Zach Stroup, Erica Kessler & Aly Wetzler
Our media and culture class is primarily made of white, privileged students. South High school, however, is known for its cultural awareness and diversity. After visiting South High, I recognized how important diversity is in the media. I realize now how growing up in a predominantly white and upper-class suburb has blinded me to the diversity of our country.
Before we presented our videos, we were introduced to a few students from South High school that were from other countries. They also had videos prepared for us and I realized that the variety of their backgrounds reflected the variety in topic choices for their videos. This further proved to me how important it is that all viewpoints deserve to be heard. My group’s video focused on the control of the media through big conglomerates. Five major companies have complete control over the media and because of their control; it is their opinions that are portrayed.
Marshall Mcluhan’s idea about the “global village” and the connection that could be made amongst the world if everyone’s voice was heard can be closely related to our experience. The discussion in my group’s video about the five media conglomerates can also be compared to the rest of the world. The only voices heard in the world are those that are within affluent nations or chief media companies. If the world had access to media in a “global village” setting then there would be an influx in the diversity of opinions. This increase would educate the world on issues in a myriad of contexts.
My experience at South High school does not make me want to change my video essay. Although the demographic we were aiming for was different from the students at South High, I still believe our video was captivating for the media students at South High. Even if you had not seen the Old Spice commercials before, seeing a man in a robe by a fire place is still funny! If I could, I would add something about media economics on a global level.
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.
Of the four media theories that were discussed in class and the book, the most intriguing theory to me was media effects. This theory struck me as the most interesting one because as an average person who uses various media outlets daily it is neat to take a step back and really think about and examine how we as people are being influenced by the media presented to us each and every day.
Within the concept of media effects, the book examines various different theories that support and examine media effects. The first theory that the book outlined caught my eye. This was idea of the “hypodermic model”. The hypodermic model suggest that media has “a direct and powerful influence on the public” (231). The book gives a few examples of this theory in effect. For example the book discusses the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds and the effects it had on society. I remember learning about this broadcast in high school and was astonished to learn that people across the country truly believed aliens were attacking us. This is a great example of the hypodermic model in effect, but I do not think this theory is as accurate today as it was back during that broadcast. Media was limited back then so it was harder to access information. People had to rely on the means they had available which were more limited back then. Had that broadcast happened today, enough people would have googled the situation or tuned into another news source to determine weather or not it was true. I think it is harder for the hypodermic model to exist today because people have the ability to receive media from various different sources, which provide different information, sometimes reliable and sometimes not. We as individuals have more room for our own interpretation of the media we receive and more ability to control how it influences us.
Clearly, the media plays a major role when it comes to influencing our society. Growing up in a large family I have seen how certain commercials have affected my siblings. Watching my younger siblings act like the people they see on the television is what has made me so interested in media effects. The media has been affecting our society for years. One model of media has been around as early as the World Wars. They hypodermic or “silver bullet” model was very efficient because it allowed the media to inject “a message directly into the bloodstream of the public.”(231). Unlike the other techniques, this one uses coercion, making the public agree with the messages they see and hear.
Media Economics is the influence of a few media companies on everything the public hears and sees. It embodies financial, speculative, as well as realistic questions specific to media of all types. Economic policies and practices of media companies are particularly concerning to media economics. In particular, “one of the clearest trends in media ownership is its increasing concentration in fewer and fewer hands.” (32). It’s troubling to me that what we watch on the television, hear on the radio, and read in the news is entirely controlled by five large corporations: Time Warner, Walt Disney Company, Viacom, News Corporation, and Bertelsmann AG. Media economics is important to understand because in an attempt to make a profit, large corporations have a great effect on our society.
Free Press is a national organization that works to reform the media. They do not favor any political party or operate with the objective of making a profit. Free Press strives for: autonomous media ownership to avoid a monopoly on media, a sturdy and solid media for the public to engage as well as inform audiences, excelling journalism to sustain democracy, and access to open communications to ensure that all viewpoints are heard. Their purpose is to educate the public about the current failing media system in hopes of promoting media reform.
The government used to protect against monopolies of technology by not allowing companies to merge media forms. For example, telephone companies could not enter the cable business. Today, companies such as Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon provide telephone, cable, and internet. “Many critics were concerned about the specter of a “single-wire” monopoly…” (88The FCC has promoted legislation to “ensure net neutrality, preserving open access to the internet and a level playing field for all websites, whereby all content would be treated equally.”(89). Telephone regulations require equal treatment but Cable does not which affects access to the internet. Some internet content can receive preferential treatment, while other content is slowed or blocked. Net neutrality would ensure that there would be no preferential treatment. Free Press supports net neutrality because they want an open Internet; one that is affordable and accessible to appropriate users. Free Press “promotes universal access and encourages competition in the broadband marketplace.”
Free Press has supported net neutrality but in late September Free Press filed a law suit against the FCC arguing with a proposed rule about mobile providers. Can you explain what Free Press did not like about the rule?