Dancing with Ernie dingo: Identity, minority,media

I sat there in the movie theatre with tears falling down my face and onto my neck and chest.  We were watching Annie (2014) and the gratitude I felt that my daughter sitting next to me could experience an Annie who looked like her was overwhelming.

When exploring the media space in Australia it was only natural that representation of minorities (or lack thereof) came to mind.

So I sent out a survey about people’s experience of media representation of minorities in Australia.  The short movie below gives a snapshot of the survey responses and video responses.

More detailed survey results can be seen here.

 

When absence says it all: minority representation in film and television

Growing up in Australia was a very different experience as a member of a minority. I was the only black child in a white family, so when I came home trying to explain how I was treated different, it was just my imagination…apparently. When people stared at me walking down the street or touched my hair with wonder it was “just because you’re beautiful…like a doll.” So not feeling like I fit in was how I felt…ALL the time.

skab
Garry Pankhurst, Skippy & members of the Aboriginal theatre in Yirrkala in Arnhem Land

When it came to watching television or movies, I can remember Gordon on Sesame Street and maybe the odd Aboriginal tracker on Skippy… Mostly people that weren’t white just weren’t there.  As I got older and met so many other African-American/Australian bi-racial children, who also didn’t have any contact with any other black people, I watched how they derived much of their black identity from television and film portrayals of black characters and from music.  So when we were asked to research the spatial nature of media, its (film and television) affect on identity of minorities came to mind.

So here’s what I’m doing, I’ve put together a quick survey on film and television. If you’re not from Australia, feel free to answer also (as I found a number of really old Hollywood Films made in Australia), I’d like as many responses as I can get.

For those who have something to share I also have requested video responses.

Where you can either post me a response on Youtube or send a video clip to my email: cherokee_flower@yahoo.com

This small qualitative study will be compiled into a movie and blog as part of my university work looking at media and audiences.  I also have a wide network of people online, so it’s a fantastic time to educate through storytelling.

I would love to listen to your thoughts. And if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment box below. I always read them.

As the ripples move outward: my work in reflection

The following is excerpts from my written reflection.  It’s excerpts, because the entire thing may send you to sleep. The following is part of a blow by blow reflection of the past 9 weeks of my media and audience course.

ghost-stories-940x6261The major gist of the reflection is that through reading other people’s work, I see that we have unknowingly become a story circle. Bringing our own experiences and stories to the table and sharing them and finding meaning in the process.

Defining spatial environments and how they interact and/or are acted upon by different kinds of media is the type of analysis that this project has inspired, forcing us to see the normal environment differently and to ask why.

Finding academic sources on blogging was a challenge, so I am very open to being led in the right direction just as a matter of personal inquiry… in the mean time, enjoy.

Introduction

Writing the blog posts for BCM240 has been a challenge in terms of finding the time to write, but has been of helpful in solidifying the subject matter from the lectures and making it understandable. Personalising the narrative around the week’s topic was a reflexive practice as part of our joint qualitative research. I acknowledged my experiences and used them as the launch pad to engage with the subject matter objectively.

Reading the other BCM240 student’s blogs was helpful. All the students discussed the week’s topic displaying a diversity that helped me expand my own understanding of the spatial relationship of the audience with media.

This experience is very much in line with the foundational view expressed in Nick Couldry’s paper ‘Constructing a digital story circle’, where he explores the transformative nature of the digital story circle, ‘the digital story circle would not have developed into a wider movement if it had not grasped from the outset the socially transformative consequences not just producing but of exchanging stories made from the fragmentary, often painful stuff of everyday life.’ Couldry, McDonald, Stephansen, Clark, Dickens and Fotopoulou (2015, p.2)

***the boring stuff in the middle***

Overcoming Limitations

The limitation on the quality of my posts, are the same limitations identified in the Couldry research project ‘factors of time, and levels of digital development and basic digital access.’ Couldry, MacDonald, Stephansen, Clark, Dickens & Fotopoulou (2015, p.2) When I have the time to research the topics thoroughly and am able to find more relevant academic sources the articles are more compelling in terms of forming a valid opinion. When I have a more developed understanding of digital language and operations controlling factors that will increase traffic, time spent promoting the blog will become more directional.

References

Chun-Cheng, H & Ming-Chuen, C, 2013, ‘The relationship between design factors and affective response in personalized blog interfaces’, Interacting with Computers, vol.28, no.5, p.p 450-464

Couldry, N, MacDonald, R, Stephansen, H, Clark, W, Dickens, L and

Fotopoulou, A 2015, ‘Constructing a digital storycircle: digital infrastructure and mutual recognition’, International Journal of Cultural Studies,

Mattus, M 2007, ‘Finding credible information: a challenge to students writing academic essays’, Human IT, Vol.9, no.2, p.p.1-28

Sullivan, M & Longnecker, N 2014, ‘Class blogs as a teaching tool to promote writing and student interaction’, Australiasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol.30, no.4, p.p.390-401

You’ll like what I tell you to like: love facebook

Last week I watched a shocking video of bombs falling in Aleppo in Syria. Children were left dead or maimed, husbands cradled their dead wives while in the street old men screamed at the sky. I cried. I was viewing the video on Facebook. So I pressed share and wrote a heartfelt plea to my community to watch the footage that can not be seen on commercial media.  My Facebook community is highly responsive to everything, so it caught my attention when only one person reacted to the video.  When I went looking through my feed, the video has disappeared.

A deleted post might not seem like a big deal, but it’s not the first time that things that are political or difficult to watch have disappeared from my timeline, or have not appeared in my friends feeds after I have shared them. Got me thinking about how much our online social networks are censored or engineered.

Three days ago I was met with an onslaught of panicked posts as I opened my news and twitter apps. News companies were having public anxiety attacks over Facebook changing their algorithm to favour friends over news. Apparently many media companies had changed their business models over the years to depend almost completely on Facebook for distribution.

Then today blew up twitter and news feeds with another Facebook censorship story. Facebook is accused to deleting the accounts and stories of several Palestinian journalists.  Al Jazeera detailed the accounts involved and the apology by Facebook, ‘Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong. We’re very sorry about this mistake.’Hyatt (2016) Al Jazeera suggested a reason for Facebook’s involvement in the deletion of many Palestinian journalist’s account may have a legal answer.

‘Over the summer, an Israeli legal advocacy group – connected to the Israeli army and intelligence agencies -filed a $1bn lawsuit against Facebook claiming the company was violating the US Anti-Terrorism Act by providing services that assist groups in “recruiting, radicalising and instructing terrorists.’

This is not a Facebook only censorship issue, as referred to by digital freedom advocate Rebecca MacKinnon in her TED talk ‘Let’s take back the internet’, it’s is symptomatic of the issues that occur when a corporate body is given the role of public governance when there is a monetary interest at the fore. McKinnon also shows how living in China for much of her career as CNN Beijing Bureau chief and time spent studying Taiwan as a Fullbright scholar which has increased her understanding of censorship of the internet as a new problem of the global society as it departs from the sovereign state.

We have a situation where private companies are applying censorship standards that are often quite arbitrary and generally more narrow than the free speech constitutional standards that we have in democracies. Or they’re responding to censorship requests by authoritarian regimes that do not reflect consent of the governed. Or they’re responding to requests and concerns by governments that have no jurisdiction over many, or most, of the users and viewers who are interacting with the content in question.

So here’s the situation. In a pre-Internet world, sovereignty over our physical freedoms, or lack thereof, was controlled almost entirely by nation-states. But now we have this new layer of private sovereignty in cyberspace. And their decisions about software coding, engineering, design, terms of service all act as a kind of law that shapes what we can and cannot do with our digital lives. And their sovereignties, cross-cutting, globally interlinked, can in some ways challenge the sovereignties of nation-states in very exciting ways, but sometimes also act to project and extend it at a time when control over what people can and cannot do with information has more effect than ever on the exercise of power in our physical world.’Mackinnon, R (2011)

Benjamin Jackson raises the same issue in his article ‘Censorship and freedom of expression in the age of Facebook’, explaining that social media companies are presenting something of a conundrum as private companies are not covered by the 1st Amendment (USA), ‘The prospect of censorship on social network websites is especially troubling because it is unclear whether the First Amendment provides any protections for communications on social network websites.’ Jackson (2014, p.121)

Facebook’s mission states their mission as,

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-10-46-08-pm

But, being a global private company, just like it’s peers—such as Google—they are under no real obligation to create a space where information is truly free.  Meeting a need for end users and other stake holders while staying financially viable would be of the up most importance. Facebook like Google is not a democracy…they are a private companies. As with anything new in our world the legislation is retroactive.  Possibly that places ‘us’ the users in a powerful position to make our voice heard and press for a level of censorship (or no censorship) that everyone is comfortable with. Either that or wait for the separate sovereign states to exert their control on a technology who’s greatest benefit and vision was the free exchange of information on a global level.

I’ll finish with a quote from a journal article by Sadja Qureshi speaking on the possibilities of networking to empower people,

‘Access to other individuals with similar thoughts and ideas is made possible through the Internet. Combined with the power of social networks and cellphones, people can have access to the people and resources they need to go about achieving better livelihoods. The social revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and the Occupy Wall Street movement that went global, illustrate how these networks of change are enabling information to be disseminated instantaneously, transforming perceptions of the world we live in. Castells (2012) states that “when societies fail in managing their structural crises by the existing institutions, change can only take place… by a transformation of power relations that starts in people’s minds” (p. 228). He adds that the Internet is a “privileged platform for the social construction of autonomy.” This means that individuals can define their actions around projects that meet their values, and interests independently of social institutions (Castells, 2012).’ Qureshi (2013, p.98)

censorship-quotes-85
(Hoover,M – Source unknown)
Taking into account the transformative power of a openly networked population, is it any wonder that institutions are grappling through governments, corporations and courts to gain control of this new global plane.

References

Carr, M 2013 ‘Internet freedom human rights power’, Australian Journal of International Affairs’, vol.67, no.5, p.p.621-637

Hyatt, S 2106, ‘Facebook ‘blocks accounts’ of Palestinian journalists’, Al Jazeera, 26 September 2016, viewed 3 October 2016, <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/facebook-blocks-accounts-palestinian-journalists-160925095126952.html&gt;

Jackson, B 2014, ‘Censorship and freedom of expression in the age of Facebook’, New Mexico Law Review, vol.44, no.1, p.p. 121-168

MacKinnon, R 2011, Let’s take back the internet, video, TED, July 2011, viewed 2 Oct 2016, <https://www.ted.com/talks/rebecca_mackinnon_let_s_take_back_the_internet?language=en&gt;

Qureshi, S 2013, ‘Networks of change, shifting power from institutions to people: how are innovations in the use of information and communication technology transforming development?’, Information Technology for Development, vol.19, no.2, p.p. 97-99

Multi-screening: it’s everywhere you look

Preamble: this article is something of a babushka doll of experiments. All text in this colour is my self observation.

In the beginning there was one television screen…well maybe two…well maybe a television, a wireless and a record player and they were all switched on in the same house at the same time. In the kitchen my grandmother had Bishop Fulton Sheen preaching about the evils of modern society, in his bedroom my grandfather was blocking out the world with The Pipkin’s ‘Gimme dat ting’, in the lounge room I sat with my ear and eye pressed up to the television, so close that Sesame Street had become an assortment of coloured squares.”Marguerite! She’s too close to the telly.” my grandmother would yell at my mum. (got up and put on a load of washing)

geekrule27
Global geek news

Flash forward thirty years (no I’m not exaggerating), I’m watching a Netflix movie, writing a blog on my macbook and carrying out a conversation by SMS with my friend who is at work in a factory somewhere else in Sydney. (Timer for 5min break went off – put away dishes and made toast) All this is building towards proof that multi-screening is just a natural progression of past behaviour.  Please note it has not been listed as a good progression, just a natural one.

Our task for this week in BCM240 was to construct a small experiment to observe someones attention in the presence of many devices (just toggled to another screen & touched my phone and started my Pomodoro timer) . Given that I have a house of guinea pigs that I gave birth to, their normal behaviour was prime for observing.

Friday afternoon – OBSERVATION BEGINS

15:00 – Picked subjects up from school

15:08 – Subject 1 (10) picks up iPad that was left in car from this morning, commences playing games.

15:08:01 – Subject 2 (6)  – commences complaints over Subject 1’s possession of iPad and continues for entire 10 min drive to residence.

 15:20  – Subject 1 walks into residence without lifting head from iPad. Subject 2 turns on only television set in the lounge room and grabs mothers phone to stream youtube to television.

15:26 – Subject 1 & 2 sit in lounge room watching streamed television. Subject 1 is STILL playing games on iPad. Subject 2 continues to to complain about not having own device.

15:28 – Subject 1 is affected by subject 2’s whining and fetches old iPod for subject 2.

15:36 – Subject 1 & 2 are both playing games on handheld devices whilst watching Youtube on television.

END OF OBSERVATION

During this time there was complaints about hunger, requests by me to get dressed for afternoon activities, none of which can been done whilst occupied with an electronic device.  All other activity slows or stops when occupied by the device. I’m not alone as shown by the Dolmio family swap experiment below.

(Took a 15 min break away from computer…. checked my phone of course, took out compost, brought in bins & local paper – apparently there’s issues with the NBN).

Hypothesis’ around multi-screening and multi-tasking has traditionally taken the opinion of you can only do one thing at a time well. But is that factual or is that my grandmothers ghost whispering in my ear about the idiot-box of a new-age?  In a 2013 report by Pashler, Kang and Ip from the University of California they discussed different types of multi-tasking, separating it under labels such as ‘divided attention, task switching, interrupting and dual-task performance.’Pashler, Kang & Ip (2013, p.598) Whilst showing that interrupting had almost no impact as opposed to dual-task performance showing significant impact. Of most interest was the impact of time on the person performing the multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking produced a marked and substantial reduction in information acquired from educational materials when the materials were presented in spoken form and played without waiting for the learner. On the other hand, when the learner read the materials at his or her own pace, there was no sizable or significant reduction in information acquired. This was true even when the interruptions occurred at the moments chosen by the experimenter, rather than the learner. Finally, listening to the materials and pausing to do the concurrent task were also relatively harmless.”Pashler, Kang and Ip (2013, p.597)

(kids just came home, kissed them, deposited them in the lounge room with their  devices and television) The possible ‘non-harm’ idea is explored further in a 2016 article titled ‘Negative bias in media multitasking: the effects of negative social media messages on attention to television news broadcasts.’ The article itself is focussed on research into the belief that negative attention draws more attention than positive. Relevant to this discussion however was the observation that ‘[P]revious studies have typically examined distractor tasks that have been irrelevant for the primary media task. In contrast, the attentional processing of two complimentary media tasks could benefit from the semantic similarity between the tasks.’Kätsyri, Kinnunen, Kusumoto, Oittinen and Ravaja (2016, p.3) The paper goes on to reference how the brain processes two related tasks as one semantic matter.

(Have to interrupt a fight, apparently miss 6 is not giving miss 10’s iPad back… made peace by giving miss 6 the iPod)

I would like to clarify that both the papers mentioned do not recommend multitasking and do not shy away from research that has shown the negative effects on activities such as study. They also mention that studies on the effects of multitasking with reference to multimedia on memory will be useful. (What was I talking about again?)

As shown above my own ability to multi-task is severely impaired by my circumstance and possibly learned habits of switching between tasks. This did not originate with new media devices, but is definitely enabled by them. It will be interesting in years to come to see  longitudinal studies that have the benefit of long-term data, which I don’t think is possible when so much of this technology is relatively new.

There is a lot of data against multi-tasking or about multi-device use from the perspective of an exciting commercial opportunity for retailers. It will be interesting to see the neural studies as time moves on as brain plasticity acclimatises to (interrupted by miss 6 to spell something on youtube search) our new ‘normal’ way of using electronic devices for more screen hours per day.

 

References

Pashler, H, Kang, SK, Ip, RY 2013,’Does multitasking impair studying? Depends on timing’, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol. 27, No.5, p.p.593-599

Kätsyri, J, Kinnunen, T, Kusumoto, K, Oittinen, P, Ravaja, N 2016, ‘Negativity bias in media multitasking: the effects of negative social media messages on attention to television news broadcasts’, PLoS ONE, vol.11, No.5, p.p.1-21

Feature image taken by Fougerouse Arnaud in Koh Chang Thailand. Used under non-commercial creative commons. http://www.worldinfocus.com

 

Identities adopted or created by media

Let me be honest, I’m only halfway through reading Nick Couldry’s article ‘Constructing a digital story circle: digital infrastructure and mutual recognition’. But, I know what I want to research for Media, Audience & Place, therefore I will put digital pen to digital paper now, while I am still filled with the spirit.

As usual, in an effort to be reflexive in the foundation and inspiration for my research I will submit two examples if I may. Which will also start some sort of narrative.

Example One

John Pilger filmed a documentary called ‘The War Behind the War’.  The documentary exemplifies how during the Iraq War the commercial media in the UK, USA and Australia was complicit in creating a false identity for the allied forces by reporting propaganda and censoring what information was broadcast to the public.  So the media was framed in a way that was not objective or balanced. And we are still experiencing the fallout from that in the form of Islamophobia as we were not allowed to feel compassion for the Iraqi people, or to see them as human.

Of the many outcomes of this misinformation is cultural identities being changed or upheld in both a negative and positive capacity.

Example Two

My Dad lives in Tennessee, so you can imagine that when I visit from Australia, I’m something of a novelty.  When I would go to shop or talk to people on the street, after the shocked “Oh my God! Where are you from?”  I informed them that I was from Australia (Austria? No Australia), I would immediately be greeted with “OH! Just like in Crocodile Dundee”, yeah.

The phenomenon that I’m steering towards is the ability of television, film and other medias to create identities globally, real or imagined.

The Research Proposal

Taking this idea of media creating identities and making it specific to minority identities. Using peoples memories I would like to create a story circle with people from different minority communities. Using their their memories and experience of media overtime to create a narrative on how the portrayal or absence portrayal off the minority group affects them.  Nick Couldry explains how, ‘Three main dimensions of a digital storycircle are explored: multiplications, spatializations (or the building of narrative around sets of individual narratives), and habits of mutual recognition.’Couldry (2013, p.1) I will do this by also including the experiences and memories of members of the dominant culture in relation to the media’s portrayal of minority cultures.

As part of the narrative existing data, such as the research study quoted below, will be used to supplement my small research project. I’ll be sourcing other projects from around the world with larger sample sizes.

Research findings using college students’ perceptions have consistently
shown that negative exposure to African American portrayals in the media
significantly influences the evaluations of African Americans in general (Ford,
1997; Mastro, & Tropp, 2004; Power, Murphy, & Coover, 1996). Other res-
earch has shown that Black depictions on television have an effect on view-
ers of all ages and of all races (Bryant & Zillmann, 1994; Dates, 1980). Punyanunt-Carter (2008, p.242)
The way minorities are portrayed on television, film and other media has changed over time is an important facet of research. The below study looked at white peoples reactions to watching black comedy, ‘Stereotypical television portrayals of African-Americans in a humorous context increase the likelihood that whites will perceive an African-American target person in a stereotypical manner.’ Ford (1997, p.266) So there are some very clear studies showing the impact of the portrayals of minorities on audiences.
This cartoon today is so offensive to me. But, it would be interesting to have the discussion with someone who has the capability relaying a history. It may even be interesting to make a compilation of scenes of television and film over time and have my subjects give their impressions of each one.
Looking at how violated do minority people feel in their own homes may be a point of discussion. Do they turn off certain music or advertising because of the portrayal of minorities? What do they let their children watch? Why? If they have white friends or family over, do they watch different things in order to not offend?
Given that this will be a small study I will have to make it smaller and more specific. I do think that affect of minority portrayals on media on audience identity or perception there of it is a worthy area of media research.

References

Couldry, N, Macdonald, R, Stephansen, H, Clark, W, Aristea, L, Aristea, F, 2015, ‘Constructing a digital storycircle: digital infrastructure and mutual recognition’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, p.p.1-29
Ford, TE, 1997,’Effects of stereotypical television portrayals of African-Americans on person perception’, Social Psychology Quarterly, vol.60, no.3, p.p.266-278
Punyanunt-Carter, NM 2008,’The perceived realism of African American portrayals on television’, The Howard Journal of Communication, vol.19, no.3, p.p.241-257

Chris will not be attending the cinema this week

roxy-cinemaAs a sixteen-year-old I worked as a dental nurse in Nowra. The surgery is opposite the old Roxy theatre, where it wasn’t unusual for me to be seen the four or five times a week. I had a Granton card which knocked the extravagant price of six dollars, down to four dollars per session. Clocking off work at five o’clock meant I was just in time for the 5:10 session of whatever was playing. Courtesy of being brought up an only child, I never feared going to the movies alone. The cinema was pink and grotesque, decked out with fibreglass Roman statues of decadent gods that would not approve of the tastelessly distributed Rococo and Art Deco details in the plaster work. There was a candy bar downstairs that did not overcharge for their wares.

Years later when I moved to Sydney and found myself at my grandparents house in the western-suburbs of Sydney, my movie fetish continued.  My favourite thing was to grab some hot food, sneak it into the cinema and watch some movie that I had heard nothing about.  I was always pleasantly surprised.  I never got caught, always managing to take my feet off the seats and hide my food whenever an usher checked the aisles (an activity I haven’t seen in a long time). There was a Roxy cinema in Parramatta that had the same gawdy decorative style as the Roxy in Nowra and the uncomfortable vinyl seats and wooden floors.

My grandmother, who was also a movie buff even tried to share secrets about how to get more bang for your buck. “You know what you should do, when you finish watching one movie, you just go inside another cinema, they won’t notice.” She even tried to convince me that in senior citizen week I should dress up as an old woman, so I could see as many movies as I wanted for free.

These days the movie experience seems to be quite similar with some interesting developments. Hot food can be taken into the cinema (legally). Seats are becoming more luxurious and comfy. Some cinemas have converted seats to lazy-boy style recliners. Cinema as an event is on the rise. Events like Moonlight Cinema, Chicks at the Flicks and other interactive movie experiences are breaking down the traditional cinemascape and creating a space that is more liquid and user focused. With sensory theatre experiences on offer—for a price.

This week our task was to go to the cinema, which sounds simple, but as it quite often turns out was beyond my capabilities within this time frame. My efforts to get to the cinema in the last week read like an omage to Hägerstrand. Swedish geographer ‘Hägerstrand’s time-geographic concepts relate to how and why individuals, in one or more populations, link to each other and move (or are moved) between places which are the cornerstones of transport research.’Ellegård and Svedin (2012, p.20)

So Hagerstrand’s theorem in practice, and in relation to my planned excursion to the movies relates as follows:

1.Can I get there? = no I cannot

2. Can I correlate times? = no I could not

3. Can I get in? = if I could have, I would have

The truth is before having children I was an avid movie goer. I would always choose the cinema over viewing at home. One of those freaky people who like to go to see random movies by themselves, I was sneaking in hot food before you were allowed to (even butter chicken, which is NOT a good idea).

But my efforts to go to the cinema this week were dashed.

Why couldn’t I get there?

I have classes four days a week, most days only getting home in enough time to pick up my children from school. As a single parent, I am the only one who is available to pick my children up from school. Then, there was a birthday party all day Saturday which was adorable, but inconvenient. But there was cake, which justified all inconvenience caused.

Sunday’s excuse is I was extremely ill with flu/asthma, going to the movies would just be plain rude (coughing through the movie is another ‘no’)

Is it about time?

ABSOLUTELY. With not enough time available between returning from university and picking up the children I was unable to visit the cinema.

Authorisation

While my usual barrier in this category is money, this week it was not. I could have taken my children to the movies with me, but there was nothing that we hadn’t seen that was for children, therefore, classification became an authority barrier.

So instead, I sat on a Sunday, on my messy bed, folding the clothes I just took off the line,  wiping my nose & pitching the dirty tissues at the bamboo bin in the corner of my room. My cinematic experience was being provided by my laptop stationed on the corner of my bed. I was pressing pause every time I went to put something in the drawer in the next room. Netflix is my ever obliging box office, it is always open and never judges me when I fall asleep. It even holds my place when my kids interrupt me convinced that I MUST come to the lounge room and watch their latest dance concoction. You see, real life is so much better than what’s on the screen.

References

Ellegård, K and Swedin, U, 2012, ‘Torsten Hägerstrand’s time-geography as the cradle of the activity approach in transport geography’,Journal of Transport Geography,
vol.23, p.p. 17-25