Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Media reflection

                Over the course of these few weeks I have been forced to explore areas of media that would likely have not even thought to browse. Media has always served as a distraction, that is something I browsed to occupy my mind. And so media consumption for me was always fairly limited, however at certain times it will greatly increase or fall based off the amount of time I find myself wanting to "zone out." The label critical thinking made me think this class would be spent analyzing document after document to understand how to better mesh ones thought process, but I'm glad the content turned out to be the way it did. I feel now that I know a lot more about advertising than I did when the advertising began, the the obvious connection to the world around us made the material really appeal to me. Curriculum in school can get boring because it's hard to find how it is relevant to my life but with this class the relevance was clear. As clear as it could possibly be at 7:18 in the frickin morning. Advertising has long been a fascination of mine and before this class I understoof a few basic appeals that I saw repeated in ads. What this class did for me was expand my capacity to understand exactly what was being thrown at me and why advertisers thought I would relate to their content. Although I know we scratched the surface as far as advertising goes, there were a lot of knew concepts thrown at us and the projects we did both in class and research done for our blogs really  helped me make the connections between the concept and it's real world use. Media blogs were not always my favorite, but what I can say is they really did help me tie together all we were learning. Where I stand now, I have full faith in my ability to understand and disect the the ads that I am exposed to in my daily life. This means that I will better know which companies make quality products and reflect that, and which companies want to appeal to me through subliminal appeals. Media literacy is important as a consumer because having it can help you best choose a product. If a company's appeal is through vague words and false statements, a media literate consumer would be able to understand that that company says it'll give you more than it does. Similarly, if a company is straight forward and does not try to use distraction as a means of appeal, you have a better chance of buying a quality product. Although discerning which companies are quality and which lack such a measure is difficult based purely off advertising,  a consumer can pick up on which ads are a whole lot of bologna and which are worth paying attention to. It's also doesn't hurt that being able to break down an ad is an empowering feeling, as though you are one step ahead of corporate America. From keeping this log I have become more politically informed, more aware of how advertising functions, and more aware of how I interact with media. A sense for how media affects me is also something I have gained some perspective on. Media literacy doesn't necessarily sound like something important in this world, but being able to responsibly and efficiently navigate through the wide world of media is of great value. Media makes up a large part of our lives and this is only increasing. If we want to get the most out of the media and understand what is really being stated and how that message is being conveyed, we must first understand the techniques used. By doing this, we can better sort through the barrage of messages so that we do not get sucked in by the initial appeal of many advertisements.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Charity as a Means of Persuasion

                Now a days there is a large demand for being charitable and for giving to those less fortunate. Anything from donating clothes to the Salvation Army or time in a local soup kitchen is considered to be charitable and is something that we try to do when possible. There is a certain satisfaction we get when we know we have contributed to a cause that benefits the greater well being. This feeling of satisfaction is something that major corporations and companies tap into in an effort to build up the Ethos of their company. By telling consumers that their company will donate to a good cause should they buy their product, companies make consumers feel they have indirectly been charitable. This concept that someone can give to a good cause by simply buying a product is the strategy of offering a simple solution. Someone who feels that they should give back more to the community but doesn't always have the chance can satisfy their minds knowing that a portion the money they just spent on cereal will go to a hungry child in the U.S.
                The issue I have with such promises is that there is no one to ensure what is promised gets fulfilled in its entirety. Companies use vague references when referring to their charitable involvement, which leads me to believe that such companies don't give as much as they say they are. Promises about giving to those in need make a company look good and make consumers feel good about themselves when they buy a companies product, but I question how honest major companies are about what they actually give away. Making us feel good about ourselves is an ingenious way to advertise, and it is clear why companies would make promises about giving back. I just hope that the companies are honoring the promise they make because its important to give all that you say you will.

The Role of The Bachelor is the Media's Wrongful Depiction of Women

               Recently in our critical thinking class, we have been exploring the negative way in which women are depicted in the media today. Some of the things we have been observing and reading about makes me sick to my stomach as I imagine a young girls trying to find who they are through the cloud of media messages that constantly hangs around. Women are sexualized, made to look weak and feeble, and often shown to be dependent on men. One show I feel wraps up these horrible stereotypes into one is the show the Bachelor. The Bachelor is a television show in which women from around the country "compete" for the affections of a single male and whomever the man likes the most gets to marry him. I have seen one episode of the show and what I saw within that hour was enough to make me never want to watch it again. The problem with The Bachelor is that the women are shown as bitchy, manipulating, and overly dramatic. They gossip openly about other competitors, make rude comments, and act dramatic to make the show more interesting. Unfortunately, the women enforce the sassy and unintelligent stereotype to gain viewers, and people who see the show get the idea that that is how women act in the real world.
             In addition, women are sexualized and shown to be objects men can have as underlying messages of the content. The man interacts with the women individually and during such times the women sexualize themselves in an attempt to seduce the man so that they may be selected as his bride. The women flirt and get physical with this random guy on camera, which send the message that in order to be desired by men you have to be sexually appealing. Further, the women are put into a contest for a single mans affection, which tells women that they are objects that men can pick and choose and that they aren't worthies much as a man. These things are all reflected in the content and as far as media goes, The Bachelor is a blatant example of poor media depiction of women.
              Having said all that, I am left to wonder how a show with such a blatant disrespect for women can become so popular among the general population. What puzzles me even more is that a show that objectifies women to the extreme is very polar among women and young girls. One reason may be is that the women shown appeal to our desire for prominence because when beautiful women are gathered and given lots of attention, people wish they were in the same situation. The added "romantic" effect of the show along with the drama that is overly exaggerated all make the show appealing, but still the shows message is a lot to get over. The role of women in the shows audience shows how the extent to which media influences how women view themselves and how the stereotypes are taking hold in their minds.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What Makes the Most Interesting Man in the World so Interesting?

     One ad campaign I've always found intriguing and funny is the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" series of advertisements. The ads depict an older man who is smooth, robust, and quite interesting. He offers several one liners throughout his ads that attract attention to the company, but I am going to focus on the techniques used in the below print ad. The first thing I noticed was the way the black leather, table, and suit were contrasted against the amber background. Black is considered luxurious and edgy, and so the comparison made is that the amber (which resembles the beer itself) is associated with the defined and luxurious look of the print. This idea is summed up nicely by the bit of black that subtly rests in parts of the amber. In addition, the bottles of Dos Equis are contrasted against the dark background so that they stand out. The man holds a cigar in his hand which speaks to the rugged and classy nature of the most interesting man in the world's persona. Two women gaze adoringly at the man while he stares out at you, giving the idea that "all this could be you"if you drink Dos Equis. This idea that you can become a more interesting and sexy person by drinking Dos Equis is an example of simple solutions. It also touches on our need for autonomy as text calls items such as mild salsa and khaki pants boring. Mild salsa in this ad has a connotation of playing it safe because you cant handle the heat and khaki pants are targeted because most males own khaki pants. What this ad is saying is that by drinking Dos Equis you can also become a less ordinary and unexciting person, which plays off the need for autonomy. Overall the luxurious look of the characters, the lighting, the use of an over simplified solution, and the message that we can be less ordinary is how Dos Equis appeals to consumers through this ad.

The Effect of Media in Gaining Attention and Creating "Role Models"

          One of the subtle but serious roles media plays in the world today is influencing who we look up to and how we view them. Certain celebrities and other recognized faces can either have their image glorified or weakened through the way they are portrayed in the various media outlets. This  commonly occurs with memes, parody accounts, and award shows. All three of the aformentioned means of changing ones image grant the person they depict one thing whether the person is praised or criticized: attention. The funny thing about attention is that people will intentionally be absurd or dramatic just to gain attention because regardless of whether attention is negative or positive, you still get attention.
          As of late, I have noticed that political memes have had large popularity in media, most notably twitter. There have been memes for Hillary, Bernie, and Trump that have all used their influence to depict a candidate as being a certain way. The memes for Hillary and Bernie contrasted the two, with Bernie being regarded as more hip and humorous and Hillary being shown as more of an outdated and serious person. In that sense, the memes glorify Bernie for his "cool factor" and poke at Hillary for being more of a "lame and outdated" candidate. These type of memes were extremely popular for quite some time, yet its interesting to note that Hillary has done much better than Bernie and is in position to claim the Democratic nod. To me this emphasizes the idea that even negative attention can help get a person gain popularity, as attention often correlates with popularity. This is also emphasized through the depiction of Donald Trump in media. From what Ive seen, memes and parody accounts have attacked his reputation for being not all that intelligent, being racist, and his appearance. All these things one would say are negative depictions of Trump, and because they are shown in a way that is open to all people who use such media sites, you might expect they may have a large affect on how other view Trump. These sites have not really seemed to have an effect, and if anything they have done something to gain him popularity. The only way I can understand this is that by making humor and giving a lot of attention to Trump, his name has been spread farther and people have associated humor with Trump. If not that, people have been able to identify with his message because it has been spread so far through people attempting to make fun of him or criticize him. Trump often uses this technique of being overly absorb or dramatic to gain attention because he knows that that will crate a buzz around his name, its just kind of ridiculous to me that even a negative buzz can produce positive results.
         In a similar way, awards are given to certain people and that award can influence the way they are perceived. The most notable example of this Caitlyn Jenner, a recipient of of 2015 Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Jenner was praised for her bold transition from a male to a female, and the courage she displayed in doing so. Although i have the upmost respect for Caitlyn and her decision to do what made her most comfortable, I do not believe we should be giving out awards to those for a single decision regarding their life. Its things like this that show people to glorify big names and celebrities even if they are undeserving of such an award. The only difference between Jenner and all the other people who have the courage to do what she did is that Jenner is a celebrity and may face a bit more criticism. But I guess thats grounds for a major award now a days. These type of instances take away from those who have worked hard to become recognized for the award without having the benefit of being a well known. What ends up happening is the same names keep circulating around and people learn to look to those people, even if there are much better people we could be recognizing. Oh well.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Role of Violence in the World of Media

               Everyday we spend entangled in the wide reaching web of media, we are exposed to some level of violence. Whether is a over done action film that has cars blowing up or a twitter vine of someone injuring someone else, violence in all forms has become heavily integrated into our society. That being said, I am left to wonder what forms of violent exposure are most responsive and how the desensitization of our society toward violence has and will have an effect on this world.
              Violence in media has reached a point now where its hard for people to even see that smaller forms of violent exposure are still prevalent. This is likely due in large part to the fact that now a days there are so many ways intense violence reaches us through media. Violent video games, especially first person shooter games, glorify violence and war and are extremely popular everywhere around the world. Games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo all are centered around violent conquests or missions and what is especially concerning is that more and more children are playing these games from a young age. The question that I have then is what effect may a game that graphically simulates a battlefield and war have on a young mind? When I was eight years old seeing an R rated movie with some violence was one of the coolest things imaginable. Now eight year olds  can put themselves behind the gun, and they equate that violent experience with the positive rush of playing a video game. How might this increased expose effect the new generation?

            Beyond the obvious forms of violence we are exposed to such as films and video games, there are more subtle violent exposures that we may not even realize. For instance, twitter and other social media forums promote bullying and videos that feature violent confrontations or disputes can often find their way into your feed. These forms of violence are things we can gloss over or even take humor in if the violent action does not come in the form of an aggressive act. For example a video of a friend tripping one of their friends as a prank. This is a violent action that could hurt the person but when put on social media people justify the action as being a prank, and in doing so desensitize their mind to that kind of violent action. News stations both on the radio and televisions are also constantly spewing information about violent news or actions, so much so that people no longer have such a large reaction to news of violence or to extreme instances of real world violence. All this violence being crammed down our throats constantly has to affect the ay we view violence both in the real world and outside of reality. The question I have is when and how might we see the effect of this desensitization toward violence?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Disappointing Recreation of the Jungle Book

            What could be more cool that a high quality movie where animals talk and human actors stand side by side with digital images. The new Jungle Book movie grabbed my interest immediately when I saw trailers for the film for that exact reason. I imagined the movie would not only be a masterpiece in regards to effects, but I was also intrigued by how the film might put a new spin on an old story. I had seen the old jungle book movie when I was young and I had always liked it. It excited me to follow Mowgli and his daring escape from Shere Khan. Mowgli's easy going companion, Baloo, was my favorite character as a child and the prospect of seeing how he was portrayed in the new film held some influence in my descsion to go see the movie.

            The effects were stunning as I had imagined them to be and I was very impressed by how naturally real actors and digitally produced images coexisted in the film. The film also meant some expectations of mine that were not necessarily as positive as the CGI effects. The movie centered heavily on the violent rages and plots of Shere Khan, the tiger who wants to eat Mowgli, which is something I figured would be more prevelant considering the public obsession with anger and violence in films. I also predicted that the film would follow a lot less of a clear story line and that it would emphasize smaller aspects of the film rather than the story as a whole. For example, after finishing the movie I did not feel like there had been a clear story line that had been followed and then resolved, it was a bit more all over the place. One thing that disappointed me is that Baloo, my childhood favorite, was portrayed as a greedy and manipulative bear who desired the companionship with Mowgli to satisfy his own laziness and desires. In the original movie, Baloo was more of a sincere character who stuck with Mowgli because he had a general concern for him. All in all, the film made me feel wowed by its visual excitement, but unsatisfied with its recreation of the great animated film. The ending did not really seem like a well thought out solution and the interpretation was stale for the standpoint of someone who fell in love with the story as a kid. It seems as though thats the trend of movie now a days; make it as violent and visually appealing as possible and you don't have to have a good story or thought out plot. Its just a shame that Jungle Book had to fall under that category of films, especially considering the greatness of the original film.