MS 190: Authorship is the course website for the Fall 2006 Media Studies senior seminar at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
I had no idea I could learn anything from primetime TV. I just thought I was just wasting my time and killing brain cells, but I think that tonight I learned something. Studio 60 is fun, too. Okay, all of a sudden I've started plugging, which I didn't mean to do in this post, back to the facts.
They staged a conversation tonight about government control of broadcasting. I haven't been living in a closet for the past ten years (who could miss Nipplegate at the superbowl) so I knw that the FCC exists and I know they censor stuff, but I didn't know how easily a broadcasting network/station could have its license pulled for indecency. The fictional storyline involves a live news cast in which an RPG explodes over the correspondent's head and then he curses, not just any curse but the f-bomb. So the FCC levies a lawsuit against the network that would essentially be impossible to pay for, and threaten to revoke broadcasting rights. The government also obviously controls the flow of much of the information, especially about governmental related news (i.e. the war). They could easily shut a network or broadcasting service out of these stories. I'm just realizing that I should know a lot more about the news, how it is produced, and government involvement. And you have to work a lot harder than I realized to find truly independent sources. Any recommendations?
I"ve just spent the last two hours watching the A&E series called Intervention - and wow it may have just become my new obsession as much as it disturbs me. I have yet to decide how I feel ethically about the show. I should explain the premise briefly, so that y'all understand the disturbing depths of the concept. They find someone who agrees to be on a show about addiction (I think that's all their told), then they have their lives taped for a few weeks or so, then they are thrust into an unexpected intervention - all under the watchful eye of the camera. You see a girl looking for tricks to turn in order to buy heroin, an ex-ceo crying in his storage unit that contains his only remaining possessions, a middle-aged alcoholic falling out of her car. It is intimate to say the least. Actually, I'm pretty sure that it is downright exploitative. At times it's almost uncomfortable to be watching these so intensely personal moments, but you can't look away at the same time.
We all remember the whole Tom Cruise vs Matt Lauer psychology debate where Tom yelled, interrupted, and called Matt glib. The clip was funny in and of itself, but on this blog called "You Can't Make it Up" posted by a woman named Michelle Collins, she posts the transcript along with increasingly funny depictions of the Cruise himself. She remixes the dialog with the help of these images and how they interact with the dialog. It's not complicated or high-minded, but it's hilarious and a clever repositioning of their debate juxtaposed against images that often have little to do with the dialogue.
And that has nothing to do with this blog post - I am just still in awe. I mean two fat pugs in a baby stroller being pushed by their owner - what did they need some fresh air? and why can't they walk? Seriously. What a silly thing.
Anyway, I can't say I'm understanding a ton of the concepts in this book since I'm not familiar with all the references/don't have time to read slowly/have been skipping around a lot. The section that interested me most was the one about the ideology behind peer to peer, especially the last section "anarchy of access versus the stability of ownership." Vaidhyanathan talks about the way in which peer-to-peer technology "encourages both 'inconspicuous consumption' and 'conspicuous production.'" It's a big potential function in a society in which conspicuous consumption dominates.
I'm having a day - no make that a week. Bad doesn't really describe it - some more accurate words: failing, incapable. It's mostly due to, no surprise here, my term project (aka senior failure). I can't seem to communicate to anyone what I am trying to do - I wanted the project to be personal, but I stil wanted other people to kind of understand it on some level. Mostly I didn't want it to fall into that category of the amateur telling expressing unoriganal ideas in a semi-incomprehensible form. But let's face it, I am an amateur (in so many ways), original though is arguably impossible, and most of what I think/say/write is incoherent. Frustrating nonetheless.
Our age was long ago dubbed the information age, but yet we constantly hear about rampant ignorance and complete lack of common sense. I have only recently begun considering (i.e. should have started a lond time ago), the idea that the information we are recieving constantly and in overwhelming amounts is not at all informative. I"m not talking disinformation or lies or conspiracy theory here. I'm talking self-help books and magazines. Yeah, we all laugh them off and at the same time sneak into a corner of Barnes and Noble to read them - to tell us how to eat, how to dress, how to entertain, how to understand and change our faults, how to do everything we should know how to do ourselves. Somehow these books and issues have convinced us (at least me) that we don't know how to do simple human activities like feed ourselves or put on clothes or make friends or write coherently. These are basic human functions and yet we are convinced we must be doing them wrong and need help finding the way.
What?! - Alanis Morrisette was on Nip/Tuck tonight. I had no idea she was trying to act. Sorry about the misleading title, though, I have nothing more to say about her and her acting career...
Except that I'm pretty sure she was doing a better job that the people on the "Weeping Willow" episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. THis is the one that was mentioned earlier in the blog, and I couldn't resist tuning in to see television sample internet culture. The law & order shows seem to pride themselves on creating timely storylines - actually they just rip stuff out of headlines, add a nicely packaged ending, and spice it with a little extra drama and fake blood. This time though, they're sampling directly, and I mean very directly, from YouTube. The girl cast looked like LonelyGirl, pranced around her room like her, and had an almost exact replica of her "set" in the YouTube vlogs. But this time, they raised the stakes and people died because of an internet hoax and acting experiment. And then, tah dah, the girl becomes famous and gets a deal, just like the real Jessica Rose. It's like the dark side of YouTube - a hoax gone bad, psychotic actors, blanks that kill - evidently it's not all fun and games. this is what happens when you use the medium in a way not prescribed - people die. So stick to convention.
No one needs to read this post, since (and again I apologize) I just feel like venting a little about the state of my senior project in vain hope that maybe I'll actually gain some resolve to sit down and do this thing... I am so nervious. Nervious like when I was writing my college admissions essay. Nervous like doing a watercolor painting makes me nervous. I am going to fail at this, and I really really don't want to. I will not be happy or satisfied or even mildly proud of what I produce. So my question is, how does any author begin a project. I think I just must not be cut out for this creative business - do great artists pussyfoot about a subject they want to address and try their damndest to delay any actual work forever, trying to preserve the image/idea/perfection in their minds forever without soiling the canvas of their concept with actual paint/writing/action? No - they bite their lip and dive in and fail - over and over and over - with only glimmers of something they actually like. My mom is a painter (I guess the artistic gene skips a generation), and she talks about the stages of her paintings - elation at the blank canvas and brilliant idea recedes into a building frustration at the disparity between her mind's eye and the canvas itself. Then comes the quitting point, the hating phase, the worthless-piece-of-shit-throw-it-in-the-garbage phase. Finally, there's a breakthrough and it leads to changes that make the piece bearable. Frankly, this process just sounds painful to me and all you get in the end is ta-dah, something that is bearable. So, I'm trying to stay in the shiny, happy phase one as long as possible - which is making my timeline increasingly compressed. I am frightened of becoming an author, especially of something I am invested in beyond school. Intimidating to say the least.
I feel like I'm a media studies major and I should have known about machinema... but I didn't. Even though it's been in existence for about a decade, the idea hadn't even occurred to me. Even after all those discussions about re-working clips on youtube, and learning to make videos from found footage. So in case the rest of you are like me and have not chanced upon machinema yet, it is a term for pieces of "cinema" made from clips pulled from video games (I put cinema in quotation marks only because I just realized that I don't entirely understand its definition). Anyway, people show these films at festivals (like the Mackies) and post them on blogs or profiles or youtube, and there's even a school (Aademy of Machinema Arts).
So I know that someone already posted about OJ Simpson's new/cancelled book "If I did it," but now that it has become a media uproar and book and interview have both been pulled, I think it warrants another post. According to todays LA Times article, "cries of censorship did not materialize in the protest." So I'm going to cry.. if only to play devil's advocate or something.
As disgusting and hurtful as the book's content is, I have to reference Voltaire (I think?). I disagree with what you say, but i will defend to my death your right to say it. I don't know if this adage will really extend to include a tell-all murder book, but it's an interesting question to ask ourselves. Is the book just offensive or truly hurtful/dangerous? OJ actually kind of seems to be arguing for his first amendment rights: "I think I'm legally muzzled at this point." So I guess I'm not the only one crying censorship.