Blog #4

For our final blog assignment in Media Criticism, the class was to read a few of our classmate’s blogs and then pick four that we liked and wanted to discuss. Each student was to give feedback on our four classmate’s blogs. We should have each discussed the positive aspects of their blogs, what we liked, what we agreed with, maybe what we disagreed with, anything they may not have covered, additional places to find information, and how they might improve their blog. I enjoyed this last assignment! It may have been one of the most fun and interesting blogs we’ve had to do thus far. Below are the text of my four comments:

Erin-

I really enjoyed this blog about media criticism. I also enjoyed that you used “Skins” as your example text; I have never seen the show but it has gotten a lot of notice so it was interesting to hear your point of view on things.

I am glad that you spoke about the British version first. Until reading your blog, I didn’t know that MTV’s “Skins” was derived from another version. From your blog I also learned that the British version is quite different from ours. Based on your blog, I gather that the British version is not nearly as risque and a little more realistic. I think it may be interesting to watch the British version!

I agree with you that it is tough to see such young children act out lewd acts like the characters took part in on “Skins”. I agree with many parents that the show seemed like child pornography; the show really did take it a little far at time! I think this show is crazier than any show on MTV when were in high school watching MTV at 10 p.m.

I liked that you discussed parent’s reactions to “Skins”. I had read about parent’s harsh reactions to the show but your blog gave a really good description of them as well. However, I think it may have been interesting to read about the viewers reaction to the show. I wonder what kids thought of the show? Maybe they didn’t see it as so crazy and risque. Or, maybe even they were taken back by some of what they saw.

Overall, I think this was a great post. I learned some interesting information that I can definitely take away with me and consider when talking/ thinking about media criticism. Great job!

Tracy-

I really enjoyed you blog about Disney and their hegemonic power. I agree with everything you had to say; I believe my blog on this same topic was very similar! The movie we watched in class called the “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” was definitely a good one!

I also agree that Disney influenced each of us growing up. I too only wanted my mom to buy Disney themed macaroni and cheese and Disney Princess Band-Aids. I had also convinced myself that products with their characters on them tasted and worked better than any other product or brand.

I too believe that Disney themes influence the way children think about their gender roles. Like the movie shows, the way the Disney characters act influences the way that young children act. Little girls often play the “damsel in distress” role while little boys play the “tough guy” coming to the rescue.

I like how you discussed how differently our parent’s and grandparents grew up. They did not have the brands coming after them the way that we did. They had more simple toys that were just that: toys. No brands, characters to buy, etc. It was much simpler then and you did a good job pointing that out.

It would have also been interesting if you had a parent’s take on Disney’s hegemony and children. I’m sure there are parents out there who have a few opinions on the way Disney influences their children and other children’s lives!

The one suggestion I would give you to improve your blog just a little bit is to have connected your discussion about Disney more with ideology and ideological criticism. Maybe at the end you could add how everything you discussed and explain relates back to your first description of ideological criticism.

Overall, great job! The blog was very informative and interesting.

Emily-

This is a great blog post! I enjoyed reading about your thoughts on consumerism and I agreed with basically everything you had to say. Your writing was interesting and keeps the reader involved. It is refreshing to not have to read paragraph after paragraph, but to stay interested with questions and good pictures.

You did a good job relating consumerism to ideology and ideological criticism. You also did a great job defining ideology and ideological criticism to the readers. You also cleared up some confusion I had about political economy.

I liked how you discussed “The Mickey Mouse Monopoly” and related it to quite a few things from class. I agree that we are constantly subjected to everything that Disney owns and puts out.

You could have also related this back to our child hoods. I’m sure you, like me, were influenced by Disney characters and movies. “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” also discussed the way Disney markets to young children. It would have been interested to get your take on this point!

Nice job talking about the second movie from class that dealt with treating children as consumers.I was also bothered by the fact that toy companies find it necessary to market sex to young children, more specifically girls. Why do 10 year old girls need to worry about being sexy? Maybe they wouldn’t think about it if their dolls weren’t so sexualized. And the fact that companies market violence to boys is scary too.

The Bratz Dolls discussion in the movie threw me for a loop as well. I think these sexualized dolls send young girls the wrong message about what is important in their life. 15 year olds shouldn’t be thinking about sex or being sexy. They also shouldn’t be so bombarded with material things. The fact that their Bratz dolls come with so many different accessories and toys may be giving them the wrong message about material things.

The only thing you could have done to improve your blog a little bit would have been to connected the two in-class movies. It would have been interesting to read about how the two movies are similar or different. I’m sure this would have been especially interesting in this blog because you made so many other great points!

Great job with this blog. Very entertaining and informative.

Brittany-

This is a great blog! I really enjoyed reading it and agreed with everything you had to say. Also, you chose a really great advertisement. You dissected it well when discussing semiotics.

To relate this advertisement back to more of what we learned in class you could have talked a little bit more about the parts of semiotics. For example, you could have discussed the codes and signifier in the ad. It wouldn’t have made too much of a difference in this interesting blog, but it could have tied more information together.

I like how you discussed the slogan and name of the perfume. Interesting how you noted that the word “heat” was in red, like fire. Red is also known to be a color of romance, which is something that this ad is definitely trying to sell/ get across. I also agree that the slogan should have been bigger to be more obvious to the readers. The slogan should be something that the reader sees to get them to buy the product! Also, I agree that the perfume should have been in the ad, not so much Beyonce. The ad is to sell the perfume, not Beyonce.

Nice job discussing the cultural idea that “sex sells”. I have also wondered why this is. You’re right; we do hear this saying all of the time but no one really ever discussed WHY sex sells. What is it about sex that makes people more eager to buy a product? Your blog explained and discussed this well. And based on this picture of Beyonce, her brand obviously agrees that sex does sell!

I agree that this is a risque advertisement for Beyonce to be a part of. She does have many young fans, so I guess it was a good thing that this ad was mainly placed in adult geared magazines like Cosmopolitan. Interesting comment about how the ad did not get good feedback. I have seen this ad a few times before and often thought “Wow, I can’t believe Beyonce is in this ad!” but didn’t realize that others thought the same.

Good job citing that you got some of your information from the book. Somewhere that you could have found additional information may have been the internet and/or google searches. I’m sure there have been a few things written about Beyonce’s ads. You and I definitely aren’t the only people who think that this ad is risque and totally sexualized!

Overall, great blog. I feel like I learned a lot from it and you made some really good points. I found this blog interesting and entertaining. Nice writing too; you kept the reader intrigued with a couple quotes and questions.

I enjoyed using a blog as a way to complete assignments. It made me feel like my writing was more relaxed and didn’t have to be so straight-edged like I normally feel when I’m writing a paper for a class. By using a blog, I felt that I could use jargon that my fellow classmates understood and I didn’t have to be so “by the book”. I like how some students phrased parts of their blogs as questions and added quotes. This kept me, and I’m sure other readers, more intrigued then we would normally be when reading a response to something.  WordPress also made it very easy to post and read comments that other students had left. These posts/comments gave me good ideas for future writing assignments. I would recommend that Dr. Nichols keep blogs in her future assignments. They make students feel more at ease yet they are still a great learning tool and writing tool.

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Blog #3

Ideological criticism is a form of rhetorical criticism that examines how ideologies are embedded and circulated through texts. An ideology is an instrument dominant elites use to extend control over others. Ideological criticism looks at how ideologies reflect and/or serve the interests of the dominant elites, how the systematic representation of these dominant ideologies become accepted as normal and natural, and how they largely go unchallenged. More specifically for this latest blog post we will explore the political economy perspective. This theory looks at the role of ownership in the media industry and how production and distribution practices shape media texts. Disney is one media company that is often examined when discussing the political economy perspective; theorists call Disney a media conglomerate.

Being a media conglomerate, Disney owns many different TV stations, radio stations, , production companies, and even vacation companies and theme parks. Although not all of these companies may not be pegged with the Disney name they still emanate Disney beliefs. The ideology that Disney wants to public to believe is what these media companies produce.

A prime example of the way Disney gets their views and ideologies across is the way they portray their characters in children’s movies. The female characters are freakishly thin with small waists and large breasts. The female characters always seem to play the role of a “damsel in distress” needing a man to help them or save them in a bad situation. The male characters are almost always tall and muscular. They are the women’s saviors who come to their rescue.

In a movie titled “Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood, and Corporate Power”, children who watch Disney movies (Beauty and the Beast, Aladin, Snow White) were asked questions about the female characters in the movies. All of the children said that the women were beautiful. The girls said that they liked to play dress up to look like the princesses in the movies.

When asked about the way the women were treated by men, the female children responded that the female characters needed the male characters to save them. These ideologies that women are inferior and always need a man to save them is even played out in their make believe play. A teacher of the children who were interviewed said that when the boys and girls play together they often mimic the Disney characters; the girls are the “damsels in distress” and the boys are the “knights in shining armor” who are there to save them.

 

 

 

The political economist theory argues that children have this idea of what women should look like and act like because of what they see in Disney movies. Not only movies, but through the synergistic practices of Disney like cross promotion and cross production. Because Disney owns everything that they do, they are able to easily put forth the ideology of what women should look like and how they should be treated and children pick up on it.

So why is it important to examine media through the lens of a political economist? By examining media the way that we did, we have a new view of why and how ideologies are formed. In this case, we learned that ideologies can be formed from media conglomerates like the Disney Corporation. Disney owns so much media that they are able to reach large amounts of people (in this blog, we discussed children) to send out the ideas and beliefs that they want the public to receive. In return, ideologies are formed solely based on the information Disney emits.

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Blog Assignment #2

Dolce and Gabbana is known to have racy advertisements. Often the women and men are half naked and displayed in risqué poses. Frequently, the advertisements tend to focus more around sex appeal rather than the actual clothes and accessories that the company is trying to sell.

The particular text that will be discussed in this blog post is a print ad put out by Dolce and Gabbana in 2007. It seems that the demographic is young to middle aged white people.


The ad takes place outside, in an open area. There are five men and one woman. A few of the men are shirtless exposing their sweaty, toned, and tan bodies while the other men are wearing very little clothing. The one woman is very thin, tan, has dark hair, and deep red lips. She is dressed in a tight black outfit that exposes her legs and arms. She is also wearing a pair of sexy tall black heels. The woman is laying on the ground with one of the shirtless men crouching over her. He is pinning her wrist down to the ground. The other men are peering over him, watching the woman. The woman seems helpless. She is showing very little expression, but her mouth is pouting.

To critique this add I will be using the semiotics approach. Semiotics is the study of how social production of meaning is constructed through a system of signs. It is the study of how meaning is created, not what it is (http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreet/semiotics_and_ads/terminology.html). I feel that by using semiotics to discuss this text, I will be able to successfully examine the ad and help readers and other students better understand its influence on our culture.

In the ad, there are different signs and meanings (signifiers and signifieds). One example of a signifier in the ad is the expression on the men’s faces. All of the men are leering at the woman; they look as if they have “hungry” eyes. One of the men even looks angry while he is looking at her, as if he is going to attack. The signified of these signifiers is that they view this woman as a “piece of meat”. They all seem sexually attracted to her; they all seem to have a desire for her. The ad almost gives off a feeling like they are all planning to have their way with her.

Another signifier is the way the woman is laying. She is lying flat on her back, her face turned away from the man on top of her, with her wrist pinned to the ground. She looks unhappy yet still sexy. The signified is the fact that this woman is simply a sex object. She is helpless; she cannot fight these men off of her. She is basically pinned the ground and literally cannot get up. Dolce and Gabbana is portraying this woman as the men’s toy. It seems as if the men can do whatever they want with her.

However, while the woman is lying on the ground helpless with a man forcefully on top of her, she has her pelvis raised in the air. This position seems very sexual to the audience. While she does not seem to be particularly enjoying herself in the ad, she still appears sexy to the audience with her pouty mouth and tousled hair. Her body posture also makes it seem as if she is asking for the sexually charged attention from the men.

It is important to critically examine this media text because texts like the Dolce and Gabbana ad affect our society. This ad, and other ads like it, portrays women in a terrible light. This woman is portrayed as a toy, something to throw around. The men in this ad look as if they’re sharing this woman. While one man is forcefully lying on top of her, the other men around her are eagerly looking on like they are waiting for their turn. Many of the men have angry expressions like they could possibly harm the helpless woman.

Having texts like these give our society the wrong idea that it is acceptable to treat women this way. People see this ad and at first glance, it seems like a sexy, eye catching advertisement. But if you really look at it for a few seconds, you realize what really seems to be going on. This kind of behavior cannot be accepted in our society. My criticism will help people better understand the text and it’s negative influence on our society and culture.

 

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Blog Assignment #1

My name is Lexa Epstein and I am a senior at Towson University. I am a Communications major graduating in May. I am from Pikesville, MI decided to take this Media Criticism course because I think the topic is interesting. Media plays a large role in my life, and in the life of many others, so I knew that I would enjoy learning about it.

Media criticism shapes our culture. It helps us to think about media consumption habits, it helps us understand how media shapes our world. Media criticism is a process that we use to understand media as meaningful sociocultural symbolic forces.

What I find interesting about learning to conduct media criticism is all of the parts that go into it. In semiotics there are all kinds of signs and the signs have different meanings that are interpreted in many ways. There is an actual science to media criticism. I find the idea of hegemony interesting; that there is an actual power that the elite have over the masses and this power controls the media and therefore our culture.

It is important for people to understand and think critically about our media saturated environment and what is going on in it. In today’s world, it’s important for people to be “media literate”; without being this way one would be disconnected from our culture. Media is everywhere in our lives and people need to be aware of it. We need to be aware of the way it is affecting us. You may not realize it, but things that you see, hear, and read in the media affect the way you interpret the world around you. Media is so powerful that it shapes our culture, society, and lives.

An example of how media shapes our lives is through television. Some shows on TV today depict the world unrealistically. One TV show that does this is Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl is about a group of high school aged kids living in New York City. The TV program doesn’t show these kids living the way that real high school aged kids do; going to school, doing homework, and going to the movies on the weekends. Instead they portray these kids lives as basically ideal for a high school person; shopping all day, partying all night, having no parental supervision, and being able to do whatever they want to do, when they want to do it.

By doing this, the media gives the audience a false perception. It depicts that there are high school children who actually live this way. There aren’t. The audience then may question why they don’t live like this or what they can do to live this glamorous lifestyle. It falsely portrays to the viewer that there are high school kids who drink and do drugs every night rather than stay at home with their parents doing homework, living the actual life of a high schooler. It doesn’t show the world in a true light.

TV programs, especially programs like this, affect our culture and society immeasurably. It is important for others to understand and explore cultural criticism so that they understand how the media affects their lives. I hope to learn a lot in this class so that I can share my new information with others and help them understand media criticism.

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