Final Exam question # 2 by christie Costello

Word count 614

 In the article, “Democratizing Television? The Politics of Participation,” author Henry Jenkins gives sight to how the public’s participation in television production has changed political media. Perhaps one of the most influential innovations for this type of mass media is, “Current,” a cable news network that Albert Gore launched in 2005 so that young people could participate as citizen journalists in the “production, selection, and distribution” of the network’s programming. (Jenkins 277) Still, Jenkins questions whether Gore truly intended to hand over the means of production to the public or use  this form of media to further democratic ends. (278) But, Gore claimed that even though his television network may not be perfect, it let him put his belief that “enabling audience-generated content had the potential to diversify civic discourse” into practice. Current, along with the web services,,, and blogging, allow media makers to gain publicity in the web, without owing any money to wealthy network owners. However, Jenkins points out that even with public involvement in t.v. production, that mass media is far too concentrated to fully address the public’s relationship to popular culture, and often side with those “opposed to a more diverse and participatory culture.” A concentrated mass creates a large drawback for the public to reach a more democratic medium that Gore and web services intend for.  

 Although television production could be more democratic, there have been many noteworthy advances in the industry both recently and since the second half on the twentieth century. For instance, one  recent progression is the shift from satellite and cable television to online television. Unlike satellite and cable, which requires a monthly t.v. plan, people can watch online videos simply if they have wifi. Also, online streaming allows people to watch limited advertisements or skip them altogether, which is only possible with cable and satellite with a prepurchased plan like TVO. In the article, “Online video Finally Chipping Away At Broadcast TV,” author Stacey Higginbotham points out the social opporuntities that online t.v. provides. She states, “people like their television content more when they can comment on it with friends. And people are certainly watching their TV while engaging on Twitter, Facebook and other networks as the following chart shows.” satellite and cable television don’t provide convenience of limited advertising and social connections that online videos do, it still has progressed since the 1960s. For instance, in 1967, the Corporation for Broadcasting was established, making public t.v. the most watched channels. Now, however, cable and HBO television shows override public television as the most watched. Additionally, in the 1960s,  “one third of all network programs were taped, a third were filmed, and the remaining shows were produced live.” Today, we have a wider range of what we can watch, like almost any sporting event, meaning more television is aired live.  In the 1970s, CBS canceled shows that they considered, “rural,” and “unsophisticated,” such as The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. In contrast, it doesn’t seem a concern for t.v. broadcasting networks to provide viewers with sophisticated shows, as reality television, perhaps the most trendy television genre, has a reputation for its crudity and profanity. This dominance in reality television also is a major difference from 1980s t.v., as it this decade was known as “the golden age for primetime soap operas,” and includes the soap opera series: Dynasty, Falcon Crest, and Knots Landing.

     Social media sites like YouTube definitely help enhance participation and democracy, as it gives the public the opportunity to share anything and everything about their lives. Allowing everyone equal chance to broadcast video, not soley large network corporations, creates a more diverse world of television.





My Story: Los Angeles Trip 2011

“My Story” is about the four day trip my best friend, Kathleen, and I made to Los Angeles over winter break two years ago. It was a spontaneous trip to visit my sister,Cara, who had moved there earlier that year. When deciding on the topic for this video, I initially had trouble choosing which vacation I wanted to explore. But, because we did such a range of activities on the California visit, I thought the photographs of this trip would make for the most entertaining video. Cara, Kathleen, and I hiked the Runyon Canyon Loop, toured Sony Pictures Studio, strolled the Venice Boardwalk, worked out with famous aerobics instructor, Richard Simmons, and ate lunch at the Grove – an outdoor mall in Los Angeles.

Of course, it makes sense to use upbeat music for a vacation video, but more than that I also wanted to incorporate modern songs that captured the relaxing Southern Californian vibe I felt while in Los Angeles. For instance, as my introductory song, I used, “Life’s a Beach,” by Django Django. And, for pictures of our hike and Sony tour, I used, “Dani California,” by California’s own, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lastly, I concluded the video with the mellow track, “Finer Feelings,” by Spoon. Making the playlist was perhaps my favorite part of the “My Story,”project, even though learning to adjust voiceover and song volume was challenging.

Ad Analysis: Pacquiao for Hennessy

World champion boxer and filipino congressman, Manny Pacquiao, is the spokesman of a Hennessy TV ad that aired in April of 2012.  The ad, a part of Hennessy’s campaign, “What’s Your Wild Rabbit?” gives sight to Pacquiao’s dedication as a boxer and how his accomplishments make him the pride of his fellow filipino citizens. I will be analyzing how the commercial uses semiotics to communicate that both signs in Pacquiao’s life and the advertised product, Hennessy Liquor, advocate for viewers to set high standards for themselves.

The commercial is composed of a series of jump cuts: Pacquiao first running on a dirt road at dawn, him fighting at gym, locals watching him fight on television, and lastly him dressed in a suit (for what viewers can assume is a political function). Important to the design of the ad is the instrumental background music, which picks up in tempo as Pacquiao transitions from training at home to fighting a professional match on national television. Much, if not all, of the ad’s appeal lies in the sense of progression that together the change in location, time of day, and music tempo create. In this way, these characteristics emphasize the amount of time and effort it took for Pacquiao to reach the high standards he sets for himself, primarily as a boxer.

There are various objects throughout the commercial that, through their association with one another, are semiotic signs, and with their investigated meanings, further serve as signifiers. Firstly, the objects such as a dark sky, Pacquiao’s trophy collection, Pacquiao’s image on a poster, and later on a city billboard are associated (and therefore are signs) simply because they appear simultaneously. However, when seen collectively, the signs communicate a common message of Pacquiao’s dedication and achievements. More specifically, the dark sky is not just a dark sky, but an indicator that Pacquiao trains at all hours of the day. So too, at first, it may seem insignificant that the commercial, centered on a professional athlete, shows his trophy collection; but in looking closely at the cut of Pacquiao’s house, it is apparent that he had transported his t.v. to a small stand to make room for his large trophy collection. And, the cut of a poster of Pacquiao in a small town and his image on a city billboard hold signification because together, they give meaning to him gaining fame first at home and then on a national level.

It actually isn’t clear until the very end of the commercial that Pacquiao is advertising Hennessy liquor. And, after the first time of watching the ad, I didn’t see how a synopsis of Pacquiao’s life was related to what alcohol is generally associated with: status, leisure, partying, sex, etc. But, in the closing of the commercial, Hennessy cleverly has its slogan, “Never stop. Never Settle,” which correlates with the message that the design and signs in commercial give: set high standards for yourselves. The social impact that this particular Hennessy ad is similar to those of other alcohol companies because it encourages viewers to buy and consume alcohol. But unlike the standard alcohol company, which displays their product as an implication of status, both through the spokesman’s luxurious clothing and environment, Hennessy sends a different message. That is, the company stresses that their product is for the hard worker, who like Pacquiao, won’t settle for anything but the best.