The story that I found most compelling was the story about Wal-Mart. I had not realized how controversial it was when developing new Wal-Marts. It is such a prevalent and common company, so it was interesting to learn a bit about its history, especially history that is controversial and usually not advertised to the general public.
I was amazed to know that by 2005, Wal-Mart became the biggest company on Earth. I did not realize how popular it was. I feel that all the buzz is usually around Target or K-Mart, I never really hear much about Wal-Mart. This chapter had a lot of interesting facts as well. One that really stood out to me was that as of 2005, two out of three Wal-Mart workers were women. I am curious to know why that is? One conclusion that I came to was that the Wal-Mart spokespeople stated that they expected their workers to have another source of income from a spouse. Therefore, they more likely hired women because since men tend to make more money than women in general, they figured women already had income from their spouse, consequently they could pay them low wages.
I was shocked to find out that many Wal-Mart’s employees’ wages and benefits were so low that they qualified for food stamps, healthcare and other programs. I had no idea that their employees were treated so terribly. It reminded me of labor workers when reading. Also, I didn’t realize how sneaky Wal-Mart was. For example, they lobbied tax breaks and used tax payer money to buy land for stores and warehouses. This shows me how unethical Wal-Mart is. I am still very surprised that I had never heard of this before, especially because Wal-Mart is such a popular company.
It was interesting to read about how some suburbs turned Wal-Mart down such as in St.Petersburg and Inglewood. I feel that I always here about new Wal-Marts being built, not rejected. It was refreshing to read about a community coming together and rejecting something that they did not want and that did not fit into their community. It was admirable that activists in Florida decided to save their Wetlands and not let Wal-Mart destroy the environment. The St.Petersburg Times was helpful to the environmentalists and positively helped save the wetlands. This is media I enjoy reading about, not celebrities and reality TV stars.
How can media expose certain controversies without being harsh and degrading to the company and still have a positive outcome? For example, Abercrombie and Fitch only hires employees that are attractive even if they are poor workers. How would this issue be exposed to project a positive change?
Our interaction with South High School relates to trends in globalization for many reasons. By sharing our videos with them, we shared a piece of our culture from University of Denver, and our personal beliefs. We projected our opinions about problems or successes in the media and hoped to either spark an idea about the media in the students or help them understand why a specific aspect in the media was problematic or thriving. They also shared their videos with us, and helped us experience the culture of South High School. Personally, I experienced a much different aspect of South than I had heard rumors about. Being from Colorado, I had always associated South with a negative connotation, but meeting with the students and watching their video, I was shown that the students are cultured (not only from their own culture but of their fellow students), aspiring, and definitely capable of doing significant things. The video we watched in class about South was very interesting to me, seeing how they embrace and celebrate each others’ home countries.
About cultural imperialism, I learned that the United States is truly dominating. The statistics and facts stated in the Chapter reinforced opinions I had about cultural imperialism. For example, nearly three quarters of Avatar’s gross box office receipts came from foreign markets (333). This was funny to me because I had actually seen the film when I was in Hungary, and the film was in English with Hungarian subtitles. I also learned about the global village. It helped me understand how other countries are more open to the global village than the United States. For example, other countries are determined to speak English, listen to American music, and watch American films. However, as Americans, we do not embrace the same way. Yes, we take different languages at school, but how many students actually pursue the language and successfully use it? Also, foreign films and music are definitely not accepted or really ever watched.
Global media regulation is inevitable, however, I feel that it is very limiting for US culture. When looking at the music industry, American artists are incredibly successful around the world. They are constantly promoted by TV and radio, and other cultures definitely accept them. Smaller music industries, on the other hand, don’t even have the option of being promoted in the United States. They are unable to compete, because the main companies don’t leave room for rivalry. I feel that as Americans, we don’t experience as much culture and culture is not as welcomed.
I think that yes, I would want to change my video after showing it to an audience. Because I made it, the message was obviously clear to me. However, I felt that it definitely was not clear enough. Also, we chose three topics to dissect: Facebook, E-Harmony, and Twitter. If we just chose one and went in-depth, the message would have been stronger and easier to follow. Also it would have been more spreadable, especially to those from different cultures. I feel that our video now just reaches out to Americans, which is very limiting.
For me, the theory that was most compelling in this chapter was media effects. I feel like the media truly has influence over its’ audiences, so it was interesting to read and analyze from an academic standpoint.
Chapter 7 outlines different theories that helped with my understanding of media effects. I had never considered theories to be apart of media influence before reading this chapter. The first theory that interested me, the Hypodermic Model, suggested a direct and powerful influence on the public (231). Therefore, this model states that media influence is supreme, and that the actions of the public directly correlate with the media pressure. An example of this could be that the media portrays Middle-Eastern men as cruel terrorists. A result of this portrayal is that my Grandma is afraid to fly on airplanes with Muslims because she thinks there will be an attack. The behavior of my Grandma is connected with how Muslims are depicted on the news.
Also, the Minimal Effects Model interested me. This model states that the media doesn’t directly influence individuals, the media messages just reinforce existing beliefs rather than changing opinions (232). When I think of the Minimal Effects Model, I think of my own personal experiences, prejudices and how they have been influenced by the media. An example of this is when I went to Hungary a few summers ago and a young gypsy tried to steal my shoes on the train while I was sleeping. Since this experience, I have had a negative connotation about gypsies. Whenever I see something on TV or in the news about gypsies, it adds to and confirms my unenthusiastic feeling I have about them.
I feel that this theory compensates for the weaknesses in the other approaches because it is very personal, and for me, I could relate to having media influence in my life. The different theories helped me better understand what I was influenced by, what reinforced my beliefs, and what had no impact on my life whatsoever. Media effects on individuals educates the public about how media messages, images, videos, etc can influence your own beliefs and opinions. I think media influence is very important to be aware of, especially in a time when technology is so important to our society.