Month: April 2014

[Insert reflection pun here]

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I’ve loaded up one of my favourite 90s playlist, and its time to reflect. Unfortunately its not reflecting on how amazing 90s music was, instead its on the last 6 weeks of BCM110.

The topics so far in BCM110 have really solidified what I already thought about the media, but has given me more experienchhe in assessing and discussing issues.

Doing PHIL106 last semester gave me prior knowledge of the concentration of media ownership and in particular, the influence of Rupert Murdoch and Gina Rinehart. This was a bit of an advantage for me going into this subject, knowing what to expect, as most people will do PHIL106 next semester. The media effects model is an interesting concept to me, seeing as so many people buy into this idea that can be very easily deconstructed and essentially debunked, however the media can have a large impact on many groups, including children, adolescents and “uneducated” people. It was interesting to weigh up between the mainstream, biased media and the sphere of citizen journalism, which although well-meaning, can sometimes in itself be uninformed or misdirected.  

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I enjoyed the blogging aspect of the course as it gives me a platform to work, rework and evaluate my opinions on a topic in a practical and visual way. This is not just helpful as a way of getting my views out there for others to read, but also as a way of learning to properly articulate the thoughts that are milling around inside my head in a coherent and concise way. Because I am typically a very vocal, opinionated person, I struggled with the “concise” part of my blogs, usually hitting the word limit before I felt I had even gotten to the crux of my argument. I especially enjoy the informality of blogging. I have never been very good at formally articulating my opinions in essay form, as I find humour is the easiest and best way to communicate to someone, and that usually doesn’t go down to well in formal essays. It was also good to be able to use the blogs to read others student’s opinions on aspects of the course, especially to see what other’s minds jumped to when we were asked to find a “controversial” text to discuss in the semiotics post.

Here is to another four and a half years at Uni!

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References:

Reddit says sorry for Boston bombing ‘witch hunt’. 2014. [online] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-23/reddit-apolgises-for-boston-witch-hunt/4645386 [Accessed: 14 Apr 2014].

Week 8. 2010. In the Net, [blog] April 1, Available at: http://lydiachanfor125.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/week-8/ [Accessed: 14 Apr 2014].

“They keep promising dragons, but all I get are more floppy weiners in my face!” – South Park in the Mediated Public Sphere

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Judge Lynn Cook-Stanhope …. called [South Park] a “vulgar, socially irreverent program that contributes nothing to society.”

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The tv show South Park has run for 17 seasons (247 episodes), and has spawned one feature length film, 6 video games and countless different types of merchandise.

Almost everyone is in some way familiar with South Park, regardless of whether they like it or not. It has an almost cult following with its satirical take on many current social and political issues. So many, that Brooklyn College in the USA offers a course analysing it. In the mediated public sphere, South Park is a fresh breath of vulgar air in an increasingly politically correct environment.

South Park has made jokes about racism (the only black character being called Token), anti-Semitism, homosexuality, religion (including Christianity, Mormonism, Scientology and Islam), abortion, war, sexism, pedophilia, and just about any other slightly controversial issue you could imagine.

Despite the mediated public sphere being criticised for being too trivialised and too spectacular, I believe in the case of South Park it works to its advantage. I’ve always believed that the easiest and best way to get around an awkward issue is with humour. Perhaps I was raised on too much South Park, because sometimes I offend people. South Park gives viewers an opportunity to laugh at some of the more controversial issues in contemporary society, and acts as an icebreaker to allow discussion about them. It also is fragmented, as its crude and offensive jokes means that it really only appeals to a certain group of people with a particular sense of humour.

South Park has also somewhat unintentionally raised issues of censorship. In 2010, The Comedy Channel censored the animation of Muhammad in episodes 200 and 201 of South Park, after statements that could be construed as death threats were posted online. This year, the much-anticipated and much-delayed video game “South Park: The Stick of Truth” was released, with some gameplay aspects of the Australian version censored, despite it receiving an R18+ rating. Apparently, fighting a giant Nazi-zombie fetus, recently aborted from Khloe Kardashian is okay, but anal probing someone crosses “the line”.

Not every episode of South Park is crude and offensive though. Once you look past the face value, you can see the political, moral and social issues raised in some episodes. While laughing at Britney Spears’ camel toe you can see the undeniable issue behind it: a celebrity really could blow their head off, and the media would still focus on what they looked like while they were doing it.

While laughing at the boy’s parents hiring actors to pretend they are the future, drug-addled version of the kids, it also forces you to think about two issues. Drugs in society, and the influx of moral panic in parents.

While you can criticise South Park for being both trivial and spectacularized, it undeniably contributes largely to debate in the mediated public sphere in regards to a multitude of contentious matters. It can be argued that South Park only appeals to some people, but 2014 will see it through it’s 18th season, with no signs of stopping.

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Judge slams ‘vulgar’ South Park for ‘Kick a Ginger Day’ attacks – Calgary – CBC News. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/judge-slams-vulgar-south-park-for-kick-a-ginger-day-attacks-1.791366. [Accessed 09 April 2014].

South Park censored after threat of fatwa over Muhammad episode | Television & radio | The Guardian. 2014.  [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2010/apr/22/south-park-censored-fatwa-muhammad. [Accessed 09 April 2014].

Matt Stone on South Park: The Stick of Truth’s Censorship – IGN. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at: http://au.ign.com/articles/2014/03/08/matt-stone-on-south-park-the-stick-of-truths-censorship. [Accessed 09 April 2014].

Globalisation in the gaming sphere – friends you’ll never have to put pants on to visit.

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Xbox Live – available both on the Xbox 360 and the new console, Xbox One – is Microsoft’s online gaming world. Xbox Live (as of December 2012) is available in 41 countries or territories.

Within seconds, you can pick a game, log on, be matched with one of 48 million users and play a game – in real time – with a group of people in a variety of different countries. 40 years ago, this would have seemed impossible. Today, millions of players globally complain when their service lags by just a few seconds. Unfortunately, some players use this service to anonymously and mercilessly bully other players, including children. Technological advances and globalisation bringing people closer together than ever before, without even needing to leave your couch, and that is what it comes down to?

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As well as general bullying, Xbox Live can be branded a “boys club”, with Microsoft banning 100 000 users in one week for sexism. The website Fat, Ugly or Slutty parodies the stereotype that all women who play video games must be fat, ugly or slutty, by posting pictures of some of the “creepy, disturbing, insulting, degrading and/or just plain rude messages” female gamers are sent.

Because everyone knows that messages like this are the best way to woo a girl:

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Of course, not all Xbox Live users are sexist, bullying, bad people. Same goes that they aren’t all greasy, unshowered 14 year old boys playing Call of Duty. Maybe. As with pretty much every part of the internet, it offers anonymity, and the chance to be as much of a douchebag as you like with little or no repercussions. You can report users, resulting in their banning, but that is reactive, rather than proactive – stopping the bullying before it happens.

But once you get past that, you realise what an amazing network it is. You can befriend people you will never actually meet, bond with them and create communities that transcend cultural and geographical boundaries, based completely on a shared interest in gaming. Ending up with stories like this:

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But is this enough of a reason to put up with the potential bullies?

 


 

References:

 P4rgaming.com. 2014. Over 100,000 Banned from Xbox Live Due to Halo 4 Sexist Comments Ban – Play4Real. [online] Available at: http://www.p4rgaming.com/over-100000-banned-from-xbox-live-due-to-halo-4-sexist-comments-ban/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Fatuglyorslutty.com. 2014. Fat, Ugly or Slutty. [online] Available at: http://fatuglyorslutty.com/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Reddit.com. 2013. People bullying little kids on Minecraft XBOX Live : Minecraft. [online] Available at: http://www.reddit.com/r/Minecraft/comments/1o0ue8/people_bullying_little_kids_on_minecraft_xbox_live/ [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Wikipedia. 2014. Xbox Live. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox_Live#Availability [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

 Xbox.com. 2014. Xbox Live Gold – Xbox.com. [online] Available at: http://www.xbox.com/en-AU/Live?xr=shellnav [Accessed: 9 Apr 2014].

Why does it matter who owns the media?

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The above graphic shows that 70% of all metropolitan newspapers sold in Australia are owned by one company – News Ltd.

This is the company that will dedicate 3/4 of its front page to The Wiggles, and the remaining portion to warning Aussie Battler’s about the influx of boat people. And we all know what those boat people do.

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The issue with this concentration of media ownership is that many Australian’s aren’t aware that what they’re reading or watching may not be the truth or the whole story. When a company controls the media, they control public discourse by choosing which issues and which arguments get published. It is very difficult to look at any News Ltd. publication and assume that it is fair and unbiased reporting:

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This isn’t just an Australian issue. 90% of media in the US is owned by just 6 companies.

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The issue with this concentrated media environment is that it becomes harder and harder for consumers to know who owns a certain publication, and whether or not you are getting a complete picture, or just fragmented bits of a story. Media companies can use these fragments to their advantage to drive public opinion one way or another, without actually providing a holistic, impartial news experience.

Now, without trying to insinuate that the general public are unintelligent, uninformed sheep, but while still keeping these useful words in mind:
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most people won’t question what is passed on to them as news. Furthermore, if enough people say it, it becomes true. If someone picks up two different newspapers (without realising they are both owned by the same company), that have reported on the same issue in the same way they will be more likely to believe that viewpoint when compared with one independently owned news source reporting on it in a different manner, regardless of which is more fair or correct.

 

What is scarier, the fact that the largest sold newspaper in Australia more often than not has sport on it’s front cover, or that that’s what the people prefer?

 


 

References:

Media concentration in Oz « Digital Eskimo. 2014.  [ONLINE] Available at:http://digitaleskimo.net/portfolio/newsstand-infographic. [Accessed 02 April 2014].

Who controls the Media?. 2014.  [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theglobalmovement.info/wp/areas-of-focus/global-financial-war/who-controls-the-media. [Accessed 02 April 2014].

One For The Road: George Carlin: Stupidity. 2014.  [ONLINE] Available at:http://birdieguy.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/george-carlin-stupidity.html. [Accessed 02 April 2014].

Xbox One – The Always-On Entertainment System

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Xbox One – The All-In-One Always-On Entertainment System

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A marketed feature of the Xbox One as a new console is its always on, always listening technology, the Kinect. Microsoft has found a way to impose itself into your lounge room, 24/7, in an Orwellian fashion. Your Kinect can be turned off or disconnected, but only after Microsoft’s backflip on a raft of original features.

From a convenience standpoint, having a voice activated, always on console is fantastic. As an Xbox 360 owner, there has been countless times where I’ve gone to pause a movie and my controller has disconnected, or accidentally sat on it and skipped forward a chapter. Or my personal favourite (that apparently only my controller does), starts to fast forward a second before the controller’s battery dies completely.

Microsoft went into the Xbox One launch with the ideology that we need an always on, part of everyday life console. The reality is, while convenient, it is unnecessary. It’s nice to come home from work, sit on the couch and say “Xbox on”, but is it worth the potential security and privacy risks for the added convenience of voice control as opposed to leaning over and picking up your controller?

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While I’m sure (or at least I hope), that Microsoft/NSA staff aren’t actually sitting at their desks watching you masturbate, the idea that a camera is running through my lounge room all the time would make No-Pants-Saturday gaming sessions just that little bit more awkward. Winston Smith didn’t like it, and I’m not entirely should that I would either.

Microsoft’s original ideology was innocent enough: to provide consumers with 24/7, seamless access to practically anything they want – games, music, internet browsing, movies. But in doing so, they creating a new tension between themselves and their customers, with many planning to boycott the console if the Kinect had to be always connected. Regardless of their intent though, Microsoft is toeing a fine line between entertainment and surveillance.

 

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