Friday, November 26, 2010

Evaluation of blogging experience. Extra Credit

         I had used a blog before RTF305 for a European history course. It was similar in that we responded to prompt questions and we also commented on each other’s blogs to aid discussion. Its focus was to facilitate learning through research and discussion. It was extremely useful.

I really liked the blogs focusing on movies because I found that applying technical concepts of movie making to my own examples really helped me internalize the information and understand it. I also liked defining things in my own words via the blog because it made me really understand the concept and not just memorize a definition.

I didn’t really encounter any difficulties while using the blog. I thought the instructions were fairly simple and the prompts were not difficult to follow either. I’d used a blog before so I knew how to technically work it. I think blogger is fairly simple even if you haven’t had to use a blog before if you are fairly adept at computer use.

Because I’m a film major, I naturally felt that the film related blog prompts (for example the one where we had to find examples of Long shots, short shots/ close up, etc.) were very interesting and useful. I also thought the prompts relating to advertising were very interesting. I thought that the blogs about general terms such as “globalization” were a bit dull, but not difficult. I did not find any of the blog prompts difficult.

I would definitely recommend using a blog in any class. I think students spend an inordinate amount of time online so blogging is the next natural step in education. It’s good to put down original thoughts and an easy format for that is blogging.

I thought the prompts were all pretty relevant to the topic. I might suggest a central location online where everyone has their blog URL so students can read other student’s blogs. I would have liked to read what other people were posting about.

Yes, you can use my blog in a paper or report.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Globalization and the media

Defining Globalization: 

Globalization involves the increasing interconnectivity of separate nations in areas of business and trade. 

Globalization and cultural imperialism are inherently linked. Globalization is the causal factor that leads to cultural imperialism. Cultural imperialism comes from the idea of political Imperialism which reached its peak in the 19th century. Imperialism occurred as powerful countries conquered and colonized other countries. They claimed political sovereignty over said countries and took over economically as well as politically. The idea of Cultural Imperialism is similar in that it involves one country influencing another country by injecting the more powerful nation's culture into the other. This naturally involves the dissemination of the more powerful nation's ideals and principles into the other culture. Globalization allows Cultural Imperialism to exist in its current form. If not for the fairly open world trade market and increase of international communication through internet and other technological advancement, Cultural Imperialism could clearly not have the same wide reaching and influential effect. Cultural Imperialism may be a flawed term because countries are likely to take the ideas of other countries and adapt them based on their own understanding of the world. 

One example from the communications industry that shows globalization's massive effect on cultural imperialism is the popularization of MTV throughout the world. MTV was based in America and launched in 1981. Since then MTV has begun to operate in over 45 countries around the world including Ukraine, Indonesia, and Pakistan. MTV has 16 channels in the UK. Because MTV is American owned, western beliefs and culture are spread into other countries that have MTV. Globalization has allowed American corporations to own and produce television for dozens of other countries. MTV is just one example of globalization leading to cultural imperialism. 

Globalization is the 

Friday, November 5, 2010


Advertising has changed significantly in the last fifty years. Early ads printed their brand names in huge letters that you absolutely could not miss. Brands today have become trademarks to the extent that they hardly need to tell you the brand name at all. The image content is enough. I think that Burberry's advertising is extremely effective. The ad I picked is a Burberry Brit ad that features four young people, one of whom is Emma Watson. The color palette is neutral and the clothing is androgynous. Three of the four models wear khaki colored trench coats and the fourth wears a sweater.  The trademark Burberry print appears on scarves, the collar of Emma Watson's jacket, and on one models scarf. Instead of big print letters, Burberry relies on the fame of their classic print to advertise for them. The models all stare defiantly and directly at the camera with classic model pouts. The background is a wrought iron fence that does not take away from the models. The focus is the faces of the models. 

I think this ad is successful because the simplicity of its design. The models have interesting faces and seem to be challenging the viewer. Sort of like, "I'm British and awesome- how can you resist buying Burberry?" The neutral tones of color are very appealing and easy on the eyes. The photography is also very successful and I like the lighting.  The models are interesting and Emma Watson adds star power. Burberry ads do not scream at you to buy their product, it challenges you to resist. Viewers of this ad can easily come to the conclusion that if they resist joining the models in wearing all Burberry then they are the absolute antithesis of cool. This ad says, "We are young, beautiful, and British. You can be all these things too if you just join us and buy tre' cool, neutral toned clothing and stand around sulking". Who could resist that logic? 

Advertising Appeal: Sex, affiliation. 

Selling sex is an extremely effective method of advertising because the viewer's attention is instinctually drawn to the image. Essentially, sex appeal in advertising boils down to the fact that advertisers use attractive models to sell their products. Both males and females are impacted by this type of advertising. Also, sex appeal is effective across age groups. Sex appeal grabs the attention of the audience. It can be extremely explicit or more subtle. Affiliation is linking the audience viewer to whomever is in the ad. 


Though Burberry usually leaves its models mostly or completely clothed, they definitely lean on sex appeal for advertising. The models they pick elicit a certain amount of sex appeal. They are young, beautiful, and powerful. The photos they choose feature seductive poses and facial expressions. Emma Watson adds a level of affiliation to the ad. She is extremely famous from the Harry Potter movies and instantly recognizable. People want to buy the product because she is selling it. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three-Act Structure in Billy Elliot

"Billy Elliot" (2000) Directed by Stephen Daldry 
Screenplay by Lee Hall

*spoiler alert 

Billy Elliot is the story of a boy who is in a working class home in a mining town in England. He has a passion for ballet but is expected to conform to gender roles and enroll in boxing and eventually follow in his father’s footsteps to become a miner.
         The structure of Billy Elliot follows the classical Hollywood Three Act structure. It is divided into thirds with two major plot points followed by the climax in the third act.

ACT I: Billy, the protagonist of the story goes to take boxing at the local community center. Professor Ramirez-Berg’s lecture stated that there was an overall rise and fall action and also smaller rise and falling actions within the acts. The major conflict that exists throughout the first two acts is the tension between Billy and his father. The rising action of the first act occurs when Billy begins to take secret ballet lessons and discovers his love and talent for dance. This becomes a secret that he has to hide from his father. His father expects him to follow in his footsteps and be a “normal” boy. The plot point in Act 1 that escalates the stakes is the moment when Billy’s father discovers that Billy has been taking ballet lessons and confronts him about it. It causes the audience to ask the questions “will Billy get to continue dance? Will he decide to disobey his father”? This propels the plot forward into the next act.

Act II:  Billy continues with his lessons behind his father’s back. This implies a complication that will occur in the future. The second act continues as Billy’s skill set increases. Billy’s dance teacher encourages him to try out for the Royal Ballet School in London. The plot point in Act II occurs when Billy’s father sees his son dance and recognizes his true talent. This causes the audience to question what will happen to Billy, whether he will get into the Royal Ballet School, and how his father will deal with the changes in his life. The plot point of the last Act is, at this point, answered. Billy did continue with dance despite his father’s warnings.

Act III: Billy auditions for a spot in the Royal Ballet School. The tension in this act centers around whether or not he will get in. The rising action of the movie occurs in the third act at Billy’s audition. He gets into a fight and yet performs an incredibly electric audition that impresses the judges. The audience considers the consequences of Billy’s actions. Will his rash behavior cost him his future in dance? In the climactic scene of the movie, Billy receives his letter from the Dance academy and is accepted! Billy Elliot is a perfect example of the three-act structure being adapted easily for melodramas with happy endings. The plot point of the second acts are answered as Billy goes to The Royal Ballet Academy and his dad returns to his job after being on strike. The loose ends are tied up and the Three-Act structure is complete. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sitcoms in Society

(From "Friends")

         In my opinion, the most important function of a TV sitcom is to reflect society. One way in which TV does this is by having an episodic format and by objectifying issues from a culture. The lecture discussed the idea of TV being our modern campfire story. Campfire stories are part of an oral tradition in which the stories of a culture are told. Like campfire stories, TV is not always a perfectly realistic depiction of culture. However, it takes aspects of culture such as the role of family, the emphasis on popularity in high school, or relationship pressure, and interprets that into a recognizable format. 
(From "The Big Bang Theory")

The episodic format allows viewers to watch individual episodes without having to remember a lot of specific details from previous shows over a long period of time. It also allows a TV show to represent many different story lines and themes with the same characters without the constraints of trying to be consistent. The TV sitcom allows viewers to watch issues of society being dealt with by characters and to internalize reactions to these issues as well as be entertained at the same time. TV sitcoms would not be interesting or entertaining if the subject matter was not familiar. The reflection of society within television causes the audience to take interest in the character’s lives and causes audiences to feel more connected with society.

 From "Boy Meets World" 

A show that I think symbolizes the classic “sitcom” that was popular throughout the 90’s is “Boy Meets World”- a show about a middle class boy experiencing life as he grows up.  The show is typical of 90’s sitcoms because it reflects a national stereotype about middle class American life. It reflects society by placing the characters in various situations that any adolescent might have to go through. It examines issues of school, community, and family. Boy Meets World typifies the “three-act” structure discussed in the lecture. There is always a problem that is introduced in the first act, the character’s reactions to the issue, and then the solution in the third act. Boy Meets World began as a very episodic show, but then gradually turned serial because of its massive fan base. It ran for seven seasons from 1993 until 2000 and its characters went from the beginning of middle school to the time they are adults and are beginning married life. Many characters stay constant over time and are used for comedi relief. For instance, the character of Mr. Feeny, the high school principle and friend of the protagonist’s family is used in this capacity as well as for giving advice. His character stays the same throughout the show. Cory’s brother is portrayed as a non-serious character who is more interested in girls than work.  Boy Meets World portrayed many issues that were important to high school students in the 1990’s (many of which remain relevant today). These include early marriage, alcohol use, responsibility, and loyalty. Boy Meet World, like most sitcoms, uses pretty formulaic plotlines but I feel like it does this in a clever and innovative way that makes watching it entertaining. Boy Meets World is a great example of a sitcom because it has an episodic format, easily recognizable characters, and it reflects issues in modern society. 

Boy Meets World Clip 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Discussion of Film shots in "Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain"

Film: Amelie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

    Amelie, a French film, uses all three shots sequentially in most scenes in the film in which new information is introduced.  The film director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet filmed Amelie in a style to emphasize human connection and understanding of the characters. The progression in most scenes is from Close up--> Medium Shot--> Long shot. Not the other way around.  This immediately establishes a close connection with the character or setting, even if we are not sure exactly who the character is yet. This ties back to one of the themes of the film which is self discovery and understanding the quirks of human nature.

1.  Close Up: One of the very first shots of the film is a hand with a face drawn on it. It is shown during the beginning credits, moving the fingers so that the hand is "talking". It immediately gives the film an undertone of playfulness. At the same time, however, the face on the hand is indisputably a bit macabre.  The eyes particularly, are rather disturbing since they lack pupils.  The hand is shown with a stark black background with a green-ish dark lighting. This Chiaroscuro type image adds to the feeling that perhaps not everything is as happy as the original shot may suggest.  This shot clearly begs the question of "who does the hand belong to?" It immediately hooks the audience, making them interested in the character before they even see her. Since this is the first shot, it can not "make sense of feelings" as normal close ups do. It instead establishes emotional content in another way- creating a mood with images that will continue throughout the length of the film.

2.  The medium shot:  The medium shot still works in a similar way to the tradition medium shot in Amelie. It gives more information and confirms information, but it gives more information about the series of close up shots. In the first medium shot, Amelie sits, petrified in an arm chair. Someone has played a practical joke on her and she is horrified by what she thinks she has done. The shot is set up so Amelie is the center of focus. Her face is brightly lit from the side, emphasizing her expression of horror. The camera is positioned at a low angle which in this instance, shows the immensity of the chair in comparison to Amelie. This functions to make to look very small and very frightened. It is now clear that it is Amelie's hand we saw in the first shots. Amelie is almost always shown alone in the opening scenes of the movie, portraying an isolated quality to her childhood. She looks directly above the camera, but straight ahead which makes her appear paralyzed by fear.

3. Long Shot: This is literally the first Long shot I could find in Amelie which is more than five minutes in. The movie is shot in a series of close ups and medium shots, emphasizing different character traits about the different people portrayed in the film. It gives a sense of familiarity to them and puts the audience essentially "in the room" with the characters. This long shot is when Amelie and her mother go to Notre Dame. It shows the church and that little Amelie is with her mother. It is only seconds before her mother dies when a tourist jumps off the top of Notre Dame, committing suicide, and landing on Amelie's mother. This is realized only by narration and not shown. The fact that the scene is shot in the elegant entryway of Notre Dame adds an absurdity to the image when the narration is added. The brightest color int he shot is Amelie's coat which is used to put particular emphasis on her character and not her mother. The mother's character is rarely shown and if she is shown, it is like this shot: a distance shot which affords no ability to see her features close up. The way this shot is set up and the absurd nature of her death allows the audience to distance themselves from her death and to move on quickly with the storyline. The camera angle is straight on which is a power neutral stance.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Hollywood Star System

I think that the star system was an integral part of early Hollywood and the studio system.  It is important because it essentially created American icons that reached a level of nationwide popularity previously unheard of. It was the concurrent creation of films with the popularization of radio that created the modern idea of “celebrity”. Audiences wanted to know about the actors and would go see a movie just because they were starring in it. The star system was the collection of particular actors or actresses by studios that would generate an audience. Some actresses and actors were “discovered” when they were young and trained to become audience favorites through a combination of singing, dance, and acting.
         The star system affected what kinds of films the studio made because the films were written in order to reflect the talents of the actors. They had to showcase their particular talents. For instance, dance numbers for Fred Astaire, singing parts for Judy Garland, or diva roles for Mae West. Eventually, the star system caused the actors to gain power and ask for higher salaries.
         For example, actress Dorothy Lee signed with RKO Pictures at the age of 18. She was type cast as a comedian and was made up to six movies a year at the peak of her career. The advertisements for the films always featured Dorothy Lee prominently, so that audiences would be attracted to the film. The star system was influential because it caused films in early Hollywood to prominently showcase the same talent over and over again, creating an American sensation of Hollywood Stars. (Imdb)

(on major film posters, the actor's names would be featured first and most prominently to advertise the star power) 

Dorothy Lee, 1929.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

All in the Family and Modern Family

      "All in The Family" is similar to "Modern Family" in that they both use family situations to entertain audiences and to bring up issues to viewers that are relevant to family life. Both feature an older father and a child that is newly married. Both use stereotypical characters (Ie. Hippie, foreign, old man) to  add humor to the show. 
   Most simply, "Modern Family" has more characters than "All in the Family." "Modern family" includes three generations, as opposed to two from "all". "Modern", therefore, examines the lives of three families (that are extended family), whereas "All" examines only one.  The two shows are different in that "Modern Family" is much more explicit in the way it addresses relationships that would have been a little scandalous 40 years ago. For instance, two main characters are gay. The older man marries a wife that could be described as a "trophy" wife because she is many years his junior. The young children are put into more sexualized situations much earlier than they would have in the 1960's. "All in the Family" begins to address public prejudices, such as homophobia, but avoids making a direct condemnation about them. Instead, "All in the Family" lets viewers draw their own conclusions. "All in the Family" relies on stereotype more than "Modern Family" and while both rely on a generational gap to create humor, the focus in "All in the Family" is more on that gap than in "Modern". Modern Family deals with race and gender issues more than "All in the Family." "All in the Family" deals more with issues between generations, although they do address gender roles to some extent. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Technological Change spurs Development of Radio

I think technological change was the most influential factor in the development of the radio industry because it allowed the creation of radio as a product that could be accessed by the masses.
Technological innovation is critical to media in that it opens the door for new means of communication. From speech and writing to telegraphs and television, innovation has been necessary for the development of all media. Radio as an international forum of communication would have been impossible if not for the technology that was created that allowed broadcasting. If not for this technology, the radio “boom” of the 1920’s, onwards until the 1950’s could never have occurred. A technology is invented, a patent is created for the product, and then the technology is turned into a marketable product. If the product is popular, then more technologies emerge from the original, attempting to improve it. Radio technology continued to evolve with the emergence of FM radio. This allowed more companies to be involved with radio and more specific types of audiences in the population to be targeted.
         The technological emergence of broadcast technology began the evolution of the U.S. Radio system. First, radio was viewed as a utilitarian means of communication especially after radio helped save survivors of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.  As a warning for ships or a way for the military to pass messages, radio proved useful.  When the technology for FM radio was invented, more channels could be broadcast in the same area. Although entertainment radio did pre-date FM, this technology gave rise to a number of different radio stations in the same area that would play different shows and types of music. This also allowed radio stations to target certain sections of the populace. Radio was a product that created thousands of consumers within a few years of its invention. It is clear that without the emergence of radio technology, the Radio Boom of the 1920’s could not have occurred.

#1 Song of 1925: "Sweet Georgia Brown" by Ben Bernie

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Implications of the Media in Society

Cultivation Theory

Studies have shown that the MTV show "Jersey Shore" has actually negatively impacted viewer's opinions of the state of New Jersey. This supports Cultivation Theory 100%. A television show has made people believe that Snooki, "The Situation," and other television personas are "the norm" for New Jersey.  

            Cultivation theory heavily impacts society by influencing the “normal” view of gender roles, body image, and normality.
            Cultivation theory is a theory that states that the media is essentially responsible for the way in which people view the world.  This theory attributes extreme social power to the media and holds that people are taught over time to respond to situations based on what they think is the appropriate way. The Cultivation theory believes that the media teaches normality through television, video, music, etc. It says that life as we live it is a reflection of media ideas that have been portrayed to us since childhood.
            Cultivation theory can be easily applied to either Tough Guise or Killing Us Softly since it is the basis for the opinions of both.   Throughout human history, from the genesis of our written history, the archetypal hero has existed. He, as  “Tough Guise“ establishes, embodies characteristics like “tough,” “strong,” and “powerful.” In recent years we may add “cool,” or “cunning” to the growing list of unattainable favorable attributes necessary in a true man.  From Odysseus to John Wayne to Rambo to James Bond, the protagonist, according to the cultivation theory, tells men what is expected of them.  According to the theory, men will watch media and perceive that it is “normal” for them to act like the men portrayed in the media. Equally for women, advertisements show what is “normal,” which equates to how women act, dress, and try to look.  According t the University of Washington, a study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soap operas, movies, and music videos is directly correlative with negative body image and wish to be thinner.  If media reinforces what is “normal” in society, and people see approximately 2500 advertisements a day, then that is a lot of reinforcement. 

The media objectifies women which, according to cultivation theory, affects how society views and treats women.
Ellen DeGeneres discusses media's impact on body image in society.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hegemony: Close to Home, Far Reaching Influence


In order to understand the way in which hegemony can control cultural perception and cause ideas to become accepted as “incontrovertible,” a local example, The Texas Board of Education, can be utilized and assessed.

If a company or group is a hegemon, they effectively control a set of media in order to direct the common consensus of an idea towards their beliefs.  Hegemony, in the context of the media is the control of ideas by a source. Hegemony can be used in a political or social context and sometimes the two are inherently linked.  One of the most relevant global theories connected with hegemony is cultural imperialism, in which one country imposes or passes their culture to another country. This idea is fascinating to me because of it means that one company, or essentially, one person who is the head of a company in the United States can control what people buy, wear, believe, and act upon not only in the United States but around the world. 

      One local example of hegemony in a cultural context is the Texas Board of Education.  The board does not have the same global power as some more obvious hegemons such as Steve Jobs or Disney, however they do decide what every public school student in Texas will learn in their most formative years. The essence of a source that has hegemony according to Media Now is that they “Create a consensus around…ideas… so that they come to be accepted as common sense”. Textbooks are a prime example of media that come to be accepted as absolutely irrefutable knowledge. For example, I’m quoting from a textbook in my blog post.  There was a huge controversy in March of 2010 over the Texas Board of Education because they passed a social studies curriculum that focuses on decidedly conservative ideas such as a heavy emphasis on capitalism, republican ideology, and partially anti-secular government. The textbooks that are influenced by the policy are sold not only in Texas but across the United States. Despite political affiliations, every public school student will be subjected to and will absorb these ideas, for better or for worse.

Image Sources: Fox News, New York Times 2008, ABC news, Daily Times Online
Info Sources, (New York Times 2010) (Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport. Media Now. 2010 ed.) (Fox News 2008) (Mastroianni. "Hegemony in Gramsci" 2002). 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

RTF305- Why I'm taking it, what I hope to learn

     Nearly everyone in my generation has been surrounded by media from the moment we were born. TV shows, computer games, and films designed for my generation have been available since the time we were able to comprehend them. I learned some of the most fundamentally important lessons of growing up from media. As I got older, English became my favorite subject.  I began to discover the power of words through novels, advertising, newspaper, etc. and to learn about the historical consequences of media. Studying topics like Mao's use of media in the cultural revolution in China in the 1960's & 1970's and Hitler's use of propaganda as an aid in the rise of the Nazi party made me wary about the danger of mass media.  Naturally, this complete and constant immersion in electronic media has engendered a certain fascination in the subject. I believe in the power of the media as an amazing tool in society and I want to learn about the various aspects of media as such a tool. I want to work in the film industry and media studies is a necessary topic to master in order to excel in the fields of screen writing and or film. Because I am interested in the evolution of media, its place and purpose in society, and working in the film industry, I believe RTF305 will be a valuable course.  I hope to deepen my understanding of these subjects during the semester. 

One of my favorite blogsn:

youtube vid: (watch the baby panda)