But First, Let Me Take A Selfie

In the media-driven world of today, we are continually bombarded with information spiralling in from all corners of the web, this is known as the ‘public sphere’. According to Habermas, the public sphere is a domain where people interact with each other about general matters of interest. Facebook, is an excellent example of a public sphere, as it is dominated by social interactions and ‘connections’. From people sharing a common interest by ‘liking’ a certain group, or joining a trend such as the ‘neknomination‘ trend or the ‘Kony2012‘ trend, Facebook, as a public sphere, encourages vast amounts of user generated content to emerge.

Among many ridiculous trends to emerge within the sphere of Facebook include the #nomakeupselfie. Advertised as a Breast Cancer awareness campaign, unlike none other, the #nomakeupselfie, aims to raise awareness for, you guessed it, breast cancer. Although Cancer Research received £2 million pounds in 48 hours last month according to the Independent. This Facebook ‘fad’ has become somewhat of a joke in the public sphere with many people refusing to partake due to a belief that taking a selfie won’t make a difference, or rather because they’re ugly.

In any case, using a public sphere, such as Facebook, to raise awareness for Breast Cancer is not only absurd, but also buy’s into individual vanity and narcism. Everyday we see advertisements for Breast Cancer awareness, from water bottles to car bumper stickers, how does showing everyone in your newsfeed just how good you look without makeup compare to simply donating money or time to seeing actual results?

Truth is, it doesn’t. Just like the failures of Kony2012, #nomakeupselfie buys into the idea of clicktivism… or slacktivism for those a little more negative. According to Kate White, from the University of British Columbia, “The way we define slacktivism is when the consumer is willing to make small tokens of support, when support is [given] in a very public in nature and people can kind of signal to others that they have already helped the cause they actually aren’t more likely to help later.”

This idea that the ‘bravery’ of a woman taking a selfie without makeup, is comparable to a women braving Breast Cancer, is almost the same as the belief that clicking ‘like’ or ‘I support’ on an issue such as Kony2012, will actually make a difference. Alex Mitchely, from The Citizen writes, “why are people not doing something a little more daring than not wearing makeup? I suppose it is equivalent to asking men to not shave for a day. How incredibly challenging is that?”

Essentially, don’t be lazy, go out and change the world, don’t just talk about it.q3pq4d

We All like Sheep Have Gone Astray

Let’s take a moment to talk about the illusion of free choice. According to Business Insider “Media has never been more consolidated. 6 media giants now control a staggering 90% of what we read, watch or listen to”. This consolidation refers to the fact that, in America, only 50 media companies owned 90% of the media in 1983, as compared to the mere 6 owning it now. In Australia, this problem seems to be much more concentrated with only 7 main share holders “owning” the Australian media. These consist of Rupert Murdoch, Gina Reinhart, James Packer, Bruce Gordon have stakes in companies such as Ten News, Win Television, Fair Fax Media, News Limited and many more. With the “owners” of Australian media being less than the number of fingers I have on both hands it’s easy to see how this illusion of free choice is apparent on our TV’s, radio’s and in our newspapers.

With few people in power, it’s easy to conclude that suggested the media is only “serving the interests of those in power” (Turnbull 2014). However, what would the media be like, if not regulated/backed by these share holders? On one hand, we could see an increased rise of user generated content, citizen journalism, giving a voice to the voiceless. Therefore leading to the reputable nature of the media/journalism becoming flawed. On the other hand, we could see the excuse of ‘it’s only in the public’s best interest‘ popping up a lot more. And, although regulated and from a reputable source, we could find the public becoming complacent, and embracing exactly what they are fed without question.

This also highlights issues of censorship and the notion that with one main ‘big brother’ or boss, they have the power to express their opinions in a very public sphere. As present in Murdoch’s 2013 clear election bias with Journalist, Peter Chen stating “Murdoch is uniquely able to dictate the content and thrust of his media arm in Australia”. But media ownership is not only occurring in Australia, as apparent with Russian TV faking footage of the Sochi Opening Ceremony’s now all too famous five ring blunder. Therefore highlighting just how easy cheating people of their right to know the truth is.

Although it is insurmountably important to understand any bias/censorship behind the media we are consuming, it is also worth nothing that as a collective, we have the power and education to challenge any ideas presented by the media. It is so easy to do a quick google search to check and challenge any ‘facts’ presented by the media.

We aren’t sheep, so don’t act like one.

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Turnbull, S 2014, ‘Media Mythbusting 3: Information Just Wants to be Free’, lecture notes, BCM110, University of Wollongong, viewed 28 March 2014

 

Legs Open to Advertising

Put the children to bed, lock your door, relax in you’re desk chair or on the bed and type those formidable words into the keyboard of your computer:

Controversial Advertising

With images such as these who needs porn? You’ve got everything from Burger King, PETA (Animal Rights Activism), to Anti-Smoking Advertising, and big fashion labels such as Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana it’s obvious sex sells. However as it becomes easier and easier to spot a controversial advertisement, companies must come up with more and more subtle, yet equally as eye catching ways to promote their buisness. One such advertisement is American Apparel’s ‘Now Open’ poster:   american-apparel-ad-amsterdam-nowopen-06

Although it seems the meaning and the implied meaning of the image are fairly on parr as it literally depicts a model wearing a black leotard, with her legs spread eagle, and ‘Now Open’ written in bold black text at the top of the page. It can be said this is a clever and sassy way to advertise the opening of a new store, much similar to the McDonalds advertisement. With the light illuminating the models legs, as well as the white hemming on her leotard, the advertisement almost points the way to the new store, with the tip of an arrow being the models vagina.

Although as the image is an advertisement, it seems the controversial context, is almost justified, despite the model’s risky position. However with Business Insider reporting that one of six women in the US have been sexually abused, it seems the normalisation of sexualisation within advertising has blurred the lines between what is considered appropriate, especially within the work place.

By placing a ‘Now Open’ sign beside a model with her legs open, derives connotations of a woman’s vagina being a place of business. If the brand American Apparel wasn’t well known, the advertisement could also have been used to advertise anything from the opening of a new brothel. After the advertisement was released, American Apparel made a conscious effort to defend itself, stating, “we did our best to abide by the standards of the industry as well as creating authentic, honest and memorable images relevant to [our] customer base” it’s clear to see that if anything, image is certainly memorable.

Source:
Green, D (2013), ’15 Ads that Glorify Sexual Violence Against Women’, Business Insider, May 19th, accessed: 19th March, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/sex-violence-against-women-ads-2013-5#the-context-this-is-a-famously-bad-old-ad-from-the-1960s-surely-nothing-like-this-would-be-approved-for-paid-media-today-1

Conditioning… and I don’t mean the type that comes after shampooing

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Anyone who has taken a PSYCH101 class or has knowledge of classics such as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or The Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick knows the ins and outs of Conditioning. For those who haven’t, it’s the idea that a something/someone can train the individual subject to have an automated response (such as drooling when you see or smell food) to a newly formulated stimulus (such as ringing a bell).

Although ethically Conditioning is frowned upon, how do we know the media isn’t conditioning us to think/act a particular way?

Speaking from an idealist perspective, I believe in free will. That we, as individuals, with our own thought patterns and ideas have the ability to determine what is right and wrong, regardless of what a TV show, advertisement or films might tell us. Although conditioning is clearly apparent in the media, as well as our responses to the media, thereby the media does have an effect towards society, it is not necessarily negative.

Take for example, the problem of violence in society. Watching violent films/playing violent video games from a young age will lead a child to grow into a violent offender within society, right?

Wrong.

According to Gauntlett’s article Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’, “Criminologists…consistently turn for explanations not to the mass media, but to social factors such as poverty, unemployment, housing and the behaviour of family and peers” (1996). Gauntlett’s study found that violent children found it not only difficult to relate to any violent TV characters, but also admitted to watching little TV in the first place. A second theory, touched on by Weiton in Psychology Themes & Variations (2001),  known as the Carthasis Theory, promotes the idea that children who play violent video games have the opportunity to purge impulses of agression and frustration, thereby conditioning a child to have a natural release of emotions, rather then forming a back log of negative behaviour.

While conditioning is clearly apparent within the media, it cannot be said the media is to blame for flaws and emotional backlash within the individual. Although blaming the media can be considered taking the easy way out, think about it this way.What was life like before ‘media influence’?

Sources:
Gauntlett, David. (1988). Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’. Available at: http://www.theory.org.uk/effects.htm. Last accessed 12th March 2014.

Weiton, W. (2001). Psychology Themes & Variation Briefer Version (9th ed.). Belmont, USA: Jon-David Hague

“That Chick”

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Here’s a fun fact, my name is an acronym for my name. Incase you didn’t get that, my “nickname”, Gem, is an acronym for my name: Gemma Elise Mollenhauer. How was that as an icebreaker? You should also give me credit for putting my full name out there for all those Facebook stalkers.

I’m your stock standard writer. In love with words and believe text talk should burn in the fiery pits of hell. Originally hailing as a creative writing/psych student, however soon realising that getting paid for writing factual stories is much more appropriate in sufficing my lust for travel, I transferred to the totally unique degree of Media/Communications (Marketing & Advertising) & Journalism.

I suppose you could I was raised with the lust for travel cursing through my veins. To date i’ve lived in 8 different places, in two different states and three different countries. However, most awkwardly spent the most time growing up in the rural and ‘sheltered’ town of Wagga Wagga. Known for the highest pregnancy rate in NSW 2003, it was a town you needed protection from. Ha, see what I did there? Fast forwarding a few years, I now call Wollongong  my home try to limit my visits back to Wagga.

During the week I’m a respectable second year student/writer for BULLSH!T, Hijacked and the UOW student magazine, The Tertangala. (Hint: now’s the time you run down to the uni and grab yourself a free copy). By the weekend I transform into a nocturnal, underpaid waitress at a nearby function centre.

You can usually find me with a hot coffee in one hand and bike helmet in the other. Yeah, I’m that chick.