Archive for November, 2010

I have to get to work, “insert your own witty title here”

Today in lecture Strangelove mentioned the iron cage metaphor of society. How we are, or were at least, once trapped in an “iron cage” society. Meaning that in the 20th century we were locked up and controlled. Now however, some argue that the internet has unlocked, or will unlock, the cage and release us. I would argue against this notion though. I feel that we are still very much controlled by those above us, and the only thing the internet does is allow us to express our complaints about the system in Blogs just like this one.

For example students are completely controlled by the system. I feel electives are a complete waste of time, and they kill your GPA. I’ am a  communications major (and I chose a minor in English just for something to do) and in the four  years I am going to attend University I am required to complete a certain amount of elective courses. Electives are, in my mind a waste of time because they can be completely unrelated to your degree, and they effect your GPA. For example last year I took a music class and a politics class, which had absolutely nothing to do with communication, yet I was still forced to choose something, and most other courses were filled. I understand its good to have a basic education in as many fields as possible, but I feel that at a university level, expecting students to choose electives at random is a little too much, especially because a lot of the time all the good electives are the first to be filled.

If electives were not a mandatory part of most degrees it would take a lot less time to achieve said degrees. For example there’s only so many Communication courses offered at the university and to achieve an undergrad in Communications you are not even required to participate in all courses offered. You only need a certain percentage of the courses to receive a degree. Essentially I feel the university makes electives a requirement because they cost money. If students did not have to take elective courses they would not have to spend nearly as much money or time in school and obviously that would not be good for the annual budget of the University.

I look forward to the day when you sign into Rabaska and this image appears

I Just feel that students are being controlled by the Universities, and I’m sure there is someone controlling the Universities as well, it’s just how the system works. So I feel to think that th e cage has all of a sudden been unlocked because of the internet? I would really have to disagree. I’ mean sure you can put whatever you want up on the net for all to see, but you are still controlled somewhat by “the man”. For example YouTube and most other sites like it have regulations in place that forbid certain content. I’m sure even WordPress.com, the website I’m writing on right now would have a problem if I started writing certain inappropriate things. It is impossible to have your voice heard on the internet is what I’m saying. This is because there are billions of other voices, just like yours, saying similar things, and the only thing that makes your voice louder than the other billion is “the man”. If someone important, or even just someone with a bit of influence hears your voice, and likes it, that’s what will make you heard.

It helps if said voice is that of a twelve year old

The point is that unless you are saying something “the man” likes, and “the man” wants to sponsor and pay attention to, then your voice is no louder than any of the other 2 billion currently on the internet. Using Justin Bieber as an example, mostly because his picture is above, say he had not ever been seen on the internet and “the man” (in this case being Usher and the music industry) had not ever seen him before. I know what you’re thinking, the world would be a much better place right? Well, ya but that’s besides the point, the point is that he was seen and liked on the internet, among millions of other singing YouTube users, and taken from his normal childhood community and manipulated (or controlled) by “the man” into becoming a world wide celebrity. If anything I would say the internet is just making it easier for “the man” to control us, if you want to be seen, you have to be willing to sell your voice to “the man”, you have to let “the man” take control. Even Phillip DeFranco (in my mind one of the most interesting and successful vloggers in history) sold out a while ago. His show is still similar to the way it was before, but now he is sponsored (and he makes a fair amount of money I’m sure) and his show just is not the same as it was. There are references (some more subtle than others) in his “news show” about his sponsors and who  he is connected with. He has been taken by “the man”.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, "The Man"

I suppose I’ll end this with a video. I saw this on YouTube the other day and thought it was just fantastic, I feel “the man” should look into this talented individual and maybe turn him into a celebrity…

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“Look at me I’m expressing myself!” “No you’re being a tool…”

Today in class we discussed where the internet is going. Whether it is becoming a tool of infinite freedom that will perfect our Capitalist system, or if it will become a tool used to control the masses. Now I’m not any sort of expert on the subject, as a matter of fact I don’t even think I fully comprehend it, but I feel that the internet is always going to walk the thin line between the two sides.

I feel that the internet is comprised primarily of original content, public content, that is constantly being capitalized on. The way I see it is that the internet allows for people to create great pieces of expression (and crumby ones as well obviously), and that is the one side, but at the same it also allows the media to take these original pieces and make money off of them. A perfect example of this is the new Trivial Pursuit that incorporates YouTube and it’s “stars”. All of the people on YouTube became famous by creating original videos, videos that people were interested in in one way or another. Some videos are funny, some raise important issues, some showcase a talent such as singing, but the point is that they were all created by average (and I use the term loosely) people, using little to no budget. Half the time these videos are created out of sheer luck, for example the father of Charlie featured in “Charlie bit my Finger” claims it was just luck that he happened to be filming when his children did their thing. “Charlie Bit My Finger” is a prime example of a film that cost literally no money to make, and is fully original, and is being capitalized on by a corporation. Hasbro uses Charlie and countless other videos in their new Trivial Pursuit game, to entice people to buy the game, and in turn make themselves some money. They are capitalizing on an original creation posted and viewed for free on the internet.

Advertisers understand the power of original videos and the influence a “viral video” can have. Corporations use the internet just as much as the average member of society does. Doritos had an advertising campaign recently where they asked YouTubers and internet producers to do their bidding for them. They offered $250,000 to the person who could make an advertisement about their new chip, and have it go “viral”. The winner is here. The video is an example of a corporation walking the line between originality and control. Doritos gave people the opportunity to express themselves in any mode they saw fit, but they also said that in order for the video to be considered in their contest it had to go viral. By enforcing that the video has to go viral Doritos limits competitors creativity and sets up certain boundaries. Competitors now have to keep their audience (the internet) in mind, and therefore have to try and conform to showing the people what they want to see. They are being controlled by the masses, because of the corporation. Basically because the corporation is only interested in the amount of views, creativity takes a back seat, and producers are forced to conform to certain boundaries. So in some sense we are free, but in others there is clearly a boundary in which we cannot cross, at least in terms of this contest. Hopefully this makes sense, I’m finding it difficult to explain today, I am running on a severe lack of caffeine.

That is where I see the internet going, sort of a cross between being a mode of freedom and expression, and a  tool of surveillance and control. I like the Doritos idea of using people on the internet to advertise their product. Clearly someone was using their head when they thought that campaign idea up. I mean why spend hours on end, attempting to create something original, when you can sit back and let the internet and its civilians do it for you?

Because I have not sourced or cited any of this article I should probably do that now. So the trivial pursuit game I saw an advertisement for on CNN while I was at the gym, hopefully thats a valid source, I swear it happened. The Doritos thing is sourced above just click the home page and go to the contest details, you end up here. Charlie Bit My Finger is all over the internet so if you can’t find it I feel you have bigger problems than my sourcing. And finally because I like having pictures in my Blog and because I find pictures for some reason attracts more readers. Seriously there seems to be a correlation between the amount of pictures and videos used in my Blogs and the number of “views” I get.

I'm a narcissist what can I say

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful… And Since We’ve No Place To Go, Why Not Hit The Mall?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed that the Empire of Mind text book is a bit more difficult to read compared to the Watching YouTube text. So if my blogs start making even less sense than before, this is the cause.

Strangelove talked about how Christmas is coming soon, and about how our economy rests on the celebration of Christmas and the major consumerism it brings. StatsCan reported that in 2003 5.2 billion dollars was made by department stores in the holiday season in Canada alone. A total of 27.6 billion dollars in retail was spent in Canada at Christmas time. This leads me to wonder if our economy is as strong as we claim it to be? When our livelihood is balanced on the hope that our citizens will max out their credit cards once a year, for an apparently religious celebration.

If the Grinch decided to steal Christmas this year, would we survive until next year? I mean the morale of that story is that Christmas is not just about the consumerism, and that despite the Grinch stealing everything the Who’s of Whoville still enjoy Christmas together.

We'll see how happy you are this time next year...

Whereas in reality the Canadian (or Whovillian) economy would completely shut down if something like this were to happen. Assuming the Grinch stole everything before they had a chance to pay for it that is. The point here is that I find it a little worrisome to think that we have no choice but to go into debt in order to keep our economy alive and well.

I also worry a bit about how this came to be? How did we become a society that Capitalizes on the death of “our Saviour”. I’m not debating the existence of Christ or not, and I understand that Christians are not the only ones consuming during the holidays, so let’s just get that out of the way early here.

But for example with Remembrance Day coming up on Thursday there is a debate over whether or not we should make it a holiday. In the Ottawa Citizen this weekend they had a quote from a veteran who attends the services downtown every year. He claimed that as of right now Remembrance Day, especially when it falls on a weekday (such as Thursday this year), is just a day for government employees to take the day off and get started on their Christmas shopping. It’s a little ridiculous to think that the veterans of WWI and WWII and all those who fight even today, gave/give up their lives, so that on the one day we honour them, we can shop for Christmas gifts. That’s in my opinion a little wrong.

There are debates on making Remembrance Day a national holiday. But I feel, and many like me, feel that if we are going to make Remembrance Day a holiday, that would mean shutting down EVERYTHING! If we take away the temptation to shop, and make Remembrance Day be about remembrance then I feel we as a society would be in a better place, and the vterans of our nation would get the full recognition they deserve.

So obviously I’ve gone off topic a little bit here, but I was just trying to show how consumerism, especially in terms of Christmas, literally makes people ridiculous. And I understand that apparently we need this consumerism to survive, and I am even sort of OK with that. But I feel we should put in a buffer zone, only eleven days, a transition period even. A period of eleven days where no Christmas decorations go up, no annoying holiday commercials, Christmas music ect. None of that until November the 12th, we should keep 12 days where we decorate with poppies and we continually remind ourselves that the only reason we have the ability to participate in Capitalism and consumerism is because millions of men and women suffered.

Thats is I suppose. That is my rant, that started as something that really related to the course (consumerism at Christmas time) and turned into an opinionated rant that has very little to do with new media or the course in general. But like I said this is getting harder to do, and as this blog advertises, this is new media according to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Anyways thanks for reading.

Bell bottom blues, you made me cry.

Does the consumer control the corporation? Or does the corporation control the consumer? It is an unanswerable question.

On the one hand we have the idea that corporations would cease to exist without the consumer, so some argue that corporations exist to make us happy, and that if we’re not happy then the corporations are not doing their jobs and they therefore are eliminated.

On the other hand however we have the idea that the big companies brainwash us into thinking we need the products they sell. The marketing teams at these big corporations are said to use propaganda, or “newspeak” as they refer to it, to convince us that we want to consume or be associated with their products.

I have to say that generally I agree with both arguments. I mean obviously if people suddenly stop buying a product, the company making said product either has to adapt and make a more satisfying product, something people will begin buying again, or they will be forced to go out of business.

remember these things?

However, if there is one real proof that marketing works, and that it is the consumer who is controlled by the corporation, I would say that it has to lie in fads. Fads are those things that everyone buys, yet no one really can justify why they bought them. Ever since capitalism emerged in Western society fads have come and gone. They are all founded in media blitzes and the influence marketing can have over people.

this pretty much sums it all up

If we control the media, how is it that we have huge groups of people that all dress and look the same way? For example the word “emo” to the majority of our society, brings forth an image of a skinny kid with tight clothes, a pale face, and long straight bangs.

type "emo" into Google images.. My point exactly

Marketing has a lot to do with the way we define ourselves. We have fads, such as “being emo”, through the marketing of certain products. Another prime example is the recent “guido” fixation. This Halloween “Snooki” was one of the most popular costumes for females. MTV has marketed “Jersey Shore” to the point that a large group of people (not just Italians, but literally everyone) desires to be tanned, jacked and wear certain styles of clothing. Ed Hardy and Christian Audiger and many other similar styles of clothes are being marketed as “guido-esq”, meaning if you’re a fan of the show, and you want to be like those on the show, you should wear these brands and styles. It’s celebrity influence in it’s  most basic form. MTV made these young people famous, and in turn they make their style and fashions famous. They are a fad, like fads of previous generations, created by Capitalism and it’s ability to market just about anything.

"the Situation" and "Pauly D" forty years ago... Look at that beautiful mustache

I would argue then that, because fads exist, it is the consumer who is controlled by the corporation. Obviously this is something that could easily be argued, which is why I mentioned above that it really is an unanswerable question. I mean  for example, in class there was a student who brought up the example of how she is in a few marketing classes and in them they tend to work and study as though they are attempting to make the consumer happy. As if the consumer controls what they do. Which would certainly oppose my argument. But, for now that is how I feel.

And that I suppose is the end of the Blog for today. I don’t think there are enough people who actually read this thing to actually justify me posing a question, but who knows, maybe someone will. So if you’re reading this, yes I’m talking to you, leave a comment about what your personal favourite fad is/was in the past. I would be really interested to hear about it. I have to say one of mine must be the classic 90’s hair cut, you know the one with the long bangs that part perfectly in the middle? It’s just so ridiculous.

you know the one

I am a strong believer in giving credit where credit is due. Therefore, although I did not directly use anything from this website, it certainly helped a lot. so if you’re looking for a cool place to check out some of the things the people in the past have obsessed with check this out.