Finding A Voice

It is a part of human nature to want to belong, to strive to be a part of a group. just as every country prides itself on it’s culture, each one of these is made up of a number of different sub-cultures. While it is important for an Australian to feel Australian, it is also important for a New South Welshman to feel like they belong in New South Wales. Sub-cultures may get smaller and smaller as you move in and take a closer look, but the desire to belong doesn’t.

This is where the media comes into it. For a long time, there has been publications which tell the stories of a certain group, to a certain group.

If you’re a student of the University of Wollongong, you may read the student magazine published by students of UOW, because you want to hear stories of people who belong to your group. 

If you’re a member of the LGBT community, you may want to hear the stories of and have discussions with other members of that community. This is why we have publications specifically designed for certain groups, because it allows people to tell their own stories to their own people, and fosters that sense of belonging that I’ve been harping on about.

Diasporic media allows stories to be told first hand, instead of being repeated by someone on TV who has no idea what they’re talking about. This is why, when it comes to stories of LGBT people, those people turn to sites like SameSame, instead of mainstream news outlets like News.com.au.

It all comes back to a sense of community and acceptance. People want to hear stories about them, told by people like them, and that is why it’s important for communities and sub-cultures to have their own voices.

Cross-Cultural Media

Globalisation has had a massive effect on the media industry and the shows we see on television. TV channels these days are full of American shows and other shows from overseas, but the shows that I find most interesting are show that have been adapted from one country to another. Reality shows can be easily adapted to different locations. The X Factor just needs a different host and judges, and the concept still works. Big Brother, the same. But it’s shows like Kath & Kim, which is extremely popular in Australia, that have a hrs time being translated to an American audience. Sue Turnbull credits this loss in translation to “the role and place of irony” (2008, p. 115). So is it just a difference in what Australians and Americans find funny? My mother has herself claimed that she hates American comedies because they are too “in-your-face” and brash. Of course, my mother is no expert in the field of globalised media, but she is an active consumer.

With the globalisation of media, also comes the potential of ownership of global media corporations. Rupert Murdoch owns a number of media organisations all around the world, and this allows him to have a say in what information is published all around the world. Nobody will forget the 2013 Australian Federal Election and the NewsCorp coverage of it. But Murdoch has also had this influence in the past in different countries. David McKnight uses the 1992 United Kingdom election as an example, showing the influence Murdoch and The Sun newpaper had on the election.

The globalisation of Murdoch’s media empire has allowed him to have a voice and an influence around the world. Gone are the days of each country having it’s own media, media is now globalised, narrowing the influence being had on people, even from different countries. 

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine, no. 159, pp. 110-115.

“The Internet Doesn’t Create Bullies”

Bullying has always been a problem amongst young people, especially within the school environment. But since the invention of the smart phone, with communication now being accessed 24/7, bullying has become much more than a schoolyard issue.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) cyber bullying began emerging in the early 2000s, around the same time as social networking websites, and with the growth of mobile devices, instances of cyber bullying have also grown (Nicol, 2012).

In Sarah Nicols article ‘Cyber Bullying and Trolling’ published in Youth Studies Australia in 2012, she explains what cyber bullying is and how it uses technology, especially new mobile technologies. The article states that cyber bullying is similar to face to face bullying, only behind a screen. It suggests that online bullies are also bullies offline, and online victims, victims offline as well. “The internet doesn’t create bullies”, it states.

So is the internet at fault at all for cyber bullying? Websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have procedures in place to protect its users, like reporting options and the like, but is that enough and do people actually use them? In Nicols’ article, she suggests that victims of cyber bullying are often hesitant to report their bullies because they think it will result in them not being able to use social networking for the purposes it was created, socialising with genuine friends. This is where the idea of social media just being a platform comes in. If cyber bullying occurs over a text message, who should have some responsibility? Is it Telstra’s fault? Apple’s fault?

Nicols’ article also suggests that victims of cyber bullying tend to let it go on for longer than it should, by not reporting or telling anyone about it.

“Bullies can attack anyone online; however, some people will yell back at them, some will ignore them and some will report them.  Victims however, engage in ongoing communication with the bully, allowing themselves to play the role of victim”

The article states that the way to stop cyber bullying occurring is to empower the victim. Victims don’t have to play the role of a victim, they can report, they can ignore, they can block.

In my opinion, cyber-bullying is just another platform for bullying. Whilst I do agree that cyber bullying is bad, just like any bullying, I think that there is too much emphasis placed on the role of the ‘platform’ (Facebook, Twitter) and not enough placed on the bullies and victims themselves. As I stated above, bullies aren’t created online. If they’re a bully online, there is a high chance they are are bully offline. Bullies need to be dealt with offline and victims need to be empowered online so they know that they can just as easily do something about it, while still enjoying the good things social media and the online world has to offer.

Nicol, Sarah. Cyber-bullying and trolling [online]. Youth Studies Australia, Vol. 31, No. 4, Dec 2012: 3-4. Availability:<http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=961674521346309;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 1038-2569. [cited 12 May 14].

Does Race Matter?

As mentioned in last week’s post for BCM310, stories are now being told more and more by the group of people the story is about. We are now getting first hand accounts of what it is like to be a social minority, and these minorities are finally being represented by themselves. It is the same for racial minorities in the western world.

As the world becomes more and more culturally mixed, it is becoming more prevalent to hear stories about race minorities told by people of that minority. What I mean by this, is that instead of a race minority being just a token character in a TV show, there for the laughs, there are now shows and stories being told about racially diverse main characters.

In the USA, after Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2013, and become the first American of Indian descent to do so. But, what came was a wave of racist comments and remarks about Davuluri on Twitter from many upset Americans that a white woman didn’t win. Daniels claims that this kind of racist fuelled Twitter attack was also prevalent after Barack Obama became the first African-American president. 

However, this differs a lot to the reception of Mindy Kaling’s sitcom ‘The Mindy Project’. An article written by Eliana Dokterman for Time about the season final of season 2, does not mention once the race or ethnicity of Kaling, even though the fact Kaling is Indian is something that is discussed quite a lot in the show itself.

So, does race matter when it comes to people in the media? Some would argue yes, some would argue no. It all comes down to relevance. I would argue that race should be more of a factor in in Kaling’s case rather than Davuluri’s, even though the media attention surrounding both women is the complete opposite. 

No matter what the issue is surrounding race and these women, it is definitely refreshing to see a bit of racial diversity in the primetime spotlight.

‘Slacktivism’ is Still Activism

We’ve all done it. Liked that page on Facebook, signed that petition online. We’re changing the world one click at a time! But are we really even doing anything?

A lot of people are very critical of younger generations and their political involvement, mostly because a lot of it is done online and not seen by every member of the population.
Back in the day, if you wanted to make a political statement or spread a message, you wrote in to the paper or held a placard on a street corner. You organised marches down busy streets, or you burned bras on the side of a highway. It got your message out, and if you were lucky, it would be picked up by mainstream media.
But that’s not how things work these days. Today, you post a political status on Facebook, get feedback instantly and, if it’s good, it’ll get shared and your message will spread. It’s so much quicker and easier to be an activist online. But is that necessarily ‘slacktivism*’? Does that mean that people that do that are lazy? Maybe they’re smarter for doing something an easier way.

The internet and social media have allowed the growth of ‘clicktivism**’ over recent years. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s simply just a different way of getting message out there. A different way of activism.
I believe that this is why older generations are so critical of younger generations’ political involvement. It’s just done online, in a different way than it would have been done 50 years ago. Just because people can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

* actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement
** the use of social media and the Internet to advance social causes