Diaspora: The Juggle of Football and Dahl

When kicking back to Bend it Like Beckham, it became apparent that more was on the agenda for today’s tutorial then casually playing out the end of session. We were looking at the concept of diaspora represented in film.

Diaspora is the result of worldwide migration and consists of fragmented transnational communities that are located in multiple countries around the globe. Such movements of people have lead to increased diversity, rising multicultural societies and have made cross-cultural interaction inevitable (Chacko 2010). Members of the diaspora remain connected though culture, ethnicity, religion or language.

In the media, diasporic communities are often misrepresented or unheard of due to lack of involvement in content production (Georgiou 2003). However, we are beginning to see popular culture incorporating disasporic communities into television and film around the globe, benefiting both minority and majority groups.

The film Bend it Like Beckham engages with the South Asian diaspora in Britain. The protagonist of the film Jessminda, or Jess, is the youngest daughter of an Indian family living in Britain. She has a love, talent and drive for playing footbal, with high hopes of making a career out of it, which appalls her family as she rebels against their traditional cultural values.

dahlThroughout the film, Jess is living the life and struggles of any regular teenage girl in Britain, dealing with issues like dating and escaping parental control. Additionally, preconceived assumptions and expectations about Jess’ culture become evident, as the audience begins to see the baggage that comes along with being part of a minority group within Britain. Representing the diasporic community in the film helps to explore both the light and dark sides of diaspora (Chacko 2010).

This inclusion of the Indian diaspora is beneficial to the multicultural society in Britain. On one hand, it creates a sense of belonging for hybrid communities, including them in discussion within the public sphere. On the other hand, it provides majority groups with an insight into the ethnic minorities within the country, with the intent on breaking down existing stereotypes and barriers for engagement.

References:

Chacko, M 2010, ‘Bend it Like Beckham: Dribbling the Self Through a Cross-Cultural Space’, Multicultural Perspectives, vol.12, no.2, pp.81-86.

Georgiou, M 2003, ‘Mapping Diasporic Media across the EU: Addressing Cultural Exclusion’, Key Deliverable: The European Media and Technology in Everyday Life Network, 2000-2003, viewed 20 May 2014.

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Let Us Enjoy Our ‘Reverse Racist’ Comedy!

In this day and age, racism is one thing that many can agree is an unacceptable facet of society. It’s something that doesn’t belong in our streets, in our homes, and definitely not on our television screens. But what happens when a little light-hearted comedy becomes the fire of a racism debate? Where do we draw the line between what is racist and what is a stroke of comic genius?

Here in the land down under, we seem to have a vaguely different idea to other nations around the world of what actually constitutes as racism. Back in 2009, this disparity became quite apparent. Many of us would remember “that skit” on the popular primetime television show Hey Hey It’s Saturday that left American guest host, Harry Connick Jnr, absolutely mortified. A group of esteemed surgeons took to the stage to perform a tribute to the Jackson 5, with their faces painted black, and one painted white.

blackface

Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s production team approved the skit before it aired, clearly being unaware of the impact of ‘blackface’ humour and underestimating the uproar that would occur in Australia and around the world. ‘Blackface’ humour, in which a white person paints their face black and pretends to be black, holds very negative connotations around the globe, especially in America (Mahony 2009).  This dates back to as early as the 19th century, when theatre performers would dress like black people, by blackening their faces with shoe polish, exaggerating the size of their lips, wearing torn clothes and depicting themselves as thieves, baffoons, pathological liars and devils (Mahony 2009). It begins to become apparent why the Jackson 5 performance caused such an outcry. However, this wasn’t the performers’ intention at all. Comedy was. They were simply ‘dressing up’ to fit their character’s role.

‘Black face’ wasn’t the first time the issue of ‘racism’ as a form of comedy has been a cause for concern and moral panic, and it certainly wont be the last. Late last year, Australia was divided over the SBS series Legally Brown, a show that features Muslim comedian Nazeem Hussain. He plays on the typical stereotypes associated with his minority culture in order to confront Australian audiences (Aly 2013). Many have accused the show of racism and ‘reverse racism’, due to Hussain poking fun at whites, when it is politically incorrect for whites to poke fun at them.

Well, haters, you have it all wrong. For actual racism to occur, there needs to exist a power dynamic in order for it to work. Since people of colour hold little sway in defining the terms of white existence, it’s clear that racial jokes and slurs directed at whites are no more than that: jokes and slurs. They carry little weight, because there is no actual power behind them (Cheney-Rice 2014).

RACISM (def): Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior

It’s not racism, or even reverse racism for that matter. It’s comedy, Australia. Let us enjoy it.

References:

Aly, W 2013, ‘Legally brown: Muslim comedian finds the funny in radical, be it jihadists or bogans’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September, viewed 7 May 2014.

Cheney-Rice, Z 2014, ‘This Comedian Brilliantly Destroys the Myth of “Reverse Racism” in Less Than 3 Minutes’, PolicyMic, 14 February, viewed 7 May 2014.

Mahoney, M 2009, ‘What’s all the fuss about ‘blackface’’, Crikey, 8 October, viewed 7 May 2014.

 

 

Women in Sport: Where are They?

Marcotte (2013) believes that the theory of gender in the media is simple. Women make up 51% of the population and therefore their presence in the media should be comparable. Where it isn’t, it’s likely that discrimination is at play.

Let’s take a look at the women’s sport scene in Australia. When was the last time you heard some breaking news about one of our female sporting stars? And I’m not talking half-nude photo shoots or scandals. Does anything sports related come to mind? Nope? Mine neither.

women in sport

Sure, female sports participation rates and female interest in sport are indeed lower than that of males, but the inadequacies in media coverage far overcompensate for these issues. A tiny nine percent of Australia’s sports reporting focuses on women (Obst 2012).

Looking back at the Beijing Olympic Games, we can see that Australia took home a total of 46 medals. Our female sport stars trumped the men, bringing home 24 medals to their 22. But did the media in Australia reflect this? Certainly not. Statistics from the Australian Sports Commission showed that male sport received 41% of coverage, compared to just 34% for women (Obst 2012).

“Journalists are more focused on ratings and selling papers than the messages they are sending out to the nation and to the future generation” Amanda Obst (2012)

So what do these inequalities in media coverage mean for women in Australian sport? A high media profile is necessary in order to attract financial support, spectators, and sponsorships (NSW Sport and Recreation 2014). Without that, it can be assumed that women’s sporting culture will continue to be on the decline. Instead of attributing this fall to ‘lack of interest in sport’, perhaps the media landscape needs to look at rectifying these inadequacies first.

References:

Marcotte, M 2013, Gender Inequality in Public Media Newsrooms, MVM Consulting, viewed 29 April.

NSW Sport and Recreation 2014, Media Coverage of Women in Sport, NSW Government, viewed 29 April.

Obst, A 2012, ‘Media fail to give female athletes a podium finish’, Roar, 4 May, viewed 29 April.

Optimism about Journalism

You hear them all the time, public sneers about the journalistic future; ‘Journalism is on its way out’, ‘journalism’s dead’ and ‘citizen journalism is where the future lies’. As a media and communications student, the same opinions echo through the voices of influencers around me, with comments like ‘oh you’re doing journalism subjects, why is that?’ and ‘media and communications hey? You’re not majoring in journalism are you?’ The truth is, I’m not. In fact, those influential voices the widely discussed declining statistics of mainstream media succeeded to turn me off even contemplating it as a major of study.

In an interview with David Carr from The New York Times discussing the future of journalism, he suggests that journalism ‘back in the day’ really wasn’t that great and that the changes that we are seeing due to technology today are all a part of a natural evolution (Boston University 2014). In the same interview, Andy Lack from Bloomberg media suggests that the changes that are occurring due to the rise of digital media should be expected, enjoyed, used and discovered instead of being feared. He even goes as far to say that we are in the ‘golden age of journalism’ due to these advances (Boston University 2014).

So is the future of journalism really looking as bleak as many assume? People are now consuming news their way. We can see by looking at the platform Twitter that keeping up with such behavioural preferences if often at the core of developing successful business plans. Twitter was designed for individuals to send out tweets in a one-way form. However, its users wanted more. They wanted to talk, they wanted to reply to other tweeters and they began using the @ handle to direct their conversation. Twitter incorporated this concept of two-way communication using the @ handle into the very core of its offering and, as a result, it is now one of the most successful social media sites on the planet.

Tom Rosenstiel, Director of the American Press Institute, in a recent TED Talk spoke of new media and user-generated content challenges when stating that ‘what disrupted us will now begin to save us’ (TEDx 2013). He suggests that the notion that people are turning away from the news is simply not true, even though statistics around the decline of traditional media suggest this. News is on demand, but the audiences are now simply online and consuming news very differently.

The journalism landscape is evolving, just as it has done in the past. If journalists can offer news to audiences how they want it, where they want it and when they want it, then success is undoubtedly warranted. People place value in reliable information and trustworthy sources. In the vast sea of information available, if audiences were offered news ‘their way’ from both a novice writer and a respected journalist, then it would be almost certainly assumed that they would choose the journalist. It’s all about keeping up and I believe that we are going to begin to see the most adaptive media corporations begin to prosper once again.

References:

Boston University 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, online video, 6 March, Boston University, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlazqH0TdA

TEDx Talks 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, online video, 28 May, TEDx, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y

Graffiti as Aesthetic Journalism

Art comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, and forms. From film, to dance, print, architecture and paint, these all constitute unique forms of artistic and aesthetic expression in society. Many art forms are often created with the intent of reaching beyond sole aesthetic, and act in order to communicate a viewpoint by investigating social, cultural and political circumstances.  This is what Alfredo Cramerotti (2009) refers to as ‘aesthetic journalism’, the intertwining between journalism and art forms. Just as journalism uses mainstream media to present audiences with global issues, artists can do so too by demonstrating their artistic expression in the public arena.

Street art, or graffiti, can be a recognised form of art, and there is one artist well known for creating infamous guerilla street art in urban landscapes around the globe. He goes by the name of ‘Banksy’, yet his true identity is unknown. It remains withheld, likely due to the fact that the nature of his artwork constitutes vandalism, a criminal offence in most countries.

With cans of spray paint as his weapon of choice, he creates highly visible art on buildings in global cities and does so as a form of social commentary. Banksy’s works are instantly recognisable and have the ability to refresh monotonous news issues. This illustrates aesthetic journalism at its finest.

A-new-Banksy-piece-near-t-001

The anonymous street artist prides his instalments on evoking thought in the eye of the beholder, ultimately leaving the audience to create their own interpretations (Northover 2010). This what Cramerotti (2011) acknowledges as aesthetic journalism’s powerful ability to ‘inform without informing’.

It is this powerful blending of art and journalism that not only results in an evolving media landscape, but also one that contributes to a society encouraged to think critically and engage in conversation about the political, social and cultural agendas that they are surrounded with.

References:

Cramerotti, A 2009, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect Ltd, Bristol.

Northover, ‘Banksy’s First Australian Interview’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May, viewed 10 April 2014.

Participatory Journalism: News as Communication at Last

Participatory journalism – citizen journalism – grassroots journalism – call it what you will. These are all terms used to describe the integration of user-generated content into traditional journalistic models and practice. Dominigo et al. (2008) suggest that these new forms are solid competitors for traditional news, and forms that are challenging news journalism’s role and function in society.

Citizen produced content has the ability to deliver new layers to everyday news. Personal anecdotes and moments captured by individuals give us an ‘on the ground’ perspective of news and events and have the ability to engage the network of Internet users fuelled by participatory features and vernacular involvement.

soapbox

When citizen journalism first began to gain momentum in the online arena, it was seen to be a main contender for the demise of news media, as internet users went online to find their news in non-institutional locations, free from political agenda and bias. Instead, we have begun to see the opposite occurring. Over the last few years we have witnessed a gradual transformation of the news that we consume, one that which is redefining news journalism as we know it.

Media institutions are now capitalizing on the user-generated phenomenon and altering their business models and plans accordingly in order to include it. CNN has brought us iReport, a site where any individual can upload photographs, videos, opinion posts and other content in order to share their story and contribute to institutional news. The New York Times has followed suit, having a dedicated section on their online site, as well as a blog and large portion of their Sunday paper dedicated to publishing user-generated opinion pieces (Hall 2013).

What we are seeing is a focus of ‘news as communication’, rather than ‘news as a lecture’ (Domingo et al. 2008), which is a pretty exciting thing for the empowerment of individuals and the enhancement of our news media content.

References: 

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, J & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, vol.2, no.3, pp.326-342.

Hall, T 2013, Op-Ed and You, The New York Times, viewed 2 May 2014.

#Selfie Obsessed or Self-expressed?

A little over 40 years ago, a small indigenous community of Papua New Guinea had their photographs taken and shown to them in Polaroid form. These people struggled to interpret them at first, but as they began to recognise themselves, their stomachs trembled and their faces filled with fear, as the “terror of self-awareness” set in (Wesch 2009).

Today, in a stark contrast, we exist in a world filled with self-portraits and generations obsessed by them. The selfie is taking over and it’s safe to say that the terror of self-awareness has undoubtedly diminished. Many suggest that the reason we see these mirror shots, pouting teens and sexually suggestive poses is because they’re showing us how much they love themselves and they want us to hit the “like” button to reinforce this claim (Nelson 2013). The explosion of these photographs is seen as a token of our unusually narcissistic society (Saltz 2014) and it seems so simple to write these selfie-posters off as proud and self-absorbed.

click for image source - Goodger, L 2013, Instagram profile

One of my friends is ‘that girl’. You know the one, she lives for the prospect of showcasing her latest duckface (with the #newlipstick) and sees every mildly exciting event as an opportunity to check in to Instagram. She’s got a reputation for it and has undoubtedly been unfollowed and unfriended many a times for the repetitive clogging of news feeds. It would be simple to label her vain and self-obsessed, however she actually exhibits the lowest self-esteem out of anyone I know. So is the selfie a little more complex than what many first assume?

Every reasoning behind self-documentation is independent of its own creator. Indeed, many post a selfie for validation, however, it seems wrong to typify every self-photographer with the same motivation and intent. What about a selfie taken in protest or a selfie taken to bring a smile to the face of others?

Selfies are the ultimate self-expression and since when did we become a world to hate upon self-expression, rather than embrace it? Like it or not, the selfie is shaping society as we know it and it’s here to stay. As far as I’m concerned, take advantage of that front facing camera and #self-express your little hearts out.

References:

Nelson, O 2013, Dark undercurrents of teenage girls’ selfies’, The Age, 11 July, viewed 22 March.

Saltz, J 2014, ‘Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie’, Vulture, 27 January, viewed 22 March.

Wesch, M 2009, ‘YouTube and You: Experiences of Self-Awareness in the Context Collapse of the Recording Webcam’, EME, vol.8, no2, pp19-93.