Final: Democratizing Television

by Jovanna Haddad (592 words)

TV pic

The essay “Democratizing Television” introduces readers to the idea of participatory culture in television. It is no surprise that a political figure such as Al Gore is behind the idea, as his hopes are directly correlated with the fundamental principle of this country—to create a more democratic relationship with our media while creating community with each other. Whether this is a political feat or not, the efforts behind Al Gore’s ideas are worth noting. The launch of the cable news network Current created a pathway for viewers to not only consume the news, but also help produce the content with the extended ability of selecting the best matters to be aired. The latter idea, Al Gore hoped, had the “potential to diversify civil discourse” (pg 278). Despite his what appear to be earnest efforts, there is an unshakeable inclination to question why. Why is this necessary in television and why do politicians suddenly care about creating community? To our relief most of the reason for media convergence, convergence representing a paradigm shift from medium-specific content toward content that flows through multiple channels, appears to be economic (pg 279). The primal reasons are to exploit the advantages of media conglomeration, create multiple ways of selling content to consumers, and cement some degree of customer loyalty during a time of high media fragmentation. In a practical sense, the movement by corporate leaders and politicians with large wallets to “democratize television” is nothing but a coined phrase to make more money. But are there still potential benefits, or better yet and inevitably unruly trend dictated by the public?

In a study conducted in 1991 by W. Russell Neuman, he examined if people’s engrained habits to how they interact with media would stifle the potential progress in a participatory relationship. His results were conclusive in predicting a culture that was not ready to embrace such progress. Fast-forward to today, post Web 2.0, and the exact opposite is arguable—new technology is deeply explored by local techies, and new information about products is most likely released on consumer-generated blogs rather than official company websites. Despite the dark story of the birth of media convergence, consumers are proud to take their role as producers of content as communication with media is becoming two-way. Marshall Sella from the New York Time’s could not have put it in better words, describing “…a man with one machine (a TV) is doomed to isolation, but a man with two machines (TV and a computer) can belong to a community” (pg 280).

The online format of TV has been largely driven by fan culture and their connection to the TV shows on screen. The textbook observes Fandom as a balance between fascination and frustration, both being vulnerable to the passions of the voices of their following (pg 281). A participatory TV culture helps support just that. In the period of the 60s to the 80s, this was not possible with television, unless your idea of participation included yelling to unresponsive moving images. Broadcast was traditionally a monologue and us consumers were acknowledge as the “grateful viewer”, as Henry Jenkins the author of “Democratizing Television” puts it. Now, even at home participation with TV is likely by way of reality shows such as singing and dancing competitions, and emotive interactions with reality stars. Social media sites are largely conducted for the sake of shares, followings, and generating content that is intended to reach the public, and has become a leading platform in measuring ratings and likeability of TV shows, their plots, and characters.

My Story Assignment

by Jovanna Haddad

Stella and Dot is a company that is founded by the woman and for the woman. It brings the worlds of social shopping and convenient shopping together by selling jewelry at your own home via trunk show parties. I want the video to capture just that. It is meant to be fun and exciting, yet practical and even economical. The way of storytelling is somewhere between educational and an infomercial, sharing Stella and Dot’s business model and selling philosophy.

The music in the video is current and exciting, much like the jewelry that Stella and Dot carries. It is a fresh take on their latest trends, hoping to stimulate an audience into inquiring more about how to get the jewelry. It has more to do with wanting to bring your friends together to host a trunk show, and less to do with pushing sales.

I created the moving graphics in the introduction with a program called AfterLight, also keeping a trendy look in mind, using a photo filter reminiscent of nostalgia. I retrieved the proceeding images online, showing some of Stella and Dot’s latest collections that are for sale. The videos are also from online and were made by two distinct Stella and Dot stylists. The trunk show images are from a trunk show hosted by Loyola’s Public Relations club (PRSSA) in Spring 2013. Those photos were taking by me during a show that a local stylist was kind enough to host with proceeds donated to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The show was a great success and a lot of fun!

Celebrity Twitter

Lena Dunham (@lenadunham)

by Jovanna Haddad

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Lena Dunham is a filmaker and actress best known for her not so coy scripts. She was born in New York City and is daughter of Carroll Dunham, a painter of “overtly sexualized pop art“, and Laurie Simmins, a photographer and designer who creates artistic domestic scenes with dolls. She graduated from Oberlin College where she studied creative writing, and before that attended St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn where she met her fellow costar in her two latest projects, Tiny Furniture and the HBO series Girls. Both have been highly acclaimed with Tiny Furniture winning Best Narrative Feature at South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Girls winning a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress, building her recent celebrity status quite rapidly.

Aside form her talent is a personality that her fans connect to both on an off the screen. She is a feminist and her personal beliefs are deeply rooted in her work. Her success lies in her witty, unreserved nature that grasps the realness of what it is to go through the experiences depicted on screen. Her Twitter feed is very personal, her life being like an open book. She posts well-worded one liners, as any professional comic would be willing to employ. Tweets such as “In conversation with someone reserved I start acting like I am the half of a vaudeville duo that has to pull all the weight” and “Rather than I feel sleepy, I like to say I feel doomed” celebrate the ambiance of what is her Twitter page. To go further she even gives her mom a special shout out for how much she tweets, stating “Get real guys, no one ever pays me to tweet about anything (except my mom)“. A celebrity who also has their mom as their number one fan makes me feel almost as interesting, which is the essence of her persona.

The way she celebrates herself is not for everyone’s liking, drawing on the “dark side” to having your life in the public eye. She is also associated with having anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and depression, which you would think would not make for a great celebrity, but in this case it is the exact opposite. She is not afraid to put her insecurities, and how she empowers them, out there for the world to see, and in turn is celebrated for celebrating herself.

Ad Analysis: “Looking 4 Myself”

by Jovanna Haddad


The advertising industry.

The proliferation of the media has increased competition and pressure for companies to break through advertising clutter to deliver their message to consumers. The post-modern era has moved away from the product as the forefront of advertisements, opening up a world for creative minds and production to create more expressive ads. Sales are important, but honesty is even more scrutinized. Advertisers acknowledge that the best way to make something meaningful is to aim for the emotions of the consumer, drawing on themes such as insecurities, desires, and pleasure.

A short film.

The brand new commercial, released on June 14, for Samsung’s latest technology of Smart TV utilizes pop-culture references, society’s trend towards digitalized interactions, and overall excitement to implicitly create brand awareness and promote their new product. It is not until the end that the viewer knows the product being promoted or the company.

Usher Smart TV 1Pop culture.

The commercial begins with Usher, a huge staple in the music industry that is best known for his rhythm and blues sounds and fluid dance moves, as he is scrolling through pictures on a large screen television with just the flick of his hand. This motion is dramatic and unfamiliar, but is suddenly disrupted when he sees the picture of a girl that represents lost love. In all of this, the camera angles zoom into his expression and then his phone as he reaches for it to make a phone call. At this point the audience is hooked with Usher’s representation of a non-celebrity self. This moment is interrupted by a knock on the door, where an evil Usher initiates a fight. Both the knock on the door and the fighting style depicted draw on similarities from the famous movie trilogy of The Matrix.

Digitalized interactions.

During the entirety of the fight sequence, people from all over the city are tuned in to watch the commotion. We see the same unfamiliar technology planted in the people’s homes. The technology we see is the Smart TV, capable of instantly streaming feed from a satellite smart phone and connectivity with friends. There is a large youth audience and rapid sharing taking place, drawing on the presence of digital technology as the leading form of human interaction. It takes the social arena we live in now and shows what it could be more like in the future. The implicit message of a connected culture is made possible through the explicit representation of the youth holding these digital devices.

Usher Smart TV 2Excitement.

The marketing firm behind the ad, Huge, intended for the commercial to read more closely to a short film, hoping to change the face of viral marketing by creating something that people would like to actively view and share. The commercial uses portrayals of love, action, conflict, and resolution to captivate the attention of the audience. You have Usher is doing a highly stylized fight scene that looks more like dance than fight all while he possess more than human qualities, an unresolved love story urging you to root for a happy ending, and a setting that is larger than life for most. The drama in the story parallels the drama in using the technology of Smart TV and gets users interested in the technology. The plot and setting make hints towards the future, where Smart TVs will be the new normal.

Samsung’s political economy.

Samsung has relished in recent successes in new technology by being the first company to gain more market share than Apple in the smart-phone arena with the Samsung Galaxy S3. A string of lawsuits surrounding these companies caused Samsung to raise their advertising budget to match the brand awareness of Apple. Their budget of 4.3 billion dollars last year has not been correlated to any large increase in sales, but there is an obvious effort for Samsung’s goal of penetrating new markets aggressively.

Looking 4 more.

The commercial is for the young, aspiring professionals that want to stay in the loop, but also have the socioeconomic capacity to afford the technology. The commercial is weak on this front, drawing towards a very specific demographic. It omits family life altogether and hones in on the people that would be excited by the pop-culture references and participate in a highly connected lifestyle. I contend that the story is successful in creating brand and product awareness, as it is one of very few YouTube ads that I have not skipped.

New Tech, New Ties: A review on the review

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by Jovanna Haddad

The book review on New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication Is Reshaping Social Cohesion by Rich Ling was written by Kathrin Kissau. New Tech, New Ties is about the emerging social bonds that occur from ritualistic conversations that are made possible through mobile phones. The book speculates that bonds through digital media help reinforce social circles in face-to-face interactions. However, the book focused on adolescents to support the data and also neglected to pay much attention to what it does to those that are not involved. Although these are great observations, Kissau does not discuss her opinion on the author’s claims. The positive side of that approach is that it leaves me intrigued about the book. Too often we hear that digital media for personal connections damages people’s ability to have fulfilling face-to-face interactions. This popular thought is disputed head-on in this book and I find the topic relevant and interesting. For anyone Gen Y affiliate, it is a topic to pay attention to as critiques pin us as incompetent. In the mean time, the book review is just positive enough, while remaining candid, to spark my interest in researching the author and the book.

Media Leader Bio: Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

By Jovanna Haddad

Gloria Steinem is best known as an influential person for women’s rights issues during the 20th century– a time when women were highly sexualized and disregarded as knowledgable on any subject outside of raising kids and keeping a home. Gloria Steinem’s journalistic career fueled from her innate affinity for politics, as she was determined to fight against social injustice between the rich and the poor and men and women.

Steinem’s first serious job was for Show magazine and consisted of her getting a job as a bunny for a Playboy Club and then writing about it, allowing her to exploit the mistreatment of the women at the club. She eventually fully invested herself into feminist causes, writing for New York magazine and later formed organizations such as the National Women’s Political Caucus, Women’s Action Alliance, and Choice USA. The culmination of her work finally climaxed when she helped create the first mass-circulation feminist magazine called Ms., which is still in circulation today. The magazine’s pioneering spirit parallel that of Steinem’s, as it has an exhausting list of firsts. Ms. was the first magazine to rate presidential candidates on women’s issues, feature domestic violence and sexual harassment on the cover, feature prominent women demanding the repeal of abortion laws, and the first to report on feminine protests on pornography.As Ms. editor, Steinem gained popularity as a strong advocate of women’s right issues, rightfully earning her place in the Women’s Hall of Fame along with the American Society of Magazine Editor’s Hall of Fame.

Gloria Steinem continues her work to this day. Watch her here.