All mighty, yes? All knowing? Perhaps not. At the 2009 New York State Communications Association conference last week John Durham Peters, professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa and author of Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication delivered a keynote address revisiting Google’s likeness to God.
I’m a couple months away from my MA thesis deadline and, naturally, I change my central question as often as I do my underwear – maybe more so. The latest question has spiraled into a number of unmanageable sub-questions, and the unlimited Sangria brunch I consumed on Saturday failed to bring me any steps closer to answering them (though I did manage to pen a rather unintelligible paragraph or two when I got home). So I’d like to pose the most pressing of these questions to gnovis.
In the post-Watergate America it used to be that citizens were distrustful of government and relied on the media for enlightenment and accountability. Today, more than half of Americans are distrustful of the media, begging the question of who (or what) we’ll turn to for government accountability – the watchdog role that the ‘Fourth Estate’ has historically filled.
Evoking Pink Floyd’s “Another brick in the wall” lyrics, conservatives have lambasted President Obama’s upcoming Web address on education. The President will use the opportunity to speak directly to students across the nation on Sept. 8. But right-wing political leaders and think tanks have dubbed this a lesson in brainwashing and a carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign targeted at America’s youth.
No, not quite. That happened years ago when MTV began tinkering with its programming and started slowly phasing out music-related content. New Yorkers, at least some of them anyway, are mourning the loss of MTV’s iconic Times Square studio on Broadway after landlord S.L. Green and the music network’s parent company, Viacom, opted not to renew the space after the 12-year lease term ends.
After having Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” book referenced in nearly half of my class-related readings, I decided to take a closer look and make that one of my summer reads. And the timing could not have been better – coming in the midst of my television-less summer.
Recalling the time when Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” movie came out, the question most often raised was how much of the film was documentary and how much was carefully orchestrated entertainment. At the MTV Movie Awards a couple weeks ago, Cohen organized an on-stage tussle with Eminem that the rapper later admitted was a planned shenanigan for laughs and shock value.
I swear New Yorkers were born with three hands: one for their coffee, one for their cigarette and one for their cell phone. And most days I’d like to slap all three right out of their hand. While I am not, nor will ever be a real New Yorker, I do, for better or worse, reside here. When people from back home or college ask how I like living in NYC I never respond with “I love it” or “I hate it.” I simply say “it’s an experience.” And I think most of the non-natives tend to agree.
It’s the classic conundrum of what comes first — the chicken or the egg? When it comes to media and its coverage of violence, the answer to that question is never quite clear. While I do not buy into the media simply mirrors society theory, it’s impossible to gauge just how much crime the media is responsible for perpetuating. When does coverage of crime become premature? Why can’t mainstream media resist the pressure to exaggerate violence through ‘trends’ that reinforce conservative fear mongering?
I’m still six weeks or so away from my end-of-semester vacation to Budapest and I’ve already compiled a mental list of the must-haves. I’ll be packing a week’s worth of clothes, those 99-cent toiletries you find hidden in the back corner of a pharmacy, a few cynical books on media theory (yes, I read them for pleasure), my running sneaks, two iPods, a travel guide book, avocado flavored lip balm and, most, importantly, my camera. And all this got me thinking about the last few class discussions we’ve had in Mark Crispin Miller’s Media Criticism course.