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Posts Tagged ‘broadcasting’

Connected Media

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

connected-media

www.connectedmedia.org


What do they do?

Connected Media is a New Zealand based charitable trust whose mission is to promote sustainability through media.

How can I get involved?

In partnership with Enviroschools and the Global Education Centre, Connected Media run an annual Sustainability Film Challenge called ‘The Outlook for Someday’. Anyone up to the age of 20 can make a film on sustainability of any length up to 5 minutes, of any genre they like – drama, documentary, animation, music video, advertisement, video blog, reality tv. The prizes are awesome – laptops, cameras, even a short course at a film school. Deadlines for films is usually late September. Check out the website here: www.theoutlookforsomeday.net

tofs

Stupid Girls?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Nicole Mathewson

clothes dummyApathy and acting stupid in order to be cute has become a full-time occupation for celebrities, and stories about these women have overtaken real news. Even real news shows and publications regularly feature celebrity gossip in their headlines (recent examples include the divorce proceedings of former Beatle Paul McCartney and model Heather Mills, and the arrest of singer George Michael on drug possession). The ad for a new show on C4 - Meaty (Media Entertainment Around Town) - features host Shavaugn Ruakere talking about some of the planets big problems like unrest in the Middle East and dwindling oil supplies, then she suddenly stops and says - “Who cares?!” and beings to ramble on about the excitement of “real” celebrity gossip.

Don’t get me wrong. Four two-minute segments of a show like this every so often isn’t such a bad thing - it’s funny and can be an entertaining way to release stress and stop worrying for a while. The problem is that these shows are everywhere - and many people would choose to watch a “news” show like this instead of a show about what’s really happening in the world. A little apathy is fine - in fact it’s healthy (by preventing stress/anxiety overload - just my theory) - but full time apathy is not. And it’s not just females who are following this kind of news either.

We’re also being bombarded everyday with the idea that we have to look and act a certain way in order to be successful. It’s in advertising, movies, magazines, on TV, in clothing stores, in music videos, and from each other. Sut Jhally’s Dream World documentary explores desire, sex and power in music videos and notes that 90% of videos are made by men. The videos are commercials for artists and what better way to appeal to their prospective audience than by showing them their fantasies? In these fantasies the only purpose of the female gender is to be looked at. While music videos are just that - fantasy - the scary thing is the idea of women being a passive thing to be used and explored for their physical attributes has spilled over into real life.

Celebrity worship and the “cute but dumb” motto are taking over the world. “What happened to the dreams of a girl president - she’s dancing in the video next to 50 cent,” sings pop star Pink in the song “Stupid Girls”. “You don’t have to be stupid to be sexy”, Pink recently asserted in an Oprah show special.

Psychologist Dr Robin Smith says women are abusing and exploiting themselves. Many young women who act “stupid” are actually smart girls whose obsession with imitating celebrities keeps them from being their true selves. “The word for me isn’t stupid girls - it’s lost girls, it’s girls who are being defined by somebody else,” she says.

Actress Reese Witherspoon also went on record saying she was sick of this new trend. “It’s a new movement among young women that it’s cute to be dumb. I have a little girl, and when I see her looking at those [starlets] who are pretending to be dumb, I think that’s [terrible]… Our mothers and our grandmothers and the women that came before us fought so hard to overcome the stereotype of women being not smart enough to vote, not smart enough to [receive] higher education, to have great jobs. And to single-handedly go out in a very public way and say, ‘You know what, I don’t really care about what they achieved. I’m just going be stupid and that’s cute.’ I don’t think it’s a good message for young women.”
girl's eye
Blogger Richard Marcus comments that instead of just a few with gossip columns, the world now has whole cable channels devoted to the doings of the celebrity crowd. “Is there anything wrong with it aside from the obvious that people of dubious talent and abilities are being foisted on us and passed off as gifted? Oops, I think I just stumbled on something there without even noticing.” (1)

One 18 year old female from New Zealand said she watched celebrity news “like every day - thanks to E!” and bought magazines every week. She said it wasn’t the behaviour she was trying to copy, but rather their physical appearance to a certain extent. “I’m a fashion fanatic so I have to be up with the trends!” The idea of getting the inside scoop on exciting celebrity lives was also appealing to her. “I just think I have a sorry excuse for a life so its kinda funny and interesting knowing about someone else’s.”

Another 18 year old female, this time from Australia, said she also read or watched celebrity news almost everyday. “Mostly on websites that take the piss out of celebrities. I also read some of the magazines for a laugh.” She said she did not compare herself to celebrities, but believed the world had gone celebrity crazy. ” All this attention on people like Paris Hilton who do nothing. Her grandfather is rich so we should care what her dog is wearing? I don’t think so. There are people out there everyday that work to make the world better or they are trying to find a cure for cancer etc but all anyone cares about is how skinny Nicole Richie is.”

The obsession with celebrity and appearance is having a detrimental effect worldwide. Websites promoting and teaching pro-anorexia philosophies have popped up all over the internet. Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder affecting around three in every 1000 females. It is considered the most lethal of all mental illnesses, killing one in five sufferers from starvation, organ failure, or suicide, and affects people as young as eight. “Pro-ana” websites share photos of scarily thin models and celebrities for ‘thinspiration’. The websites include tips and tricks on extreme fasting and exercise. Some even advertise accessories such as bracelets for users to snap against their wrists to remind themselves not to eat.

In the United States the number of eating disorder sufferers has more than doubled since the 1960s, according to the Washington-based American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, with an estimated 10 million females and 1 million males affected by anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating and other eating disorders. Forty-seven percent of U.S. females from fifth to 12th grade say they want to lose weight because of magazine pictures and 60 percent say magazines influence their ideas of desirable body types, according to the Philadelphia-based Renfrew Center Foundation. However the scary thing is that those images being portrayed in these magazines are completely unrealistic, airbrushed and manipulated. People don’t naturally look that way - it’s crazy to make them even try.(2)
putting on make up
It’s not just weight control that’s getting out of hand - darker skinned women are bleaching their skin to be what they think is “more attractive”. Health officials in Jamaica believe the practice dates back decades, but has increased significantly over the last five to ten years. The practice is encouraged by numerous reggae songs, including the early 1990’s hit “Dem a Bleach” by Nardo Ranks. “There’s a large segment of our population who are convinced that being lighter in complexion is to their advantage, socially, in terms of their relationships and economically, in terms of getting ahead,” says dermatologist Dr Clive Anderson. (3)

Asian women are also affected, but the practice relates more to being associated with the upper classes, female virtue and spiritual refinement, than celebrity imitation. One woman commented on Feministing.com - “A quick look at the popular Hong Kong actresses of any generation will show you that they are all overwhelmingly pale, with only one or two token dark-skinned actresses allowed per generation. It’s part of the virgin/whore dichotomy: pale-skinned skinny models and actresses are put on pedestals and given highly paid contracts and starring roles, while dark-skinned buxom actresses are marginalized into playing “bad girl” roles or porn.”

One man commented on a Guardian (UK newspaper) story about how females are allowing this kind of culture to continue by buying the gossip magazines and similar. “If you don’t like it then don’t buy it!” He said. And he’s right. By buying, reading and watching this kind of popular culture we’re letting ourselves be bullied, manipulated and pressured. Regardless of what other people might be telling you, acting dumb and refusing to reach your full potential will not get you respect - and is certainly not sexy! The obsession with celebrity is making us forget the real issues and forget our real selves.

References:
(1) Celebrity Worship And The Death Of Critical Thinking by Richard Marcus
(2) Fashion World Says Too Thin Is Too Hazardous By Juliette Terzieff
(3) The Skin Bleaching Phenomenon by Merrick A. Andrew

LEARN MORE

  • Read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. Read this review.
  • Watch/Read the “Stupid Girls” episode with Pink on Oprah.com
  • Watch DreamWorlds (available from the Global Education Centre library).

TAKE ACTION!

  • Challenge the “sexy but dumb” motto
  • Encourage people to be themselves and have confidence
  • Start your own anti-anorexia and anti-celebrity obsession websites/articles/blogs etc.

Sensationalism in the media

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

Ilai Amir

In a world where there isn’t enough time to do everything that we want, we end up relying on mainstream media to show us the world beyond our front doors.

I’ll talk a little bit about one of the issues associated with mainstream media - Sensationalism.

What drives the media?
News media is no longer brought to us solely as an accurate source of information about local and global issues. In reality, it is driven by a corporate agenda that has identified a profit opportunity for fulfilling our need to know about the world around us. Increasing corporate involvement has added a whole new dimension to what we know only of as the news’. Now things like reviewing ratings and advertising play more critical roles, all of this ultimately affects the content of the information being provided.

When a news media organisation is driven by profit and the profit is dependant on the ratings you receive it’s very important to them to take steps to ensure people keep watching. Causing a reaction in an audience will get them to tune in the following day. Getting people to tune in everyday is money.

How are stories sensationalised?
There are many ways a story is made sensational. The word sensational can be defined as:

“arousing or intended to arouse strong curiosity, interest, or reaction, especially by exaggerated or lurid details.”(Oxford Concise Dictionary).

From this we can gather that the goal is to spark or arouse a reaction in the audience.

News media achieve this in many ways sometimes by showing graphic images of events and/or using emotional voice-overs to tell us of how shocking and tragic an event is. They often also use a human subject whether it be footage or an interview so that we can identify with them as a person, which makes it easier for us to sympathise with the tragedy.

Impact of Sensationalism
Stories are glorified so frequently on the news that it’s hard to be certain of the difference between entertainment and reality. This leaves us, the consumers of the news, sitting comfortably in our armchairs, in our heated living room absolutely heart broken at the state of this planet and the people dwelling upon it…

Yet that won’t change what’s for dinner tonight.

FIND OUT MORE

Learn about ratings
Cultsock
FAIR
Reporters Without Borders
BBC Journalistic Style Guide

TAKE ACTION!

This article was first printed in Global Bits, a magazine for youth workers published by the Global Education Centre