BCM 332

Who runs the world? Well….not girls

Feminism, the fight for social and political equality between the sexes. A simple yet often misconstrued term.

A word that is thrown around constantly but with little to no knowledge of its meaning. However, when asked whether Hollywood is filled with sexism, many would say yes. The feminism debate came to the forefront – again – in 2015 at the Oscars when Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech went viral as she asked for wage equality for all women.

This was not the first time Hollywood was called out on their blatant sexism displayed throughout the awards ceremonies. Amy Poehler started the #askhermore campaign which asks journalists and reporters to give more than just the boring old questions that are devoid of any substance such as, who are you wearing, how long did it take you to get ready, what are your must-have pieces?

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ELLE magazine flipped “the script” for red carpet interviews as they asked men the same questions that women are constantly bombarded with at every award ceremony. The result? A combination of hilarious, insightful and varied responses.

James Corden, the host of the Late Late Show, was asked how did he get ready for the event? “I put one leg in and then the other in and I lifted it up and then I sucked in and did it”. What’s your must have fashion piece? “I always wear a G-string. I’m never without one. You should see the one I’m wearing now”.

But the #askhermore campaign is not without criticism. Sarah Miller, a writer for time.com, wrote:

“women created the movement, and many seem to be empowered by it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if others wanted to just talk fashion”

I think she has dramatically missed the point. The issue is not talking about fashion, it is about having the choice to be asked more. In my very humble opinion, I feel that this is what feminism is about. It is about having the choice to be a career-driven women who wants to have a family as well. It is about feeling accepted for being a stay-at-home mother. It is about choices, freedom and seeing ourselves on an equal playing field with men.

Because, when you #askhermore, it is amazing to see that she is so much more than a dress.

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BCM 332

It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White

Well, according to Michael Jackson, in love it may not matter. But it does in the 21st Century media where we continually try and change people’s ideas, fashion, sexuality, and now, race to fit the “popular”.

Recently, magazines such as Vanity Fair, ELLE and InStyle have been accused of lightening the skin colour of their cover girls. In particular, was Gabourey Sidibe who looked drastically different on the cover of ELLE in January 2010.

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Similarly, Kerry Washington was “lightened” on the cover of InStyle and so was 30 year-old powerhouse Keyan celebrity, Lupita Nyong’o on her Vanity Fair cover. Many of the excuses given was the lighting used to take the portraits – and could not be edited to suit reality – as well as the lighting angles used on the covers – for example, the lighting under Washington’s face casts a white glow on her cheekbones.

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Even Beyoncé was not exempt from this as her album cover saw her wearing a blonde wig with severely lighter skin.

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Co-producer and co-director of documentary, Dark Girls, Bill Duke summarises the notions that we as a society still hold,

“Colourism is unfortunately still an issue today. Dark skin is considered less than light skin in the minds of many in our community and in the media”

But why? Why do we still hold someone of a different race to be lesser than us when we all stand and applaud the atrocity of Kylie Jenner styling her hair in cornrows and Miley Cyrus chomping on grills?

As Johnson (2015) states, “marginalised groups don’t have the power to decide if they’d prefer to stick with their customs or try on the dominant culture’s traditions just for fun”. No, no they do not have that option and it is seriously distressing and face-palm worthy when white people think it is totally norm to wear traditional headdress of American Indians or to – falsely –  represent an African-American woman by wearing brightly coloured headscarves and beads. Instead, we see them being manipulated and altered to fit a white society’s ideals of beauty – white.

Amandla Stenberg did an amazing video on black culture and what it means when white people ultimately make these things fashionable. But Amandla said something that is ever so poignant and will stay with me forever:

What would American (and the world) be if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?

Now how can a sixteen year old notice this and, we cannot. It’s time to change.

 

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BCM 332

Pernicious Paleo Pete

Last weekend I was in Dymocks in Sydney, perusing the shelves for something – anything! – that was light enough to read on coffee breaks from uni work but still interesting. I found Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I walked to the counter to pay and in front of me were two women decked out in Lorna Jane and Nike attire discussing their infinite love for a woman on Instagram who was a “wellness warrior”.

“I just saw her on Instagram and she looked amazing. I wanted to buy the book because all you do is eat like juices and healthy stuff.  She’s so amazing! You should totally do it too.”

*Cue eye roll*

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The latest trend in many circles are the diets that eliminate certain food groups so as to achieve optimum health by encouraging eating habits that are supposedly from our ancestors.

Yes people, the Paleo diet and the many other fads untrained, idiotic, self-proclaimed wellness warriors endorse. If you haven’t guessed, I loathe these people and the unwavering promises they make.

If you have been living in a cave – pun intended – Paleo is a simplified diet that is meant to mimic the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors. A somewhat restrictive diet that thrives off individuals eating meats, vegetables, nuts and fruit. It excludes some major food groups including all grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. Even god damn coffee. What monsters.

But one of the biggest criticisms of this diet or ‘lifestyle’ is that they make huge, sweeping and false claims regarding serious medical illnesses and diseases. One that hits very close to home is the supposed ‘cure’ for Autism.

Casey Thaler of thepaleodiet.com claims, “the anti-inflammatory effects of a diet based on real, whole foods, such as Paleo diet, will certainly help many biomarkers related to autism.”

But it is people like Harriet Hall who are putting the story straight. Having done extensive research she wrote an article examining the new fad diets. She found (2014, p.12) that a 2010 review stated that eating more dairy products was associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and death.

However, these Paleo protestors will continue to “explain away all scientific evidence by accusing researchers of being controlled by the food industry” (Hall 2014, p.12).

The almost cult like tendencies of these diets are frightening with people claiming to have been cured from serious illnesses without the help of modern medicine.

I admit that we, as a society, need to drastically change our diets. But why do we need to eliminate the food groups scientists and nutritionists have found to be beneficial?

To be honest – and in my very humble opinion – anyone who wants to adopt the lifestyle of a Paleo diet should really, wholeheartedly adopt it. Live in a cave. Hunt with your bare hands. Forego all modern medicine, comforts and technologies. Because sitting there, in your lavish, ultra-modern house with all the creature comforts of the 21st century whilst preaching a diet that was created almost 2.6 million years ago seems like a double-standard to me.

But don’t just listen to me. Listen to the man who speaks for all of us…Charlie Pickering.

 

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DIGC 202

Man vs. Machine

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All I have ever wanted was a piece of technology that would detect when I was awake and make me a cup of coffee – of course to my exact preferences – each and every morning. And it turns out that it may just be on its way as the Internet of Things (IoT) is a raising phenomena in technology.

The Internet of Things are common physical items that connect to the Internet which enables the item to collect information about the changes in its surroundings and initiate action based on this information (Mitew, 2014).

Lost? So was I until Lupton (2013) explained the use of wearable technologies to track and collect data on a variety of things including exercise, diet, calories burnt, body temperature, brain function, moods, social encounters and the list goes on. These ‘Things’ blur the lines between human and object as they both transgress the boarders originally assigned to them (Mitew, 2014).

And this is concerning as it raises poignant issues such as how do we distinguish ourselves as humans when these sociable technologies are mimicking human behaviour?

But there are positives to have such integrated lives especially as we face an obesity epidemic. Apps have been designed that calorie count (MyFitnessPal), map runs (Nike Run) and improve brain function (Luminosity) as Constantini (2014) states that our bodies are radiating data loudly, continuously, honestly and individually. Why not capture that data and simplify it for an average individual to track and monitor their health? These applications and wearable technologies – such as FitBit – are our speakers and we no longer need qualifications to decipher what our bodies and minds are trying to tell us.

Constantini (2014) continues on to mention an app that enables you to take pictures of your freckles or moles and it will algorithmically tell you whether it has the potential to become cancerous or whether you need to consult a doctor. As someone who has skin that is prone to getting large freckles and a family history of skin cancer, this app is a beneficial addition to the other myriad of ‘health and fitness’ applications swimming around my phone.

The possibilities are endless. After Constantini’s video, there was another that popped up examining a new development which was a wearable device that would detect the early stages of seizures.

The increasingly sociable nature of technologies exemplifies how broad and beneficial the market is. But I feel that there are unexamined negative connotations regarding the constant collection of data as Lupton (2013) alluded to, “sharing data has implications not only for how users view and understand their own bodies but for how other members of the quantified self community view and respond to them”. Is this another avenue for aggregated negative body image? Are we going to over self-diagnose and miss an important symptom?

But what I really want to know is where is my morning coffee when I wake at 7am?

 

 

References:

Constantini, L, 2014, ‘The Quantified Self: How Wearable Sensors Expand Human Potential’, Ted Talks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FESv2CgyJag

Lupton, D, 2013, ‘Understanding the Human Machine’, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 32 issue. 4, pp.25 – 30, accessed 23 October, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6679313

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘The Internet of Things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces’, University of Wollongong, week 12 lecture, 23 October, http://prezi.com/1lgxfron1kj0/digc202-the-internet-of-things/

Photo credit

 

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DIGC 202

1, 2, 3, 4 I Declare a Cyber War

 

Bombs away. Warfare no longer resembles a bomb but something that is equally terrifying

Bombs away. War between nations are no longer as easy to spot as bombs; rather, less tangible and more terrifying

As we move towards a more distributed network – and society – it means that we equally move towards distributed control. Despite the fact that we regularly relinquish our control on a daily basis, it is when it happens unbeknownst to us, and our personal information falls into the lap of those who crave it most – hackers – that is the real issue as it exposes the dark side of the Internet.

Yes, there are the lovely hackers – or hacktivists – who unveil the lies we have been force-fed for decades; but when a hacker goes haywire, we then see the formation of cyber-sleuths, creating cyberwarfare and ultimately it is cyberterrorism.

One of the main issues around the rise of cybersleuths, is that we too readily believe that that there is – as Mitew 2014 defines – and electronic frontier that is protecting us and in reality there is not and it leaves us, the government, major organisations and institutions extremely vulnerable.

Cyberhackers are said to have aims which include the need to “gain attention, embarrass website owners and ridicule security measures” (Arthur, 2013) and this is why I find their motives to be childish and quite frankly, impish. As Mitew (2014) suggest “[these] agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate and warp online discourses, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the Internet itself”

Arthur (2013) explores the recent history of cyberhackers LulzSec after they hacked Fox.com for making remarks on-air including calling rapper Common “vile”. Then they unleashed their incredibly moronic behaviour. The group leaked “73,000 X Factor U.S. contestants names” and from there continued on to hack into PBS and plant a false story and later, hacked into the Sony PlayStation Network where they then stole, “24.6 million customers’ private data”. So what are they trying to prove? That certain computer systems are weak and easy to hack? Well, congratulations, you found that out but why leak pointless, personal information? At least Assange and other hacktivists have a motive, a goal, something that contributes to society.

Society should be worried about cyberhacker’s tenacity over the Internet as it is the new age Cold War, “some the largest U.S. threats are buzzing through Russian and Chinese computer systems…operated by highly skilled hackers” (Summers, 2014). And as Summer (2014) continues to state that these highly skilled hackers are either financially backed by the state or they are purely state-employed hackers and this is of concern as they are after anything from oil drilling maps to military technology blueprints.

The evolution of war

The evolution of war between nations

 

Eugene Kaspersky co-founder and chief executive of Kaspersky lab commented on the rise of cyberwarfare, “I think that this is a turning point…because in the past there were cyber-criminals, now I am afraid it is the time of cyber-terrorism, cyber-weapons and cyber-wars” (Mgtitew, 2014). So what is the future for us? Constant surveillance, hackers digging through our personal information just to retaliate against a radio station?

 

References:

Arthur, C, 2013, ‘LulzSec: what they did, who they were and how they were caught’, Guardian, accessed 17 October, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/may/16/lulzsec-hacking-fbi-jail

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘Dark fiber: hackers, botnets, cyberwar’, University of Wollongong, week 11 lecture, accessed 13 October, http://prezi.com/iiied2_aa8tc/digc202-dark-fiber-hackers-botnets-cyberwar/

Summers, D.J., 2014, ‘Fighting in the cyber trenches’, Fortune, accessed 13 October, http://fortune.com/2014/10/13/cold-war-on-business-cyber-warfare/

Photo credit – cyberspace bomb

Photo credit – Evolution of war

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DIGC 202

Power is Made By Power Being Taken

“The most exciting and interesting hacking scandal ever” gushes Bruce Sterling in his article Blast Shack (2010) regarding the hacktivist – Julian Assagne.

A hacktivist as defined by Ludlow (2013) is in the simplest and broadest sense, “someone who uses technology hacking to effect social change.” Moreover, a whistleblower is a “person who provides information on a person or organisation who are engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity” and these, dear readers, are the people who will change the way in which we view both foreign and domestic government and institutions.

In Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace , he outlines a cyberworld that values expression, it is a world without sovereignty or rules and one that revels in individual freedom. But more importantly, is a world that needs to be treasured and nurtured as it is our last hope for truth in an increasingly secretive market.

WikiLeaks – later dubbed the Cablegate scandal – was launched in 2006 but soon gained international attention when in 2010, Australian Julian Assange along with his team exposed some “400,000 secret US military logs detailing its operations in Iraq” (Fildes, 2010) and continued to leak top-secret military files online. Whilst this seems unethical, he did not once violate the ethics of hackers which are: sharing information, no secrets, no authority and information freedom (Mitew, 2014).

A new range of merchandise Assange is rumoured to be launching

 

But ethical questioning is not new, as another major political scandal which followed similar events was the Watergate Scandal from 1972 – 1974. This was where two American journalists worked collaboratively with individuals who stole information from the Democratic National Committee and launched one of the largest political scandals in modern history which ended with the forced resignation of President Nixon. Yet, it is remembered as one of the most intriguing and well regarded pieces of investigative journalism despite it not being ethically or morally sound.

Ethics and journalism are like peanut butter and jam. Some like it and follow the rules – one spread per piece of bread – whereas others are rebellious and put both on one side – gross. To me, Assange is a journalist as he is rebellious and as Simons (2011) declares, he follows the core practices of journalism which are to source information, curate, verify and edit information along with having an element of transparency. Simons believes that Assange qualifies, noting his recent acceptance of a Walkley Award and being the previous winner of the Martha Gellhorn prize for Journalism.

But Sterling (2010) – after gushing about Assange – notes him as “no more a ‘journalist’ than he is a crypto mathematician”. It is also a topic that infuriates some as seen here after I tweeted a link to Simons article. I suggest you bring the popcorn – it is quite something.

But by far the most resounding, eloquent and honest article was by Slavoj Žižek in the Guardian as he accredits whistleblowers and hacktivists as being the new age heroes as “his acts provided a factual foundation to our suspicions of being monitored and controlled” (Žižek, 2014). Moreover, he perfectly summarised the confusion that many individuals had towards WikiLeaks and other political scandals as being like an affair, “it is one thing to know in general, another to get concrete information…one can accept abstract knowledge, but pain arises when one gets the steamy details” (Žižek, 2014).

Whether you believe he is a criminal, a narcissist, an unethical monster or generally good guy who wanted to expose the lies that we have been fed, Julian Assange is a man of the future who pushed the boundaries and in some way succeeded. He is a hacktivist who did a necessary evil and as the Mentor of LoD concluded, “my crime is that of curiosity…my crime is that of outsmarting you” (Mitew, 2014).

Definitely a more controversial take on WikiLeaks.

Definitely a more controversial take on WikiLeaks.

 

 

References:

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Ludlow, P, 2013, ‘What is a ‘Hacktivist?”, New York Times, accessed 12 October, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/what-is-a-hacktivist/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Mitew, 2014, ‘Digital resitiance: hacktivists, whistleblowers, #AfterSnowden’, University of Wollongong, week 10 lecture, accessed 12 October, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-digital-resistance/

Simons, M, 2011, ‘Walkley Awards decide Julian Assange is a journalist’, Crikey, accessed 12 October, http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/11/28/walkley-awards-decide-julian-assange-is-a-journalist/

Sterling, B, 2010, ‘The Blast Shack’, Medium, accessed 12 October, https://medium.com/@bruces/the-blast-shack-f745f5fbeb1c

Žižek, S, 2014, ‘Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes’, Guardian, accessed 12 October, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/03/snowden-manning-assange-new-heroes

 

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BCM 240

Taking a step back to take a leap forward

After a long nine weeks of weekly blogging I can finally say, it is coming to an end. Whilst this is bittersweet as it has been a very steep learning curve, I think I will miss blogging for this subject.

I have blogged since the start of university (last year) and feel that this is truly the first time that I have enjoyed blogging. The ability to write expressively and freely is important with a subject such as Media, Audience and Place as it is a very interesting, topical subject. It encourages you to speak freely and ask the hard questions, debate the set readings and most importantly, to research and find out the facts and not just take them for face value because they are written by someone with a lot of letters at the end of their name.

Originally, I tried to find research that would fit with my opinions and suit the blog topic. But by week 3, it was evident that, that was not going to work and I really did venture into new territory of debating – or arguing – against what the authors were saying. This was weirdly interesting because I got to say my opinions without the negativity that could come from face-to-face discussions. However, when I was struggling by week 7 to find an article, any article, that would somehow relate to what I was saying, I turned to my parents and family members. This – I think – was the beginning of including anecdotes of family holidays or just generally stories about my family. I liked this approach as it meant I could add a little humour or lightheartedness to the topics which could be at times very dry. But then again, from doing this subject and having to find weekly articles – including scholarly, online newspapers and other blogs – increased my ability to find other ways of scoping out articles that relate to the week’s topic.

The weekly topics I have found are very thought-provoking and also eye-opening. Firstly, there was this post  – Horror Movie Right There on My TV – where I interviewed my mother about her television experiences. I knew that she had a TV in her house and what it had looked like but I had not thought about what she would have seen on TV during her childhood – namely the man walking on the moon, President Kennedy’s death (although she was young but remembers the aftermath, she said similar to how we think of 9/11).

Secondly, I loved researching Champagne and the Cinema – not that I got to have champagne at the cinema – because I never knew that there were cinemas where you could eat food designed to be eaten during the film as an interactive tool. But more than this, I did not know that the statistics regarding cinema attendance were so drastic and dim. But the best part of this was going to the cinema as a university requirement – something my non-uni friend still cannot get over. But with the statistics freshly in my mind, it is amazing how differently you approach the cinema; I feel as if I should go more to help the cinema stay because it holds many childhood memories of having a “big day out” with my grandmother or being especially “grown-up” and attending the movies with just your friends and yourself! Moreover, Kate Bowles (lecturer) spoke about how we react to certain social situations and this was interesting to observe as well whilst at the cinema. Some people – like myself – sit in their assigned seats whilst others prefer to sit well away from strangers.

This subject is obviously about the ways in which people interact with the media in certain places. Whilst sitting in the Emergency Ward on a Monday night, I found myself judging the ways that other people used their mobile devices in a public space. Some had their eyes glued to the dim TV or sat, curled over their phones or iPads whilst others sat listening to music. No one, no one was talking to one another apart from Rose – my elderly neighbour – and I was completely stumped. A place where there are injured people with a relative or friend sitting by them in a time of need and no one was talking to them, seeing if they were still ok or even alive! But instead of dragging out my soap box and screaming at these people to look, talk, engage with one another for goodness sake! I instead ranted and raved in my blog post which was slightly therapeutic. Rose simply tutted and went back to her knitting whilst I sat there, mouth agape in complete amazement. It truly is as Sherry Turkle (2012) describes, we are slowly but surely becoming alone together – a frighteningly accurate social assessment.

Social assessments and studies conducted by Screen Australia Research were something I used quite heavily throughout the final weeks of blogging and has been a constant reference as I continue exploring Australian media statistics throughout the rest of my degree.

As mentioned previously, I have had to blog weekly for other subjects throughout my entire degree. But this is the first time that design, layout, linking and engagement has been an emphasised element. Whilst I am still far from a blogger-buff, I feel that I have redesigned a few things and have definitely streamlined the layout. This was mainly due to the increased number of blogs that I would be doing so adding subject menus was definitely needed! Moreover, adding photos and videos and hyperlinks were all pretty foreign terms before this semester and you have to learn quickly! Moreover, encouraging Twitter conversations was something else I had to learn fairly quickly. Whilst I did not tweet every week – oops – I did find it useful to have Twitter as another resource of information rather than just getting e-mails – it also meant I did not have to bother tutors relentlessly!

Overall, it has been an interesting, engaging semester and one that truly is eye-opening to how we consume media – or more realistically, how it forces us to engage with it.

 

 

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