Schaeffer – 5 Etudes de Bruits – 1948 – Tourniquets

Head to the link below to see what I’m writing on. It’s number 5.

Schaeffer – 5 Etudes de Bruits – 1948 – Tourniquets

What an interesting sound. Initially it’s almost Rock n Roll. It rolls around, drum like, tribal and primal. I get the feeling of a Kanye West track, or a raging 40’s jazz pick up. Then the thing just turns a corner and goes kooky! Reminiscent of a water tap, a spider, something crawling up a drain pipe then falling down again. Then a bell chimes in, piercing through the picked strings to really send a shiver down your spine. I wonder whether Schaeffer had a certain image in mind when creating this. The textures of the beginning and the later part are so completely in tact yet vastly different it’s as though this piece takes place at a moment of realisation or a moment of shock and horror as our protagonist walks down the corridor. Then again, Schaeffer might just have been messing about and didn’t have a cinematic image in mind. But God would it work!

http://www.ubu.com/sound/electronic.html

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Media Ethics and the Moral Philosophy of a Journalist

Here’s the situation, a source has leaked information to you as a journalist while you’ve been out in the field. You return home to a case of the wrongly accused – a public servant has been put on trial for leaking you the information and the real whistleblower isn’t coming forward. What do you do? Throw away the gentleman’s agreement with your source to protect the innocent, yet potentially throw away your credibility as a journalist? Perhaps you let the judicial system run its course by holding your word to that initial source?

This was the primary moral dilemma dished up to us this week in Media Ethics. Asked where we stand on this issue it became apparent there wasn’t a clear answer. Overwhelmingly it became a question of consequence, a matter of subjective analysis with regards to potential outcomes of following certain paths of action. Reasoning, if you will.

It became useful to employ deductive reasoning in entertaining potential actions, but it also appeared a great opportunity to employ inductive reasoning to understand what the outcomes of similar circumstances in the past have been.

My answer? You protect the innocent. I can think of a few moments where those in the wrong have been unable to deal with the weight of holding back the truth – Richard M. Nixon in his interviews with David Frost, Adrian Lamo in his dealing with Bradley Manning – and wonder whether the real source might come forth. Are we more in the position of Adrian Lamo or Julian Assange as a journalist? I am unsure. But it does bring to light the increasingly complex nature of the judicial system vs. the sanctity of a handshake – the giving of your word.

After all, laws are written by people for people, just as a handshake takes place between two people, sealing a deal or offering a promise of trust. One can only imagine many journalists may choose to honour their agreement with their source over the pressures of the law.

Which is more honourable? Which is the right move? It becomes a matter of context. Unfortunately, philosophy deals in principles, not particulars.

Final Self Assessment – MI1

Today marks the conclusion of our research into the position of family in the TV landscape.

It’s safe to say its been a diverse experience.

The presentation went well last week to the cohort, however it felt at times like we were losing the audience. This perhaps could have been improved through a greater rehearsal process in order to pin point the aspects of our research we wanted to convey with authority.

In terms of analysing my practice I will begin with the role I took among the group:

    Role

Initially my role, as with the other members of the group was essentially to nail down the crux of our research project (which you can see me working through here, something that is included in the final project). What are we going to be exploring, and how are we going to do it? Over time, I felt that I moved into a producer type role, as I note in ‘We Have a Primary Source!’ and ‘Primary Sources – Gaining Our Own Insight Into The Industry’ blog posts. This generally revolved around the website and conducting meetings to make sure we were on track as a group. It also involved highlighting key areas of the research with Brian and deciding who would be best to dig deeper into the areas.

So too, I aided Inocensius by editing his section to improve its flow, incorporating around 2 hours work. His ideas and research were fantastic, yet at times would get lost in the context of his sentences.

Each member was responsible for their section of the website, mine being the wrap up ‘Family in the TV Landscape’ and ‘A History of Television’. However, as producer this involved conducting final touch ups.

With regard to the presentation we were able to work together as a team to compile our research and present it to the cohort, myself being influential in deciding the structure of the presentation and the choice to present as if each of us represented a family. Each member worked greatly to improve the content of their section in this context.

    Progress

Undoubtedly I have been made aware of strengths and weaknesses in my research practice. This project forced me to properly work collaboratively with the research of my group members, yet also take the initiative in deciding certain paths the research needed to take. For example, Ino and I discussed exactly what was needed for his section, as noted in ‘Researching Television’.

However, I feel that this approach may have at times hindered the project. By specifying sections we perhaps didn’t each garner the insight into the project that one would have hoped. In this case, I feel it is necessary to attribute some of this to the grey area we existed in as we grapled with mapping, rather than answering, through research.

    Strategies

Collaborative strategies such as Facebook, group meetings and consultations with Brian were influential in guding our project. The Facebook group allowed us a place to communicate and mediate certain issues we were all facing, and also allow us to post progress reports.

If we were to undertake this project again, I feel it would be beneficial to set higher targets earlier on. Without implementing a timeline or goal list it was very difficult to keep track of deliverables, and indeed enforce whether these actually needed to be delivered.

    Problems

Problems faced involved communication, clarity of concept and delivery.

Communication problems arose through not implementing the proper strategies to aid in communication. Ie, a group message, Email, facebook notifications. At certain times this involved members missing meetings. However, we were able to come together in the final few weeks in short succession to deal with loose ends that had surfaced.

Clarity of concept – these problems invovled a lack of clarity with regard to the crux of the project. At times we would be confused as to where exactly these project needed to delve, hence why meetings with Brian, as noted here, were so helpful.

Delivery problems arose near the end of the project. Especially with regard to the presentation. Hence a variety of meetings were called in quick succession to deal with this issue and make sure we were all on track to deliver the various aspects of our project.

    Connections & intersections


The greatest learning outcome from this course has been in my ability to function as a guiding member of a group. Whereas previously I have been influential in the content I have been able to provide, here I felt that I was of more of a help to my team in my ability to highlight key aspects of the project and keep the project in line.

That being said, I was made aware of certain tendencies I have to want to answer through research. So too, a tendency to forsake my own time in favour of the group, hence leading to a lesser breadth of work from me.

Through the link of RMIT we were able to gain an important Primary Source for our project. However, in future projects it would be much more beneficial to stoke the fire much earlier on in order to gain more networking opportunities and hence gain more involvement from contacts in the industry.

The above will certainly advise me when I enter into a research group situation in the future. It is clear that without set roles, goal setting and a determined effort to achieve the connections the research needs to then a project such as this may end in failure.

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 4.24.43 PM

    Overall Grade: D

We Have a Primary Source!

Finally, we have found ourselves a Primary Source – overnight I received a response from TV Tonight’s David Knox.

Having asked him a few questions, it is clear that this topic could be explored in many other areas.

So too, this week sees the website coming together nicely. You can view it in its WIP form now.

Visually, the website has been paired back. This is a risky choice, however hopefully this will increase the sincerity and academic nature of our research. We have still tried to keep some zest in the presentation though.

As I mentioned last week, I have found myself in a producer type role which has been new for me. While I am used to being a leader of sorts within project groups, organising your team members and deciding tasks is a new experience!

Everything should be close to done and up on the site by the end of next week.

Primary Sources – Gaining Our Own Insight Into The Industry

Getting a primary source is becoming more and more hard. It seems that the predominate writers on TV are more closely linked to criticism of the content itself, rather than a fully fleged look at how this content sits within the public spectrum. Not to say some don’t, of course.

I’ve sent off E-Mail’s to the Herald Sun, The Age, TV Tonight, Channel 7 and Myles Mcnutt. However I don’t seem to be getting much response. I even posted on the Game of Thrones message board. A long shot I know.

As far as research goes, our meeting this week I feel was helpful in aligning us to where we truly need to be. The team seems to be working well, although we could improve on communication slightly. I seem to have assumed a producer type role with regard to the project which has seen me take on the organisation and scheduling much more predominately than I had imagined.

The project is progressing well, as is the research.

What is this research actually about?

‘It’s a change in sensibility but it’s not necessarily a change inherent to family itself.’

This is a line I took down from a discussion with Brian about the MI1 project. While Ino and I have been discussing the ins and outs of charting family and its evolution, I think the above line points out exactly where the project really needs to hit.

What we are trying to do is gain an understanding of how changes to family have influenced production of TV and how TV works to influence family. However, these changes are proving supremely difficult to nail down, hence why the above line is a bit of a breakthrough. If we consider that this change is more of a cultural one, a pyschological one, if you will, then we can begin to look at where exactly family sits within ‘perceived’ beliefs of the family itself.

Perhaps, it’s more a broadening of acceptance and understanding of the different kinds that occurs through television. Not necessarily an imminent and wide reaching social change.

Hopefully this will aid Wennie in her section, as she tackles how producers create content to react to changes in family.

Researching Television

It is becoming overwhelmingly apparent just how in depth one would need to go. I am making reference to the group task I have recently undertaken which aims to analyse where family now sits in the TV landscape.

At each point in development, I find myself returning to this question of Audience vs. Content vs. Reality. Whereby, in each circumstance one is more prevalent than the other, however at all times, each seem to be present in the creation and broadcast of TV.

However, it seems futile. I am unconvinced, regardless of the research I conduct, that attempting to answer this question of which is more important in the creation of content is achievable. Rather, it would seem that research around trends, and a broader approach to family as a term would be helpful in achieving an understanding of where family sits.

So too, it is contentious to attempt to label any one thing as ‘family’. Then again, not labelling it anything is similarly fraught with potential criticism.

During a meeting this week, Ino and I discussed the necessities of his section which covers the history and evolution of family as a term and a unit. I feel that his research will be essential in basing this report in some kind of truth and history. So too, I feel it may become necessary for me to put together a brief history of TV itself to accompany this.

Representation of Family in Television – Annotated Bibliography

To sum up the past 6 weeks or so it is imperative to consider which leads I have begun to follow, where they have led me, and where to from here. Please note, each link present in this post constitutes each of the 8 posts necessary for this assessment.

At first we saw the project best served by an adaption to a dual location comparison. By contrasting Hong Kong and Australia we believed we would be able to come across enough defining factors to gain an understanding of 1. the difference between the two cultures, 2. The effect Television has on this culture, these families and the way they interact and identify with their people and 3. how we can become more active viewers and in so doing, become more active in shaping the social mindset.

While we have not lost this basis, it wad made obvious to us that a study limited to these two locales would simply not cut it. Not only that, a lack of basing this study in history would not allow us to accurately map the now.

So we set about researching leads.

To start, what better place than I Love Lucy. This show is essentially the first popular sitcom, having been translated into 22 languages and shown in over 80 countries worldwide. Its humour is still relevant, and its quirky take on American life still serves a purpose in reaffirming positivity in the American existence. Yet the program still does pose questions of equal rights between men and women, and prompts us to ask whether such a show as this influenced the direction of TV to the gratuitous offerings we see before us today. More on that later.

Could we say I Love Lucy ignited that sense of voyeurism that undoubtedly informed the production of a show such as Sylvania Waters? And hence could be held responsible for a show such as Jersey Shore? I’d hesitate to actually back up either of these, however they do raise an important aspect of TV that is covered in the post ‘Media consumption and its affect on the good old days of TV viewing’; that of the changing ways of TV consumption and the affect this has had on family viewing habits, content produced and heterogeneity within the family.

This post also links into other contemporary examples of reality TV such as The Voice and the Producer vs. Character vs. Audience dilemma and further asks us to question the effect of content dispersion, Transmedia and Multi Channel services evident in shows such as Game of Thrones.

A question to come out of Media Consumption and its affect on the good old days of TV viewing is that of the influence Tv content has had on shaping the family, whereby I question whether TV has influenced families to the point that it has ‘influenced our understanding of ‘family’ through its representation of family and hence altered the way in which we identify accepted or normal practice with regard to family TV consumption’. Following up this theory I look at a few case studies of TV shows that represent family in contentious ways, and go on look at a location specific example of how TV might be used to enforce cultural and national identity.

Regardless, there are still many questions to be answered and much more research to be conducted. Not only is it necessary to decide where influence comes from with regard to Audience, Producer and Character, or at least chart a relationship that can be applied per genre or content, it is also necessary to contrast by country and consider ways in which TV has worked to benefit or hinder a nation.

In so doing, we hope to come across a greater understanding of the television landscape as it exists now.

Word count for 8 posts: 4255 words

Reality TV, you’ve been a bad boy

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Even in the cheesiest reality shows, there is an aspirational quality, a democratic quality, a quality that’s – yeah, I’ll say it -American. “American” in the sense that what is true of countries is true of TV genres: their worst traits are inseparable from their best ones.

James Poniewozik, TIME, Vol. 175, Issue 7

In the same A Current Affair report on Sylvania Waters mentioned in my post Man I Shouldn’t Have Done That, Noeline’s granddaughter, now 26, mentions the difference is that ‘now they’re all acting, back then we weren’t acting’. Fitting then, that in his article for TIME magazine James Poniewozik points out that ‘it’s commonsense branding’ that an ‘unknown 23-year-old from Long Island would come equipped with a tabloid-ready exclamatory nickname, like J. Lo or P. Diddy’ (Poniewozik, 2010).

He’s talking here about Jwoww, The Situation and Snooki, some of the drastically tanned and lowly educated guidos and guidettes of Jersey Shore. Poniewozik goes on to suggest ‘if you might be on a reality show, you may as well have a name that pops and precedes you like a well-positioned set of silicone implants’ (Poniewozik, 2010), not bad advice considering the aesthetic lack of anything natural existing on the bodies of these young specimens.

Which brings into question the change that has taken place since those unassuming days of Sylvania Waters. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, back then they thought they weren’t acting. They thought reality TV was just that, a look at reality. But how can we possibly look at the ‘camera-readiness’ (Poniewozik, 2010) of these Jersey-ites and not consider it a highly contrived performance?

Or if this is indeed how they live their lives, should we be questioning the intention of the producers in exploiting these clearly deranged subjects, just as Noeline suggests they did to her and her family back in the 90’s?

This question of Character influence vs. Content/Producers influence is also covered in my post on The Voice, in this case Poniewozik places importance on the former, but not without noting the latter as key in creating and conditioning these people. Whereby ‘the Jersey Shore-ites have never known a world in which hooking up drunk in a house paid for by a Viacom network was not an option’ (Poniewozik, 2010) so with a camera stuffed in their face and inhibitions firmly stuffed in their back pockets the show is set to roll.

It’s obvious this mindset is innately problematic. Not only does it highlight the drastic effect TV can have culturally, albeit to minorities, it positions the audience as a passive sponge that can’t help but be affected by the content getting pumped into their homes.

To quote Poniewozik once more, ‘In 1992, reality TV was a novelty. In 2000, it was a fad. In 2010, it’s a way of life.’ (Poniewozik, 2010)

A way of life. A contrived, fake, performative way of life.

If you trace the switch from sitcoms based on families to that of the friendship group brought about by Friends (see ), it’s not surprising reality TV took a similar turn.

Far from suggesting this representation of friends as family should be solely considered as informing real life families and their interaction with TV, it is clear that this popular shift needs to be considered and further explored if we are to truly understand the changes that have occurred in content, expectations and audience desires over the 20 years since Sylvania Waters.

Just as the public responded negatively upon the release of Sylvania Height’s, it is clear that when society sees something that is supposed to be a representation of themselves that they don’t like, they respond, and they respond quite verbally. It’s as if society knows the affect TV is having on them, the cultural influence it possesses, but most of the time chooses to let it do its work until shows such as Jersey Shore or Sylvania Waters insult their sensitivity. Are we really not passive, sponge viewers with a direct link from the TV to our brain? Do we simply buy into the fantasy of it all because it appeases our sense of entertainment, but as soon as it oversteps the line we denounce it as if we never liked it in the first place?

I’d like to end this post on another quote from Poniewozik as food for thought.

How, exactly, can reality TV mock its participants and celebrate them at the same time? In fact, the audience’s relation to reality shows is more complicated. People don’t watch Jersey Shore because they consider The Situation a role model. It’s entertaining because the show is basically satire, a pumped-up spoof of bigger-is-better American culture… But there are other American ideas that reality TV taps into: That everybody should have a shot. That sometimes being real is better than being polite. That no matter where you started out, you can hit it big, get lucky and reinvent yourself. In her own way, Jwoww is as American a character as the nobody Jay Gatsby heading east and changing his name.

Poniewozik, J 2010, ‘What’s Right With Reality TV’, Time, 175, 7, pp. 92-97, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 April 2013.

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I Love Lucy: A look at Family, TV and this iconic show

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I Love Lucy is stuck in my brain for some reason. When contemplating what case studies I could look at to tackle this idea of family and TV, I Love Lucy popped straight into my head.

Interesting, I think, considering I’ve never actually watched an episode. Nor have I really got any idea what its about. Which begs the question, why is this show so iconic? To the point that a guy in their 20’s born 4 decades post its release has its name in his memory? And considering how I’ve chosen this as a key case study for the early days of television, how did families back then relate to this show?

Watching the pilot you get this feel for Americana. Lucille and Ricky, along with the Mertzes, living in America and dealing with life with a smile. It’s understandable that it was such a success considering the enormous anxiety that undoubtedly fuelled the nation post World War II.

It’s interesting to note that in an exhibition curated by the Library of Congress entitled I Love Lucy: An American Legend, words are written to this effect ‘I Love Lucy initially centered on the relationship between bandleader Ricky (the “I” in I Love Lucy) and Lucy Ricardo and their friends, the Mertzes. However, it soon developed into the relationship between millions of American television viewers and their Monday-evening neighbors’. This kind of connection to the television is an aspect that one must consider when analysing the effect I Love Lucy had on a nation, and indeed worldwide considering ‘It has been dubbed into twenty-two languages and seen in eighty countries’.

The suggestion here is that the viewer connects with Lucy and her world as if it is a part of their own. As if Lucy is as much a real, … as their own neighbour. Such a suggestion ties directly into a query I had when posting about Francis L. F. Lee’s article from the Asian Journal of Communication – that of ‘are certain genres more likely to prompt a collective family viewing over others? And hence is the opposite true, with some genres pushing towards a more heterogeneous approach?’.

It would seem that this kind of wholehearted, warm, positive sitcom is widely received and to great applause. Which is is stark contrast content wise when compared to more recent reality TV examples of brash, crude, argumentative programs that seek to exploit the subjects it documents.

Regardless, why is it that I Know Lucy? Well in part it is due to the countless reruns that grace our television sets each week. So too, it’s through references in pop culture. In cartoons that deal with family (Family Guy for one, referencing Season 2, Episode 4: Job Switching where Lucy and Ethel going to work at the chocolate factory. Drake and Josh too), in Sesame Street.

If we are to consider this the essential starting point for content that is aimed at families, and about families, where have we come to now?

And also, who is Lucy? How does she compare to the women shown from similar times in contemporary popular shows such as Mad Men? In making such connections we hope to be able to chart the change in the relationship between families and each other, the way they watch TV, and the change in content as a result and also as an initiative of the companies creating it.

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