Sunday, April 26, 2009
After reading those materials, there is a question emerging in my mind. If we focus on material level, like what political economy scholars did, we will be tended to believe cultural imperialist. Otherwise, if we focus on cultural level, we will accept hybirdity. I don’t know if I am wrong or right.
Or is there any common thinking among those different approaches? Do they all accept like what Jan Nederveen Pieterse said “Globalization as Hybridization”
2 Question about Dependency Theory or Cultural Imperialism
Dependency theory is very popular in 1970’. Many scholars from Latin America are urging scholars in this approach. NIEO(New International Economy Order) is their common slogan. Borrowing this concept from international economy, they ask to reconstruct international communication order. However, newly industrial countries in Asia in 1980’ become a counterpart disproving this approach. Is there any new subtle globalized theory to cover those two different cases? Or Dependency is just a unique case in semi-peripheral countries in Latin America and Africa.
In addition, new technologies also make those issues more complicated. In 1970’s, what scholars concerned in the field of “international” communication are distributions of radio spectrum and satellite TV and cultural sovereignty. Nowadays, with the advance of technology, it is meaningless to discuss the distribution of spectrums and control of information flows from the first world. At first, spectrum limits are being broken by new technologies. Second, cultural interaction is not just one-way flow. Ex Hybridization. But I doubt this thinking will cover the difference and inequality among national-states in international communication or actors in global communication.
3 More subtle theory in globalization or global communication
I totally agree with the concept of hybrity or hybridization to disprove rough concept about cultural imperialism. For example, in page 622 Annabelle Sreberny proposed a triangular model to disprove the bi-polar model such as globalization and localization. But I think we need more subtle theory than that. For example, how to figure out the cultural interaction among semi-peripheral is a new topic for scholars. Before, we pay too much attention on the difference between the north and the south. Nowadays we can many cultural product trading between semi-peripherals. For example, Korean dramas are popular in Asian countries. Hong Kong movies are popular in Latino channel in America cable TV.
4 Questions about Nation states in globalized world
Form page 670 to 671, Jan Nederveen Pieterse was trying to forge new theories and downplay the role of national states. In my opinion, I would say that Jan Nederveen Pieterse made the same mistakes as what the postmodernists did. At first, definition of power is changing all the time. From the “absolute power” to “relative power”, then to “soft power”, or even “smart power”. It is so romantic to say that hegemonic power of America is eroding and naton-states are declining continually. In addition, some international organization listed in pages 671 such as IMF, World Banks and UN, which are three pillars to support US hegemony after war world II. I would agree with what Joe Straubharaar said in page 700 “Nation-states stills have the power to define crucial structures for media production”.
5 Question about “Framing States…”
It is very ridiculous to read this article in 2009. At first, let me explain what happened form 1997 to 2009.
A. After 1997, facing the wave of globalization, at least in fiancé, all Asian counties are on alert. They started to sing multiple treaties on currency exchange to stabilize their currency rate. Simply speaking, they cooperated to use regionalization to replace globalization.
B. In 1997, China played a regional hegemony to stabilize financial crisis. That is the reason why Hong Kong and Taiwan were safe in 1997 financial crisis.
C. From 1990’, UK lifted most limits on international cash, and a lot of international cash such as hot cash from Russia’s oil cash flowed into UK. UK’s economy was booming, stock market in London was hot, and the market of restates was one of the hottest markets in the world.
D. In 2008, crash of US domestic house market and banking system led to financial crisis speared all over the world. United State was affected, but it has remarkable resources and US dollar is still hegemonic currency in the world.
E. Who are the worst? Answer is European countries. UK now is on the brink of bankruptcy. Due to highly interconnection with financial globalized network, without stable power in their backyard, hot cash are struggling to flow other countries form UK. Nowadays UK’s stock market is the most dangerous in the world. No investor will take this risk to throw their money in the water.
F. Because of the experience in 1997, though Asian countries’ economy is stricken by financial crisis, until now there is no country on the brink of bankruptcy.
What is the relationship between regionalization and globalization? Can we say regionalization is another form of globalization? If the answer is yes, it seems for us that we have to develop new theory on globalization, which always focused on the core and semi-peripheral or peripheral.
Finally, this article triggered my interest in doing research to compare the newspapers’ content in UK in 1997 with that in 2009 on financial crisis. I am curious with their attitude on financial globalization.
Q2) To me, globalization is like affirmative action – it was never intended to establish permanent inequity, but to provide a transition toward equality at some point in the future. But politicians only focus on the now – minority students currently in school, or Caucasian kids barred entry now to make room for them. Both are valid points, don’t get me wrong, but they miss the real goal, which was intended to be gradual. It’s the same with globalization – yes, there’s serious inequity now, and most foreign cultures can’t compete with American media. But they’re making progress – Bollywood, Egyptian soap operas, very sophisticated Canadian television. And even if all we’re doing is shipping very low-paying jobs to places like Vietnam, in the end, those are still jobs they wouldn’t have otherwise – and I’m not promoting child labor, but I am saying that getting the third world involved in some way is better than ignoring them completely, even if things have to get worse before they get better. And I would certainly argue that things like modern healthcare and modern education are certainly worthwhile, even if traditional cultures have to change a bit to adopt them.
So, long winded way of saying – has anyone from the communication field approached globalization as an evolving process? Or am I just channeling my economics-major friends?
Q3) I’ve gotta disagree with Gabino’s point on “instruments of globalization always belonging to the imperialists,” and by extension Sreberny. Instruments belonging to the “powerful,” perhaps, but not the imperialists – I’ll give you a brief example, and fill in the specifics tomorrow if you want. Back in the early 1960s, when television was first reaching the Middle East, it really tore people apart on these same lines – the traditionalists said it was an agent of American imperialism, while the modernizers wanted to adopt the new technology. The final compromise allowed TV’s into the Kingdom under the condition that a large percentage of the programming be devoted to Islamic religious teachings – not at all the realm of American media. That allowed the technology in, allowed citizens to be trained in its use and production, and filtered out a great deal of the foreign content. So how, exactly, does that belong to the “imperialists?” Or, look at Canada, which has stipulated for years – like many other countries – that a high percentage of their television content be produced locally. They took our technology, and our ideas, modified them, improved them, and localized them. How is that indicative of imperialism?
Q4) Teresa’s point on fledgling nations really struck me, and it can be applied to this country just as easily. Most entertainment media are produced in California – excuse me, governor, Kalifournya – but there are plenty of more subtle hubs around the country. Austin and Nashville stand out, but I’m sure there are others I’m not thinking of right now. But following the classic “imperialist” argument, all American music would be the same, there would be no subtlety, and LA would dominate all. That’s not the case. There are different music genres, different production centers, subtleties to American media that aren’t always appreciated – or exported, frankly. You may hear a lot of American R&B overseas, for example, but the minute you hear Willie in darkest Siberia you know the end is nigh. So has anyone thought to apply globalization to a purely domestic market?
Q5) Straubhaar may be overreaching when he says American media are designed as hybrid products that are successful everywhere. I wouldn’t give us that much credit, personally – media executive’s main goal is still a big sale in the ‘States, and maybe other English markets like Canada or the UK. I would argue, instead, that there are simply pre-existing commonalities of culture that some media tap in certain areas. We’re designing R&B for export to the Middle East, for example, we’re designing it for here – and it happens to do well in cultures with traditions of drumming and singing, and that have never really been fond of stringed instruments. You could even trace the genre even further, arguing that many American R&B songs draw influence from traditional Mexican melodies that are, again, not really heavy on guitars … that draw from Spanish melodies, that draw from songs developed during the Almohad occupation of Spain … that come from the same place as traditional Arab melodies. So is it that the US is deliberately making hybrid products, or that the domino chains are still there, and we just don’t always see them?
(2) Sreberny also said that “another point of direct relevance to the ‘localism’ claim, is that the level of this media production is at the level of the nation, either through state supported or national corporate networks. Thus in such arguments the “local” is really the “national”, while the truly local (sub-cultural, grassroots, etc.) is ignored.” In my view, the so-called “national” culture is established to construct national image to other countries. For that reason, it is hard to include “truly local” mentioned here in the national image construction. On the other hand, an interesting phenomenon is that people from other countries tend to look for “truly local”. For example, people from western countries are always interested in subculture and grassroots culture in China, such as underground rock. In this sense, are national and local somewhat constructed as contradictory in a global scale?
(3) “The apparent triumph of late capitalism in 1989-90 and the demise of the so-called second world of state socialism, suggest that ideological politics in the classic sense is going to be less important than the revival of identity politics in the future.” (p621) I am wondering whether this conclusion is true. Based on Herman & Chomsky and other scholars, the west-east ideological difference is still dominating the global cultural exchange. Since ideology is embedded and consistent, can ideological politics be replaced?
(4) I like the point proposed by Kahn and Kellner that “it would be more accurate to say that the movement embodies a globalization-from-below and alternative globalizations that defend social justice, equality, labor, civil liberties, universal human rights, and a healthy planet on which to live safely from the ravages of an uncontrolled neoliberal strategy.” I think it is right that there are all kinds of versions of globalization. In most cases, when we speculate on globalization, we understand it as “how corporate and governmental behavior are intertwined in the name of ‘globalization’. In other word, we always tend to think of political economy in the name globalization. I buy the point of “alternative globalization”. But I feel worried that to what extent can it be alternative as regards to digital divide and omnipresent consumerism?
(5) An interesting point in Roessler’s discussion of magazines is that “the migration of individuals as a driving force behind the emergence of transnational social spaces”. But I find it depends. Between two countries with huge political and economic power difference, the power of migrating individuals is very likely to be invisible. In terms of globalization, how much power can individuals have? This concern echoes my understanding of globalization. There is huge difference between within-developed-country-globalization and developed-developing country-globalization.
Appadurai also seems to believe that the cultural colonization is now a tad more democratic (no pun intended): “…the United States is no longer the puppeteer of a world system of images but is only one node of a complex transnational construction of imaginary landscapes.” (p. 587). I respectfully disagree. Isn’t the quintessential American sit-com family the most copied everywhere? Isn’t English the language of computers even if they’re fabricated somewhere else? If we agree that those that own the means of intellectual production have the power to call their dominant ideology science, what’s the impact of having the top ten universities in the world in the United States? I could keep naming examples, but is it really necessary?
It seems to me like all the “-scapes” (p. 589) cannot be separated from one another in a way that they fuse and form what he calls “imagined worlds”, so how do we begin to understand the imagined world of the third world countries that don’t have the means to participate in all the “-scapes”?
Last but not least, Appadurai says that the “globalization of culture is not the same as its homogenization, but globalization involves the use of a variety of instruments of homogenization…” (p. 596). Aren’t those instruments usually owned by those that can already call themselves cultural empires? Yes, and this ties in with the Sreberny piece, we are able to indigenize (p. 607) the products that come from “media imperialism” (p. 606), but what’s the point if we’re only reacting and changing what they hand down to us instead of creating? Go to Africa and see a Japanese VCR playing a Hollywood movie…isn’t that the globalization we all fear and love at the same time? Should we, as intellectuals, concentrate on the way those Africans contextualize and assign new meanings to the film or should we concentrate on the fact that many are more concerned about selling them the damned products?
“Cultural boundaries are not etched in stone but have slippery divisions dependent on the self-adopted labels of groups.” (p. 621). Perfect, but hasn’t the real problem always been about the labels that others assign them?
Martín-Barbero is one of the most respect scholars where I come from, partly due to the fact that he taught there for a year. His historical recount and constant questioning of Latin America and its issues is always intriguing and thoroughly researched, as this piece clearly attests. In my opinion, some of his research can even be too historical, but that always serves to provide an accurate context.
Out of the whole article, I believe his idea of “writing the history of the mass media from the perspective of cultural processes as articulators of the communication process – hegemonic and subaltern- of social movements.” (p. 637), is the most valuable. Whenever turmoil leads to change, we need to look at it from many prisms, but the most important prism we can use to understand the role of globalization in any situation is to include an analysis of mass media throughout the process. Barbero continues to work with cinema, music and globalization to this day.
The Pieterse piece was one of those that turn everything upside down. I agree: we shall talk of “globalizations” (p. 658) because we’re dealing with “multidimensional processes” (p. 659). What I couldn’t understand was his insistence on trying to move away from the idea that globalization is westernization (p. 661). The idea of all societies creating “their own modernity” (p. 661) strikes me as an intellectual utopia that leaves capitalism and politics on the back shelve. How can they create something out of what other give them?
Pieterse discusses hybridity and brings is Latin America without citing Barbero or García Canclini, probably the most important globalization theorist in Latin America. Also, I cold argue extensively on the fact that “world music” (p. 666) doesn’t exists; it’s a hyperreal creation with clear commercial purposes that we can attribute, in great part, to the Putumayo Music series. His discussion of syncretism (p. 668) reads like a wikipedia explanation and leaves out all the cultural struggles and the oppression that forced people into syncretism. For someone who is not familiar with the history of these religions, it would be easy to imagine that it happened in a peaceful way, more or less like a fun adaptation of something new. Is it taboo to speak of forced hybridity? Should we forget about colonization and death as a tool to bring religion, education and “culture” throughout history?
Straubhaar concentrates on television and brings out the devils of CNNization (p. 682-683). When he talks about these channels bringing “the same content to worldwide audiences, although some “global” channels are creating regionally or locally adapted versions” (p. 683), I think he should’ve used the words ideology or model, which would explain a little better what these channels are really bringing. MTV is not a channel, is a way of living and consuming…
In this piece, the unifying theme is again hybridization as the direct result of globalization (p. 689), but the fact that Straubhaar breaks it down into different levels helps the reader understand the fact that there are multiple processes going on at the same time… and he does cite Canclini!
Straubhaar is also clearly making a point by stating the U.S. is successful in global markets by creating products that are already hybrid (p. 692).
The Kahn and Kellner piece brings Internet into the equation, which is now, in my humble opinion, more important than TV. They also bring in Internet activism, which goes along with some of my research and makes me feel like they romanticized the whole deal by calling these movements creators of “original instruments and modes of democracy” (p. 705) and “significant challenges” to the Bush administration (p. 705). Also, saying that phone messages and the Internet had a great impact on the Spanish elections is passable, but then they bring in figure 38.1 when speaking of Madrid and “massive antigovernment” demonstrations (p. 706)… while using a Catalonian newspaper!
I’m sure we’ll have a ton of fun discussing the whole Big Brother syndrome and online privacy, so I’ll leave that for class.
2- Appadurai asserts that the Phillipine afinity for American music is a testimony to the global culture of the hyperreal… that Filipinos look back to a world they have never lost… they have nostalgia without memory. Similary to what David posed, I disagree with Appadurai's argument. Those American songs are not associated with American realities, but became associated with Filipino realities. This idea is reinforced by Sreberny’s argument that diverse audiences bring their own interpretative frameworks and sets of meaning. Can we conclude that nostalgias do not depend on the original but on the interpretative framework given by the receptors?
3- Although it is true that globalization is too complex to be described by binary models (center-periphery; consumer-producer, etc), the model proposed by Appadurai makes sense but it is merely descriptive and fails to predict or reveal an underlying order as the previous models did. Perhaps, a more interesting and useful model would predict what are the factors that create nodes of influence (U.S., Japan, Brazil, etc)?
4- How do we explain a world increasingly globalized in terms of finance, media, and migration but where different nations are fighting to become and be recognized as distinct identities (e.g., indigenous people, quebec) ? On a similar note, can we think about media as agents of sameness but also differentiation? Media create a common language but also allows to see the differences between each other.
5- Sreberny argues that when a culture gets in contact with Western culture industries (BTW, what do they mean by western cultures? American culture? Culture from developed countries?), there is fear of hybridization, that the “authenticity” of a culture is damaged or undermined. Why is there such a fear? What is “authentic”? Society and culture are constantly evolving and being negotiated, therefore, perhaps what we once believed as authentic, it wasn’t such. Perhaps, it was the product of a mix with other cultures.
2) Appadurai invents (defines) a distinction between nations (seeking to capture or co-opt states) and states (seeking nationhood) (D&K p.593) as a fundamental feature of the era of globalism. Does he get this right? Are Basques and Tamil Sri Lankans "imagined communities"? Is there something really novel or new about what he's describing?
3) While Sreberny is right that Western transnational media companies have embraced globalism sloganeering and have absorbed many 'local' media entities (D&K p.610), is this the defining trend of the globalization of media? Aren't we, in fact, seeing the transnational
emergence of Indian media, the growing role of Arabic media (Al- Jazeera), the growing importance of non-American voices in media at large? Moreover, aren't the transnationals ...struggling?
4) Sreberny seems convinced (and worried) that the emergence of national impulses defined by ethnic or cultural homogeneity may not "allow heterogeneity and civic rights to flourish" (D&K p622)-- but doesn't she overlook (or give a 'pass' to) the oppressive pre- globalist totalitarian forces that kept ethnic nationalist expression in check/bottled up for much of the 20th century?
5) I very much like the hybridization argument Pieterse lays out, especially the argument that it "unsettles the introverted concept of culture that underlies romantic nationalism, racism...civilizational chauvinism and cultural essentialism." (D&K p676). But by extension,
doesn't this process of cultural cut-and-pasting --over time--ultimately lead to homogenization and cultural blandness? Isn't there a lot to be said in favor of localization of culture and cultural/
national identity that Pieterse conveniently overlooks?
David D. Brown
Sunday, April 19, 2009
2.As a continuous question from the previous one, I personally think the most negative effects of participatory culture is too much good information! As Gavino’s recent research showed, even a great number of college students can’t distinguish news articles from blog postings! Based on this, what is our next move? Will media invent some ways to prevent this so their ‘major’ works can be distinguished from amateurs? Or will media take advantage of this by adopting more user-generated contents?
3. Mark Poster predicts a future information era as dangerous when he explain Lyotard’s article (1984) in a detail. He warns of the dangers of a generalized computerization of society, in which the availability of knowledge is politically dangerous. I believe this is just the case today. Too much information is available online that people can barely distinguish trustworthy information from those that are not. Then I wonder, why did he just say “the availability of [too many] knowledge is politically dangerous? Maybe he didn’t see that the overload of information would extend to this degree. What other areas are becoming dangerous by the too much information other than just politics?
4. On page 546 of the Poster’s article, he briefly talks about hyperreality. Although he predicted that there would be a boom of virtual reality in future, I am sure he did not predict it to be this popular as it is today. According to him, groups of individuals are able to interact in the same fantasy space, which makes the possibilities even more difficult to conceive. I am somewhat scared by this notion. It is already creating too many online addicts.
5. A Welcome for Blogs by Cohen made me recall the conversation we had in our last class. Will the blogs keep existing as it is today in future? Like Dr. Harp said, I also believe many bloggers will want to get paid for their contents as time goes on. Will this eventually blur the boundary between decent bloggers and professional journalists? They will be both getting paid for the contents they are producing, and some bloggers can write better than reporters.
Baudrillard's impressions about Disneyland and Watergate are really persuasive for me. However, there is a question emerging in my mind. Why do media create those fake images for us? I couldn’t find the answer in Baudrillard's article. Should we be back to the starting point of critical theory to think about the divide between classes? I don’t know if I could say that in order to protect their interests, the upper classes to implant their ideologies to low classes.
Questions about postmodern virtualities
2 in page 537 “ The dominant use of English on the Internet suggests the extension of American power as does the fact that e-mail addresses in the US alone do not require a country code”. From the perspective of political economy, I agreed with this point of view. But from the perspective of culture studies, I doubt this point. In material level, no one will doubt America’s power, no matter in economy and politics. Language is related to identity. In my opinion, it is too exaggerate US’ power and believe English contents on Internet dominant the virtual world. Though we can’t deny US’s powerful influence on global culture, people have created unique cultural contents on Internet in other regions using different languages.
3 question about nation-state.
Mark poster’s attitude toward nation-state is just one-way thinking. Though I agree with the notion that information communication technologies (ICTs) bring impacts on sovereignty, nation-states are still the most important actors in global society. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is a good example to prove this notion. Without the participation of US, the biggest stockholder on Internet, WSIS is meaningless. Like what Durham and Kellner claimed in page 450, “Many postmodern theorists, such as Baudrillard and Poster, arguably the rupture with the past, falling to note the continuities,…”.
4 Question about “Quentin Tarantino’s Stat Wars”
I am interested in that the author pointed out the conflicts between media convergence and participatory culture. I am just wondering why the media conglomerates oppress this culture. More flourish this culture, more profits the media conglomerates can gain. In addition, there is an Internet subculture “KUSO” in East Asia. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuso
This subculture is very popular in Japan, Taiwan and China.
KUSO example for star wars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmcenZ3R8dc
5 Question about A welcome for BlogsI am interested in the debates on the democracy of journalism. The author points out the main question of E-journalism. Many literatures have proved that the contents of personal blog are still based on the mainstream media. In my opinion, personal blogs could be supplement for media contents. It is impossible for those blogs to replace all mainstream media.
(2) / (3) when speculating on the operation of blogs, we come to a familiar topic: politics and economy. Cohen is concerned with blog and big media. Commerts concluded that “capitalism, states, employers, or established elites … erode the participative and democratic potentials of the Internet.” I feel like within the capitalism society, it is inevitable for public spaces (of any kind) to be permeated by the influence of political economy. So the question becomes: to much extent can we survive or even take advantage of political economy to boost citizen participation in new media?
By the same token, I am concerned with Herman & Sloop’s analysis of rock culture and their discussion of “authenticity” vs. commodification. “The imaginary boundary dividing and distinguishing authentic and inauthentic has always been fluid and mobile; today’s transgressive band, genre, style, label or subculture is tomorrow's co-opted “sell-out.” Actually, in the consumerism society, it seems meaningless to distinguish such “authenticity” and “inauthenticity”. Without distributing in the public, it is even impossible for the general public to know the existence of, say, rock band. My question is can we understand commodification (i.e. the promotion or distribution method) as a form to authenticity as content?
(4)In alternative press classes, the Nation is regarded as an alternative media. However in Goss’s article, even this magazine serves to “reproduces US sociological propaganda implicated in the ‘American Way of Life’. In my view, there are two explanations to this study result. (a) It confirms the idea again that “influence” and “progressiveness” are irreconcilable. (b) It is nearly impossible for any media, even alternative media, to breakthrough the basic hegemony of the society. I wonder which one is more applicable.
(5) In addition to political economy discussions of the blogosphere, Cammerts offered other analysis. “Two examples of disruptive online tactics by citizens were also provided: online intimidation by fellow bloggers, and the use of offensive wounding language by antipublics. In relation to the former, victims of intimidation campaigns may stop “talking” altogether, deactivate the interactive function of their blogs, or start practicing self-censorship. In the second instance, whole groups in society may be insulted or denigrated, and as a result racist discourses and ideologies may become normalized in society.” It reminds me the application of the spiral of silence theory in the online media. If people viewed their opinion as a group, it seems that they can still make the marginalized opinions silent even in an anonymous online environment. This conclusion seems to cancel the possibility that new technology could offer the condition for progressiveness. Thus, does that mean there is no reason for us to expect next utopia?
I’ve heard every Baudrillard critique out there: too abstract, too poetic, too complicated, not empirical, too apocalyptic, etc. Nevertheless, I’m still waiting for someone to really prove that “symbolic extermination” (p. 460) is not real, that a more-real-than-real world has not been created via new technologies and that it has had an effect on all of us. One of this effects, and the one in which a lot of my research has focused, is what Baudrillard calls “lost sociality” (p. 462). SNS have replaced what we could call social practices and public sphere behaviors. In the same line, the “aesthetics of the hyperreal” (p. 471) have created a never-ending supply of reality shows and pseudo-reality based cultural products, which proves that “when the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning” (p. 457), but that meaning, as with all our products, has to be a little better than what that original reality was. “What every society looks for in continuing to produce, and to overproduce, is to restore the real that escapes it” (p. 468). Maybe that original real never existed, but we seem to remember it and we try to reproduce it, making it loose at its “originality.”
A could write a whole paper on ant hyperreal topic (political figures being similacrums of themselves (p. 470) strikes me as a very deserving paper at this particular moment), but I will move on to the other readings.
The McRobbie piece was another reading that made me question all my ideas about feminism. For example, I thought that feminists had a clear idea of what a woman is (I certainly don’t) and that the recognition of that particular idea was one of the things they fought so hard for. Now I have a few new questions: What is a woman? Can we talk about A Woman when cultural and sociopolitical aspects can vary greatly from Woman to Woman? Can we teach people to think about what the female body is for while erasing sexist connotations? (p. 526) How many options are there is we ask “for whom” the female body is? (p. 526).
According to McRobbie, part of the answer lies in suing that hated term that I have already defended here and everywhere else: postmodernism. “Postmodernism does not mean that we have to do away with the subject but rather we ask after the process of its construction.” (p. 527). The best thing about this, and she talks about it in the article, is that, by bringing postmodernism into the equation, we’re also bringing in all the Other Women (different colors, languages, sizes, sexual preference, etc.).
With hyperreality being one of my favorite theories, I’ve dealt with all kinds of articles that touch on it and that rub me the wrong way. We could say that Poster’s positivism clashes violently against my apocalyptical views. Even if the introduction of the article stated that he would help create a discussion, “to enact confrontation” (p. 533), I felt like his bias was clearly shown. He points out that the effect “of new media such as the Internet and virtual reality, then, is to multiply the kinds of “realities” one encounters in society” (p. 539); my idea and, to some extent, Baudrillard´s idea, is that those new realities replace the previous ones.
On his discussion on the postmodern human, too much positive emphasis is put on interactivity (p. 540-541). When are we finally going to accept that people don’t care all that much? Why is so hard to accept that the big corporations use interactivity as a smoke screen with no real impact? Do you really think that a huge percentage of Internet users are active participants?
Again, on his discussion an narratives in cyberspace, Poster brings in all the big words “encourage”, “social bond”, etc. (p. 545), even after accepting in the previous page that “Information technologies are complicit with new tendencies toward totalitarian control, not toward a decentralized, multiple “little narrative” of postmodern culture” (p. 544), which is to say that… all of this access (totally ignoring the digital divide) leads to a big whole lot of nothing. Yeah, you have a blog, cool… but I will still ignore you.
That all kind of serves as an introduction to the Cohen piece about blogs. Even if I agree that we could call this the “me generation” (p. 164), the critique of blogs using the “blogs are narcissistic” approach seems a little outdated. “Bloggers are said to be narcissistic because they persist in publicizing their boring lives.” (p. 165). Alright, you’ve got a point. Now, isn’t a blog easier to ignore than a face-to-face conversation? Is it really narcissistic when they probably know that nobody gives a crap and nobody’s reading?
The most interesting part about this whole article was the discussion of blogs replacing journalism (p. 166-167). I found that about 50% of college students think a blogger is a journalist. Also, the few that care about reading news-related content, couldn’t give less of a rat’s ass if the content comes from “professional” journalists or from their neighbor. Poster also talks about the objectivity or journalism and the subjectivity of blogs” (p. 167)…seriously? At this point in the game and while writing for scholars?
The Jenkins piece was just fun to read, although, again, a little to upbeat for my taste. I have a few short films under my belt and I’ve seen the small difference that being able to produce your own stuff has made on the industry. People are happy to know that they can build a studio right at home, but how many actually do it?
This piece was related to the Herman and Sloop article: creativity! Basically, what the two articles point at is that fact that fans like to re-create what they love… but what happened to original content? I know that articles and scholar papers about Star Wars probably surpass in length Shakespeare’s and Freud’s works combined, but this one was very well written and simply a lot of fun to read. I agree with both pieces on the fact that new media are blurring the boundaries of intellectual property, but is that a good thing? Can we say we’re better off with Island Records owning artists and their work? I guess we’ll have to wait a few more years to see where all this mess goes.
OK, so maybe I was a little negative this week, or maybe I’m just not that much into politics… or maybe I have a point, who knows? I just have a few last points to make.
1- The Goss article was boring and long. The fact that he never even hints at the fact that the people that participate in those threads are not your typical Internet users was a load. Did you see the times on the comments? Who the hell has so much time to just stay on a discussion forum trading blows all day with another writer?
2- Herman and Sloop are clearly big fans of U2… was I the only one who could tell? As a musician, U2 strikes me as a mediocre band with a great machine behind it and a messianic front man with sunglasses glued to his face.
3- Authenticity is out there, but nobody wants to go through the long, hard process of finding out. Also, no one wants the isolation that comes from finding it.
simulated, that is, created through signs and models (D&K p.448). I
get the thrust of his critique, but is it possible for the simulacrum
to exist without the ideological underpinning being there in the first
place? If not, then is the simulacrum the 'sinister' element, or is
society's interpretation and use of the simulacrum (dictated by, say,
hegemonic capitalist values) the real evil? (In other words: fair to
blame Disney if the power is not ideological?)
2) Mark Poster discusses the emergence of a postmodern society which
"nurtures forms of identity different from,even opposite to those of
modernity" (D&K p. 534) in which reality becomes multiple. While the
appeal of this idea has gone mainstream, I wonder if it overstates
things just a bit. Sure, there are multiple realities, and it's fun
to imagine we'll someday be living in a 'Tron'-like world, but isn't
there a substratum 'reality' that still provides the defining
characteristics of community, identity, and other elements of virtual
reality? (In other words, isn't virtual reality rooted in the
dynamics of modernism? If so, then how much of a change are we really
talking about?) Technology itself is moving at such a pace that
Poster's essay already reads like a modern incarnation of the quaint
and innocently myopic Populuxe Futurism of the '40's and '50's.
3) By contrast, Henry Jenkins' excellent analysis "Quentin Tarantino's
Star Wars" lays out a compelling reason for defending principles of
fair use and a narrow definition of intellectual property as the only
means for preserving the 'third space' of creative production. As
grounded in capitalism as Jenkins' arguments are, I do wonder if he
idealizes the creative spirit just a bit too much. It's one thing for
George Lucas (wealthy white dude) to dream of the next little Mozart
out there somewhere...but if economic incentives (property rights) are
diluted, why should we imagine that little girl will choose to make a
career of creating stuff so good others will want to emulate and yet
that she can't profit wildly from? Why should we expect people to
create for the sake of society (much less future Tarantinos)?
4) In 'A Welcome for Blogs', Cohen takes on critics of both stripes
(assuming such criticism can be reduced to a bicameral echo
chamber...) and essentially deconstructs the criticism, noting that,
for instance, opponents are really making arguments about journalistic
'quality' (p. 167). And sure, the 'narcissism' argument is worth poo-
pooing, I suppose. An interesting deconstruction overall, but does he
propose another standard by which to judge bloggery? Is he suggesting
the place/value/significance of blogs need not be evaluated; that
blogs just 'are'??
5) Above all, what is postmodern critical theory getting at? Are we
basically talking about theories that take the 'medium is the message'
idea as a central tenet and work outward, or is the term
'postmodernism' so broad and encompassing that it, effectively becomes
a dumping ground for critiques of all types dealing in anything
related to cyber-whatnot and other otherwise unclassifiable dot-
commery? What is the thread that ties these theories together other
than modernity itself (or its imagery)?
David D. Brown
Saturday, April 18, 2009
2-Poster suggests that the new modes of information “indicates communication practices that constitute subjects as unstable, multiple and diffuse” (p. 540). Isn’t it more positive to think that new communication technologies, rather than instability, allow a constant rearticulation of the self. Using Baudrillard's ideas, does the emergence of new applications (e.g., Second life and then Facebook) give people new opportunities to simulate who we are, to situate the self in a new social context?
3-In Poster’s article, there is this idea that the success of virtual communities may be an indication that real communities are in decline. He asserts that the opposition “real” and “virtual” contains difficulties. Similarly, I wonder if, nowadays, it is still worth it to distinguish between offline and online world.
4-One of Cammaerts’ critiques to blogs is censorship by governments. Not surprisingly, those governments are already repressive (e.g., Iran). Therefore, that critique seems off-base. Do these blogs represent at least a voice of expression that would not exist otherwise?
5-Cammaerts also talk about how the privacy and intimacy boundaries are blurring in the Web 2.0. Indeed, the definition of privacy and its boundaries have changed, especially for younger generations. What once was considered private, now it is not so much. At this moment, these new definitions or boundaries of what constitutes private life are consequential, as Cammaerts points out (e.g., in the labor market, employers use information found in the Web against their employees). I wonder whether this is part of a life cycle (when younger people grow, they would be more concerned about their privacy and they would move back those boundaries) or this new technologies will change forever our once–called private lives. I also wonder what are the consequences of these changes for journalism and reporting methods?
6-The blogosphere is sometimes regarded as the new public sphere in Habermassian terms. Would these new technologies and Internet applications allow us to talk about a global public sphere?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
1) I had a thought about Mulvey’s comments on the “the voyeuristic-scopophilic look.” His thoughts on female passivity seem to imply that females are unaware that men are watching, which I think is a bit short-sighted – what if the woman, either her character or the woman herself, depending on the media, is aware of the male gaze? Is it, then, still voyeuristic? And can the male still be considered the active participant under those circumstances?
Take Uma Thurman’s character in “Kill Bill,” for instance. An argument could be made that a spandex-clad, sword wielding blonde is designed to appeal to a predominately masculine audience. But the entire film is very, very aware of itself as a film, and several characters break down the fourth wall at times. Is that, then, still voyeuristic? And how can that translate to news media, where sources – male or female – are almost always aware that they’re part of a story?
2) I think there’s a clear link, as Mulvey and others have noted, between capitalism and sex. Sex sells, and capitalism is basically about selling things. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Certainly, I’m not advocating sales based on gender degradation or stereotyping or anything like that, but I also think that expression is a big part of empowerment – and gender is a very important part of personality and purchasing habits. So why try to homogenize capitalism? Is it possible to have a marketplace of ideas based on competing conceptions of gender, or is capitalism simply a misogynistic entity?
As I’ve said before, I kinda like capitalism, and I don’t think sexless societies are very healthy. So there’s gotta be some middle ground, right?
3) I think there’s at least one embarrassing anecdote behind Gabino’s fascination with sorority stereotypes. But, since I can’t really count that as an independent question, I’ve got another one – similar to my first question. How can we assume the stereotypes are all about the viewer? There’s a clear sorority stereotype out there, but most of the conversation about stereotypes relates to the viewer – but what if some of the sorority girls themselves are playing up that stereotype on their own? They’re smart, they know the stereotypes as well as anyone. If they wanted to rebuke them, they could – and many do. But for those that don’t, it’s a deliberate choice. So is it really fair to consider stereotypes entirely artificial?
Certainly, it doesn’t work in every case – just because a girl wears athletic shorts doesn’t make her a valley girl, and just because an Arab is in an airport doesn’t mean it’s fair to “randomly” search him a million times. So it sounds insensitive, I know. But still, in some cases, I think it’s more complicated than an insensitive projection.
4) Dyer’s assumption that power structures assign stereotypes doesn’t work in every case, I don’t think. Sometimes it does – the Middle Eastern example I used above is very clearly a product of political power, several different political powers even. But to follow his logic, the sorority stereotype would be a product of a masculine hierarchy … which is a bit sexist in and of itself. It implies that college girls adopt habits prescribed to them by the jocks and the football players, and that they’re too stupid to come up with their own ideas. Or use those ideas to, say, achieve complete and total control over said football players.
I think the big problem is that “power structures” tend to be rigidly defined, and are often obtuse. It’s much more complicated than that, I think.
5) Throughout these readings on stereotyping, I kept coming back to two books I read as an undergrad – “Heart of Darkness” and “Orientalism.” It especially came through with Gilroy’s comment that multiculturalism has become about promoting equality rather than studying differences. He missed a key point, I think – that stereotyping is often more about the viewer than the object. Instead of discussing multiculturalism or cultural studies in a pluralistic fashion, why not analyze the mechanics of the perceiver instead – what about a frat boy, or a media executive, or a sorority president attracts those individuals to sorority stereotypes, for instance? That was Said’s whole point in “Orientalism;” these readings touched on that, but not quite as much as they could have.
I agree with Said … just not when it’s applied to Conrad, who is typically considered pretty racist. I would argue that “Heart of Darkness” is more about white society than black society, and isn’t intended to be taken literally at all – it’s not about crazy Africans, it’s about a white man going insane and seeing things that aren’t reliable, and why he sees them. Why not study these stereotypes the same way, instead of steering the conversation immediately toward multiculturalism?
(2)/(3)I buy the point in bell hooks’ article that “the commodification of difference promotes paradigms of consumption wherein whatever difference the Other inhabits is eradicated, via exchange, by a consumer cannibalism that not only displaces the Other but denies the significance of that Other’s history through a process of decontextualization.” It reminds me of a feminism article in which the author argued that advertisement such as NIKE’s “Just do it” seems to encourage women to pursue their dreams, but actually takes advantage of the feminism ideology to promote consumerism. In addition, “as signs, their power to ignite critical consciousness is diffused when they are commodified.” It seems that capitalism is always related with patriarchy, feminism and other ideology. (It also echoes the above question.) Can I say there cannot be ideology analysis of feminism or patriarchy without analyzing capitalism?
But bell hooks also said that “patriarchal bonding mediates and becomes the basis for the eradication of racism”. I am wondering whether there is a hierarchy of all the ideologies.
(4) In the article “A case study of Women of China”, the authors concluded that “the interlocking of party control and societal influences determines the image of Chinese women shown by Women of China.” But my impression is that, in addition to party control and societal influences, western consumerism culture, such as American culture also greatly influenced the representation of women in China’s media, especially magazines. I feel like in magazine industry (with its root in western countries), the image construction more tend to be dominated by commdification rather than reflect the reality compared other mass media. A great number of Can we say magazine cover image analysis is a special case for study the media representation? (Both in China and other countries).
(5) Most articles we read in this week focus on films or magazines rather than traditional mass media such as newspaper and television. I am wondering, does media type play an important role in influencing the media representation?
2. Mulvey then talks about the purpose of alternative cinema. “This [Alternative Cinema] is not to reject the latter [mainstream films] moralistically, but to highlight the ways in which its formal preoccupations reflect the psychical obsessions of the society which produced it, and, further, to stress that the alternative cinema must start specifically by reacting against those obsessions and assumptions” (p.343). It could be inferred from this statement that alternative cinema should be seperated from mainstream films. Can alternative media be mainstream media and still maintain the characteristics of alternative media?
3. In Richard Dyer’s “Stereotyping”, Dyer argues that the gay/lesbian films always feel a need to recreate the social inequality of heterosexuality within homosexuality. As I thought about this after reading the article, I realized that most movies I saw that had gays and lesbians seemed to be portrayed this way. Is this because writers or directors of the movies are heterosexuals and that they feel some kind of need to distinguish the two homosexual characteres? This makes sense because gender cues and stereotypes, which are missing in gay/lesbian movies, are huge factors to contribute to character’s personality in movies. Or is it just my stereotype?
4. In bell Hooks’s “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance”, I encountered this interesting idea of ‘desiring other races by having a sex." Hooks argue that these types of white men are non-racists and they do not see their positions as colonizers/conquerors. Instead, they just seek to transgress racial boundaries. Maybe, that's the case. Or maybe, can this be a new type of racism for white men to feel better about themselves by conquering girls of different race? Because ‘having a sex with a woman[not lover, but more like in one-night relationship]’ to men is often regarded as ‘conquering a woman’, would intentionally having sex with different race be symbolized as conquering different race to them?
5. I’m just curious. If there weren’t any media available to us, would we still develop a similar stereotype towards certain group of people through our own expeirence? For example, would gay people still act like they have been depicted in media when the media no longer portrays them in a stereotypical way? I guess what I really want to ask here is this: are media shaping our stereotypes? Or are we shaping media’s stereotypes?
Instead of sexuality, I am wondering if we can apply this model to other situations. For example, war films produced by Hollywood always represent US ideology and attitudes to other countries such as Japan or German. I don’t know if there is any scholar doing some researches about that. In addition, in this article, the cases proposed by the author are old films. I think we maybe could find some new movies to develop new theories.
Questions about British Cultural Studies
2 In page 390, “However the theme of political identity as an outcome of conflictual social and cultural processes rather some fixed invariant condition is clearly present”. From the perspective of globalization or postmodernist, identity is a complex driven by various factors such as ethnic, nationality or gender. For us, how to figure out the difference between those factors is a challenge. What is the most important factor affecting the identity in the particular case? Ethnic, nationality, gender or others? Nowadays what we want to know is not just what the identity is but how the identity is formed.
3 In page 394, “identity deriving from the nation could be shown to be competing with subnational (local and regional ) and supranational (diaspora) structures of belonging and kinship”.
How does identity change global order? After all, nation-state is still the main actor in global society. I am curious with this paradox. Or the author exaggerated this situation.
4 Question about Under Western Eyes
This article reminded me that sometimes scholars equalize national status to women status. For me, culture and tradition are more important. For example, Japan is not the third country. Compared to some third countries, in my opinion, the status of women is lower. In addition, I am also wondering the effects of globalization on women status.
5 Question about media portrayal of women and social change
This a interesting study. I am wondering if there is anyone to examine the media portrayal of women in media in the southern China. Due to commercial effects from Hong Kong, those media take non-traditional approaches to cove news. Though media market is still controlled by China government, some media are tring to commercialize their contents. Different form the official media’s content, those contents may reflected parts of reality of China.
I think a discussion/deconstruction of a few Tinto Brass movies would’ve helped this piece… or my point, at least when it comes to the result of “fetishistic scopophilia” (p. 348). In any case, I believe, or want to believe, that we have moved at least a tad away from an era in which women and their lack of a penis imply “a threat of castration and hence unpleasure” (p. 348) into a time in which erotic objects, both male and female, can begin to use their objectification in a way that also objectifies the active/male looker. Oh man, I can already tell Monday is going to be a fun day.
The Dyer piece was also written in a way that can only bring forward discussion. In here we read that “there is no way of making sense of people, or of constructing characters, that is somehow given, natural or correct” (p. 354). OK, prepare your stones: I disagree… to a point. I do agree on the fact that stereotypes are wrong and shouldn’t be used when describing someone but, just like hegemony or ideology, we need something to put in its place if we want to eliminate them… so what can we use instead?
Let us take stereotyping through iconography, leaving homosexuals out of it to pick on someone else. It is wrong for me to think that all sorority girls are the same, terribly, terribly wrong. Nonetheless, I have come across so many plastic-short-wearing, blonde-pony-tailed, greek-shirt-bearing, “like”-“like”-“like”-talking, constantly-texting, in-class-facebooking intellectually-challenged girls that I have started to become comfortable with the stereotype; I don’t have to wait until they open their mouths for me to have an idea of what they are. Is this wrong? Hell yeah. Should we stop doing it? Hell Yeah. What are we going to stick in there to take its place? Just like theories, how else are we going to explain what we see most of the time? What will give us some predictive power? Another iconographic example: I’m Latino. I’m so Latino that people change sidewalks when I go get my milk at Walgreens. It could bother me; they’re stereotyping. Now picture this; you’re walking alone at night and you see a Latino (which in Texas means a Mexican) with a tattooed tear and cholo shirt. You’re an intellectual, you’ve read about stereotypes and how wrong they are… are you going to stay on the same sidewalk? Do you feel completely safe because you know that shady characters are created via Cultivation? If you have to answer out loud, how honest will you be? Let me go the whole way (I’m borrowing a little from comedian Dov Davidoff here) put a knife in his hand… you can assume he’s just a chef, but will you?
“Fucking is the Other” (p. 367). I had to start out quoting that gem by Hooks. The piece was good and his strong writing carries his point across. The idea that by sleeping with the other we enter the world of experience (p. 368) is interesting, but I think the author missed a spot: by fucking the Other we conquer them. The word he uses becomes very important: we don’t have relationships with the Other, we don’t make love to the Other, we don’t share our soul through bodily contact with the Other, we don’t caress the mysteries out of their skin… we fuck them, that is, we do something to them that implies we have more power, we conquer them, they’re ours to hunt, use, enjoy and later dispose of: we colonize them.
Maybe the author goes a tad too far with the “primitivism” (p. 369) and what we really want is to keep the sense that the Other is inferior and easily conquerable. The discussion of the Tweeds catalogue (p. 374) sort of proves the point: sure, we can mingle, but you’re all still inferior and on a second plane.
On the rap issue, I can only say the, having done my thesis on the subject (reggaeton - Puerto Rican rap), the discourse is way too deep for such a short space as this.
The Gilroy piece was the first one I have felt was out of place in the book. I think it should’ve been read earlier or on the British Cultural Studies section we read a few weeks ago. In any case, isn’t identity becoming more important because homogeneous practices and globalization are making identities disappear? Aren’t ghettos proof that the ideas carried on the books discussed on page 392 are still applicable?
The Mohanty piece gave me a new perspective. I had always thought of feminist scholars as liberators, intellectual warriors, protesters and denouncers of inequalities and strong-willed agents of change that constantly kick the ass of patriarchy, capitalism and the status quo. Then I read this: “Because women are thus constituted as a coherent, sexual difference becomes coterminous with female subordination, and power is automatically defined in binary terms: people who have it (read: men), and people who don’t have it (read: women). Men exploit, women are exploited. Such simplistic formulations are historically reductive; they are also ineffectual in designing strategies to combat oppressions. All they do is reinforce binary divisions between men and women.” (p. 407). This point is again made throughout the whole piece. It gave me, for the first time in my life, the idea of a young, white, highly educated, powerful feminist scholar that, by how she works with the rest of the poor, uneducated, third world women, somehow becomes an intellectual hegemonic power. In other words, a simplistic approach to feminist studies, one that groups women and makes powerful statements without saying any attention to political and cultural specificities, is nothing more than a scholar white supremacy. What’s the impact of this on the women studied? How many feminist scholars criticize feminist scholars?
Last but not least, the Yunjyuan and Xiaoming piece could easily be understood as this: women, we own you. When we need you to kick ass, put the nice clothing in the closet and get to work, the country depends on you, but when things get back to normal, make sure you get your femininity back from the closet and get back to looking pretty as soon as possible. Is that what this crisis is going to bring?
2-On a related point, Dyer also asserts that the establishment of stereotype is one aspect of the habit of ruling groups. I think this is why minorities may stereotype themselves. But it is still a very simplistic, linear approach (from ruling groups to minority/subordinated groups). How do we explain the stereotypes that emerge from minority groups to the dominant class? Or stereotypes among minority groups? Or stereotypes among subgroups within the ruling group? BTW, what’s the ruling group in the U.S.? Whites? White males? White middle-upper class males? These social classifications demonstrate that social categorization is relative and depends on the identities that become salient in a certain context. Isn’t it better to think about stereotypes as oversimplifications that emerge from lack of knowledge, awareness and identification among groups that people consider themselves as member of?
3-Similarly, bell hooks’ argument lies on very fixed identities and a one-way relationship: white, blond males and their desire to break racial barriers and taboos by desiring the Other (i.e., a dark woman). What happens when people have conflicting identities? When they hold positions of domination in certain contexts but not in others? When class intersects with race? Isn’t she criticizing the essentialization of the Other by essentializing being white?
4- Using Dyer’s descriptions about gay stereotypes, do the recent Hollywood films about gays, Brokeback Mountain and Milk, challenge the existent stereotypes about gays? If so, in what ways? And what might be the consequences?
5- When Mulvey describes that in narrative cinema the woman inspires the hero, makes him act, but the woman by herself doesn’t matter at all made me think that this dynamic is indeed reinforcing pre-existing patterns and it is not only present in movies or fictional representations of reality. Isn’t it the same as this idea of the inspiring muse for artists, for example?
2) In Mulvey (D&K p. 345), a persuasive case is made for how "the glamorous impersonates the ordinary". But Mulvey describes the process in isolation, in a vacuum. As we all know, the ordinary tends to impersonate the glamorous, too, and this circular image-shaping and reshaping consumes itself at such an obvious pace that you have to wonder: does cinema really provide that powerful 'mirror moment'? Is that the heart of cinematic fascination? Or is the relationship between object and subject more akin to reading a novel (albeit highly illustrated)? Is Mulvey fetishizing the screen image (a la Sternberg) to make her point stick?
3) In Richard Dyer's charming (but dated) essay on stereotyping, he ultimately confesses "the importance of holding on to some concept of typing..." even as we expose the politics of stereotyping (D&K p364). Aside from the obvious question (what is the fine line between typing and stereotyping?), why is identity so important in media/cinema? What is the locus of the 'danger': that our identity as individuals is compromised by media, that we are injured by media, or something else?
4) (b)ell hooks defines the appropriation of otherness in a fairly broad way. But it made me wonder: if this exploitation runs from the 'white boys on the sidewalk in New Haven' (D&K p. 367) to the way catalogs "exploit notions of Otherness with both visual images and text" (D&K p372), what then, is, say, travel to 'foreign' places? Is that not, too, a kind of exploitation of Otherness? Is one more benign than the other? Ultimately, hooks argument hangs on the idea of white people wanting to move beyond their boring white bread culture. But if that were not the case---that is-- if there were other reasons for 'experiencing the Other', as hooks puts it, would her assertion hold water?
5) One of the most interesting statements in Gilroy's essay is his claim that "(m)ulticulturalism...has retreated from reexamining the concept of culture in a thoroughgoing manner and drifted toward a view of separate but equal cultures". But how, exactly, does Cultural Studies lead us out of that paradox toward something better (as Gilroy seems to be suggesting/hoping)? Aren't the thematics of identity such that equality is of primary importance? If so, doesn't this necessarily imply an elaborate fence-work of identity(-ies) to
maintain the underlying interests that make equality valuable in the first place?
David D. Brown
Sunday, April 5, 2009
1-Size, ownership, and profit orientation of the mass media. We have to keep in mind that the book was published in 1988; the numbers here no longer apply because it has gotten worse. Today, entities like the Walt Disney Company and Viacom are the owners of almost everything out there. It’s funny that even when they provide all the numerical data, some people still say this work is a “conspiracy theory”. In any case, why isn’t the sick relationship between media companies and banks, amongst other non-media corporations, studied more in academia?
2- The advertising license to do business. I’m tired of people frowning whenever the subject of media being a business comes up. Face it: whatever high-standard ideal of journalism you have in your head, this is a business. Money drives media as we strive for objectivity and defend media as a potential agent of change. Interesting to see how thousands of people die each day all over the world from hunger, diseases and war, yet our powerful first-world media insists on the importance of Britney’s latest antic or Angelina’s new rescued baby. Can we seriously expect anything that resembles objectivity from companies that rely on advertisement?
Again, I believe that time has changed this: Disney advertises on its own channels and programs.
3- Sourcing mass-media news: Money and power make the news, thus, news serve money and power: “In effect, the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring the raw material of, and producing, the news” (p. 272).
The “experts” (p. 273) issue has also been dealt with by Bourdieu with his concept of “fast thinkers”, although I like to call them for-sale intellectuals because they always “echo the official view” (p. 274).
4- Flak and the enforcers: Aren’t almost all of these gigantic groups a sort of power structure themselves? Are we saying that they are the representatives of the public sphere?
5- Anticommunism as a control mechanism: What percentage of young people care about what's happening in Cuba or China right now? Once again, I think time has made that point a little less powerful than it was before, although some Red alerts went up when Obama came to power and now (I saw this on Fox while renewing my laptop, thus the frame) the idea of opening Cuba to tourists via scratching the embargo has citizens seriously concerned for the safety of their organs.
The Schiller piece was also very interesting. The idea that we could’ve be witnessing the decline of the cultural imperialism in 1991 makes me think about the impact of the current crisis; how is the rest of the world looking at the U.S. now? How can we explain to them that the capitalist model is not all it was promised to be? Why isn’t anyone using the term fictitious yet?
Coming from a colony, I was surprised Puerto Rico was totally missing from the discussion, what better example for imperialism than a colony?
“There is much to be said for the idea that people don’t mindlessly absorb everything that passes before their eyes. Yet much of the current work on audience reception comes uncomfortably close to being apologetics for present-day structures of cultural control” (p. 307)…beautiful. Aren’t international companies guilty of this because they copy the U.S. products?
The Meehan piece starts out with an ironic flare: it’s written by a woman… nobody else noticed the lack of feminist studies in those two journals? Also, when she talks about patriarchy and capitalism being “historically intertwined” (p. 312), she somehow forgot to include color.
I accept the fact that the idea of media manufactures audiences (p. 313) has a few holes, but it sounds great and solves a lot of issues (ever heard “don’t touch that dial!” or “don’t go anywhere, we’ll be right back”… get my point?).
On page 316, the easy equation of ratings = success = repeat what you did is discussed, why hasn’t this changed even a bit if people can go to the Internet and get whatever they want? How come TV has managed to remain almost the same?
Meehan makes a strong point that becomes so strong it’s almost a punch by the end of the piece: “television is an instrument of oppression” (p. 320). Also, a line stuck in my head: “The overvaluing of a male audience reflects the sexism of patriarchy as surely as the overvaluing of an upscale audience reflects the classism of capitalism” (p. 320). I know she was only going to discuss the gender aspect here, but I think she hints at something very important when she talks about capitalism that makes sense: what percentage of the nation is “white, 18 to 34-year-old, heterosexual, English-speaking, upscale men” (p. 320)? Wouldn’t it make more sense from a capitalist perspective to appeal to women, homosexuals and latinos, to name just a few “minorities”?
In my humble opinion, Bourdieu is a genius. The first piece is from 1984, but in 2009 it would take some guts to say that “cultural practices…and preferences in literature, painting or music, are closely linked to educational level…and secondly to social origin” (p.323). How politically incorrect is that truth? Anyway, whenever that’s said, everyone starts bringing out exceptions, which utterly destroy the generalizing purpose of any theory.
“The “eye” is a product of history reproduced by education” (p. 324). What has happened to the “eye” with the downfall of education?
I do have an issue with the “neutrality of science” (p. 326) behind which intellectuals dress themselves… science is only what we call the dominating ideology…are they, in a sense, naked to the critical eye?
“On Television” is a short, powerful book that everyone should read at least twice. In fact, that’s where the “fast thinkers” concept I mentioned earlier comes from. The idea that homogenization smoothes everything is one I agree with (p. 328). If we create texts that keep everyone happy while we stay out of trouble, everything runs smoothly. When homogenization works, there’s no need for revolution.
On page 332, Bourdieu finally gets to the question of just “what the specific competence required of a journalist might be.” I never thought too much about it, but when I decided to teach, I started asking myself the same question. With all my time spent in academia, I now know a tad more about this: for undergrads that want to be sports journalists, the competence is knowing sports and stats; for women in the broadcast sequence, looking good doing your standup and having a good reading voice; and for print people, being able to write in a way that easily complies with any major newspaper (the idealistic part is always a variable, but it’s not too enough to be a problem).
Finally, if the rating system “can and should be contested in the name of democracy” (p. 335), who should do it? Ratings mean money for the media, what would they do if we decided to not only contest but destroy the rating system?
By the same token, when Schiller later speculated on globalism, he said “…the generalized interest of some thousands of super-companies is not that different…‘reasoning in nationalist terms does not make sense any more’” But I am also wondering to what extent American culture influenced the formation and operation of these super-companies.
(3) Grahams differentiated capitalism and corporatism. “There is significant qualitative difference in how capitalists and corporatists organize their worlds. Capitalists form an owning class, and its political power comes from ownership; corporatists are a controlling class, and their political power comes from controlling public discourse.” It seems that capitalism is related with a certain political system while corporatism is kind of independent of it. Can we say that we use “corporatism” in a more economic sense comparatively? Are most political economists misusing “capitalism” in this regard?
(4)Meehan had an unexpected finding in which a structural contradiction exists between “patriarchy and capitalism embodied in a fundamental market in the television industry, and effecting the structure of two derivative market.” And he indicated “despite the ratings monopolist’s adoption of categories to sort viewers by occupational status, women remained marginalized as niches.” I wonder if the finding applies to today’s media situations. It seems to me that television industry target women consumers to a great extent.
(5) The last filter in Herman and Chomsky’s analysis is “anticommunism as a control mechanism”. Can I say the filter still works as the biggest ideology that underlies U.S media reporting of China?
2- Herman and Chomsky largely talk about the consolidation of the media in hands of a few owners. It is widely argued that this concentration affects the diversity of news voices, a crucial aspect of democracy because the citizens need to draw from different perspectives to make an informed decision. The point is that is not clear to what extent this consolidation affects news content. Does the content become more homogenous? As far as I know, it is still a contested terrain. In case it does not become more homogeneous, what would be the consequences of media consolidation for democracy? Similarly, it has also been found that in terms of democratic theory, sometimes more is less. This means that when people had fewer choices, they were forced to watch news. Now, that they have more choices with cable and the Internet, they watch and read less news. Therefore, although I agree with some points posed by Herman and Chomsky, I think that the conclusion is not clear cut it terms of what is better for democracy.
3- On a related note, consolidation leads to large, more resourceful companies. As Bagdikian (cited in Benson, “Bringing the sociology of media back in”) posed, these more profitable companies are more willing or have the resources to challenge powerful economic groups because they can devote to in-depth reporting and do not depend on a handful advertisers as smaller and less resourceful media companies do. Therefore, I wonder what’s the point of having more ideological diversity if those alternative media do not have the resources to do a good job?
4- Finally, Herman and Chomsky also criticize the advertising system because it eliminates the media that rely on revenues from sales. I wonder what’s the idea of having diverse news voices that (almost) nobody is willing to pay and read?
5- Schiller asserts that “American cultural domination remains forceful… [because] its practices are being adopted by the rest of the transnational corporate system”. As a result, the world adopts American cultural products and reproduces practically identical items. To some extent, this may ring true but the argument is, ironically, ethnocentric and simplistic. It portrays America as the evil giant who dominates the world while poor little countries have nothing to do with this domination. In fact, as someone from a “dominated” country, I can tell that quite frequently American corporations have failed in these countries because people have more agency than what is expected. For example, in Chile HomeDepot and JCPenney had to close shortly after landing in the country because their products did not fit with the local taste. Even McDonald’s had to overhaul their menu completely and is still struggling to make a profit compared to local food chains. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of multinationals in Chile, but if they are to succeed, they have to domesticate their products. In the political realm, the CIA did, indeed, intervene all over Latin America. But, then again, the intervention was possible because there were local groups who favored it and allowed it. For instance, the 1973 coup d’etat in Chile had more to do with internal conflicts than with the U.S. intervention.
2) Of Herman and Chomsky's 'Five Filters' (pp. 257-258, et. seq.) it seems to be they've nailed it with the reliance of the (at least mainstream) media on info provided by 'experts' & govt as well as 'flak' (filters 3 & 4), but is anti-communism as a national religion still a control mechanism? Likewise, with media downsizing dramatically, and advertising at historic lows in the modern media era, is the propaganda model still valid? Is it possible to rethink or redefine the filters today? (To be honest, I think so...and I think
H&C is a fun critique FWIW...)
3) Underlying the Propaganda model of Herman and Chomsky: doesn't it smell just a little bit of the 'silver bullet' theory---? That is, is it possible that H&C have mistaken the seeming ubiquity of big media (at least as it once was) for big power? The media narrative may, indeed, produce false dichotomies (p.283), and the like...but to what effect except in the echo chamber of big media itself?
4) In Bourdieu's critique of journalistic selection (p. 330), he accuses journalists of "censorship" because they "retain only the things capable of interesting them" and "keeping their attention". Hard to say that isn't factually true, but from a practical standpoint, what is the alternative? Isn't media, minus the 'filter' (call it what you will: propaganda, journalism, etc...)
merely amplification? And if all perspectives are unfiltered and amplified, why is that not cacophony? Why is that normatively better?
5) Do human interest stories truly "depoliticize and reduce what goes on the the world to the level of anecdote or scandal" (Bourdieu, p 332), or do they not also have the power to engage otherwise disinterested people by both entertaining and educating them in an aspect of life that helps illuminate underlying issues? No they may not be 'eat your peas' journalism, but don't they serve--in their own way--the same salubrious function in pop culture media as, say, a soap opera that 'struggles' with issues like AIDS, sexual harassment, etc (by both opening the door to conversation and allowing unaffected people to see the effects of others' actions/decisions)?
David D. Brown
1 The first filter is about size, ownership and profit orientation of the mass media. Authors proposed many evidence to support their opinions. However, for me, their opinions are too static to explain new technology developments. For example, new technology can help individuals or small companies break the monopoly of big media corporations. How can this filter explain the new technologies such as Internet?
2 The last filter is anticommunication. Isn’t it too old fashioned? Why don’t we replace it with the culture difference and government system? In my opinion, though there is no official claim, Muslim and non-democratic countries are the potential threat for United States. Now it is hard to explain the situation through the Anticommunication filter.
Question about Herbert Schiller
3 In the section of Globalism or Corporate Transnationalism, the Author downplayed the effects of sovereign. However, the financial crisis becomes the best evidence to disprove his opinion. Who can print more dollars to stimulate economy? Government. Who will save transnational companies? Government. Who are the members of G20? Governments.
Question about Gendering the Commodity Audience
4 In page 320, “the overvaluing of a male audience reflects the sexism of patriarchy as surely as the overvaluing of an upscale audience reflects the classism of capitalism.”
I am wondering if any scholar did transnational comparative studies. For example, in Japan or Taiwan, the roles of women are more limited by patriarchy. In traditional families in those two countries, women are in charge of housework chore. However, men have to turn in all their salaries. Women are the most important decision maker in consuming. Most manufacturers all focus on female consumers. I doubt if this theory or model could be applied in different countries.
Questions about cultural nobility in from distinction5 and 6 Isn’t cultural nobility too euro-central tendency? I am wondering how it can be applied in North America. It is hard for me to link cultural nobility to North America or other area. In addition, does this article mean there is a overlap between culture studies and political economy?