Talking About Media & Body Image

This morning in class we’re going to be talking about the connection between body image and how our media portray beauty.

I asked my students to take a look at some of my earlier posts about media and body image, and come to class prepared to talk about how these images might affect us.  Here’s the link:

In class today, we’re going to look at this video:

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches

This video was reportedly viewed more than 114 million times the month it was released (through the many places it was posted) , making it one of the most viral videos ever. In the video, Dove compares how women see themselves vs. how other women see them, seen through the eyes of a police sketch artist who never actually sees the woman.

What was the result of these drawings? Why has this video been so popular? It resonates with women who tend to view themselves negatively

In addition to receiving lots of praise, it’s also been on the receiving end of quite a bit of criticism.  As Kate Fridkis of Psychology Today explains on her blog Eat the Damn Cake,  the video shows “some lovely, thin, mostly white women who are all pretty young describe their appearances to a forensic artist.”

One critic points out: “Out of 6:36 minutes of footage, people of color are onscreen for less than 10 seconds.” (I might want to take a stop watch to it, but it certainly is less than 30 seconds.)

Ann Friedman of New York Magazine points out that this video still holds that one of the most important thing is to be beautiful in our own way. Friedman suggests that the message instead should be: “It should be to get women to do for ourselves what we wish the broader culture would do: judge each other based on intelligence and wit and ethical sensibility, not just our faces and bodies.”

And for our pre-class video, we’re going to take a look at how Vogue portrayed singer Adele on their cover:

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Comcast Commits to Buying Time Warner Cable

Back in November of 2013, the rumor started circulating that cable giant Comcast was going to try  to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC).  This was news because Comcast, in addition to owning NBC Universal, is the nation’s largest cable provider and Time Warner Cable is the nation’s second largest.

(Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear.  Time Warner Cable is a company that provides cable TV and Internet services to subscribers in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, North Carolina, Maine, and Ohio.  It is not the general media giant Time Warner that owns the Turner Broadcasting properties and Warner Brothers movie studio.  So why the Time Warner in Time Warner Cable?  That’s easy.  Time Warner the media company owned TWC up until 2009, when it spun off the cable/Internet provider into its own company.)

Then on Thursday, February 13, Comcast announced that it had reached an agreement to purchase TWC for more than $45 billion in stock.  If the transaction is approved by the FCC and the U.S. Justice Department, Comcast would have control of the programming going out to as many as 33 million cable subscribers.  (Why is that number in doubt?  There are roughly 100 million cable subscribers in the US.  If Comcast controls more than 30 percent of those subscriptions, it could run into regulatory problems.  So if the merger goes through, Comcast is likely to sell off approximately 3 million subscribers to fall below that magical 30 percent figure.)

Media reporter Ken Auletta says the proposed purchase would give Comcast a couple of key advantages:

  • More subscribers would give Comcast more negotiating power with both television program providers and Internet program providers.
  • It would give Comcast access to TWC’s powerful video-on-demand service that lets consumers have access to programming they want to see without being able to skip commercials.

One thing the deal probably won’t do is make you like your cable company any better.  The merger won’t give customers any more choices in who they can buy cable service from.  Local service will continue to be a monopoly negotiated between a single service provider and the municipality.  And consumer advocates argue that the merger would likely lead to higher prices to consumers.

AdAge magazine had one of the most interesting takes I’ve seen on the merger, arguing that even with 30 million plus subscribers, Comcast still wouldn’t be big enough to deal companions like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

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Valentine’s Day Pre-Class Video – Crowded House playing Either Side of the World

A great music video for Valentine’s Day.  Crowded House doing their song Either Side of the World from their album The Intriguer.

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Advice to Writers

Ten suggestions for better writing from famous writers:

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Pre-class and In-class video: Talking About Books

Several videos for our discussion in class this week about books.  And yes, I’m running about a week behind in class.  There was way too much to talk about in the business chapter!

History of the Printing Press

Back in 1999, A&E’s Biography program profiled the top 100 influential people of the Second Millennium. They’re number 1 pick? Johanne Gutenberg.  Can’t argue with that.

Amanda Hocking and the Long Tail of Books

Meet Amanda Hocking, the indie author sensation who now has a contract with St. Martin’s Press.

Storyseller – A profile of author Amanda Hocking in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

And a note from a NY Times media blog that Hocking sold a paranormal young adult trilogy to conventional publisher St. Martin’s Press.

Interview with KTTC TV

Interview with the Associated Press

Promotional Video From Amanda Hocking

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Long Tail Pre-Class Video: Doug and Telisha Williams aka Wild Ponies

Doug and Telisha Williams, also known as the band Wild Ponies, funded the production of their latest album, Things That Used To Shine, using a Kickstarter campaign. They raised more than $30,000 from people who wanted to see their latest CD recorded (that would include my wife and me) and were able to book studio time and a professional producer — things that would have been out of reach without support of either their fans or a record label.

Here’s Doug and Telisha performing “Things That Used To Shine.”

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Super Bowl 2014 Media News Roundup

Super-Bowl-2014-XLVIII-Logo-500x450So the 2014 Super Bowl was played last Sunday.  Seattle schooled Denver pretty decisively, and by most accounts it was not a particularly good year for the commercials.  I can’t say definitively, as I didn’t watch it. (I’m not going to be one of those snobs who brags about watching Downton Abbey instead of watching the big game.  I listened to the first half of Sunday’s blowout on satellite radio in the car.)

So what is worth remembering about this year’s NFL championship broadcast?


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Pre-Class Video: Exploring the Long Tail with Girl Walk – All Day

For those of you who are fans of mashup artist Girl Talk, there is a now a fascinating dance film out that is essentially a 71-minute long video for Girl Talk’s latest album All Day.

There’s a preview below, but here’s a link to the entire film.  It’s being released two chapters a week, with the entire film available by 1/6/2012.

The film was funded through Kickstarter, the long-tail funding website, with director Jacob Krupnick raising almost $25,000 from 577 backers who committed amounts ranging rom $5 to $500 or more.  (Most of the backers were under $100.)

This is Chapter 3 – It Goes Like This

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Pre-Class Video: Ten Year Anniversary of the “Wardrobe Malfunction”

Ten years ago, singer Janet Jackson exposed her breast for 9/16ths of a second.  As a result, broadcast network CBS was threatened with a fine of more than half a million dollars and a near-decade long battle over what could or could not be broadcast on network television was launched.

In June of 2012, The Hill reported that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the lower court ruling that threw out the fine on the basis that the punishment for showing “indecent content” was “arbitrary and capricious.”

This is essentially the same point the court made in the Fox and CBS fleeting indecency cases at about the same time.

According to Chief Justice John Roberts the case does not give a clear path to indecent content on broadcast channels today because broadcasters now know that such content is not allowed.

Unless you are Nancy Grace.

If you are Nancy Grace you can show your nipple to the world for an even longer amount of time than Janet Jackson did and have no one talk about $550,000 fines.

And if you ask me, Nancy Grace exposing herself, however accidentally, is a much more serious offense.

The Janet Jackson Super Bowl “Wardrobe Malfunction”

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Pre-Class Video: Truth about Disney Princesses

Pre-class video: Have you ever wondered what happened to the Disney princesses after the movie ended?  Here’s one possibility:

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