Month: September 2013

A Look Back

I debated putting this reflection up on this site because I wasn’t sure if I wanted my self-evaluation to be up for all to see. But I figured that I should be honest on this blog so here it is.

Me as a blogger Image Source: http://recruitmentbuzz.co.uk/recruitment/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/r31.jpg
Me as a blogger
Image Source: http://recruitmentbuzz.co.uk/recruitment/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/r31.jpg

I struggled at first with writing my blog posts. In fact, I’m still struggling. I’ve never been a natural writer; so having to write my opinions on the Internet was something I wasn’t too excited about. However, through this experience I’ve definitely learnt a few things, and I might continue my blog in the future as I genuinely enjoyed writing a lot of the posts.

I did, however, have difficulty in writing about topics in which I wasn’t interested. For example, the topic on piracy didn’t have me jumping for joy and I made that clear. Because of this I put off writing the post until it couldn’t wait any longer. However what I did learn from this is that I shouldn’t have been so worried. I actually learnt about some interesting history of piracy, and so I wrote about that. That blog post taught me that I shouldn’t assume that I wouldn’t be interested in a particular topic. That being said, I’m not sure I’ll be jumping at the chance to write about knitting or taking out the trash, but I will be a little more open minded about what I’m going to write about.

My next problem was that I had to stop myself from writing too much about topics I’m super interested in. Writing about fandom was a blast and I loved reading about fan practices and Beatlemania. I found an excellent book about fans and I wanted to include everything because it was just so perfect. Unfortunately I had to edit myself. Crying, I deleted about 30% of what I had written in order to streamline my post. It still is one of my longest posts, but at least it’s not an essay. From then on I tried to make my posts a little shorter as I didn’t want me “readers” to think they had to spend days reading one of my posts. I wanted to practice getting my point across in a succinct and effective way.

The reason I’ve put “readers” in quotation marks is because I haven’t exactly got a big readership. I’m sure the majority of readers are my tutor and other students trying to suss out what others are writing about. But you know what, readers are readers and I get so excited every time I see I’ve had a visitor on my page. It makes me happy that someone is actually reading what I’ve got to say. I’m not going to lie; one of the greatest moments of my life was discovering that I’d had a reader from overseas. That blew my mind. I even tweeted about it because I was that excited. At the moment though, I’m happy with my readership.

This year I lost my twitter virginity. It was pretty scary because I had no clue what to tweet, but I’ve started to get into the swing of things. The thing I’ve found with Twitter is that it’s an excellent platform to have conversations about media, audience and place. Not only can I share my blog posts, but also I can see and take part in discussions. I definitely think that Twitter was so important in this process and I would like to start using it even more to talk with people around the world about media audience and place.

I’d like to think I’ve improved in my blogging. It’s much easier to say what I had trouble with than to say what I’ve improved at. Probably because I have no clue what I’m doing half the time! I feel like I’ve started to develop my own distinct voice and writing style, which I’m pretty happy with. I’ve also started to actually reference my sources so yay for not plagiarising! I’ve become more confident in my blogging. At the beginning I was scared to start writing because I didn’t know if it was going to be any good.  However now I plan my posts and I know what I want to say before I start writing. Because of this I’ve started to really enjoy blogging. I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m a strong blogger, but I’m happy with my progress for the time being.

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In the Public Eye

At the University of Wollongong there is a public screen in the UniCentre which generally shows music videos and the occasional film. This week I observed how the Uni students behaved around it.

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The big screen at UOW UniCentre. Are the students watching it or watching their own private screens?

What I found was that most of the time, the students weren’t watching the screen, but using their own personal screens such as laptops and phones. Only if they heard something interesting coming from the speaker would they look up and watch the screen for a while. It seemed that the students were more interested in using their personal screens for their first source of entertainment, and the big screen was just some background noise that would occasionally distract them from their activities.

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Students at the UOW UniCentre engrossed in their own online worlds.

I was amazed that I hadn’t noticed this before, but so many people were on their personal screens. My initial thought was, “Wow, people are so involved their own personal experience to even take notice of a public screen that is meant to be shared.” However I came to the realisation that although the big screen was in a public place, it wasn’t quite so public. What I mean by this is although everybody in the building could see it, there was no social interaction with it. This big screen serves more as just a big T.V. that nobody has a remote for. Whereas the student’s laptops and phones were in some way more public, as it was allowing them to interact with others on the Internet.

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Crowds watch the Royal Wedding together in 2011 on the Manchester Big Screen. Image Source: http://www.capitalnetworks.com/media/i_case_study_bbc_big_screen_02.jpg

This article talks about the Manchester ‘Big Screen’ that was put up in Exchange Square. The BBC was involved and because of this, they were worried that people would assume it to be a big tele. They state that,

“What we’re really talking about is a digital canvas… There are loads of ways in which you can interact with the screen so it’s not just one way of traffic.”

This screen had a much different response to the one at UOW. It served

“as the site for the collective public enactment of public rituals including collaborative celebration and mourning.”

Here we see a screen that is being used publicly. The difference? It allowed the public to interact with it. The article says that screens shouldn’t be seen as surfaces that get the attention of an audience, but as a way of creating new forms of public relationships. This is where I think the big screen at the university has failed in bringing people together in a public sphere, and because of this the students are turning to their private screens in order to enter a public sphere.

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Even the charm of One Direction couldn’t draw these students away from their private screens. How sad…

References:

Cubitt, S, McQuire, S & Papastergiadis, N 2008, ‘Public Screens and the Transformation of Public Space’, Journal of Entertainment Media, vol. 3, no. 6, viewed 23 September 2013, <http://refractory.unimelb.edu.au/2008/03/06/public-screens-and-the-transformation-of-public-space/&gt;

Piracy: A Pressing Matter

Ok, I must admit. I was not keen to do this blog. I find copyright incredibly boring and I dreaded starting this post. Every time I hear the words “copyright” and “plagiarism” I tend to tune out. However, during my research, I actually found out some pretty interesting information about plagiarism.

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Image Source: http://do512blog.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/pirate_tweet.jpg

What grabbed my attention was the history of piracy. Not the peg-legged, booty stealin’, sword brandishin’ kind (sorry, I know that would have been awesome), but the same thing we come across today, stealing intellectual property. It turns out; piracy has been going on for years, way before T.V. and cinema.

The idea of plagiarism has been around as long as literature. In 1450, it was Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press that made reproducing mass copies of the same text extremely easy and inexpensive. According to Asa Briggs and Peter Burke in the book “Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the internet” the new concept of an author writing literature as well as “the idea of a correct or authorized version of a ‘text’” was what sparked the concept of ‘intellectual property’. Before this, stories were told orally, which Briggs and Burke describe as “fluid, and… a cooperative enterprise.” Printed text invoked ideas of ownership as opposed to before when a story was shared.

I found this article on the history of piracy, which explains that in London during the Victorian era piracy had become quite common, not only in books but in music as well. What I loved about this article was this following quote:

“…the pirate publishers were rarely despised by the general public but rather were appreciated for spreading music to the people at a reasonable cost.”

What I love about this is how similar the 19th Century’s response to piracy was to the 21st Century’s. Just like then, I find most people don’t have strong feelings of hate towards media pirates. In fact, people seem to appreciate receiving cheap and easily accessible copies of intellectual property like music and movies. It’s because of this that music companies are grasping to find solutions to please the owner and the audience. Something that seems promising is the idea of a subscription music service such as Spotify and Rdio. These services allow audiences to listen to a wide range of music while still paying the owner of the music. Users pay a small monthly fee to be subscribed, which is much cheaper than buying each individual song, and allows them to access a huge variety of music. The services not only earn profits from the subscriptions, but from advertising as well. Although this seems like a good compromise, these services have in no way completely resolved the media piracy issue. I, for one, haven’t stopped illegally downloading music (please don’t call the cops).

What can I say? It’s a pirate’s life for me.

References:

Briggs, A & Burke P, 2009, Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Fredriksson, M, 2012, ‘Piracy, globalisation and the colonisation of the Commons’, Global Media Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, viewed 20 September 2013, <http://www.commarts.uws.edu.au/gmjau/v6_2012_1/martin_fredriksson_RA.html&gt;

 

 

Confessions of a Fan Girl

Hi, my name is Natasha and I am a Directioner.

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Image Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/directioners-hq-x/images/34660440/title/directioner-x-photo

That was somewhat hard to admit on the internet.  It’s frightening to admit a fandom, especially a current one. It’s easy when it’s a past one because one can just say, “Well I was young and impressionable. I didn’t know any better.” But a current fandom is exactly what it says on the tin: it’s now. There’s no excuses. Now, I’m not talking about “cool” fandoms like alternative music. I’m talking proper embarrassing fandoms, things that you just know people will judge you for. The funny thing is; everyone is a fan of something. So why are we so embarrassed about our guilty pleasures?

The book The Adoring Audience: fan culture and popular media has some interesting insight on this. It says that:

“The popular press…has stigmatized fandom by emphasizing danger, abnormality, and silliness. . And the public deny their own fandom, carry on secret lives as fans or risk the stigma that comes from being a fan.”

I particularly liked this statement as I absolutely agreed with it. In the media, Directioners are usually represented as a huge screaming mass of teenage girls. There is no rationality shown, just pure hysteria. And this just emphasises the authors’ first point in this extract. The media often misrepresents fans, giving viewers the idea that fans are weird and sometimes dangerous.

The second point that they make is that because of this misrepresentation, fans either keep their fandom secret or they risk the judgement of others. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve had to hide the One Direction pillow on my bed when a friend comes over to my house, or blushed when somebody discovers the many One Direction songs on my iPod. It’s silly but I’d rather hide my obsession than be subjected to the obligatory eye roll. When I do admit my fandom, I usually follow it with justifications like, “I know they’re music isn’t great but they’re just so attractive!”

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Is history repeating itself?
Image Source: http://tokiiolicious.deviantart.com/art/One-Direction-vs-The-Beatles-280882659

This isn’t the first time that a hot boy band has sparked a fandom. During the 1960s a phenomenon called “Beatlemania” arose. The Adoring Audience states that:

“One of the most common responses to reporters’ queries on the sources of Beatlemania was, “Because they’re sexy.”

Just like the “One Direction Infection”, Beatlemania was represented by masses of screaming girls in the media. The Adoring Audiences explains that at the time young girls were not only meant to stay virtuous but “enforcers of purity within their teen society.” So Beatlemania was in some form an unconscious protest against the sexual repression of the time. Freud commented on this hysteria, saying that it was a form of sexual release. However, adults found it offensive to say that young girls has any sexual desires to begin with and because of this moral panics appeared; some adults feared that the young female followers of The Beatles were at risk of corruption. The Adoring Audience explain that:

“To adults, Beatlemania was an affliction, an epidemic…At risk were ten- to fourteen-year-old girls…”

Often the popular media had to reassure adults that the girls who screamed for Sinatra had grown up to be responsible housewives and that there should be no cause for concern. If the fans of The Beatles weren’t been shown as victims, they were being represented as dangerous. The Life reported that:

“A Beatle who ventures out unguarded into the streets runs the very real peril of being dismembered or crushed to death by his fans.”

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Girls gone “wild” with Beatlemania in the 1960s
Image Source: http://beatlesnumber9.com/beatlemania.html

A bit extreme don’t you think? This reminded me of some of the media coverage of the premier for the One Direction movie This is Us. This article describes the Directioners as ravenous, terrifying cultists. Ouch. That hurts my feelings a bit because honestly we’re not all like that. I must admit there are some fans out there who are a bit on the crazy side and will do anything to get near the One Direction boys, but that’s not all of us. What I find is that the media doesn’t show the other sides of the fandom; where fans share experiences online and create friendships. If you search Twitter and Tumblr for tags on the band you’ll find a whole load of content that fans are sharing with each other. This isn’t the exception either. Beatles fans were known to have a running conversation with each other on the band. A woman from Orlando, Maine who recalls at 13 she would have long conversations with other fans about the members of The Beatles is an example of this in The Adoring Audience.

Here is a comparison between the two bands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPSv-CZRhp4

I love the thought that even in the 60s, girls were partaking in the same fan activities as we are now. I hope in the future the media representation of fans does change so we’re not all seen as crazy or obsessive. But in the meantime I think I’ll proudly fly the flag of fandom.

I’m a Directioner. Deal with it.

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Image Source: http://31.media.tumblr.com/3c64c3cc93b893455f0a64e42b85ecb9/tumblr_mrfl1fjHD91sy513do1_500.jpg

Referencing

Lewis, Lisa A, (ed.) 1992, The Adoring Audience: fan culture and popular media, Routledge, London, UK.

Suebsaeng Asawin, 2013, “Morgan Spurlock’s One Direction Documentary Is a Threat To Democracy And Safety”, Mother Jones, 30 August, viewed 8 September, <http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/08/one-direction-this-is-us-documentary-threat-democracy&gt;