Category Archives: JMC

Are We Being Desensitized? ~ JMC Blog Post 4

The inquiry above is one that the student packet, as well as many others, have asked in wake of the stream of violent imagery that the media utilizes to garner attention and ratings. The question in and of itself is flawed from the outset, though. When asking something like that, it is usually because whoever is asking is trying to actually say that, ‘yes, we are,’ but posing it in a way that invites the thoughts of the audience that has been asked. The way things are now, in terms of violent act, is really no different than the way they have been for centuries. In fact, it would seem that the burden of proof ought to be on those who agree, considering that the amount of violent crime in America has only been decreasing lately.

To draw from my own field of “expertise,” there has actually been a lot of buzz surrounding a PC game that is to come out, titled “Hatred.” The game has only had one trailer, and if the reaction that many gamers are having to it is a sign of anything, then the answer is very much “no” on the subject of desensitization. The gaming press has picked up on the game and since then, many have gone out of their way to say the game is deplorable, or have feedback in the comments section detesting the game due to the nature in which the game harkens on tropes of real life tragedies. The gameplay trailer is only a minute and a half, but features execution-style murders by a lone gunman (the player character) who is to kill as many innocent civilians as possible before dying. The game almost seems like a parody. As though it were a reflection on games through the eyes of those who do not play them. Suddenly, the imaginings of those who have criticized games for causing real-world violence, has been realized with “Hatred.” People are being sickened by what this game has on offer. Many of the gaming community are absolutely repulsed seeing a game where putting the barrel of a gun in the mouth of a defenseless woman and firing is the point of the entire game. The reason I bring this up is because of how often the charge of being “desensitized” is lobbied at those who play Mature rated videogames. It would appear that there are indeed limits to what people are capable of handling.

Going back now to the content of the student packet, it makes mention of psychologists rethinking their take on violence in the media. However, it doesn’t cite or refer to any scientists or studies of any kind. Again, the burden of proof makes itself prevalent. Also, in terms of photographs and video of real life violence, the idea that we could lose our humanity by seeing on the news is a little ridiculous. You would have to be one sick puppy to not find yourself feeling anything seeing the devastation in the Middle East. The correlation between the audience the sense of a lost connection however, is not stemming from the controversial imagery. People will abhor and be grossed out by depressing and despicable acts no matter what; it’s hard-wired into our minds to feel sympathy. I think that many of the news corporations are just struggling to gain the same sort of viewership despite the fact that what they are showing has been a hook for so long. People still care for each other. But they don’t really care to watch the TV.

Privacy ~ JMC Blog Post 3

If you’re anything like me, then you probably would feel more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of someone sitting right outside your window right now, looking into your home, and watching every move you make. It’s like that song by The Police, except it’s not Sting who’s got his eye on you, and it isn’t over in two and a half minutes. Rather, it’s large, privately-owned corporations who are doing the snooping. And they don’t do it by stalking you around in a completely blacked-out Cadillac Escalade. Using the internet, companies have begun the practice of virtually tracking users, as a way of gathering data on persons generally without their consent or knowing of the situation. This data collection doesn’t come in the way of surveys or  questionnaires, just straight-forward, blunt, peeping into the lives of the population. This calls into question dubious legal issues and the ever leering balance of morality that seems to always be in a state of suspicious motivation. (Though usually it’s a safe bet to go ahead and assume that the motive is usually money over anything else) The most concerning aspect of this sort of manipulation of the law, is the Orwellian way in which a government power could abuse these tactics of intrusion.

When discussing this topic in the Intro to Mass Communications class, I was really kind of appalled by how much of a wash the topic was. It seemed as though either very few cared, or the majority of my peers were just ambivalent and accepting of this development. I recall, in fact, that one of my fellow students actually agreed to the notion that we as citizens are not to feel secure in their own digital lives, inferring that privacy in the modern age is something more akin to a privilege than a right. And though it is technically true to that there is no constitutional backing to internet protection. I would assume that is because the INTERNET DID NOT EXIST WHEN THE CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN. I honestly feel that some people have begun to just give up when it comes to corporate takeover. What can be done? Money is god, and the companies have all the money – using it to advance their own agendas in Congress (lobbying) to benefit only themselves. This is a train wreck waiting to happen. And though this is becoming to sound somewhat tangential to the argument concerning privacy in their lives, it really is a big part of it. Because clearly some sort of reform needs to made to protect the people’s interests, not those of the white men in suits.

The most ironic aspect of this happening is the fact that even in our textbook, (Media and Culture, pg. 557) is that there is a section concerning the journalistic code to uphold a person’s right to privacy, when addressing the media’s usage of “unauthorized tape recording, photographing, wiretapping…” This clearly shows a level of hypocrisy and a lack of understanding amongst people concerning what rights they do have. Te Electronics Communicatons Privacy Act of 1986 is also addressed, which clearly states how people should not be intruded on, even virtually, but thanks to he PATRIOT Act of 2001, the government gets to  decide with more malleability what that can translate to.

Scarier than a puppeted government, however, is the ramifications that the U.S. government can have if the whole debacle concerning Yahoo and its refusal to hand over the data of its users. The NRA as an institution is an utter joke. Basically serving the role of a second, more-disorganized, overwhelmed (due to the sheer amounts of data it collects) CIA, the NRA brings little to the table in terms of any sort of national security, and comes off more like a probing finger in a crowd of people. It’s there, and it’s annoying. And more rules need to be set in place to determine what is and isn’t okay to do on the internet. If I personally went through your computer files, sifting through all your history to serve my own mysterious purposes, you would consider me a hacker. Why are large corporations (yet again) and the government being let off the hook for otherwise illegal activities and not being held up to a higher standard.

Media Convergence ~ JMC Blog Post 2

Hey there guys, do you know what time it is? That’s right, break out the tinfoil hats and lock the doors, because it’s time to talk about mass media super conglomerates! Woo!

All jokes aside, one of the most disturbing qualities of the current state of the media, that is to say, nearly everything that we consume from a reputable source, especially those on television, all derive from the same six outlets. Although jumping to the conclusion that some Illuminati-type secret society is controlling everything, a statistic that shows 90% control is disturbing, nonetheless. And it’s not so much just the fact that so much is under control of so few, but rather, the ramifications that this can have on society.

Time Warner, News Corp, Disney, Comcast, Viacom, and CBS are the current “big six,” and represent the epitome of monopoly deregulation and mergers galore. Because when a company based on a cartoon mouse has managed to amass control akin to the largest news outlets in America, something’s definitely awry. ESPN, ABC, Marvel, Lucas Arts, etc. are all in the back pocket of the Disney corporation. Billions and billions of dollars go into these companies, and in more ways than one might initially think. Though most might recognize the names and be able to match them to various television and film companies, these six conglomerates also have pathways of information through the music industry, radio, newspapers, magazines, various book publishing houses, tons of websites, and an innumerable amount of IPs(intellectual properties). Whom these belong to is often not clear to the consumer, as the respective owners of any of these various niches often will only be found in the fine print somewhere, or just not directly mentioned at all. These discrete, hush-hush manner of ownership is not only dubious in nature, but keeps the readers, listeners, and viewers of their respective content deceived. As of right now, the fact that there’s X channels, but so many of them controlled by a select few, veils the audience with an illusory sense of choice. The public ought to be made fully aware of who the real speakers are.

According to businessinsider.com, there were 50 separate companies circa 1983 in control of the 90% which is now only stemming from a number that requires less digits than your hands even have on offer. The likelihood that this will ever go back to the way things were is doubtful. Under wraps, we’ve literally allowed monopolies to form in a country where they were made illegal in the early 20th century. Not even 100 years could go by before our laws were made jokes of. But oh, how wonderful the smell of money is to those with power. Unfortunately, now we all have to just hope that there really isn’t some select few peoples brainwashing us through the subliminal messages, because boy, did we make it easy for them to do so.

[note: i do not actually believe in secret societies.]

Diversity in the media ~ JMC blog post 1

Julian Reschman
Considering that now more than ever in modern society, we are in need of quick, reliable information from the internet, as well as from other “traditional” media, it’s a wonder why the majority of it tends to come from the same people who have been doing the job the entire time the job was around. There is a sort of familiarity problem in most areas of the media that could be attributed to the way in which the USA takes an uncomfortably long time to come around with changes to the status-quo. Watch any news program, and you’re going to see something in common amongst all the well-known anchors and reporters from CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc.: They’re all white.

This is one of those things that easily goes unnoticed for the most part. Most people, myself included, don’t even see anything out of place until it has been pointed out to them, and they go about scratching their heads searching for that one token, colored person they saw on the news that one time, maybe. It’s just not something that is given too much thought due to the way it has just been established that on TV news channels, that the person speaking into the camera is not going to have a darker complexion. (Al Roker does not count, because Matt Lauer would never be caught dead standing in a Louisiana rain storm, telling us about the incoming sharknado about to hit.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61D1bZfkau4 ) In fact, seeing that an African American was at the news desk telling us about the recent ISIS attacks (and the new shocking celebrity scandal, of course, but that’s a topic for a different occasion) would lead to one thought: “Huh, there’s a black guy telling the news stories? Don’t see that every day.” It would be immediately disorienting and would almost surely lead to the viewers trying to pay attention to how well he was doing his job, as opposed to the actual news stories. And that would be the sort of reaction just if it was on a relatively bipartisan news outlet like CNN. (If it were on FOX, people of both parties would also add in “WHY??” to that thought process.)

Speaking personally now, as a person of Hispanic heritage, this does send off a couple of alarm bells in the back of my head. However, they are rather faint. The mega media conglomerates and their news programs are surely going to use the least common denominator as their talking heads. It’s like I said, something that we’ve just come to get used to in our culture. Is it somewhat wrong? Yeah. Is it the worst thing ever? Not necessarily. A family friend (also a Latino) has actually been successful with his journalistic pursuits. It’s not as though journalism is some sort of exclusive clique of people, but demographically, it just seems that the population that most wants to get a job writing for a living is going to be white, generally. And considering I plan to work as a videogame journalist, a field where professional jobs are dominated by white males, I feel my voice could stand out in the crowd. So I’m not too worried, especially since people of every color and creed have flocked to the internet for what they’re looking for. I could ramble on more, but overall, if I had to say if the media was passing or failing, I’d give it a C+, for being harmlessly dumb.