Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fake vs. Real News

As the Jones article depicts, most young adults are either not informed about political information or they are informed by late night satirical shows. For me, I am fairly apathetic and am one of the people who are not informed. I am not proud of this fact, but I am admitting it. I try to understand political happenings as the occur, but with so much going on all the time, I am overwhelmed, especially now with shows such as The Daily Show. Fake and real news is everywhere. It is our lives. If I were to choose to make an effort, whether ending up overwhelmed or not, I would rather go the funny way first. Jon Stewart, or Steven Colbert provide an easy outlet for teenagers like myself to say they are involved and be “cool” because they watch the show. I could participate in some discussions, maybe just adding small comments, not actually getting involved, but from the outside it would appear as though I am up to date with my political understandings. At the same time however, I do no get politics, I just don’t, so as much as I would pretend to be getting it, I would have no idea what I was talking about. Like it was discussed in class, I truly believe that you cannot get all the information from one source. This is the same for anything not just political understandings. You have to get it from different angles. Make your own decisions using the information they provide for you. This may seem hypocritical, but its really the only option, especially for young adults. Realistically, I am not going to go investigate whatever Bush says and cross-reference it to a journalist, I am just going to take what I am given and listen. But being aware that this information is either there to “inform” me or to make me laugh about some information, at least I can see where the two cross paths and make some deductions on my own.
Honestly, once I get some time, I am going to start watching more and more “fake” news, just to start the ball rolling on getting informed specifically about politics. If that’s what fake news can do for me, then at least something from that industry is grabbing my attention.

Jeffrey P. Jones, "'Fake' News versus 'Real' News as Sources of Political Information: The Daily Show and Postmodern Political Reality" <>

Everybody - Stabilo

Everybody by Stabilo

After the class the other week on the death of media, I was driving, and herd this song, which I have not heard in quite a while. It originally being released in 2001, it encompasses the ideas of how media and everyday things are being taken for granted. “Doesn’t anybody know what a radio’s for” is the 2nd line of the song and it hits me one of the hardest. Even just by reading this blog, I talk about buying an MP3 player, I own CDs, and claim I love music, but yet I don’t listen to the radio. This is tough because my dad used to be part of the Radio Marketing Bureau of Canada, and would always encourage us to listen, even to the commercials. And just the other week, my computer’s external harddrive broke, leaving me with no music at all. I turned on the radio for the first time in a long while. People do not listen to the radio anymore, like my grandparents did, we want to mediate our own listening. It is free, but still, no one wants to have to listen to the long and unimportant ads they play.

This song depicts the death of media and how no one does anything just to do it anymore. We have left or are leaving the general elements of life behind, and it is a cry for people to maybe not make a drastic move, but simply to acknowledge this is happening. “Doesn’t anybody know, doesn’t anybody know?”

You can listen to the song at There are 2 versions of the song, so take your pick.

The Death of Media

Like I have stated in previous posts, I am all for realism. With this realism we have to take into account the idea of documentaries. Like the presentation about The Death of Media, documentaries are one of the ways people today are trying to find out truth. Although documentaries claim to be “what really happened” I feel it is important that people watching these videos are not getting trapped in the mindset that documentaries are all truth, just like the media they are trying to get away from. Take the documentary Loose Change 2nd Edition created by Dylan Avery, which discusses the ideas of 9/11 and how the US government is actually behind it all, even going so far as to show documents with the Twin Towers being targeted and explosions going off 5 floors below each collapse of the towers. Information that is very interesting yet must be taken like the media that people do not want to trust already. Yes it may seem more real, but really they are just exposing the opposite ideas of mainstream media for the most part, whether the counterpart was a lie or not. Questioning things is not a bad idea, but the untrusting ideas run both ways. Bowling for Columbine is another example where the directors are telling you truths, but they are pointing out the extreme! I am thrilled that people are not taking everything they see as truths, but at the same time this needs to be applied to both sides of the spectrum. Just because its counter-culture does not mean it is right. The information available in the documentaries is very interesting and should be watched, but watched as a “Hollywooodized” movie. People are getting paid, and someone is paying for it to happen.

Bowling for Columbine. Dir. Michael Moore. 2002. Atlantis Alliance Communications.
Loose Change 2nd Edition. Dir. Dylan Avery. 2006. Louder than Words.

to iPod or not to iPod?

After class this week, I was thinking about my buying experience of the iPod. I thought I would share because I think it is somewhat of an interesting story.
So a few years ago, in the hype of the new video iPods and the huge memories available, I wanted an MP3 player. Coming from a home where most of my clothes were either hand-me-downs from my older sisters, or clothes I got for being part of a team, brands were not something I normally thought about. However when it came to this huge purchase (and it was, as I was paying for it myself) I was not about to jump in with any company. A lot of my friends had iPod or were expecting them for Christmas, and I did not know what to do.
Like I said, I was not a typical high school student, as much as I liked being a part of things, not necessarily cool, I liked to belong, but stand out at the same time. After getting my eyebrow pierced, I had to continue to live up to not following the norm.
I did some research online and compared prices and found out that the Sony Network Walkman was the same price as the iPod and everything minus the "click wheel". I thought to myself "This is perfect!" So off I went attempting to be counter-hegemonic by purchasing the not so cool MP3 player, but still being part of the movement. I loved it, I would call it my MP3 player, not an iPod, and I enjoyed the fact that it was Sony, still a respectable company, but not Apple. The player worked just fine and I had accomplished my goal.
Later that year during the summer, I broke my MP3 player, and when I went to get the part fixed, I was shocked to hear that the Sony Network Walkman, was no longer being made, thus I could not get it fixed. I was not impressed by this. Still to this day, I do not own an iPod (although I want to), and my Sony MP3 Player is still not fixed.
That's what I get for trying to go against the mainstream.

Film, Music and Remediation

During the first seminar presentation, a lot was going through my mind, especially examples. Transparency in film is a very interesting topic, and the discussion of whether a film like Cloverfield (2008) with a hand held camera was more transparent than say a comic book feel movie like Sin City (2005) really made me think about realism in films and whether or not they in fact make me feel like I am part of the movie or just watching it. Being a fan of realism, I was shocked to find it so hard to think of any movie that did this. The first movie that I thought of was Memento (2000) where the main character is trying to avenge the death of his wife; however he has lost his ability to create new memories since the incident. Working backwards throughout the movie, the audience is thrust into the life of Leonard as we are unaware of the backgrounds of the characters, just as Leo is due to his lack of memory. As the movie progresses we slowly learn the motives behind the characters, and are drawn into more of a realm of irony as we know more than the main character. Starting off, this movie is a prime example of transparency in film, but works its way back to the audience realizing they are watching from the outside.

Next, the group brought up Music and Remediation where they discussed concerts. A week or so ago, when I was at home, with my media, a lovely TV in HD, I watched the Justin Timberlake concert for HBO. I have never been to a real concert, but I was able to identify how much of a production the entire evening was. From fireworks, to shots on the stage, to costume changes, the production was not solely about the music, it was a show people wanted. Justin Timberlake would dance, play piano and sing after explaining to the crowd how he could swear and do tequila shots on stage thanks to HBO. In our world today, I don’t think someone getting up on stage and simply singing is enough any more. We crave the fireworks, the dancing, even the feeling that we can swear because the network airing this, is somewhat “rebellious”. We want the most for our money, how much media can we get with our one ticket?

From here, the idea of MTV and mindless teenagers came up. I wish this could have developed into a bit more of a discussion, however I shall do this here. Josie and the Pussycats is a satirical comment on today’s MTV driven mindsets that youth, among others are consumed with. The notion of young adults buying what they are told is cool, thinking what they are told and even just living exactly how the hegemonic mentality is expecting them to. For those who thought they were too cool to see this movie, check it out. It does a very interesting job of playing with subliminal messages in music poking fun at endorsements, and especially product placement. In every scene there are at least 50 companies, which actually did not pay to be there. The creators of the film used all the products without getting the companies to pay for the placement. Through the music in the film, the major companies input messages such as “Orange is the new Pink” or taking it the step further, implanting ideas of what brands are the new cool ones, causing people to purchase items they might not necessarily buy. I know most people thought of this movie as a joke, exploiting certain actors, however you really have to give it a chance. It does a great job at poking fun of the industry as the huge subliminal message at the end, was simply about one character being cool and that everyone should be like them. If you have not already seen it, check it out.

Overall, this presentation gave me a lot to think about, and I hope you check out some of the ideas that I have brought forward. If anything, you have some new movies to watch.

Josie and The Pussycats. Dir. Elfont and Kaplan. 2001. Marc Platt Productions.
Memento. Dir. Christopher Nolan. 2000. Newmarket Capital Group.


In the first few pages of the book, Bolter and Grusin talk about Strange Days, a film that depicts a wire that allows pure content, with no remediation, no censorship, in a way. When one is “plugged in” to the wire, they are receiving a straight feed of their life; nothing is limiting the content of what they are seeing. Enjoying the use of intertextuality quite a bit, I made the obvious connection to The Matrix. The similar idea of “plugging into life” takes over the minds of the characters. Although I have not seen Strange Days¸ the preview which Professor Reilly showed us in class definitely gave me the same feeling. We are not living life to the fullest. Everywhere we go, whether in “A Matrix” or not, the content we are seeing, we are seeing for a reason. Someone, whether intentionally or not, has placed something somewhere, done something close to us or even just walked by, causing a form of hypermediacy to dominate our lives. In The Matrix some powerful group of agents are ruling this computer generated world where humans believe they are living. They are actually just letting a computer run their lives. With the help of some savvy rebels, you can get out and take that blue pill, and see the truth. Which somewhat ironically, is what the people can do in Strange Days, by plugging in, not getting out.

Furthermore, another example of plugging in, or even virtual reality that is also discussed in Remediation is the film Minority Report. One scene in particular sticks out, where Tom Cruise’s character and the Precog are being chased; they run into a building where people have been placed in “pods”. With the help of virtual technology, these people are experiencing whatever they want. Some are enjoying sexual fantasies, while others may just want to see a loved one. It is interesting because in contrast to both Strange Days as well as The Matrix, the use of virtual reality and mediacy in Minority Report, is voluntary. The hypermediacy and what is being mediated, is the person’s own choice, not that of the hegemonic group.

Looking at all three versions of plugging in, whether to experience reality, enter a false reality or a personal reality, we cannot deny the need for mediation, hypermediation and remediation, that all of the population not only allows but opts for.

Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA.; MIT Press, 1999.
Minority Report. Dir. Steven Spielberg. 2002. Cruise/Wagner Productions.
Strange Days. Dir.Katheryn Bigelow. 1995. Lightstorm Entertainment.
The Matrix. Dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski. 1999. Groucho II Film Partnership.