Sunday, January 25, 2009

Marcus' questions

1 – Karl Marx contended that media were simply an arm of the establishment, and were used most often to help repress the working class. His works were written at a time when the cost of media production was very high , and few but the elites could afford to publish and distribute media content. That has changed, however, with the internet. Media production costs have fallen dramatically, making it possible for many members of the working class to produce media content online or in print. Would that price reduction alter Marx’s opinion of contemporary media?

2 – Karl Marx also wrote his works during a time of heightened racial tension, where minorities were more likely to be subjugated and mistreated than they are today. Racial and language differences made it even more difficult for them to become media consumers, let alone producers, during Marx’s time. But that has changed today, with minorities consuming more mainstream media and producing more of their own material – some of it largely for their consumption, others for mass consumption. How would Marx regard that distinction now?

3 – McLuhan predicted that the rise in media would create a “global village” of concerned citizens, and allow everyone to communicate and build collective ideas through newer media. His focus was primarily on television, but can be applied to the internet as well – but it does not effectively address the novelty and power of new media. Why does McLuhan feel global citizenship will displace propaganda and nationalism, particularly given the effect of propaganda and then-new media use during WWII?

4 – The discussion of hegemony, in many ways, seems to focus on the development of a media elite or controlling agent. Would it be possible, instead, for a collective will to displace any particular market interest? A general hegemonic trend rather than a deliberate effort, or even a coincidental growth or a dominant ideology?

5 – Why has the emphasis been placed almost entirely on the manipulative powers of media, and not on the potential for liberation? The majority of the arguments presented in these readings have been cynical and concerned with coercion, not about the potential for societal growth presented by media. Why is that?

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