MS 190: Authorship is the course website for the Fall 2006 Media Studies senior seminar at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
this is sort of related to carter's last article on "why blogging is important." the fact that blogging randomly helped some old high school sweethearts unite after 47 years is awesome-and serendipitously random.
i had my own serendipity the other day, also thanks to technology. i usually delete the digester, but i decided to read this particular one. there was a message from an alum who works at procter and gamble (the company that deals with a zillion different products from pringles to fabreze) and she was saying she was available to help any pomona person looking for an internship or job at her place.
So I've been looking at commercials so much for my thesis, and reading about how advertisers address women in commercials, that I just can't break myself out of that mindset. Probably a good thing, if I were motivated to work on my thesis right now (which I'm not, thanks to the Charlie Brown Christmas cd and the Steel Magnolias DVD my mom sent me). In any case, today was my LAST final, in Macroeconomics, if you're interested. I don't think it went very well, so I've been hiding in bed watching television when I see a commercial for Exclusive Smiles, a cosmetic dentistry practice by Gary Demerjian. What struck me about the commercial is how upfront it is. I can't remember the exact voice-over comments but it was something like, "Exclusive Smiles will give Susan a new smile, and maybe even a new relationship!" (in that knowing, hinting voice, as Susan frolics with some hunky men).
Here is an article y'all should read if you have the chance between finals and papers.
If you are short on time, here is the gist of it.
Scented bus shelter advertisements smelling of just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies made their U.S. debut. Five San Francisco bus shelters were equipped on Monday with ads embedded with the scent of cookies in a new Got Milk advertising campaign launched by the California Milk Processor Board.
One comment on the article read "cannot imagine the smell of that mixed with urine or trash that is thrown up against billboards ads," I kind of have to agree.
I just discovered the "I Am African" campaign website, which features images of celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Richard Gere, Elizabeth Hurley, and Elijah Wood in tribal makeup. Sure, it's for a good cause (i.e. raising money for AIDS victims)... but as neurotica said in response to my post about Regina Spektor's video for "On the Radio," it's the impact and not the intention that really counts.
The impact here, in my opinion, is the exotification of African culture. The face paint creates a false image of Africans as primitive. My friend who spent the last two summers in Africa says she has never once seen anyone there in tribal makeup. To make matters worse, it's not even an "authentic" representation, since Iman has said that it's something along the lines of a "modern reinterpretation of the African aesthetic" (okay, she didn't exactly phrase it that way, but that's the jist of it). I'm also struck by how "sexed up" the images of women are. Whereas David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Alan Cumming, Richard Gere, and Elijah Wood have shirts on, all of the women are completely naked, except for the occasional necklace or headdress. They also wear tons of makeup, and their hair has that studio-produced windblown look to it. They seem like sex symbols to such a degree that the humanitarian message gets completely lost. The pictures comprise most of the advertisement, and the phrase "I AM AFRICAN" appears in large text at the bottom, but the actual message of the campaign is in such tiny print that it would probably not even catch someone's eye as they flip through a magazine. In short, pretty much everything about this campaign seems flawed to me. Our common humanity is a positive message, but it just doesn't come through when it's depicted through such naive and offensive imagery.
OK seriously, I can't believe I keep blogging about magazines--this is the last one, I swear.
Sooo maybe I never made it all the way through Time magazine--you know, things to do, places to go, people to see, whatever, so I moved on to Budget Travel.
No sooner than I open up the magazine do I find something to blog about!
In the first few pages of Budget Travel from November is a two-page ad for various vacations in Italy from "the Globus family of vacations" (four different travel package programs catering to independent, luxury, budget and-- I don't know, one more kind of traveler). For some reason, all of their photographs of "real Italy" are totally ridiculous. I mean, it shouldn't be possible to completely caricaturize, in so many different ways, a whole place in so few pictures. These photographs feature all of the essentials: the backs of two pensive American travelers, stopped at an otherwise empty sidewalk cafÃ© in front of two empty cups of espresso ("A Monograms independent vacation gives you all the time you need ot sip espresso and soak up local culture"); a vineyard snaking over rolling Tuscan hills ("Globus travelers enjoy a private wine tasting and lunch at the splendid Verrazzano Castle"--as do Syracuse University study abroad students, incidentally); and photographs of a Venetian bridge, a few gondolas, and the Roman Coleseum. What strikes me as strange about all of these pictures is the total lack (except for the espresso shot) of people; neither tourists nor Italians show up in any of these photographs. Perhaps the purpose of this is to create a sense of intimacy with the sites that Globus is insinuating it is capable of delivering, but it's almost disconcerting, implying that the impetus of travel lies in the confrontation between the self and the site, not the confrontation of the self and, well, the whole package.
While I was at home, I saw a commercial for the new Sony Bravia LCD television. It's the newest in a series of commercials for the television. Some of you may have seen the superball commercial, where they release thousands of those tiny superballs in the streets of San Francisco. They also came out with a commercial in which they launch paint firework type things in and around a building complex, of a variety of colors. Granted, I haven't seen these commercials on television, but they've been circulating on the internet for quite some time now. I love them because they're innovative, and fun, and they don't have an in-your-face buy-me-now message.
My family has gotten Budget Travel magazine for a few years, and I've always looked forward to reading it while being home on vacations from school. This semester, however, my mom included an old issue in a box of brownies she sent me (I know, I know, you're jealous, but there are leftovers, so come over!) and I just got finished reading it cover to cover (something which I obviously don't have time to be doing). I noticed something interesting: apart from a worker at La Super-Rica Taqueria (a recommended stop on driving the Pacific Coast Highway, in case you were wondering), there were absolutely no people of color featured in the editorial content of the magazine. None.
Instead of doing my homework this afternoon I decided to go and see the new James Bond movie Casino Royale. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading this blog right now and go. I promise you a full 2 hours of entertainment.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I couldn't help but notice the blatant use of product placement as is typical of so many movies made these days. But there was one instance in particular that had me a little upset. One scene features James Bond driving a new Ford coupe while on a mission in the Bahamas. James Bond driving a Ford? Come on! Thankfully, it is just a rental car until he has the time to get his hands on a far more Bond-appropriate car, a vintage Aston Martin. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but wonder how much Ford had to pay to get Daniel Craig behind the wheel. So I did a little research--
I just got my take home mid-term for my other media studies class and I had to share it with you. The first half of the mid-term is pretty typical. Upon selecting a scene from a current TV show, you have to write a 2-3 page essay imagining what it would be like if you were seeing that scene 40 years ago and what would be controversial or groundbreaking about it.
The second half of the mid-term is a little more interesting. We have to watch a solid hour of TV and write down every ad that we see during the commercial breaks while taking brief notes about what the ad is selling, who is represented in the ad etc. Then we have to organize this list of ads into groups based on the product i.e. beer, cars etc. and then we have to organize the list into subgroups based on what is being represented in the ad and who is the target audience.
Do people think advertising is an ethical career choice? Do you feel like there are few "noble" careers that we can go into as Media Studies careers? (ie, careers that have the overt goal of bettering humankind, such as education or medicine) Just curious.