Toddlers & Tiaras: A Reflection.

I can’t even.

I’m still unsure whether this is tragic, heroic or just ridiculous? Is Honey Boo Boo Child the definition of a world gone mad or is she the epitome of using the mass media to its full potential.

To answer this mind wrecker, lets venture back through blog-time continuum and re-hash old ideas of the current media sphere.

Maybe it would be all to simple and easy to blame Honey Boo Boo/Child Pageantry on the media. The media have taken advantage of our obsession with children, pageants and dancing (you need to watch Dance Moms asap) and spun this attention seeking child star as a result. But, has it really? Or was Honey Boo Boo already in pageantry because she likes the way she feels about herself when she performs and has simply cashed in on being an engaging child? It almost always seems like a mix of both when media effects is at play.

What is really meant by the advertising for Honey Boo Boo’s original show Toddlers & Tiaras?

Denotation of the photo would imply that in fact she is a toddler wearing a tiara. The girl would also seem to compete in child beauty pageants. But is there more than meets the eye here? This ideal of perfection and ageing of children may reflect a deeper attitude within the media. This gender ideas of what it is to be beautiful as a child seemingly comes from an engrained in royal beauty (Disney princess, Princess Diana) and the significance of the tiara. Unlike other objective advertisements it seems to definitely be downplayed in its overt nature.

Is this media content affected by who owns it and what they want to disseminate? If the head of the studio or company making the show is “exploiting” the children for money than yes it most certainly is an issue. Does the Discovery Communication Inc vested interest in the program blind them to a heavy subject area that is certainly polarising in opinion. Although it would seem that the entertainment value that people are getting out of the show is more to the point then what it is saying about young girls, or at least you would hope.

The subject of beauty pageantry goes hand in hand with child models and actors and the overarching innocence of youth topic. This makes it engrained in the public sphere. This argument has never been more alive in the public and people from both sides frequently make cases for it.

BUT,

What have we learnt about media through Honey Boo Boo Child? Seemingly the relationship for both the outlet disseminating and consumer relies heavily on what each wants and needs from the other. While media does have a span of control of the information that is being presented it is up to us on whether and how we use their message.

So, Honey Boo Boo Child.

Heroic, Tragic, Ridiculous?

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They Took Our Jobs! South Park and The Mediated Public Sphere

It’s where each of us finds out what’s happening in our community, and what social, cultural and political issues are facing us.

*Note: The content of this blog may be offensive to some. Apologies.

Throughout 17 seasons of work South Park has become a mediated public sphere unlike any other. Broaching subjects with an astute sense of satire the cartoon has always been at the knifes edge of what is ok to say out loud. One such instance…

and that’s not even the funniest worst of them. Generally though it is this level of comedy which gives what they are saying depth and meaning. Really the above video is commenting on celebrity nature (which is a constant theme throughout the show). Other subjects which are debated include: Politics, Race and Gender Roles. This debate informs young people of political opinion and gives them a voice outside of what they are hearing through popular media outlets.

However sometimes South Park has the ability to be a place for serious discussion.

This ability to move from political satire to serious discussion allows South Park to have greater weight in terms of the public sphere. Without these moments in the show these messages would be lost amongst the vast comedic value.

Whilst slightly touching on the issues that McKee raises in regards to the public sphere generally South Park stays away from these issues. When they do fall into these categories however it is generally as a way of ironically commenting about society. Generally the show will fall into the “too trivial” category as they get weighed down in cheap comedy. It can also be fragmented as the link between the episodes is usually only character based, with little subplot for connection.

Although it may seem as if it is hiding the value of South Park can be seen beneath the surface.

(or not…)

A Murdoch State of Mind: Media Control.

In a global environment where information is quickly disseminated to the masses, the concept of media ownership is a huge issue. It is such an important topic as the ability to own a mass media outlet can give the proprietor a direct impact on the information they want the audience to see or not see. Unequivocally this is  of great importance, particularly if the media is used as an open personal mandate.

The people who have the ability to disseminate to the mass media, particularly in Australia are,



This small group has had a profound effect on Australian society over the last 24 months. Whilst we discovered in media effects that not all ideas and ideologies are taken up by society the sphere of influence can be quite strong. This influence was eminent over the latest federal election where seemingly the Coalition was voted in due to the media influence.

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This influence undoubtedly prospered ill feelings to the previous government whilst seeing hope and a fresh start with the new government. New media shift has also started to dictate sphere of control issues and ideas over recent times. Whilst this new media dissemination ability (e.g. blogs, twitter) has allowed for citizen journalism and the ability for many to contribute the media ownership has actually decreased.

In a Global context, media control at its worst can lead to a propaganda state. This is the case in most communist countries such as North Korea. This typifies the ultimate restriction in information dissemination and building of an ideology. While Australia and other western countries are not at this level of control it is easy to see how this influence could affect these countries. However the outward trend of billionaire ownership of mass media can be just as concerning.

You’re Not Your Misogynist Self When You Are Hungry.

Late last month Snickers Australia caused quite a stir when they released this advertisement

Seemingly playful and light-hearted in nature the content of the advertisement caused an almighty debate over many platforms. Many thought the advertisement was an effective tool that through satire illustrated an unfortunate social norm and highlighted it in a humorous way. Others were outraged and found it littered in misogyny and a deep grounding in traditional gender roles.

But what is the ad really trying to say?

To fully understand the meaning that snickers is trying to put into the advertisement we must look at both the denotation and connotation of the advertisement.

The literal definition of what the construction “workers” are saying and doing during the advertisement is actually a very astute opinion. The men call for the end of gender bias towards women. Particularly they touch on points about female appearance stereotypes, respect for women, the “women’s place” bias and an end to the objectification of women. Although at the start this is premised with “what happens when builders aren’t themselves” which when looking purely on the surface of it means they this isn’t normal behaviour for them and possibly that on any other given day they may say nothing at all.

and then, it hits.

As the advertisement reaches its summation we find the connotative over tone. “You’re not you when your hungry”. In that instance all notion of gender neutrality is lifted. It’s the overt slap in the face, seemingly to both sexes, about how we should behave in this social situation. That if they had eaten a snickers and not been hungry these workers would’ve been chauvinist cat calling blokes. Unintentional or not it pokes fun at the very idea that women deserve respect at all.

The layered meaning in the advertisement gave it the desired response, almost a month later and people are still talking about it. Lucky for us some are doing it better than others.

Don’t Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me): The Media Effects Model.

“Raised to be stupid, taught to be nothing at all”.

While Marilyn Manson wasn’t ranting necessarily about media and the media effects theory in his 1998 song, this quote and the message of it ring true to what the theory stands for. People are mindless drones that will believe whatever you tell them.

Wait, What!?

It’s a head scratching, mind-boggling conundrum that we’ve suddenly found ourselves in, due to the ever-changing landscape of the media. People are quite happy to shift the blame onto the mass media for their social problems, yet take no responsibility for their own actions. Whilst this feels completely ridiculous in its notion, is it completely unfounded?

The Joseph Kony 2012 video is the epitome of the modern-day hypodermic needle theory. It transported Orson Wells’s recreation in to a 21st century context. For a brief moment in time people cared about who Kony was and felt empathetic to the plight of the Ugandan people. This mass media shot in the arm changed the view of many with seemingly no other evidence other than Invisible Children’s case.

The problem with this view is that it contextually leaves out so much explanation as to why this campaign was successful, whilst doing little more than this…

Context is constantly the thing that is left out when we bandy around the idea of media effects. The problem is that people want a causal relationship between the media and an issue instead of looking elsewhere for issues that may contribute. As David Gauntlett notes the backward social mapping of this issue often contributes to the unsubstantiated link to the media. Far more Socio – Cultural issues (Socio – Economic status, gender, race, background etc) seemingly have effects on these issues rather than the media.

While the media undeniably has some effect on the public it has without question been overstated. So, how should we view the media effects model and hypodermic needle theory?

Probably less needle, more ointment.

Entering the Blogosphere…

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Hello! My name is Peter and this is my introductory blog post. Albeit later than a Tiger Airlines flight but bare with me! In the first week I was doing this

And in the second week my internet was doing this

So, a little about me. I consider myself a young “maturey” at 23.(I swear i won’t ask ridiculous questions (maybe sometimes (I’m just going to go ahead and apologise now))). I’m studying a double degree in Journalism and Media and Communication. I have always been interested in media particularly sports, and am looking for a career in that.

This is my 3rd attempt at a career choice after finishing a degree in Population Health and an almighty failed attempt at thinking I could actually be a Geography Teacher (It lasted 10 months of my Masters, young adults are so mean!). After spending 6 years in the “what in the hell is my life going to be” wilderness i feel like I’m finally on the right path…

Outside of UOW I do normal things that normal people do: sport, music, work etc etc.

Thank you for reading my introductory blog, if you see me around say hello and please feel free to comment or get at me on twitter.

@peterwards

Pete.