised each week by expanding on the concepts given to us and expressing their own ideas and personal experiences. Undertaking BCM110 has also helped me fully grasp how much the media dictates and influences my life.

 

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The Simpsons & The Public Sphere

According to Jurgen Habermas, the public sphere is “A domain of our social life where such a thing as public opinion can be formed where citizens deal with matters of general interest without being subject to coercion to express and publicise their views”. Not only is the public sphere a place to debate common concerns, it is place separate from the state, government and the official economy.

The mass media has, and will continue to raise certain issues throughout popular culture in order create subjects for debate in the mediated public sphere. Television shows, in particular ‘The Simpsons’, raise a variety of issues such as religion, racism, stereotypes, sexuality and politics as a way of amusing their audiences, or creating ‘shock value’.

simpsons-comic-con‘The Simpsons’ is an animated sitcom depicting the antics of a dysfunctional family formally known as the Simpsons. The sole purpose of ‘The Simpsons’ is to entertain and amuse its audience. In order to do that, this television series raises numerous issues, but in particular racism. The television series has been running for 24 seasons, which is equivalent to 524 episodes. Within that, there have been numerous episodes which have generated so much controversy due to the utilisation of racial stereotypes, or characters stating racial remarks which have offended certain members of the audience.

One episode in particular, titled ‘Mypods and Boomsticks’ clearly raises issues of racism as Homer becomes suspicious of Bart’s new friend Bashir, who happens to also be Muslim, and invites his family over for dinner. Of course Homer ended up offending this family during the dinner, and therefore decides to visit their home in order to apologise. Instead, Homer over hears the couple talking and believes they are planning a terrorist attack on Springfield Mall, when in fact they weren’t.  On top of that, Homer refers to Allah as ‘Oliver’, and the Koran as ‘the Corona’, which particularly outraged Muslims as it was deemed “the most controversial episode ever”.

“Whoever owns the media, owns the message”

Even though the media has become such an important aspect of our lives, as a society we often underestimate the impact the media has had on the way we live. We practically revolve around the media and what is has to offer. We rely on the information and communication the media provides us with as a way of keeping on track with our daily routines.

Until now, I don’t think I’ve ever considered who actually owns the media and whether or not it matters who controls it. I guess I’ve been so used to just turning on the TV and watching whatever’s on, or utilising social networking sites without even considering who actually owns it, yet alone how much it has influenced me personally. The same goes for watching movies, I don’t actually pay attention to what movie studio or production company actually produced the film.

who-owns-the-media

In Australia, there are 4 people in particular who own the majority of the media. They include:

  • Bruce Gordon
  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Kerry Stoke
  • Gina rinehart

The most important question we should be asking ourselves is ‘Why does it matter who ‘controls’ the media?’. According to Elizabeth Hart, “The new economy makes media dynasties among the most powerful organisations on Earth”. Therefore whoever owns the media becomes an important factor in regards to the flow of information, knowledge, beliefs, values and images. It’s the owners of the media who actually influence what form of media is produced, as well as the content. Media ownership is also important as it has the potential to limit the freedom of expression. The owner of a media outlet can essentially limit the amount, as well as the ability of public discussion when content or a certain topic becomes a public interest.

The ‘Media Effects’ Model

There is no doubt that the media has become an essential aspect of our everyday lives. We depend on the media to entertain us, provide us with current news and also to educate us. Not only do most people underestimate the power of the mass media, they also disregard how influential it can be. Due to this, researchers tend to exploit this power and influence in order to accuse the mass media of portraying and presenting negative influences to their audiences.

David Gauntlett’s ’10 Things Wrong With the ‘Media Effects’ Model’ essentially argues the fact that the ‘media effect’s model has taken the wrong approach towards the “mass media, its audiences, and society in general”. Not only does Gauntlett’s article critique the methods and methodologies employed and utilised by researchers, it explores the notion that the media should not be blamed for having a direct impact on the audience’s behaviour, but instead researchers should begin by looking at society as a whole.

The ‘media effects’ approach, in this sense, comes at the problem backwards, by starting with the media and then trying to lasso connections from there on to social beings, rather than the other way around” – David Gauntlett

In particular, the notion that television makes you fat is a bit extreme. It’s not the television that makes you fat, how on earth can an electronic device such as the television make you fat? There are a variety of factors which can result in being a tad plump, such as level of physical activity, lifestyle, age, genetics, eating habits, socioeconomic status etc. Instead of blaming the media for having a direct impact on weight gain, we need to ask ourselves “What factors contribute to weight gain”, not “Does television make you fat”.

Introduction

Why hello,

This is my first blog post ever, so bear with me. My name is Sierra Galloway, I’m 18 years old, graduated from Bulli High School last year and I’m now studying at the University of Wollongong.

Before and after completing the HSC I was always asked what degree I was planning on undertaking and my response would always be “I actually have no idea”. After thinking long and hard, I wanted to select a degree which embraced what interested me. With that said, I’m now studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies due to my love for television, movies, technology and of course social networking. I will admit that I am addicted to my iPhone as it is my life!

To be honest, I can’t imagine where i’ll be in 5 years time, but i do hope i’ll be doing something i’m passionate about. In order to do that, i need to actually complete my BCM degree and figure out what path i want to take career wise. So hopefully during the next 3 years I have some sort of epiphany and decide what career I want to pursue!

Twitter: @sierragalloway