Virtually Obsessed

BCM310, Uncategorized

The self, one’s own persona and identity of who we are in the world, portraying an image of how we want to be perceived in society. This however, has become increasing different in recent years due to the rise of social media. Social media, is the network of online communicate we have with the online world and simply we just know them as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and well the list goes on. The actual self (flesh and blood) must now co-exist with its virtual self. The virtual self can be described as ‘digital’ representation of our ‘analogue’ selves in a digital environment i.e. internet. Our virtual self or online self is a carefully crafted and thought out representation of the person we believe to be or who we want other to believe we are.selfie-collage-transparent

We construct our virtual selves with well thought out captions and perfectly edited photos depicting a life that we lead, often that isn’t 100% real. The questions and concerns that arise here are largely based on is our virtual self our true self? Is our virtual self a form of branding ourselves or a form of narcissism? Are we just totally obsessed with ourselves?

One key feature of online presence in a social media world is the selfie. Haven’t we all been guilty of taking a selfie or participating in some form of group selfie? The first selfie originated in 1839 by Robert Cornelius as a self-portrait in early photography experimentation and now in 2017 has become a staple of one’s online profile, with approximately 93 million selfies uploaded each day. Selfies can be taken at any time and moment, in front of landmarks, at social events and even from events such as funerals all the way to tragedies. A recent example of this taking place was from the Westminster Bridge terror attack in London that saw a man taking a selfie at the scene. The online reaction from this was not at all positive being labelled ‘disgusting idiot’ to ‘worst human ever’. The reaction to this man’s selfie emphasises the blurred lines that is our actual self and our virtual self. He was not the only spectator at the Westminster scene to see the tragedy and the extensive media coverage there to witness also, it is not till he takes the action of self-documenting himself at this location where it seems a moral panic has unleashed.

The ‘Moral Panic’ theory from Stanley Cohen, is the perceived public fear of something that threatens societies morals. In this case society had unapproved of this action. So how does taking this selfie at this scene really differ from just being at the scene?

The selfie being a form of expression and allowing us to self document our lives has also been a way to brand and market ourselves. Apart from our actual selves with limited range of audience our virtual selves allow us to be our own brand. The example of this would be Kylie Jenner. Kylie has embraced the selfie more than any other celebrity and turned herself into one of the most followed and wealthiest celebrities on Instagram. In 2016, she earned more than $18 million, 20% of which came from Instagram endorsements, only increasing the popular rise of the micro-celebrity, though not always being paid financially but rather being paid with amounts of followers, shares and ‘likes’.31766bfe00000578-3460388-image-m-13_1456243328960

There are endless possibilities that our virtual self can benefit our actual self. We use our virtual identities to document our lives and a form of self branding and promotion. The selfie phenomenon has helped launch this, however has also stirred up a ‘moral panic’ in which we are becoming somewhat obsessed and seeking validation from others. The selfie however is a form of expression and does it really do any harm? It looks as though it’s here to stay and continue to be a tool to further construct our online selves.

 

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Where do you watch?

BCM210

With the research task starting to get under way, I was seeking an idea or something of interest to pursue researching. Having many ideas, I wanted something that was achievable in my sort amount of time in BCM210 and something I would enjoy but didn’t know what to go with. I being a media student and avid television fan was struck with an idea while shopping with my friend. We were at JB HiFi and ended up browsing in the DVD section and she bought two movies. This made me start thinking, when was the last time I actually purchased a DVD to watch myself?, at least 3 years or so I gathered. I wondered why that was the case. I used to buy DVDs all the time and for some unconscious reason I stopped and nowadays cannot usually justify spending my money on one.

I began to pick my friends brain on how she usually watches her media content. She explained she still continues to buy DVD’s regularly and usually watched them on a portable DVD player when in bed and often on daily train commutes.  I asked how she watches her favourite TV shows, she said she regularly watches free to air television and still enjoys when movies are on there. This surprised me again also, as when I think back to watching the movies on the TV, I think back to my childhood Saturday nights when classics like Jurassic Park and Jumanji were regularly played on channel ten.

I thought about my own viewing outlets also. I realised in recent years that internet downloading and streaming from services like Netflix were my main sources of media content. We both agreed that going to the movies was part of a social experience; though not much socialising actually occurs but if we felt the film was worthy we would go for the cinema experience.

Since my friend is a full-time work not a student, I will not be using her in my actual research. I will focus on university students. Since they have a busy study load and often not a lot of money I am keen to find out not what they are watching, rather HOW they choose to watch their favourite content.

My research question: What are the popular media platforms that university students use to view their content (movies & television)?

 

My research will consist of different methodologies. Starting with primary research I plan either go with a set of semi structured questions in either survey or questionnaire format to a set of fellow university students. This will give me a first-hand insight as to where students are getting their content from and why?

Financial reasons? They can’t possibly afford to pay for every single piece of content they watch?

Time saving reasons? There is so much content to be consumed these days, how can they watch as much as possible?

I will continue with secondary research, which will provide more quantitative data. I’ll research articles and data that will give me information on media platforms, especially the streaming services (Netflix/Stan/Presto) which have become extremely popular in Australia within the last year.  I want to research what ways students are viewing these streaming services, whether it is on their smart TV, laptop and or tablet/smartphone.

Screen Australia has statistics on Australian movie goer’s habits, which show that trips to the cinemas have been in steadily decline since the early 90’s with an average of 6.8 times per person a year. This is fairly accurate of my own cinema visits recently.

So as I begin my research journey I hope to achieve my outcome of understanding how university students choose where they watch their media content and the reasons why. The use of qualitative data from primary research and quantitative data from secondary research will allow me to achieve this.

 

Digital Story Reflection

BCM240

The Digital story project seemed to kick start straight away.  We all had submitted our first major project, ,that truly was a creative challenge, for us as writers, finding our creative and engaging voice on media, audience and place related matters. Hence the subject name, with a few days off to relax and recharge, I was back at uni ready to kick off the final 4 weeks of session and for the year. The tutorial after the break got us all thinking about our plans and concept for our next major project, the digital story. I was truly puzzled by the thought of a digital story. As in I didn’t really understand the layout or what I was expected to do. I began thinking of an essay or report style piece. During that tutorial we all had brainstorms of possible ideas for our stories. I had many ideas processing through my head at that time. The tutorial concluded, though my thoughts for that week didn’t stop there. It was the next night, Wednesday and I’m sitting down watching TV. The ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ was on. I enjoy that show so I continued to watch that and in between commercial breaks I flicked over to other channels. Its then, when I notice the amount of reality TV shows we have at the moment, the bachelorette was on channel 10 with previews for many other programs. I begin thinking that I would like to investigate that.  I played around with some ideas over the next few days, and trying to understand what love affair audiences have with the reality TV shows they watch. I was beginning to get set on the project until I was on Facebook one afternoon. I was just on scrolling on the newsfeed as most of us do, catching up on what I had missed for the day, which in Facebook world can be a lot. I follow the page “Wollongong Crap Parkers” and come across a few new posts on the page by people who have caught on camera, local people’s terrible parking attempts. The whole idea of ‘Naming and Shaming’ people on a social network for socially taboo crimes fascinated me. What are these people’s intentions of doing this? This was a new concept that I really was starting to consider. When the next tutorial rolls around, we learn that a major feature of our digital story is ethnography research. When I begin to think of ethnography, I decided to take a chance and a challenge and do the naming and shaming story. As this project focused on ethnography and had loose guidelines I found myself rather stuck on how to begin research. I knew the types of questions I wanted to ask however I didn’t know who to ask. After having a chat to Susan in the tutorial, she helped me decide that I’d need to contact some of the ‘Namers and Shamers’ over Facebook in a private messenger. I found a post on the page by a guy named Vinh who asked to be Anonymous for my research, which I didn’t mind, though found odd as he sounded proud of his public service of justice. His post was a car in the Warrawong Westfield car park. I immediately liked this, as I work in that centre and could imagine that someone would park terribly like that. He was quite friendly and easy to talk to. I introduced myself in the message and clearly stated that the research was just for a university assignment. I didn’t want him to be worried or concerned. The second person I interviewed was Corey, again he was easy going and didn’t mind an interview, his responses were very similar to Vinh’s aka Anonymous so I didn’t feel the need to duplicate them onto my story. I chose his post as he was the only one to cover up the license plates. I found this quite respectful as it is what I would do when publically shaming them. Both the guys didn’t know of what rules there were about photographing peoples license plates, which I found amusing as I believe most of those shamers wouldn’t have, so I needed to research and confirm that once and for all. My ethnography and secondary research underway, I was at the point to decide on my platform to present my story. I was hoping to figure out Prezi and give that a try, I have wanted to try a Prezi presentation for a while now but this time I just couldn’t commit to trying to learn it as I go. I decide a blog post was too simple, so I go to my familiar presentation software, Powerpoint. I like the structure and outcome of a PowerPoint it comes across quite professional. In the end, I am happy with how I undertook this research, as intimidating as it was, reaching out to strangers, their co-operation made it a fun and informative task constructing my digital story.

The Reflection

BCM240

As I began this course I was unsure of what exactly I was getting myself into, “Media, Audience & Place?” I thought. I couldn’t exactly get my head around what this course would be about specifically. As Week 1 rolled around, I found myself, enjoying Kate’s lecture and idea of the role of the audience and being a writer in a public space. Using the WordPress program was a familiar process, especially as a Communication & Media student, getting into the regular weekly blogging practice however would be a test. In the past I have often been a bit slack in this department. When the second week rolled around I was immediately enthusiastic and excited for that week’s 800 word blog. The blog post being, an interview of a person from an older generation and their experience with television in their childhood home.  A lot of people I heard were going to interview their mother or father, though with my parents only being 20 years older than I am, I didn’t feel as though that would be as intriguing as I needed it to be. My Grandmother was the next logical choice as she grew up in a rural town during the 1950’s. Conducting the interview on my grandmother was trickier than I anticipated.  We were out for dinner with my mother in a casual setting; I did however remember to bring a pen and notepad. Though it was easy to get caught up in conversation, and let minor details slip. I learnt some great interviewing skills, like actively listening for details and asking follow up questions and asking how these moments in my nans childhood made her feel. My mother is a case worker for DOCS so she was giving me tips as well as acting as an audience member, and giving her input on things, so it gave us all a chance to all have a good reflect on the past. My grandmother in one of her answers, the first question I asked actually about her memory of childhood TV was that of my great grandfather using cellophane over the screen to make it appear in colour. We all had a good laugh and made us realise how far, in terms of technology we have come. When it came to writing my blog that week, I felt well informed as well as intrigued as to how I was going to write my findings from the interview. I also wanted a way to find my voice as a writer, a voice which well well informed as well as creative. The BCM240 course was different to any other blogging related subject I have done. I needed a way to express my voice as a writer and be engaging for the reader/ audience, as this course I was beginning to find out was highly focused on the audience. The following weeks blog’s of the NBN interview and the cinema experience were also some of my highly enjoyed researching and writing experience. The NBN interview focused on me returning to my Nan , this time in her apartment. We found thoroughly enjoyed looking upon all her technological devices, all of which were internet capable. We discovered that a lot of her television viewing relied a lot of her internet usage, her smart TV and ipad were her main sources of television viewing, we both came to the conclusion that as soon as NBN coverage were available in our areas we would both jump on the opportunity to upgrade to higher speed internet. We both though are relatively happy with our current internet speeds, though its be possibilities that come with faster internet that we both liked the idea of. The week task of the cinema experience, I found to be interesting as I was critically observing everything in the whole experience in reference to Hagerstrand’s constraints.  The Capability, coupling and authority constraints that dictate our whole movie theatre experience. From choosing a movie, deciding on what session time, the ordering of food, the social rules of the theatre itself. When writing the post on the cinema, I needed to think back and recall all events of the night, unlike the interview I had to rely solely just on my memory making it a bit more trying than I had anticipated. By now I felt I had gathered my confidence in my writing and my voice as a blogging writer. I was looking forward to creating my blog post as the topics were of interest to me and made me think more critically about ourselves as audience members in the mediascape. As I think of the mediascape and my role in the participation in the whole blogging task. When I recieved my feedback from the first submission, I decided I was no longer happy with my wordpress theme that I have been using since the start of my account 2 years ago. It wasn’t working for the image I wanted to represent to reflect on my writing style and character, so I took the plunge and changed it completely. It now comes across more inviting, more intriguing and more easy to navigate around and view posts from different categories. This blogging task tested me not only as a writer but also as the audience member. I made conscious effort to keep up with my peers weekly posts. Not only did I learn from their research I also began to find out more about them as a whole. Their writing techniques and expression helped me engage with them using comments. Upon reflection I do feel if I was more active on Twitter I may have increased traffic on my WordPress site and more discussion in the comments section may have been stimulated, however though in all I am extremely happy with how I have enhanced my writers voice and somewhat ‘re-branded’ my WordPress site for continued use as my career writing in the Communication and Media industry.

The Public Space

BCM240

The Public space as we know it, almost always involve a form of media broadcast. When we are sitting awkwardly in a medical centre waiting room, there is a television playing a morning breakfast show or infomercial or it’s a news program. This screen that we are all watching is an element that we are all familiar and have freedom with in the private space. So when we start bringing these technologies into the public space what rules and ethics and codes of practice are expected when sharing this space. I found myself asking the same question the other day when I was in the gym. The gym a place of health and fitness, a place where we turn to for our well- being is also a public space that is having a hard time balancing the ethics and privacy that we expect.  I first go on the cycle’s machine and while I look around, the gym is relatively busy most of the people on the cycles are glancing at the television screens on the wall in front of. Channel 9 is playing on one screen and channel 7 is playing on the other, both with closed captions on as there is music playing over the gym speakers. The music is more stimulating than the boring networks breakfast shows however it begs the question the need for these screens. I find myself also watching the TV’s on the wall, struggling to understand what is actually happening, though it almost has a hypnotising effect on me. As described in the lecture for this week, the TV is an ambient object in this environment.

The TV is not the only screen culprit I witnessed. People using their mobile phones in public spaces have become an ordeal for many. I look around and see people watching YouTube videos while running on the treadmills, people texting and people taking selfies in the gym mirror (probably to post about their current whereabouts). This is a cultural trend that we all now seem to take part in, which is taking selfies and feeling the need to document and broadcast every single moment in our lives on social media.

As I’m taking conducting my ethnography in this public space, I must be aware of ethics. Ethics are important in a public space as the privacy and identity of my subjects must be kept safe.  The type of ethnography I’m conducting is participant observation; this is a type of qualitative research. So when taking photographs I must be careful not to breach the privacy of my subjects.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2353028/opinion-candid-photos-ethical-dilemma-in-internet-age/

Some top ethics in public space photography include:

  • Don’t harass or make people feel uncomfortable when trying to photograph.
  • If someone asks not be photographed, this MUST be respected.
  • Do not use somebody’s photograph to publish or exploit in any way.

Interesting fact, when a photo of you is uploaded to social media, like Facebook, you can claim ownership over that photo; however Facebook has the copyright of that photo.

Lost in Translation

BCM111

The Australian ABC TV show Kath and Kim was an Australian Cultural phenomenon. One of Australia’s most successful comedy shows. It was filmed as a single camera, a fly on the wall style show following the lives of a mother and daughter in suburban Melbourne. The show dealing with middle aged relationships, children, friendships and the day to day interactions of typical Australian people.

It’s not quite a sitcom and not quite a mocumentary, though its use of voice overs, real locations, attention to detail and deadpan humour make it a classic Australian comedy that audiences, not only here in Australia yet around the world fell in love with.

So in 2008, the Aussie series was transformed and renamed into an all American series, with the original creators, Jane Turner and Gina Riley respectively who both played original Kath and Kim serving as producers. The show was thought to be a hit in the United States.

However this was not the case. The show was destroyed by critics and eventually cancelled after one season. Though why did this remake not work?

The show was just going off the success of other U.S remakes of TV shows such as The Office from UK and Ugly Betty from Colombia. These remakes used the same format as their counterparts, just with Americanised backgrounds and culture.

What didn’t translate with American Kath and Kim?

It was basically the whole concept of the show. Kath and Kim doesn’t have significant plotlines or drama, it relies on its character developments, Its Australian slang and hidden idioms used in dialogue.

Phrases like

“Give it a bone”
“I’ve got a feeling in my waters”

and “Clutching at spanners”

Many of these phrases are understood by Australian viewers, and add to the shows character.

What sets Kath and Kim apart is it emphasises the difference in American and Australian cultures even though the use of many elements such as celebrity gossip and shopping centres, commercial products and brand are quite culturally American.

Much like other iconic Australian productions such as the films ‘The Castle’ and ‘Muriel’s wedding’, it is the Australian cultural elements that make it work so well. This is what Kath & Kim also holds. It represents the Australian lifestyle in a parody style that it is extremely difficult for people of other cultures to understand. The Cultural elements of Kath and Kim cannot be succumbed by cultural homogenisation.

Cultural Homogenisation being the aspect of culture being globalised and less diversified so that it fits across many countries.

So in hindsight, it is extremely difficult to capture and translate a narrative that has such cultural roots to another country and remove its elements to satisfy a new audience. Sometimes its best to leave these shows to their authenticity.

Welcome to Nollywood

BCM111

No this isn’t Hollywood nor is it Bollywood, but it is Nollywood. Nollywood is the film industry of Nigeria. It is also the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of yearly distribution of films, just behind Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood since 2009. Nollywood was a 3 Billion dollar industry in 2014.

For such a big industry it has probably been around for a long time right?
No not exactly.

Nollywood film making began in the early 1990’s when a Nigerian salesman shot a straight to video film ‘Living on Bondage’, on a budget of just $12,000 went on to sell over a million copies. This launched the Nollywood film industry today at its production of straight to video films.

Not a single Nollywood film has been to the theatres.

How is this so?

In the late 1980’s to early 90’s Nigeria’s Capital, Lagos and other African cities became highly dangerous areas of crime and as a result, people wouldn’t leave their houses at night, thus forcing entertainment venues such as movie theatres to close down. People were watching films at home. Films imported from Western cultures or India. Now there are up to 1000 Nollywood films being churned out each year.

The most important aspect of Nollywood is that its films have strong narratives of Nigerian culture.

Nollywood films often reflect on economic, political and cultural transformation in Nigeria. This helps gives Nigerians a sense of cultural identity.  The highest grossing Nigerian film ‘Osuofia in London’ made in 2003 displays the current trend in Nollywood of ‘hybridisation’ of culture. It follows the adventure of Osuofia a poor rural hunter and his travels to London to collect his dead brother’s inheritance. The film displays many themes of clash of Nigerian and British cultures, especially in a scene where Osuofia is trying to order food at a fast food outlet. Osuofia plays a young, childlike character, a simple Nigerian rural worker, who is now being seduced by the wealth and glamour of London.

wgirl1A culturally significant scene in this film takes place, when Osuofia is walking down the street and notices a young woman wearing a skirt sitting on the steps with her legs slightly open, he walks up to her and closes her legs. She is taken off guard and shouts at him. Osuofia explains he is offended with how she was sitting and offended with her reaction towards his assistance. This scene is an emphasis of cultural misunderstanding and shows how his Nigerian background and morals are very different in Western culture.

The constant contrast of cultures also displays the cultural imperialism effect that the western culture has on Nigerian culture. Though is this a common theme in Nollywood films, the aspirations of a ‘better life’ usually in another world, which London is depicted to be.

Photo 1: http://www.arogundade.com/Resources/nollywood-nigeri.jpeg

Photo 2: http://africa.wisc.edu/hybrid/2009/07/07/nollywood-osuofia-in-london/#more-203