Literary Prize culture: Men vs. Women.

In case you couldn’t tell- that was satire.

If my research taught me anything, it’s that there’s a clear gender bias in mainstream literary prize culture. I established this by looking at the winners and nominees from the Man Booker Prize, The Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction between 1977 and 2016.

I found that the vast majority of the prizes were won by men.

graph (5)

Although there has been some slight improvement in the regularity of women winning the prizes, as you can see by the trend lines in the diagram below:

graph (8)

Is this a problem isolated to literary prize culture, or can it be seen in other areas of the publishing industry? Have a listen to the podcast below where I discuss sexism and gender bias in the publishing industry, and whether or not improvements are being made.

 

For further reading on the topic:

 

-Amy McCann

 

 

 

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Implicit trustworthiness in Journalism and documentaries

Where do you go to seek out information on a topic or issue? Is it the news, a book, a documentary? When we look to be informed, we tend to seek out sources associated with a certain level of rigor in research. It’s expected that books are written by experts and that experts have been consulted by journalists and documentary makers. As a result, there is an inherent journalistic quality associated with documentaries. But are journalism and documentary making similar- should they both be given the same level of trustworthiness?

To begin with Journalists “can’t be trusted” (Tanner et al. 2005, p. 12). In 2016, Roy Morgan’s annual Image of Professions survey ranked newspaper journalists and TV reporters as 20th and 22nd respectively for trustworthiness out of 30 other professions. So why do we trust them to provide our perspective on the world’s events on a daily basis?

According to King, (1997, p.23) journalists are meant to find the truth, try to interest and engage their audience, act independently and question society, support the values of society, communicate effectively and report on issues fairly. Furthermore, Journalists are usually held to a code of ethics. For example, within Australia journalists are held to the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics which requires them to be honest, fair, independent and respect the rights of others.

According to Desktop Documentaries, ” A documentary is a broad term to describe a non-fiction movie that in some way “documents” or captures reality. ” In addition, Greenburg Kassaum (2010) says documentaries are “beginning to take [their] rightful place under the news umbrella”. Should this be the case?

To begin with, let’s look at intent. The intent of journalism, according to the American Press Institute , the purpose of journalism is empower “citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.” If a documentary is meant to document or capture reality, it follows that journalism and documantaries fundamentally differ.

Journalism is about empowerment for the audience, thereby giving it an ethical foundation. Documantaries, on the other hand, are about caputirng reality. Both seek to capture the world and reflect it back to their audiences, but journalism does so with the intent of empowering an audience, whereas documantaries may have an alternative purpose.

Furthermore, jorunalism and documentaries differ from an ethical standpoint. Wether or not a journalist is held to the MEAA Code of Ethics, it is likely the organisation they are working for has an in-house code of ethics they are required to adhere to. In contrast, documentaries as a medium does not yet have a code of ethics, though some suggest that is is becoming increasingly necessary.

As it stands, documentarians are held to no ethical standards. Despite public expectation, they can not be trusted to fairly and honestly present both sides of a story, work independently or respect the rights of others. For example, Dennis O’Rourke was criticised for his 2000 documentary Cunnamulla, in which he had filmed two underage girls talking openly about their sex lives without the cosent of their parents. He was later taken to court by the girls, and won the defamation case against him. However, O’Rourke didn’t consider himself to be a journalist, who he associated with analsyis, but rather, an artist (Stocks 2001). You can watch the documentary here.

Ultimately, whilst there are some similarities between journalists and documentarians, I would say they differ fundamentally on the basis of intent and ethical liability. Jouralism may take the form of a documentary, but a documentary is not journalism. Should they be assigned the same level of trustorthiness? I think that’s up to the individual to decide. What do you think? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @amybythewindow.


References

Greenbaum Kasson, E 2010, ‘ The Message Is the Medium: The Difference between Documentarians and Journalists’, Documentary Magazine, 08 October, viewed 24 March 2017, < http://www.documentary.org/magazine/message-medium-difference-between-documentarians-and-journalists&gt;.

Jenkin, C 2016 ‘Australia’s most and least trusted professions: politicians are on the rise but nurses still dominate’, new.com.au, 11 May, viewed 24 March 2017, < http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/australias-most-and-least-trusted-professions-politicians-are-on-the-rise-but-nurses-still-dominate/news-story/9fe9360588b7efd9be9f8e2344bec346&gt;.

King, J, 1997, ‘Principles, Professionalism and Philosophy’, Australian Journalism Review, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 19-34.

MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics, 1999, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, viewed 24 March 2017, < https://www.meaa.org/meaa-media/code-of-ethics/&gt;.

Stocks, 1 2001, The Troubles of Dennis O’Rourke, Senses of Cinema, April, viewed 25 March 2017, < http://sensesofcinema.com/2001/australian-documentary/orourke/&gt;.

Tanner, S, Phillips, G, Smyth, C & Tapsall, S 2005, Journalism Ethics At Work, 1st edn, Peasron Education Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW.

What is a documentary?, n.d., Desktop Documentaries, viewed 24 March 2017, < http://www.desktop-documentaries.com/what-is-a-documentary.html&gt;.

What is the purpose of journalism? , n.d., American Press Institute, viewed 24 March 2017, < https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/journalism-essentials/what-is-journalism/purpose-journalism/&gt;.

 

Is Riverdale poverty porn?

I’m sure, at least once, you’ve been watching television, a film or documentary and thought to yourself, ‘At least my life isn’t that bad.’ We feel good feeling bad for others. At least I’m not homeless, we tell ourselves. At least my family is whole. At least I’m not a drunk. At least I’ll always have somewhere to go. At least my life is better than theirs.

Some call it ‘poverty porn’; the idea that we derive pleasure from the suffering of others- that we enjoy being reminded of our own humanity by feeling bad for them. Documentaries such as SBS’s Struggle Street in Australia, or Channel 4’s Benefit Street in the United Kingdom as well as charity advertisements have been accused of exploiting the experiences of some of the poorest and most vulnerable in their community for the enjoyment of others. Beresford (2016) refers to these as the most visible representations of poverty in the media, claiming that programs that appear more concerned with revealing suffering than polarising audiences tend to get lower views.

The argument is; is it sympathy or empathy we feel for the people in these documentaries? Do these programs achieve anything beyond showcasing people in our community so we can feel better than them?

Recently, the internet has been abuzz with a new obsession. And, to be honest, it’s sort of also become my obsession. It’s a high school, small-town murder mystery. Trust me, it’s not as lame as it sounds.

Riverdale is a 2017 television series, loosely based on the Archie comics, aired on by The CW Network in the United States and made available internationally by Netflix.

It’s a nostalgic, albeit unsettling, nod to the original Archie comics that is bringing a new audience to an old favourite, dating back to the early 1940s (Sava 2017). The whole gang’s there: Archie, Betty and Veronica, Josie and The Pussycats, and even Sabrina the Teenage who has been confirmed to appear later in the first season.

Arguably, the most popular character is Jughead Jones, the show’s brooding narrator. He’s dark, sarcastic and, of course, it helps that he’s played by the handsome Cole Sprouse. But more than that, audiences sympathises with Jughead.

17309049_988866571245617_4515797605595737051_n(Image: Riverdale MEMES via Facebook)

BE WARNED: there are spoilers after the page break. For those who have not yet seen Episode 7 of Riverdale Season 1, you might want to catch up before reading on.


In episode four ‘Chapter Four: The Last Picture Show’ Jughead is devastated at the imminent closure of the local drive-in where he works. “It’s like my home,” he tells the mayor. At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Jughead had been living at the drive-in, using the projectionist’s booth as shelter. With the closure of the drive in Jughead is now homeless.

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(Source)

It’s not until the seventh episode ‘Chapter Seven: In a Lonely Place” that it is revealed Jughead has moved into a utility closet under some stairs at Riverdale high. Audiences watch as he wakes before 6am to use the locker-room showers before anyone else arrives for the start of the school day.

Until this episode none of the other characters were aware of Jughead’s living situation. For three weeks, the audience wondered “Is Jughead safe?”. Having been discovered, Jughead tries to return to his broken childhood home. His father is a drunken, jobless criminal, and his mother and younger sister have left. It doesn’t last long, and by the end of the episode Jughead is sleeping in a sleeping bag on Archie’s bedroom floor.

Audiences love to sympathise with Jughead, after all, he is the show’s narrator. They love that they hate to watch him suffer. Those three weeks of uncertainty as to Jughead’s living situation was a sort of exquisite torture.

But is it poverty porn? Whilst I think it’s safe to say many young women would agree there’s definitely something sexy about Jughead Jones, I wouldn’t say so.

(Source)

The key difference between Riverdale and the programs like Struggle Street is in the representation of the impoverished people. Jughead is presented as a victim of circumstance, rather than choice. But he also acts as the lens through which the audience sees the corruption and delinquincy of others in Riverdale.

We aren’t shown Jughead’s struggles to make us feel better about our own situations, but rather, to expose the systematic inquity of scoiety and the culpability of the upper classes.

Whilst Riverdale doesn’t incite action, Jughead’s character encourages a closer examination of poverty, rather than revelling in the misfortune of others and looking the other way.


Bibliography

Alcorn, G 2015, ‘ Struggle Street is only poverty porn if we enjoy watching, then turn away’, The Guardian, 15 May, viewed 15 March 2017, < https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/15/struggle-street-is-only-poverty-porn-if-we-enjoy-watching-then-turn-away&gt;.

Beresford, P 2016, ‘Presenting welfare reform: poverty porn, telling sad stories or achieving change?’, Disability & Society, 31, 3, pp. 421-425, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 March 2017.

Brooker, C 2014, ‘Benefits Street – poverty porn, or just the latest target for pent-up British fury?’, The Guardian, 13 January, viewed 17 March 2017,< https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/12/benefits-street-poverty-porn-british-fury&gt;.

McNair, B 2015, ‘ Review: Struggle Street proves to be powerful, often poignant TV’, The Conversation, 7 May, viewed 17 March 2017, < https://theconversation.com/review-struggle-street-proves-to-be-powerful-often-poignant-tv-41427&gt;.

Murdoch, L 2016, ‘ ‘Poverty porn’ and ‘pity charity’ the dark underbelly of a Cambodia orphanage’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June, viewed 17 March 2017, < http://www.smh.com.au/world/poverty-porn-and-pity-charity-the-dark-underbelly-of-a-cambodia-orphanage-20160602-gpacf4.html&gt;.

Riverdale, n.d., IMDb, viewed 17 March 2017, < http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376/&gt;

Sava, 0 2017, The evolution of Archie Comics: updating the Riverdale gang for the 21st century, Vox, weblog post, 26 January, viewed 17 March 2017, < http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/1/26/13149304/archie-comics-riverdale-evolution&gt;

Threadgold, S 2015, ‘ Struggle Street is poverty porn with an extra dose of class racism’, The Conversation, 6 May, viewed 15 March 2017, < http://theconversation.com/struggle-street-is-poverty-porn-with-an-extra-dose-of-class-racism-41346&gt;.

Tvpromosdb 2016, Riverdale (The CW) Trailer HD, online video, 22 December, viewed 17 March 2017, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XmFTADupMc&gt;.

False eyelashes and fast cars: Snapchat selfies and controversy.

Selfies are everywhere and we take them for a myriad of reasons; to commemorate special occasions or an especially good winger eyeliner, to document emotions or to prove, yes, you did, in fact meet Ed Sheeran on a particularly windy day.

Snapchat selfies

Snapchat Snapchat is a social app built for sharing selfies. It was created in 2011 by two Stanford University fraternity brothers and allows people to send photos, video, and text, which disappear after being viewed by the receiver. The sender determines how long the receiver can view the photo or video. Imagine the howlers from Harry Potter, except probably with less screaming.

ron_weasley27s_howler

(Source: Harry Potter Wiki  )

The app is currently used by more than 158 Million people daily (Benner 2016), and some of its features have been the *ahem* inspiration for some recent updates on other popular apps such as the addition of stories to Instagram, or Facebook profile filters.

Snapchat profiles can be public or private. High profile celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and have public Snapchat profiles, but according to a 2015 study, said that most user surveyed reserved Snapchat for close personal relationships rather than strangers (Vaterlaus et al., p.598). Certainly, the concept of the app does lend itself to a more private, personal form of communication.

Furthermore, most of the filters users can choose from can only be accessed through facial recognition, for the purpose of producing altered selfies. Most filters are recurring, but some filters are released for special occasions. I would attribute much of the popularity of the platform to these filters, which are used on photos that are shared on every other platform. However, some of these filters have caused quite a bit of controversy.

 

Need for speed

In January of this year, a court dismissed claims that Snapchat’s speed filter was to blame for a highway crash. Both Snapchat and the driver, Christal McGee, were sued over claims McGee was attempting to reach 100mp/h using the Snapchat filter and hit a couple in another car in 2015. Perhaps comically, Ms. McGee posted a selfie was the caption ‘Lucky to be alive’ from the back of the ambulance immediately after the incident

ccqda__weaad4mcmcgee-ambulance-snap-resized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Left: The Snapchat speed filter. Source: Cherkokees Chill, Right: Christal McGee’s ambulance selfie. Source: Snapchat via. CBSNews)

Snapchat Attorney Mark Trigg wrote in a statement to the Associated Press:

“A loss for Snapchat would have been dangerous, opening a floodgate of lawsuits for everyone from cell phone manufacturers to billboard advertisers to makeup brands — virtually anyone that can potentially cause a distraction from driving. Snapchat’s win instead diverts blame from these companies and requires responsible use of these technologies by the driver.”

Blackface and the scientific smoky-eye

But Snapchat selfies haven’t only been controversial because of the potential danger they might cause, but also because of the dangerous messages they might send. Snapchat was accused of promoting blackface early last year with a Bob Marley filter 

Just this week, filters for International Women’s Day have put Snapchat under scrutiny once more. Snapchat released three filters in honor of the day, each celebrating a diverse and accomplished woman; Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks and Marie Curie.

grid-cell-2114-1489010066-4grid-cell-2114-1489010068-9grid-cell-2114-1489010070-14

(From left to right: The Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks and Marie Curie Snapchat filters for International Women’s Day. Source: Buzzfeed. Images by Caroline Kee via Snapchat)

These filters were generally well-received, but it was the latter of the three which caused a stir. Users criticised the alterations it makes to the face of the selfie-taker; face slimming, skin perfecting ‘foundation’, smokey eye-makeup and flase eyelashes.

Snapchat users took to social media to express their disdain, one user summing up their arguments quite succinctly:

The reason this is so distressing is to users may be because:

“By repeatedly performing gender roles, selfie takers produce new social norms and rituals”-Williams & Marquez 2015, p.1777

That is, users are concerned that by placing emphasis on makeup and physical appearance in the Marie Curie filter, users or observers of the filter may inadvertently come to believe (or already believe )that conformity to traditional concepts of female beauty is linked to success as both a woman and a female scientist.

Selfies are everywhere, and it so begs the question: should we be more conscious of the impact the selfies we share may have? Are we moving into a new era of politically and socially conscious selfie-taking? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or tag me (@AmyByTheWindow) in your selfies on Twitter or Instagram.

-Amy


References:

The Associated Press, 2017, ‘Judge rules Snapchat immune from distracted driver claim’, The Seattle Times, 23 January, viewed 9 March, <http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/georgia-court-dismisses-car-crash-lawsuit-against-snapchat/?utm_source=RSS&gt;.

Benner, K 2016, How Snapchat Is Shaping Social Media, The New York Times, weblog post, 30 November, viewed 9 March 2017, <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/technology/how-snapchat-works.html?partner=rss&_r=0&gt;

CBS, 2017, ‘A win for Snapchat in crash lawsuit tied to speed filter’, CBS News, 23 January, viewed 9 March 2017, <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/snapchat-speed-filter-accident-lawsuit-claim-dismissed/&gt;.

Kee, C 2017, ‘People Are Rolling Their Eyes At This Snapchat Filter For International Women’s Day’, Buzzfeed News, 9 March, viewed 9 March 2017, <https://www.buzzfeed.com/carolinekee/people-are-mad-about-snapchat-marie-curie-filter?utm_term=.rh2rDAEel#.yyAbWXDmB&gt;

taliacalandra 2017, ‘I met Ed Sheeran today…’, 8 March, Twitter post, viewed 9 March 2016, < https://twitter.com/taliacalandra/status/839709521152978945?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&gt;.

Vaterlaus, J, Barnett, K, Roche, C, & Young, J 2016, ‘“Snapchat is more personal”: an exploratory study on Snapchat behaviors and young adult interpersonal relationships’, Computers In Human Behavior, 62, pp. 594-601, Inspec, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017.

WILLIAMS, A, & MARQUEZ, B 2015, ‘The Lonely Selfie King: Selfies and the Conspicuous Prosumption of Gender and Race’, International Journal Of Communication (19328036), 9, pp. 1775-1787, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 March 2017.

 

The cost of live-tweeting?

I like to think I’m an excellent multi-tasker. I can walk and read, and perform a one-woman show whilst I drive. I can watch The Bachelor and switch between Facebook conversations, whilst simultaneously keeping an eye on the Twitter hashtag. I’ve been known to play Sudoku in lectures, or live-tweet if anything, so I don’t distract myself with other text-based media. I like to think I’ve trained my whole life for this, and it probably started when I would read under the covers whilst keeping and ear out for my parents’ footsteps on the stairs.

But apparently, I’m not as good as it as thought. Or rather, I’m good at multi-tasking, but at the cost of the tasks themselves.

In class, we watched the video above, and smugly, having seen it when I was thirteen, I was able to spot what was off about it straight away, whilst I was also checking the twitter BCM240 hashtag. But then, that night, I was scrolling through Facebook, and completely missed the big kiss in the show I was watching (and I can’t even remember what show it was). Lots of the time, I’ll be watching something, and talking to my mother, and then finish the conversation not remembering what it is she had told me. But I’m not alone! Studies have shown that multitasking is incredibly ineffective, and can actually be a waste of time, costing you up to 40% of your productivity (Weinschenk 2012)!

This week I was tasked with creating a test to examine someone’s attention in the presence of multiple devices. So my test was as follows:

  1. Get my brother to play Sudoku once on my mobile and record the time it takes to complete it and how many mistakes are made
  2. Get my brother to complete a Sudoku whilst watching a YouTube video and record the time it takes to complete it and how many mistakes are made
  3. Get my brother to complete a Sudoku whilst watching a YouTube video and with the television on in from of him and record the time it takes him to complete it and how many mistakes are made

I used the first round of Sudoku as a control. He may otherwise have found it easier to complete the Sudoku in each subsequent game, but this is an informal test, so I wasn’t too concerned about how this may have affected the results. The results were pretty interesting:

  1. 8 min 37 sec, 2 mistakes
  2. 10 min 52 sec, 3 mistakes
  3. 11 min 57 sec, 5 mistakes

It took him longer to complete each subsequent Sudoku, which were all at the same level of difficulty. Perhaps he was getting tired, because it was the end of the day, but it’s still a dramatic increase in how long it took him.

Whilst completing the test, I observed that his eyes would flick from one screen to the other, to the other. When his eyes weren’t on the screen with the Sudoku, he wasn’t making any effort to complete it. By concentrating on , or getting distracted by other screens it not only took him longer, but he also didn’t complete the puzzles as effectively.

In future, I meant reconsider playing Sudoku in lectures (but I don’t think my Bachelor group-chats are going anywhere)! And I’ll definitely think twice before live-tweeting an event!

References:

Weinschenk, S 2012, The True Cost Of Multi-Tasking, Psychology Today, weblog post, 18 September, viewed 16 September, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pxetnwQh40>

Vlogging and place: is anybody ever present?

I frequently (read: daily) find myself watching more hours of YouTube videos than I care to admit. I watch mostly BookTube , fashion and makeup videos and I’m especially partial to vlogs. There’s something inexplicably fascinating about watching a ten minute summary of somebody’s every day life.

For a short while, I get to see a snapshot of what it’s like to walk in their shoes. More often than not, I think to myself: “Why is this interesting”.

For starters, I mainly watch British vloggers like Jim Chapman, Tanya Burr, Zoella , etc. They live in a completely different part of the world to me, and part of the fascination is that I’ve always wanted to live in England. But part of it is the same reason Keeping Up With the Kardashians is such a hit: they’re celebrities, we admire them, and we want to see how they live. The difference is, vloggers generally aren’t afraid to show their flaws.

Anna Gillies from Forge Press calls this ‘everyday voyeurism’ (2014). She too, likens it to reality television where “the lines between reality and fiction became blurred as real people’s lives were broadcast for us all to view” (2014). We are transported into an informal, yet highly curated online representation of their life. Certainly vloggers are aware of this as they go about their days, but I’m curious, do they think about their online audience spatially?

By this I mean, do they go about their day constantly living and working in a space outside their physical location. Or do they think of it as bringing the audience into their space? Do they jump from one space, to another, to another as they switch between social media platforms? Or do they think of it as one big space?

For my final assessment in BCM240: Media, Audience, Place, I hope to test this out. And what better way to do that than on a vlog? I’ve had a YouTube Channel for almost two years now (although it’s been a little neglected in recent months), so I think, with my existing audience, this will be a great opportunity to invest some time in that. But I also want to utilize other platforms such as snapchat, instagram and twitter.

So what’s the brief? The assessment requires a me to produce a “digital storytelling project that looks at media audience practices from the perspective of a specific person and/or place.” Evidently my YouTube vlog/s will cover the ‘digital’ aspect and I’ll be telling the ‘story’ of my every day life, from my perspective. In the vlog/s I’ll discuss how my use of social media, and the intrusion of the camera, and thus the audience, is impacting on my spatial consciousness. By this I mean, how aware am I of the audience and which spaces do I feel I’m operating in?

I haven’t yet decided whether my experimental vlogging life will occur over a day, a weekend, or a whole week. I aim to complete the vlog/s in week eleven. The vlog/s will be edited and posted to my YouTube channel  the day immediately following, and I will be curating and online prescence on my Twitter, Instagram  and Snapchat. Whilst the vlog will feature both my every day life, and my thoughts and findings on the spatial nature of this media audience practice, the other social media element will emulate typical content from other vloggers.

I’m hesitant that this is a big project to take on, and is going to take absolute focus on the task at hand, so maintaining that relaxed ‘this is just my everyday life’ persona is going to be a challenge! I’ve tried vlogging once before (as you’ll see below) and it wasn’t easy!

References:

Gillies, A 2014, Everyday Voyeurism, and why we are so drawn in by YouTube vlogs, Forge Press, weblog post, 22 November, viewed 7 September, <http://forgetoday.com/press/everyday-voyeurism-and-why-we-are-so-drawn-in-by-youtube-vlogs/&gt;.

 

The ethics of photgraphing millennials on their damn phones

I’ve often wondered how many times my photo has been taken without my knowledge or permission. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of surveillance images of me floating around. But what a wonder about the most is how many times have I been captured in the background. How many times have I unsuccessfully achieved the duck-and-walk-away-quickly and ended up as the background to someone else’s memento?

This week in my class for Media, Audience Place, I was tasked with taking a photograph of someone using a mobile device in public on my university campus. My first reaction was dread. ‘Oh no,’ I thought, ‘I’ll have to be sneaky.’

In my mind, it meant that the person had to be unaware they were being photographed. I think that’s because, in my mind, mobile devices are very private things. You wouldn’t want someone to be able to record what you were doing on your mobile. But this also contradicts the purpose for which most people use their mobile devices, which is for sharing and consuming information on public platforms.

So I was left conflicted. I needed to photograph someone in a public space, on a private device, which was likely being used to access a public space online. Was it okay to photograph someone without their permission in this context? It’s not technically outside of my rights as a street photographer to photograph someone in a public space, but is it ethical? photo-1

This photo was the result. I chose to photograph this person from behind, to obscure their identity and protect their privacy by shielding the view of their screens. However, what I also did through this discretion was obscure the fact that she was using multiple devices. The photo is blurry, and poorly framed. It never occurred to me that I could ask her permission. I didn’t extend the same care for her as I did to my friend Rianna from Aesthetic Narrative. I asked, and not only is the photo below of a better quality, but I also enjoyed photographing her, rather than feeling guilty.

photo-2

After this exercise I did some reading on street photography ethics, and something that struck me in this article by photographer Nicholas Goodden was his emphasis on empathy. He explains that asking the question “How would I feel in this person’s shoes?” is the most important rule he has and tries to make sure he isn’t taking photographs of people who are vulnerable. He used the example of photographing the elderly; they have not always been this way, and may not be happy being represented as frail or weak. I’ve never thought about considering how people want to be represented. Whilst it may not be helpful for ethnographic purposes, it’s something I’ll keep in mind for my photography in the future.

That being said, the task was really helpful in examining how people use mobile devices in public spaces. I found that people sitting or moving alone were almost always using their phone. However, people in groups didn’t seem to be using theirs at all. If they were, it was to share something with other member of the group. I think it’s interesting to see this because it contradicts the seemingly common-held belief that millennials (who make up a significant portion of the population on campus) are always on their phones, even when they’re sitting right next to each other.

 

This video raises similar ideas about representation. If a photograph accurately represents someone in a public space, is it ethical to publish? I think it depends on you purpose and conscience. What do you think?

Harry Potter and the very bad, no good, absolutely devastating cinema experience​.

Have you ever had a really, truly awful cinema experience?

I was nine years old, and convinced I was going to Hogwarts (I’m still waiting for that letter). I’d just caught up on all of the Harry Potter books, the walls of my bedroom were papered with Emma Watson’s face and I was wearing a Gryffindor cloak over my school uniform.

This was it. This was the day I was finally going to see my favourite book come to life. In just a few minutes I was going to be seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on it’s opening day.

It hadn’t been straight forward journey to the cinema seat. First of all, we were late. Trying to coordinate two children under ten, to meet in exactly the same spot after school,  is no easy feat. Parking was also difficult, so we were well past the minimum twenty-minute wait required if you want to get good seats in a theatre with no reserved seating.

As it turned out, the session was sold out, and the line went out the door and around the corner. Thank goodness my mother had bought our $6.50 tickets earlier in the day.

But we didn’t yet have our food- I wanted this day to be perfect. I wanted my box of Malteasers and the large popcorn to share with my brother.

There was only one solution- my mother went to line up at the confectionary counter, whilst I stood dutifully in line, nervously pushing up my Harry Potter glasses. I tried to look much older than I was, afraid that the ticket checker wouldn’t let me in to see this M-rated movie if my mum didn’t return in time.

In the end, I got my Malteasers and my brother held the popcorn (and didn’t eat any, because you’re not allowed to touch the popcorn before the lights go down). The session was sold-out, so we were forced to sit right in the front row (my neck still hurts just thinking about it). Despite all this, I was ready for the best cinema experience of my life.

And it was great.

Until Hermione’s face melted off.

Somehow, the film had caught fire, and terrified screams tore through the room as her face distorted and burned, mid-scene. The lights went on. The attendants came in and apologized. Twenty minutes later, the film started off again from the next scene.

I love that movie, but that was truly a horrible cinema experience.

It’s not all that surprising really, that some cinema experiences are good, and some are irreparably awful. Like with any travel or movement, Torsten Hagerstrand’s three human constraints apply. in many ways, you can think of your cinema experience in relation to time. For this reason, I think it’s simpler to think of going to the cinema as being like catching a train.

Capability: You have to get there, in the first place, before you can ‘go’ anywhere else. Parking was our major barrier on that day- we couldn’t go inside without first finding a park.

Coupling: You have to get there on time. We did not, because of the aforementioned difficulties, especially organising two small and terribly forgetful children to meet in one place.

Authority: You have to be allowed. You can’t just walk onto a train without paying your fare, and you can’t walk into an M-rated movie at the age of nine without parental supervision.

As you can see, it can sometimes take a lot of coordinated effort to go to the movies. You have to make active decisions: When will I leave? Who am I going with? What will I eat? How will I sit? Will I talk during the movie?

My experience of the film was probably very different to the adult sitting behind me, the technicians up in the projector room, and even my own mother. To see us as a group with a uniform experience, would diminish it, because “Time has a critical importance when it comes to fitting people and things together” (Hӓgerstrand, 1970) and we all had different experiences of time.

-Amy.

 

 

Evoking childhood memories of television: conversation is key.

 

Essentially, people are happy to talk about themselves, once they realize that’s what you’re asking of them.

I had a shaky start to interviewing my mother this week. It’s mainly my fault; I asked her, “Could I interview you about what television was like when you were growing up?” And my mother, who has the memory of an elephant, was very excited to tell me all the facts and dates she could remember about television.

Televisions came to Australia in the ‘50s, and they were pieces of furniture in the house- they were often called an entertainment unit, rather than a television being something separate from the furniture. She wonders at the size of the massive piece of furniture, considering it housed such a tiny screen…

I wasn’t specific enough. What I wanted to learn about was what her experiences of television were like growing up.

So I started again, a little differently this time, and asked: “Do you remember what it was like without a television in the house?”

As it happens he can’t remember a time without television. There has been a television in her home as far back as she can remember.

In fact, her earliest memory is of watching the moon landing at the age of four. Her school had one large television, and all of the students and teachers crammed into her kindergarten classroom to watch it.

“Because it was our classroom, that day I had a front row seat to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon,” she smiled.

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Niel Armstrong walking on the moon.  Bettmann/ CORBIS, n.d., title unkown, image, Daily Mail, viewed 6th August 2016, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2193587/Neil-Armstrong-dead-Famed-astronaut-man-moon-dies-aged-82.html&gt;

But whilst she can’t remember a time without television, in never seemed to play a big role in her childhood. The signal to come home was the evening news she told me.

“Most of the time we were playing with our neighbors on the street. We’d come home in time for dinner and only watch TV after we finished.”

Whilst her family didn’t have rules about the television, she and her sister were restricted to children’s programs, and left to go to bed, or play in their rooms when the more grown up programs aired.

She remembers most of the shows she did watch as a small child were influenced heavily by British television like playschool, but, as a teen in the 1970s she watched mostly American shows like Get Smart (see below) and Gilligan’s Island. When she was younger, she loved watching The Mickey Mouse Club and Disney cartoons on Sunday mornings with her sister.

BadWolf, 2012,Get Smart TV Series Intro, online video, 23 February, YouTube, viewed 6 August 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWEvp217Tzw>.

“The televisions was something you watched as a family, maybe because there was only one TV I guess,” she told me.

Her grandparents didn’t even have a television until the mid-1970s, and never watched the television when they were over. “Because why would you when you could listen to the radio,” my mother added. This is quite strange to think for me this is quite strange to think of- my own grandparents have had at least two televisions for as long as I can remember.

My mother’s family got their first colour television when she was eight-years-old, just in time for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. This is the first Olympics she can remember, and it was made doubly exciting because now they could she all of the different coloured uniforms. I found this fascinating because, in my case, my earliest memory of TV was watching the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics’ opening ceremony. For myself, the excitement was compounded by trying to spot my mother sitting in the audience!

Their colour TV was even more impressive to their neighbors, considering this television had a remote control, about the size of a walkie-talkie which was attached by a short cord, so they didn’t have to get up to change the channel.

Once I directed my questions to be more specific towards my mother, I was able to learn all of this. My mother is fond of telling stories, and so it was strange for me to have to prompt her so much. I think that’s because the word ‘interview’ has so many formal, and potentially negative connotations. Instead, I had to ease my mother, and myself, into thinking of it as a conversation. Because interviews about audience-ship should be about more than facts and figures. They should be about the people and emotions behind them.

-Amy xoxo

Stories in Space

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Image via Allen and Unwin

 

Largely, my experiences of media spaces have ben shaped by stories. I’m a reader, book reviewer and a journalist- stories are a part of who I am. Today’s post is an exploration of my interaction with media spaces and my initial curiosities about the ideas presented in my BCM240 course (Media, Audience, Place) thus far.

The story so far…

A significant amount of my time is spent in what I would have previously understood as “media spaces”. and a lot of that time is focused on sharing stories both in the creation and consumption of content. I’ve also never considered how “the story so far”- that is, the junction of influences, networks, people and time within these spaces- has influenced them. Stories in space? That I’ve done a lot of thinking about( I’m currently reading This Shattered world by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner, pictured above ). What I haven’t looked at is the stories in the spaces where I share the stories I’m passionate about. So, effectively, I’m sharing stories, through stories and I haven’t even considered that these have been shaped by the stories that have preceded them.

Mediums are made for storytelling.

The more I’ve thought about it this week, the more I’ve realised that all media spaces are meant for the sharing of narratives and stories. All forms of media are created to share stories, whether they be fiction or fact, of immense international significance or only for one’s close friends. I’m struck by the fact that even these stories- sharing photos of our food, or live-tweeting a television finale- and the way we tell them, are shaped by the “stories so far” in these media spaces. Yes, that picture of your cat has been shaped by the networks of people and experiences that preceded them. But what I’ve been most intrigued about this week, is that sometimes, you can take ‘space’ out of the specific media and it could be almost exactly the same.

You can’t contain community

Take, for example, the Australian online reading community I’m a part of. This community, regularly has face-to-face meet-ups and attend bookish events. I’ve noticed, that,we interact and discuss in almost the same way as we do online. This is how I’ve been able to understand what geographer Doreen Massey means in saying “cultural geographers argue that space is not a fixed or material container for things, people or time. Space is the simultaneity of stories so far.” (For Space, 2005). I had, until this week, considered my media spaces to be the mediums themselves, but I am now beginning to understand how the stories of my relationships and networks expand beyond the containers of Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, to become it’s own entity and space, merely facilitated by various modes of storytelling.

 

-Amy