Photographing The Suffering

Ever wondered where all these amazing photos of human suffering come from? Ever asked yourself “Why doesn’t the photographer just help the poor person!?”. Well, I suppose there’s a reason why people are always photographing the suffering instead of helping them, at least deep down. Maybe they’re thinking about their career, or maybe they care more about the overall issue and they’re trying to capture the life of the problem.

A great example that springs to mind about this issue is this photo of Fabienne Cherisma, showing a group of photojournalists surrounding Fabienne, who passed away after being shot by a police officer for lotting after an the earthquake in Haiti. It instantly makes me feel sorry for the victim, and make me feel angry with the journalists for not helping.

I suppose you could attribute the success of this photo, which was chosen as the best international news image, because of the emotional reaction we have towards the photojournalists. There’s a great journal about The relationship of virality and emotions by Jonah A. Berger & Katherine L. Milkman, which talks about how an angry reaction to content causes the potential virality to increase dramatically, especially when there are two opposing sides. A great example of this principle in action which springs to mind is the coloured dress craze of 2015 over social media

There’s a youtube channel ‘CPG Grey’, which talks about this, and uses plenty of amazingly beautiful graphics. I think plenty of professional journalists know about this concept subconsciously, just by watching by previously successful work from others in their fields, and so that sets the standards that others need to meet to compete in the industry. Similar to how in professional sport games, once one team adjusts their strategies which dominates the competition, the other teams are forced to adjust their techniques to meet this new standard. Anyway, enough sport, watch this awesome video and understand the concept!

Mr Salgado, a famous photojournalist, talks about how some of his photos are posed, because it’s the only way to get his subjects from crowding around him. In an interview with Michael Kimmelman, he says that, “The children would gather around to watch him work. They volunteered to have their photos taken so the photographer to work in peace”. I think this quote reflects well on the issues photographers have in-field, and speaking from experience, when a photographer is going for the ‘natural’ look, there’s nothing more frustrating then when someone poses, presumably because that’s how they want to be photographed and remembered.

So to summarise tangents about this subjects, it’s an interesting subject to research into, especially from the perspectives of the photographer, the audience, and as a content creator. I don’t think people will ever stop creating photographs and images like this, because it’s a formula that works to spread messages.

Kimmelman Michael, MK 2001, ‘Photography review; can suffering be too beautiful?’, NYTime, 13th July, Viewed 1st April <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/13/arts/photography-review-can-suffering-be-too-beautiful.html?pagewanted=all&gt;

Richard Frances, FR 2010, ‘The think artefact: on photography and suffering’, The Nation, 23rd November, Viewed 1st April <http://www.thenation.com/article/thin-artifact-photography-and-suffering/&gt;

Akbareian Emma, EA 2015, ‘The blue and black (or white and gold) dress: Actual colour, brand and price details revealed’, Independent, 27th February, Viewed 1st April <http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/the-dress-actual-colour-brand-and-price-details-revealed-10074686.html&gt;

Berger, Jonah A. and Milkman, Katherine L., ‘What Makes Online Content Viral?’, December 25, 2009, Viewed 1st April <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528077&gt;

 

 

The Insta-Famous

Before I even started this subject, i’ve always been so interested in the concept of being ‘insta-famous’, and much time and effort they have to dedicated to shaping their online persona to become an online celebrity. I recently watched a great documentary about it called “The Rick Kids Of Instagram”, and it was a great insight not only on what their lives are like, but why and how they shape themselves online.

It’s interesting to see that not everyone is completely self-centred as you would have thought, and that some people are genuinely aware of their influence not just for popularity sake, but in regards to potential advertising that they can offer, and their audience reach through social networks. That’s one thing I can respect, when people start using the attention they’re getting for a genuine career/business motive rather than just for the attention. Personally for me, it seems less needy, and i’m more likely to follow someone that’s less obsessed about themselves.

A great example of someone that’s insta-famous is Kurt Coleman, with 183,000 followers on instagram. His following has grown due to his huge self-obsession and large ego, and he’s not afraid to face any hate that he regularly receives. “My new years resolution is to be perfect” (Kurt Coleman), I mean, who says that with such a serious face? He’s all about positivity and not giving a shit, which is really relatable to the youth in this generation, would could be attributed to his success.

However, i’ve always thought that being popular online came across as being a bit of a narcissist, caring too much what people think and needing that gratification from complete strangers. Weiser (2015) studied the relationship between narcissism and online popularity, and found that his “investigation suggests that posting selfies, as with other self-promoting behaviors, represents an avenue through which narcissistic needs are expressed through social media.” Weiser (2015).

He goes on to talk about how these individuals think they’re attractive, and that in most cases, they generally are. Which personally I think reflects more on society rather than the insta-famous person itself, in the end we choose who will be a celebrity, and perhaps we have to admit to ourselves that image has something to do with that.“These individuals may consider selfie-posting as a conduit through which they can use their looks to garner both attention and admiration” Weiser (2015).

Selfies however, are now a house-hold regular activity for everyone in the family, so I guess we can just be thankful that grandma won’t be the next online celebrity.

 

Branson James, 2015, Sneaky,  ‘Why is this person famous? Kurt Coleman and Social Media Fame’, <http://www.sneakymag.com/life/person-famous-kurt-coleman-social-media-fame/> Accessed on 29th March 2016

Weiser, EB, 2015, ‘#Me: Narcissism and its facets as predictors of selfie-posting frequency’, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 86,<https://goo.gl/VdIBWi> Accessed on 29th March 2016.

The ‘Perfect’ Family

Zoe Krupka writes about the current issues dealing with what it means to be a normal family, and what it means to be a functional or dysfunctional family. She refers to Kay Hymowitz who also writes about the functionality of a family, specifically dealing with single-parents. That is to say, parents that are not married. Hymowitz writes that single motherhood parenting is destructive and harmful to children, and restricts their type of lifestyle. He writes that high levels of poverty and social immobility are linked with the rise of single motherhood, but people seem to disagree at a political level, whether or not this is a beneficial or sustainable lifestyle in regards to the child.

Being a single mother and a DJ is a stressful lifestyle

Zoe references plenty of authors in her work, which help create a larger understanding of the issue she’s writing about. Using an article from an Australian psychologist, Bettina Arndt, who has researched into this idea of the ‘casualistation of families’, but rather from a psychological perspective. Unfortunately the article that Zoe refers to in her writing requires a subscription to The Australia, and this limits how many people will and can read into her references. I find that including references that are unreadable and restrictive to the point where you have to pay for access is unprofessional, and lowers the standard of the writing.

These two authors that Zoe references however, she completely disagrees with, saying “It’s both a gross misuse of the evidence base and a stunted template for ethical decision-making.” She says that these two authors are trying to create a new ethical standard regarding how we view productive families. She states that there are so many more factors dependent on the production and success of a family that have to be considered. Competing interests such as the economics, gender, genetics and personal lifestyles can influence how a family will perpetuate.

She uses cold, hard, statistical facts to back up her claims, by attacking what can be seen as a ‘normal family’, to show that in a normal family, there are some large factors that influence the success of that family. She talks about family violence, and how one in five women face violence from their partner, and how 40-60% of divorced women live under the poverty line.

She finishes by stating that we cannot have a blueprint for a perfect family, there are so many personal and contextual events that drive each family individually to the next, that we can’t possibly compare the two.

The perfect family structure is whatever you choose it to be

Sources:

Krupka Zoe, ZK 2014, ‘The ‘Perfect Family’ has created an ethical and moral vacuum’, The Conversation, 12th September, Viewed 10th April, < http://theconversation.com/the-perfect-family-has-created-an-ethical-and-moral-vacuum-31339 &gt;

Hymowtiz Kay, KH 2014, ‘How Single Motherhood Hurts Kids’, The New York Times, 8th February, Viewed 10th April, < http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/how-single-motherhood-hurts-kids/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=4 &gt;

Ethics Schmethics

Ethics is an important philosophy created to show what is right and wrong in just about everything. Ethics can apply to everything in the world, from scientific studies, to your local sports team. It creates a guideline of whats morally right, and what shouldn’t be done. In regards to studies, ethics is very important in maintaining a moral ground, so that the studies can be socially accepted. A common example to show studies that are not ethically met, are the Nazi experiments conducted during World War 2 on prisoners of war. These studies disregard all morals and ethics in today’s society, and the society of the time.

A more recent example of questionable ethics while conducting studies would be the ‘Emotional Contagion’ study conducted through Facebook, which knowingly affected the happiness and mood of some Facebook users. The experiment worked by changing the amount of positive and negative status’ made be friends to be shown in their newsfeed, and they found a correlation between viewing a saturation of one mood, to themselves posting status’ of that mood. So people viewing the more negative status’ were found to post more negative things themselves. You can see why people aren’t over the moon about this.

Simply scrolling through your newsfeed can affect your mood

David Hunter writes about this ethics breach, and asks the question, “when is someone involved in human research?“, he says that while technically, no rules were broken because Facebook is a privately owned business, and were legally able to conduct the research, but morally and ethically, was it right? He shares that “6.7% of Americans suffer from depression“, and we can determine that around 46,000 of the database has depression, and these people would have been greatly impacted by this research.

I found this research personally interesting, the idea that you can transfer emotions is powerful, and i’m sure someone, somewhere, is figuring out a bad way to use this new finding. However, this research can have great impact in the health sector, and could even help people suffering from depression, by applying this research in a way to help improve people’s mental health. So while this research was ethically wrong, some positive research and conclusions have amounted from it. One of the big questions that arise from this, is does ethics stand in the way of progress?

To answer this question, I thought it was best to ask around, and see what others think about not just if ethics stand in the way, but what people think about ethics all together, and what kind of studies they would be interested in, if they disregarded ethics completely.

 


 

Sources:

Hunter David, DH 2014, ‘Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight’, The Conversation, 4th July, Viewed 2nd April, < http://theconversation.com/facebook-puts-ethics-of-research-by-private-companies-in-spotlight-28798 >

Kramer Adam, 2014, ‘Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks’, PNAS, Vol. 111, No. 24.

Moe Kristine, 1984, ‘Should the Nazi Research Be Cited?’, The Hastings Centre Report, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp 5-7.

 

What’s The Deal With Research?

Research is a pretty broad term, that everyone will be aware of, and will probably be able to define pretty easily. Their definitions however, are sure to be widely different depending on their studies. At University, we do what’s called ‘Scholarly Research’, and this means to research a topic systematically and objectively. We have the research the ‘real world’ rather than the personal, so our findings have to be proven by facts and studies rather than assumptions and guesses. Usually scholarly research is peer-reveiwed as well, so the papers and documents you would research would be published in a journal related to its field.

Communications and Media however is a very broad subject, so the research we conduct is not always scholarly. Some research can be drawn from social events, past or present, as well as philosophical and psychological papers as philosophy plays a big part in media research.

Phil’s-Osophy from Modern Family

Berger defines scholarly research as a “more systematic, more objective, more careful, and more concerned about the correctness and truthfulness than everyday research,” (Berger 2014). There are procedural researching methods that you follow when conducting scholarly research, and after the initial research and analysis, you would gather more data. There are two types of research, Qualitative and Quantitive. Qualitative research refers to an individuals judgement, or their beliefs and interpretations of a situation, while Quantitive research is focused purely on statistical and mathematical facts.

In terms of media research, I believe a mixture of the two are important when conducting scholarly research, because no statement or research is truely valid without statistical evidence to prove a media theory. On the other hand however, some theory’s work best regarding peoples interpretations and feelings towards certain issues. So taking into account that the media is a tool for everyone to enjoy and use, we have to accept that certain demographics will view certain issues with a different perspective, and we can use Qualitative research to prove so.

This semester we’re asked to conduct our own research, and i’ve teamed up to research about the differences between someones online persona and their ‘real-life’ persona. To do this we’re researching past papers about the issues, and drawing from already conducted research. We hope to find some results regarding how people want to promote themselves and their lifestyle, and how this kind of conduct could link into depression. It’s also interesting to notice that while we’re researching why people lie about their lives online, it’s not popular to tell hard truths online. 


Sources:

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’ in media and communication research methods: an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

Global Warming? But They Said It Wasn’t Real!

Climate Change has been a largely debated topic for quite a while, and it’s always seen in the media. It’s usually one scientist offering statistics and evidence, against a sceptic basing his views on false information and general ignorance. Climate change is a tricky topic to cover in the media, because to be ‘fair’, they need to show both sides of the argument.

This is called ‘superficial balance’, telling ‘both’ sides of the story can actually be a form of informational bias. It allows a small group of global warming sceptics to have their views greatly amplified. It’s because of these sceptics, that there is so much misinformation in the public sphere about what it is, where it’s going, and what we can do about it.

Here’s a short video explaining all the misconceptions about global warming and climate change. It also explains what it is, and rebuts arguments that sceptics usually bring up.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains that there “is historically a saying in the scientific community that every scientific truth goes through three phases, first people deny it, then it conflicts with the bible, and then they say they knew it all along.” So I don’t think we will come to a general consensus about global warming until the media finds a way to fairly tell the truth about the issue, without planting misconceptions along the way.

World News: Old Man Yells At Cloud

The global media is a very powerful tool; it promotes the news about one country, all across the world. It can shine countries in positive or negatives lights, and affect international relationships. Today however, I wanted to talk about one of the sources I get my news from. Reddit, and how people argue what is counted as ‘world news’, especially as it is a very Americanised website, with most of it’s users being American citizens.

Reddit is made up of ‘sub-reddits’, so there are so many different forums, for just about anything you could think of. Several people depending on how many people regularly use it moderate each forum, and they have rules to govern what can be posted, which is essentially used to keep the forum filled with content that is intended, and to maintain ‘peace’ between users.

The ‘sub-reddit’ I frequent for my global news, is ‘worldnews’, and one of the rules they enforce, is ‘no internal US news’. This has been a pretty controversial rule this past year, because it’s a forum most users also look at, and because the users are largely American, they post local news quite often. There have been cases were large internal news events have been posted and debated, to be later removed by the moderators because they are not ‘global issues’.

Not everything is considered Global News

It’s sparked the debate many times on what can and should be considered as global media, and I think this can happen with any country. Local events are considered a ‘big deal’ where it occurs, but it may not necessarily concern other nations and their citizens. I think it’s an issue that we can’t really define, because news is so broad, but it rather has to be consider whether it’s global news or not by the people reporting on it.

“You Just Don’t Get It”

Television series can become very contextualised in its local community’s easily, and it makes it harder for a global community to relate to the series as well as locals do. This is because of small cultural differences, in almost everything. The best examples to examine these differences are comedies. Every nation and its unique culture have very slight differences in comedic preferences, so when a show is ‘Americanised’, it loses it’s comedic value with other countries, because they may not be able to relate to the comedy as well. Comedy doesn’t always translate well between cultures; a recent example of this would be Jonah from Tonga. Australian humour doesn’t always translate well overseas, because there’s too much historical context that other countries would have to understand, and this is why Chris Lilley is so good at making comedies. American’s reacted badly to this television series, because they don’t understand what’s happening the same way we do.

Sometimes however comedy can translate well, and the perfect example of that would be The Office. It started out as a UK series, before producers in the US quickly saw it’s potential and ported it over to the US, re-casting for their own series. The series wasn’t an instant success in the US, because they had to allow the comedy to develop and grow into what it was. One of the reasons The Office managed to translate the comedy so well to American audiences, is their characters and actors. They chose culturally specific characters that would extend their audience, and they cast actors to perfection to fit these roles. That’s why I love The Office personally, because the actors are believable for the roles they play. It makes the contexts of all their jokes seem so much more real and believable, and context is everything in comedy. Here’s a video with Stephen Fry talking about the comedy differences between the British and Americans.
But what about how people show Australia in television? Stereotypes are used frequently in the media industry to quickly label and identify a specific culture to extend it’s audience. They’re instantly recognisable, and sometimes hated by their ‘own culture’ for being too forced. For example, plenty of people hate the Australian stereotypes because the accent is too forced and not natural.  So television series act on two levels, locally, and globally. Both are just as important as the other, because they both extend the reach of their audience, and allows the show to be more diverse. A global television series has to be able to translate jokes well across cultures and borders, otherwise it will fall and crumble into the pit where many shows have fallen.

“Elementary my dear Watson!”

Sherlock Holmes, originally a book, has been adapted into a popular TV series in the UK. It’s a British crime show, and has been highly praised for its writing and production. It follows the life of Sherlock Holmes who acts as a consultant for the police, and uses his remarkable observation techniques and skills to solve a crime.

The TV series follows the same procedure as most crime and detective shows. It starts out with the initial crime; a number of suspects are named, and final plot twists. Most modern police and detective shows follow this procedural, but they approach it in a unique way, so it isn’t just ‘another cop show’. The character developments and traits are what make this show unique to others, and make it very desirable to a large audience.

The show is very culturally English; it uses many aspects of the typical English lifestyle, such as drinking tea, and just their way of thinking, which makes it appeal in the UK. However, it also appeals internationally as well, because it contains international elements that appeal to that audience as well. The different take and unique approaches the producers make for the show appeal to everyone, and it can be seen as the reason why American producers have attempted to re-create it locally in America, with it’s own American twist on it. But as you could probably tell, it didn’t turn out that well.

The TV series ‘Elementary’ first aired in late 2012, and is set in New York. You can instantly see the difference of choices when producing the show because of their cultural differences. For example, they cast a female to play the role of Moriarty, who is pictured as a male in the books, and in the English series. This is seen as a form of ‘Political Correctness’, and could also be associated with the large rise of Feminism in America.

Just by comparing these two series, we can instantly see the difference in film culture, and what changes and personal touches they add to make it appeal locally. Sometimes it doesn’t always work, and my favourite example would be ‘The Inbetweeners’. What a disaster that was in America.

The Birth Of Bollywood

Bollywood, is India’s take on Bollywood. They have their own style of film and cinematography, and is very independent compared to Hollywood films. There are plenty of reasons why Bollywood is what it is today.

People associate Bollywood with ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, when in reality, it was actually co-produced by two UK film companies. It’s a western Hollywood film with Indian and Hindi themes and a strong cultural presence. It promoted Bollywood and Indian culture unintentionally throughout western civilisations.

Firstly, the economics behind the industry is always important, because it creates the drive and the incentive to create films and work in the field. The Indian economical Liberalization in 1991 strongly affected the film industry, and the first major films to come out of Bollywood were created around this time. The Indian government can be thanked for this, because they created economic relationships with other countries around the world, and they created global networks, which involuntarily promoted and created funding, as well as the demand for Bollywood style films.

With all this talk of economics, who is actually profiting from Bollywood? Well I hypothesise that Indian culture is profiting, because regardless of what industry it is, Indian culture is always profiting. It’s hard to say which industry is actually profiting off Indian style films, because more than one industry create them.

Filmmakers act as Bricoleurs, so they essentially mix global and local elements to appeal to most audiences’ tastes and trends. This is a marketing technique used by Hollywood to seem more international, and to appeal to that demographic.

Bollywood has emerged as a large media entity because of the economics, the associations from already performing media industries, and the role of filmmakers. They produce more films than Hollywood per year, and is quickly becoming a large competitor for Hollywood.


Sources:

Schaefer & Karan, DS & KK, 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, p.309-316