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.

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.

Twitter’s Transformation of Media and Democracy

On the odd chance that some readers aren’t entirely up to par with the social media landscape, let’s begin with a brief rundown of the wonderful world of Twitter. Twitter spreads information. It is a micro-blogging social media platform that allows its users to post ‘tweets’ of 140 characters or less to their audience of ‘followers’, which  are those individuals who wish to subscribe to them and consist of anyone from friends, family and colleagues to complete strangers.

Since the platform’s first emergence on the world wide web in 2006, it has undergone quite substantial alterations in functionality, many of these being the result of user innovation. In 2007, Twitter users began using the ‘hashtag’ (#) to tag content of tweets. Other users could then search for that hashtag which aggregated all other micro blogs discussing the same issue or event. Due to its driving popularity, the hashtag was incorporated as a fundamental aspect of Twitter’s successful business model and is now one of its iconic features. Users further developed the use of the @ symbol to reply and communicate to other users, and have also managed to find ways to overcome the tiny 140 character limit by including links to outsourced content (Johnson 2009).

Generally, one 140 character tweet alone is quite insignificant. But as these tweets connect and intertwine, they develop power and begin to add up to something truly substantive. Johnson (2009) likens their cohesive power to a ‘suspension bridge made of pebbles’. A pebble on its own is useless, but when hundreds are combined, they function with collective power. Together, users of Twitter are creating public conversation and a collective intelligence that is reshaping traditional media and democracy.

The growth of the Twittersphere has seen immense effects on the media industry. Traditional published media content is filtered by a gatekeeper who decides what gets published to audiences, and when. This information is therefore subject to bias and personal agendas (Bruns 2009). New media forms, however, have abolished the role of the gatekeeper as no information filters exist. Twitter has supplied users with a public arena in which they can share real-time news and their otherwise silenced stories. We are only just beginning to see the sheer power of these combined tweets (or pebbles) through movements like the Arab Spring.

Twitter Revolution

Twitter has being used by activists as a powerful citizen journalism tool to bypass government restrictions and expose underground civilian communities, assuring people of the Arab world that they are not alone and that others are experiencing similar brutality and injustices brought about by those in power. The platform has also been used to organise protests of thousands through the use of hashtags, and together these activists have ultimately toppled powerful dictatorship (Kassim 2012).

It is safe to say that Twitter alone does not overthrow governments – courageous people do. It has, however, assisted in user communication and coordination. It is the sheer power that these media tools provide users with that must be noted. Audiences are no longer simply consuming the information that is fed to them from industrial media. Instead, they are producing and broadcasting their own stories and opinions through social media, with unmuted voices and combined efficacy.

 

References:

Bruns, A 2009, ‘News blogs and citizen journalism: new directions for e-journalism’, in Prasad, K (ed.), e-Journalism: New Media and News Media, BR Publishing, Dehli. 

Johnson, S 2009, ‘How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live’, Time Magazine, 5 June, viewed 21 September 2013, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1902818,00.html

Kassim, S 2012, Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring was Helped by Social Media, PolicyMic, weblog post, 3 July, viewed 21 September 2013, http://www.policymic.com/articles/10642/twitter-revolution-how-the-arab-spring-was-helped-by-social-media

You Bad Fan, You!

Now you were probably expecting some content this week surrounding the crazed teenage fans of One Direction. I could write for hours about the crying and screaming teenage girls pushing and scratching their way through crowds, or about the death threats directed at girls that are too close for comfort with the band members, or even the legal marriage documents of the ladies a little too wrapped up in their fantasy worlds. But no, instead I’m going to touch on a fan behaviour that is supposedly far worse… Media piracy.

I’m talking about the illegal downloads of your music idols’ mp3s, P2P sharing of your favourite videos and television series and pretty much the use of any media content that isn’t yours, which, correct me if I’m wrong, we are all guilty of at some point in time.

In recent years we have seen a proliferation of copyright cases on the internet due to media piracy. I’m sure you are familiar with the YouTube notification, ‘This video has been deleted due to copyright infringement’, displayed every time you attempt to watch a video that has breached copyright laws in one way or another. Often these are blatant use of music without permission from its producers, but can even be trivial home videos with music playing in the background like the bouncing baby video that had Prince’s lawyers in a fluster.

All consumed media content was once paid for or made available through supporting advertisements. Now, however, audiences and fans are building relationships with media content outside those traditional spaces and institutional sets of rules (Castells & Cardoso 2012). Piracy cultures have become a part of everyday life in the online environment, from the immense P2P file sharing bases to re-writing and re-mixing of media content in online communities, all of which is seeing damaging repercussions on media industries (Castells & Cardoso 2012).  

But who is to blame for this phenomenon? Is it the pirates for their active curiosity and ‘criminal’ conduct, the media industries for their high prices, or shall we shift blame on the internet itself for its inherent sharing capabilities?

I believe that along with changing media consumption trends, needs to be an accompanying change in copyright laws. If we continue to place outdated restrictions on media audiences, where will that leave creativity and participation in the online environment? The internet is a networked structure fundamentally balanced on the very notions of interactivity and the freedom of information. Such changes also need to be applied to media distribution efforts. After all, if something is available freely elsewhere, why would we pay for it?

References:

Castells, M & Cardoso, G 2012, ‘Piracy Cultures: Editorial Introduction’, International Journal of Communication, vol.6, pp.826-833.

The Evolution of Square Eyes: Google Glass and Convergence

By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want. –  Henry Jenkins (2006, p.2)

When conceptualising Jenkin’s notion of convergence, the foundations of our everyday smartphones cannot be overlooked. Jenkins (2006, p.5) identifies these devices as the electronic equivalent of the ‘Swiss army knife’ and it’s not hard to follow why. They function as a phone, messenger, email, clock, calendar, camera, photo album, notepad, calculator, map, video streamer, internet browser, ringtone maker and… Yeah, you get the point. They are revolutionary, and so are the ways in which users engage with them.

 

The term convergence is not an endpoint, but rather a process of continual innovation (Jenkins 2004, p.34). It is suggested that, in the coming years, we can expect to see the Swiss army knives of our current media environment being adapted, innovated and converged, with ‘wearable’ computing technologies taking the spotlight.

Let’s take look at the wearable innovation that is Google Glass, set to be released to the general public next year. The device hovers just in front of the user’s eyes, worn like a pair of glasses, featuring voice commands and instant responses. Glass takes photographs, records videos, makes calls, sends texts and answers any questions that the user may have. These are all viewed on the tiny projected screen in the top corner of their vision, and looks a little something like this..

Audiences are just as intrigued by the prospect of wearable computing as they were with the smartphone, albeit accompanied by increased skepticism. The inclusion of cameras, video recording, and user-only viewing on such a discrete device is raising obvious privacy concerns and causing a stir amongst media audiences who are perhaps wishing they were born into a simpler technological era.

Currently, there are minimal applications being run on Glass and (let’s be honest) they’re not the most striking pieces of headwear around. However, if history is anything to go by, these obstacles will soon be mastered and overcome. In the coming years, we could expect to have our favourite designer frames fitted out with Glass technology and through progression and driving popularity, we can also imagine that a growing number of apps and features will continue to converge within the same single device. Along with the telegraph, record player, Discman and alarm clock, perhaps the smartphone will soon join the list of obsolete technologies in the media history books.

Jenkins (2006) suggests that with new convergent technologies, comes users’ unpredictable consumption of them. So what can we expect the augmentation of wearable computing to bring? Undoubtedly, we can assume to see changes in norms and interactions on professional, social and intimate levels, just as we did with the smartphone. Smartphones were once an acquired novelty, yet they now frame popular culture. I believe that the technology spans beyond novelty. Google Glass and comparable technologies are simply another leap in the process of our converging media world, and a pretty exciting leap, at that.

Remember the old saying that if you sit too close to the screen that you will end up with ‘square eyes’? Well, Google Glass may play a role in shaping human evolution in the years to come…

squares

References:

Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York University Press, New York.

Jenkins, H 2004, ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol.7, no.1, pp.33-43.

Power to the Networks

Networks. We’re surrounded by them. Big and small, connecting 4 to 4 billion people and altering the social, economic, cultural and political realms of life. Before sighting the work of Castells, I hadn’t given networks, their power, or the effect that they have had on our world any well-deserved thought.

Networks span way beyond the typical social networks; however these platforms exist as compelling representations of network power within society. They have created a hub for humans to connect, bringing us closer to the people we are farthest from, and creating connections that were previously unimaginable. In doing so, this is changing the way we live and the values we uphold. The evolution is easy to see, reinforced through generational differences. The young ones seem to have their smartphones as extensions of their beings, with traditional etiquette and values diminishing in the process. One peek at Gen Z’s Facebook walls would reinforce this individual centred culture and the need for co-experiencing and connected-ness, as discussed by Castells. Cue the selfies, Snapchats and infatuation with followers and likes.

We can’t shift blame. They were born into the all-powerful network society and are simply growing with it as best they know how. It is the power of the networks themselves that Castells suggests we need to take note of. On one end, these invisible connections benefit society on many levels. On the other, they hold enough power to create monumental change in just over a decade. So what’s to come of the network society? It’s all a lot to take in.