Month: February 2014

Readings for 3/12 are on Blackboard

Sontag and a journal article.  


Readings 4/1 and 4/3 Media Ownership

READINGS online:
FreePress Media Ownership Policy
Media Ownership Fact Sheet – NOW
Diversity in Media Ownership & Employment
Reel Girls Media Consolidation

Midterm proposals presentations 3/25 and 3/27

 Checklist for your midterm project pitch of semester projects:
I am copying and pasting this from the syllabus, it seems a number of you have missed reading this part thoroughly so here it is again about how the midterm and final projects work:

*Semester Project – Creating Your Own Media: A Cultural Intervention

2-parts: Midterm and Final

Based on the discussions and projects presented in class and on the blog, please create a short piece of media which focuses on a social (or political) issue to specifically address the role of media, technology, audience, owners and media makers. Ultimately your project should 1) Be publically visible. Provide clear criticism of a specific narrative or aspect of popular culture 3) encourage its audience to shift their perspective and take social action. These will be published to the class blog and presented in class.

The assignment can take many forms: Essay with embedded images. Video- music, documentary, performance, Researched article or extensive slideshow with captions or narration (think NYTimes), Magazine/Zine, Interactive Web Project/Site

*You must create a post on the blog for your final project. This will include a link to your project, a summary and explanation, images and or videos. You will present using/from your post – this will be much easier. ALL projects must be posted to the class blog and resource lists and summaries printed and handed in to me. Projects in print such as: papers, zines etc must be physically handed in to me. I have invited guests to attend our final presentations.


Please be prepared to present your projects to the class in approximately 5-7 minute presentations. Visuals are a must. Feel free to bring physical props and handouts if appropriate.

**You must create a POST for your final project – a link to your project, a summary, images and or videos. You will present using/from your post – this will be much easier.

ALL projects are due on the blog and resource lists and sumaries handed in to me. Print projects, papers, zines etc must be physically handed in to me.

-proposal summary on the blog along with images and any videos to help illustrate your idea/pitch
-your summary must make mention of the form your project will take as well as message and audience.
-mini presentations (2 minutes) will be from your blog post or linked directly from the post PLEASE TEST THIS BEFORE ARRIVING IN CLASS
-proposals must be handed in to me withresource list/bibliography in addition to preparing the above for the mini presentations.
-students will be asked to comment on your proposal post with feedback on your pitch/proposal

The Spectacle: Loss of Human Connection

Published in 1967 by French author Marxist theorist and writer, Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle is a work of philosophy, which features 221 short theses, divided into 9 chapters. The society of the spectacle is basically series of thesis that focus on the idea that everyday life is now has been replaced with “representation”, meaning the constant uses of media. Our society is engulfing in the rapid rise of technology to the point where we are lost in the media, therefore contributing to the loss of human connection. Debord stated; “ All that has once directly lived has become a mere representation”, meaning that all human connection that once was attached to everyday life has been lost with our obsession with media based products and activities.
 “The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than “that which appears is good, that which is good appears. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance”. 
This is how Debord describes the spectacle, something that present itself to the people as something we need or something we must have or we will not be as happy as we can be. It presents itself as something we must have to gain acceptance for society. The spectacle represents new technology and any new products that catches our eye.
 This quote quotes from Deboard explain the notion of commodity in the spectacle. “The world of the commodity is thus shown for what it is, because its movement is identical to the estrangement of men among themselves and in relation to their global product.” Commodity relates to the goods we receive. As we gain more and more goods, i.e. money, we become obsessed with it and think of ways to make more. The more money we make, the more attached to it we become. As we become more attached to currency, we loss our attachment or connection for others.
MIT professor Sherry Turkle wrote a book in 2011 titled Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other and gave a TED Talk on the subject of the book called “Connected, but Alone”. She explains how the loss human of connection is rising at a rapid rate. At the beginning of the talk, she discussed a text message she received from her daughter which, in her opinion was the equivalent to receiving a hug from her. We are comforted with text messages and tweets. Our addiction to high-tech devices and social media result in us being distant from each other.
Popular culture is incorporated with the idea of the spectacle. We blindly follow popular culture and hang on every word of our pop culture heroes, i.e. actors, singer, rappers, and other celebrities. We dress, act, talk, and follow them them faithfully. In some cases, we become who they are because we idolize them. We escape to their world, ignoring reality. Our addition to popular culture can also add to the loss of human connection. 

Group 3, Gender and the culture of femininity and masculinity

Group 3


Femininity & Masculinity

Our presentation is going to be about gender and the culture of femininity and masculinity. We  will be talking about  Susan Douglas’s  Where the Girls AreThe Oppositional Gaze by bell hooks ,  John Berger’s Ways of Seeing ,  Judith Butler’s Performative Acts and Gender Construction and bell hooks Understanding Patriarchy and Feminist Manhood. We will be deconstructing the meaning behind each of the readings. 

Summaries of the Topic’s :
-Media has impacted our view of women in the society.  In the 60’s images of women consisted of them chasing the beatles and flashing their chest at woodstock.  If that’s all the images women see, that’s all they know. They form how women view themselves subconsciously.
– The Oppositional Gaze by bell hooks discusses the looks that are imposed on the opposite gender. The gaze of a sexual desire from a male, and the gaze of the sexist male. These gazes play to where men and woman are in their binary society.
-Bell Hooks’ “Understanding Patriarchy” the societal norms that inhabit and shape our lives and understanding. It is discussed how this cycle was implemented causing a strictly male outlook on behavior, roles and conducts. This societal norm of Patriarchy is silently reinforced by men, and women alike, which is why the cycle and supposed inevitability of patriarchy continues and is passed down from generation to generation. The role of patriarchy isn’t one that only limits and restricts women but also men bringing to light that this movement or plight against patriarchy isn’t just for women, it involves everyone and affects everybody collectively.Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” dives into the past into the realm of what is now called Fine Art and the history of the nude. To compose it into simple terms, men love to look at naked women. Men put women in a sense of objectivity, serving to please the painter/artist vision, women weren’t the ones depicting themselves constantly nude. In the story of Adam and Eve, Eve was created from the rib of Adam tying back to patriarchy being around since biblical times.
-In Judith Butler’s Performative Acts and Gender Constitution piece, she mentions that, “gender identity is a performative accomplishment compelled by social sanction and taboo.”  In other words those performative acts help to constitute and shape how gender is viewed upon by society as a whole.  Butler is arguing that gender is not just the starting place of an identity but rather it’s repeatedly constructed through time through the body.  Social expectations and taboos restrict the possibilities of expanding gender.  Certain performative acts are not likely to take place in order to prevent society from casting aspersions based on those actions.  However, deviating from essentially not conforming to how society views gender is likely subject to punishment by society (i.e. being looked down upon.)
-We will also speak about “The Will to Change” by bell hooks, this reading is about feminist manhood. It discusses the repetition of men reinforcing patriarchy. Hooks talks about to different movements, the feminist and the men’s. She talks about offering men a different way of being, and changing the patriarchal model. She wants to teach young men to get in touch with more of a feministic outlook, so they  can realize that they don’t have to look down on women. Men fall victim to the gender role of maintaing dominance. In this reading she wraps it up with talking about patriarchy still being in full effect as of today and that we need to start pushing for the idea of remodeling.
Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Columbia Publications; 1995, p.70-75.
hooks, Susan, Black Looks: Race and Representation, South End Press (1992) Ways of seeing.
Berger, John,  London, British Broadcasting Corporation; Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1972
Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution.” In The Twentieth-Century Performance Reader. 2nded. Edited by Michael Huxley and Noel Witts. London: Routledge, 1996. 
bell hooks is the author of more than sixteen works on feminist theory and cultural criticism, including Remembered Rapture, Killing Rage, Ain’t I a Woman, All About Love, and Rock My Soul. She lives in New York City.

I See You Looking

By Rodrigo Valencia

Everyday, the first thing that we do when we wake up is open our eyes. This is done by instinct, as it is one of the 5 senses that all of us humans have that’s like no other. Being able to see is probably the greatest gift that we all possess, since it is due to our sight that we are allowed to discover, learn, appreciate what we have and get to whatever point we want to get in life. For the past few weeks, in this class we have been in full use of our sight that’s highly necessary in this pedagogy of the image. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary pedagogy is “the art, science, or profession of teaching,”[1] and in this class we have been specifically focusing on the ways of looking at certain images and how to interpret them.

In a world where technology constantly undergoes upgrades and new forms of social networking gets introduced to society it is impossible not to get influenced by it. This millennium has so far witnessed people of all ages being fully involved in cultural activities regarding the proliferation of images, ideas and trends that have been greatly influenced by mass media. In other words, pop culture has penetrated the minds of average citizens who have basically adapted to live under certain norms that have developed as the use of technology devices has increased. In its entirety, what society has been experiencing for the past few decades as a result of mass media and constant modernization is a spectacle. According to Guy Debord who first introduced this theory in 1967 in his book The Society of The Spectacle, “Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the result and the project of the present mode of production. It is not a mere supplement or decoration added to the real world, it is the very heart of this real society’s unreality. In all of its particular manifestations — news, propaganda, advertising, entertainment — the spectacle is the model of the prevailing way of life.”[2] This combination of social ways of spreading information, news, products and just about anything, has gradually transformed this society into the type that bases everything through representation instead of direct experience as it was the case in the past.

The spectacle is manifested in mass media.

The spectacle is manifested in mass media.

Hegemony has always been present in a society where the categorization of the masses is a way in which everything is structuralized. Used as a general term, hegemony is defined as, “the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.”[3] In terms of mass media and the spectacle, this word takes pretty much the same stance when it is used to define the distribution of power exerted by these corporations that survive with the use of mass media. The way media is used by these companies also represents their amount of power in the industry and to what extent they are dominating society. Through the many methods of spreading media, such as advertising, different groups make a statement of how powerful they are. When effective methods of marketing are displayed by companies, there is always an effect on society. Power is reflected through imagery and the way media makers decide to convey their message.

Everyday, we are all bombarded with advertisement and there is almost no way of preventing it, wherever you go ads present themselves in all types of forms. Throughout time companies have developed ads that appeal to our senses making them powerful and very influential. This is when representation comes into play which according to  Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, authors of Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, refers to “the use of language and images to create meaning about the world around us”[4] Rather than viewing media representation as an imitation of reality, we see it as something completely original and credible. This is a negative aspect of the spectacle, since mass media typically depicts different elements of society in a fictitious form that we then try to mimic unaware that it is all a fantasy.

Go on google and type in “Kanye West and Kim Kardashian” or better yet “Jay-Z and Beyonce.” Automatically the first thing you see is images of them being portrayed as the perfect couples, which is all a media representation.

It is very typical to find images of the couples always having a great time, appearing to have a "perfect life."

It is very typical to find images of these celebrity couples always having a great time, appearing to live the “perfect life.”

 The media pictures them as kings and queens which ultimately tricks the average citizen to think that whatever they wear, say or in general do is socially acceptable. These depictions of the two couples have made them perhaps the most popular as well as rich. With net worths that go beyond the hundreds of millions, they have all become  part of this consumerist society. Not only are they consumers of even bigger brands, but they have also created a brand of themselves to sell to the general public who are the major consumers. Nowadays, everyone is so materialistic that they make it seem like it is basically a competition of who has the best clothes and items. By continuously buying products that are not needed and are only acquired to  recreate styles that celebrities have put out there, people display a certain type of superiority that’s completely created by the spectacle.

Celebrity Sneaker Stalker, a service provided by the company Nice Kicks, has a weekly update of what celebrities are wearing.

Celebrity Sneaker Stalker, a service provided by the company Nice Kicks, has a weekly update of what celebrities are wearing.

With advertisement displaying images that makes people consume or believe in something, a case of sexism joins the discussion as an influential topic thats fueled by media representation. We constantly come across ads or videos that depict women in very little clothing which in a way does get a bigger audience, but it also sexually objectifies women. For instance, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” videoclip is the perfect example of sexism being part of media. In this video three young women are displayed basically as sexual objects, with the three artist (Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I.) controlling them and singing the explicit lyrics that directly state that these females are objects. Another important term, the gaze, plays a big role in this act of sexism involving images. Used in general terms, the gaze is how an audience views what’s presented and in this case with sexism it is all about how males look at females that are presented as objects in images. In ads, how men look at women right into the eye and get a sense of command is why females are the ideal tool to sell a product for many companies. They are the object that’s being sold, males buy the product and they get the type of girl that they want (usually like the ones on the ad), and it also works the same way with females, they buy the product and they get the men that they want. This is really how the whole spectacle is summarized, through images that do not only represent what they literally display but they also have different meanings that are only revealed with extensive analysis.

"Blurred Lines" is perhaps one of the most sexist videos of the decade. Robin Thicke was named the sexist of the year 2013.

“Blurred Lines” is perhaps one of the most sexist videos of the decade. Robin Thicke was named the sexist of the year 2013.

Power of the Spectacle

In this day and age people love spectacles. They can be loud and obnoxious or quiet and very shiny. Regardless, spectacles grab the attention of the people even if it is for small moment in time.  In the simplest sense, a spectacle is an image. Theses images are representations of people’s lives and experiences. Representations alone do not tell the story, but Debord seems to believe that people accept the spectacle to tell their stories rather than engage in actual social experiences. The Society of a Spectacle is a society in which people have allowed themselves to be ruled by packages of images and cultural snippets to represent their lives rather than going out and experiencing it themselves.
Debord explains that the spectacle “consists of taking up all that existed in human activity in a fluid state so as to possess it in a congealed state as things which have become the exclusive value by their formulation in negative of lived value, we recognize our old enemy, the commodity, who knows so well how to seem at first glance something trivial and obvious, while on the contrary it is so complex and so full of metaphysical subtleties” (Debord Chapter 2,).
Power is easily associated with the large corp[orations trying to exert their force over the masses. Power, however, can be rather beneficial as it also lies in the hands of the people because technological advancements provide them with a cheap and easy means to battle control. In addition, people have the power to dictate how they’d like to be represented.  Instagram is an interesting application because it allows people to literally capture moments they deem ideal for the message they’re trying to present and actually package it into a convenient file that be instantly be shared with millions of other users.
People have likened social media interactions with what it means in their actual lives. For example, Jimmy posted a status on his Facebook profile. Jimmy waits. Several hours later, Jimmy returns to his Facebook to see that over 11 people have “liked” his status. Jimmy now feels like he’s the man of the hour. It is seen on numerous occasions where people give others online incentives to follow each other’s profiles. What used to be hour long conversations on the phone with peers is now less than half a minute conversations between text messages and other social media applications.
It is 2014 and society has made quite the number of scientific and technological advancements, but for some reason it is being said that people are becoming lazier and dumber. In theory, advancement is supposed to uplift the people,make them stronger. With these new devices such as smart phones and Google Glasses, people seem to have a more of an interest in living vicariously through them more than anything.

The commodity is only as valuable as people make it out to be. Society has a chance, albeit slim, to take control and devalue it, if that’s what it wants. The scary part is that society doesn’t know. The late Steve Jobs once said that, “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” It’s aright for people to enjoy the technological advancements, but they must be able to distinguish between what is on their screen and what actually see in front of them.

What Media Tells Us

If you want to look as good as Rhianna, you need to buy her MAC makeup line. This is what advertisements tell us. You wear the makeup but you still do not match up to how she appears. What you are not being told is that you need a personal trainer, stylist, hair and makeup artist, and a good photographer with excellent photo shop skills to actually look like her.

The power of media to control our thoughts and ideas on what we want to look like and what we want to own is incredibly strong. What is most unsettling about this is the fact that most people are unconscious to the media’s effect on what we expect from ourselves. Women want to be respected and taken seriously, but how can that happen when the covers of magazines and television…anywhere the media has a hold, shows us “flawless” women we aspire to be. They must be what is socially acceptable. Many of these women are shown wearing next to nothing, or posing in sexual manners. This encourages sexism… if women want to be like the media portrays, who is to say that men will not have the same expectations of them?

The cover of Cosmopolitan can be easily taken apart. Jessica Alba, beautifully retouched and perfectly disproportionate, lifts her dress and gazes at the viewer with an “I want you” stare. There are different ways of seeing this and it is all in the eye of the beholder. Some may say she appears more playful or innocent, shy and insecure. But the body language ultimately speaks for itself.
cosmo (1)

Plastered over the cover are the bold words “SEX” and “HIS #1 Fantasy”. This is a way that hegemony is put into play. Anyone who walks past this magazine, male or female, is being told that men must be pleased especially sexually. Since Jessica Alba is on the cover, it must be true. She looks like the epitome of perfection. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to achieve such status.
Pop culture is a large culprit in consumerism and the want to have the newest, best, and most highly coveted looks and items. If a celebrity has a new designer hand bag you too can look just as good as her by sporting the same item across your boney arm.
The representation of humans in the media is skewed in order to overpower and control the consumers into believing they must achieve a certain standard. In order to do so, they must obtain certain things and usually these are far from obtainable for the average person.


Chinwe A. Onuoha

Imagery and Culture

February 19, 2014

The images that we see around us are generated by people’s perception of what is popular or ‘high in demand.’ In the media, women are overly sexualized and men are revered as the Alpha and the Omega. Despite the fact that images are perceived differently depending on whose looking at them, people are fixated on being current and in style because of the fascination that advertisements offer. As a result people work for materialistic things that they do not need.

In chapter two of “Practices of Looking” the author wrote that “advertisers, for example, conduct audience research to try to ensure that the meanings they want to convey about a particular product are the ones viewers will interpret in the product’s advertisements. Artists, graphic designers, filmmakers and other image producers create advertisements and many other images with the intent that we read them in a certain way.”

For example, there is an advertisement on Ralph Lauren’s “Big Pony Collection.” In the advertisement there is a white man sitting with his dog. The man is wearing a green Ralph Lauren polo, smiling at his dog, whose holding a napkin that has an equestrian on it. They also seem to be at a brunch. The tables are filled with bouquets of flowers, the tables are set with the right plates and cutleries, and the man’s glass is filled with champagne. This advertisement gives the impression that people who wear Ralph Lauren’s polo’s are living beyond what we could ever imagine.

Ralph Lauren The Big Pony Collection 02 by Bruce Weber

Representation plays a huge role in advertisements. Regardless of what that advertisement may be, “it offers a description or a portrayal of someone or something in a particular way or as being of a certain nature.” With that said, the Ralph Lauren ad represents prestige, wealth, happiness, health, power, and an ‘up town and never down town’ sort of mentality. When regular, working class people look at that ad they are fixated on the fact that by wearing that polo they have reached that white man’s level of prestige. When wealthy people look at the ad the standard of their living conditions are solidified and envied by others, which would make people want to buy Ralph Lauren’s polo even more. This instance serves as an example of “the gaze” (an idea of how an audience interprets the people that are presented).


The author of “Practices of Looking” also wrote that “an image “speaks” to specific sets of viewers who happen to be tuned in to some aspect of the image, such as style, content, the world it constructs, or the issues it raises.”An image can also be an object (“a thing you can see or touch that is not alive”). For example, if someone were to open a history book and see a picture of indigenous people, such as Black slaves, they are usually depicted in a negative light. You wouldn’t see a slave smiling hand in hand with their white master or a Native American working side by side with their oppressors.

Most likely there would be a clear disproportionate representation of them. In reality, Black slaves would do some sort of hard labor while their master stands above them. If a person were to see such an illustration in numerous books or on television, they would begin to form the idea that white people, due to hegemony (“a state or condition of a culture arrived at through negotiation or struggle over meanings, laws, and social relationships”), are powerful and that Black people aren’t. In order for advertisers to keep that power exclusive to Whites, for instance, one must influence the ‘crowd’ or the masses into believing this ideology that their creating. Once this continues we will see such spectacles in popular culture (commercialized interests of what the masses share), the media, and in government and politics.

For example, in Lucy R. Lippard’s “Doubletake: The Diary of a Relationship with an Image” she wrote that “our communal “memory” of Native people on this continent has been projected through the above-mentioned “stoic”, wary, pained, resigned, belligerent and occasionally pathetic faces “shot” by nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographers like Edward Curtis, Edward Vromen, and Roland W. Reed –all men.”Not only does that arouse the topic of sexism, but Black slaves are perceived in the same negative light. As a result, the images that we see serve as a fixed pedagogical (a method of teaching) form of learning, which drives a set perception of indigenous people or places. Furthermore, this will be a forced ‘ways of looking.’

For example when a foreigner thinks of America they imagine a paradise that’s filled with a lot of opportunities. They assume that America is a place where money falls of trees. But, once they get here, they are introduced to something called reality. After some time they begin to understand that in order to make it, they have to work hard. The same instance is true for Americans who believe that the commercials of the Caribbean islands that they see are one hundred percent true. But, in reality, they aren’t. There are many places in Jamaica that probably don’t have clear, blue waters and beautiful houses. But, of course, Americans believe these spectacles (commodities) and work tirelessly to get them in the pursuit of fitting a certain class of people.

Jamaica-634x420          images-2

In fact, that notion gives consumers the desire to consume more than what they need and of course advertisement is the cause of that. In John Berger’s “The Way of Looking,” he wrote that “publicity I usually explained and justifies as a competitive medium which ultimately benefits the public and the most efficient manufactures –and thus the national economy.”That example proves how influential the spectacle is in our lives. Even in “The Era of Crowds,” the author stated that “while all our ancient beliefs are tottering and disappearing, while the old pillars of society are giving way one by one, the power of the crowd is the only force that nothing menaces, and of which the prestige is continually on the increase. The age we are about to enter will in truth be the Era OF CROWDS.”All in all, the author of this essay is saying that regardless of what your beliefs are, soon they will feather away because whatever is popular or in high demand now will prevail and consume the masses.

In conclusion, “times have changed and the world comes to us in different ways Narrative has leaped from the page to the screen, music demands to be seen as well as heard, computers have jumbled our relationship to information, surveillance, and money, and television has merely changed everything. Now things feel like they’re moving really fact, leaving us with the attention spans of kitties riveted by mouse-like movements. With the blink of a blind eye, we are soaked in sales pitches and infotainments that make history when they do business.”

Works Cited:

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. New York: Viking, 1973: 46.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing: 54.

Debord, Guy. “Chapter 1 Section 4.” Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black and Red, 1977.

Krueger, Barbara. “Arts and Leisure.” Remote Control. N.p.: n.p., 1993. 1989

Lippard, Lucy. “Doubletake: The Diary of a Relationship with an Image.” (1996): 82. Rpt. In The Photography Reader.

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. 2009. Practices of Looking: 45.

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. 2009. Practices of Looking: 45.