Category Archives: Blog #2

Regulation In our Film Industry

Film regulation has been a big issue.  Not just recently, but since movies were first displayed in the 1890’s.  The most significant example that comes to mind is the controversy over the movie “The Birth of a Nation” made in 1915.  This was a movie about the Civil War.  It led to protests in the African American due to its “blackface” interpretation of African American slaves, played by white actors, and its “heroic” interpretation of the Ku Klux Klan.  There was a campaign to ban the film from public display but it was unsuccessful without proper media regulations in play.

In modern times, film production is in such a high demand that there has to be an effective way to regulate all the content that is being distributed to theaters and peoples’ homes.  Throughout the history of film, there have been several perspectives at stake making regulation an issue.  There are the filmmakers who want to express their ideas and concepts through the film they are producing.  Depending on the idea they are trying to get across, they may want to use explicit content to evoke a specific emotion in their audience.  Another perspective is the community.  Like I stated earlier, The Birth of a Nation was seen as offensive and oppressive to the black community because of the way it portrayed the Civil War slaves.  This can be said about any film, and all members of the community will have different views on what should be regulated.  Another perspective is the government.  The government focuses on creating regulations that will prevent filmmakers from making films that are too controversial, but also allowing them to express their interests into their films.

I think if the regulation was written by filmmakers we would see a lot of explicit movies.  Since now we have the CARA (Classification and Rating Administration) that adds a rating to every movie filmmakers would probably manipulate the ratings to favor their movie.  By this, I mean that they would give it a lower rating, making it more likely people would see the film, and more likely parents would take their children to see it.

In modern film I don’t see regulation as that big of a threat at the moment, I’m sure something will happen within the next 10-20 years that will re-ignite peoples’ interest in film regulation, but I don’t currently see it as something that needs a lot of work.  Since ratings are applied to movies, parents are able to see what type of content is in movies and therefore can make the best choice for what their children watch.  In a way it regulates it-self.  Filmmakers want as many people to watch their movies as possible, and if the movie has an NC-17 rating, it wont attract as much of an audience as a PG-13 movie, and might not even be shown in theaters.

Morality in Video Games

Many video games present violent and/or explicit (as some would say) situations that have been debated about over a number of years. As games become more visually realistic, they can make the gamer feel more immersed in the action/play of the game while it “desensitizes players to real-world violence….” (Croteau, 103). Even in games that are not violent or explicit, the gamer can be desensitized as to what is real and what is not. If you die in a video game, you will be able to retry the level with no harm done. In real life, we know that there is no such thing as a second chance at life after death. We only have this one life. Video games are constantly blamed for the violence in reality, such as the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999. Even though violence can occur in video games, that does not mean that the person playing the game is a violent person. Gamers who are able to “distinguish between fantasy and reality prevents them from emulating video game violence in real life.” link

A study at the University of Victoria in Canada suggested that “video games can make children more ethically and morally aware.” From their studies, they reasoned that children learn collaboration and leadership skills along with problem solving and strategizing skills. In some games where the gamer’s actions effect the outcome of the game, bad actions/decisions will result in a negative ending while good actions/decisions result in a positive ending. For example, in the game Dishonored, if the player brings about a high rate of chaos, then there will be more death and the ending will be negative. If the player has a low rate of chaos, then there will be fewer deaths and the ending is more positive. These actions could also teach “children to recognize the cause and effect reality of their actions….” A very popular game that engages the player in problem solving skills is The Legend of Zelda series. In every game there are many puzzles and problem solving tasks that the player must complete to be able to move on to the next task. This game requires the gamer to analyze the setting of the game and the tools that are available for the character to use.

Video games can present violence material, but it can also require the mind to critically think about how to solve problems and puzzles. However the player engages in a game they will learn from their actions. I grew up playing video games. But I was never allowed to play games that were rated Teen or higher until around high school. Personally, I dislike the games that reenact wars and that are too violent because I feel that the situations they present can mock reality. Everyone’s opinion on what is moral and what is not is different and it is up to him or her to decide and chose.

Controversial Games


Croteau, David. Hoynes, William. Media/Society:Industries, Images, and Audiences – fifth edition. SAGE Publications, Inc. 2014 

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!

There’s nothing fair about it.

I want to be treated equally, I want my opinion to matter as much as the next person and I want to be informed in a knowledgeable and worldly way.  But I am not treated equally; I am a college student whose opinion is not taken seriously.  I am not wealthy and I do not know anyone of high statues therefor others opinions are more important then my own and the information I want to hear is pushed to the back burner for those who put profit over quality.

Today’s media has created the issue of content and distribution.  It is a problem of what is determined as information and now seen as relevant in today’s society, along with who get to view this information.  Is everyone well informed or only a select few?  “The media has tremendous potential to inform citizens about events and issues in their world, they also have unparalleled potential for abuse by political partisans and commercial interests” as our book states on page 92.  Is what’s being produced and distributed done in a fair way?  Does the media discuss different viewpoints to properly inform society?

Instead of having pluralistic media that promotes diversity within its content which is readily available to society we have a media that is neither vertically or horizontally diverse.  Although there may be different bias attached to news reports that seems to be the only evident difference.  CNN and FOX  may be known for their strong Democratic or Republican views but ultimately they will end up repeating each other’s stories with no real viable information, it becomes he said she said.  As our book discussed, “the Fairness Doctrine  was established to promote serious coverage of public issues and to ensure diversity by preventing any single viewpoint from dominating coverage”.  The doctrine was not meant to be restraining but instead was meant to balance the field through additional speech and different viewpoints by requiring stations to provide other programming.  Yet in the end growth became equivalent to diversity.  As the news industry began to make more money and as the number of TV and radio stations increased the Fairness Doctrine lost its support and by 1987 the FCC eliminated it.

So to follow the pattern that seems to be developing, high profiting large conglomerates benefited greatly from the FCC’s decision while the everyday person began to receive less and less relevant information presented in a one-sided manner.  I believe that if the people/society were able to maintain a strong input in the context of the media the Fairness Doctrine would still be around today along with a more diverse news outlet. However, as humans we are subjective to our surrounding by nature.  To be objective you must go through the process of removing your own opinion from the facts, which is not something that is easily done especially when profit comes into play.  Our book discusses the fact that by “allowing the marketplace to exclusively determine the content of media can mean that only popular – and thus profitable – ideas are regularly heard and seen in commercial media”.  By eliminating the Fairness Doctrine it allowed for those with single-minded agendas to take root allowing for further political division to take place.  The system has removed the individual thought process; you are now feed information that can make the most profit while maintaining a particular ideology.

Regulating for Morality

The content displayed in the media has been a controversial issue for a number of years.  The content portrayed in the media has influence over everyone who observes it, and as a society, we need to be aware of what we are being exposed to.  Do we want young children having access to inappropriate music, movies, or other forms of media? What will be the affects if they are exposed?  We also have to look at the other side of this, which is freedom of speech and censorship.  I personally don’t like censorship; I think it takes away from the ultimate goal of what the content is supposed to portray.  But then I think about the music industry, and the clean versus explicit version of songs.  For a long time, my mother would only let me purchase the clean version of songs.  Which is fine, but then parts of the music are beeped out, or substituted with milder language.  Is this considered censorship?  Does using profanity really add to the goal of a song?  There are a number of different perspectives to take from this.

Our text discusses how once presidential candidate Bob Dole gave a speech on the evil of pop culture. He stated, “One of the greatest threats to American family values is the way our popular culture ridicules them.  Our music, movies, television and advertising regularly push the limits of decency, bombarding our children with destructive messages of casual violence and even more casual sex.”  The first issue with this is that government shouldn’t regulate what a family views in terms of the media.  That decision should be up to the parents.  Another issue is that not all families are the same, and they have different values.  Dole appears to be narrow minded while generalizing typical “American values”.  Also, not every song, movie, show or piece of media ridicules family values.  I do think that adverting rides the line of indecency, sexism, and a number of other issues, in order to make money.  Dole also argues that, “we must hold Hollywood and the entire entertainment industry accountable for putting profit ahead of common decency.”  If the entertainment industry were held accountable for their actions, society would view things differently and act accordingly.  Top executives benefit from the profits, while society is constrained because they are exposed to a poor influence.  However, there is an argument that censorship constrains the artist and freedom of speech, which is something America, prides itself on.  In this case, one could argue that families benefit from censorship.  Ultimately, I don’t think there should be censorship and regulation by the government.  Nowadays, everyone has access to everything because of social media and the Internet, so attempting to regulate the media is almost impossible.  I think if parents don’t want their children to view certain things, then it’s their decision and responsibility to regulate what they view.  However, I also think that advertisers need to stop objectifying women in their ads.  Women shouldn’t be portrayed like that if men aren’t.  It’s disrespectful and widens the gender barrier, which is a problem to our society.



Net Neutrality, a Must!

Net neutrality has been something that has recently been in the news and on official’s radars. The big question is should the Internet be regulated? As of now, little to none regulation has been placed on the Internet. One court case that recently passed is allowing Internet servers to make streaming deals that allow websites to pay extra money for a faster connection. For example, Comcast could charge Netflix extra in order to allow viewers and subscribers to view things in the “express lane”. While this is a good money making deal, I disagree with it.

            This new regulation solely benefits Internet providers and it hurts websites. What is supposed to be a free roaming area is becoming restrained by money incentives. Just like the conglomerates harming the integrity of the media with their drive to make it a business, money-making monster, implementing regulation and allowing laws like these ruins the purpose of the free Internet.

            If the Internet were to keep net neutrality, websites would continue to benefit, but the way Internet providers make money currently would be the only way they continue to make money. In our world today everyone has money as their end goal and they will do anything to increase revenue for their companies. In order to keep the Internet user friendly, net neutrality needs to be allowed.

            In my opinion, Internet regulations shouldn’t be even be a question, we have survived quite well on the free, deregulated Internet thus far so why do we need to change it? The Internet is for the people and should not have government implemented regulations that allow companies to make a profit off of it. Net neutrality needs to be enforced and kept in order for the Internet to play the important role it does within the community. I am all for a free Internet, a people’s Internet!

The Messiness of Copyright Laws

In our daily lives we are constantly affected by copyright laws, whether we realize it or not.  From listening to music, to writing a paper (or this blog post), to watching and making silly YouTube videos, copyright laws are all around us.  Copyright has been around since the original 1790 Copyright Act so, it is not really a new concept but with the evolution of technology and more media genres in our world, it has been a changing concept.  Today, copyright law protects music, books, and now video games, photo copies, file sharing devices, pictures and many others (Media/Society, 85).    

The Media/Society book places copyright under the “Ownership and Control” category.  This is because copyright is a case of content ownership not content distribution.  The key issue with copyright is how long a work should be protected by copyright and if the copyright owners should charge so much for people to use their work.  For example, when the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1988 was passed, it protected the work for the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years (M/S, 85). This act is also known as the, “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” because it was the Walt Disney Company was the corporation that was really lobbying for its passage to protect Mickey Mouse.  Companies and artists have the right to protect their productions but the important thing to understand is that the law protects the particular way that authors have expressed themselves but it does not protect an idea.  People who are for the copyright laws and the Term Extension Act claim that the laws allow “creators to pass on the benefits of lucrative work to their heirs or profit reasonably from their creation”.  Critics argue that it “undermines the entire purpose of copyright law to both incentivize creativity and also support a robust public domain.”

Section 107 of the United States Copyright Law outlines something called fair use.  This is how we are able to use someone else’s work.  The things that we can use copyrighted works are for research, criticism, teaching, parodies, news stories, and other scholarly work.  This is how we are able to write papers and how Weird Al Yankovic is able to produce songs.   The owners of the copyrighted material definitely benefit from the copyright laws.  They get all of the profits from people buying their work and from people paying to use their work (when it doesn’t fall in the category of fair use).  The people trying to use work for their own creations are constrained by the laws, especially in the music business, like remix artists for example.

If the laws were written by the ‘other side’ the laws would definitely not be as strict.  No one argues that they don’t want any laws at all but they would definitely not be as strict or specific.  “The media industry may not want government regulation in some matters but, in this case, it certainly does want government intervention”.

In my personal opinion, I think that artists and owners should be protected but I think the laws around the music industry should be less strict.  When artists remix songs, they can use someone else’s song if the work is considered “derivative” enough and they can claim authorship over it.  But some remixes have not been “derivative” enough and have been taken down by the government.  There is an unfortunate grey area surrounding the music business.   And I really don’t like grey areas and I think they are messy for everyone.

TV Regulations– more needed?

As we learned last week in our blog, conglomerates are taking over the media, especially television. There are approximately ten companies that own majority of the television stations, broadcast and cable. One may ask why doesn’t the government step in and help diversify TV? They do have regulations in place that limit ownership of a single company from owning television stations that would reach more than 39 percent of U.S., but with loopholes and sweet talk, many companies haven’t gotten around that. And 39 percent is a large percent already.

Through years of debate and lobbying, this number has been slowly increased and many are still arguing for it to increase. The debate that occurs is a confusing one because many want to diversify what the audience receives, but they also believe the media should be a complete democracy and have no government regulations. The problem with that is when you remove government regulations, diversity goes out the window. Big corporations come in and buy out the entire spectrum of waves and only produce what they think viewers want. Having the same people decide what is good for everyone creates a TV world that lacks in diversity.

This regulation benefits big corporations. Like a lot of other regulations that the FCC has implemented, they side with the big corporations because that’s where the money lies. If the government played more of a governmental role and made the regulations stricter, there would be more diversity on TV. But then it’s argued that it wouldn’t be a free media. I agree, it doesn’t limit TV ownership, but in a way it would also allow for more expansive TV ownership. The goal would obviously be to prevent monopolies or oligopolies within the media ownership. I would even go a step farther and say ownership shouldn’t be mixed within different forms of media. Right now it’s allowed, to a certain extent, for a corporation to own a TV network and a newspaper, I think that should also be regulated more. All in all I am not a fan of media conglomerates and I think the FCC could do a better job implementing regulations to prevent this.

The Morality of MPAA Film Ratings

One of the most commonly seen forms of regulation via content and distribution is the rating systems used in film. Though other media such as video games and television use a similar system, I will focus on what is seen and not seen in movies due to this regulation.

Ratings for films are devised by the Motion Picture Association of America, founded as the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America in 1922. This system ranks the “suitability of films’ themes and content for certain audiences,” (Wikipedia).

The ratings are briefly outlined as such (from MPAA Website)

  • General Audience (G): No content that is deemed offensive including themes, violence, nudity, etc.
  • Parental Guidance Suggested (PG): Some content may be unsuitable for children, as it may include some profanity, violence, or nudity.
  • Parents Strongly Cautioned (PG-13): Parents are strongly cautioned to deem if this content is suitable for their children under the age of 13. It may include drugs, or a higher level of profanity, mature themes, violence, or nudity than a PG-rated movie.
  • Restricted (R): Children under the age of 17 must accompany these films with an adult. These often feature heavily mature content.
  • No One 17 and Under Admitted (NC-17): Content is only appropriate for adult audiences due to intensely mature features of the film. Not necessarily pornographic or obscene.

Six major film studios make up the MPAA including Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. The issues presented by these large corporations being members of the MPAA is the bias given when rating these films. It would seem that the larger corporations involved with the MPAA would benefit from this system, where the independent films are restrained by these ratings.  If smaller independent films are produced, is it possible that they are either unrated or rated unfairly so as not to take away from possible screen time for films from these major production companies? If, say, an unbiased third party were to do these ratings, it is possible that they would be rated on a more accurate scale?

For example, The Wolf of Wall Street, an extremely mature movie with a large amount of nudity and sexuality, was rated as ‘R’, rather than NC-17. It dances along this very fine line, but because it was produced Paramount Pictures, it is possible that the MPAA rating was lower to promote a larger audience to view the film in theaters.

Another issue is the morality of film ratings in general. Who is to say that the contents of a PG-13 would be offensive to a parent with very liberal ideals, versus an extremely religious parent who is offended by profanity and nudity of any kind. These ratings, therefore, are seemingly an inaccurate judge of the films of today’s society. They do not fully represent the whole of the population.

I believe that by implementing a non-biased party with representatives from extreme levels of content sensitivity, the rating system could be vastly improved to reflect the feelings of more Americans, and would also lose the bias of a large conglomerate-driven organization.

MPAA Website

Regulations and Rating in Film and Television

In the United States, movies and television are such a large part of our culture. We see advertisements for them everywhere and we look forward to watching them. For me personally, movies are a big deal. I drop movie quotes several times a day, and look forward to watching different films in my downtime. As a film student, much of my time is spent looking for new and different styles of filmmaking. Often times, people seem to forget that film production is in fact a form of artistic expression. However in 1934, with the birth of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the film industry has been subject to regulations and censorship. Ever since, there has been huge controversy as to whether film and television belong under the constitutional right of “free speech”.

The television program, Family Guy Pushes the Limit of what they can and cannot do on television. Here is a satirical video in which the producers of the highly popular show address the FCC on a  warning they received:

Over the years, regulations in film and television have been pushed by the industry. To the filmmaker, they are simply creating art, but the FCC often sees this “artistic expression” as lewd and lascivious to the American people. Some things that are shown on television and in movies are definitely not appropriate for some viewers. For example, if a film features nudity or racy content, a child should not be able to access or view it. But the inappropriateness of a film doesn’t only apply to children. Often times a film will produce moral issues or ideas, which may not agree with someone’s personal ideologies. The rating system we have today is an insufficient way to tell people how a movie is represented. It should not only have a simple rating and a short description why, but there should be more categories to place the films. Rather than the G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 system, there should be categories like; political content, religious content, dark humor, etc.

In my personal opinion, the FCC is a necessary organization, but they overstep their bounds. Some content is definitely inappropriate for many viewers, however in the consideration of free speech and artistic expression, they should be viewed on their own terms and rated accordingly. In a perfect world, those who have worked in the film and television industry should make the ratings and offer regulations. If judgments are to be made, than people with the experience in the industry should be the ones making the decisions.