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My Fellow Classmates…..

For the final blog assignment (blog #4) we were asked to read three of our classmates blogs and give them critical feedback. With any critical process we as critics are expected to read and provide the best feedback so the writers can see what was interesting and effective, as well as what they can improve on. I am very excited to see what my classmates have thought about my blogs and what aspects of my writing they enjoyed and I can improve on. I have really enjoyed the process of writing blogs for Media Criticism throughout the semester. It has been a great opportunity to write informally to discuss concepts with classmates in a more personal tone. This was also a breath of fresh air from the normal writing which takes place in most higher education classes. This was a great and very creative way to have class discussions about the topics we had covered in class. It was also very enjoyable to write these blogs and incorporate artwork within the entries. I am really looking forward to writing more blogs in my future in order to communicate my opinions to other individuals about topics which I feel to be important. Media Criticism 352 has been one of the most enjoyable and informative classes I have had the pleasure of taking at Towson University.

Click Here To View Gerard's Blog

Gerard, I am very impressed by your blog entry Ideological Criticism and the Political Economy Theory at work. You thoroughly explained ideological criticism and the political economy theory so that others without any previous knowledge on the concepts would be able to understand them. I really liked how you explained how marketers are targeting children almost from the womb. You gave a very good argument for why it is a smart marketing strategy for advertisers to target very young children in an attempt to attract them as brand loyal, lifetime consumers. It is important to understand this so we can make smart choices about the products we consume, instead of being coerced into consuming.  Something I learned and found very interesting was the sentence in which you explained the interaction between dominant idologies, ideological criticism, and political economists.by saying “the dominant ideologies that are presented in this film are observed through the lens of a political economist, and are made using the ever important ideological criticism method to shed light on some important concepts that would be overlooked otherwise.” I never realized this interaction and feel as though I have better understood these concepts after reading your blog entry. Some more information on this interaction can be found on YouTube, where there are several different videos, both credible and not that speak about how these concepts interact to create a unique perspective.    

Its hard to disagree with any of the points that you made, however, I would have liked it if you talked about how you personally felt about the marketing strategies to very young children. After we watched the Consuming Kids video in class it seemed like you had very opinionated things that I would have liked to have read about in this blog entry. Overall you did a great job and are a very good writer.

Holly, this is a very well written blog entry containing a lot of very interesting information. I agree with you

Click Here To See Holly's Blog

one-hundred percent that Disney characters become role models for children and this needs to be realized by the Disney Corporation. I also loved how you used the media holdings which Disney controls as an example in your definition of what the dominant ideology is. It is crazy to think that Disney impacts children worldwide on multiple media levels, which can really influence their thoughts and behaviors. Like you, I was a Disney lover as a child (as I believe most children are) and fantasized about being like my favorite Disney characters. Now that I think about it I can see the influence the films had on my and my worldviews. I also liked how you explained how Disney portrays the female image in saying that “ all of the female characters are almost identical.” This is very true and I also spoke about this same concept in my blog entry, in fact we even used the same image, which I felt to be a very accurate representation of the lack of change in the caricatures of women designed by Disney.

Something I would have liked to hear more about within you blog entry was the consumerism in today’s youth and the marketing practices used in order to push products to them. You did touch on the marketing tactics directed to children by Disney, but I really would have enjoyed reading more about this topic as it could have been tied directly to the film Consumer Kids. Your blog was very well written and was very easy to read and understand. You did a great job considering the fact that readers may read this blog knowing nothing about the topics you have presented. Good luck with the rest of the semester, I am really looking forward to completing the group assignment as your teammate.

Click Here To See Alex's Blog

Alex, your blog was very insightful and very informative. I really liked how you wrote this blog as if you were having a conversation with the reader. Your blog entry was very easy to read and I found myself agreeing with you on several different points. Your explanation of how Disney uses the female “status quo” form for all of its characters was so true. It is as if they have just changed small aspects of their female characters and given them new names. I also agree with your description of the first Disney princess, Snow White. She seems so very happy with her role as cleaner and cook to seven men, and has no aspirations to do anything else until, of course, a man comes into her life. It is very important to understand these portrayal and character traits attributed to the women of Disney, as the greatly effect how women and men view the female gender. It was really cool how you talked about other media giants and how they also have the same effect on consumers as Disney. It is important to realize how all media conglomerates control the ideologies portrayed through its outlets. I never really realized who the other conglomerates were, but now I can see how important it is to understand who is controlling the messages we see.

I would have liked to hear you talk more about your personal perspectives on some of these concepts. You started to express you views but I would really have enjoyed some elaboration so I could see what your complete thoughts on these topics are.

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Alex your blog was very insightful and very informative. I really liked how you wrote this blog as if you were having a conversation with the reader. Your blog entry was very easy to read and I found myself agreeing with you on several different points. Your explanation of how Disney uses the female “status quo” form for all of its characters was so true. It is as if they have just changed small aspects of their female characters and given them new names. I also agree with your description of the first Disney princess, Snow White. She seems so very happy with her role as cleaner and cook to seven men, and has no aspirations to do anything else until, of course, a man comes into her life. It is very important to understand these portrayal and character traits attributed to the women of Disney, as the greatly effect how women and men view the female gender. It was really cool how you talked about other media giants and how they also have the same effect on consumers as Disney. It is important to realize how all media conglomerates control the ideologies portrayed through its outlets. I never really realized who the other conglomerates were, but now I can see how important it is to understand who is controlling the messages we see.

I would have liked to hear you talk more about your personal perspectives on some of these concepts. You started to express you views but I would really have enjoyed some elaboration so I could see what your complete thoughts on these topics are.

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Have you ever wondered how certain media and media texts influence and shape how we view the world? Well, as media critics is it necessary to look past the superficial layer into the deeper meaning of how texts impact our everyday lives. One form of media criticism is ideological criticism, which focuses on media as a means of exerting the dominant ideologies power. More specifically how the dominant elites in our culture use media to extend their control over others.

HAGEMONIC POWER

Political economists are those who study why and how media power is exercised. Political economists are concerned with how the growing power of the media and its global reach impact peoples’ values. One of the major values of the dominant ideology that is portrayed through the media is that of materialism and consumerism. Materialism is the notion that the only things that matter in life are tangible possessions. Consumerism refers to ones desire to purchase goods and services. But how are these values impressed upon our culture? Sadly many political economists have identified a trend in commercialization and childhood, mainly through that of Disney, the largest producer of children’s media and through marketing practices that are directed specifically to children. Disney owns radio, TV, magazines, sports teams, theatre, newspapers and most of the media we consume. This allows them to specifically target children through their marketing tactics.

The Disney Store reflects the trend in childrens' marketing practices

Today’s marketing practices have begun to focus on children as the largest group of consumer because of their influence on parents’ purchases. Last year children under twelve spent 700 billion dollars through their parents. Marketers believe that if they hook children from childhood they will be advocates of products for life. This is based on the belief of age compression; that kids are getting older, younger. Although this has many ethical questions the major problem is that values, and not products, are being marketed to children. Through these marketing practices children are taught that you are what you have, buy, and/or own. In the past marketing to children was regulated based on the finding that children under eight were deceived by advertisements, but because of the growing greed inherent in our materialist society these practices have been deregulated. I know, its sad isn’t it? That the government determined marketing practices such as these were wrong and then reversed their decision.  What’s up with that? Some of the impacts of these types of children’s marketing, especially Disney’s, is that children no longer rely on their imaginations for play. Instead they believe they must have the products that mimic the characters they are pretending to be in order to pretend to be them. In fact, in children eight years old or younger creative play has dropped ninety percent.

A dramatized version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel

These advertisements to children also have very gender specific implications as do the Disney film productions. Through these deceptive marketing practices girls are taught that owning the best brands make them “belong” and make them beautiful. This reflects the materialist culture in which the dominant ideologies are focused. This materialist idea is also seen in almost every female Disney character. They are all beautiful, and usually wealthy, such as a princess. The female body is also very scrutinized by its Disney portrayal. Almost every female character is highly sexual with big breasts, a skinny waistline, and thick hips. They also play the part of the seductress teaching little girls that is alright to use their sexuality to manipulate men and get what they desire. For example, when Jasmine uses her feminine wiles to seduce Jafar and cause a distraction for Alladin. This is not reflecting females in reality, instead it is constructing notions of what femininity is and making those notions into characters.

Notice the body shape of all the females

Women’s roles are also misrepresented in these Disney movies. Females’ independence is not represented at all   roles, instead females are constantly relying  on men to rescue them. Also, women are constantly giving up some aspect of themselves to be with the man they desire, or are going against the will of their fathers to do so.   For example, the little mermaid, who essentially gives up her identity and goes against the will of her father to be with Prince Eric. Another example of the misrepresentation of womens’ roles is in the movie Beauty and the Beast where the beast wants bell so he abducts her and even though Bell is clearly verbally abused and physically threatened she stays in the relationship believing she can change the beast. Also, in the beginning of Beauty and the Beast Gaston proclaims that “Belle is the most beautiful therefore she’s the best”. This is telling girls that beauty is the most important value that one can have and that you can change men into who you want them to be. Another example of hegemonic power oppression is when emperor Kusko (from The Emperors New Groove) dismisses the proposed ugly women by saying “so I guess you have a good personality,” further adding to the notion that womens’ looks are the most important aspect of their self-image.The abusive Beast

Disney Leading Men

 

As a man it was easier to see how marketers were shaping the values of violence, power, and aggression in little boys. These marketing strategies instill the ideology that to be a man you must be powerful and strong and that violence directly portrays these ideologies.Gender roles are also a part of the ideologies being conveyed to both boys and girls through Disney productions. For example the men are always in more powerful positions than women such as kings or princes. Also, men have very masculine muscular bodies and the ones that don’t are shunned. Like in the film The Hunchback of Notre Damewhere Quasimodo is forced to hide from society because of his non-perfect body. So why does Disney purposefully fill children’s minds with the hegemonic ideologies of beauty and gender roles?

Notice how Quasimodo is not pictured with the other "Leading Disney Men"

The answer is simple, it may not be intentional. The scripts, even though whimsical and seemingly innocent, are created by real people who already have these ideologies instilled in them. The way the artists and writers portray beauty and gender roles can be seen through these Disney films because they have already been socialized in a certain way, so their values continue to be instilled in the younger generations. As someone smart once said “with great power comes great responsibility” (Voltaire). And because Disney shapes children’s imaginations and is the dominant storyteller of children’s stories worldwide they have a great responsibility in the way they portray genders and if realized could instill new values within our youth. Whether it is intentional or not it still has a negative effect on children’s worldviews.

Some ways for parents to help their children develop their own sense of culture, that is not Disney influenced is this:

  • • No screen media for children under 2
  • • Remember the most important thing for children to develop culture and worldviews is through interpersonal relationships
  • • Regulate what children see on TV
  • • Re-enforce the use of imagination!

OZ: A Narrative Criticism

One of my all-time favorite shows was the HBO series OZ. The series OZ took place in a maximum security prison and followed the lives of certain individuals with different agendas. “OZ” is short for the fictional maximum security facility named Oswald State Penitentiary.  The story follows Tim McManus, the unit manager of the cell block “Emerald City”. Emerald city is this experimental unit of the prison, where McManus attempts to emphasize rehabilitation and learning responsibility during incarceration, as opposed to pure punishment.Emerald City is an extremely controlled environment in which there are a carefully managed number of members of each racial and social group, with the hope of easing tensions among these various groups.

However every inmate has their own agenda. Where some fight for power over either drugs or other inmates some just strive to stay alive by any means necessary. This show attempts to show a dramatized version of prison life through the eyes of different parties. McManus tries to keep control over all sectors of inmates within Emerald City, such as the African-Americans, Aryan, Irish, biker, and Muslim gangs as well as the gay’s population. Also, one special inmate Tobias Beecher, a “regular” white-collar layer who ends up in OZ because of a one deadly drunk driving incident. The episodes, although complex are narrated and brought together through the narration of Augustus Hill a former drug dealer, convicted murderer, and former drug addict. Now paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, he appears in surreal segments and introductions that usually relate to an overall theme of the episode, as well as set up scenes, introduce characters, or add epilogues.

By using the Aristotelian version of narrative analysis it is possible to see how the plot, characters, setting, and theme determine a genre.  All of these factors interact with each other and make OZ one of the most popular shows on television and the first one hour drama series to be produced by HBO.

Because OZ does not have one individual main character it follows a storyline much like a soap opera. The plot of each episode focuses on different characters and their individual hardships faced in prison.  Each person has a different agenda and a different way of coping with the issues presented within the prison system. Although the plot of each episode focuses on different individuals, all the individuals are tied together in some way.

OZ follows the same structure almost every episode in that it starts with equilibrium and problems arise which are delt with in a “prison style” reform.  People are constantly making alliances and stabbing each other in the back in order to survive and further themselves individually, much like the format of realty shows, only with a lot more violence. Every episode also concludes with some sort of new problem that arises in Emerald City that leads into a cliff hanger to the next episode. Although each episode is structured the same the problems are different as well as the characters to which the problems are addressed. Also, sometimes the inmates in Emerald City are complete enemies but when something affects the entire cell block they can put their differences aside to get what the want.

The characters are also an important aspect of the versatility of the show, as stated before all the characters are from different ethnic segments and each of these characters has a different personality and different way in which they handle the problems that antagonize them. There are the classic villains and heroes whom all have different character traits which make them fall into these categories. These characters are important because they make up every different segment of character discovered by Vladimir Propp. Some characters you sympathize with and others are made out to be bad people compelled only by malice.

Figure 1: FROM THE LEFT: O’Reily (Irish), Shillinger (Aryian), Alvarez (spainish), Beecher (White; New inmate), Said (Muslim). MIDDLE: Poet (Black;Narrator)

The setting and theme also makes the show unique. Because the setting is within a prison it allows for several problems to arise in several different contexts. Most people have an idea of how bad prison would be and the theme of OZ seems to play directly into that fear. This is what keeps people watching, the fact that they can compare their lives to the sick, twisted lives of those who are incarcerated and have lost all hope of life and thus their human qualities. The theme also sets out to describe how inmates, although trying to be rehabilitated have in turn become worse than when they first entered into prison. For example Tobias Beecher, a layer who kills someone in a drunk driving accident and is sentenced to prison but before was an otherwise upstanding citizen. Through his personal turmoil is changed from an ordinary person into a vicious, malicious, deceptive inmate in no time.

Although this is a narrative criticism there are some aspects of the show that play into the dominant ideological view of prison. This show almost uses types of scare tactics in portraying what the life of a convicted criminal fully entails. Although it may be terrible, OZ takes the concept of being imprisoned and turns it into a dramatic narrative.

This is one must see show. Despite what you have heard from critics or others, take a chance to watch this show and leave a comment and tell me what you think. Be prepared to be addicted to the show because it has a unique way of enticing audiences. I would consider this the best soap opera for men ever produced.

Figure 2: CLICK HERE to see more.....

What’s up fellow classmates? Welcome to my blog.  I am very excited to get a chance to read and relate to all of your blog entries. Blogs are a great idea for expressing opinions in an informal way and allowing for diverse feedback. This past summer, I had a chance to write for a blog when I worked for an advertising agency called Renegade in Hunt Valley. I am, however, still fairly new to blog writing but it seems as though most advertising agencies and media companies maintain company blogs in order to communicate within the organization and with its clients. On a side note, if anyone is looking for an internship for either marketing, PR, or advertising I would recommend Renegade.

A little about myself and my interests, I am a senior at Towson and am hopefully graduating in December. I do, however, need to pass the six classes I am currently taking to do so. I am a huge sports fan and my favorite genre of television show would probably be comedy. I also love music and this past summer attended my first real festival, Camp Bisco in upstate NY. The festival featured dub step and electronic rock bands such as Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, Nero, Wiz Khalifa, and of course The Disco Biscuits. If you like this kind of music and a party atmosphere I would strongly suggest attending a festival in the near future. Those who know me would consider me (hopefully) to be a fun-loving, loyal person. I would do anything for my friends and family and believe that life is too short and you must treat everyday like it’s your last and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

As for media criticism, I believe it is crucial to know how to read and interpret media.  Especially in our current media saturated marketplace, we as consumers must be wise and analyze media for what it really is. Media has the power to influence and shape our society, but aren’t we the ones who should be shaping it with OUR own thoughts and actions? A lot of the media today is used to persuade consumers based on half-truths and exaggerations but through media criticism techniques it allows for us to view media through a critical lens. It is also important to understand the assumptions of media criticism in order to make sure that our critiques are valid and fair. One of the assumptions that seemed to be very important to remember was that as media critics we are not looking for “hidden messages,” rather making assumptions of how the media impacts society. Feminism is a great example of critically understanding media, and understanding how it shapes our societal values.

Thirty years ago, television shows such as ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ told us that the women’s role should be as a homemaker and mother. Women across the United States rejected this hegemony and decided to change our cultural media pedagogy. Although this change did not come overnight, the media has changed significantly to represent  the power that women have achieved and their new-found status in society as career women and now the top percentage of people graduating from colleges and universities.

One example of how the media affects our society is the famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast by Orson Welles. This was a radio broadcast series which did an episode as a new bulletin where the narrator told a story of aliens invading the United States. This caused a huge outbreak of panic as citizens really thought that aliens were invading despite the constant repeated notices that the broadcast was fictional. Many people were outraged by Welles’ broadcast as they were very confused and the program had frightened them. Although this was a radio broadcast, it did call for a need for media arts education, so people could develop cultural media literacy, because in critical media literacy the audience is an active process of meaning making.

Another example of how the media shapes our society is television programs such as Cops and CSI. These types of shows convey the scary world theory of George Gerbner. This theory explores the fact that those types of media programs socialize people to adhere to the laws. These programs somewhat use scare tactics to show how easily people can get caught for committing crimes. While in all reality you have about a 50/50 chance in getting away with it, and some of CSI’s technology wont exist for twenty more years.

It's a mean world....

Personally, I would consider myself a semiotition and movie critic. Sometimes it is fun to watch a bad movie (like Red Box has to offer) and criticize its every aspects. Semiotics is so interesting because it is entertaining to look into the deeper meaning of things. As a media critic, it is important to remember that everyone’s opinion is valuable and things are not always as they appear. To me, looking at media closely resembles looking at clouds, while someone may see one thing others could interpret something totally different. I am very interested to hear and read all of your opinions and different perspectives on the issues we discuss in class. Media criticism allows for many different perspectives to be applicable and everyone because of their past experiences, cultures, and values see society in a different light. I wish you all the best of luck this semester and hope I will have a chance to meet you more personally.

Hello world!

What’s up everyone…Good Luck this semester !

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