Not Gone and Not Forgotten

There was once a time where every town had a record store. A store where you could hide away in a dark corner sitting on a beanbag listening to a new vinyl you wanted to buy. The racks were bursting at the seams with wax and the turntables were spinning around the clock. It was a place where everyone and anyone were welcome and there was no pressure to buy anything if you didn’t want to, just come along for the scene.

You’d probably argue that these places still exist; they now sell CD’s and DVD’s, rarely a record. You can’t stay as long as you like hiding away with your friend and a new record, you can’t talk at length with the owner about what Led Zeppelin album was most influential, and you definitely can’t find them in every town. These days they are few and far between, they are they exception not the rule and their numbers are growing smaller as each year passes.

But are they really? I spoke with Nick Irwin, co-owner of Music Farmers records in Wollongong and he said that patronage was increasing in the past three years since his store has been open. Keith Owens, co-owner of Birdland records in George St Sydney, told me in an interview that not only in the last 5 years has vinyl appeared to be making a come back in popularity but also “it’s actually more like the last 10 years.”

A fellow young record enthusiast Lily Martyn, spoke with me and said that there is nothing that can compare to the tactile emotions we have when we hold our favourite vinyls, the artwork, the lyric sleeve, the record itself can be a sculpture that comes to life when it spins at 33 and a third.

It may be true that you can’t find a record store on every street, and that you need a detailed treasure map in order to find the back alley shop front hidden around two garbage dumpsters covered in graffiti, but that’s what makes the hunt for your favourite records so special. You can pick up the record with your friend and tell them the story of how you searched and searched and finally came across it in a two for one sale bin, how you snagged a bargain from the unsuspecting owner.

If I could tell any young music lover that needed something special to listen to music on I would tell them about vinyl, about how the warm crackle is in no way comparable to digitally compressed sound and that the ritualistic nature of putting on your first record is an experience you’ll never forget.

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Media, My Retrospective

Well where do I start? There’s so much to choose from. I remember in week two when I learned about the media effects model and how the media for good and bad reasons influences the public. I’d never really thought about it before, I’d never really thought about anything like that before. I remember I felt so thirsty, thirsty for more understanding, for more knowledge, to know more about this new and interesting topic. Then I got into week three and all I could think about was analyzing the media and critical thinking. A mind set that I have adopted and hope to keep with me during my studies as a journalist.

I guess that’s what I’ve enjoyed so much about the first few weeks of BCM, my practiced critical thinking, actually trying to form an informed opinion and put theories into practice. Take for example media control and ownership in Australia; I couldn’t believe that almost all the sources of news and tabloid news came from just a handful of elite citizens. I really questioned whether or not the news I chose as my source of current events was reliable, after all how can news be impartial when ultimately one person gives the go ahead of the what’s on the cover. In the end I decided to get my news from Al Jazeera, at least the Qatari government funds the English department of the news corporation. A legitimate mediated public sphere? I think so!

If I were to pin down a few shortcomings on my behalf, I think it would have to be my grasping of the vastness of the mediated public sphere. It is truly massive! Filled with almost infinite amounts of multimedia resources that my brain was at a stand still.

Speaking of public sphere, I think it would be safe to assume that my analytical opinion of popular public sphere programs such as “the bachelor” and “Farmer wants a wife” has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few weeks. Why do I always pick love shows? I feel that I’ve gone from a bona fide couch potato – ready to mindlessly absorb anything he sees – to a somewhat discerning critique of meaningful media.

Finally something that I believe is meaningful media involving children, Sesame Street. In todays climate Sesame Street does more for children than some parents can. I know when I was a child I would sit down of a morning and turn on ABC, and there was Elmo letting me know the letter of the day, there was the Count teaching me to count, and there was Big Bird teaching me that no matter how big or small anyone is you should love them just the same. When I saw the children on Sesame Street dancing with puppets and a diverse range of ethnicities all I wanted was to jump into the screen with them. Believe it or not Sesame Street taught me right from wrong and I think that it has for many generations done the same with other children. Probably the most important and well constructed mediated public sphere I can think of.

Late at night on channel nine I saw a promo for the ‘newest and greatest’ series of survivor, the reality TV show where 30 Americans are ‘marooned’ on a tropical island for a month and pick off the weakest links one by one. Well, this one late night I happened to learn the name of this new season of survivor; Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty. Honestly, have we run out of exotic tropical names already and been reduced to creating tribes based on physical attributes? Gone are the days of Gabon, Tocantins and Caramoan.

If ever an example of McKee’s Critique of media’s reliance on spectacle this is the one. A group of muscle bound NFL players wrestling in mud with a team of what I originally thought were super models over a tiki torch and some cookies, while the group of ‘Brains’ continued to feel left out from the popular kids at school and watched in vague confusion. The only thing this scene had going for it was its spectacular nature.

After the 28th season cant the writers think of an original idea? Or is a glorified and idolized parody of ‘lord of the flies’ just too tempting to the TV executives? If I can quote Birchmore “The bogus, the derivative, and the flashy and gaudy now catch the attention of the mass, who, sans sense, are captive to a superficiality of response based on degraded attentional abilities.” (Birchmore cited in McKee 2005: 3)He definitely hit the nail on the head there!

Survivor is the perfect demonstration of how todays audiences have a seriously degraded attention for entertainment classified as ‘fine culture’, only being satisfied when they are viewing trivialised material.

Sure the original season of survivor was interesting and attention grabbing – as much as reality TV can be – but after 28 seasons and 14 years I think they’re scraping at the bottom of the barrel now don’t you? The trouble is that no one gives the audience any credit; as McKee posited (2005: 3) audiences are criticised fro being apathetic yet it seems that producers of reality television don’t think that we can sit down and pay attention to something that’s actually written and produced with high quality, the polysyllabic as opposed to the monosyllabic. More programs like, House of Cards, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and obviously Game of Thrones need to be produced and given to audiences to devour and immediately demand more!

So I put it to you, the reader, turn off the Kardashians and turn on the Targaryens! Promote the good and demote the bad. Watch quality and not quantity and maybe my faith in humanity can be restored.

 

“It just bloody does!” What I thought to be quite an apt response from my father when I asked him why does it matter who controls the media? His point of view is that the media – and more specifically journalists – should provide the public with an unbiased account of events, stating the facts and reporting the news to the people. Which is an opinion I happen to agree with.

But unfortunately this seems to be the exception to the rule. In reality what happens is quite the opposite. Giant media conglomerates that have editorial rights to their franchises will broadcast or print “news” (if we can call it that) about anything they like, however offensively slanderous it may be. Take for example this Front Page headline of The Daily Telegraph on the 5th of August 2013:

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I mean really? How blatantly obvious can it be that you just don’t like the guy Rupert?

It’s a good thing that this blog is based on my opinion because personally, I don’t get my news from any Australian publication. I’m not saying that they are bad, but I’d rather find out what’s happening in the world from anyone BUT Rupert Murdoch.

My news comes from a few places; the BBC that is overseen by the BBC Trust and editor in chief Anthony William Hall, CNN that is owned by Time Warner with editor in chief Jeff Zucker, and Al Jazeera that is owned by the Qatari government with the editor in chief of the English division being Al Antsey.

I feel that if your news comes from a government supported organisation but still remaining independant then there is more accountability, preventing bias, promoting fairness and accuracy in reporting the events of history. For example the BBC.

It’s a fine line that we tread. Lets take it to the polar extremes of the spectrum. We could have the news come from “citizen journalists” where its free for the people run by the people, but then there would be too many inconsistencies in reporting and no one would follow a code of ethics and morals. How reliable would that be?

Or

We could have the media run completely by one outlet and have their opinion be the only one we have, that would lead to a unification of Nazi Germany, oh! I meant Australia, oops!

Have a look at this video of how the American media system is run, lets pray that Australia never goes this far. Or has it already?

References:

Opelka 2013, Who really owns Al Jazeera? And what’s to become of current TV’s hosts?, The Blaze, viewed 31st March 2013,

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/05/who-really-owns-al-jazeera-and-whats-to-become-of-current-tvs-hosts/

 

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia 2014, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, viewed 31st March 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jazeera#Staff

BBC 2014, About the BBC, Inside the BBC, viewed 31st March 2014

http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/ataglance/

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia 2014, Tony hall Baron of Birkenhead, viewed 31st March 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Hall,_Baron_Hall_of_Birkenhead

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia 2014, BBC Trust, viewed 31st March 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Trust

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia 2014, BBC, Governance and Corporate Structure viewed 31st March 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC#Governance_and_Corporate_Structure

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia 2014, BBC, viewed 31st March 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia 2014, CN, viewed 31st march 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNN

Baker 2013, CNN Begins overhaul, top editor Whitaker leaves, Reuters, viewed 31st March 2014

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/29/us-cnn-whitaker-idUSBRE90S0R920130129

Hand Made And Well Paid

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Scrolling through my Tumblr feed I see a post by the clothing company American Apparel, as usual its shocking and in your face, which is reflective of their previous advertising campaigns. It’s a picture of a Bangladeshi girl named Maks wearing high waisted blue denim jeans, and like so many other American Apparel adds the focus is not on the jeans. In the center of the shot are the very carefully placed words “made in Bangladesh”, across Maks’ bare-naked chest. I think its safe to say that American Apparel know their target market quite well, because clearly subtlety is not their strong suit.

Reading the blurb at the bottom of the picture I learn a lot about Maks and where she has come from and how she has come to model for American Apparel but significantly, there is not a lot of information about the jeans? The only thing that is mentioned in fact, is that the jeans were “manufactured by 23 skilled workers in downtown Los Angeles” then strangely it states “all of whom are paid a fair wage”. This leads me to believe that the carefully placed words are there to send a message, a double entendre of sorts, one, is that obviously the model Maks is from Bangladesh, and two, that American Apparel want to highlight their sweat-shop free manufacturing process.

 

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Now why would this be you say? Well, one could assert that the model Maks is semi naked for a symbolic reason, to say that American Apparel are willing to ‘bare all’ to the public and have a transparent stance on global fashion manufacturing practices. It also could be suggested that American Apparel are having a stab at the working conditions of Bangladeshi sweat shops that other companies use to manufacture their products.

The point they raise about manufacturing is a good one, and well worth examining. However, I feel that although the issue they raise is important, the execution of the advertisement offers a solution not needed. As admirable as it may be, to expose global manufacturing practices in contrast to their own, the way they have gone about it seems to be a stumble in the dark, or how about doing brain surgery with a chainsaw? Clumsy to say the least. Why bash Bangladeshi workshops by stating that your own workers are paid fairly? Its seems that American Apparel could instead state that there needs to be workplace reform introduced into the international manufacturing exports industry. However using shocks tactics like nudity – which have been proven to work for their target market – the advertisement has succeeded in posing a question well worth answering and getting the audience to think deeper about their pair of high waisted denim blue jeans.

All connotations aside, it’s a controversial ad for sure!

 

References:

American Apparel 2012, About us, American Apparel, Date viewed 25 March 2014,

http://www.americanapparel.net/aboutus/

American Apparel 2012, Vertical Integration, American Apparel, Date viewed 25 March 2014

http://www.americanapparel.net/aboutus/verticalint/

American Apparel 2012, Sweatshop Free, American Apparel, Date viewed 25 March 2014

http://www.americanapparel.net/aboutus/verticalint/sweatshopfree/

American Apparel 2012, American Apparel, Date viewed 25 March 2014

http://www.americanapparel.net/

American Apparel 2012, Our Ads, American Apparel, Date viewed 25 March 2014

http://www.americanapparel.net/advertising/ad/?i=9826&n=12

Madeline Newman 2014, Is this American Apparel’s most shocking campaign ever?, Daily Life, Date viewed 25 March 2014

http://www.dailylife.com.au/all-about-women/is-this-american-apparels-most-shocking-campaign-ever-20140323-35bjv.html

Media Watch? or Media Police?

What is the media being blamed for today and is this justified?

As I sit down on a Monday night after just making my dinner I flick on the TV and see a program on ABC called ‘media watch’. The show is fifteen minutes long covering some prominent journalistic blunders of the past week, commenting on the poor form of some journalists and particular slanderous mistakes made in the public arena. I am made aware of the fact that there are some reporters out there that are doing a bad job, that aren’t reporting not only to the best of their ability but not even professionally.

The bulk of the short show featured a commentary on a rather repellant performance of an ‘A Current Affairs’ program reporter and her story on operation “take down” – a police force initiative to eliminate the gold cost biker gangs’ influence on drugs. Showing clips of the reporter speaking directly to people being arrested – due to her unrestricted access of the operation – the reporter was caught on film slandering these people saying she thought they were “the scum of the earth”. How unprofessional is this? As a piece of news I thought we were supposed to receive an unbiased truthful account of the facts? Oh wait! I forgot I was watching ‘A Current Affairs’! How can I expect any different.

It’s interesting to see the contrast between the sectors of the media and how they are commenting on each other, revealing the ineptitude of some unpracticed journalists and in the same stroke of the brush painting a picture of their own quality and trustable reporting. Certain sectors of the media can be blamed for the reproduction of misinformation and unnecessary slanderous comments for the soul purpose of good ratings or a loyal readership. If one were to only watch tabloid news then that’s the only opinion one could form, but when the informed see both sides of the story a light must be shone on the problems.

ciao for now

jake

Pulp Fact

So as you could probably tell my favourite movie is Pulp fiction by Quentin Tarantino and it has been quite influential in my life so far, I even have a tattoo of a quote from it on my leg! Among that particular tattoo I have five others on my legs and right arm. Yes they are addictive and yes I’m getting more and yes you can see them if you like. 

As well as film I very much enjoy reading, my favourite author is Hunter. S Thompson, he’s probably most famous for his semi-biographical story “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas” which was made into a great film staring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Torro. I just love his style of writing, its so visceral and real, often about day to day subjects but with his own flavour added in, he developed a particular way of writing his journal articles that became known as Gonzo journalism, whereby he was reporting on the ground level, at the source of the happenings, on the front lines of history and getting word back to the people. Hunter was a journalist in the sixties and seventies for Rolling Stone magazine and later on in his career he was quite influential reporting on the Nixon/Mcgovern presidential campaign (but not for Nixon). Hunter is my first and foremost inspiration for becoming a journalist, after reading much of his work I feel I have adopted parts of it into my own style.

Like Hunter I Too one day want to write for Rolling Stone Magazine as a music journalist, because music is my passion! I play the guitar and listen to the Blues whenever and wherever I can. If anyone out there is keen for a jam session let me know and ill be there!  People always ask me “whats your favourite band?” or “what kind of music do you listen to?”, common questions when your first getting to know someone, and I never was able to say anything of meaning because I hadn’t yet found a band or a genre that I really could Latch onto, but now I have. When you ask me now what my favourite musician is I will loudly and proudly say “Jack White!”, to which you might say “who?” then I’d be instantly shocked! But I would then go on to explain that he first became famous in his band the “white stripes”, where he played great punk music with blues influences for 10 years with his wife and drummer Meg White releasing five hit albums. Then Jack started a band called The Raconteurs (or some people say the Saboteurs) a young band again with blues songs and rock beats. Most recently and currently Jack is in a band called The Dead Weather, where he produces the records from behind the drum kit, which is unique to say the least – think Phill Collins but with a lot more hair and WAY cooler – producing the records from his own record label third man records. Last but definitely not least, Jack has released a solo album called “Blunderbuss” and like the name suggests it is an instant explosion of noise and intoxicating beats. So after a short biography of GOD, oh I mean Jack White, I think its safe to say that I know a thing or two about the man.

I also am, as we say in the club a “Tumblr fiend”.Tumblr is a place where you can express yourself with text, pictures, videos, links and many other things, without fear of repression. So if you may may have compulsions to check out my other blog please feel free! You can find me at “theawkwardspacebetween” 

But a final word about me. I’m excited about starting my degree but also very nervous. It is a long road to fruition but the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, or should I say post. Thanks for tuning in. Come back real soon!

Adios amigos