Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I cannot believe how fast this first semester has gone. It still hasn't hit me yet that i've already completed two exams and after December 5th i will have completed my first semester of University.

I am going to miss Wednesday's very much. Mass Communication was a very enjoyable class with the most creative freedom i've had in a course in quite some time. My eyes have been opened to many new things that i did not know or had not noticed before about the Media and our society. This was a growing experience for me. I have become so much more aware of the consequences of certain media, and its influences on people.

Overall, i'm sure i will continue blogging at some point in time. Maybe once classes have finished and i have more time over the holidays. The chance to express my own opinions and thoughts without being judged is quite liberating. I don't think i'll be able to stop blogging :)

The best of luck to everybody with your exams, school
and any challenges that come your way.


13) Activist Project.

Unfortunetly, there isn't one single activist project that i am passionate about, but while in high school i was on Student Council for all four years and i managed to get involved and volunteer in several things that i was proud to be a part of.

In grade 9 and 10 i participated in a Pilgrimage for Haiti at my school St.Francis Secondary. We walked from the school all the way downtown St.Catharines on a Sunday morning for mass and a barbeque with the other Catholic schools in St.Catharines. We would raise as much money as possible, trying to surpass the goal that we would usually make in order to renvoate or even build schools in Haiti. In 2003, 330 students participated, raised 21,000 dollars which went towards funding for solar panels for a school in St.Marc [1]. Other projects that i participated in which raised money for Haiti was a haunted house fundraiser where the Art Club created from scratch a haunted house at Halloween in the gymnasium and charged a dollar entry fee for students, friends and family to walk through. There was also games and food in the cafeteria. My last year at St.Francis in grade 10 i think we raised 1,000 dollars from people walking through the haunted house alone.

At St.Francis we always had some sort of fundraiser happening like backpacks with school supplies that was also sent out to Haiti, or food drives for the local shelters. It felt good knowing that i helped a good cause, even if it was something small.

In the summer before grade 11 i moved to the Alliston, the town that i live in now. I attended Banting Memorial High School with 2,000 other students. One of the major fundraisers i helped out with both years was the Diabetes Walk/Run. We would get the students to raise as much money as they could from their families and friends, and the day of the Walk/Run we would host a huge barbeque at the back of the school by the football field. Students that were involved would either walk or run the course which was around the neighbourhood close to the school. In grade 11 i managed to do my duty on Student Council in running the games and events on the field for after the Walk/Run and also run the course myself. In grade 12 i didn't run the course but i donated money and helped out with the barbeque and assembly. Did you know that in 2007 alone, 6.5 million dollars was raised for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation! [2].

Although these are only small projects they were dear to my heart because i felt like i was actually making a difference by helping out and getting involved with something important. I think more people should help out more often, even if its small fundraisers or food drives. Help in any way shape or form no matter how small or big will make you feel better as a person knowing you're making a difference in someone else's life who may just need your help more than you might know.



12) Participatory Culture.

Before talking about my favourite participatory culture, here is a definition of what a participatory culture is: according to Henry Jenkins:

1. With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
2. With strong support for creating and sharing one's creations with others
3. With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices
4. Where members believe that their contributions matter
5. Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).
Fairly simple and easily achievable, since most participatory cultures these days are very popular, like Facebook, video games PostSecret, some sort of knowledge community etc. The one that I like the most is blogging. I’ve said before that I’ve never really had the chance to keep my own blog. I used to when I was younger and I had just found myspace. It was nice to be able to talk about whatever I wanted. It was like keeping an online journal for myself. After a while, school caught up with me and it was harder to keep up or post daily. So when I was told one of the main assignments would be blogging, I was rather excited to start.

Not only was it fun to write blogs, it was twice as interesting to read them. “Bloggers don’t have constraint. They can obsess, they can focus, they can get serious” (Lessig, 43).
This is one of my favourite quotes from Free Culture. Blogs enable people to do all of these things plus more so when I would get to read other peoples blogs, it was like opening a whole different way of thinking. I would read about people’s different opinions about topics ranging from politics, to art, photography and graffiti, to sports and BMX riding.

Despite bloggers being known for having little credibility, they are useful. Bloggers provide different perspectives. They are able to think openly since they are in an open knowledge community where there isn’t any disapproval of thinking differently. They are updated frequently thus providing timeliness and new information. They are a form of subvertising and sharing of information, using your right of freedom of speech.

I don’t think there is a better way of starting if you want to be heard. Continually updating and working hard maybe eventually get you somewhere. Just look at Perez Hilton - he updates his blog more than a couple of times a day reporting about celebrity’s lives and what is new with them, plus issues or events going on around the world today. If it weren’t for him blogging so frequently I wouldn’t have been so caught up on the American election. Or that Ashlee Simpson had her baby and named him after one of the Jungle Book characters. It’s become a full time job for him and it allows “…public discourse without the public ever needing to gather in a single public place” (Lessig, 42).

When it comes down to it, blogs are fun and interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, they can be considered an online journal for some, or an outlet for frustrations about our government or corporate advertising etc. Or it could be an academic blog like mine and the others in my class that are writing about some serious topics that happen or have happened, creating a very tight knit knowledge community with different perspectives and opinions about the same topics, just looked at through different eyes.

Work Cited

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. New York: Penguin Group, 2004

Combs, Nate. "Participatory Culture". Terra Nova Blogs. 26 Oct 2006. 25 Nov 2008.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11) Culture Jamming.

According to one website culture jamming “sticks where rational discourse slides off. It is, simply, the viral introduction of radical ideas. It is viral in that it uses the enemy's own resources to replicate itself -- corporate logos, marketing psychology, clean typography, "adspeak". It is radical because--ideally--the message, once deciphered, causes damage to blind belief. Fake ads, fake newspaper articles, parodies, pastiche. The best CJ is totally unexpected, surprising, shocking in its implications” (Abrupt).

There are three kinds of culture jamming:

- Commercial: “Probably the most well known form of culture jamming is subvertising. Subvertisements are creative anti-ads targeted at conspicuous consumption considered endemic of capitalistic societies. These images variously target consumers themselves or large corporations, often with a specific message to get people thinking about what and/or why they buy” (Weburbanist).
- Political: “Less common but equally powerful are political forms of culture jamming. The above examples play on everyday symbols people normally wouldn’t think twice about. By subtly changing their meaning, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and takes on significance beyond what is expected. Respectively, the above signs deal with complex issues of political asylum in Australia and the contentious Iraq War” (Weburbanist).
- Social: “Of course, some culture jams are playful in nature and target society in general, being satirically oriented at anything from a holiday to a particular political leader or recognizable symbol. They may cause one to rethink reality, or simply laugh at something twisted to be slightly more-than-ordinary. The best subversive street art videos and images, of course, cause us to do both” (Weburbanist).

This ad would be considered commercial subvertising. It has the original Calvin Klein title and font “OBSESSION” except the normally air brushed beautiful skinny-bodied women that usually clad the covers and photo shoots for their advertisements isn’t the main focus of this advertisement. Instead there is an anonymous young woman, nude, bending over a toilet with one arm holding on to her. The lighting in the photo falls just on the spine of her back, leading the viewer’s eye down towards her slightly protruding rib cage. The message this fellow culture jammer was trying to portray is well timeless and one that almost everyone would understand.
“As human beings we communicate with each other by referring to common experiences” (Franklin, 146). Each person has at one time or another had a feeling of inadequacy with who they are at that moment because they don’t look like the models in the magazines or their favourite celebrity or some reason or another. This specific suvertisement was able to send a fairly worldly message without confusing anybody like some culture jamming art can sometimes do.

That is one of the most important things to keep in mind when culture jamming- being aware of the news and the things that are going on around you and that are affecting the people around you. Sometimes messages get lost in culture jamming because not a lot of people know what the culture jammer is trying to say. Despite this little flaw that sometimes occurs, I personally do believe culture jamming is an art form, and an effective one at that. What better way than to piss off corporate companies by altering their advertisements or their billboards (like Ron English!) without permission and exposing the truth behind them to unknowing people like you and me. I think of it as a domino effect – as soon as one person looks at that advertisement and gets the joke or message right away, they’ll most likely pass it on, or the next person to see it will laugh out loud and point it out or someone will stop and take a photo of it and paste it on the web where millions of people might eventually look at it etc. The message will eventually get out and this awesome concept won’t go to waste. The effort of that culture jammer will have created awareness in whatever subject or issue that they feel is important to pay attention to and do something about it even if it is one advertisement at a time!

Works Cited

“Culture Jamming”. Abrupt. 23 Nov 2008.

Urbanist, “3 Kinds of Culture Jamming: Commercial, Political, and Social Signs of Our Time”. Weburbanist. 08 Oct 2007. 23 Nov 2008.

Franklin, Ursula M.. The Real World of Technology. Toronto,
On: House of Anansi Press Inc., 2004

Monday, November 24, 2008

10) Buy Nothing Day

I recently just started my new job at a Bluenotes clothing store in the Woodbine Mall. It was one of the most hectic 5 hours of my life. Customers were coming in and out of the store every 30 seconds, maybe even less. Christmas time is coming so I knew it would be busy, but I didn’t expect it to be that crazy. My task for the day was to be the greeter in the front of the store, tidying up the clothes and telling each customer about the promotions going on. Personally, I hate it when salespeople hover or attack you as soon as you walk in. I feel bad so I usually stand and listen, knowing that everything they just told me I would forget in point five seconds (my attention span is easily deteriorated). When there was a 30 second break I asked my manager how I was doing, and I confessed that I feel bad bombarding the customer (speaking from my own experience) but I was told not to worry because it was part of my job. Speak up and speak loudly I was told. We had a goal to make for how much of our products we sold and we only had about 2 in a half hours left to make it. So that’s what I did. I bombarded each customer with the promotions we had (which were pretty darn good if I do say so myself) and even made a couple sales myself. I dealt with complaints that the line-ups were taking too long because there were so many people waiting to buy stuff. At the end of my shift I didn’t have a voice left and I couldn’t feel my feet.

My experience working for the first time in retail was enjoyable but it made me think of today’s blog subject: Buy Nothing Day. I chuckled to myself because where I was and what these people were doing was complete opposite. Walking through the mall during Christmas time is like walking through a pack full of lions waiting for their chance to attack and try to sell you the ‘latest trend’ or product that if you just bought two more in different colours, you could save yourself oh about 5 bucks. In the mall you are bombarded with promotions and sale signs that are taller then you advertising in bright colours and font that everything is 50% off and then in small print only if you buy the first product full price will the next then become half off. I have a tendency to walk into these giant signs. They’re usually put in the most inconvenient places, like the front door of a store; you’d think I’d notice them eh. Oh maybe I walk into them cause I’m too busy trying to read the fine print so I don’t get suckered into buying more than I had intended to.

Buy Nothing Day is trying to spread awareness about over consumption – something our generation is known for. Some may not admit to it but we all subconsciously know we are or have been guilty of it at some point in our lives. What the frightening thought is that some people still don’t or cannot understand why they are in debt. Or how they went over their Christmas gift limit they tried to go by when buying gifts for their families. It seems as if people have become dependant on these materialistic things to achieve happiness. Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters has a scary statistic: The average North American consumes 5 times more than a Mexican person, 10 times more than a Chinese person and 30 time more than a person from India. There is something gravely wrong with those numbers.

Upon first hearing of Buy Nothing Day, I did not think it would be possible to complete. People would just go out the day before and get the stuff they need and everything would be just dandy the day of so they could say ‘oh yeah Buy Nothing Day, I didn’t buy a single thing!’ Once researching the topic more, I then realized that doesn’t matter. It’s getting people to understand what the message is that matters. How to determine the difference between do I NEED that? Or do I WANT it? It can be a tricky question to answer most of the time. It is a question I argue every day of my life.

Do something different on Buy Nothing Day this November 28th 2008. Don’t give in to consumerism, spread the awareness tell your friends, your family. Make gifts this year for Christmas. They’ll have a heck of a lot more meaning than something that may or may not have been made in a sweatshop and you’ll know you’re giving back to this place called the Earth, the place that we call home.

Works Cited

“Buy Nothing Day”. Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters. Adbusters. 23 Nov 2008.

PS. Here’s 10 things you could do instead of shopping on Buy Nothing Day

1. Go to a library. Pick up some new books. here are a few reading lists to give you some ideas, the worsted witch, canada reads, 1001 books you should read before you die.
2. Bake something using things you have in your cupboard. Or bake something you've never made before. check out Orangette for some great ideas, (i've enjoyed everything I've made of hers).
3. Make a list of raw materials you have in your house, (things you could recycle or alter to create something new). Find some projects to make using things on your list. Resources: Make, Craft, Instructables, Readymade, Supernaturale, get crafty, make your own gifts out of recycled sweaters, (see example here.)
4. Write a letter.
-to someone you care about
-to a politician (requesting change on a topic you care about)
-to a corporation
5. Plan an expedition. Take a walk in nature. collect a variety of items you find on your travels. Use the items to a) make a mobile, or b) decorate your home.
6. Create some guerilla art pieces & install them with friends.
7. Install your very own Portable Xmas Tree, (completely free!) And while your at it, create some Instant Snow.
8. Have a clothing (or stuff) swap party with friends. for directions see the Naked Lady Party.
9. Donate to something you believe in. (or sign up to volunteer somewhere).
10. Write about the best gifts you ever received. (my story)

Visit the link: for more ideas!

PPS. Also check out youtube videos for Reverend Billy - his personal mission is to rid our culture of consumerism, he asks 'what would Jesus buy?' He uses humour to get his message across. If you're looking for a good laugh check him out too!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

09) Net Neutrality

"We are in a war against piracy as the Internet makes it possible to have efficent spread of content" (Lessig, 17).

Main Entry: net neutrality
Part of Speech: n
Definition: the principle that basic Internet protocols should be non-discriminatory; esp. that content providers should get equal treatment from Internet operators.

Who: Largest telephone and cable companies
What: These companies want to be gatekeepers who block, speed up or slow down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination (“Save The Internet”).
Why: Money money money! Power power power!
Where: Most media coverage has been in North America, particularly the United States.
How: Privatizing the Internet by gaining control of it as much as possible. Up until now there hasn’t been a single unit or person or company in charge of the Internet.

I’d like to think that the 5 W’s are quite important features of this conflict- the facts of the conflict. To think I had never even heard of net neutrality or the increasing problems that have come with it despite the facts that if these companies were to gain this power that they want, our lives would be so dramatically changed.

What these telephone and cable companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner want to do is “to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video -- while slowing down or blocking their competitors” (“Save The Internet”). Like we don’t have enough taxes to pay as it is! Apparently these companies have been “spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk” (“Save the Internet”).

When the Internet was first created, Tim Berners-Lee had intended it to be a neutral network. This issue has been going on since the 1930’s but it has only exploded in the last few years. One of the most important features in my opinion to know about net neutrality is how it affects you as well as others and the freedom of the Internet. According to, “such corporate control of the Web would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we've come to expect online. It would throw the digital revolution into reverse” (“The Threat Is Real”).

An example of discrimination against websites by these companies is occuring already. An example is “in August 2007, AT&T censored a live webcast of a Pearl Jam concert just as lead singer Eddie Vedder criticized President Bush” (“The Threat Is Real”). Those that would be affected are small businesses, innovators, bloggers, google users, ipod listeners, online shoppers, telecommuters, parents and retirees, political groups, and non profits are only just a handful.

There is hope though, people are fighting back, people are getting the word out in all ways possible. Websites like have been protesting for about two years now. Presidential candidates like Barack Obama addressed the issue during the election, check out the youtube video below for a short clip.

This has to be a group effort in order to take these CEO’s and their dollars down. We have a freedom of speech and that should apply to the freedom of the Internet as well. We need to be more media concious of this issue, I know for a fact if net neutrality fails and these companies do start taxing us, our worlds would crash (no pun intended) because so many people, like myself included, would not know what to do without the same Internet we know today.

Work Cited

“The Threat Is Real”. Free Press: Save The Internet. 2002. 22 Nov 2008.

“Frequently Asked Questions”. Free Press: Save The Internet. 2002. 22 Nov 2008.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

08) Media Hegemonies

Oh Walt Disney, where dreams come true. When I was younger I had always wanted to go to Walt Disney World or Land or whatever one where Mickey and Minnie mouse lived (when I was younger I didn’t know there was a difference between world and land). I didn’t end up going till the tenth grade when I had realized Santa wasn’t real, neither was the Easter Bunny OR tooth fairy (thanks mom) and I knew that Mickey and Minnie were just people dressed up in costume. I never got to experience that feeling, ‘where dreams come true’ or honestly believed that I’d get to be a princess and live in that ridiculously large castle. I watched and owned all of the Disney movies on VHS and then watched the Disney channel repeatedly and daily. I also owned majority of the Disney princess Barbie dolls among a few princess shirts here and there. Looking back I feel really bad for putting my parents and sister through that haha. Oh well, my point being that Disney has been around for a VERY long time. They have some smart people working there that is for sure because the Walt Disney Company has accumulated cross media everywhere possible over the years.

When I first learned about cross-media I thought of when an actress decides to release a CD, and then eventually make their own clothing line branded with their name or the witty one they came up with. Maybe go back and do a movie and then have their own fragrance again branded with their name etc. Eventually having assets or holdings in multiple medias that attract the attention of fans also known as consumers.

“As the media conglomerates spread their tentacles, there is reason to believe they will encourage popular tastes to become more uniform in at least some forms of media” (McChesney). Disney is one of the top eight companies that dominate the global media market. Mickey mouse has his pockets overflowing with holdings in so many medias. The Disney Company has holdings in 5 film companies, 10 broadcast television stations plus ABC network, 18 cable television stations, FIFTY-ONE radio stations across the United States! 3 companies in music, 18 companies total in publishing, 16 magazines with 50% holdings of US Weekly, 8 parks and resorts and lastly 16 different holdings in the ‘other’ category. Did you know that Disney owned the Baby Einstein Company? I sure didn’t.

“The major media companies have moved aggressively to become global players. Even Time Warner and Disney, which still get most of their revenues in the United States, project non-US sales to yield a majority of their revenues within a decade” (McChesney). The goal is to appeal with a wide variety of people because if they appeal to your wants, needs and desires the company benefits in profit. So what better way then to use cross-media to achieve that goal fast in larger sums. Not to mention having more power in influencing what consumers buy through their different owned medias. This is a pretty big advantage to conglomerates because it gives them great hegemony through the ability to influence large numbers of a people faster.

It really is such a shame that these days, goals always come down to making more money and profiting off of young children. As Reverend Billy might say, Mickey Mouse is stealing the imagination and hopes and dreams of your children…or your parents money.


-Annual revenues: $23 billion (FY 1998)

-Non-US sales: 21%

-Non-US sales in 1984: 8.4%

-Disney has established a strong presence in China, Japan, Europe and Latin America.

-Its ESPN International is broadcast in twenty-one languages to 155 million households in 182 nations.

-Want to know who owns the movies? Check this link out:

-If you want to see the complete list and titles of The Walt Disney’s Company’s holdings go to this website:

Work Cited

“Who Owns What: The Walt Disney Company”. Columbia Journalism Review. 07 30 2008. 21 Nov 2008.

McChesney, W Robert. “The New Global Media: It’s A Small World of Conglomerates”. The Nation. 11 11 1999. 21 Nov 2008.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

yes we can.

I'm honoured to have witnessed the day an African-American
was elected to the White House. I think Barack Obama will
do many great things to come. I'm looking forward to the future.

Check this video out:

07) Fake News.

"By deconstructing the modern triumphs of PR, it also shows how objective inquiry becomes subsumed by manufactured information, which either changes the public's perception of an event or the outcome of the event itself. In such an environment, facts cannot survive, nor can truth prevail" (Dowie, 4)

I have learned so much about Journalism and Public Relations since starting my Media Studies program. I never full realized the extent of how powerful corporations actually are especially when it comes to the news and media distribution. Reading the novel Toxic Sludge Is Good For You by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, especially opened up my eyes as to how sneaky Public Relations is controlling and spinning the news that we so whole-heartedly believe.

Despite the negative aspect of fake news when you look at the Public Relations and media corporations’ side of things, I would actually like to point out the benefits of Fake news. It’s what people like Stauber and Rampton that take matters into their own hands and write a book like Toxic Sludge Is Good For You and expose “little-known mega-firms such as Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Ketchum PR- the “invisible men” who control our political debates and public opinion, twisting reality and protecting the powerful from scrutiny” (Toxic Sludge). Or when groups like The Yes Men who take major issues that had not received any or enough media coverage by creating media spectacles and drawing attention to company ethics using irony and satire. One example that really stuck with me is the Bhopal Crisis.

The Bhopal Crisis was something I hadn’t even heard of until just recently. In 1984 there was a chemical gas leak containing more then 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas that was “released from Union Carbide’s pesticide factory in Bhopal. Union Carbide’s cost-cutting had ensured that none of the six safety systems designed to contain the leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal” (Stanford Amnesty). “In 2001 Michigan based chemical corporation Dow Chemical purchased Union Carbide thereby acquiring its assets and liabilities” (Stanford Amnesty). To this day Dow Chemical refuses to take responsibility and clean up the mess they bought into. More than 120,000 residents of Bhopal live with the after-affects of illness from the chemicals and have not been treated because Dow won’t release the other accompanying chemicals that were released, which doctors could easily treat. The Stanford Amnesty site goes into further detail of the procedures that had not been followed by Union Carbide or by Dow Chemical, the results are frightening.

What really bothers me is that I had no idea this had even happened and I had never even heard the effects of the “worst industrial disaster” still going on in Bhopal to this day. This is the part where the Yes Men come in. They have a fake website called with articles that hold cutting edge satire which expose more about Dow Chemical. This is where BBC news had contacted them asking for “a Dow Representative to discuss the company's position on the 1984 Bhopal tragedy on this, its 20th anniversary” (Dow Does The Right Thing). They knew if Dow Chemical sent a representative or spokesperson, they would reiterate the same stuff they did when they had first bought out Union Carbide. Long story short, the Yes Men sent one of their own reps with a thrift store suit, a fake name- Jude Finisterra and planned for Dow to take full responsibility of the worst industrial disaster ever to occur and to finally clean up the mess after twenty long years.

Clearly most reactions to this would be that the Yes Men are creating false hopes for the people in Bhopal. In some ways that could be true but at the same time, as explained on the website: “There are some risks to this approach. It could offer false hope—or rather, false certainty—to people who have suffered 20 years of false hopes that Dow and Union Carbide would do the right thing. But all hopes are false until they're realized, and what's an hour of false hope to 20 years of unrealized ones?” (Dow Does The Right Thing). When Fake news is done well, the outcome is factual. The Yes Men are asking the rhetorical questions that haven’t been asked. When I learn about groups like the Yes Men and think about what the purpose behind something like Dow Does The Right Thing, it makes me feel like there is hope despite the major coporations and public relations companies that dedicate their lives to protecting the rich and powerful from people like you and me learning the truth.

“The public relations industry has stolen our dreams and returned them to us packaged as illusions” (Stauber, J and Rampton, S). That quote reminded me of a situation sort of like sifting through all the junk that accumalates and finally getting to the good stuff, the treasure at the bottom. It has motivated me to become more media concious of what’s being shown to me and hopefully in the near future things like hiding the truth from citizens simply for the benefit of a couple rich old farts (no offense of course) in a big company like Dow Chemical or Union Carbide won’t happen anymore. Maybe companies will attribute moral ethics and take the public’s interest into favor next time instead of calling up their PR spokesperson on speed dial.

Hopp, Erick. "Dow Does The Right Thing". Hijinks Overview. 12 08 2007. 21 Nov 2008.

Amnesty, Stanford. "The Bhopal Disaster". Amnesty International USA. 05 25 05. 21 Nov 2008.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Don't Vote.

Check This Out.
Mr. Reilly just showed us this.


06) Social Uses/Implications of Technology & Media

Ever since enrolling into the Media Studies Program here at Guelph-Humber, i've really noticed how much the internet controls my life. I do realize i've already written a blog on the internet, but in my own personal routine, it mediates almost all of it.

The following is my routine most of the time when i get up and turn on my laptop:

1) Sign on to MSN
2) Check
3) Check
4) Check
5) Check
6) Check

This sometimes changes depending on how much time i have but the first three things i do everyday. I've come to have a real love/hate relationship with technology-especially the internet. I find it almost pathetic that i use it so much, and that i have to do these 6 things each day or else i feel that i'm behind or out of the loop. Especially lately, i've found that facebook has just been causing problems for personal reasons. Perez Hilton's blog is something that distracts me constantly while trying to finish my homework as does deviantart which is an online gallery of different medias of art from different people. Ever since i finally got the internet at home and i was allowed to use it and then when i finally got MSN Messenger in the 6th grade, it was all downhill from there. I didn't go outside as often and sometimes i still don't. I hardly watch the television and since my laptop screen is techinically bigger then my 13 inch tv i have here at school, sometimes i just surf youtube for shows that i've missed or feel like watching. I do use the internet for education purposes, but since i use it more then going to the library, i sometimes have a harder time finding books when i do go since with the internet all i have to do is type in a keyword and it will bring up thousands of different options instead of walking through the aisles trying to find the specific code for a specific book.

If it was possible to go a day without any technology mediating my life, i would do it. But it's becoming more and more impossible. Everyone's become so dependant on it, just like i have. Despite still being addicted to the internet, i've had some eye openers and i am going to try and cut back my internet time and to go out more and actually socialize, and re-learn how to find library books.

God only knows what would happen if the internet just stopped working one day-can you imagine the mayhem?

05) Theory/Praxis

Up until now, i've never taken a class or been taught the importance of media literacy. It wasn't untill i stepped foot into Mr. Reilly's Mass Communication class where it was formally introduced to me. I've always sub-conciously known that it's important to be aware of things in our media and our society and that not everything is what it may seem to be. Getting ready to write this blog i did a little research so i could better understand media literacy. Here's some points about what i found:

"Media literacy is the ability to sift through and analyze the

messages that inform, entertain and sell to us every day."

"It's the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media— from music videos and Web environments to product placement in films and virtual displays on NHL hockey boards."

"It's about asking pertinent questions about what's there, and noticing what's not there."

"And it's the instinct to question what lies behind media productions— the motives, the money, the values and the ownership— and to be aware of how these factors influence content."

In combination with Mr. Reilly's class and after reading these points, it reenforced my subconcious thought of being aware of the media that i see on a day to day basis. For example,
i remember one class we watched a youtube video on a beer commercial. I see these commercials all of the time, but before unversity i never really thought all that much about them. I did think they were sometimes egotistical on the man's part (no offence to any guys out there) and i did sometimes think their information was blown out of proportion. But when Mr. Reilly went through with us and pointed out things that could be taken the wrong way, and some possible interesting meanings behind certain occurances in the short clip. In the end i realized how degrading the commercial really was for women-a conclusion i would never have reached if i had seen it during a break in my favorite tv show.

In my previous blog about advertising, i think the theory of media literacy and decoding advertising could go hand in hand quite nicely. I think it's crucial for our generation and future generations to become media literate early on in life. To be able to think with an open mind but to also take a grain of salt with everything that is shown to them. To be able to think on their own! To ask the right questions in order to find the right answers.
Works Cited:
Tallim, Jane. "What Is Media Literacy?" Copyright 2008. Media Awareness Network. 5 October 2008. <>

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

04) Decoding/Deconstructing Advertising.

When i think about advertising in today's society, one of the first things that come to my mind are the Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister ads and using sexuality to sell their products and brands. I know most people have written this blog about Abercrombie or Hollister or some other main brand but i feel strongly about the kind of messages that are being advertised to our younger generations.

Don't get me wrong, i think their tactic is clever. When i see one of their ads i automatically think "BUY OUR CLOTHING and you can look like these BEAUTIFUL, ALL-AMERICAN people, with AMAZING BODIES and AMAZING LIVES etc" In my opinion, using beautiful, half naked people with toned, muscular bodies posed in either almost sexual or sexual poses isn't the most tasteful, or the most positive tactic. Clearly these big budget corporations don't exactly care if the message is positive, as long its positively bringing in money. I don't blame them, everyone has to make a living somehow.

But what confuses me is why half the time when they're advertising for example, mens clothing, the male model's head is cut off. All that is seen is the abdomen, 'BUY THESE JEANS, GET THESE ABS.' If that doesn't get the idea of sexuality across then i don't know what would. Although companies like Abercrombie and Hollister have been critisized for sexual advertising, their clothing is fairly casual. Comfy jeans, khaki shorts, sweaters, tank tops and t-shirts, polo shirts all bearing their logos. All quite ironic wouldn't you think?

This advertising can be taken in a few ways, one of them which i've already mentioned; creating a negative image for younger generations who feel inadequate as themselves thus giving in to paying ridiculous prices in order to try and achieve the same look as the models featured. Or the advertising can be taken in the sense that these creators are comfortable with their sexuality and why not celebrate it while advertising our clothing. When you stop and think our society is not only bombarded with ridiculous amounts of advertising, but most people in society are also very uncomfortable with nudity and sexuality, anything taboo really. Maybe Abercrombie and Hollister are only thinking outside of the box- being daring in making these choices? Or the ads can be looked at in the sense of a very well taken photograph with amazing post-editing etc.

It all depends on the person who's looking at it, and whether or not they have the ability to see past just the photo or 30 second commercial and look at the deeper meaning behind it. So next time your flipping through a magazine, stop and actually think about the advertisement that's trying to get your attention to buy their product. What the message from one ad may mean to one person, may mean something completely different to you.


Abercrombie & Fitch traces all the way back to 1892 in New York City. David Abercrombie & Ezra Fitch were dedicated to selling only the highest quality CAMPING, FISHING and HUNTING GEAR. Distinguished clientele included Theodore Roosevelt, Admiral Robert Peary, Ernest Hemingway, the Duke of Windsor, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.

The Abercrombie and Fitch catalogues are so shocking (in advertising) it has felt it necessary to put them in sealed plastic covers, much like top shelf magazines, to protect the eyes of the innocent.

Advertising is considered a greater revenue for publishers in magazines, accounting for overall 50% of industry revenue. In a typical magazine, advertisements make up 50% of it. Thats half of the paper in the magazine.

Works Cited:

"Sex and Shock' Chain Abercrombie and Fitch Entering UK." 20 March 2007.
China Daily. 5 October 2008.

"Industry Overview: Magazine Publishers." March 2004. Hoover's Inc. 5 October 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

03) Mass Media

When I hear the words ‘mass media’ so many things run through my mind. Then an idea hit me while I was listening, to of all things, the Jonas Brothers. I started thinking about it and how they’re connected to mass media. We-the mass media-are the audience waiting for giant corporations to dish out the latest fad. When you stop and really think about it, the Jonas Brothers are just that. They’ve been manufactured to appeal to the mass media.

The Jonas Brothers are appealing in many ways. They’re a trio of fairly good-looking brothers with great style that make catchy music that all can sing and dance along to no matter the age. Not only that, but they’ve created a wholesome image by publicly stating to be virgins until marriage. They make this look good by wearing stylish chastity rings on their ring fingers. Being Disney stars doesn’t hurt too. This all combined, appeals to parents which then allows the children to purchase their CD’s, watch their movies, go see them in concert, watch their TV shows etc.

I personally think we, the mass media, tend to be a bit jaded when it comes to thinking on our own. Don’t get me wrong, I do secretly love the Jonas Brothers and I do like some of their songs. Mostly the mushy love songs, but I can’t help but now think that they’re just another corporate creation, sort of like a Barbie (or Ken in this case) doll made to perfection, specifically aimed to appeal to the mass media to sell millions.

The sad part is that despite knowing all of this, I eventually give in to it, just like many others do. I’m not going to lie, I do have a Jonas Brothers album on my ipod, and my favourite song right now is ‘Lovebug.’

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Masterpiece With a Message.

I think this has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve done for a class before in my life. It was a perfect balance of challenge as well as excitement. I was not entirely sure of what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted to do something interesting. What I ended up doing was going back to my familiar days of painting. The subject matter of my painting is simply a hand holding a paintbrush. I wanted to keep my message fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. “This is my media. This is how I get my message out.” In my own personal experience, I have always responded more to visual things. I do love to read, but if the topic does not interest me, I sometimes have a harder time finishing whatever it is I have to read. I think most people from my generation and those following ours can say the same thing. Everything in our society is visually stimulated, so our youth are bombarded with so many different advertisements, sales pitches and products, I think eventually we’ve become unsure of what to believe and how to tell the difference between what is reality and what is corporately branded.

In my own experience, I’ve always responded the most to art and photography. I do not think that the majority of people realize that certain art pieces have major political stories behind them. The art world has grown and artists are taking advantage of their canvases to portray their own opinions about everything- small or big- to whoever will stop and take a look. One of the best examples in my own opinion is a graffiti artist by the name of Banksy. Controversial and known through London and now increasingly around the world simply for his political art, takes to the streets to create stencils of political happenings today. One of my favourites is of a young girl with a heart-shaped balloon floating away on a cement staircase. On the right side behind the young girl, it says ‘THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.” There are plenty of others, some which portray groups of riot police with yellow smiley faces in place of their own with “WRONG WAR” written in between them, others of young children hugging bombs with a heart over their heads, conveniently titled a Banksy Love Bomb. There is one stencil, another that I particularly like, of a young man with a bandana over his face getting ready to throw a bouquet of flowers, titled Flower Chucker. There are hundreds more of his stencils around the streets of London, Brighton and Bournemouth as well as the US and Europe, some of which have been removed. Either way Banksy still manages to get his point across to people everyday. He is using the art of graffiti to state his political viewpoints with others around him.

Overall, I think that even if a person is not an artist, or has never taken an art class, or does not fully pay attention to what is happening in the news around us, one can still stop and appreciate what the artist is trying to do. In my own situation, what I hope to do is raise media awareness through my artwork, whether it is painting, photography, sculpture or film that is being used as a medium. Either way I am still left with my hand holding a paintbrush, a camera or even clay, and an empty canvas to create a masterpiece with a message.

“Banksy.” Art of the State. 2008. 16 September 2008

“Banksy.” Banksy. 16 September 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

02) The Ecology of Media

During our second class of Mass Communications, we were to have read two articles, one of them being "The Humanism of Media Ecology" by Neil Postman. Of course these articles lead to interesting class discussions. One of the new things i learned during that class was the definition of media:

a pl. of
(usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely.

Up until last week, i had a completely different idea of what media was. I actually felt extremely silly when i was finally told the proper definition and compared it to my own idea. I didn't realize that it was a plural of medium. When Mr.Reilly was explaining it to us, it all just clicked in my head, that media is the way the message is portrayed. It got me thinking about how my generation is being constantly bombarded with advertisements and commericals through all sorts of things; the World Wide Web being one of the most popular.

I've had the internet as long as i can remember. I've generally used it to try and complete homework, and various projects over my educational career. But as time went on, it's sad to say that the internet has become a key part of my life. I hadn't realized it entirely until my first two weeks of classes, how much it actually does mediate my life. The thing that has come to bother me so much though, is how dependent people are with things like Msn Messenger, or Myspace and of course Facebook. Using these things so often, has created a social block amongst people. Some have chosen using techonology like the internet to communicate with others instead of good o'l social skills. Even my sister made a comment on it the other day. When she was in high school she would spend hours on the telephone with her friends, or instead of the phone, she would be out hanging with them outside somewhere. Yet today, youth spend more time 'talking' over MSN or Facebook and have entirely forgotten things like the telephone (unless it's a cellular telephone- that's an entirely different story). I've also found that the internet has enabled humans to create an ideal persona. My example being Facebook once again. While communicating over Facebook, the internet gives the user the power to create a 'perfect' person. One without quirks, or eccentricities that a person might normally notice in a face-to-face situation. It eliminates all possibilities of creating any socially awkward incidents. The question to ask yourself now is if all of that is a bad thing? Or is 'talking on Facebook' a new style of communication for man kind altogether?

Don't get me wrong, i appreciate the internet for all it's worth. It makes my school life much easier in finding information for research projects and homework in general, as well as communicating quickly with teachers if i have a problem or a question about something etc. Also, the internet provides me with applications like MSN or Skype to keep in touch with friends and famliy in far away places while i'm at school. But i can't help but feel old fashioned when i say that i sometimes would rather speak face-to-face with my teachers or find time to get together with my family and my friends to catch up with each other, or go to the library and actually find a book or encylopedia to finish that project. Dare i say i find these 'physical' things more dependable then a techonological source?

"media." Unabridged (v1.1) Random House, Inc. 15 Sept. 2008.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

01) Academic Blogging.

Setting up my blog went much more smoothly then i had anticipated. I had some trouble with esthetics- which colour to make my background, which photos to put up etc, mostly because i can be an indecisive person. I had a bit of trouble creating an original title. It's hard to create something that is 100% original, there is always some sort of influence or inspiration. I remember in one of my art classes, it was an art history day, my teacher was talking about one of the art periods and how up until that point most things had been tried or done. And now sitting in the twenty-first century originality is even more difficult to achieve in all aspects of our lives.

I know personally, one of my goals is to create something original enough to impact someone elses life in any way shape or form. I want to be able to create something that will evoke some sort of emotion in my generation. Something that will enable a person to forget about reality for just one split second. To forget about how fast-paced our lives have become, how much technology controls our lives, how dependant we've become on materialistic things to make us happy. I want to slow things down- back to step one. I want to contribute a creative piece that will make a person stop and think, and then go on and spread that feeling.

I'm still trying to figure out what that creative piece will be, and how exactly i'm going to achieve it. I'm looking forward to learning many things in this course about the mass media and different channels of communications and understanding human experience and culture. I'm hoping everything i learn will help me get one step closer to my creative piece of originality.