The media & its influences: moral panics, social anxieties & audience regulation.

I have brushed over topics similar to this one in some of my previous blog posts last semester for BCM110. I discussed topics such as Miley Cyrus and the social anxieties surrounding her sexualisation in the media, and the image this portrays to her former child fans, as well as the TV show Breaking Bad and how some argue that it normalises drug use to the public. Both of these topics have caused moral panic in society, particularly for parents who are anxious about the influences that media like this can have on their children.

The idea of moral panic surrounding the media influences on children has become quite a prevalent idea, and is even discussed quite often in the media itself, particularly by the channel 10 network on their shows such as Studio 10 and the Project. I have discovered that the way we go about these media anxieties is in a very strange and ironic way. These moral panics of how the media effects and influences society are discussed by those who are employed by the big media giants (e.g. channel 10, 9, 7, ABC etc- most of which are owned by the government or rich individuals and subject to bias), through the media. It is kind of a bit of a vicious cycle!

In terms of people perceiving technology and the media through a dystopian lens, predicting the harmful effects it has on society, it will often go a little like this:

The media → anxieties about the medias effects → perceived need to regulate media use → audience research to prove we should be anxious, to prove we need regulations.

There have been anxieties about the media and its influences on society since way, way back. There was a push for cinema reform in 1916 (movies had been produced for 20 years already). The media was perceived as a threat, and this was the beginning of audience research as we know it. The Motion Picture Research Council began in the late 1920’s, seeking to lobby for social control over the movie industry. Since then there have keen countless audience studies, trying to measure the effects the media and technology has on individuals and society at large, concerning various different topics and target audiences.

Relating all of this back to my personal experiences, I have been thinking a bit lately about violent video games and the effect it has on our emotions and reactions to real life violence. My housemate has recently started playing COD (Call of Duty) again, and the violence in this game has come to my attention. However, I am absolutely torn about how I feel about it. Should violent games be regulated in how violent they can make them? Should there be more than an age limit restricting the purchase of these sorts of games? Games like these certainly do desensitise us to violence seen on screens, however, what about in real life? Does seeing this type of violence encourage people to be violent themselves? Does it make us react any differently to how we should to violence in real life? To answer this, I will leave you with a link to an article on phys.org, as well as an article by Time magazine, addressing these very questions. Comment your thoughts if you have anything to contribute to this tricky topic!

Reference List

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Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2014, BCM240 Media Audience Place, 2014 lecture notes 15 September, University of Wollongong, Spring semester, 2014.

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Media multitasking & its effect on modern families and their social lives

“Those aged 8 to 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day with such devices [smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device], compared with less than 6.5 hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the 1.5 hours that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones. And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that 7.5 hours.” -Tamar Lewin (NY Times), referring to research conducted in 2005 and in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation (bare in mind, figures have probably risen again since 2010).

 

So here I am, sitting at Panizzi, drinking coffee, researching this very topic of media multitasking. I have 7 safari tabs, a one note window, and a powerpoint window open, whilst checking my phone constantly. I am not talking to anybody, yet I am surrounded by people (lets just say its because I don’t know anybody sitting near me). In this instance, along with in a lot of other instances, my technology has my full attention.

American linguistic anthropologist and director of UCLA’s Centre on Everyday Lives of Families, Elinor Ochs, is a person who has recently come to my attention during my research for this weeks topic. She (alongside Tamar Kremer-Sadlik as well as other contributors) recently carried out a 4 year study of 32 modern US families, looking at the ‘home, work, and relationships in middle-class Americans’. Their book, titled ‘Fast-Forward Family’, discusses the impact of technology in the Family environment, and also looks at the idea of multitasking gadgets.

A significant time of day that is discussed in this book is when the children and parents reunite again in the afternoon after school and work. ‘We saw that when the working parent comes through the door, the other spouse and the kids are so absorbed by what they’re doing that they don’t give the arriving parent the time of day’, says Ochs, also explaining, ‘we also saw how difficult it was to penetrate the chill’s universe’.  (cited by Wallis in TIME Magazine).

This is interesting, and extremely relevant to how media multitasking may cause us to become disconnected from one another. Wallis discusses the fact that media multitasking is not only a result of our attachment to our devices, but also because of our extremely busy schedules. She concludes her article with the idea of older generations teaching by example, and encouraging their kids and others of the younger generations to unplug from their devices, spend some time in the company of physical human beings, and to show them that theres life beyond the screen.

I agree with this completely, however people of this younger age must decide for themselves that taking a break, or cutting down on their media usage and amount of media multitasking is for the better. The quality of social interactions with both family and friends once you have cut out technology (usually) is of a much higher quality, and once generation M realises this, hopefully their hours of media usage per day may be reduced. Perhaps this won’t occur until they are older, but lets cross our fingers and toes that the figures above won’t further increase in the coming years.

Reference List

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The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010, Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8-18 year olds, Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington D.C., <http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm&gt;

Lewin, Tamar 2010, ‘If you’re kids are awake, they’re probably online’, New York Times, 20 January, viewed 20 September, <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html&gt;

Ochs, E & Kremer-Sadlik, T 2013, Fast forward family: home, work and relationships in middle class America, University of California Press, Berkeley, <http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/uow/docDetail.action?docID=10631868&gt;

Willis, Claudia 2006, ‘The multitasking generation’, Time magazine, 19 March, viewed 20 September, <http://www.fritzhubbard.org/words/The_Multitasking_Generation.pdf&gt;

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Finding time to go to the movies… Harder than I thought.

3 weeks is how long it took me to finally get up and go and see a movie at the cinemas. I went to the good old Roxy Cinema Complex in Nowra, and saw a movie called ‘If I Stay’. I was accompanied by 2 good friends, one who conveniently works there (free popcorn and ticket, holla). Unfortunately, we were also accompanied by about 20 young girls, around the age of 14. We sat behind them, up the back of the tiny cinema, with one of their (what looked like) fathers over across the walkway next to us. At some stages of the movies it looked like he was more sad (I swear I saw him tearing up) than the group of young girls. Their annoying giggling and snickering during the kissing scenes of the movie made me want to yell, but we got through it. Of course the only movie I have gone to see in months has a cinema full of pre-pubescent girls. Sigh.

Torsten Hägerstrand was an urban planner who discussed the human constraints, and how they changed the way social planning works (1970). He wrote about 3 constraints in particular, including capability (can I get there?), coupling (can I get there at the right time?), and authority (am I allowed to be there?). These 3 human constraints relate to me and my movie cinema experience in many different ways.

Capability constraints refer to the limitations on human movement due to physical or biological factors. I experienced 3 weeks of capability constraints. I was unable to attend a viewing at the cinema because of other plans, being in the wrong area during times I could have gone, and having other things to do rather than seeing a movie. It was also difficult for everybody I had organised to go with to find a way to and from the movies efficiently.

Coupling constraints refer to the need to be in one particular place for a given length of time, often in interaction with other people. Time constraints like these also restricted when I could make it to the movies. It was extremely difficult to find a time that suited the 3 of us all. We ended up going on a saturday afternoon (3.55pm session). I picked up one of my friends after she finished work, and our other friend from the pub where he was with his family, then dropped them home afterwards. 

Authority constraints are an area that is controlled by certain people or institutions that set limits on its access to particular individuals or groups. If anything, I felt as though my small little group of 3 had the most authority out of anyone in the little realm of the cinema, because of the fact that one of us worked there. Although we had bought a ticket, just like everyone else, and we had just as much authority to be there as they did.

These 3 constraints are essentially what shaped my decision to not go for a cinema visit for so long, and also, at the same time, what shaped my decision to finally go (even though it was 3 weeks later… Sorry Sue…)

Reference List

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Torsten Hägerstrand 1970, ‘What about people in regional science?’, viewed 16 September 2014.

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Gender bias & sexism in Australian humour

Irony lies in the gap between how the character views themselves and how the audience sees them; this is where the humour is, and this is what often gets lost ‘in translation’ (Turnbull)

This irony and therefor humour also tends to lie in the context of social norms, between those of ones culture and the behaviour that breaks this rule. These ideas of what is humorous can be related to various TV show which have been re-made for an international audience, for example Kath & Kim, The Office, and Skins. All of these shows have been not been overly successful in translating their humour, or any themes for that matter for their newer and culturally different audiences.

The Inbetweeners

Something I found interesting was how common sexism, gender bias, and even discrimination is, particularly in media in which the Australian audience found humorous. This made me question this strange humour, as well as the sense of humour in which the Australian audience must have alongside it. For example, The Inbetweeners movie and TV show, and in particular, The Inbetweeners 2. Females are often at the ‘butt’ of the male told joke. Derogatory lines such as ‘thats why it’s called a gap year, because of the gap between their legs’ are thrown around carelessly, and apparently found amusing by it’s Australian audience indicated by its success and mostly good reviews. When the trailer for this was shown in our lecture students were in hysterics of laughter.

At first I found it humorous, but after thinking about how the humour lies between the lines of sexism and gender bias, I questioned its humour. Does this make the Austrlians who find this funny immoral? Or am I just being too sensitive? Are critics of this humour overreacting? Should it be brushed off? Maybe I am being a prude, maybe I’m overthinking it and taking a stab at females and their sexuality should be found funny. But I feel as though humour like this is simply taking a step backwards in closing the gender equality gap.

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Reference List:

Caffeinated, C 2013, The Inbetweeners characters straw sucking, image, Moviehole, viewed 6 October 2014, <http://moviehole.net/201364162inbetweeners-2-will-be-set-in-australia&gt;

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘Television comedy in translation’, Metro Magazinevol. 159, pp. 110-115.

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Public space, private space, technology & social anxiety.

Admit it, we are all guilty. You see someone you really don’t want to talk to… and you pretend you didn’t see them because you’re on you’re phone. Bam, awkward conversation avoided. Sadly, I do this a lot. However, the question is: when does this use of our personal mobile devices as a tool to relieve social anxiety in public spaces become an issue? I’m forced to question if my personal social anxiety is an outcome of this. Would I still exist as the awkward, socially nervous being I am if I was always forced to socialise? Or would I still be quiet and unsociable in public regardless?

Public space is any space that can be accessed by members of the public (Turnbull & Bowels 2014). It is governed by both formal and informal rules, depending on what type of public space it is. It can also be loosely defined as the opposite of private space. Abbott-Chapman & Robertson in 2009 defined private spaces as ‘places that convey peace, quiet, sense of space, relaxation & seclusion’ (cited in Lincoln 2012 p.7). However, there has been a recent trend or commonality of people finding a sense of private space whilst in public spaces through the use of their mobile phone devices. Mimo Ito (2008) refers to this as ‘tele-cocooning’.

I’m sure you remember this video. ‘Look Up’ went viral online earlier this year, and now has over 46 million views. Gary Turk in his motivational video displays the issue of technology acting as a barrier to real, genuine social encounters as well as it having the potential to make individuals miss out on opportunities that could in turn change their life.

I personally think this video is a bit of an over exaggerated, over hypothesised portrayal of the issue. Yes, the message is quite valid, and in some instances people do obstruct the quality of their social encounters because of their mobile phones or devices. However, we must consider the amazing abundance of opportunities that technology offers us. Our personal mobile devices provide us with the opportunity to connect to anybody at any time. They are also essential for our personal safety. In a response to this video by Murderbot Productions, the speaker makes some extremely valid points. He argues that ‘maybe its just popular to attack the smartphones for making us dumb, not our own personal lack of discernment or taste or presence or thought, of moderation or interest or wonder or taught’. He discusses that it is our own personal decision to look down at our devices in social situations, or in any public spaces for that matter, and that if we do choose to be on our technology that it doesn’t make you anti-social, but maybe even more social. I agree with both sides of this argument to some extent. I think the use of mobile phones in public spaces is becoming excessive, however I also believe that it is a personal choice in which users should be aware of the social consequences of.

So, yes, there has been a huge shift in the way people behave in public spaces and social situations considering their personal mobile devices. However, this fast technological advancement of our society is inevitable. We must decide for ourselves when it is and isn’t appropriate to use our personal mobile devices, and keep in mind the social implications of the use of them.

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Reference List:

Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2014, BCM240 Media Audience Place, 2014 lecture notes 1 September, University of Wollongong, Spring semester, 2014.

Lincoln, S 2012, Youth culture and private space, Palgrave Macmillan, Britain.

Mimo Ito et al. 2008, ‘Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project’, Macarthur foundation, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Turk, G 2014, Look up, online video, 25 April, YouTube, viewed 8 September 2014, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY&gt;

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Nollywood & Globalisation

Sukhmani brought up an interesting topic during the week 4 lecture, which relates directly to my week 2 BCM111 blog post ‘The global village~ An interactive utopia?’. She asked the question of whether Nigeria’s film industry is an example of globalisation or if it is the opposite of that, an example of anti-globalisation. In my opinion, Nollywood is a direct example of globalisation and the effects it can have on a society or culture at large.

The Nigerian film industry reflects the concept of globalisation in many different ways. The whole idea that a country with such a high poverty rate could have such a successful film industry is a perfect example. A report posted in 2012 by BBC news Africa claimed that the percentage of Nigerians living in absolute poverty had risen to 61%, with almost 100 million people living on less that $1 a day. However, their fast growing film industry, which is now Africa’s biggest economy, and in the top 3 largest film industries in the world, doesn’t reflect this level of poverty at all.

Onookome Okome in the reading ‘nollywood: spectatorship, audience, and the sites of consumption’ discusses how communities in Nigeria have got on the bandwagon of the so-called “global village,” which is a concept developed by Marshall McLuhan in 1964. He talks about the global village as an interactive utopa, where technological stimulation is corporately extended to the whole of human society. This is a significant motif to globalization, and is reflected in the concept of nollywood through the wide accessibility of nollywood movies.

In the video above the influence of other countries is obvious in many ways. Film techniques such as the camera angles and the ‘cliche’ dialogue is very similar to the style of an american soap opera. These similarities exist because of cultural flows.

The idea of cultural flows are a central idea to globalization. These cultural flows are relevant to the notion of the nollywood industry in various different dimensions, written about in 1996 by Arjun Appadurai. One dimension he mentions, known as technoscapes- or the flow of technology, is extremely relevant to this topic. The flow of technology from other countries into Nigeria portrays the influence of globalisation. Because of Nigeria’s poor economy, not a lot of filming equipment is sourced from there. So, when new technologies become affordable, Nigerian filmmakers will purchase this equipment from overseas countries where they are manufactured. Modernized digital cameras, DVD’s, DVD players, TVs, and all other equipment used to film, watch and distribute nollywood movies would not even exist if it wasn’t for globalization and the constant modernization that it brings to the world.

Nollywood can also be seen as a result of globalization through the consideration of mediascapes- or the flow of information and images, which is evident through the films themselves. More and more overseas scholars, as well as individuals out of curiosity, are taking interest in the nollywood industry. The films are widely accessible to anyone around the world online. This connects Nigeria to the outside world in many ways, and again, displays how globalization has a direct effect on nollywood.

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Reference List:

Khorana, S 2014, BCM111 International media and communications, 2014 lecture notes 6 August, University of Wollongong, Spring semester, 2014.

Amanor, D 2012, ‘How nigeria has affected the rest of Africa’, BBC News, 30 September, viewed 23 August 2014, <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-17015873&gt;

Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: spectatorship, audience, and the sites of consumption’, Postcolonial Text, Vol 3, No 2, p 11, viewed 23 August 2014.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding media: the extensions of man, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Appadurai, A 1996, Modernity Al Large: cultural dimensions of globalization, public works publications, Minnesota.

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The internet use of my parents & the rest of the world

My parents live about an hour south of Wollongong, and they are yet to be connected to the NBN. Their current internet access is provided by ADSL wireless broadband which they connect their laptops, iPad, and mobile phones to. Both mum and dad agreed that their current internet connection is efficient enough to do what they need online, including reading the news, paying the bills and online banking, bookwork for their small business, and researching out of interest. Their broadband plan is bundled together by Telstra with their home phone, mobile phones, and T-box which connects to the TV and internet providing access to rentable movies.

When I asked them how the NBN would change their internet behaviours they both agreed that it wouldn’t change much at all. My mum replied with ‘why would you do anything new, its only internet’. She’s not alone with this blasé opinion either. Research conducted by iiNet discovered that 2/3 of Australians thought connecting to the NBN was optional, 30% thought they would automatically be connected to the NBN, and 8% had never heard of the NBN (Minear & White 2014). I sadly fit into every one of these categories before studying the NBN in BCM240. In the next 5 years, with the NBN rollout in full swing, Australia will become much more technologically advanced not only in a social sense, but also regarding economic, and political factors. People working from home will become much more common with the increased quality and accessibility to real time video calls as well as much more advanced programs for specific sectors of the work industry. Talking to anyone online will become more advanced with better quality, and education will become much easier to access. All of these things, and more, have already started to effect our lifestyles but will continue to modernise in the near future.

you vs technology

However for those who are living in more rural areas there will be much more of a wait to connect to the NBN compared to those who live in the city. My parents aren’t expecting access to the NBN anytime soon, however this doesn’t phase them at all. My mum said that in the next 5 years she would like to update to a newer and more modern iPad and laptop, and my dad would like to also get a newer laptop, however either of them seemed overly fussed about the actual internet connection available to these devices. This could be because of a variety of reasons, one including the generational difference between them and people who are more interested in switching. They are both in their early 50’s, and like most people their age, don’t have very big requirements when it comes to the internet. However, in saying this, I am 19 and I don’t have much interest just yet to upgrade my home internet, purely because my ADSL wireless broadband meets my personal requirements too, which includes mainly social networking, university work, downloading torrents, and streaming TV shows.

The NBN along with all its implied benefits sounds brilliant, and is brilliant in a lot of ways. However, there is a definite downside. What does the NBN, or any type of further technological advancement, mean for individuals, families and the whole of our society on a social and intellectual level? With todays level of technology and internet access I can already see some downfalls. The concept of socialising has completely changed. Sherry Turkle in her extremely interesting TED talk portrays this notion perfectly, discussing how our ‘little devices in our pockets are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they’ve quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things’. We text, or so to speak use technology, during classes, at work, during conversations, during meals, whilst watching movies or tv, we are basically always connected to this technology, yet we seem to be lacking connections with one another. Sherry extends on this by speaking about how ‘we’re setting ourselves up for trouble — trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together’. It seems as though it has come down to being with technology rather than socialising and intellectually engaging with those around us. Is the introduction of the NBN fuelling this huge social problem? Are we going to grow up into a generation who don’t know how to socialise offline?

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Reference List:

Minear, T & White, A 2014, Do you have access to the NBN and don’t even know it?, Herald sun, weblog post, 6 August, viewed 22 August 2014, <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/do-you-have-access-to-the-nbn-and-dont-even-know-it/story-fni0fit3-1227015050528&gt;

Turkle, S 2012, Connected, but alone?, TED, viewed 19 August 2014 <http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/transcript&gt;

Walker, D 2007, you vs. technology, image, weblogcartoons, viewed 24 August 2014, <http://www.weblogcartoons.com/2007/04/17/you-vs-technology/&gt;

Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2014, BCM240 Media Audience Place, 2014 lecture notes 19 August, University of Wollongong, Spring semester, 2014.

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