166,816,572 views and counting

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The term ‘convergence’ is a little tricky to define. As explained by Jenkins (2006), people who use the word ‘convergence’ often use it to describe different things depending on who uses it and what the speaker thinks they are talking about.  I think that this is part of the reason why’convergence’ is so difficult to define.

What does ‘convergence’ mean?

To make things simpler I’m going to explain the three different  things the term ‘convergence’ acts as a blanket-term for.

     1. Convergence as media industries

The transformation of legacy media through cooperation between multiple media industries that allows new forms of content to flow easily across the supply chain in ways that increase revenue, broadens the existing markets and encourages audience commitment.

      2. Convergence as media content

According to Jenkins (2006) convergence describes the “…flow of media content across multiple media platforms…”

So convergence in media content is (according to mwah), the flow of media content across multiple media platforms through the behaviour of an active audience.

      3. Convergence as media audiences

The transition of an audience from a passive roll to an active roll in the production and distribution of media. This is the behaviour of an audience that not only wants to have access to the entertainment they want, but can (via the internet) search and go elsewhere for what they want when they want it.

      Altogether now...

Convergence is the flow if content across media platforms caused by the behaviours of media audiences, the cooperation of media industries to form media empires and the transition of an audiences to an active participant  in the production and distribution of media. Done.

Give me an example!

This is the Harry Potter Puppet Pals.

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Giphy – Neil Cicierega

If you don’t know what I’m talking about check out the Harry Potter wiki page.

In this case the media audience (harry potter fans) produced a short youtube series using home-made puppets directed by  Neil Cicierega. Originally, a flash animation on Newgrounds (2003), the idea was brought back in the form of a series of live action puppet shows released onto YouTube. The most successful episode, ‘The Mysterious Ticking Noise‘, currently has over 166,816,572 views (as of 2 April 2016).

Advantages: Fans of the Harry potter franchise (and other fandoms) can and have created their own sources of entertainment. We are no longer limited to what is produced for us by media industries. The days of a passive audience, dictated to what we could or couldn’t view are over.

Disadvantages: Copy-right issues and where do the boundaries lie? It wasn’t until recently that Australian copyright legislation was reviewed and changed to prevent parodies like Potter Puppet Pals from infringing the copyright laws. New forms of content and media platforms are being created faster than the legislation can catch up.


References

Jenkins, H 2006, Welcome to Convergence Culture, Confessions of an Aca-fan, The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins, 19 June, viewed 1 April 2016, <http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html&gt;

Netlingo 2016, Legacy Media, Netlingo, viewed 1 April 2016, <http://www.netlingo.com/word/legacy-media.php&gt;

Australian Government 2012, Media Convergence and the Transformed Media Environment, Australian Government, viewed 1 April 2016, <http://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/3-media-convergence-and-transformed-media-environment/media-convergence-and-transform-0&gt;

Wikia, Potter Puppet Pals, Wikia, viewed 1 Aprl 2016, <http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Potter_Puppet_Pals&gt;

Wikia, Neil Cicierega, Wikia, viewed 1 April 2016, <http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Neil_Cicierega&gt;

Legal Topic Area 2015, The Parody and Satire defence – what do we make of it so far?, Arts Law Centre of Australia, viewed 1 April 2016, <http://www.artslaw.com.au/articles/entry/the-parody-and-satire-defence-what-do-we-make-of-it-so-far/&gt;

Cicierega, N 22007, Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise, online video, 23 March, youtube, viewed 2 April 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4&gt;.

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“Who watches the watcher?”

We often picture the media as some sort of public watchdog that is supposed to bark ferociously at any political, economic or corporate wrongdoing. It is the job of journalists and in turn the media to represent the interests of the people, us. This responsibility is often referred to as the Forth Estate.

But as Roman poet Juvenal once said,“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

Who watches the watcher?

At the moment the Australian media is under the control of a select few people and/or companies. This means that for those (like me) who occasionally glance at the Illawarra Mercury, the news we read is produced by a select few (in this case Fairfax Ltd).

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Media Interests Snapshot – ACMA

Which leads us to the controversial question, “Does it matter who controls the media?” 

And the answer really that depends on two things: the function of the media and whether the media has influence on its audience.

So what exactly is the function of the media then?

According to the Australian Press Council the media has a responsibility to ensure community has access to information of public interest, and the freedom of expression within the media. Having a free media is a part of our democratic right to free speech. It protects our right to communicate with each other and  our government regardless of race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, age or any other determining factor.

This means that in order for the media to successfully achieve this purpose it needs to adhere to Impartiality. This is the practice of the media presenting all views or a wide selection of opinions on a particular circumstance or idea. If only a few people control majority of the media, impartiality is not truly achieved. Instead of a watchdog, the media starts to look like a squeaky Chihuahua.

Does the media have influence over its audience and if so then what is it?

The media often plays an important role in shaping the way we think. One of the pioneers in early radio studies, Herta Herzog demonstrated the level of influence a media (in this case radio “soap opera’s” drama) on an audience. She discovered that the media presents “… a model of reality by which one is to be taught how to think and how to act.” (Herzog, 2004, pg 157). Put simply, the media is a tool that can change a societies ideologies.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this in practice was the extensive use of Nazi propaganda used to spread fear and hatred towards minorities during WWII. Minister for Public Enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels used the media to maintain control over the people.

So we come back to the BIG question…

If we value democracy and freedom of speech as important aspects of a society (which in Australia we do) and know that the media has a direct influence over the way we think does it matter who controls the media?

Yes, it does.

 


References:

Right to know: the ‘nation’, the ‘people’ and the Fourth Estate 2013, The Conversation, viewed 29 March, <http://theconversation.com/right-to-know-the-nation-the-people-and-the-fourth-estate-21253&gt;.

About Us, Illawarra Mercury, viewed 28 March, <http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/about-us/)>.

Australian Press Council, viewed 28 March, <http://www.presscouncil.org.au/&gt;.

Brewer, D 2016, Impartiality in Journalism, Media Helping Media, viewed 29 March, <http://www.mediahelpingmedia.org/training-resources/editorial-ethics/238-impartiality-in-journalism&gt;.

Herzog, H 2004, ‘On Borrowed Experience An Analysis of Listening to Daytime Sketches From Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 1941’, in (ed.), Mass Communication and American Social Thought: Key Texts, 1919 – 1968, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, pp. 139 – 157.

Biography.com Editors 2016, Joseph Goebbels Biography, The Biography, viewed 28 March, <http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/joseph-goebbels&gt;.

McCutcheon, M & Pusey, M 2011, ‘From The Media Moguls To The Money Men? Media Concentration In Australia’, Media International Australia, no. 140, pp. 22-34.

Media Interests Snapshots, ACMA, viewed 28 March, <http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/media-interests-snapshot&gt;.

 

More Than Just Sweaters

the-controversial-benetton-ad-depicting-david-kirby-and-his-family

David Kirby on his death bed – By Therese Frare

It sure is a striking image.

At a glance the image denotes a young man clearly suffering from a debilitating illness. He is looking away into the distance with a vacant expression. His (presumed) grieving family are gathered around his hospital bed. The seriousness of the image is contrasted by the colour which was deliberately added to the original, black and white photo. The colour gives the image an almost cartoon (fake)  appearance.

In 1990, this image was captured during the last few moments of David Kirby life as he lay surrounded by his close family as they said  goodbye. A gay rights and AIDS activist, David’s body had become wasted following his 3 year battle with AIDS.

It may have been hard to imagine at the time but this photo, taken by journalism student Therese Frare quickly became the poster image of the time for aids. Today the photo is estimated to have been viewed by over one billion people.

Originally published in black an white, this poignant image won an World Press Photo Award but quickly gained in popularity after it was picked to be used by the United Colors of Benetton in the companies advertising campaign.

It was used to sell brightly coloured knitwear.

This wasn’t the first nor would it be the last time that the well-known corporation used shock  advertising to create and gain public interest.

Like any text, this stunning photograph was met by mixed reactions from its audience. One of the dominant readings of the text was outrage. Roman Catholics criticised the picture as they felt it mocked the classic image of Mary cradling Jesus following his crucifixion. AIDS activists saw the image as an example of a corporate exploiting a serious issue and the death of a man to see their products. The photo was also considered to be a negative portrayal of the disease.  At the same time prominent magazines of the time refused to use the advertisement.

At the same time the image was also considered by some to be a poignant symbol of AIDS activism and achieved its true ‘purpose’. To humanise AIDS and raise awareness of the disease.

Both of these opposing views are derived from the individual connotations that each viewer or audience undertakes as they attempt to decode or understand the meaning of the text.

Through my own research I was interested in learning how different perspectives of a single text could be. Although we all gaze at the same text we don’t necessarily take away the same meaning.

 

 


 

References

 

 

 

3 Reasons Why We Need To Calm Down About Video Games

I’m going to be honest with you.

Although I’ve spent a respectable amount of time taking turns on my brother’s playstation, I still have the skill set of a self-confessed noob. This hasn’t stopped the passion my brother and I share for video games. But the rest of my family (parents) are a little cautious to the whole idea. And they are not the only ones. When it comes to the whole “Do violent video games make children more violent?” debate the loudest voices in the room tends to be of those who are fiercely anti-gaming. I of course wanted to know a little more. So I did what anyone would do, I consulted Dr Google. An afternoon browsing the net later and I believe that we should all take a leaf out of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and… DON’T PANIC.

We need to calm down about video games.

1. This Isn’t The First Time We’ve Panicked Over Something New.

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Swiss Scientist Conrad Gesner was one of the first to record his anxieties about the possible effects that media had on audiences. He believed that modern society was being overwhelmed by the amount of information we had access to. He thought that this was both “confusing and harmful”. Interestingly, Gesner lived and died during the 16th century. He was concerned about the negative effects of the printing press.

In the 18th century, the gothic novel was considered as a morally corruptive. Today we are sold the idea that televisions are making us fat.Violent video games are rumoured to make our children more aggressive.

It may seem ridiculous, but this fear of new media has continued throughout history.

 

2. Scientists Don’t Really Know What Is Up With Gaming.

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As you may have guessed by now, I’m no expert. Yet my afternoon of research has led me to believe one thing.

No one has yet been able to prove that there is a substantial link between violent video games and violent behaviour but everyone has an opinion about it.

We have been debating the impact of all types of games since they became popular in the 1980s. So far the only conclusive answer that anyone can agree on is that video games can increase your visual acuity, decision-making, object tracking, and task switching skills.

We simply don’t know what playing violent video games does to us, or if it does anything at all. We also don’t know if there is any link between video games and violent crime. Sorry folks.

3. Are We Blaming The Tool For The Result?

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When it comes to it, we have the tendency to place the blame on someone or something else. And that’s natural.

But when we ask questions like “Do violent video games cause violent behaviour?” or “Are video games making me fat?“, are we placing the blame on something else?

You’ve got to admit that video games by themselves, do not do much aside from gathering dust in their plastic containers. They are in the end only objects. This means that like a gun, without someone to pull the trigger they have no effect.  It is ultimately how we use the tool that determines the result.

I think (although remember this is just another opinion) that we should ask some more realistic questions. Why are popular video games  so violent? Do video games reflect the behaviours or attitudes of modern society?

I don’t know about you but I’m a little curious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a quick hello

I’ve given it some thought, and I suppose that if you’re reading this you are most likely one of three things. A little curious, tremendously bored or a BCM110 student.

My name, (just like the blog says) is Mara. Google tells me that Mara means ‘bitter’ in Hebrew,  ‘grace’ in Hungarian, ‘of the sea’ in Gaelic and is also (apparently) the Slavic ‘goddess of death, winter and harvest’. Google also tells me that my parents didn’t really think it over.

I promise I’m not complaining. I’ve done well considering I am stuck with a name as ominous as suggesting to split up in a B-grade horror movie.

So why am I here?

Unlike most people enrolled in BCM110, this is not my first year. I’m one of those people. The sort of uni student who needed time and experience to realise that my interests were somewhere else entirely.

For me I’ve always adored telling stories. As I type this post, there are two short story drafts open on the screen waiting for me to get back to them. It’s a bit of a love of mine.

This will be my first year studying Communications and Media Studies and I already know that what I’m learning will excite, inspire and may be vaguely useful. I will be the first person to admit that changing your degree a year late is not always the most financially clever thing to do, but I’m happy.

Super pleased.

I’ve got to admit that this whole blogging experience is a new one for me. I’ve never been the sort of girl to keep a journal for longer than a couple of days, so regularly updating a blog for anyone to see is a little daunting.

Wish me luck.