Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do Hits Equal Success?

     The Sudanese-born/Australian rapper Bangs isn't shy about his intentions. The titles of his two hit singles, "Take U To Da Movies" and "Meet Me On Facebook" tell his audience that, well, he wants to take them to the movies and chat with them on facebook. As evidenced in his music videos below, his lackluster lyrics and subpar video effect skills don't combine to make a rapper that you would expect to have just received a record deal in Australia! Now I am in no way trying to cut Bangs down as a person, as I'm glad he is following his dreams and working to create his own success. My belief is that his musical ability is lacking in terms of what a record label should be willing to invest their money with the hopes of future success. Is Bangs the one to blame for garnering this record deal, or is he just another example of the changing strategies withing the music industry?

    We talked in class about how Chapter 4 of the textbook describes the way in which movie producers and record executives rely on their biggest stars to create successful hits. This book was written in 2003, however, before the arrival of Youtube, which has made it simple for anyone with a videocamera to upload a video of their talents (however poor they may be) to the web. If a video gets a lot of hits and views, its appeal can reach across all corners of the globe and make that person an instant celebrity. In Bangs' case, as well as others, a record company believed that the broad "success" of the Youtube video would equate to monetary success with the help of a record contract.
     This example is a true representation about the way in which media industries have focused on capitalizing on current success as opposed to building up artists for prolonged careers. Just about anyone can get a record deal because these corporations want the immediate capital gains from an artist that may have a million views on Youtube or 10,000 fans on Facebook, but lacks the true talent or staying power they need to be successful a year from now. D4L had girls shaking their laffy taffy and the Shop Boyz partied like rockstars. What do they have in common? They both lasted about 15 minutes and nobody knows who they are anymore.
     It will be interesting to see how, with the continuous influence of social media, media industries will act towards their investments in artists. Will they continue to promote artists that might sell at a high level for a short period of time, or will they revert back to strategies that create and build future stars?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Last Free Medium?

     It started with the radio. Then came the television. Is the internet the next medium in line to be regulated by the FCC? In class on Wednesday, we discussed the power the Federal Communications Commission demonstrates over the media industry, specifically radio and television. A main reason the FCC has to regulate these mediums is the limited availability of airwaves. If the radio and television industries were unregulated, they would be chaotic and unable to function efficiently, like a road with no rules or police. A more important function, and one that directly relates to the potential regulation of the internet, is the censorship and restriction of content.

     It's easy to make an argument that when it comes to radio and television, there is very little freedom of expression. Whether it's the regulations of the FCC or the preferences of the corporate media owners, it is hard to have true freedom of speech in these mediums. The internet, however, provides a much larger platform for users to express themselves. Just about anyone with internet access can start up a blog and write about whatever they want, granted the content isn't illegal. With this ability, the internet is seemingly the last medium that can convey free speech. With this freedom comes troubles, however. Sites such as Wikileaks that involve the posting of many confidential military files may pose large security threats. The internet has also infamously become a forum for hateful and racist speech.  While it certainly has its pros and cons, are we not far away from the FCC regulating the internet as well?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Delicious Medium

     When we discuss types of media in these blog posts, often the items we discuss regards technological devices that have created impacts in our lives. If we continue to view "media" as extensions of our bodies that allow for better interaction between humans, I believe that one of the most powerful mediums is food. As touched on by fellow classmates, Food can be a powerful and inventive media as it is a true extension of our creativity. When you are in control of the meal you are cooking, you are able to fully develop a sense of creativity within the food as you decide how much of one ingredient or another. This demonstrates the true freedom that food and cooking allows to the user of the medium and how liberating of an experience cooking can be.
     Another way in which food is a powerful medium is the way in which it can transcend cultural boundaries. Although all cultures have their own unique flavors and recipes, the interaction between two cooks from different cultures can be spoken and understood solely through the similarity shared in the experience of cooking. The ability of food and cooking to bring people together is prevalent in my own family. My father and his 12 brothers and sisters, all of whom are from Portugal, are tremendous cooks. This is a main factor as to why all of my relatives and I attend numerous family gatherings throughout the year. We come to see everyone and catch up on how everybody is doing, but the food is the reason we stay.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is That Poke Safe?

   Often times in this class, we discuss the ways in which media make interactions and daily tasks quicker and easier. Take Facebook, for example. The way it simplifies communication between friends and colleagues can make keeping in touch easier and paying attention in class harder. Facebook also makes things easier for hackers that may be in search of personal information on the internet, with its constantly changing privacy settings that may be confusing for some users to keep their most sensitive information hidden from unwanted users. At what point do the risks outweigh the benefits in terms of using these forms of social media?

   Earlier this week, after being praised for new features and additions to the site, an article was written that demonstrated a bug in a Facebook application for smartphones that caused a users phone numbers and contacts to be uploaded to the Facebook website ( This development brings to light the amount of personal information some users are willing to sacrifice to be able to access social networks. Facebook has also come under fire for its sometimes confusing privacy policies and security features. While it is certainly up to the user to read and accept the terms of use, there are undoubtedly many young and novice users that simply bypass these agreements without understanding what they are accepting. These actions leave many users at risk by sharing private information that they may not have wanted to be seen. By not truly understanding the settings at which you keep your privacy on Facebook, your information may be viewable by people you don't even know.
   In a society in which social media is a dominant form of interaction and communication, users privacy and safety are becoming more of a concern. Is it possible, with all of these potential security risks arising, that users will ever shy away from social networking with the idea that the risks are greater than the rewards?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Medium Divided: The Television

     After a long day of classes and practice, there's nothing like coming back to my room, taking a break, and catching up on the days news stories and sports updates on my television. Sometimes, however, I like to steer clear of the world of informative and enlightening program and get lost in an episode of Jersey Shore or Family Guy.The extremes presented in television programming are an interesting representation of the way society has constructed a large gap between substantial and mindless programming.
    The television is an interesting medium because it allows for communication to an extremely wide audience due to the prevalence of televisions in the world. As discussed in one of our early sessions, we discussed a graph in the textbook that acknowledged the fact that in 2000, 98% of American households contained at least one television (Croteau, Hoynes 5).  The fact that so many people have television access allows for increased exposure of advertisements, programs, and as the book described, politics. During a presidential election, for example, the expanded television coverage allows for people all across the country to gather facts about candidates to make informed decisions regarding who the viewer would elect. The television coverage can also allow people who might not attend a local political rally for a candidate to view the highlights and learn information they would not have been able to without the use of the television. On the other hand, however, the book also references the way in which television and mass media have caused politics to "steer away from substantive policy to policies of soundbites and photo opportunities" (264). This is also representative of the way television programs have seemingly regressed over time, from sitcoms with wholesome family values to reality shows with hardly any substance or worth besides mindless entertainment.
     While it is clear that television and the mass exposure of media have diluted substantial aspects of programming with simplicity and worthlessness, there is no denying that the television is an extremely important medium with regards to the far-reaching markets it encompasses. What's most interesting to me is the way there are seemingly two extremes when it comes to television programming: mindless programming like reality television and news and current event stations that provide daily updates and informative programming. Is there a middle ground with this medium, or has society brought this divide upon itself with its desire for more entertainment and less substantial value?