Where order and chaos go on dates.

Modern Ideologies

There is one really good show that I love to watch. And for me, that is a big thing to say; television doesn’t really have much substance these days. But when Modern Family came out it really made an effort to start questioning and challenging our ideologies and the way we view society. Everyone has their own interpretation of what a family is and how it should be look like. However, the families depicted are ones that are not necessarily your usual type. The older gentleman and the new foreign wife who is considerably much younger than him, the middle class family with 3 children, the middle child to appears to be the smartest of the 3 and eldest and youngest that are not so bright. And then the notably gay couple with an adopted child. All 3 families challenge the ideas and ideologies of what a family should be. I think that show is very well done and shows the diversity of people and families. But like any program that has aspects of challenging the society norm, there have been controversies in regards to same-sex marriage and the roles of genders. The obvious ones are Cameron and Mitchell, the gay couple. In the first season, the show follows their struggle to introduce their adopted baby daughter to the family. Also showing a sub-story with Mitchell and his relationship with his father Jay in terms of his sexuality. As much as the program has tried its best to show the relationship, there has also been criticism from the LGBT community, saying that it wasn’t a true representation of what a gay couple is. The series developed for a long time before the couple were shown to be affectionate towards each other until finally there was a “kissing” scene.

More criticism is shown through the roles of men and woman in the show. Although ironically enough, the show is called MODERN family, none of the 2 mothers and Cameron, who is depicted as the feminine one of the gay couple have jobs in the show. They are all depicted as stay at home mothers. Some people say that this is not a true representation of modern society and that it pigeon holes woman. Another argument is stereotyping the intellectuality of men and woman. In the family with Clair and Phil, the wife Clair is not very good with electronics and cannot use the television remote or anything electronic. This is the same for the eldest child Hayley. Where Luke, the youngest and supposed ‘dumbest’ of the 3, can easily use electronics because he is a boy. Another example would be Gloria and Jay. Gloria, a very attractive woman married to a man old enough to be her father, is portrayed as a strong woman who doesn’t work and is supported by her husband giving the impression that she is a gold digger, and that she married an older man for his money.

Modern Family and its attempt to breakdown the walls of traditional families can also be argued that it has tried to very lightly. It has not really succeeded in showing what an evolved family could be, but rather it shows a more traditional and almost backward ideology of men, women and families masquerading as comedy and entertainment.

Culture and Google Glass

The end of year brings forth a new technology, The Google Glass. This new technology will mean a revolutionary change to the way engage with people and the environment around us. Google have gone to great extents and lengths to design something that would make our lives easier. A product that is  is hands free and virtually be connected to the world with a single command. This new technology, if succesful, could potentially mean an end to a lot of technologies today such as the phone.

As the phone is attached to our bodies, it has become almost an extension of us; we no longer seek to ask questions. We have the answers at the touch of a screen. This has significantly changed the way we interact. But the idea of the google glass goes one step further,  to completely having access to the internet wherever we go. This has bought up a lot of questions regarding privacy. It does not raise any new privacy breaches in fact it just enhances the ones we currently have. Some of the features include facial recognition and icons that appear above people’s heads and also the ability to take video and snap shots from your point of view. This is could be a concern that anyone can record you and then post in the internet without your consent. Bluetooth may also be a risk, people can hack into your files and see and view photos that are stored in your data. Another feature is that it also includes a GPS. This has ist advantages as it will provide navigation wherever you are, however this may also prompt people to wear it while driving. As the product is made to function with the displays in the lenses it may interfere with the concentration of the driver.

Despite this, one of the benefits to these glasses as explain in this article, it could be used for people with dementia and people suffering from memory loss.

Who are we selling?

It has been a long time since I have sat down and watched television. I remember as a child watching television for hours. Maybe it was innocence and wanting to know more about the world, or simply, television was a lot more entertaining. Over the last few years the television for me has somewhat become an artifact, gathering dust in the corner of my house. The lack of interest I have in the programs and its content has been much for evident for me as I would rather read  a book. However, a growing trend of reality tv shows has come about.

To think that major corporations are the ones who are responsible for the media, but not necessarily this; they control the way we view the media and thus the world. Setting ideologies and creating new versions or distorted realities, almost like a dystopian world.

I believe that the media is very much responsible in shaping the way that children see them themselves. Sexualization of children is big in today’s society but has been around for a long time in even children’s tv shows. A great example of this is sexual messages in Disney films. One of the shows that stands out for me is Toddlers and Tiaras where the contestants are competing in a pageant. These girls (and boys) are from the ages of 0-12. This show has had many controversies surrounding the sexualization of children and how, most astonishingly, the parents support it.

I think its important for us as a society to understand how media shapes us and how it affects the way children view themselves. It’s important to know who controls the media and what their motives are to choose such programmes to air on television.

The Honey Boo Boo trailer.

MEANWHILE BACKSTAGE…

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.

After this years 2013 Mardi Gras,  there circulated a video that showed a young man by the name of Jamie being thrown to the ground by police. This video became viral in just a few days and it was the main focus of media for a week. enquiries were made after this video depicted the police using unnecessary force and mistreating the young man. The footage that was captured by a bystander showed a very disoriented teenager  with blood on the floor and crying from obvious shock. He seemed to be intoxicated with alcohol and also seemed a lot smaller in size than the police officer that was involved. Needless to say, this sparked outrage in the GLBT community as they were shocked to have witnessed such treatment by the police at an event where they felt they should have been protected. As the investigations went on, Jamie appeared on news channels such as Current Affair and Today Tonight. In both of these videos he said that he respected the police as they are there to protect but that he felt he was “treated like a piece of meat”. This video clearly shows the harsh actions that were taken by police. However, the video was shot half way though the incident in which viewers must understand that it must be viewed in context. As a result of this, there were many angry people and petitions were made to remove the police officers in question from their position.

On the day of the rally on Oxford street against police brutality, new video emerged captured  by another bystander showing Jamie resisting the police, kicking and punching them. This part of the incident was shot before the first video which became viral. This is important evidence as it places Jamie in a different light. No longer does he seem helpless. The video shows him fighting the officers before they got aggressive. before I watched this video, I did have sympathy for Jamie. I did not feel it was necessary to use such extreme force, but I also didn’t think that police would handcuff someone in public without any reason. Some people felt that this was a homophobic act, but in reality, it could have happened at any major event. What I find most interesting is that the first video made headlines and it was very much the centre of media for a week. The video was seen by million of viewers, and as Jamie comments in the Current Affair interview, he unwillingly became famous overnight. However, the video showing him punching and kicking the officers is not that well-known. I believe it may be because the video was weeks after the incident and after the hype had died down, or alternatively because the ‘entertainment’ value of the video was not as great as the first.

Who’s side are you on?

Information is every changing and ever evolving. As concepts of new technologies move forward to better their last creation, so does the source. As I will try do describe the difference between open source and closed source, the first concept we must all ponder is, do we have the choice? And many of you would argue that you chose to buy either the iOS operating system or the android, but does it mean you have fully unlocked the potential of it all?

Android or open source operating system, goes by the philosophy that anypne can change or make an input to better the software. With this idea we can see how the software develops quickly and how the system provides a lot more to offer for the user. Anyone can write or re write codes for any particular programme on the software. The popular “rooting” of the software goes beyond its uses and allows for the user to have unlimited access to the system. This is isn’t to be confused with the iOS “jail breaking”.

iOS or closed source, is a source that is licensed under the rights of the creator. This means, that you cannot change, modify or share in any way the content. However,”jail breaking” was created to try and by-pass the restrictions of iOS.

As mentioned before “jail breaking” and “rooting’ are 2 different things. And while they can be mistaken as they are both designed to bypass the restrictions. While ‘Jail breaking” removes some restrictions of the iOS, rooting goes further to let the user completely remove, if they wish, the operating system. This is one of the biggest differences between them both. It allows the user to become a sort of ‘superuser’ in a way. There are some downsides to the endless possibilities. Some things that are designed could actually damage your phone as it may carry viruses. This is probably one of the biggest arguments the iOS have; they create something that 3rd parties can not tamper or shift and therefore ensure that the program will run as intended. As much as Apple have the great intentions to make sure that every Apple device will work, It’s like a mother not letting their chid out of the house for fear of any outsider to come and in ‘infect’ them. But is it morally correct to not give us the choice to experience.?

I have been a firm Apple user for a long time, but I think after investigating the notion of closed and open source and what this mean for me, I may have changed my mind about Android.

maybe one day…

Does ‘fat’ make media?

I had never experienced so much forced advertising about food until I went to the USA. There I was sitting in my hotel room watching another instalment of Jerry Springer, as you do, until suddenly the fist commercial came on and I had to jump to the remote to turn thing down. The commercial was significantly louder than the program and the images are were exaggerated: “FOOD! FOOD! GREASY FAST FOOD! CHEAP FOOD! MORE FOOD! DID I MENTION FOOD?! FOOD!” Ok i get it you want me to die of a heart attack. But seriously, then the next commercial was followed by another food ad, just as obnoxious and loud as the first which then ironically enough, was followed by some weight loss ad. I find these 2 things rather confusing and I always thought it was so strange to put the 2 commercials adjacent to each other.

A lot of people say that fast food and its commercials are probably the directs links to obesity. I don’t always agree with this, however I do believe that it may be an advocate for obesity. I still strongly believe that people make their own choices, but with the media making these commercial so enticing for the viewers, I don’t only think that the images that are on the ads are the only way that it entices. For example, I remember going to McDonald’s when I was younger and always getting the happy meal. This was so because of the toy that was given. And every week i would go to collect the toy with my meal so by the end I had the whole collection of that months promotion. Had there been no toy, I may not have had the same interest. Now, putting this same entice, and substituting the toy for the ‘value’ of the meal is now into context for me as a University student. As the stereotype goes, university students are the not the richest of all social groups so, cheap, quick and easy are sweet melodies to our ears. Such is the same for families on the go. Society today, for the most part and not all families, have time to even prepare a home meal. Fast food is the obvious choice. Quick and simple. But have you noticed the ads for fast food? The burgers look amazing and bigger than in real life, presentation is immaculate and most importantly its good value for its price. When was the last time you saw and advertisement for the most expensive meal on the a fast food chains menu? The fact is, most people do not want to see a commercial for an expensive item on the menu, they want good value for money. Advertisement companies know this. I believe tapping into this mindset of good value for money is a great marketing strategy and I believe It’s weak spot for consumers. So commercial are not only visually enticing but also, gives us the impression that we are getting our monies worth.

But then comes the flip side – Biggest Loser. A a television show depicting some of the most obese people on television for everyone to see. It’s almost ridiculing. I feel this is contradictory: the television which feeds us, pun intended, commercial after commercial about cheap value for money fast food, is the same television that then showcases these people as  social pariahs, not being able to lead a ‘normal’ life. The society that provides and pushes us with images of food, is the same society that ridicules and rejects people for over consuming. I find this utterly hypocritical. But what is most shocking, is that media does not take some responsibility for it, instead they go to the end of the problem and make the issue the main focus of their problem.

I do believe in choice and I do believe that we control ultimately what we put into our bodies, but I also believe that media has strategically adapted to our culture and to the way we live by subconsciously sending messages to us. Furthermore, slim celebrities gone ‘fat’ also seems to be the centre of entertainment.

But in saying this, as much as it pushes all these advertisements, the Biggest Loser for example, is a good show depicting our social norms. In fact media plays a big part in ideologies, that we as society create almost a war between our thoughts which I believe creates confusion within ourselves: If you’re fat, you are not attractive. If you’re skinny you are anorexic. If you’re too happy, you’re weird. If you’re sad, you’re an emo. If you dress in black, you’re also an emo/goth. If you are confident, you’re arrogant. If you’re too pretty, you’re dumb. If you’re dumb, you’re blond or pretty etc. Media does not give us a middle ground. It doesn’t provide us with the stability to know what we grow into is going to be socially accepted. We take risks or we follow a trend, sometimes it is detrimental to our wellbeing.

The video below is a song that came out through the “emo” period. When this song became viral it did offend people. It was meant to be as a joke. I took as a joke even though I would have socially being pigeon-holed into the “emo” circle.

Messages and Mediums

“The Medium is the message…” – Marshall McLuhan 

*30 seconds of elevator music*

All my life i never really took the time to understand why we all have mobile phones, why we all have Facebook, Tumblr or some sort social media platform. The fact is, for the most part, we are all part of a social media platform in one way or another. I sometimes find myself questioning the people I meet that don’t have a Facebook page “what do you mean you don’t have Facebook, that’s weird. Do you have the internet?” But the truth is, my generation is born into a society where we have more of a relationship with our screens than we do with people. Where I almost find myself thinking ” if you don’t have a Facebook page, how will I contact you and find out who you are as a person?”  Its silly right? But when was the last time you went up to a stranger and said “hey can we be friends?” Me either. Yet it seems so much more normal to add random people on Facebook, than to physically interact with a complete stranger.

When I first heard this statement,  I had no idea what it meant. I even slowly looked around to see if anyone was watching my face as I struggled to define this. This paradox that Marshall McLuhan was saying, is that  the medium and the message are not just  2 different things that exist on their own, in fact the medium  is the message. So what does this mean for me, for us and for society?  As I type this I feel like I am repeating myself and maybe half of me still doesn’t really comprehend the true meaning of this statement, much more than we comprehend that we live this statement everyday. However, this meant that we live in a world where the message and medium are ever-changing and ever evolving. Because McLuhan has boldly stated that the medium IS the message, we first have to first understand what a medium is and what a message is. A medium, medius in Latin; Latin for middle, is a channel where a message or something that is passed through with an intended destination. The message is what what’s communicated.   A new message is a creation because of a new medium. This changes the content. Us. The famous words by Marshall McLuhan “the medium is the message” is often shadowing the second part of its last statement “…the content is the audience.” McLuhan talks about in his publication Understanding Media, that no longer are we just receiving the information, but we are now delivering messages – a prosumer. This makes a lot of sense to me and the current society trends that we have. Take internet for an example. This is a broad definition of what  a medium is. But within this medium, we can create a new medium to devise, post, tweet, video new forms information. In fact I am sending a message a through this medium (WordPress) which is within a medium, the internet. As new technologies are created (converged) so is a new medium. But also there is interpretation between different mediums for example Newspapers. They may send a message that may differ from the internet that talks about the same topic.

The smart phone is great example of convergence being used everyday. Where a normal telephone, and the world-wide web and, a GPS, and a camera etc are all converged into one. This convergence is important in understanding the medium is the message. Now not only are we capable of making phone calls to our friends but we can take a photo and upload it almost instantly after its taken. These new technologies have a strong impact in our society. It changes the way we interact thus creating a new message. McLuhan explains this theory in relation to a light bulb, that although this medium has no content it creates its own atmosphere sending a message that without light, there will be darkness. This type of symbolism I found to be very helpful in the way we understand media, technologies and the cultural and social implications of it. How it changes the message and how we change as the content. He further talks about foreseeing a new message before it happens.  I think this is really important because not only can we see it happening , but this may also suggest that we may have the power to intervene. This one statement has had a great effect on me and how I see now see the world. Its strange what a few cryptic words can do to the thinking process.