Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Media Confessions

Lipton asked us, one day in class, to offer up confession. To say something that we did that we were a little embarrassed about. At first I couldn’t think of anything, really I couldn’t, but then I realized what I was doing right then: Facebook Bumper Stickers.
Just like I was addicted to finding or making MSN display pictures, I’m now addicted to going through the thousands of “stickers” that you can post on your page to express yourself.

I don’t know exactly why I get drawn into spending an hour pointlessly flipping through them while I’m watching TV or talking on the phone. I love the cute messages that some of them say: “HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH GORGEOUS CAUSE THEY WILL KILL TO SEE YOU FALL.” I love the power of an image or a colour or a word. The power of letters or text to convey an emotion or a statement or an idea.

I want to be a photographer, as I may have mentioned. Even though I know these are reused pieces of nothing, I still sometimes appreciate the composition of the little piece, the way that it so simply gets a message across without words. It could be best friends hugging and laughing or a young child kicking a soccer ball, but there is an emotion there and I guess I like to live trough it for a moment, as if I am looking back at memories.

I also like the idea of having a picture that is a statement to me and showing it off for everyone to see. Besides my display picture or my likes or dislikes, I don’t have much else to give them an idea of who I am.

It's weird to me that I am embarrassed about spending so much time looking at pictures that aren’t mine, but I suppose if I wanted I could call it a form of art, even if that is getting a little desperate.

Six Feet Under

I’ve heard of the TV show SIX FEET UNDER, I remember studying it in my media studies class in grade eleven. I loved looking at all the different symbolism then and going over it again this year just refreshed my understanding of it.

The way that Lipton explained it made a little more sense than my grade eleven teacher, however, and I think that this time I got more of an in-depth look at it. It also gave me more of an understanding of semiotics, something that I’ve never looked at before this course.

From the single crow that flies through an empty sky to the lone tree in an empty field and the separating of the hands, everything about the first few seconds tells us that this is dealing with something dark, something deep and dealing with a strong issue. The creepy, single note music heightens the sense of suspense or mystery that brews up before the sharp turn of the gurney wheel. The body is even being wheeled down a bright hallway and “into the light.” Obviously the show is dealing with letting go, death, and perhaps the process of the two?

This sequence got me looking at symbolism more than the Madonna on Top video clip because these were much more obvious symbols that could be identified with much more ease. As well, they had stereotypical connotations and were well connected with myth.

I really liked how the raven and the lone tree were shown again at the end to make sort of a full circle effect, adding a little closure but not enough to make the viewer feel complete.

I learned the most from this clip, I think, because it was so easy to initially understand and link to things that were already subconsciously imbedded in my mind. It’s this type of thing that makes me interested in advertising or television or anything to do with expression through imagery.


So Christmas is in about a month and I’m starting to feel my regular grinchlyness setting in. My mother was never one to get all festive and send out Christmas cards or put up holy or go crazy over gifts. She just hates spending so much money in the name of love. Love, in her mind, is priceless, and therefore she needn’t receive a single wrapped box to know that those around her love her. She would rather us scrub dishes or help her with the laundry to prove that we care.

Everyone I know is getting in the Christmas cheer and all I can think about is the fact that I’m probably not going to buy anyone gifts because I’m a college student and I’m simply too poor. None-the-less, I joined the floors secret santa, and once i found out who i was buying for I actually started to get really excited aboutbuying her a gift.

I knew the girl very little, pretty much just her name, so I didn’t have a lot to go by. I decided to settle on something that I would want. My mom always says that a good gift is something useful that the receiver wouldn’t go out and buy for themselves. I decided a mickey of Kahlua and four hot chocolate packets would be a perfect thing to get for Christmas.

I’m amazed in how excited I got when it came time to wrap the gift. I elaborately found ways to deceive the opener and disguise the contents of the gift as well as possible. How could I get so excited about a material item that I was giving to someone I barely knew? Was I excited to see her reaction? Was I excited to get my gift from someone else? I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a gift exchange since public school.

Information Gluttony

Lipton mentioned that we are in an age of information gluttony, and the idea of this turned on a light bulb for me. I wanted to explore the idea of the “info gluttony” in a greater depth. To me, gluttony is obese excess to a gross amount. So therefore, information gluttony must be a grossly excess amount of information (and I'm taking it to be false or true). Where else can all of this be found? The internet.

We are exposed everyday to more and more “shit” that needs to be dug through. Pointless and meaningless crap that is nothing more than a waste of space and energy. The internet is home to a giant nest of old tin-cans and hair from who knows who. There is more out there than anyone can hope to shovel through. So how does one know what is good? How does one know how to “dig through the shit?”

This question is something I haven’t yet found the answer to. I can only say that I need a bigger shovel, or a smaller pile of poo. Since the latter is not bound to happen, actually it is bound to be the opposite, I think I need to start coming up with rules or guidelines or something that will keep me on track and above the crap.

This metaphor is something that I will contiue to explore in the future, in a less crude way, perhaps.

The Ebb and Flow

I went to my first concert the other day, on a sunday night. It was one of my more favorite bands in my small collection of music. I’m not a concert-goer. I went to Riverfest where Big Sugar played in 2002 (I was twelve) and I went to see OKGO and the Frey last spring, but we had some of the worst seats in the house so I don’t count that one either.

I only had the opportunity to go because a friend of mine who attends concerts all the time had a spare ticket. I have to say, that being in a group of that many people, squished into your own tiny little space that is barely your own and swaying and moving to the music in all one motion with each other is one terrific experience. There was one point where everyone in the tightly packed group was jumping up and down at the exact same time so that, if you weren’t jumping too, you would be lifted off the ground with them.

This group mentality and group movement it like a perfect example of how society works. If someone gets pushed, they are pushed into the next person, and soon enough you have this wave of people falling over and all getting pushed one way, until everyone is rocking back and forth in extreme fashion.

You can’t stay in the pushing and shoving crowd for too long because soon enough you run out of air and can’t breathe because of the intensity of it, so you need to step back and watch for a while before working your way, clawing and shoving your body back to the place you were at before, and if you’re lucky even closer to the stage.

The concert-going scene is one I would love to enter and seeing my fav. bands play on a regular basis is something I know I would really enjoy. There is just something so satisfying to be in one place with so many strangers, but you’re all there connected by one single passion for music or a band or whatever you are there for, you are connected to the next person because of it.

Ways of Seeing

As someone who is interested in the arts, and photography specifically, I found ways of seeing to be unpredictably entertaining.

One of the ideas that were discussed that particularly caught my interest was the concept of freezing a moment of pertinent emotion, without the image looking banal. How does one capture the exact emotion that the artist is trying to convey. One of the most difficult, the book says, is that of capturing a motion. There was one quote which described it pretty well: “In livid sexual experience, nakedness is a process rather than a state. If one moment of that process is isolated, it's image will seem banal and it's banality, instead of serving as a bridge between two intense imaginative states, will be chilling” (Berger 60).

The author used an image by Rubin, one of his second wife pulling on a fur coat; you knew that she would at no other time be caught as she was. “Her body confronts us, not as an immediate sight, but as experience” (61). I liked the idea of a caught moment with so much passion and how the artist needed to incorporate all these other things that our other senses would normally pick up and we wouldn’t need to see visually.
I also liked the chapter on publicity and how it is “selling the past to the future [...] so all it’s references to quality are bound to be retrospective and traditional” (139). The way human beings interact with one another is shown over and over again, in different settings or environments. “[Publicity] would lack both confidence and credibility if it used strictly contemporary language” (61).

I’m learning more and more that I’m really very interested in the advertising side of things,in the buying and selling and persuading. It makes sense to me and grabs my attention. I guess it is in some ways helping me understand where I’m getting all these morals and urges to buy things too.

Toxic Sludge Is Good For You!

I am quickly becoming aware of the subject and theme of this course. It is quite brutally shoved in our face every time we open a required reading. The subject: Media Hegemony. The theme: We are letting ourselves be controlled.

“When corporations say ‘we care,’ it is almost always in response to the widespread perception that they do NOT care. Some of the industrial polluters with the worst records have devised ‘public education’ campaigns that allow them to placate the public while they continue polluting” (Rampton and Stauber 131).

Again, it is just one more way that those WHITE MEN IN SUITS have control over us. It is just one may way that we are nursed into submission, being told that “it’s okay.” I must sound like a conspiracy theorist when I discuss the “evil ways of the media,” and how they’re trying to control our every move, but that’s just how I feel after reading all of these things. I feel like we have no control over what we do. I know that we do, of course, have the option to try and shut it all out, but in this age, shutting everything out would be one difficult task.

The book discusses the way the government uses propaganda to control the economy. It also discusses how big companies use propaganda to mislead the public into buying their products. It really feels unsafe to trust anything anymore, how do I know who is lying to me? TOXIC SLUDGE IS GOOD FOR YOU really is the perfect title for the book and the book has the perfect message for this course: they are only trying to sell you something.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

I remember reading Brave New World in grade eleven. I remember how ridiculous I thought the mock society was, and how we as a class discussed Huxley and how he was a genius who predicted the future. Not that we are all taking SOMA of course, but we talked about the birth control pills idea (they didn’t even have BCP then) and the sexual freedom that they all had. We talked about their docile society and how they were being controlled through their ignorance and bliss. What I don’t remember talking about, however, is how their book related entirely to our world today.

I also remember 1984, and the totalitarian-like society they had, with a run-down apartment named something like paradise and the crappy alcohol that he drank with another deceiving name. We talked about their control through fear and deception and how the two societies (Orwell’s and Huxley’s) contrasted.

Postman talks about these as well, but he lays his emphasis(obviously) onto Huxley’s world, the dream world, where everyone is supposedly happy. I agree with postman in that we truly are amusing ourselves to death. Our society is too liberal with our rights and our freedoms and we would not stand to be controlled with an iron fist. We love our amusements, our TV, our cars and our toys. We love our drugs, our lovers and our “good taste.” Entirely related to media hegemony, we are quietly and peacefully being led along and are living out our meaningless media muddled lives.

It’s depressing to think that giving into our addictions, our wants and our pleasures are what is keeping us wrapped up in their palms. Postman claims that TV is our downfall, but it is not only that, it is everything to do with TV and more. TV is only the beginning. Of course, without the beginning there is no end.

“We may safely assume [...] that the television commercial has greatly influenced American habits of thought. [...] It has become an important paradigm for the structure of every type of public discourse” (Postman 126). Again with the advertising. TV is a visual and hilarious representation of our world. 200 years from now, what would someone say about us if they saw the programming that we have?

I know that 1984 has been compared to Bush’s empire over and again, but I feel the need to rebel against this slightly and say, yes, Bush is using a doctrine of fear, but is it not the lavish overspending that American habit condones that has placed their dollar below ours? It is the gluttony of our nation that will eventually consequence our demise.

This scares me a little bit, too. Procrastination is my one luxurious habit. The luxury of having the time to put something off only brings me to a point where there is no more time for procrastination and I don’t sleep for a day as punishment. It’s like the brutal hangover after a night of partying. What I wonder is, what will be our nation’s hangover?

We The Media

“The mass media does not reveal reality, it masks it. [...] It induces passivity, resignation and selfishness. It doesn’t generate creativity; it creates consumers.”

Of all the books I think I enjoyed WE THE MEDIA the most, especially the chapter on advertising. The articles give such a clear, honest opinion of the media that it is easy for one to delve into the betrayals of the media industry.

I loved the line by Jean Kilbourne, “Advertising is partially a reflection of the culture that created it” (42). I think that this one line captures advertising and it’s effect on our culture entirely. Her article, selling our souls, talks about how our society and advertisements bounce back and forth and off of each other, how one creates the other and so forth. She talks about how the ads sell more than just products, they sell morals and principles.

This to me is a revolutionary idea. I had thought, of course, about how advertising is geared towards making people feel insecure about themselves, but I had never thought about how it effects us besides that. Advertising not only reflects culture, but creates it. For instance, it creates idealized women and idealized men, and dictates what is the socially “normal” way for us to act and interact. They instill morals onto us, for instance, how mothers are supposed to be the sensitive loving homemaker and the father is supposed to be the tough money-maker. They play on and further stereotypes like the SOCCER MOM or the SEXY WOMAN. Of course I had probably taken all of this in subconsciously, but that one line made it all come together.

The quote at the beginning, the one that captures all the negatives of what advertising is, is pretty much the subtext for the entire book. It, to me, captures the essence of the media driven world that we live in. It is about the media hegemony and the control that they have over us and how they plan on keeping control. They want us to be mindless drones and we accept it because they mask their control so well.

The book dealt with issues like racial discrimination, which is a topic that until now I hadn’t considered either. On page 143, in the chapter called behind the scenes, Farai Chideya discusses racism in news reporting. The claim is that only “5 percent of reporters in the United States are black and only 3.1 percent of newspaper managers are black” (143). This goes back to the definition of Media Hegemony that we received on the first day of class, “White, male, christians with too much power.”

This book helped me become more aware of all the media that is around me. I am more aware of the underlying messages in advertisements and what the newscasters are spewing at me. I am so aware of the brands and the stereotypes that are constantly around me now, it is sometimes overwhelming. Of course, I’ve dimmed it down a bit, realized that this is just how our world is. I am looking to be a photographer and I need to know how to use these stereotypes to my own advantage. As I’ve learned, the media isn’t particularly responsive to those who speak out against it, and therefore, I believe, IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM.

(ha ha just kidding! I’m not giving into their mindless-drone-spell! Creativity all the way!)

Media Ownership/Hegemony

Our group decided to research Disney for our Media Ownership/Hegemony because it was something that we could all easily relate to and we thought it would be more interesting than some of the others that were listed. Deciding upon it came fairly easily, we all agreed that we wanted to research it.

This was one of the better group projects, we all gathered in the R3 common room and discussed what our poster would look like and who would do which part of the project. While we were all gathered, one member accessed the Disney website, which contained most of the information we needed. Once everything was delegated (who would make the poster, who would present, etc.) the project was easily completed.

Those who lived in residence, particularly on R3 decided that they (we) would make the poster because it was the most convenient for all of us to gather together at once. We decided that using logos (i.e. the Disney Castle) would be most effective, and popular Disney characters would give the poster some fun.

Disney has an entire empire that encompasses everything from books to clothing to music to movies and more, with several companies in each. It is incredible to me how one corporation can have so many money making products. They way that they have sold themselves and just made it all work, everything tying into one another, presenting themselves and being available in all ways. That one company can own so much is ridiculous, but also entirely sensible.

Here is a list of everything that we put on our poster (from :

-Walt Disney Company Book Publishing; 
-Hyperion Books; 
-Miramax Books.
-The Disney Channel 
-Toon Disney
-ESPN Inc. (80 percent) (includes ESPN; ESPN 2; ESPN News; ESPN Now) 
-ESPN Extreme
-Classic Sports Network (with AT&T)
-A&E Television (37.5 percent)
-The History Channel (with Hearst and GE)
-Lifetime Television (50 percent)
-E! Entertainment (34.4 percent)


United States: ABC TV and radio networks; 10 television stations; 29 radio stations.
International: The Disney Channel U.K.; and seven other countries, including France, Italy and Spain; ESPN Inc. International; Eurosport (33 percent); Sportsvision of Australia (25 percent); ESPN Brazil (50 percent); ESPN STAR (50 percent); and sports programming throughout Asia. Net STAR (33 percent), owners of the Sports Network of Canada. Minority stakes in Tele-Munchen Germany; RTL-2 Germany; Hamster Productions France; TV Sport of France; Tesauro of Spain; Scandinavian Broadcasting System; Eurosport England; Japan Sports Channel.

-Buena Vista Television
-Touchstone Television
-Walt Disney Television
-Walt Disney Television Animation (production facilities in Japan, Australia, Canada).

-Walt Disney Pictures
-Touchstone Pictures
-Hollywood Pictures
-Caravan Pictures
-Miramax Films
-Buena Vista Home Video
-Buena Vista Home Entertainment 
-Buena Vista International.

Five magazine publishing groups: 
-ABC Publishing Imprints
-Disney Publishing Inc.
-Diversified Publications Group 
-Miller Publishing Group. Titles include Automotive Industries 
-Disney Magazine
-ESPN Magazine (distributed by Hearst) 
-Institutional Investor
-Kentucky Prairie Farmer.
Four daily newspapers, including St. Louis Daily Record.

-Buena Vista Internet Group
-ABC Internet Group
-Mr. Showbiz
-Disney's Daily Blast
-ESPN Internet Group (60 percent)
-Go Network
-Infoseek (43 percent) (majority stake, educational toys).
- Disney Interactive (develops and markets computer software, video/DVD games, CDs)

-Buena Vista Music Group
-Hollywood Records 
-Lyric Street Records
-Mammoth Records
-Walt Disney Records
-Walt Disney Theatrical Productions (stage versions of "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," "King David")
-Anaheim Sports Inc.; Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (National Hockey League)
-Anaheim Angels (25 percent partnership) (Major League Baseball)

-Disneyland: Anaheim Disney
-MGM Studios
-Disneyland Paris
-Walt Disney World
-Disney's Animal Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
-Walt Disney's World Sports Complex (golf, car racing and baseball complex)
-27 hotels with over 36,000 rooms 
-Disney Cruise Line (two cruise ships) 
The Disney Institute

The Disney Store (Disney merchandise), over 720 worldwide.

Of course, Disney stretches outside of Canada, but this list alone proves how much control this company has over what we are exposed to. Isn’t Disney one of the few companies that public schools are allowed to show the students? Isn’t it a little bit big-brother-ish for one company to have so much control, to have so many outlets and advertising? It freaks me out a little, how this thing has nearly taken over. I guess I’ve never thought about who owns what and who is giving the yes or no to what goes on TV or on the news stands, but if it’s all coming form one place, that’s certainly something to think about.

Shameless Magazine

So right away I was stoked to find a woman’s (or girl’s) magazine that isn’t all about celebrities or beauty or sex. I am an Elle magazine and Cosmopolitan magazine addict, and I easily get sucked into trends or celebrity gossip. Before Elle or Cosmo I read YM and Seventeen. If I had been exposed to a magazine like Shameless, I may have different values than I do today.

When logging into the website, the first article that pops up is an ad for Canadian Club whiskey. The picture is of a young man sitting in a chair holding a mixed drink and with a gorgeous brunette laughing and sitting on his lap. The headline reads, “Your mom wasn’t your dad’s first.” The following article is about sexism and how the ad is clearly geared towards men. What woman would want to imagine the father she looks up to as a womanizing man-slut who wasn’t always hopelessly devoted to her mother? The title of the article is: “Your dad was a womanizer, drink this!”

It’s a shame that the magazine isn’t more widely broadcast and that more young women aren’t aware of it. If publications like this were more mainstream and popular, the issues we (young girls) have may not be so prevalent. Magazines like YM rave about boosting the self-confidence of young girls, but they are still filled with layouts of stick-thin girls and they still hold quizzes with titles like, “does he like you?” and all the best make-up tips. Then there are mags like Teen Beat which actually make me nauseous because when I was a teenager (14-18), I wasn’t reading those types of “boy-crazy” bullshit rags, but I know that 10-13 year olds probably are. They are meant to look like they are targeted towards TEEN girls, when really it is the pre-teens who are reading them. I used to babysit a girl who was obsessed with Zack Efron, a boy nearly twice her age.

If magazines were more like Shameless and tackled actual issues (like sexism), and not just how to deal with split ends, we would most likely be a much more developed nation, with a higher intellectual population. Young girls would have idols that have journalism or science as a career, rather than walking cat-walks or reciting script for the camera. Girls would have bigger dreams than just kissing the captain of the basket-ball team and that would be perfectly acceptable. Perhaps that’s just my dream, though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ian’s Thesis and Presentation

I thought it was really great to have the opportunity to watch Ian do his presentation and see the type of work that is put into getting a PHD. I really liked the thesis that he had come up with, the whole idea about “fake news.” It really must be a phenomena of our era, because I’m sure there would never be a place for it in any other time period. The freedom of speech that our country “allows us” has changed our society in so many ways.

I think that having the “fake news” shows, such as The Daily Show or The Rick Mercer Report keep the youth interested in what is going on in our world. I think that by putting an entertaining twist on what is going on in our world, it keeps us wanting to watch and keeps more teens involved (or at least informed) in the news. It is important for us to be involved and interested because so many of us aren’t voting when we have the opportunity to, and to have a TV program that informs us in an entertaining fashion is, to me, a big leap in our culture.

I liked the question period after his presentation, I found it interesting to hear the thoughts of others because it was a little difficult for me to think of something specific about his presentation that I had a question about. I felt like he had explained everything so well, I can’t imagine all the work that is put into creating a thesis and researching it and writing the presentation and memorizing it. I find it difficult to memorize a three minute speech, let alone a fifteen minute one. This makes me nervous about having to create my own thesis in my fourth year.

“Nothing in Advertising is There By Accident”

If there was one thing that shocked me the most out of all the things we were shown in class it was the “Madonna On Top” video. Lipton asked us to come up with a theme or a saying for the commercial and the only one’s I could think of were, “wear gap jeans” or “Be a celebrity like Madonna and Missy and buy from the Gap.” I would never think of something like “Madonna’s on Top.” For one thing, I didn’t even see the racism in the clip; it didn’t even occur to me that that was a feature in the commercial.

I thought it was really interesting when Lipton started pointing out the individual, little things that proved his thesis; like the chain on the left side of her jeans or how she was looking over the left side of her shoulder or how the scenery painting was painted when it went behind her but they showed the back of it when they carried it behind Missy. I thought it was particularly meaningful when Lipton pointed out how the director filmed her head and shoulders and how that was a dominant, commanding shot, verses how they shot Missy from the knees up. I also found it interesting how they showed Missy almost creeping out from her stage door with the M on it, compared to how they introduced Madonna in a positive way right from the start.

I have always been one that is interested in the secret meanings behind things, and this analysis of the commercial had me captivated. I think it’s so, so interesting how advertisements work and are organized and every little thing is thought out. I’ve never really thought about it, how nothing is there by accident, how if I see a particularly unattractive person selling something, it’s that way for a reason. I love how I’ll be watching a commercial and not even think that the people in them are actors, just because they fit their role so well. It doesn’t even occur to me that someone sat there and planned where the vase of flowers would sit or picked out the color the mother is wearing or what pictures would be hanging on the wall or anything like that.

This introduction to semiotics made me look forward to the essay I was writing, because I knew that I would be interested in what I was writing about. I couldn’t get over the fact that the commercial was racist. Because the world that I live in personally is so devoid of racism, I couldn’t believe that a company would make a commercial with it so plainly obvious. Only, it wasn’t so obvious, I even admitted that I didn’t even think of racism when I watched it. Perhaps that is just the way I was brought up to think though. Would someone else with different beliefs see it right away? Was it really racism or was the commercial just geared towards making Madonna on top? What if she were paired with someone else, someone white? The commercial could be exactly the same, and Madonna would still come out “on top.”

The Big Distraction

I’ll be honest, when I’m sitting in class, the internet and my laptop is the biggest distraction. I think that every time Lipton asked us “who here is on Facebook” I hung my head in shame and closed my internet browser. Why would the school give us this luxury? It’s like giving chocolate to an overweight child on a diet and telling him/her not to eat it.

Lipton says he likes the chaos, but it’s hard to pay attention when I have my best friend on MSN telling me about her juicy weekend, or when a little blip pops up on my screen saying, “you have one new message.” Curiosity gets the better of me and I click the little box that takes me to my inbox. Oh look, I think to myself, BCBG is having a sale on winter coats! I have to see them! Maybe I’m just an online shopping addict, but if the internet wasn’t available to me, I wouldn’t have the option to get sidetracted that way.

I sit here blaming the internet for my distracted mind-wandering, but if it weren’t here to tempt me, would I be still be finding it so difficult to stay focused in class? I have to agree that I like the chaos too, it makes the learning experience more interesting, but sometimes it really does feel like too much.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Save the Animals

As media students, we are aware of the mass damage that goes on every day. We are aware that people in the world are suffering. This is why we chose to do our “activist project” on something other than the tribulation of mankind. Personally, I’ve never really been a “save the whales” type of girl. I knew that animals suffered due to poor human interaction, that dogs and cats went hungry and sometimes people did really bad things to their pets, but the topic had never interested me. It really just made me want to turn off the TV when I saw things like that.

I decided to go along with the idea, however, and when we agreed upon the devastation of mistreated circus animals, I can’t say I was overly impressed. None-the-less, I know this is a learning experience, so I agreed to help out with it. One of the other girls had done most of the research, so it was up to us to post the flyers around residence and hand them out in class.

I can’t say that I was overly surprised by what is still happening today. One of the things that this course has done is opened up my eyes to the cruelty of mankind. Still though, before this semester, I didn’t put a whole lot of time into informing myself of the world’s wrong-doings. I guess as naive as I was I couldn’t even fathom the idea that someone would want to purposely hurt a defeated bear or starve a zebra. Some of the pictures I saw during my own research afterwards were shocking, which is why I can admit that I didn’t spend too much time looking through the images that came up on “google image search.”

I did find it really interesting how one of the members of our group did the math and realized how much money the circus would be losing if we didn’t attend it every year. My family never went to the circus. I remember we did once when I was 14 and there weren’t any animal tricks there. I hadn’t ever thought that the circus was still a growing entertainment business, because whenever I thought “circus” I kind of think, “circus freak” and in today’s world I can’t see a place for that. Maybe that’s just me being naive again.

Loose Change

Our group chose to watch Loose Change for our documentary film. We chose this film because we were all interested in the 9/11 attacks and we knew that this particular event was widely broadcast from nearly every news station and was diligently followed by the media. We agreed that because the media was used to such an extent to persuade the masses, that Loose Change would be a valuable film to watch do to the fact that this movie clearly outlines how the United States uses the media to do what they want.

The film outlined several reasons as to why the 9/11 attacks were not due to what the States had claimed. The movie states firmly that the two towers were “brought down by a carefully planned, controlled demolition, which was a psychological attack on American people. It was pulled off with military precision”. For backup information, the author shows us how the towers would not have collapsed without separate explosions and that the planes that crashed into the two towers were not enough to bring the buildings to the ground. As well as this, the movie shows us the intricate details involved in the pentagon attack and enlightens a conspiracy theory against the United States geared towards thousands of lost lives which are due to billions of economy growth.

The government had restricted public access to many sources of information concerning the attacks, and chose to release to the public only documents which would support their conclusions. Obviously, the States were instating a cover up, the movie informs us. It is just a matter of weather or not we should chose to believe what the movie is telling us.

I certainly learned a lot form watching this movie. Critically, I’m not sure I would like to believe the film because that would be proof that I live in a much more corrupt world than I would like to imagine. It would be important to show the class a clip of the way the buildings collapsed, how many other buildings had burned for much longer than the two towers did and they didn’t collapse. This type of clip basically sums up the film’s point and would raise awareness of the possibility of a conspiracy. If not this clip, than the part of the film where they show the damage done to the pentagon, how the whole is only 16 feet wide, and there is no damage done to either side of the hole where the wings of the plane should have hit. This clip, as well, shows how the stories told by the US government don’t match up to the facts.

Once conversing with the group, some people were still not convinced. It’s hard to believe something like this could have been planned by people who are supposed to be looking out for our well being. Could the government be so corrupt as to put an end to thousands of lives just to make money? If so, the United States need to review their values.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Caught Off Guard

I live in one giant bubble, a safe place, where nothing can hurt me and I don’t live in fear. Ever living in Muskoka, or Utterson rather, has led me to feel almost invincible, like I can’t be touched. There is no threat of hurricanes or tornadoes there, no tidal waves or earth quakes. Neighborhood crime consists of vandalism and possible under age drinking, but there hasn’t been a murder or a mugging or even close to that in many years. I’m simply not exposed to the fear or pain that other people that have lived in different places, may have been subjected to.

When I watch films such as Zeitgeist, I am suddenly made aware of these peoples’ situations. I forget, because I do not suffer everyday, that others do suffer. The university I am attending is situated in an area that is renowned for being dangerous and still I do not feel like there are so many ‘dangers’ surrounding me. Of course here, I can’t go out at night by myself and I’m not sure that I wouldn’t go anywhere alone even during the day, but I don’t feel like I’m in danger here. I don’t see homeless people here, or starving children. I do when I go downtown, but because my trips there are limited, I’m still caught off guard when I see their untamed hair and dirty appearance.

I generally like to ignore what goes on outside my bubble, outside the safety dome that I live in. They don’t effect me and thinking about them makes me feel guilty about the luxurious (in comparison) life that I carry on. I am not from a well-off family and I am by no means privileged, but I live comfortably with a roof over my head when I’m at home and I sleep alone in a queen size bed in a room that is all my own. Therefore, I might think about the underprivileged when I feel jealous of my friends (in order to bring me back to reality), but besides that, it’s just easier for me to go about my day without thinking about the disturbing crises that others face.

So I was sitting in Mass Communications, watching Zeitgeist and fooling on my laptop, when I’m asked to close my screen down and give the film my full attention. Next on the screen are some ‘heart-shattering’ images of the pain and suffering that this world has faced. Images of the corpse of a starved-to-death jewish person being tossed into a pit of others like him (or her, who could tell?), float before me, along with a crying child and a woman gasping. I watched these without being able to look away, like looking at a car accident, you know? The worse they became, the sicker I felt. The jarring images actually caused what I (or my body) perceived as a physical response; my stomach felt like it was growing tighter and I felt nauseous. Maybe the physical aspect was all in my head, but my head told me I really didn’t like what I saw.

Looking around, I wondered if others felt the same way. Was I the only one in the class that couldn’t take seeing or even thinking about this appalling display? Surely I couldn’t be. I wondered if it were possible that there was someone in the room that was not bothered by these (what were to me) very disturbing images. Is it possible that our society (lets blame violent video games and movies) who is desensitized enough that they were not touched by this at all. I could imagine someone I know saying, “Yeah, it’s sad, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so why let it affect you?”

Besides blaming movies or video games, what about the news? How many times did they show the planes flying into the twin towers? How many times are we shown what is going on in the world? The fact that we are bombarded with frightening stories in the newspapers or on the news at night desensitizes us to the facts of reality, to the fact that people are murdered everyday. So we don’t think about it when we see someone else who’s lost their son. Sure it’s sad, but that happens everyday. We’ve grown into a culture that supports, “If it bleeds, it leads,” so why wouldn’t we become accustomed to the news that we create?

Me? Write a Blog?

It took a bit of a push and a little bit of me telling myself that using the internet and starting a blog won’t be so bad for me to get a grasp on the fact that I needed to write my own blog. I was afraid. Of course, I knew I was being silly for being scared to do something so simple, but to me it wasn’t so simple. In my mind a blog required diligence and hard work and knowing how to use a computer and the internet. I know how to use the internet, I can use google and hotmail and I know how to write and work hard at writing, but putting the two together, actually writing a blog, wasn’t really what I had in mind for this course. I hadn’t the first idea as to what to write about. So I sat there and thought about it, what did this school so far, this city atmosphere, do to me and my thoughts? How did it change them? I noticed, more important than anything, was that when I’m outside here, at night, I miss the stars.

There are no stars here. And that, to me, says a lot about the environment that I live in. There are no stars because the city and the smog and the lights block it all out. Well, will the city and the smog and the lights block me and my thoughts out? Will they block out my mind’s clarity? At home the air is so crisp and sharp and clear that I feel so free to think anything and everything. When I’m laying outside looking up at those stars I can dream on for hours thinking of other worlds and dimensions and what more is there than what I have now. As lame as it sounds it is, to me, inspiring. Here, it’s like we’re in a snow-shaker, or a fish-tank where we can’t see what’s going on beyond our dome. We can’t see the other worlds and other suns when we look up. Could this physical atmosphere stunt our psychological growth to the narrowness that is around us? Maybe it’s just me, but I do feel a little backlogged, like it’s difficult to let out the creativity.

This is why I’ve decided to name my blog Missing The Stars, Here In Toronto. I figured that if I were to be spending so much time sitting and writing for something, it may as well have a name that reminds me of home, reminds me of the other worlds outside of my own. A name that reminds me of the creativity that I could so easily feel at home.The stars are what I look forward to seeing and totally took for granted at my house in Utterson, Muskoka.

Of course, now I realize that a blog isn’t as scary as I thought it may have been. That really, it’s almost like writing an e-mail to myself, or keeping track of my thoughts. Instead of writing in a book or a journal, it’s on a computer, in Word, and then copy and pasted into a web-page. This explained to me a few weeks ago may still have freaked me out, but I’m coming to terms with it now. A blog takes just as much diligence and hard work that a good diary does. Of course this one has a few more guidelines and is a little more work, but it’s generally the same to me. I didn’t think that I’d be able to keep it up, and sometimes I did let it go for a while, but it has been interesting publishing something online. I presume that I (obviously) have only more to learn about it.