The mediated public sphere is a concept that – to be brutally honest – I could not be bothered to even comprehend. Thank goodness for that large slice of curiosity in me, as it pushed me to do a little research. It led me to this explanation, which was conveniently related to blogging:
“Blogging reverses a trend that had become increasingly worrying in an era dominated by mass media, namely the erosion of what the cultural critic Jurgen Habermas called ‘the public sphere‘–an area where citizens gather to generate opinions and attitudes that affirm or challenge the actions of the state.” (Naughton, 2009)
So, the public sphere essentially acts as a chat room that flourishes off of internal discussion about what’s going on in society. Now to throw the word mediated into the mix. The Mediated Public Sphere refers to a place where issues of the news and media sort can be debated.
Now, I did try with every inch of my teenage brain to figure out a way to relate Ridiculousness – a show that will literally make you roll on the floor laughing (at the expense of others wellbeing and dignity) – to this blog, but, I conceded defeat and thought I’d better go with something a little less… ridiculous. Perhaps Dynamo: Magician Impossible will go down nicely?
If you haven’t already heard of this strange yet intensely addictive fellow, then I shall enlighten you. He calls himself Dynamo, although his real name’s Steven Frayne, and occupies his days as an Illusionist/Magician. From the yonder land of Britain, he has released a number of television series, with his most famed being the latest Magician Impossible. The show clocked in over 1 million viewers with its first episode on Sky Channel, and its viewers have been left astonished worldwide.
This is the kind of show that, if your friends don’t know it, you grab their Smartphone, do some fierce googling and show them a video of any one of his mind-blowing tricks. It has ventured its way into the mediated public sphere over the controversy of whether his tricks are magic or simply sleight of hand. It is hard to believe that walking through glass or on water could be illusion alone, and many have argued that Dynamo is actually a Satanist! Now, whether that’s a bit excessive I really am not sure.
The guy is an absolute nut. He pop’s peoples mobile phones into glass bottles, reads participants minds, changes the name on a credit card to his own and the list just goes on and on – I should mention that he does this all on the streets, right in front of the people. So could this actually be real magic at work? Is the guy possessed by dark underworld powers? Or is it disappointingly staged, and we just play the fools whose jaws fall open when we watch?
Either way, Dynamo’s fan club consists of some of ‘Hollywood’s hottest’, including Will smith who describes his work as “Absolutely stunning” and Chris Martin who mused “The greatest magic I’ve ever seen!”.
Host of This Morning, a British daytime television show, Philip Schofield, had the opportunity of not only meeting Dynamo, but also witnessing a few of his tricks. His conclusion was simple and fitting: “It’s extraordinary, you can’t fake something like that. It’s just incredible.”
You be the judge! Is it real or not?
One thing that is real is that this show has caused mass discussion across the globe and, yeah, I thoroughly enjoy watching it – it’s a bit of an escape from this sometimes morbid place, and I’m a sucker for munching at magic tricks, even if they do find themselves on the public sphere plate.
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The media is an inescapable and viscous monster, whose claw’s of control feed us selective news, opinions and gossip on whatever they pretty well please. The issue I am going to attempt to attack today is media control. Who the heck owns the media that floods us everyday, and why care?
Who? 6 Companies.
These guys own about 90% of all media content, including the news (both offline and online), radio, cinema and television. It’s scary to think that in 1983 there were 50 companies holding half of the power as these 6.
Just think – 6 companies have the control over the media on more than 3 continents on this planet. YOU are a part of that wider group, and “one way or another these gigantic media corporations are always going to express the ideological viewpoints of their owners” (Michael, 2010)
As much as we’d like to believe we live in a non-bias world, and are shown every angle of what goes on around us, this planet is just not that pleasant. As media consumers we do have the right to hear the entire story, yet corporate giants such as Rupert Murdoch would debate otherwise. Murdoch was a businessman cross entrepreneur famed for his associations with News Corporation, a global media conglomerate.
To avoid boring you, I’ll skip the nitty gritty over this fellow, but in brief Murdoch had vast control over not only the Australian media, but globally as well. He has drawn wide criticism for monopolizing media control and for utilizing it as an outlet to inflict his personal conservative political views – a point that displays the fierce dangers of such constricted control on the media.
Although it seems elaborate to compare the likes of Murdoch to dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, the immediate effects and intent are uncannily similar. The common denominator between these three was their pursuit of ultimate control, with, in my personal reflection, Murdoch being the most successful of them all. The reason we should give a damn about who is pulling the strings behind the media scope is because they are pulling the strings on us too! If we do not have access to the utter truth, we will forever be misguided and blinded, and if we are not aware of who does have ownership we are essentially letting them brainwash us.
The media giants are taping our mouths shut and are being selective in what they show us. So please fellow bloggers, open your eyes and don’t be afraid to challenge what you hear and see!
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So a picture says a thousand words, right?
As true as that timeless statement is, I feel as though the advertisers for Sony should’ve been a little more vigilant with what words this striking advertisement was conveying.
Here we have a commercial for the new PlayStation Portable, with its latest color scheme of white being introduced. I will agree, the white looks classy and could’ve been a great hit, but our friends over at Netherlands Sony advertising had to go play the colour card, didn’t they!
Although the image is simple, and makes a point over the contrasting colours, it unleashed much debate in the public sphere. Rick Callender, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP was outraged by the image saying:
“Their attempt to contrast colors clearly created controversy and sparked painful feelings in the global community. Hopefully in the future, Sony will employ a better litmus test to their ad campaigns to determine if they will be sour to the taste of worldwide consumers.”
So what do we have here?
At a single glance of the image we see:
- A blonde, Caucasian woman violently holding the jaw of a black woman
- Both women’s eyes are interlocked
- The clothing of both complements their skin colour
- The subject’s are laid upon a black background
- The text of the ad is white
What do we really have here?
Although the elements noted above are what we see immediately, a much deeper message can be drawn from the image when we evaluate those key signs and symbols.
The bright, almost, fluorescent white of the second subject’s hair, clothes and skin juxtaposed against the black background, and the black woman, wearing all black clothing, enforces the idea of a great contrast between the two. The tight, and intimidating grip the white woman has over the black woman complements this contrast, and alludes to a certain power she holds. This inadvertently makes a very bold statement that ‘white trumps black’ – an age-old issue that has sparked controversy since the beginning of time!
The aggressive facial expressions upon the white subject remind me of an animal, with the placement of the hand upon the jaw line suggesting absolute power over the black woman. To be honest, when I first glanced at the image, I almost didn’t see the first woman as she blended very naturally into the background. This is not an unintentional effect. This enforces the notion of the luminance of white, and the secrecy of black, and while the advertisement IS actually trying to convey the competition between black and white, the use of race was an insensitive card to play. I am in fact reminded strongly of the matter of slavery.
Thankfully, Sony got its act together and pulled the plug on the advertisement, with a statement from one of its representatives, which if you are really bothered to read, you can see right here. They, inevitably, underwent a bit of fire for the ad, with people screaming “RACIST!” from left, right and center. I chuckled at Ryan Block’s view on the ordeal:
“Because mistake or not, this biz doesn’t fly, Sony, and you’re not helping the perception that you’re an incredibly callous megacorp with little real direction.”
Now, I know that if I were to read one of those Advertising For Dummies guides that it would tell me to target your demographics emotions and the ‘shock tactic’ produces results, but Sony, my dear friend, you’ve gone a little too far on this one – oh and just quietly, being racist won’t bump up your profits.
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About 93.7% of people will admit he is the culprit of all our problems. Overweight kids? Blame television. Violent teenagers? It’s video games I tell you! Global warming? Yep, must be the media again.
As simple as it may be to point the finger at the media, it’s actually quite naïve. Although the ever-growing media scene does have a widespread influence on society, it cannot carelessly be made the culprit, and we the victims. How can we blame the producers of content for the way our innocent children turn out when with everyday that passes, we are becoming the ultimate producers?
The blame game is an easy one to play, and when the media can be so vicious and inconsiderate, we will readily and happily attack it, however as horrible as the media can be, it is not the problem. The issues begin to arise with the way in which we implement and view media, and the role we give it in our own individual lives.
Just have a watch of this video if you’re not already feeling a little silly about thoughtlessly blaming video games – and don’t try to deny it! We’ve all done it! (a cautionary note: no animals or humans were harmed in the making of this video – so have no fear, Joe is a-okay)
Over the process of writing this blog I have already checked Facebook 15+ times, Twitter on 3 occasions and the television is constantly roaring at me in the background. The media is everywhere we look, and to make matters worse we hunt for it! We cannot blame it for ruining our lives, if we cannot control our intake of it. That’s as ignorant as blaming McDonalds for making you fat, yet you don’t make an effort to avoid the place. Don’t expect results if you lack willpower; or in this case, don’t hate on the media when you are the one shoving it down your own throat!
Sure, it doesn’t help when there is a McDonalds on almost every street in town (especially for people like me, who have an unshakable attraction towards all things oily and sweet) but I just don’t have the right, or the guts for that fact, to sue the poor guys for satisfying my midnight carb-cravings. Was it really McDonald’s fault that I, on my own whim, decided to jump in the car, drive to the closest store, enthusiastically push through the cue to order that delectable Hot Fudge Sundae? Surely I cannot prosecute the girl at the counter when I’m the one who says “Yes, yes I would like fries with that, because what goes better with fattening ice cream than a nice stack of fried potato!”
I think of it like this:
When I was growing up, I was a PlayStation addict. I played all the classics: Spyro, Sonic, Need for Speed, and of course Crash Bandicoot. I would wake up extra early in order to beat my sister to the controller and would play until my mum yelled me off. When I walked away from that little console I didn’t suddenly decide to jump off of my roof to see if I could fly like a dragon, and I certainly didn’t set to the streets in search of a pimped-out car that I could race. Although these examples seem pitiful, the point I am endeavoring to make is that pure imitation is not what is going on, especially in cases such as Martin Bryant’s.
Here we have a man who pled guilty to the murder of 35 people. At first glance, the excuses for his traumatic killing spree were put down to numerous ‘violent’ videos found in his room, accompanied by bestial pornography. It is easy to say that these things are what caused his unstable nature, but if we dig deeper we find that Bryant had an extremely low IQ, suffered social isolation and there was a high chance that he had autism. The notion of causality (that one thing causes another thing to happen) would suggest that Bryant’s interest in violent videos and his struggle with pornography led him to become a heartless murderer, however, it is not that clear-cut. The world continually blames the media, and uses its evolution as a justification for people’s actions, however an individual’s personal circumstances, upbringing and experiences should be the target of the blame game.
So let’s all remember, when we point a finger towards the media, there’s 3 more pointing back at us.
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The name’s Lydia, but feel free to conjure up a number of creative nicknames that you deem appropriate – I tend to stick with Lyd.
I am a newbie University student, studying Media and Communications. No, I do not enjoy long walks on the beach, nor do I find a tingly excitement in candlelit dinners. I am your average, sleep deprived, wide-eyed adolescent, with a somewhat dangerous addiction to chocolate.
So this is my blog. Over time I shall fill it with all sorts of goodies regarding the enthralling world of technology, media, communication… and the occasional reference to my absolute love of chocolate.
Did I mention I like chocolate?