All posts by emilybackus7

Cupid’s Chokehold: Propelling Societal Stereotypes

As I was scrolling through a multitude of videos, photos, and other media content online in order to find stereotypical misrepresentations, I stumbled across a music video I know well.  Since I was obsessed with the song in middle school, I have seen the video a variety of times. However, I’ve never really thought much about it and have never analyzed the ideologies it presents. This time around while watching the video for Gym Class Hero’s “Cupid’s Chokehold”, I recognized a blatant stereotyping of both gender and race.

The main character in the video’s story is a young, African American male who is looking for “Mrs. Right”. While the video attempts to break down racial stereotypes by showing the African American male with both black and white women, gender and racial barriers are still incredibly apparent. The first woman that comes into his life is a “hot” African American woman who is characterized as little more than a sexual object. She is dressed in scandalous clothing–short shorts, a belly-revealing top, and heeled boots. This woman represents the perfect stereotype of what every guy wants in a girl.  She is beautiful, sexy, and as he states, “she even cooks me pancakes and gives me alka seltzer when my tummy aches, if that ain’t love then I don’t know what love is”. This lyric suggests that it is a woman’s job in a relationship is to cook, take care of the man, and look pretty. The stereotype is furthered by the scene in which the girlfriend brings home the groceries (a woman’s responsibility) and finds her boyfriend and his friends gambling (a typical male hobby).

The second woman he dates not only represents a sexual being, but also represents an individual of the Caucasian culture. This woman wears a revealing dress, kisses him seductively, and clearly has a lot of money. It is apparent that she has little depth and is only appealing because of her physical attractiveness and wealth. When he goes to a party at her apartment, the room is filled with many “boring white men and women”. They all seem to be fairly rich, uptight, career-oriented, and absolutely no fun. This party is a complete bore to the boyfriend until his ethnic, lower class male friends come in to “spice up the party” by rapping. At first, the reaction from the white party-goers is both surprise and disgust. This represents a clear barrier between the old and young and black and white demographics.

One scene in the video shows the male’s parents as he tells them about the women he has met. The mother in the music video is on the phone with her son in no other place than–the kitchen! She is wearing an apron, is clean-cut, and is making lemonade. She is clearly a stay-at-home mother who cleans and cooks for her family. The father on the other hand, looks like the breadwinner. He is relaxing in his big chair, wearing a golf shirt, and smoking a pipe. After thinking about these images, I recognized that the creaters of this video were working with a clear definition of gender roles. While the creative team could have chosen to represent the mother and father in many other ways, each role was chosen with purpose.

At the end of the video, the girl he ends up with is the same stereotypical girl that we see “getting the guy” at the end of romantic movies. She is the good-girl type who is shy, humble, and intelligent.

While this is just one of the many music videos that have apparent or hidden ideologies, Cupid’s Chokehold is a perfect example of blatant stereotypical messaging. As a society, we all have the ability to be autonomous thinkers, but with these messages coming at us in many different forms through many different platforms it is valid to ask the question: how much affect are these messages really having on us? How many of our beliefs are truly our own?

To see the video, click here!!^^

 

 

Participatory Media & The Boston Bombing

With every corner we turn,  a new online platform for sharing information is becoming available. From Facebook to Twitter to Reddit to Instagram to personal blogs, being a part-time journalist is a job citizens all over the world today are taking on. Among the thousands of professional news-reporters, billions of people simply interested or involved in the current news stories are exposing us to their own unique content.  A Reuter’s Blog by Feliz Salmon suggests that in many ways, the bombing at the Boston Marathon  “represented the first fully interactive news story” and is the perfect example of the power social media platforms and citizen journalism has on news reporting today.

Within a few hours of the bombing, Twitter was dominated by the hashtags #bostonmarathon, #bostonbombing, and #bostonstrong. In their participatory roles as “gatewatchers” or curators of information, individuals shared information from others and the rate of retweeting went from 3 and 5 retweets per tweet before the bombing to 224 retweets per tweet following the tragedy. Facebook was flooded with empathetic statuses and photos linking to news articles. People all over the world were questioning, sharing, reacting, and reporting on the news event by writing personal stories and joining in on the global dialogue surrounding the  bombing crisis. As we were talking about in class, the Internet’s capacity for audience-interactive news reporting is not without both positive and negative consequences, however.

Advantageously, the diversity of perspectives and viewpoints shared during the bombing crisis allowed it to be seen through a variety of different lenses. iPhones and personal cameras enabled individuals to disseminate information that news crews with heavy equipment were unable to capture. In some cases, the FBI heavily relied on the citizens as they were often able to capture photos of the event and share in-depth stories that professional news reporters did not have access to.  Instead of a news reporter sharing an interview with a witness, witnesses were sharing their stories online first hand. One brilliant example of citizen participation in news reporting was the collaboration between Watertown community members and one of the oldest news sources, the police. The citizens listened diligently to information released on the police scanner and live-tweeted exactly what they heard. This allowed the public to receive information hours ahead of the television networks and eliminated the need for these networks altogether. Each occurrence in the Boston Marathon bombing was documented by someone who was tweeting or sharing the information through another social media website. I found an article that examines one example of a compilation of 26 tweets that “broke the news” about the Boston bombing. You can find the article here! While this influx of information was seen in many ways as beneficial to the public, the “information-overload” on these media platforms hinder our ability to clearly define the lines of fact and fiction.

Much of the professional news information distributed online was riddled with misinformation due to the “get it here first” mentality.  Journalists and news networks released information that was inadequately researched in order to be able to say “you heard it here first!” The expediency of publishing information online as a result of current technology caused more harm than help in this situation. The New York Times, in its effort to sell their newspapers and get website views, jumped to conclusions about the suspects being terrorists. Information reported by this large news outlet was copied and launched in smaller-scale newspapers and investigative reporting sites, even though much of the information was inaccurate. This caused a domino effect of misinformation, leading to the public’s inability to respond appropriately to the event. These mainstream media failures were memorialized by citizens via Twitter with the hashtags #CNNFail and #NYTfail. In this case, it’s clear that the “Gatekeeping” (or filtering of information) in professional news reporting fell short during the Boston Marathon bombing.

Citizens recognized the under-performance of the mainstream media outlets and stepped in to do their own “investigative journalism”. While this event demonstrated the value of citizen reporting, it also revealed the risks. Citizens too had shortcomings in the accuracy of the information they released online. For example, Reddit users misidentified the second suspect as a Brown University student named Sunil Tripathi  who had gone missing two weeks before the bombing. Internet users posted messages suggesting the speculations on the Facebook page Tripathi’s parents used to raise awareness about their missing son. This illegitimate allegation resulted in a large amount of unnecessary pain for the family. A myriad of hoax videos and conspiracy articles were also released by “prosumers” (the audience who has gone from simply “consumers” of information to “producers” of information) which caused confusion and misguidance among community members who were attempting to discover the truth.

The media coverage surrounding the Boston bombing is only one example of the participatory culture of the web and its advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps this leads us to question as a society, “how is the definition of journalism changing?” “Has the internet inhibited or advanced our knowledge of events as a public?” We can be sure, however, that when examining the effect social media has on informing the public, we can conclude that news reporters and citizen journalists cannot always be trusted to release a quality of work  that is diligent and accurate–especially in times of crisis.

Sources:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/04/social-media-and-the-boston-bombings-when-citizens-and-journalists-cover-the-same-story/

http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2013/05/can-citizen-journalism-move-beyond-crisis-reporting127/

http://watchdogwire.com/blog/2013/04/26/boston-and-the-case-for-responsible-citizen-journalism/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/us/sunil-tripathi-student-at-brown-is-found-dead.html?_r=0

Ownership and Control: Net Neutrality

The Internet has been a largely democratic instrument in the lives of the public for the last few decades. The Internet does not discriminate against users or content and is a cost-free platform for people all over the world to voice their opinions and engage their interests. Access to various news websites, social media sites, and other informational pages allows the reader free reign when deciding what information to tune in to. However, Internet equality has recently become a topic of discussion, as the government is currently debating whether the law should require net-neutrality. Net neutrality prohibits Internet providers from creating coalitions with certain websites and encouraging the usage of those sites by blocking their users from viewing similar sites. A recent court case passed in order to allow Internet providers to create streaming deals with certain websites in exchange for a faster connection to their users. With the amount of democratic compromises our country is already dealing with, keeping the Internet equal and free is incredibly important.

This issue is getting a lot of attention in the news as changing the equality of the Internet would effect both companies and users alike. For me, not being able to access websites that I use daily such as CNN, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon would have a profound effect on the information I acquire and the way I interact with the world-wide web.

The effects would also be seen at the company level. Websites will now have to pay extra money to internet providers in order to maintain the amount of people visiting their sites daily. For example, if Comcast signed a deal with the New York Times and therefore slowed down streaming to sites such as the Denver Post, the Post would lose many of its online readers. This would be a detrimental loss considering the amount of Denver community members who probably use Comcast. The beginnings of these coalitions could mean conglomerates being formed and dominating not only television and film, but the internet as well. The only benefiting parties in this situation would be the companies who joined forces. These conglomerates could shape the information we receive, potentially in an unfair and biased manner. With less access to different outlets of information, the public will not be able to receive well-rounded news information.

If the internet was forced to be equal and fair by banning companies from engaging in this act of conglomeration, the people would be much better off. Everyone would be able to have equal access to any information and our country would be able to make decisions regarding that information without government intervention.

In my opinion, the government should not allow companies the choice to practice net neutrality or not. However, if the government is going to allow providers the option, there should be heavy regulations imposed. For example, one regulation could require unbiased news reporting. Overall, the best thing for the public would be for  the FCC to amend this legislation in order to continue to allow discrimination-free access to all the information the internet provides.

If you’re interested, the video below provides a bit more information about the court ruling and what the end of net neutrality could really mean for our country. Very interesting!

Viacom, INC.

Viacom, Inc. is a global mass media company based in New York City, NY. The conglomerate has primary ownership in the realm of United States cinema and television. Viacom owns a large list of subsidiaries, or “a company that is completely or partly owned by another corporation”. This corporation in this case, is Viacom. Viacom is now the fourth-largest media conglomerate in the world following the Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, and 21st Century Fox. Viacom reaches about 700 million global subscribers through their cable networks, film corporations, and various web pages. Below is a list of Viacom’s most notable holdings/subsidiaries:

Ownership Map:

Cable Networks

Shockwave

BET Networks

BET

BET Event Productions

BET Hip Hop

BET Pictures

CMT

CMT On Demand

CMT Pure Country

CMT Radio

Comedy Central

Jokes.com

Logo

MTV Networks

MTV

MTV Hits

MTV Jams

MTV2

MTV Boombox

QOOB

TMF (The Music Factory)

RateMyProfessors.com

Neopets

Nick at Nite

Nick Jr.

Nickelodeon

Nick Arcade

Nickelodeon Consumer Products

Nicktoons Network

TeenNick

ParentsConnect

Quizilla

Spike TV

Spike Filmed Entertainment

TV Land

VH1

VH1 Classic

Viacom International Media Networks

Film

Paramount Pictures Corporation

MTV Films

Nickelodeon Movies

Paramount Animation

Paramount Home Entertainment

Paramount Pictures

Viacom Digital

EPIX

TheGodfather.com

iCarly.com

TheLastAirbenderMovie.com

PetPetPark.com

SouthParkStudios.com

 

**You can find the full list on their website

 

Viacom is short for VIdeo & Audio COMmunications. It is clear that that name fits them well as most of the subsidiary companies they own, are television channels and film companies that we recognize. Before doing this assignment, I didn’t know exactly what Viacom was and had never heard the name except in past film classes I have taken. However, when looking over the list, I was amazed by the amount of holdings in the film and television industry they have. While “Viacom” may not come up in every day conversation, a lot of these TV channels are ones that most of us have grown up with and are still part of our daily lives. It’s crazy to think about Viacom’s influence on my life personally. When I was younger, I religiously watched television shows on Nickelodeon. As I got older, I became more interested in music and turned to MTV, VH1 and CMT for a lot of my entertainment. I have also seen and enjoyed many movies produced by Paramount Pictures over the years. All of these companies have had an imprint on my life and many of yours too, I’m sure. However, I had no idea that it is Viacom who owned these companies and promoted all of the branding that came from them.

Owning all of these companies creates a synergistic work environment and allows Viacom to support these companies and for the companies to give back in money and popularity. One example of this is when the Rugrats movie came out in 1998. Viacom helped Nickelodeon by providing them with $100 million dollar support. Their sister companies, VH1 and Showtime, each aired a half-an-hour special about the upcoming film to encourage their viewers to see the movie. Entertainment Tonight, a Paramount Television show, also promoted the show by showing segments and creating hype around its release. All of the hype surrounding the film would, in turn, return profits to Viacom and would create opportunities for the branding of toys, clothing, VHS tapes, etc. These too, would provide Viacom with additional revenue. The Viacom Conglomeration’s impact in the media industry has been hefty thus far. The companies have been successful in creating a cooperative environment and returning profits to benefit all, making them the fourth largest media industry to influence our lives in such a profound way.

The information I used and more information can be found at the following sites:

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1998/11/23/251439/

http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=viacom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viacom