Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breaking the Mold

     One of my favorite rap albums, Eastern Philosophy by Apathy, is also easily one of the most underrated projects at its time of release. In 2006, a time when Lil Jon was snapping his fingers and Dem Franchize Boyz were leaning and rocking with it, Connecticut native Apathy released his debut album which showcased lyrical talent and fluid delivery unlike many of his mainstream peers. Despite not garnering high sales results compared to mainstream artists, Eastern Philosophy breaks through stereotypes on two fronts. Apathy's lyrical potency first combats a stereotype that perceives white rappers as "corny" or "gimmicky" (see: Vanilla Ice, Marky Mark). On a more radical platform, however, Apathy dispels social stereotypes concerning his birthplace, Connecticut.
     In class last week, we discussed how stereotypes belittle and undercut a certain classification of people. Many stereotypes about people from Connecticut revolve around wealth and arrogance, due to the fact that Connecticut has the highest Per Capita Personal Income of all 50 states ( Throughout his album, Apathy uses his lyrics to display a much harsher and different lifestyle compared to how media stereotype and generalize about life and people in Connecticut.
     The idea of combating stereotypes and generalizations hits very close to me because, as like Apathy, I come from a place that media have their own stereotypes about. Many people generalize Martha's Vineyard as simply a vacation spot for President Obama and rich, preppy college kids. What most people fail to realize is that the year-round residents are the ones that keep the island running in the summer, at a large cost to themselves. The cost of living on Martha's Vineyard is almost the highest in the state, while workers and residents earn some of the lowest wages. There are problems with poverty and substance abuse, but the media only see the Vineyard as a vacation destination for social elites. The article linked here from President Obama's first visit to the island only begins to scratch the surface of life on the Vineyard ( The way Apathy crafts his lyrics on Eastern Philosophy  to combat stereotypes about his hometown and state allows me to relate to him on a higher level because of my own experiences with media generalizations and stereotypes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life On Crack...Berry

     When I placed the order for my Blackberry Curve, my first smartphone, I thought very little of the true significance the device would have in my everyday life. Prior to purchasing the Blackberry, I had only had a cell phone that had the bare minimum of features. As I was preparing for my Junior year at Babson, I decided I needed a phone that allowed me to receive e-mails, as nearly all business at Babson is conducted through e-mail.  What caused me to purchase a Blackberry, however, were the advertisements I saw on TV and the internet that demonstrated the capabilities of the Blackberry and how it could improve daily life.
     In the reading for tomorrow's class, the book discussed different ways advertisers convey messages to convince an audience to purchase their products. In advertisements for the different Blackberry phones, a common theme is the ability to multi-task. By showing how a Blackberry allows you to get driving directions, send pictures, and update your Facebook status, the advertisement makes the customer believe that they need these capabilities on their phone. Certainly, I was able to survive without these advanced capabilities on my previous phone, but by having the ability to check sports scores or e-mail at my disposal, I find myself constantly  exploring the features of my new phone. I now understand why the device is sometimes called a "Crackberry", due to its addicting nature. The case of the Blackberry phone and its advertisements fully demonstrate the power of messages in advertising and, just as the book states, "happiness and satisfaction can be purchased" (Croteau, Hoynes 186).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Define Media

            In his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLuhan describes media as “extensions of the body” (7). While I agree with this assertion, I believe in a definition of media that takes Mcluhan’s theory a few steps further. While media act as extensions of our physical body, they also act as extensions of our emotions and thoughts, therefore allowing us as humans to more effectively interact with one another.
            This definition I have proposed is similar to the ideas McLuhan states in his book. By picturing different media as extensions of the body, McLuhan is demonstrating the way a medium can allow for a message to be transmitted between a set of individuals. A telephone, for example, is a medium because it allows for an instant conversation with the person who is on the other line. The telephone is an extension of the body in this sense because it acts as a way to transmit your voice to others across long distances, which would not be possible without the device. While media can be extensions of physical functions such as speech or sight, I believe that the way certain media can act as extensions of our ideas and creativity is truly powerful.
            One of the earliest forms of media that humans used as an extension of thoughts is typographic media, or the written word. By utilizing handwriting and printed type, people were able to craft ordinary words and thoughts into mesmerizing stories and scholarly articles. The alphabet or characters of a language by themselves are seemingly plain, but when they are written down into one’s individual thoughts or ideas, they can become much more powerful and meaningful. Prior to the availability of print, people used oral speech to convey thoughts, ideas, and stories. With the technological advancement of print, however, these thoughts could be transcribed and spread amongst a wider audience. This demonstrates how technological advances can play a role in the effectiveness of new types of media.
            As new technologies are developed and types of media are enhanced, there are both positive changes and negative changes. One certain positive change is the wide array of ways a person can extend their thoughts and ideas to others. An example of this would be Film. Before the technology of cinema and cameras, people would use oral speech as a way to convey messages and evoke feelings. Now, though, a film director can make you feel happy or sad through the film they create, as opposed to someone merely telling you which way to feel. The combination of pictures and speech in the film appeal to multiple bodily senses and allow the audience member to receive the director’s message in a deeper and more connected way.
 An example of the negative impact of technology might be the emergence of social media. By using Facebook or Myspace, for example, you are able to contact almost anyone in the world without ever leaving your computer. This is certainly a medium, as McLuhan describes media as anything that “amplifies or accelerates existing processes” (8). While social media accelerate our communication, the physicality of meeting and talking to someone face to face is no longer there when sending a Facebook message. It seems to me that as technology allows new forms of media to emerge, the need for accelerated interaction trumps the interpersonal meetings that older forms of media, like oral speech, were founded upon.
When defining media, it is obvious that there are many different opinions on how to characterize this broad topic. I feel that the definition used by McLuhan that identifies media as extensions of the body is one of the most concise. Technological advances also have helped play a role in defining media, as there are now many different types of media in our day to day life. As technology continues to advance, one wonders whether or not new types of media will help or hinder the way we transfer messages and communicate with one another.