Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Media Shaping Messages

Get Down Analysis - Jamie & Alissa

The media has become one of the most powerful forces in today’s society. We are constantly surrounded by the medium- whether it be through the internet, on the billboard walking to school, or even the tunes we chant to while studying. When listening to a song, people do not generally focus on the implicit message, but rather its beat and social popularity. However, these lyrics often impact us on a subconscious level, and most of the time, it is difficult finding what the message of the song really is.

Boy Band B4-4

The song we have chosen to analyse today is Get Down by B4-4. Let’s start of by looking at the lyrics of this pop hit from the year 2000. The opening verse of the song reads “I will take you places that you only think about when you’re asleep at night. Let me take the time to understand and I will set your spirit free.” Though this line is not very explicit, it definitely sets the tone for the song, and tells the reader of the lyrics that it is about a sexual interaction. These types of lines, with clear innuendo, continue throughout the majority of the song, with phrases such as: “let’s treat our bodies right,” “no pressure to go all the way,” and “I wanna know every inch of your body.” In the realm of all music, these lines are pretty clean; however as we reach the bridge of the song we come to a line that spells it right out for us. “Gonna make you come tonight...over to my house.” This line is clearly making a sexual reference, because if you wanted to tell someone to come over, the order of the words would be “Gonna make you come over to my house tonight” showing us that the singers are well aware of the message they are sharing. But perhaps the most clear set of lyrics in the song is the chorus, repeated four times. It says: “if you get down on me, I’ll get down on you. I will do anything that you want me to. It’s a game of give and take to make it through. If you get down on me, I’ll get down on you tonight.” Now rather than just a general tone of sexuality, the lyrics show us the song is specifically about oral sex. In addition, the way the lines are phrased indicates a sense of male control in the sexual relationship; if the woman performs the sexual favours he asks for, then he will reward her in return. This theme is also shown by the closing line, “I will be the one to love and comfort you from now until the day I die,” which after all the sexual references kind of hints that the man is saying this romantic things in order to get the physical ones he wants. Overall, these lyrics present the message of explicit sexuality and male dominance in physical relationships. 

Music easily gets stuck in our heads before we even understand the underlying meanings

With that said, from listening to the catchy, upbeat tune of song, you may never really know what it is really about. The opening tune resembles the whimsical and tinkering sound of a baby monitor, telling the listener that this song is cute and targeted towards kids and tweens, the first way that the message of the lyrics is altered. All the verse are dance music with a steady happy beat, indicating a tone of celebration and fun. And most importantly, the chorus is extremely catchy, just from listening now I have it stuck in my head and will probably be singing it all day! From just listening to this song, you get so caught up in the youthful and joyous music that completely dissuades you from realizing what you are really singing along too.

Moreover, to further hide the sexual message in this song, the message delivered from the music video appears to target a younger generation, ultimately contradicting to the song itself.When reading the lyrics, one would think that this song was about a man pursuing a woman for sexual activities. However, the first image in the music video is a young boy in a dingy neighbourhood with a homeless man. The boy walks up to a garbage can, where he finds a view finder, and this toy opens his eyes to an “idealistic” world. At this point, our group thought that the image of the music video would change to a more sexual message, but in fact it does the opposite. The image, although begins with a group of women at a beach, appears to be the only somewhat objectifying image of women in the entire video. The video quickly changes to a more masculine tone, focusing primarily on the boy band. The overall tone of the music video is very youthful and innocent, and accurately covers the sexual message of the song all together. Although the video accurately shows men trying to impress women, the tone is not at all sexual nor inappropriate, unlike the lyrics to the song. However, there are some implicit sexual undertones in this video that can only be identified when listening to the lyrics and watching the video at the same time. For instance, the boy’s reaction to this world is nothing less than infatuation. This appears to be a new experience for him, which ultimately relates to a new sexual experience, and the idea of a new sexual experience is evident in different parts in the lyrics, such as with “I'm not the type to change your mind, If you wanna take it slow. No pressure to go all the way. There are other places we can go.” In addition, when the song goes “I want to know every inch of your body so I can set your spirit free”, the music video demonstrates a slow-motion image of the boy getting a Slam Dunk, which compares to the idea of “scoring” when having sex. These messages are hard to notice when watching the video for entertainment, and the video comes across to the audience as fun and exciting, which is how the media prevents the audience from realizing the actual message of the lyrics.

A shot from the Get Down video

These hidden messages are everywhere around us – songs, speeches, movies. The media loves to hide the truth from audiences when it is negative just to ensure they don’t lose business or money and keep everyone’s image intact. As consumers, it is our job to question the content we are receiving, and take the time to decide if it is a representation we agree with, no matter how biased the media may be.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Medium is the Message

A professor at University of Toronto, and a major contributor to media theory, Marshall McLuhan is likely most famous for his insightful quote, "The medium is the message."

Though only containing five words, this cryptic quote has changed the way in which media is consumed. There is a lot to understand from this one sentence, and it delves into a deep discussion on the relationship between the content of the media and the forms in which society accesses it. What I think McLuhan was saying is that rather than separating the content of the media from the way we receive it, both these factors are extremely linked, meaning that the medium - television, newspapers, etc. - is actually the message about our society. For example, it isn't necessarily the information on Facebook that says a lot about our generation, but rather the fact that we use Facebook - which tells us how technologically-dependent we are and that we have become much more narcissistic than previous generations. Another example would be that rather than the content of a television show describing our society, which it does do, it is the fact that we watch television overall that will make a change in our society. For example, one might say that television causes more laziness or has killed conversations, which are societal effects or messages that have happened as a result of the television itself, not really what the television was broadcasting. This quote was an extremely important step forward in the study of media and communications and still applies today to show how the media all around us affects our society's behaviours

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Magazine Peer and Self Evaluation

Name: AK
Name of Production Team: JMAGS
Role in Production Team: Page/Layout Designer
Roles of the Other Production Team Members:
JB - Cover Designer
GL -Copy Editor
MS- Editor-in-Chief
SV- Advertising Director

1. How do you feel about the title you were given and how well you did your job in this project? Give specific examples of your experience. 

I was really happy to take on the role of page/layout designer because I love working with colours and fonts, and I have some experience in this area. I think I carried my job out well because I put a lot of thought and effort into the appearance of our magazine, using appropriate styling for our target audience (parents) and making our magazine look attractive so people would want to read it. Next time, I would assign roles based on skill, because I feel that some people's strengths were not used and some people would have been better suited in different positions. Next time, I would not wait until receiving the copy edited articles to start the designing, and instead I would make a template beforehand to get a head start on my work.

2. How did you contribute to this project? Give at least 2 specific examples.

The first way I contributed to this project was by designing all the article pages. I chose fonts, colours, layouts, and images to create a great look for our publication. In addition, I made the features (table of contents) page and the staff/resources page that appeared at the beginning of the magazine. I also contributed to writing the group article and edited other people's articles for grammar and spelling mistakes. Next time, I would use Photoshop rather than Microsoft Word so that I could have more freedom in the design. Next time, I would not do the front pages as part of my job because I found that I had more work than other members, simply because we divided things by nature of the task/role, not necessarily by the amount of work.

3. How do you feel about the contributions from other members of your group and the division of labour (work) for the project? Be specific to each team member.

I am very happy with the contributions of each group member. Every person did their work on time and with a lot of effort because we all took this project seriously. However, as I mentioned before, I do feel that Gordon and I had more work than some of the other roles. For example, Sal had to choose ten ads for the magazine, while Gordon had to copy edit twelve pages of writing. With that said, everybody did have an important role in creating this magazine and was willing to do all work that was asked of them.

4. When it comes to dealing with differences of opinion within your group:

Our group actually got along very well! If there were ever any differences of opinion between us, they were discussed maturely and we came to a quick conclusion. All the members in our group were easy to work with and we had incredible communication both in class and via the internet.

5. In dealing with group members who were not fulfilling their responsibilities:

All group members fulfilled their responsibilities!

  • Overall, I would rate our group's ability to remain on task as:
Unsatisfactory/ Fair/ Good/ Excellent

  • Overall, I would rate our group's ability to be open, respectful, communicative as:
 Unsatisfactory/ Fair/ Good/ Excellent

  • Overall, I would rate our group's ability to use strengths of all our members as:
 Unsatisfactory/ Fair/ Good/ Excellent

6. How successful is your project? Give specific examples for your reasons.

I would say that our project is very successful! Not only do we have a final product that is appealing and contains informative articles, but we had a successful manner of getting to that point. We really worked well as team, which contributed greatly to why this experience was a positive one. In the end, I truly believe our publication is one that would be well-received by parents and magazine readers because we paid attention to important visual details and we all wrote articles on topics that would be fascinating to parents to learn about as well as provide good insight on teen's media consumption in today's age of technology. Next time, I would have gone with Michelle (editor-in-chief) to print the magazine because some of the pages turned out differently on her computer, which slightly changed our design. Next time, I would not write the group article in separate parts, but rather together, so that the ideas and flow could be a bit more coherent.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Media Consumption Article

BRB, Learning Proper Grammar

Your son receives a funny text message. His fingers automatically type the phrase LOL (laughing out loud) in reply. When your daughter is posed the question “sup?” (think, “what’s up”) on Facebook chat, she quickly types back “Nm, u?” (equivalent to “nothing much, you?”) without thought. As cell phones and keyboards continue to replace our youth’s pens and pencils, the current decline in reading and writing skills should not come as a surprise.

Today’s technology has created an entirely new online language; one that experts say is causing a downfall in students’ abilities to articulate themselves through proper grammar and spelling. University of Waterloo has recently introduced a mandatory English language test for all students upon entering the school. Much to the surprise of the university’s faculty, 30% of newly admitted students are unable to pass the basic test. If one third of academic achievers accepted into one of Canada’s top post-secondary institutions cannot even understand the use of a comma or semi-colon, what does this predict for the intellect of our future society?

The main perpetrator of this literacy robbing is every teenager’s best friend – the cell phone, a device with which teenagers send an average of 3339 text messages a month. With character limits and fast-paced conversations, it is no wonder that short forms and acronyms have become the norm for the adolescent generation. For your child, it probably seems a lot stranger to type the whole word “because” than use its incorrect but shorter spelling of “cuz”. With this changeover into the acceptance of improper orthography, bad habits are being carried over from texting to academic papers, a phenomenon that is leading to lower grades and less workplace success. Rummana Khan Hemani, director of academic advising at Simon Fraser University notes that over the past few years she has seen an increase in “little happy faces” and “abbreviations” in academic appeal letters, a statement with which many professors agree. Teenagers have become so used to this informal and speedy rapport, they are no longer able to make the distinction between language appropriate for casually texting a friend and officially addressing an academic body.

A similar effect is produced by adolescents’ overuse of the computer. According to MSNBC, young people (aged 13-24) are currently spending an average of 16.7 hours online each week. With features like Spell Check and, people no longer need to write by themselves, but rather with electronic guides to correct their every mistake and now even their writing style. In a study conducted by a Manchester University student, “one in five said they would not be confident in writing an important email without referring to a dictionary or spell checker.” As the computer automatically corrects errors in written documents, teenagers have lost the ability to identify and use proper grammar, which is necessary in situations such as in-class essays or on-the-spot job interview forms.

With the increase in media consumption and technology use of today’s teenagers, a change in academic grammar enforcement is much needed. If teachers, parents, and employers place a higher importance on the necessity of correct linguistic structures, then hopefully the youth of our society will follow suit and start to remember that “i” comes before “e”, except after “c”.

Sources Used:
- tune-out-tv-log-instead/#.TzbNU8X2aSo

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Television & Today's Youth

Jersey Shore's season three premiere was watched by 377 000 Canadians. Keeping Up with the Kardashians' Canadian viewership increased by 11% with news of Kim's scandalous divorce. 202 000 Canadians tuned in watch Teen Mom's second season, a 134% increase from its original premiere. And yet we wonder why our society is heading down the dark road of inappropriate behaviours and overwhelming insecurities.

Farrah from Teen Mom

This negative effect is primarily seen in today's teenage generation, which tends to be the largest group indulging in such programs as 16 and Pregnant and Skins. With multiple shows, reality or not, showing teens participating in excessive partying and promiscuous sex, the media is sending a strong message to our society that these behaviours are not only normal, but that they are encouraged. As adolescents spend so much time in front of the television and idolize their favourite characters, these actions of drinking and hook-ups have become much too common and are now causing some dangerous impacts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eight teens die each day in alcohol related vehicle crashes, yet Snooki is still seen downing shots at clubs every weekend. This behaviour has made it common for teenagers to have fake IDs in order to buy alcohol, contributing to the consequences of drunk driving. Next, Teen Mom tells us that having unprotected sex and then, as a result, a child is something a typical teenager is fully capable of. The show claims to show the hardships of being a young parent, but instead focuses on a group of girls who have boyfriends, familial support, and sufficient finances - a very one-sided and often unrealistic picture of teen motherhood.

Snooki from Jersey Shore

Another way in which television is impacting today's youth is through body image. On television, almost all of the main characters and personalities we watch, from Gossip Girl to American Idol, are what is considered "good-looking". By having most celebrities and stars being thin with flawless skin and shiny hair, it is no wonder that many teenagers, especially girls, feel inadequate. I know when I watch TV, there is rarely a character who I can fully identify with because I'm not a 5'10" model with a hot boyfriend, and instead of realizing this is the media's fault like I should, I think there is something wrong with me, a common misconception by many adolescents. Television needs to change in order to match our society - one that is made up of all different sizes, shapes, and colours.

The beautiful cast of Gossip Girl

With the media constantly surrounding us, and the television being the one of the most watched forms of it (on average 4 hours a day for teens), we need to learn to separate what is a construction and what is real. With adolescence being a very impressionable time in one's life, it is important to realize that what we see on television is not always true or an accurate representation of what our lives should be like.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Learning Style

After participating in a number of online quizzes and questionnaires, I have determined that my main learning style is auditory learning. Auditory learners understand information best by listening and speaking, because they need to hear things in order for them to make sense. This completely describes me! My auditory learning style particularly shows in how I prepare for tests. First, I make a set of notes, but rather than just reading them silently, I read them aloud to myself because hearing words or definitions makes them easy for me to remember. With my notes, I make lots of mnemonics and songs to repeat to myself, another tactic that helps me understand and recall information, such as creating a tune to sing along with the periodic table of elements. In terms of a classroom environment, it is clear that I am an auditory learner since the way I grasp new concepts best is to have a teacher explain them orally or in a lecture style. I find it easier to take things in by just listening, rather than writing notes, which I find distract from my understanding. I like classroom discussions and group activities that give people a chance to speak, rather than reading a chapter in a textbook.

The second type of learning style that applies to me is interpersonal learning. An interpersonal learner relies on social interaction to comprehend things and enjoys sharing information and working in groups. This makes sense for me as interpersonal learning is greatly connected to auditory learning. I enjoy working in groups for projects and I think the best way to solve a problem is talking it out with others. My best ideas always come when I can discuss and brainstorm with others and I feed off of other people's energy to motivate me. A good example of this is in my work and volunteer history. Having been a peer tutor, a canvassing group leader, and a camp counselor, all my jobs have been about working with others. I feel comfortable in leadership positions and work well with others, such as my co-counselors at camp. In addition, I find my strength in teaching others, as shown by tutoring other students or giving explanations and tips on fundraising to Heart and Stroke Foundation canvassers.

My main goal for this class to keep on top of homework and hand in everything on time. With creating films and writing blogs, the work for IDC is extremely reliant on self-motivation and good time management. Many projects will likely overlap and blogs will be due frequently and can quickly pile up. In order to make sure that I can achieve this goal, I will continually use my agenda, not just to record my homework, but to schedule what nights I plan to do certain parts of assignments. My other goal for this course is to improve on my cinematography skills. I feel pretty comfortable with editing and sound from Media Arts and Media Studies (though there is always so much more to learn and improve), but I really would like to be able to plan storyboards, camera angles and shots to a more in-depth extent. I plan to work hard and be creative, as I am so excited to be taking this course!