Meme Warfare: A serious statement???

Not once in my life have I ever taken a meme seriously. Not ever. Like ever, ever. Sure, I see them as entertainment, a source of humor, a lighthearted image to make my hours spent scrolling Facebook seem worth it. And I’m sure there are a lot of people that agree and feel the same. I definitely have favorite memes, and ones I will always find funny, like this guy:

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But taken him seriously??? Nah

Not only have I never taken them seriously, but I’ve never seen them as a source of propaganda. That just sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? A meme as propaganda!?!? It’s an outrage! A scandal! (Yaaas first Harry Potter quote)  However, yesterday, I learnt that a meme can be just that.

Due to our constant open source media outlet of the internet, and all the ways we are in fact no longer the audience, I guess this can’t come as too much of a shock. We use the internet to influence a multitude of happenings and issues, and one of the ways we are seen doing this is through memes.

We all hate Trump, yes? However, due to the way we were all made to think of him during the election, and still today, I began to wonder if things like this were becoming propaganda and influencing people:

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Because the internet started looking like this:

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So, are memes more than just a source of hilarity? Are they propaganda?

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Leave it on the Dance floor

What is ‘Dance Moms‘?

When I ask this I’m not asking for an analysis on Abbey Lee and her love for Maddy, or how addictive this show is, or how annoying Cathy from Candy Apples is (OMG!!! so annoying though). Instead, what I’m asking is what this show, and others of the sort, really are, and mean in society?

For those who have no idea what I am talking about or what (literally) ‘Dance Moms’ is (have you been living under a rock??) let me explain: ‘Dance moms’ is a reality TV program that follows an elite group of dancers at Abbey Lee Dance Studio. The girls are freakishly talented, the moms are insane and Abbey is basically the devil. Sounds amazing right? Despite all of the controversy its faced, it still carries a popular impact in todays society, and this is due to ‘The Public Sphere’.

‘The Public Sphere’ cannot really be defined by one concrete example, for in todays society it amalgamates itself in many forms. The news, a reality TV show, a talk show, or even Facebook. We all may forget, or not realize, its there, but it is the basis of discussion. To put it simply, it is an area of social life where people come together to discuss social problems and influence political action.

Despite this idea obviously being partaken in much of societies history, the ‘theory’ wasn’t made known until 1962 by Jürgen Habermas in ‘The Structural Transformation of Public Sphere’. Habermas explained the theory as a kind of 18th century coffee house, where men would meet and discuss issues. This has faced much backlash and retaliation today due to the exclusion of women, the lower classes, and all other minorities. However, it was the first general idea.

Today it is no longer likened to a coffee house, as for us, it is everywhere. Now, as soon as you comment or share a post on Facebook you are interacting in ‘The Public Sphere’.

Taking it back to ‘Dance Moms’, this isn’t just a ‘Public Sphere’, but a Mediated Public Sphere’. Which is basically the same thing but you could describe is as a controlled production of a ‘Public Sphere’. In this ‘Public Sphere’, the participants are the dancers, the moms and Abbey. There is always a debate sparked with the participants due to an issue being discussed in the show. And more often than not, this debate can reach the viewers, creating a wider discussion in ‘The Public Sphere’.

Take this episode linked above for example, the girls are partaking in a dance about texting and driving and its implications. This is a terrible and real issue in todays society. It could have easily sparked debate in viewers, and the moms, about the issue and how real and dangerous it is, most likely through the sphere of social media.

Not just the specific issues discussed, but the ones implied, such as the strain on the dancers, or Abbeys influence, in the show itself allows viewers to discuss the series. This creates debate and political action. Take this for example.

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As we can see, ‘Dance Moms’ is just a minuscule example of ‘The Public Sphere’, and how we all interact in it. Despite this series being part of the ‘Mediated Public Sphere’, it is still ‘The Public Sphere’ none the less.

Formerly known as the audience

Lets take a trip back in time boys and girls. Back to when time was simpler and food was cheaper. Now in this time, news was not what it is today. In fact, it was a completely different system, where news came from one source and thats all everyone read. News was just news.

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Now lets jump forward to today. News is not just news. It is an endless stream that comes from anywhere. We are the people formerly known as the audience. We can choose to be passive consumers or active makers through the internet, social media and every other form of communication available. This is due to the beauty of our now ongoing  internet which is dialogic by design. Something that cannot be controlled and anyone can broadcast any message.

This shift of the audiences participation has created a whole new spectrum of news and just what audience can really mean. As the audience is no longer passive observers, but anything they want to be.

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Beyoncé matters because we are told so

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Beyoncé is the pinnacle of modern societies entertainment. She is what young girls aspire to be and what older woman try to be. She is an artist who makes the world stop…..carry on (bad pun). Her meaningful songs and powerful lyrics persuade us to think different things like that pretty hurts or single ladies should always have their hands up. And her signature looks and images shape fashion and style. But what if I told you, this is only because someone else is telling us so. And this someone else is the media.

We cannot deny Beyoncé is an amazing artist in her own right. However her stigma and powerful influence in todays society isn’t just because of her talent or our obsession, its because of her portrayal in the media. In case you are really confused and angrily yelling at your screen “NEVER SAY THIS ABOUT BEYONCÉ SHE IS THE REASON FOR EXISTENCE” let me explain what I mean…

The media isn’t just a free system where anyone can say, think, or portray anything they want. In fact, it is far from that. It is a carefully monitored system that does not allow for much freedom. Not just this, but people OWN it. They choose what is shown and what isn’t. They CONTROL it. And we don’t have a choice in the matter. We are constantly influenced by this thing called the media, and think we are individual, independent thinkers because we read the news. Furthermore, Australia has one of the highest concentrated media ownerships in the world, if you aren’t sure what I mean just look at this image.

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These are the only people controlling what you see and what you don’t. The only people telling you that Beyoncé matters.

I am also a victim of this, as I really didn’t know the truth until yesterday. I always thought.. ‘Oh I listen to triple j and watch abc news so I’m getting like real news and thinking for myself cause I’m so independent’. Oh how wrong I was. Believing I was forming my own opinions about current issues and whether or not I thought red was a good colour for Jennifer Aniston (it is though she can wear anything).

Despite our limited access to the media and perhaps anger or fear towards this. Media will always portray some sort of opinion, and it is important to bring awareness to the fact that we are only getting few of those opinions. So next time you see Beyoncé in the media telling ladies to get in formation, ask yourself, why do you think this matters?

 

GIFS are much craft

‘Are GIFs craft?’ a young, innocent minded Jordie asked herself. She pondered this thought for a while, contemplating just what craft might mean. At first, to her, when she thought of craft she thought of Art, which consisted of painting and drawing. However, Ted had a different idea…

After a long, long, long time of thought processing (about a day), she decided that craft could be anything, and why can’t it be a GIF. Or in fact, why can’t it be the whole internet. An endless experimentation and transformation of craft.

Despite this absurd seeming story, I wanted to bring attention to the idea of craftsmanship and the process of craftsmanship through digital transformation. Or in other words, the craft of a GIF. David Pye believed craftsmanship to be“workmanship using any kind of technique of apparatus,” (Pye 1968). So, in saying that, why can’t craft be a GIF?

If you are wondering about this idea of craft, here is a GIF, look at this medium and think about the message 😉

 

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References

Pye, D., The Nature and Art of Workmanship, 1968, date accessed: 21/3/17

 

Who is this man holding a cactus?

Who is this man holding a cactus? you may ask. Or perhaps you may think, wow, that’s an awkward image. Or some may even say oh hey Michael Cera, what you doing with that cactus?

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Michael Cera holing a cactus 

Despite your possible confusion and questioning of why I am posting a picture of Michael Cera holding a cactus, I want to pose a question. What is this image? You may think it seems like a simple question but in reality it isn’t necessarily.

You see, this image can mean many different things to many different people. When looking at the study of semiotics, each person has different cultural or social backgrounds, or even a  variety of experiences which influence them to see and decode this image differently. Simply, there is no correct way to interpret this image.

Despite there being no correct way to interpret this image, this being the connotations, There is a correct way of seeing this image, or, in better language, we all see the same image, this is its denotation. This images denotation is a man holding a cactus and looking out to the desert with a pensive stare. That is what the image represents, without adding meaning or any other knowledge or background. However, when we begin looking at this particular images connotations, things begin to differ.

As earlier stated, to some this may just be a man with a cactus. Although, to others they may notice that is in fact Actor Michael Cera holding a cactus. This creates a different meaning to those who know he is an actor due to their different experiences of maybe seeing him in a film. They may begin to think of this image as a photoshoot, or a promotion for a movie, instead of just a photo of a random man with a cactus, like those who don’t have the context of him being an actor may interpret. To add a different meaning entirely, someone may have the knowledge of the landscape behind the image, and to them it begins to look like a place they know, and a whole different interpretation arises. To me personally, I see this image as a perfect example of Michael Cera. It profoundly encapsulates his awkwardness and everything surrounding it. As you can see, the image of this man holding a cactus can be read in a multitude of ways, due to the extent of peoples knowledge about the man himself, or even the landscape of which the image is set.

Hopefully it is now clear of why I am discussing an image of Michael Cera holding a cactus.

 

 

 

The medium is the massage

The way we choose to send our messages means so much more than the message itself.

This notion is the very basis and basic understanding of Marshall Mcluhan’s idea of ‘The medium is the message’. When I first fathomed this notion I thought I was just so deep. Of course it was later when I actually realized there is so much more to understand and I am really only just beginning to understand it. Ultimately, my original understanding is the general idea.

A medium is anything  that puts our thoughts into actions. It can range from any form of technology, or something even as simple as body language. A message on the other hand, refers to what is being communicated. Although, the audience we are sending our message to is highly influenced by the medium in which we are sending the message, even if they don’t notice it themselves.

For example, you send a text to your mum exclaiming “Yo mum, whats for dinner?”. Your mum replies to your message, “cHickEn andsaLad J*GBV”. You sigh in frustration. Although, If I had asked my mum in person, and she had replied with the same intention, her idea would have come across more clearly, and she would have heard my frustrated sigh for real. The vocal expression and body language significantly changes the way my message is perceived.

Therefore, we can see that the message being sent isn’t necessarily as significant as the medium I’m choosing to send it through. In fact, the mediums are constantly changing and interpreting our messages in different ways constantly.

I will admit I am still very confused and trying to understand this concept, but I don’t think I really ever will fully wrap my head around it.

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We’re all an audience and the media is our stage

Despite many of our best efforts to rid the world of many aspects of the media and to stop it from ‘overtaking’ our lives, we failed. It now cannot be denied that for most of us the media is what our day revolves around and we are its not so humble audience.

So what is a media audience you may ask, well disregarding the most obvious answer; you! A media audience is a group of individuals who are being influenced and provoked by the media to listen to it’s ideas and think in certain ways. Some members of our audience may say this sounds scary, some may say it seems ideal. However in some ways the media is really both. It can be a way of bringing ideas together or tearing them apart. Not like literally that would be weird… But its influence can be seen as both good and bad, as most radical ideas usually are.

There have always been many ideas about the use of media, particularly the extent of this use that shape the way we use it and view it. Privacy is a key concern that the media has made a more prevalent fact than ever. When Facebook first came to the forefront and everyone was getting ‘poked’ and ‘tagged’ (I really hope everyone reading this has Facebook, otherwise I’m a creep) my dad was always terrified about being ‘tagged’. He would get angry about the prospect of being ‘tagged’ online for all to see and ‘don’t tag me’ became almost like his catchphrase. Now you may be thinking this seems reasonable, some people just don’t want to be put on the internet for all to see, and I totally agree. However the fact is, my dad never had Facebook, never had an account and in no way could ever be ‘tagged’. There was just always such a misunderstanding and a fear of privacy with this new site that put your information on the internet for all to see. Especially to older generations who couldn’t fathom this understanding of media because they didn’t grow up with it like I did.

Privacy in the media today is something many people have a real fear of, just like my dad and ‘tagging’. However Violence is another paramount concern people always seem to link to the media, whether it really can be linked or not. The idea that ‘Assassins creed’ really has an influence on children and they are going to pull out an assault rifle when they’re parents tell them to do the dishes. Despite this notion being quite prominent there isn’t necessarily much evidence to suggest it exists.

These anxieties aren’t necessarily going away any time soon as they all come back to this misunderstanding and fear of the media and what it can do to society. However it doesn’t stop us from being the media’s audience, and I don’t think it ever will. As it is us who make up the media, we create it and change it everyday. We may never truly understand it and how we are influenced by it, yet in some strange way, we are the media.

A Digital Artefact and me

I don’t necessarily know what a digital artefact is or have an clue what I will create for my own. However despite this confusion and the confusion that surrounds me with all of university I must power through.

It is almost impossible to think of an idea that is completely original that I can create, or let alone compare with the ones that have been created previously. I have only thought of a few possible ideas based of things that I am interested in and for some reason they all seem to coincide with YouTube (which seems terrifying).

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  1. One idea I had was based of my inundated obsession with movies and celebrities. I could turn this obsession into some sort of movie rating or explaining Facebook page or Youtube channel. More specifically something like explaining a popular movie in a 20 sec video and creating a series of these for those not bothered to actually ever see the movie.
  2.  Another idea that crossed my mind was due to my time last year spent in the USA. I again could create a YouTube channel or Facebook page where in each video I have a particular topic and explain what it is like to be an Australian dealing with this topic in the USA. Such as where to find vegemite, driving on the other side of the road, or how to survive Trumps America (its harder than you would think).

There are so many more ideas out there, but that is the most terrifying thing about this task, that it can be anything! I’m not used to this much freedom.

An Introduction

Hello all!  Welcome to my blog to be used for many subjects in my BCMS degree at UOW. Could I BE any more excited (‘Friends’ reference 1). I can sense all the anticipation to read this blog through my screen as I type these introductory words. I have chosen to study a BCMS degree for many reasons. One of which being I have recently spent the last year living in California and the only communication skills I obtained was how to heavily use ‘OMG’ and ‘Like totally’ in as many sentences as possible. Not that this isn’t a great communication skill to have, I just also really hope to gain the skills to add ‘I need a Starbucks’ to many of my sentences also. I hope to post some interesting and engaging things throughout my time at UOW, while also letting readers cringe at my attempts at humor. But for now please just enjoy this introduction as it took me 3 hours to figure out how to post.