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Different Blogs – Same Topic

Have you ever looked at someone’s blog and been so intrigued in what they were saying? Well being in Mass Communications for the past four years of my college career I can honestly say that I have read many blogs, and surprisingly many of them have caught my interest. I have always been very interested in social media sites. When I took Mass Communications 101 with Dr. Sandy Nichols, I started my very own blog. Initially, I was confused and did not know how to write one. I believe this was because I only new how to write a formal paper. But once I got the hang of it, I loved writing blogs. Therefore when I found out that Dr. Nichols was teaching another Mass Communications class, Media Criticism, I jumped right on it because 1. She’s an awesome teacher and 2. I knew blogging would be part of the curriculum. By writing and creating a blog, I feel good about sharing my feelings and therefore I feel proud when I push “post.”

Everyone writes differently. It is fascinating to me how different each blog is especially when you are talking about the same topic. It is very interesting to see how one person will take the same information as you and use it with another text and interpret it in his/her own way. Being in a class where blogging is an assignment everyone is writing on the same topics as you are. As a result, we each take the assignment and have to interpret what we are learning in class in our very own way. In this blog post I will be taking three different classmate’s blogs and seeing how they interpreted something differently then I did on the same topics we each had to write about.

First I will be taking Alexa Lazerow’s Blog and analyzing a post in which she wrote about the Kardashians. Alexa and I have very similar views on the media and therefore her opinions are usually very similar to my own. This is why I really enjoy reading Alexa’s blog posts. I can relate to it, I can understand what she is talking about and why she is interpreting the text in the way that she does.  In this blog post she was discussing the Narrative Approach through analyzing an episode of the hit E! Series Keeping up with the Kardashians (Click here to check it out).  Interestingly, I also used the Narrative Analysis in my blog post about Friends. Regardless if you are a girl or a guy I bet you can’t say that you aren’t intrigued by the Kardashian Clan or love the Friends bunch? I think Alexa did an amazing job by using the narrative approach and relating it back to one of the hit series episodes. She really was able to take each part of the story line and explain it by using the Narrative approach. Even though I consider myself a KardashiADICT, I never looked at that episode or the series the same way that Alexa did. For example, she spoke about how there is “girl’s language.”Alexa explained that this is the “everyday language” of girls. Therefore we are able to understand and relate to it much easier and better than other shows. That is if you are a girl. Being that Alexa introduced who the Kardashians are, explained what the Narrative Approach is telling us, and how you can use this approach to relate to this specific episode I think she nailed it.

Next I will be taking a look at Samantha Sherer’s Blog. I will analyze a post she did about what Media Criticism actually is and how we can relate it back to our own lives (Click here to check it out). We learned that media criticism is a field of study in which we as media consumers become an active participant in the mass media process. Samantha took this beginning theory and presented it in her own way that I did not even think about when I was writing by own blog on what media criticism is. I really liked that she used Justin Bieber as one of her examples. She took one of the hottest music stars and presented it to her audience from a different perspective. Samantha showed how much power the mass media has over an ordinary person like Justin. She showed Justin Bieber’s rise to fame. Samantha explained how an ordinary boy who innocently put his video up on YouTube is now all over the magazines, tabloids, televisions and as a result people all over the world are catching the “Bieber Fever.”  What Samantha’s blog questioned is why do we really love Justin Bieber that much? The reason she pointed out is that we don’t even realize with any celebrity that any of us have a fascination with is usually one that we can’t avoid. Whether we are constantly hearing one of there songs or seeing them on the covers of magazines. We are so inundated with the celebrity because as Samantha points out the media makes us.

Finally I took a look at Kelli Coughlan’s Blog and analyzed a post she did on Ideological Criticism and the two films in which we watched in class, Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Child and Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood & Corporate Power (Click here to check it out). After watching both of these films, we came to realize how much power the media conglomerates have over us and children all over the world. These corporations don’t only have power they influence us and it is amazing that we all don’t even notice how it is affecting us. Kelli pointed out that kids seem to be growing up way too fast.  What young children are exposed to and know at younger and younger ages is scary. Kelli pointed out that the word “tween” categorizes children from ages 6-12. She stated that it is the “tweens” who the mass media is targeting with new ideas. I commend Kelli for pointing this out in her blog because I didn’t realize how much the media impresses ideas both good and bad on the “tweens.”  Kelli then spoke about how Disney is so “innocent” as did I in my own blog about Disney. It appears that after reading Kellli’s section about the Disney movie that Kelli and I saw things similarly. I think what we both came to the same conclusions. Both of us didn’t realize the impact and the underlying ideas that ALL of the Princess movies had on us. I agree with Kelli that the children these days are growing up much faster that we did. However, they are still not catching the hidden messages that are presented to them by the mass media.

As you can see everyone writes differently. We can all analyze the same topic and there is no right or wrong. Each of us works very hard to intrigue our audience and make them interested in what we are trying to present to them. By being able to read 3 different students’ blogs on the same topic I learned to look at the same information from a new perspective. I choose these 3 people’s blogs to analyze because I know each of them personally. I was curious to find out how they wrote and their views. I also knew that I would be interested in seeing what they had to say on topics and issues that I had also written about. I have to say I’m personally very impressed with each one of the blogs I read. They all offered me some new insight. I think that if I read their blog before I wrote my own, I could have gotten some great ideas. Of course they wouldn’t have been my ideas. I truly enjoy writing blogs and I can tell that that 3 people I chose to analyze do too. I also enjoyed reading the blogs and seeing new perspectives and ways of presenting the same information in different ways. It is interesting that we all learn the same thing at the same time but that does not mean we always will interpret it and present it in the same way.

Can Disney Really Make Your DREAMS Come True?

From Cinderella to Mickey Mouse, the Disney culture has always been a part of our lives. A brilliant man named Walt Disney in 1923 started the Disney Company. He brought magic and imagination into our world. I loved Disney and so did my parents and even my grandparents.  I would dream about being a Princess who would someday be rescued by my very own Prince Charming. Even now that I am 21, I still love the feeling that The Wonderful World of Disney gives me. I love that children today still believe that their Prince Charming is going to sweep them off of their feet one day. It is hard to really believe that what happens in the Disney Fantasy world will actually happen in real life. We like to believe that anything we “dream” can come true, just like it did for Belle (Beauty & the Beast), Ariel (Little Mermaid) Snow White (Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs), and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty).

Now, see if you can picture yourself as a young child watching a Disney show. Were you able to pick up all the implied messages or the morals of the story, when you were a child? I can say that I definitely could not tell you what the meaning of any of the Disney movies were at the age of 5. All I knew was that she was a beautiful princess and that is what I wanted to be. However, 16 years later when I watch the princess movies with my young cousins, I now realize the messages and morals as well as a lot of the humor that I did understand as a child. It has been said that it takes an adult to see the actual underlying meaning of what is being said and shown to young children.

Now I want to look at Disney through an approach called Ideological Criticism. This approach is different from the approaches I spoke about in my last two blogs. The blog “Friends: The Beginning, Middle, and End” spoke about the Narrative Analysis approach which has to do with the systematic study of text and how they are structured into a cause and effect of events of a beginning, middle and end. And my first blog, “Media Criticism & I” spoke about what Media Criticism in general was actually about. But Ideological Criticism is something completely different. This approach is production centered on the cultural diamond. Ideology is an instrument that the dominant elite uses to extend control over others. Therefore when you look at it from the Disney perspective, Disney is the dominant elite and the children who are consuming it are the “others” in who are controlled. This specific approach examines how ideas are embedded in and circulated through text, they reflect and serve the interest of the dominant elites.

Ideology brings up another theory called the, Political Economy Theory. The political economy theory states how media institutions, texts practices establish and sustains existing power relations. It states how media advances the interest of the dominant elite and how the elite maintain control through the hegemonic consensus – ideas and values constructed as natural, normal, inevitable, thus … unchangeable.

In our Media Criticism class we watched a film called, “Mickey Mouse Monopoly – Disney, Childhood, and Corporate Power.” The filmed depicted the whole Disney culture and showed me many things that I never knew about the Disney culture. This film perfectly represented what Ideological Criticism means. To be more specific, did you ever think of Disney as being political? I am sure you did not.  I know I didn’t. I am sure you thought of Disney as  “innocent.”  Even though that’s what we would like to believe, the critics in the film stated that Disney can and is very political. The Disney we know and love is not so innocent. But Disney has been so successful due to that fact that it is based off of innocence, magic and fun. Children have been raised on Disney for so many generations. As a result, Disney has been able to hide behind their innocence in a way that it separates itself from the corporate culture and from corporate power. We seem to treat Disney in a way that is a fantasy; therefore its political implications have never being questioned.

If you have ever thought of the Disney conglomerate as a whole, I don’t think you would even be able to count how many media outlets they own. Disney, who is considered the dominant elite, owns almost all of the media that we consume. So if we think about it realistically, we realize that the stories that Disney is presenting to us will most likely be the images and messages that could shape a child’s imaginary world.  Disney is what gives us the stereotypes of, race, gender, and class. Media is what helps to shape our belief systems.

It is interesting to me to look at the gender representation that Disney presents to his audience/the consumer. If you look closely, you realize that there is rarely any change in the gender image from every Disney production to another. Confused? Think about it. There has always been that seductive female whether it be an animal or a human. Look at the dress in which Ariel wears under the sea. This mermaid has her whole midriff out, showing a little bit of a sex appeal. Now think about the movie Lady and the Tramp. Isn’t the “Tramp” attracted to the “Lady.” We all know that infamous spaghetti and meatball scene. Understand?  Another aspect of Disney movies that seems to always repeat it’s self is that the male ALWAYS has to save the women. Every movie Prince Charming sweeps in and picks that certain Princess off her feet, whether is be a Beast or a Man riding in on a horse. We as women always need to be saved. We even seem to look past the Beast’s physical appearance and just see the prince in him.

Another aspect that the film “Mickey Mouse Monopoly – Disney, Childhood, and Corporate Power” brings to our attention is stereotypical representations. From an early age children learn stereotypes from what the media shows them. Now I am going to name movie after movie and see if you see the same pattern that I see now as an adult. In Tarzan we see the Monkeys, look closely aren’t they portrayed as African Americans. Look at the way they speak? Lion King, the Hyenas, they are portrayed at Latino and they are never doing the right thing. Lady and the Tramp, the Siamese cats are portrayed as Asians. Look at how sneaky they become? Peter Pan, the Indians in Never Never land, look at the way they sit.  Even Mulan, who is supposed to act like a woman but follows a man’s order even though she wants to do what she wants. Whether it is intentional or unintentional it still has an effect on who is watching. These movies especially influence young impressionable children. So now that you are all grown up, aren’t you very surprised at how much you missed?

FRIENDS: The Beginning, Middle, & End

We loved and watched them for 10 years straight. We hung out in their apartment, went to work with them, had coffee with them and knew all about their relationships. It was almost like they were really your Friends. The TV sitcom Friends brought you into the lives of Monica Geller (Courtney Cox), Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), and Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry). Millions of us watched their relationships grow stronger over the years. We watched them, fell in love with them, and laughed with them. If you were to watch any episode of Friends, I am sure you would fall in love with these six Friends too!

If you were a true Friends fan you would know the story of these six characters from the very beginning to the very end. To refresh your memory, it all started at the infamously known Central Perk coffee house. This was where Rachel Green came storming in wearing a wedding dress looking for her long time childhood and best friend Monica Geller. Rachel had just run out of her wedding. Since Rachel had nowhere to go, so she moved into Apartment 20 with Monica in New York City.  Right across the hall in Apartment 19 lived the two funny men, Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing. Joey was a struggling actor and Chandler was a junior copywriter for an advertising agency. Coming from two different worlds the two men came together and somehow became inseparable. They lived together and brought along their Chick and their Duck. This just added to the craziness which Chandler and Joey saw as normal. They were the best of friends. Another friend was Phoebe Buffay, who was a guitar singer at Central Perk. She was best known for her hit song “Smelly Cat” and was also a masseuse. This perky, fun, out of this world girl was the one who kept you laughing for days. She was not like any of the other 5 of the friends, but she was still one of them. Finally there was Ross Geller, who was Monica’s brother. Ross also knew Rachel and had always had a crush on her. Ross went through multiple break ups and makes ups, but always loved Rachel Green. In addition, he was a geeky paleontologist and the one who was always there if you ever needed anything. These 6 friends are people who at times you could relate to and at times you could just laugh at. But this was only the beginning.

As these 10 years moved along, we watched the biggest milestones in these peoples’ lives. We lived through Ross and Rachel’s break ups and make-ups.  We all secretly wanted these two people to be together. To this day, Ross and Rachel are one of the most famous television couples. Their love was too strong to keep them apart for long periods of time. Although they fought and struggled together and apart you could always feel the love they had for each other. We even watched these two have a baby together.  Another big milestone in Friends history was when Monica and Chandler went from being neighbors, to friends, to having a secret relationship, to getting married. Monica and Chandler were the perfect couple. Monica the control freak and Chandler the sarcastic one made the perfect match for one another. They were, so in love and yet so different. The milestones that were shared throughout the Friends series will never ever be forgotten.

The clip that you are about to see is the last scene from Friends. This scene depicts the conclusion of ten years of very special friendships. Monica and Chandler have just gotten their newborn babies and are moving out of their Apartment. It was in Apartment 20 where it all started and now where it was all going to end. It was in Apartment 20 where everything happened. And now it was in Apartment 20 that we all had to say our final good-byes. This last good bye was very difficult to watch, but it was a scene that pulled together and tied together their friendships. It was the farewell that the audience was hoping for.

Now that you know a little bit more about who our Friends are and were for 10 years, lets get into what that video showed. Let’s also discuss what it meant to all of us at home watching as the 6 friends said goodbye to one another as well as to their beloved fans and audience.

The way that I am going to look at this Friends scene is through the text-centered approach, Narrative Analysis. The Narrative Analysis is text-centered and mostly has to do with storytelling, which is the common way in which we tell stories in our culture. The definition of the Narrative Analysis approach has to do with the systematic study of texts and how they are structured into a cause and effect of events with a beginning middle and end. This approach helps us understand the sequence of events, which helps reveal the potential meaning that is embedded in the texts. There are three different approaches in which we can look at when learning about the Narrative Analysis. They include, the Aristotelian Approach, Visualist Approach, and Stucturalist Approach. I will take each of these approaches and will break down the scene that you saw above from the hit sitcom Friends.

The first approach, Aristotelian Approach, examines narratives through the element of drama. It looks at the contents (plot, character, setting, theme) and vehicles (language, vocalization, performance).  Through this approach we can understand the genre. In this scene we see each of the Friend’s cast all very upset. They are realizing that their 10-year run is finally coming to an end. There are tears, laughter, and smiles. Although that is the way that they are told to act during this scene, we can honestly tell that a lot of their emotions are real. None of these actors and actresses wants to leave their characters and their friends. Jennifer Anniston is not looking to leave Rachel Green, just as David Schwimmer is not looking to leave behind Ross Geller. We can all understand the emptiness these characters are feeling when we are looking at the empty apartment. We watched each one of them let go of their keys and leave the apartment, which was their home. We watched as they walk out but were unable to really leave and decided to go to Central Perk for one last cup of coffee.

The next approach is the, Visualist Approach. This approach seeks to examine narratives through the camera narrator. It helps the audience understand the role of Visualist effects. As the 6 Friends walk out of their apartment and the camera follows them you see an empty apartment. It hits you as the audience that these people who you watched for 10 years, are really leaving and they are not coming back. You can take this approach also and look at the last couple of seconds, starting at 3:05. You watch as they go back into the empty Apartment 20 and give you every corner of the home. You take it all in and you are able to think about the good times, the bad times, the funny times, and the sad times you were able to share with these six people. Ending with the “door frame” really does finish the Friends story.  But the final clincher was seeing the little gold frame that bordered the keyhole. This was a symbol that this was really good-bye.

Finally the last approach is the Stucturalist Approach. This approach helps us understand the narrative through the act of emplotments (selection and arrangement of events happening in coherent narratives) and how the storyteller developed a coherent sequence of events to make meaning. This approach can look into the beginning, middle, and end of all 10 years of this series. We watched these six people grow up together and we were also able to grow up with them. From the beginning of the series to the last scene the events and story lines that were told were portrayed in a way that felt real. That is why I believe that the very last scene was so effective. It ended in a way that was meaningful to the audience and long time fans of the show.  We truly never wanted to say goodbye to Friends.  We all grew to understand the meaning of the special friendships that developed over the 10 years. Friends, gave us everything we wanted and so much more from the very beginning to the very end!

Media Criticism & I

Hi everyone I want to first welcome you to my blog! It’s always difficult to introduce yourself to people that you don’t know for the first time. You don’t know if what you are saying is too little or too much. But anyway, my name is Allison Wachtel, but most people just call me Allie. I am from Marlboro, NJ, which is central Jersey. More specifically, I am approximately thirty minutes to the beach and an hour to New York City. I live with my mom, my dad, and my 16-year-old sister, Stephanie.

Alpha Xi Delta Sisters

Unfortunately, I think I am still in denial that I am a senior, but fortunately I am graduating this spring 2012. I am both excited and nervous to graduate because college as all of our parents told us “is the best four years of your life.”  And I would have to agree! I initially went to Monmouth University for my freshman year and then I transferred to Towson. Towson has become my second home and where I was able to find my second family. I joined a National Sorority here on campus, Alpha Xi Delta. The girls in this sorority have really become like sisters to me. Towson and AXiD has shaped me into the young adult that I am today and for that I am grateful. I love my friends also known as my sisters.

Kim Kardashian - Emmy 2011

For the past 4 years I have been studying Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and Advertising. This past summer I was able to intern at a PR Agency, and worked in the entertainment department where I worked on accounts such as, Country Music Star, Bret Michaels, Internet Sensation, Keenan Cahill, MTV Hottie, Kenny Santucci, and R&B Group, Boyz II Men. A dream of mine is to work in Public Relations firm dealing with either fashion or entertainment. I was never any good at taking exams or memorizing information, but ever since I can remember I was always very good and memorizing what celebrities would wear on the red carpet or exactly what a specific movie was about. Not many people can say that, now can they? When I graduate in the spring I hope that I will be able to achieve my goal and will hopefully end up spending my working career in New York City. The reason I decided to take the media criticism course was because I always watched TV/Movies. I have always loved all types of media. However, I seemed to watch them very differently than all my friends and family did. I was able to read much more into the story. I loved to predict what was going to happen next and I was pretty good at predicting. At least better than anyone that I knew. Therefore Media Criticism really sparked an interest for me.

Media Criticism is defined as a systematic process used to understand media texts as meaningful socio-cultural symbolic forms and forces. But what does the definition actually mean? Media criticism teaches us that it is important to understand that media is everywhere, even if we don’t know it. Also we need to understand that WE as the millennial are the most connected generation and actually are able to understand media and how it works. Media shapes who we are and the society and culture in which we live in. Whether we want to believe it or not. Today, the media has great presence and can influence people’s life decisions. Media is a constant. You can’t hide from it. It is surrounding us everywhere. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep. There is the radio, television, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.  The good news is that the media does keep me and I am sure you as well, in touch with what goes on in our immediate environment, with our families and friends, as well as what is going on in the world. The media plays a huge role in my life. From being a mass communication major, to enjoying celebrity news in my free time, to communicating with family and friends, the media is very big part of my life.

It is very important to be media literate. Media literacy is a true skill that everyone should have. This skill teaches people how to analyze and truly understand what is being presented to us when watching programs. It is important to understand that the media has a great influence on all of us. The media is here to entertain, socialize, educate, create, inform, and interpret information. The television is one of the biggest media outlets that we have. Today, there are so many reality television shows that we all watch and that may influence us in one-way or another. Shows such as Keeping Up with The Kardashians, Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jersey Shore, and many more influence the way in which we look at our own lives. Media is a popular culture.  All of these shows have some impact on our lives, whether you like it or not. What do you think of when watching the Kardashians and The Real Housewives? Do you want your wedding to be like Kim Kardashian’s? What about Jersey Shore? Don’t you want to fist pump at the bar just as DJ Pauly D and Snooki do every Thursday on your television set?  Shows like these are doing something to our lives and impacting the way in which our society lives. Do you really think everyone in New Jersey looks like Snooki and acts like Pauly D?  Does it make you question your morals and your values or does it just entertain you?

I believe that it is advertising that influences my media consumption the most. We are exposed to advertising constantly. Advertising is all over the place; therefore hearing or seeing something over and over again it is going to have an affect on your consumption and/or your decisions.  From a very young age I have always been into watching the television. Television advertising tells us what is good and what we should buy (or what our parents should buy for us). Television advertising also shows us products that we can trust and what “everyone” else is buying. Of course, I had to have what everyone else had. Also, if a celebrity I liked endorsed a product, I wanted it.  If the ad was enticing or I thought is was something “cool” I wanted it too. In addition the media can allow us to be social. I will also go to a friend’s house to specifically watch television or sit in my apartment with my roommates and watch TV. It seems like the television is always on. It is still the first thing I turn on in the morning and the last thing that goes off at night. As I have gotten older I have also started listening to the radio and music more often. Especially when I am driving I will have the radio on and again advertisements and “jingles” constantly get my attention. I have also started to pick up tabloids/magazine when out doing errands. I have noticed that while waiting on line at the grocery store I am now more willing to pick up a magazine. A celebrity tabloid catches my eye and I find myself looking at the ads and what they are trying to sell. People don’t even realize what media does and how much it does affect ones personal choices.

People are living their lives through the media and it’s not even their fault. Even if you really tried to close yourself off from the media it is technically impossible. Media surrounds every one of us everyday. Media criticism explains how through the cultural diamond there is always an audience, a production, the social world and the text. The audiences are the people who are watching the production and how it is put together, the social world is what ideas are being put across, and the text is what is actually being portrayed to us and pressed into our brains. The media is everywhere and we cant hide. Media is always there. I have been studying mass communications for the past four years and as a result I watch and listen to the media very differently. However, I would like to look at media more critically. I find the media fascinating and I would love to see and understand it from a variety of perspectives.  At times, I try to give myself a break from all the media, BUT it’s always there even when you don’t notice it. TV, Movies, Internet, Radio. Try to take one day without media. Possible or Impossible? Only you can find out for yourself.

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