Applied media analysis 2

I would like to use this time  to make a post that produces an argument about how the film industry repeatedly promotes the same views over and over again through it’s films. While I will be discussing Hollywood in this scenario, mainstream films produced through the film industry, I also want to reflect on the ‘new media’ independent film industry’s role in promoting the same story-lines, and how even though indie films can have similar plots, they also present it in a different or more original way. From what we’ve discussed in class, I believe that Sloan’s article on variations of a story can best represent the underlying theme that I’m discussing.

Specifically, I will be reflecting on the idea of how one is supposed to fall in love, or how a loving relationship between two people is supposed to be, according to films. There are many popular mainstream Hollywood films as well as a couple independent films which all contribute to the exact same unrealistic or idealistic beliefs of love/attraction/affection. Each film involves something of this nature that contains underlying lessons to viewers (if you do this, then this happens etc.), of which have been promoted throughout more than one films.

Hollywood is creating a stigma: specifically of how people expect ‘falling in love’ to happen in a certain way, and sometimes how ridiculous the process is. I believe the independent film, Swiss Army Man has a different definition, yet similar enough to provide a compare and contrast. The film is about Hank, who is hopelessly stranded on a deserted island, finding Manny, a talking corpse who asks questions about life and possesses conveniently life-saving flatulence, and their adventure together in the wilderness on their way back to the mainland. The indie film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2016, shortly after of which the indie-film production company A24 bought the rights to the film and released it to the public in the summer. The budget for the film was $3 million and earned around $5 million in the box office; compared to Hollywood films this is a very low budget which is one of the trademarks of the usual ‘indie’ film.

According to Hollywood, through romantic comedies more or less, there are specific ways to find love. In this article by Roxanna Coldiron, these ways can be broken into 4 lessons; Lesson 1: “If you really, really love someone, you should stalk them until they love you back.” Not only does this not work in reality, if someone actually did this they would most likely be arrested. There is such a thing as ‘cyber-stalking’ nowadays, it’s even recommended before actually meeting a blind-date so you can actually know something about the complete stranger before meeting them, which is made accessible to us due to the rise of technology and social media. While ‘Facebooking’ (looking up people’s profiles on the social media app Facebook) someone is at least a little bit approved by society, using GPS to find someone and stalk them until they love you is not. This exact thing can be seen in the movie The Sweetest Thing, which came out in 2002 with a budget of $43 million, earning about $69 million in the box office (The reason I’m including budget and box office numbers is in order to show the difference in all of the big budgeted Hollywood films compared to indie). Lesson 2: “Men and women cannot just be friends.” In basically every mainstream Hollywood film where a man and a woman are friends, they more often than not end up together at some point in the film. “It implies that being just friends with a someone of the opposite sex requires a future romantic response if the other person earns your favor, which starts getting into the territory of sexual entitlement and creates another set of problems. No one is ever owed sex or love” (Coldiron). Movies like When Harry Met Sally (1989, budget $16 million, box office $92.8 million), He’s Just Not That Into You (2008, budget $40 million, box office $181.1 million), Post Grad (2009, budget $15 million, box office $6 million) or Friends With Benefits (2011, budget $35 million, box office $149.5 million) all question whether or not men and women can be friends, or be friends who just have sex, and not fall in love; none of these keep the friendship and they all end up in relationships. Lesson 3: “You must constantly test someone’s love to prove it is true.” This lesson exhibited in films like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003, budget $50 million, box office $177.4 million) and Think Like a Man (2012, budget $12 million, box office $96.1 million), completely disregards the element of trust in a relationship, and almost always backfires in the films. It promotes dishonesty, and an expectation that whether or not your significant other will do something for you will prove “if they really love you”. Lesson 4: “You either need a fabulous facade to reel him in or to get a complete makeover before he can fall in love with you.” This is the ultimate plot in many RomCom films where the ‘dorky’ girl gets a makeover and becomes the ‘beautiful mysterious girl” which causes the male lead to realize he’s head over heels for her. In the movies there are two ways a girl can do this: by changing her looks to accommodate the male lead’s expectations of ‘the ideal woman’ she either shows her best self or she pretends to be someone she is not. This is exhibited in a range of films such as Maid In Manhattan (2002, budget $55 million, box office $154.9 million), She’s All That (1999, budget $10 million, box office $103 million), Pretty Woman (1990, budget $14 million, box office $463.4 million), Mean Girls (2004, budget $17 million, box office $129 million), Clueless (1995, budget $12 million, box office $56.6. million), and hell even the story of Cinderella has a makeover that wins a prince! Our culture already idealizes women, providing a list of expectations that women are supposed to somehow meet. It’s unrealistic and ridiculous.

Something that indie films have done well is approach the ideal (how love works) that Hollywood has set up and adapt it in a very different way. Something that Sloan talks about is how there can be variations of things, some more fiction than others, such as particular stories. I believe with this philosophy in mind that Hollywood is not very subtle with the recycling of the 4 lessons, while with indie they maybe recycle the plot (of how love works) but present it in ways that do not correlate with the 4 lessons previously discussed. Although a film is a film, and so there is bound to be similarities in plots, indie or Hollywood, but there is differences in these films as well. For example independent films are known for their quirky explanations of a particular story, of which is brilliantly seen throughout the film Swiss Army Man. Similarities to this film and Hollywood ones are certain filming techniques used, such as Montage. During a montage in Hollywood RomComs it’s usually to show a quick pace timeline of the two characters spending time together falling in love, however in Swiss Army Man it’s used to show how the two male characters depend on each other for survival, and is laced with background music of which they are singing about the montage, subtly and comedically nudging at the fact that it is a montage the viewer is indeed watching. Also in the film, a contributing theme is love, and in a few particular scenes one character provides to the other a definition of what love is and how it usually works between two people. In the video provided in the link above, the idea of love is demonstrated accurately through what is normally identified as what indie films usually do, which is change the stigma that Hollywood tries to set up. While still romanticized, the characters provide a more realistic process of ‘falling in love’, essentially once compared to Hollywood’s 4 lessons, of which this definition does not apply.

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1)

Kevin Kelly “1,000 True Fans”

Are the ways of gaining “1,000 true fans” skewed? I mean, some people are just in the right place at the right time and they could get 2,000+ followers on social media. And even then those specific followers could be just following for absolutely no reason, other than they think the person they’re following is cute or famous from their 5 minutes. Are these people even considered “true” fans?
What really bothers me about this particular situation is that it’s so unfair to artists out there who are actually trying to get people’s attention and make a name for themselves, or create their own fanbase.

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“Netflix’s “Black Mirror” reflects reality – sometimes without changing a thing”, Tim Molloy

Something made fairly evident throughout every episode in this show is how new media technologies are making it easier to engage with other people, and how much easier it is to manipulate one’s agency through that technology. Even though all of these are set in a fiction world, they’re each carefully laced with the underlying truth: that we are headed this way. For example in “Nosedive”, everyone ranks each other on their devices based on their interactions. These rankings depend on social status, and whether or not their social status is high or low consequently decides on whether or not they can purchase a house, or get in to the building where they are employed. While exaggerated in the show, the effect that social media has on people and their actions that take place in the world is dead on. If technology keeps progressing, like it has since inventions begun, will our world turn into something like what we see on this show?

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Lessons Learned

I thought my project allowed me to study new media technology pretty well, considering it was about a new media form developing from an older one (Film vs Digital: A History of the Camera). Jaime Weinman’s piece on film becoming a dying medium, and that day in class that we briefly talked about film itself, made it evident to me that I wanted to do at least something related to cameras. I honestly do think my project could provide some relatively elementary understanding to people who have very little knowledge about cameras, specifically the differences between film and digital. I definitely noticed during my showcase of my project, some heads of my classmates nodding during the timeline history of the camera (specifically when I told them the first camera -Camera Obscura- was merely a box using natural light). I thought that was rather assuring, and felt like I’d at least taught a few people something new for the day. I suppose if this project had to be limiting for a student of new media, it would be that it’s mostly discussing just two of the basic types of photography, when nowadays there’s many more types (such as cellphones, GoPro, handheld video cameras, drones, etc.).

I guess, in my experience of implementing my project, it’s helped me understand how new media can influence professional photographer’s lives, especially the older ones. The photographers who have been around when film was the medium to use, have been influenced the most by the newer digital cameras in the way that people probably always ask them why they still use film, at a time when digital is considered better by a lot of people. Even during my showcase, one of the questions I was asked was which do I prefer, digital or film? And I honestly can’t answer that, it’s such  difficult question and effectively depends on what I’m shooting that day or whether I feel like shooting with either film or digital that day.

A couple of the course readings that illuminated my understanding of my project experience could include Weinman as well as Jenkins’ piece on memes: “If it Doesn’t Spread, it’s Dead”, due to the conversation about something doesn’t become popular it slowly fades away into oblivion. This is something that spiked my interest in the way that film is considered this way by some, however not so much because it’s still being used to the day.

From my experience with this project, it suggests that there will continue to be ‘newer’ and ‘better’ camera-types being introduced in the future of new media. There might even be a camera-type that has not been invented yet. I do believe that any new cameras will look at the past camera for inspiration though, just as digital looked at film.

 

11/17/16

“This is our present political social life: We don’t just create political strife for ourselves; we seem to revel in it” (Sanders). I am one of the fortunate people (compared to most of my surrounding peers who are younger than me) who was able to vote for the last election in 2012. While Facebook was around at the time, I do not remember nearly as much media outreach and coverage completely taking over my Facebook ‘wall’ for weeks like this election in 2016 has. One thing in particular that I’ve seen over and over again on my Facebook is exactly what Sanders detailed as “Just about all of your friends are posting about the election, nonstop. And there are a few who brag about deleting friends, or who urge friends to unfriend them over their political leanings: “Just unfriend me now.””

Politics has never been such a popular subject to talk about in my life until this year. I’m honestly afraid to, just in case it brings the end of friendships just like Sanders says has been happening. It’s ridiculous and yet not ridiculous at all. When we support a candidate, it is thought that we are personally identifying with them, which is not always the case. We could support a candidate and not completely agree with some of the things they say, or even because we simply hate what the other candidate says, has done, or represents. We could support a candidate because they are our political party’s representative or actually believe without a doubt that they are the best possible choice to become our president. Even with all of this said however, I still believe that by voting for a certain candidate, considering the things they say to the public through the media however hateful or not, you are essentially agreeing to putting that person in a position of power and thereby choosing to have that person representing the country to the rest of the world.

It seems impossible to ignore the posts, tweets, videos, blogs, etc. about the recent election, “almost forcing us to wallow in the divisive waters of our online conversation” (Sanders). I think it is because of this constant posting about the election, and thus the endless media coverage about it, that is making it impossible to avoid creating an opinion about it, as well as discussing it in everyday face-to-face conversation.

“Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?” by Sam Sanders

 

 

11/17/16 Daily

“Both the technology itself, and the way we choose to use the technology, makes it so that what ought to be a conversation is just a set of Post-it notes that are scattered,” Kerric Harvey, author of the Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, said of Twitter. “Not even on the refrigerator door, but on the ground.”

“She argues that what we do on Twitter around politics isn’t a conversation at all; it’s a loud mess. So, if Twitter is a bunch of Post-it notes thrown on the ground, we now have to consider which of those notes are even real.”  (Sanders)

I disagree that this is the real question. If Twitter is a mess of statements no longer than 140-characters, the question is why do the brief statements affect people as much as it does? Referring of course to the examples centered around the short but catty Twitter feud between Hillary Clinton and Jeff Bush, as well as the fact that Trump was not allowed to use his own Twitter account after a number of embarrassing and petty responsive tweets. Why does a certain arrangement of a select amount of words even prove to be worth producing a reaction to these important people? Especially when compared to full articles written with the specific objective to provoke a reaction from the candidates to arise, or at least to introduce a talking point to develop into a conversation they think is worth to have.

Sanders mentions in his piece how Twitter is user-friendly and mostly used because it gives everyone a ‘voice’. However once each individual has their own voice, they usually side with others who express a similar opinion through their ‘voice’. Sanders brings up the topic of how social media has been more of a platform in this election than any other election, and therefore has been an important outlet for campaigning for the candidates. After consideration, it’s interesting to think about this being the cause behind the candidates’ reactions over Twitter, however Sanders could have gone into further depth about the theory.

“Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?” by Sam Sanders

11/15/16

The third of the four stages of ‘our conception of public, “Public opinion” is something I find very interesting these days. Especially since it “first appeared as a political force”. I’m one of the people who is beginning to become tired of hearing about this 2016 presidential election, however I am also one of the people who cannot seem to stop listening to people talk about it. Seriously, I actually go out of my way just to watch videos and keep updated with what our presidents’ current events are like, as well as the things our president-elect is saying on camera. I cannot look away. I also cannot believe that the public was responsible for electing him (or really the electoral college). Something Jarvis points out however is the power of public opinion, and I suppose public opinion made their decision (not taking into account all of the recent riots that have been taking place in cities across the nation). Another thing he points out, or really Jürgen Habermas does, is the belief that “a brief, golden age of rational, critical debate in society- was soon corrupted by mass media”, which is supremely evident through the media coverage of this debate and thus this election. The media covered what was “a hot-topic”, which was mostly comprised of foolish things Donald Trump said or Hilary Clinton’s email account. Not enough media coverage was spent on the topics or the candidates’ plans they would cultivate once in office.

After reading this, I realize how much I refer to the public, while meaning people. It’s surprisingly unfair to do so, considering the fact that “public opinion” does most certainly not include every last person in the country. So how did it get to this? Jarvis suggests that “the real corruption of the ideal of the public was to throw us all into a single public sphere, a mass”. While it’s a little ‘conspiracy theory’ it could very well be the ultimate truth. Even though each individual is supposedly unique, our ideals and everyday habits are most definitely something we choose from an assortment of choices given to us by society (and by society what I mean is through our family, peers, and media intake- whatever that may be). Some examples of this could include: Since birth we are immediately determined one or the other gender, or how Television commercials promote multiple types of dish soaps each one claiming that theirs is better than the other one. Thus we determine, according to public opinion, that the blue dish soap with the creative colorful box is the one for you. “To this day, the assumption that we are one public – which is the basis of mass production, mass distribution, mass marketing, and mass media – has enabled government, companies, and media to avoid dealing with us as distinct individuals and groups and instead to see us as faceless poll numbers and anonymous demographics.” Not to mention, incoming money.

“The Progression of the Public”, by Jeff Jarvis

11/15/16 Daily

In “The Progression of the Public” by Jeff Jarvis, he attempts to explain how everyone nowadays has a voice through the Internet, and while he’s not wrong, he starts to contradict himself, in my opinion. What I thought I was reading was that each individual has his or her own identity and nothing can replicate that.

He defends this by at first claiming everyone has the tools and the power to “create and join publics, establishing our own identities and societies.” He then states later on that “we find the publics we wish to join based merely on gross labels, generalizations, and borders drawn about us – but instead on our ideas, interests, and needs; cancer survivors, libertarians, Deadheads, vegetarians, single moms, geeks, even privacy advocates.”

While I believe the author means, is that even if each individual is unique, they can still share certain hobbies, ideals, or even diseases with others, thus making them a community. However, aren’t these “ideas, interests, and needs” still just generalizations and labels? Some are demeaning and some are factual but even so, if one is trying to avoid ‘joining a public based merely on gross labels’, I do not believe this article does a very good job about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11/10/16 Daily

The first thing I thought about while reading Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” was something that happened on live Television during the 2016 election process Tuesday night, around 12:30 am. It was on the ABC network where they were holding a place in the middle of the Time Square, New York City, talking to people in the crowd about their duration of their stay in the Square. The interviewer asked a younger man how long he’d stayed there which the man replied about 5 hours. Then she asked him more personal things regarding the election in which he replied again how he just wants peace and love etc. Then the interviewer said how that’s quite a statement and how he should be popular with the ladies, then asking what his username for social media was so he could find the girl of his dreams. He actually conceded and told his username for the social media app, Instagram, for the world of strangers to follow him. His number of Instagram followers increased by 2,000 in under 5 minutes.

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.”

Through this evidence, I can proclaim that it’s not always “true fans” that someone needs, but maybe just people who are willing to follow you for no reason at all. Are the ways for one to get 1,000 true fans skewed? This guy was just in the right time and the right place, said their name and had their 5 minutes of fame.

 

11/8/16

I believe music fandoms are considered very different from other fandoms. There are more ways for fandoms to be created other than just online (which I personally think is what we have been mainly focusing on in class) as well as how there certain stigmas associated with different fandoms that are set by the media , which essentially become automatically set in people’s minds. Thus it is understood, through media like Television shows (some fiction shows have their own stigmatized fandom like Big Bang Theory and how it represents ‘nerds’: obsessed with fictional characters, comic books, exhibit ‘weird or strange behavior’), that fandoms like for specific video games are non-social nerds, or fandoms surrounding a specific movie franchise that create a fanbase name, such as ‘twi-hards'(Twilight) or ‘potterheads'(Harry Potter).

However this can best be seen by comparing hardcore sports fans (who mostly consist of drunk men with their bodies painted yelling in a sports arena), something very much worth studying in order to “consider it a fandom we must try to fully understand it”, to fandoms such as Beatlemania (the epidemic across the United States in the 1960’s of crazed teenage girls lovestruck over an English band called The Beatles). There is a vast difference in the public acceptance rate over the behavior of either fandoms. In 1964 when The Beatles music group really began becoming popular in America, their fanbase was mostly comprised of teenage girls who were considered crazed, and obsessed with the band (which honestly was almost impossible not to be). Instead of studying this type of fandom and questioning what about the band made these young impressionable ‘fangirls’ so obsessed, the men of the world and the critics just wrote this off as girls ‘just being girls’, and as another new fad for the youngest generation to make a big deal about (Anderson). Little did they know this fandom would be one of the biggest in our history. Even with all this said, the girls were actually really completely lovestruck with the bands’ look, really identified with their sound, and utterly adored each member of the band’s easy going attitude. It was something for their generation to bond over, and with the creation of the Internet it became easier to bond with other generations over. “Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the earliest music fan communities on the Internet were mailing lists and Usenet discussion groups, many of which still operate” (Baym).

For sports fans it’s somehow deemed more acceptable to act in a ‘crazed’ behavior, with the media speaking about it and even encouraging it through the building of huge stadiums made specifically for cities, National leagues, schools, and even the olympics, televised through the Television network ESPN. Men are mostly the ones who celebrate each other painting their bodies in support of their team they’re rooting for to win, running across the field, doing idiotic things that are in no way (but should definitely be) deemed as ‘crazed’, instead of being deemed as ‘just being boys’ (Anderson). It might prove harder to study as well as you could online studies, but it’s similar in the way that “When a community is spread across multiple (online) spaces, it requires more time and effort for people to figure out what there is and to what extent in which spaces they will develop a community–specific identity” (Baym).

Suppose the media is still gender biased, that’s nothing new, and neither is the idea that fan bases get reborn. This article mentions how even though “each new incarnation of online fandom has emerged, previous forms have not disappeared”, which got me thinking, could this idea work when reversed? While ‘Beatlemania’ has definitely not disappeared, a similar effect has happened many times with different fandoms as a result, on example being ‘Beiber fever’ in teenaged girls (for the musician, Justin Beiber). It applies with the same rules, how “fan communities have distributed themselves more widely” and “individuals can become increasingly selective about which places they want to spend time”. It’s mainly the “online platforms and locales (that) have become increasingly specialized in the functions they serve for fans” (Baym); of which applies to fan communities that take part in enjoying performances, so sports arenas of which could also be used to hold special concerts for specific musicians and their fans. So, even with all of these similarities in different fandoms, followed by wide online presence, why is the ‘crazed fangirls’ still only the specific stigma against the music fandoms, and not just ‘fans’?

11/8/16 Daily

“It’s (the elements that help establish bloggers’ identity as readers) one reason I like using enigmatic titles rather than spelling everything out. It’s like, if you’re a Kottke.org reader who’s ready to read, then readAnd trust me that I’ll make it worth your while” (Carmody).

People nowadays don’t read every blog or article they see, instead they click the ones on their screens that have the catchiest title or says something in the title that spikes a specific interest. This is one of the things that Carmody touches on, but spins it in a positive way by explaining the title of her blog is catchy for the reason that it’s mysterious and enticing enough to provoke readers to click on it. He seems to explain that after the blog has grabbed the readers’ attention and the reader begins to actually read the article, it would be ‘worth it’. This makes me wonder about people who just skim the articles instead of reading in depth and fully understanding them, like Carmody encourages for them to do. Does this idea of catchy titles still apply to the ‘skimmers’? Is it the ‘structure’ of the blog that affects their ability to read it in depth and want to only skim it and not fully read it?