Author: rodvale

Dont Let This Be Your Mom. (FINAL)

By Rodrigo Valencia

Addiction. A term with a negative connotation that every time it is brought up the first thing that comes to a person’s mind is substance abuse. But what about the other types of addiction? Those that are not commonly heard of in the news or in social media? Something like, technology addiction. Yes, that right there is the first part of what I promised to discuss for my final, in the form of a short commercial that at the end resulted in two.

Two separate commercials interconnected by one big social issue: Technology Addiction. Brian, who lives with his mom has to endure the hardships of technology taking over her life. She is completely unaware of what’s going on around her and instead of being the one preventing her teenage son, who is more vulnerable, from getting addicted to technology and social media, she is the one that ends up falling for it. A concept that will surely leave curiosity in the audience deceived by the fact that there is a role change.

After watching the commercial not everyone has the same ideas about it. Interpretation works different for everyone, and thats when the concept of the way we see images comes into play.

http://prezi.com/92kyazi9wu5q/edit/#1_24309637

Sources:

http://courses.washington.edu/hypertxt/cgi-bin/book/wordsinimages/magritte.html

http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.com/2011/05/john-berger-ways-of-seeing-summary-and.html

 

 

Big Brother Is Watching

By Rodrigo Valencia

In no type of way is Big Brother,  the fictional character from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four[1], a direct example of media ownership. Nevertheless, it is fair to use him for comparison purposes since media’s relationship with society in this era pretty much falls under the same concept of totalitarianism. In the dystopian superstate of Oceania, ruled by Big Brother, the citizens are under constant surveillance by the Socialist Party that holds absolute power. This is in terms of a political system where very few individuals have control of basically everything. Back to the topic of media, much of the same stuff that happens in a totalitarian state is also present in what many refer to as a “media conglomerate.”

With the images above I hope that you further understand the point that I am trying to make. To summarize it, it is basically about that one rich  man having the power to influence each and every one of us. As stated in the picture, 6 corporations control just about all of the media. For many, this might sound completely normal but the truth is that this is a fact that we should all worry about. Why? Simply because the media is part of our lives and everything  that we get out of it comes from a small amount of people who are predominantly white males. Whatever it is that we do with the media comes from their perspective and closed minded ideas that don’t usually benefit every race, culture, and gender. The graph below clearly displays the imbalance in media ownership that mainly benefits the white man.

In present day United States, there’s barely anyone out there who doesn’t have a phone, a T.V., or computer. These technological devices facilitate the jobs of these corporations to promote their ideas that generally don’t favor society as a whole. General Electric(GE), News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS are the big six that have possession of almost everything that we consume in terms of our relationship with the media [2]. From movie production studios to record labels, many of the companies that provide us with hit records or award-winning movies fall under the branch of these corporations. For as long as we stay involved with the media we are going to be influenced by these people and their ideas that no matter how mediocre they can be, are still going to reach society.

Unfortunately, the way everything is currently set up doesn’t allow minorities or women to present themselves in a better way since their involvement in media ownership is relatively not even there. The rich white executives are the ones that decide how people are portrayed, say in TV shows or magazines. In most cases there’s an overrepresentation of the negative aspects that are not unique only to minorities and women. In the news for instance, the association of crime and minorities is what’s always in display. Apparently the executives behind these shows find no need to portray certain people in a positive way.

And what can be done to stop this, or at least improve the way general public consumes media? There are many options available that can be efficient, but at the end of the day it all comes down to money and politics. There are millions of people involved in this, which is the positive aspect in fighting against the injustice found in the multimillion-dollar media industry.

The South American nation of Argentina can perhaps be the perfect role model to follow after it passed a media law in 2009 preventing market concentration in the media industry. This is beneficial to the independent media outlets since it allows them to grow and spread more diverse content out. This act was even recognized by the UNESCO, as it was mentioned by Rebecca Ellis who said, “Argentina’s media law has been heralded by UNESCO officials as a model of media democratization in an effort to combat public disinformation and media monopolies, according to Prensa Latina.” [3] Instead of private media conglomerates controlling pretty much what everyone consumes, this law reduces that and promotes a competitive market where more and more companies are involved in the process of providing media suitable for the public. The more independent media companies, the more diverse it is which in return positively influences society.

For the sake of the public interest, it is necessary to keep big corporations from completely dominating almost everything that we live and experience. It is 2014, how we communicate, what we learn, and what we teach is mostly influenced by the media. Therefore, it is necessary to open this market to more minds and not just a few rich white men. The government’s constant favoritism of big corporations over smaller groups is not the way to go. Until a law is passed that restricts media consolidations from being a common move, there’s not much that can be done but to support inclusive media makers that treat everyone alike.

Works Cited:

1. Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Penguin in Association with Martin Secker & Warburg, 1954. Print.

2. http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

3. http://benton.org/node/165621

Semester Project Proposal

By Rodrigo Valencia

Let’s take a moment to analyze technology and its effects on social interaction. The type of interaction that we see today is no longer the same as it was in the past. Nowadays everyone is influenced by technology some type of way, making it an essential part of daily lifestyle. The children of today are completely involved in the full integration of technology in the way we live and survive. I am pretty sure that everyone has that younger family member who knows how to work their tablet better than any adult. You go on social networks such as the well-known app “Vine” and see kids making videos and getting the most out of technology like it has never been seen before. 6-year-old Terio is the perfect example of kids that have taken over social networks and gained popularity. Below is a compilation of some his 6 second vines that made him famous.

It only took a smartphone and 6 seconds of his time for this Atlanta first-grader to go from being a normal silly kid playing around in his neighborhood to becoming a new child celebrity who is now seen next to popular rappers. This is when social interaction comes into play, where the younger generation has lost the essence of living and going out to experience real-life situations themselves in a consumer society where most of the tasks are accomplished right at home in front of a screen.

My commercial is going to focus on this change in social interaction, starring an 18 year old and his grandmother who are doing the complete opposite of what the viewer expects. I want my ad to complete its task of triggering the audience’s imagination through imagery that appeals to their eyes and conveys a message about technology and its effects on social roles and social norms.

Still, my project goes beyond the commercial. The topic discussed above about the relationship between technology and social interactions is just what the short video is going to contain, but in order to connect it back to class I am also going to make a separate presentation about the way we look at images specifically referring back to my commercial and advertisement in general. The artwork below is a piece done by René Magritte, who once said, “What one must paint is the image of resemblance—if thought is to become visible in the world.”

keydreams

This piece is found in John Berger’s book titled, Ways of Seeing, where he analyzes this idea of image resemblance and how the way we see things is affected by our background knowledge on what an image might be portraying.  This irony and sarcasm used in my commercial is what’s going to put John Berger’s theories into effect, and that’s what I hope to accomplish.

Sources:

http://roogirl.com/25-negative-effects-of-technology/

http://courses.washington.edu/hypertxt/cgi-bin/book/wordsinimages/magritte.html

http://mashable.com/2011/10/26/advertising-non-linear-media/

What Am I Looking At?

By Rodrigo Valencia

Being the urban kid that I am, everyday as I walk down the streets of this metropolitan area I constantly come across all types of advertisement. Whether is a decal that completely covers a bus, or a huge billboard that can be seen from blocks away, their presence are attention-magnets. This being the case, corporations used them in their favor to distribute their messages and sell their products. Controversy is usually the way to go when someone is trying to get attention, therefore it is used as a strategy by these companies to gather a bigger audience. The amount of creativity included in these forms of controversial advertisement sometimes gets people to consume their products or boycott them. This type of creativity is manipulated by these companies that do whatever is necessary to make a profit off of what they are trying to sell. When money is the only motive that big businesses have, they usually create out of the ordinary advertisements where they take advantage of black humor[1] which commonly wins in terms of audience reception and numbers. They can use the idea of “black humor” as an excuse, but at the end of the day people of all races, cultures, and genders get affected by what’s portrayed in these images.

Times Square, the Mecca of advertising.

Times Square, the Mecca of advertising.

Among the topics usually displayed in controversial advertisement, sexism is perhaps the most widely used. Through erotic imagery in advertising, companies automatically engage people whose attention is immediately attracted when images of men and women in underwear are displayed. Most of the time the product being sold and the sexual images have no relation. They are only used for the sole purpose of attention which is always obtained. This year’s super bowl witnessed a commercial of the SodaStream company that was banned. Before I get into detail, watch it below:

This 32 second, 4 million dollar commercial was banned and not for the reason of objectification that’s portrayed. Ironically, it was banned because SodaStream’s competition, Coke and Pepsi, were mentioned. Furthermore, what this commercial is trying to prove is that sex sells. Having the renowned Scarlett Johansson in this video wasn’t enough to get the audience’s attention. She even recognizes that her presence is not enough when she states, “If only I could make this go viral,” that then leads her to strip off her robe to reveal the tight dress that she showcased as she was sensually dancing and drinking from a straw. The message that she is conveying is that the only way to make something go viral is by linking it back to sex, which she doesn’t deny. As John Berger mentioned in his book, Ways of Seeing, “Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”[2] Here, Berger explains the idea of women being objectified which is depicted all over the media. Since it is all a matter of vision, women are used in advertisement to get attention which results in sales.

Racism and power hierarchies go hand in hand with each other. It is all about the power and control enforced by a specific group and how all of this affects society’s ways of thinking. In media this is widely portrayed by many companies in their manufactured controversies. Again, controversy is involved since this is what gets the attention of the viewer. Even though it might be unintentional, black humor being portrayed in racist advertisements do offend people and further expand the racial issue in the world. For instance, last year Mountain Dew released a commercial that by many was considered “the most racist commercial in history.” (Watch below)

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/watch-the-mountain-dew-ad-pulled-after-critics-called-it-arguably-the-most-racist-commercial-in-history/

Some might find commercials like this one funny, but the truth is that no matter how absurd they might be they are still offensive. The fact that all of the criminals lined up are black and that the victim and officials in charge of the investigation are all white displays racism. Power hierarchies are also represented, since the individuals with a higher status and power are white. It is contributing to a stereotype that positions African Americans in a critical situation. As Bell Hooks said in her book, Black Looks: Race and Representation, “Stereotypes, however inaccurate, are one form of representation. Like fictions, they are created to serve as substitutions, standing in for what is real.”(171)[3] Her opinion about stereotypes is that they are an external form of beliefs, that can certainly influence the way people think about each other simply for their looks. This commercial directed by the extroverted rapper Tyler The Creator gained millions of views in a matter of days which at the end of the day meant success for the company.

At the end of the day, through these forms of publicity companies gain millions of dollars which is the main point. These commercials form part of the spectacle that make up popular culture. Even though highly controversial for their offensive content, they give people the opportunity to reflect and learn about the different stand points in society. They are just taking part of this consumerist society where companies do whatever is necessary for profit. Next time you see an ad, ask yourself “What am I looking at?” and after analyzing the image try to come to a conclusion about what was learned and how effective the company’s form of persuading was. You definitely get to see it all, but something in particular that should be taken out of these controversial ads is that you should never fall for their trap of purchasing something that’s not needed.

The only way to defy these types of commercials and get an audience that matches with them is to create something unusual. In my opinion boycotting wouldn’t help, instead doing something more creative that has never been seen before can get a bigger audience. An alternative to the typical “sexy” image created by the fantasy world of advertisement is to keep everything natural and adding a twist to it will allow the viewer to come to a realization that what’s real is better. For instance, American Apparel, known for its controversial sexist images has done something different with a 62-year-old model who is the new image for the lingerie line. Such companies tend to use young and fit models whose physical looks are always tried to be imitated by people, but this change allows the consumer to relate with the person modeling the product. People like it when they can relate with something, if images of average people modeling are displayed everyone would feel more comfortable.

62-year-old Jacky O'Shaughnessy, models for American Apparel. She breaks the typical model image which is controversial and an attention grabber.

62-year-old Jacky O’Shaughnessy, models for American Apparel. She breaks the typical model image which is controversial and a definite attention grabber.

In terms of race and hierarchy in advertisement, the same can be done by incorporating people of all races in different acts that the audience is not accustomed to seeing which is a good way to break stereotypes. We can take this year’s super bowl Cheerios commercial starring an interracial couple and their offspring as an example. Doing the opposite of what we have been used to seeing is controversial, therefore people would be appealed by it and without a doubt it would change the way social issues are depicted and how they go into effect.

Works Cited:

1. “Black Humor.” Dictionary.reference.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.

2. Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting, 1973. Print.

3. Hooks, Bell. “Representation of Whiteness in the Black Imagination.” Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South End, 1992. 170. Print

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.

Let Me Introduce Myself

As a procrastinator that I am (not proud of it) I am sitting here typing this at the most unreasonable time, 5 AM. My name is Rodrigo Valencia and I consider myself a very random/spontaneous person who has finally decided what to do with his life. I have always been very passionate about every aspect of film, but it wasn’t until last semester that I realized that this is the path that I want to take. So yeah, I decided to declare my major in Video Production after having analyzed the whole career and getting some hands on experience with filmmaking. 

Born in Peru, I grew up in a family that instilled many interests and activities in my life that make up who I am today. A very open-minded, adventurous individual that’s always experimenting and willing to try out new things. There are many things that I like amongst those are, aviation, architecture, fashion, music, traveling, eating good and playing sports. I try to enjoy the many great things that life has to offer as much as I can. I would like to speak more about myself but i’ll rather let you guys learn more about me as the semester progresses and we all get to know each other. 

Image

Selfie I took in Hamburg, Germany, last year.