Blog Essay 6

Perhaps it’s the layover from Memorial Day and the act of getting back into the groove of mass communication and society readings, but I felt like this week was a bit more difficult to find a common thread aside from the media influence theme I seem to be getting throughout this course. 

Several of the readings and links pointed to the controlled and deliberate messaging behind media.  As Media Giants displayed, a handful of companies control nearly everything; this is quite frightening and certainly points to the necessity of sites like Churnalism. 

Dr. Schiller’s text excerpts on how media information is controlled and influenced was a particular piece on this.  I found several of his myths to be particularly thought provoking.  The myth of media pluralism, particularly the statement that if there are no options, but the person believes there to be, this is manipulation.  I wonder how often we believe we have a choice, when reality we are simply doing what is expected of us.  I have spent the last week training to lead a group of teenagers around Belize for three weeks later this summer.  Several times we were reminded to present “options” to students in order to give them a sense of control in the decision making process, when in reality we will be making the decisions for them.  I imagine this happens quite often in life, and I am a bit embarrassed I never before considered this a media tactic.  

As someone interested in media advertising, I was initially drawn to the captains of consciousness article.  I found the captains consciousness article interesting in its conclusion that the worth of a product does not determine whether people purchase, but instead the self-consciousness of the consumer.  This had me thinking a bit.  I have been looking into the Dove campaigns quite a bit, and I wonder if this isn’t what Unilever (Dove’s parent company) has in mind with these campaigns.  Perhaps the idea is that these campaigns lead women to be dissatisfied and this leads to profit for Dove. 

Not only is advertising manipulated and controlled but (of course!) production itself is.  Shifting circles by Susan Keith presented an alternative view to Shoemaker and Reese’s hierarchy of influences on media content.  I was a bit surprised by Keith’s statement that web production isn’t standardized.  I admittedly have no experience with print or web based (or any other, really) media production, but I guess I had always assumed Web media was produced in a similar manner to that of news – except it was electronic.  However, I do suppose that bloggers the immediacy of access has made this a different landscape.  I understand Keith’s proposal for shifting and believe it to be valid.  However, I wonder about our technologically advancing society and if any theory can adapt quick enough to accurately represent the changes that are even still occurring.   

Discussion Questions:

To what extent do you believe we are given valid choices, compared to meaningless options?

To what extent do you agree with the proposal that purchases are more due to self-consciousness than actual value?

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One thought on “Blog Essay 6

  1. To what extent do you agree with the proposal that purchases are more due to self-consciousness than actual value?

    I agree with the article that promotion of consumerism is more efficient if factors that apply to personal understanding are considered. But to be honest, my first reaction for answering this question is another question: how do you determinate how is the actual value of something? The value of a product is a social construct. Marxism tried to explain the different values of production, and finished up with a materialist interpretation of historical production. So I think that materialism is a good word to talk about purchasing something. As much needs we create in people, as much value things start to have, since they are socially viewed as a need. My next question is related to consumers. What is the people, citizens or consumers? If the systems teaches to understand oneself as a consumer, then you will see products just from its benefits to you, nothing related to its value.

    Regarding to self-consciousness, I remember a health advertisement in Spain for teens stop smoking. There were situations of parties, or couples flirting, and then the smokers were using a disgusting perfume from a big bottle, with cigarettes on it. The add affirmed that “Smoking seriously harms your personal image”. The campaign was really successful, since the Health Department of the Spanish Government was targeting what was more important for the Spanish youth: their self-conscience and its dissatisfaction.

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