Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ramon Riley - Writing NINE - A Life Worth Stealing

Writing NINE  - A Life Worth Stealing
Ramon Riley

In Chapter Nine from Sturken and Cartwright’s Practices of Looking... “The Global Flow Of Visual Culture”, I found myself feeling hopeless...

How does one make an impact, when multi-national corporations can make, bastardize  or destroy you in the name of profit?  I found it mind-boggling that the chapter put to words what I’ve always thought.  “The convergence of previously discrete media industries and technologies allows media to be integrated into the lives of people across boundaries more smoothly and effortlessly.”(p 315) In other words, they have so mastered the game that these big companies can telegraph their moves and not care because we accept it.  I am aware of this every time I watch Disney/ESPN/ABC television.  It is unavoidable.  A single corporation will find some way to get you:  film, magazines, books, sports, TV, newspapers, radio, websites...etc.

Question 1.  How are you most vulnerable?  What is your weakness when it comes to being a targeted consumer?

The concept of cultural imperialism (p 322) as a way of exporting a way of life and cultural products was particularly disturbing.  We envy the French. Wait! We must hate the French.  I can’t remember why... but I find it fascinating to hear from people who travel that it was always better than they expected, wherever the place.  That is because we have been conditioned to believe America is the greatest and most advanced in every way.  One would think with so much media access, we would be more free thinking.  In reality, that is how we are controlled even in our own country through our own media.  It has been my observation that, in the past 20 years, my black nephew, in a working class family, acts as entitled as my white students from upper middle class families.  Media and “reality” TV has managed to bridge the race gap for the worse.  During a recent trip to New York City, I witnessed college students from a country of lightly tanned people (I could not recognize the accent), and all I could decipher was the repeating of “Carrie Bradshaw, Carrie Bradshaw”, the main character from the movies and series, “Sex in the City”.  They then began acting in a very unbecoming manner; speaking loudly and posing glamorously while they took each others’ pictures.  As an aside, it just so happened that I saw the real Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker, the night before, during the encore of her husband’s show on broadway, and she was very unassuming, wanting anything but attention.

Question 2.  Who are we (Americans)?  How would you market us? What traits would you want to see mimicked by tourists?

Right before I passed judgement towards the statement about third world households most expensive purchase being the television, I thought about all the “man caves” and game rooms where the TV is the basically the epicenter of the home (p 326).  But now, we are moving away from TV into interactive TV because of the boom of the internet.  “If you like our show, follow us on twitter, or check out our website...”  I am not encouraged by the internets multi-directional/fundamentally democratic experience.  Sure, I can get hair products and art supplies through the mail that I would not have access to in Indiana, PA, but at what cost, really?  I remember waiting outside the Civic Arena in 1997 to get a ticket to a Prince concert that was later cancelled.  The people I met, and the experience of hearing the “Emancipation” album in someone’s car, while we sought relief from the cold, was worth the journey.  Every artist knows the process is better than the product.  

Not to be a total cynic, there are some wonderful things about the internet.  I can find moments of nostalgia more easily, and I can share them with others.  I guess I am questioning... Does having this access replace creating new memories, movements...etc. It’s all turned into history far too quickly anyway.  It’s like we have shortened the lifespan of good art and increased the lifespan of trainwreck media.

Question 3.  What have you found on the internet that you could not have access to otherwise?  

Question 4.  How dependent are you on the internet?  Classwork aside, how long could you go without access to the internet?

The chapter goes on to talk about the difficulty in regulating the internet and the importance in big companies using what once was seen as small, free media and advertisement.  Regulating the internet because it is a place of free speech...PORN.  I am glad they acknowledged that elephant (p. 339-344).  (I did find it interesting that there was no mention of China, since they are so big and their market  dictates so much.)  It is too much to digest because it is so encompassing.  I don’t know if I am missing the forest with all the trees in the way, so I close my paper with this...

If not for us relating to images like a joyous child playing jumprope in the neighborhood, companies would have no imagery to use that evokes our emotions.  Then, how would they sell us products.  We must have a life worth stealing, and then we must fight to hold on to it.  I am going to go listen to that Prince album again.

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