The Right to Free Speech According to XKCD

Nailed it….

XKCD Free Speech

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Who is the Press?

One question that’s pretty hard to answer these days is “Who is a reporter?”

Is this someone who works for a newspaper?  A television station? A radio network?  Most folks would say, yes, these people are reporters.

But as I have mentioned before, among my Seven Truths They Don’t Want You To Know About the Media is Truth #2 -There are no mainstream media (MSM).  Of course we have big and small media; however, we use all kinds of media and our old legacy media hold no special status.

We saw this powerfully back in June of 2102 when both CNN and Fox News initially got the story wrong about the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. And both networks got it wrong in exactly the same way.  In their effort to be the first to report it, both cable news networks initially reported that the court had overturned the individual mandate requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or pay a fine/tax because the court rejected the argument that this was justified by the commerce clause of the constitution.  Except that that that Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion went on to say that the mandate could be justified under congress’s authority to levy taxes.


But you know who got it right? SCOTUSblog, a niche blog that typically drew a few

thousand readers a day.  As I wrote at the time,

SCOTUSblog was the authoritative news site that everyone turned to for immediate and accurate newsabout the decision. And on a day that several bigger web sites had trouble staying online because of heavy demand, SCOTUSblog had server capacity to spare despite drawing hundreds of times more traffic than normal.

So you would think that when the reporter from SCOTUSblog applied for a U.S. Senate press pass (something that is required to get a Supreme Court press pass), he was turned down.  Why? It’s hard to tell, beyond a “We’ve never done it that way before” kind of argument.

Here’s a great update from SCOTUSblog on their quest for one of the best organizations covering the U.S. Supreme Court trying to get official recognition of their status as journalists.

Because credentialing the folks we all turn to for accurate information just seems like a good idea…

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Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

And finally…. What has Girl Talk done since All Day came out several years ago?
Well, he did this set at Coachella 2014 with a bunch of big-time guests.  NSFW language, of course. Not optimistic on how long this will be available.

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Cutting through the clutter while maintaining brand image

One of the great challenges these days for advertisers is managing to cut through the clutter of non-programming messages to grab the attention of viewers, yet still projecting a positive brand image.  That’s what we’re going to be looking at with the following sets of commercials:

Cutting through the clutter – Which works better?

Which of these better tells the story of the product?

Building Brand Image – Grabbing attention while building the brand

  • Bud Light with Lime
  • Guinness
  • Chrysler

Two markets for small SUVS

Different people respond to different messages.  Look at how these two commercials for small SUVs target two very different buyers:


And finally… This PSA on melanoma awareness brings a certain level of humor to a very serious issue:

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David Letterman Retires, Followed in Footsteps of Ernie Kovacs

(Sorry for the recent lack of updates.  It’s been busy…)

The news broke yesterday on Twitter with a post from REM’s bass player Mike Mills that David Letterman had just announced he would be retiring when his current contract expired, most likely sometime in 2015.

Mills was a guest musician on the show, along with REM’s Peter Buck, helping out with Joseph Arthur’s performance of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Letterman has been on the air continuously for nearly 34 years and close to 6,000 episodes. Folks are speculating that since Letterman has now outlasted the Tonight Show’s Jay Leno, he feels free to retire.  Also, he’s likely feeling the heat from the new, younger talk show hosts like Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, or Craig Ferguson.

With the news of Letterman’s retirement, I have to bring up an earlier TV great – Ernie Kovacs.  Letterman’s style of absurdist humor draws heavily on the style of TV comedy created by Kovacs in the 1950s, and for many years Letterman’s announcer was Bill Wendell, who had worked with Kovacs.

David Letterman interviews Bill Wendell

Here are several examples of the crazy comedy Kovacs pioneered on TV in the 1950s:

The Nairobi Trio

Kitchen Symphony

Percy Dovetonsils

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Pre-class Video – Mr. Rogers Remix

Because I can….

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Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

  • 297546_262410503790679_588670439_nIs it ok for high school students to “<3 Boobies”?
    Yes. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a Pennsylvania school district that wanted to stop two young women from wearing “I <3 Boobies” bracelets to promote breast cancer awareness.  According to, several teachers had expressed concern about the message the bracelets were transmitting to students at the school, so the district banned the use of the word “boobies” on bracelets.  The courts at each level supported the students’ right to free expression in school.
  •  Can you censor a censor’s speech on censorship?
    You can if you are China.  Law professor Jonathan Turley discusses how a Chinese party official spoke candidly about vulnerabilities in the country’s Internet censorship system and how censors then tried to censor the comments.
  • Who gets money from Comcast?
    Everyone gets money from Comcast! You get money, and you get money and… At least as long as you are a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  According to a story form Politico, 15 of the 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have received contributions from Comcast, which is currently trying to get permission to acquire Time Warner Cable.  This would be a merger of the nation’s largest cable provider with the nation’s second-largest cable provider.
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Everyone’s Gone To The Movies….

Here are a some of the videos we either will be or have been watching as part of our discussion of the development of the movie industry.

  • Here are links to the silent movies examples we watched earlier this week, including Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery.
  • Here’s a great scene from Singing in the Rain that illustrates the difficulties in moving from silent to talking films.
  • Scene from 1932 pre-code movie Skyscraper Souls.  Early example of bad language in films.
  • During the Code period, you could make movies about controversial topics like abortion as long as you were coy about it.  Here’s Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood in Love with the Perfect Stranger.
  • Trailer for Midnight Cowboy, the only Best Picture winner with an X-rating.
  • Trailer for the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the first major movie to have all digital backgrounds and sets.
  • Not all movies come from Hollywood.   Here’s a great scene, this one from the Bollywood film Mohabbatein.
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A Brief Musical History in Video

Here’s a collection of videos to take you through the early days of rock ‘n’ roll along with a few other choice bits of music.

Young Elvis Presley doing a live version of “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy” possibly from 1956.

Chuck Berry doing “Maybelline,” his adaptation of the fiddle tune “Ida Red.”

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles singing “What’s So Good About Goodbye.”

The single was from Hitsville U.S.A., which later became Motown.

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1964.

An early video of The Who performing “The Kids Are Alright.”

Was there ever a better rock drummer than Keith Moon?

The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Sugar Hill Gang doing “Rapper’s Delight.

Some old school bboying.

The opening of the Style Wars hip hop documentary

George Straight singling “What’s Going On In Your World” from 1989

and finally….

Lennon and Maisy doing their cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girl Friend.”

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Talking and Watching Mash-ups

We’re going to be talking about musical mash-ups in class today, so here are several videos were going to be using in conjunction with this.

Here’s the opening sequence from the film Girl Walk // All Day, based on Girl Talk’s album All Day.

Lots of different songs and raps being mixed together there.  Let’s take a look at what’s happening.  Here’s a link to a visual breakdown of “Oh No,” the first track of All Day.

One of the big questions that get raised here is whether mash-ups are “stealing” the work of other artists.  I can’t answer that question directly, but let’s get started here with the first episode of of Kirby Ferguson’s brilliant series, Everything is a Remix.

Part 1: The Song Remains the Same




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