BLOG POST (MODULE 10) SHINYA KADONO, Fake Information in the Age of New Media

Today, the social media is probably the fastest way to have an access to information because of the modern technologies such as laptops and smartphones. However, people are unaware of how this convenience is sometimes very untrustworthy and dangerous. In his essay, McLuhan discusses about the new forms of “news” by introducing Xerox and its system, where an ordinary person can be the publisher. He calls this new system of journalism at that time, “the underground press”.  He also argues that “as new media continue to proliferate, the nature of ‘news’ will naturally change too, along with the perpetually renewed revolution in information speeds and patterns.” Today, we have numerous forms of this “underground press” inside people’s smartphones. The example I give is Twitter. A Twitter is an online app where a user can post and interact with messages, “tweets”, restricted to 140 characters with registered and also unregistered Twitter users.

Fake tweet

The picture above is a screenshot of a tweet by BBC Northampton about President Trump’s Inauguration. The tweet is this, “Breaking News: President Trump is injured in arm gunfire #Inauguration” Although, we know that this isn’t true, because Inauguration already happened in January and Donald Trump hasn’t gotten injured. But, what if you weren’t watching the TV during this inauguration and checked your phone and saw this tweet? BBC Northampton is a verified Twitter account, meaning the account is protected by Twitter from any copyrights. Also this account has over 40,000 followers. McLuhan claims that, “among the unexpected features of the information revolution are… major involvement in the lives of other people, and the extraordinary enlargement of the public sector. This tweet caused great confusions at that time and shortly after the original tweet, BBC Northampton tweeted saying that their account has been hacked and the previous tweet was fake. However, it is hard for the readers to know that the original tweet is fake if they didn’t watch the TV of the inauguration or read the following tweet. This is why social media is scary and dangerous. The fake tweet is an example of what McLuhan would call the “replay” , which takes news “on a totally new dimension”, but clearly this one  took the news on a wrong dimension. We now live in a society where we could find out breaking news through our social media. However, one must be more cautious whenever he or she tries to spread it, because as McLuhan mentions, “at instant speeds… the audience becomes actor, and the spectators become participants.”

fake 2

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe that social media’s pros or cons are greater?
  2. Does the character limit on tweets take away from authenticity of posts?
  3. Have you ever read news on social media then realized afterwards that it was fake?

Related Readings:

Sputnik by Marshall McLuhan

Social Media Addiction

On social media sites, users display their networks in order to signal a number of traits social status, political beliefs, cultural tastes and in order to establish trust in a new relationship – Public Displays of Connection by J.Donath and d.boyd 

Whenever I check my Instagram timeline, there are many cute pictures of cute couples. Some of them are getting married and some others just got into the relationship. Sometimes, people are complaining how awful their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends are.

When I was in middle school, if I like someone I confess and if he also likes me back we just get into relationship and go on dates. We did not need to inform others what we are doing, except our close friends just for girls talk. But now I see people posting about happy stories like date night for anniversary and I’ll see them being deleted after awhile because they break up. This can lead to negative emotions and stalking behaviors.

Like it’s mentioned in Public Displays of Connection, the users use social media to establish trust in a new relationship and show it to others.

And everyone is connected with others all the time.

But is it really the best to care about what others will think about you by checking how many likes and comments you get?

social-media-addiction-1050x700

Personally, it is not good for my mental health because it gives me anxious about what others will say about my posts and so on.

And also, it is disrespectful to keep checking your social media when you are with someone else. When my parents were younger, they were writing letters to communicate and call on the phone to make an appointment now it is really easy, which is not too bad, but it is also different. But I’d say the older generation probably had better quality of time during dates.

Here’s my questions:

  1. How has the dating style changed by having more social media available to you?
  2. Is it better? worse?
  3. Why do people post their dating status on social media?

BLOG POST (MODULE 10): SAMUEL JUNQUA, How Social Media Can Influence Interactions

Alternative girl with piercing unmask a good girlThe social media image that one has often does not accurately represent reality. Social media allows people to put on masks of identity using “techniques” to sustain impressions. A dramatization of this concept of masks is presented above where the woman portrayed has a mask that is more conservative than her actual appearance. McLuhan elaborates on the idea of masks by saying that, “the maker tends to project his own image as the mask of the user or reader which he endeavors to ‘put on.'” This is to say that the mask allows the performer to see the world differently and to also be seen differently (De Kosnik). Masks are readily available due to the ease with which people can access social media. Using these masks people construct their life rather than document it realistically and live vicariously through their “character”. In social media people can be who they want to be but the unrealistic image people present leads to possible difficulties connecting intimately.

With so many people performing simultaneously on social media and so much content shared instantly it is difficult to sort through what is important and what is unimportant. This is where meaningful connection can be lost because people focus on the wrong things while looking over what matters most. Social media changes the experience of interaction because it creates the possibility to, “have the experience and miss the meaning” (McLuhan). As McLuhan says, “the mysterious thing about this kind of
speed-up of information, whereby the gap is closed between the experience
and the meaning, is that the public begins to participate directly in actions
which it had previously heard about at a distance in place or time.” The closing of the gap is something social media inherently does but the significance of this can have dangerous consequences. Instead of being present, mindfulness is lost when people focus on attempting to connect to people, things and events far away from them and forgetting to value their immediate environment. The effects are less meaning within interactions however more numerous they may be.

Black Mirror

This episode of Black Mirror exemplifies the way in which people are deathly afraid of the consequences of public rejection or criticism. This character in pink, Lacie, is penalized with a deduction of her official public reputation/ranking for making a scene in the airport. In her virtual world, ones public reputation is used to allow people access to things such as a plane ticket in her specific case. This is an example of how peer pressure can suppress behaviors that society decided is “bad” and unwanted. We have varying degrees of how much of our true self we can show to people depending on how close we are to them. The extent to which we trust someone to accept us is the extent to which we can reveal our true selves to that person. In one-on-one interactions there is the potential to be as close as possible to our true self. In groups we have to hold back a bit because you are not comfortable with some people in that group regardless of how much you trust other people within the group. In social media where content is for everybody to see we are the least like our true selves. We have to take into consideration everybody that may view the content and so it is naturally censored or adjusted for acceptance. McLuhan however, asks us to think of social media performances as “making” instead of “faking” although social media can certainly be used to create a new public persona that does not reflect the way someone is in real life. Although people create “characters” to represent themselves on social media which can be interpreted as “faking”, it can conversely be considered to be “making” if looked at from the perspective that separates the “true self” in real life and the “character” created on social media. If we can view these two personas as separate entities instead of as supposed to be one and the same, we can view these social media performances as a creation of a new entity instead of a false representation of the preexisting self.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your opinion of social media and do you believe it helps or hurts human connection? Why do you use it or why don’t you?
  2. Do you agree with McLuhan that social media should be thought of as “making” versus “faking”?
  3. In what ways (if any) would you say you are different online than in person?

Relevant Readings:

“At the moment of Sputnik the planet became a global theater in which there are no spectators but only actors” by Marshall McLuhan

BLOG POST (MODULE 10) PAMEDA CHEN, ARE YOU LIVING IN THE LIE CREATED BY SOCIAL MEDIA?

Nowadays, we spend most of our “free time” staring at the phone screen, in elevators, in metros and even on the streets. It doesn’t have to be texting with family or friends, because more often, we are simply scrolling down the screens, enjoying the time watching people’s posts and giving likes or commenting. Almost everyone around me, including myself, has a social media account, where we post photos to update our most recent life status. However, after reading Goffman’s “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”, I started to have a deeper understanding of the content we post and the motivation behind.

I think just as Goffman explains how everyone tries to create and maintain a specific “impression” on their social media platforms, we try to post photos to differentiate ourselves from the rest, to make ourselves look unique. There must be a consistency between the photos, captions, even the frequency of posts. This online “image” a lot of times hardly matches with the person in reality. However, it could be the ideal image that person aspires to have because he or she pays so much efforts to “perform” well enough to gain attention on that social media account.

[Please watch until 2:52]

The video I picked has an interesting name of “Are you living an Insta Lie?” I think it explained the point of Goffman and Hugo Liu very well. First, the girl woke up early in the morning to do make up, and went back to the bed just to take a photo and post it on Instagram. Even though this is not an interest tag as Hugo Liu analyzed in his article, I see this behavior as the girl wants to present an authentic self on social media, a girl who wakes up early in the morning with a bright smile. Of course the cost of “being authentic” is to make much preparation before taking a photo. Getting into the second and fourth person, they both tries to pursuit a healthy life style by biking and getting a healthy green juice. The difference is that the “front stage” person completed these tasks while the “back stage” person only wishes to do so instead of actually doing it.

One important detail is that the motivation of people starting to post is because they see other people’s posts, which means it’s hard to have people not comparing their peers with themselves. Once they see the best parts and best images created from others’ lives, they will naturally feel the pressure of sending the best image of themselves on social media.

However, as the last person in the video posted the photo of herself kissing her boyfriend on Instagram and received many likes from her friends, she almost forgot their relationship didn’t really go well. And that explains why the title of the video is “are you living an insta lie” because many people are more willing to live in the world of social media and escape from the reality. And this video will become a reminder for me and hopefully some of you when we are enjoying our good “performances” on social media, we should not escape from the reality.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What type of images have you seen your friends created on their social media platforms? How does that affect your impression on them? Are these all positive images?
  2. Instead of posting photos on Instagram, do you know any other ways of performing “self” on social media?
  3. Do you see this gap between the presented self and real self a bad thing? Is this situation going to change over time? What can we do to prevent the bad influence it brings?

 

THANK YOU FOR READING! ANY COMMENT AND QUESTIONS ARE WELCOMED 🙂 PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW. 

 

Relavent Readings:

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

Hugo Liu, “Social Networking Profiles as Taste Performances”

BLOG POST (Module 8): LINDA GIRÓN, Good Savage, Bad Savage — Native American Portrayals in Twin Peaks

In his essay “Fantasies of the Master Race,” Ward Churchill reveals the various way in which Native Americans have been portrayed across all US film and TV, from the appropriation of a non-distinct Native American cultural aesthetic to the cryogenesis of the antiquated Native American and the common stereotypes that have emerged from these ideals. Though this post will focus mainly on the Native American “noble savage” and “brute savage” stereotypes in Twin Peaks. However, it must be noted that outside of its two Native American characters, David Lynch appropriates a significant amount of Native American aesthetic/culture in order to create the world of magical realism that has given the show much of its quirky appeal.

Nonetheless, Lynch, spends just as much time appropriating Native American culture as he does stereotype the Native Americans on his show. The first being Deputy Hawk, right-hand man to Twin Peaks’ Sheriff Harry Truman. Just as Churchill describes, Deputy Hawk can be characterized with the same qualities as that of the noble savage trope. Deputy Hawk, played by Michael Horse, is portrayed as indubitably loyal, stoic, supportive and with just enough an air of wise elder mysticism to reaffirm his ethnic otherness.

Here, is a clip in which we seek Deputy Hawk provide Agent Cooper with valuable knowledge about the mysterious Black Lodge (that of course only he would know on part of his heritage):

As if that weren’t enough, David Lynch seems to hit us over the head with the noble savage stereotype countless times throughout the show with incredible dialogue such as this:

giphy-hawk2giphy-hawk

Talk about putting a bandaid over some personal white guilt, Lynch. And still, even in Twin Peaks’ 25 year revival, it seems times really haven’t changed for Lynch and we begin once again with Deputy Hawk at the center of the show’s mystery that has “something to do with his heritage.”

Now, the second stereotype we see is a bit more subtle on behalf of the fact that the character’s identity is not central on his ethnicity, although Lynch’s casting of a Native American as the antagonist, Killer Bob, helps reaffirms the negative “brute savage” stereotype.

tenor

Although in interviews Lynch reveals that casting Frank Silva as Killer Bob was purely coincidental, an accident even, that Silva had been working crew on set and had given Lynch such a fright after having glanced at his reflection in a mirror. Seems innocent enough (But, please, where’s the coincidence in a white man being scared of a brown person)? But regardless, unconscious or not, politics of bodies particularly black and brown bodies prove time and time again how color-blind casting isn’t a relevant excuse anymore. The connotations that come with having a brown man, more specifically a Native American playing a highly violent criminal, who murders young women can very easily give audiences an affirmation of these problematic stereotypes; not only for Native Americans, but for ethnic minorities as a whole.

 

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think television can’t seem to portray Native Americans in a contemporary light, completely separate of any mystic connection?
  2. What are some other ways directors/screen writers can include Native Americans without subjecting them to stereotypes or keeping them as token minorities?
  3. Do you think Lynch can be excused for unconsciously casting a minority as the shows grotesque villain, can racial bias be kept completely out of our ideal aesthetics for casting choices?

BLOG POST (Module 8): ANTHONY DIPRINZIO, DEPICTIONS OF NATIVE AMERICANS AS THE NEW SPACE AGE COWBOYS

In an episode entitled, Strength of the Bear, from season 1 of the 1980s American Space Western animated television series, BraveStarr, the main character, Marshal BraveStarr (voiced by Pat Fraley) is introduced as a Native American “space cowboy” who posses mystical powers that can be used by channeling “spirit animals.”

The embedded Youtube video shows the episode in its entirety. However, you only need to watch the portion of the video from 3:42 to 5:27.

In the following clip we observe BraveStarr conversing with an older Native American man who is referred to as “Shaman.” The discussion that Bravestarr and Shaman have revolves around the loss of Bravestarr’s mystical powers. During this conversation we are able to observe many stereotypes associated with the modern depiction of Native Americans in popular culture. In Diana George with Susan Sanders’ work entitled, Reconstructing Tonto, they talk about this idea of the “magical Native American” who consults with a mysterious and magical elder. The fact that BraveStarr is blessed with these magical powers and seeks advice from Shaman, who represents the wise elder, this stereotype is clearly visible. There is an image of Native American peoples such as Shaman holding onto magical secrets that are somehow able to help the “self.” It is this mystery that gives the Native American characters a unique aura that people watching this show become attracted to.

In the episode, BraveStarr seeks to regain his powers in an effort revitalize the “self.” We see the desperation of BraveStarr and his willingness to fully trust what this elder has to say. The scene also presents some religious elements in the way that it presents this idea of “spirit animals.” Here one can see that certain religious elements are utilized in order to contribute to the entire “mystery” behind BraveStarr and his powers.

We also get to see a quick flashback to when BraveStarr was a boy and how he had to enter “the darkness” and now as a man how he must enter the “wilderness”. In Gretchen Bataille’s work entitled, Native American Representations, she talks about this notion of indigenous peoples seeing themselves as being a part of the world and one with nature. By suggesting that BraveStarr must enter the wilderness to regain his powers reinforces this stereotype of Native Americans being one with nature. The fact that he must relinquish his weapons and go into the wilderness with nothing but his “self” shows that there is some connection between his Native American heritage and the surrounding environment. Although this belief of being one with nature does resonate amongst Native American peoples, the concept is overplayed to the point that it becomes a defining factor of all Native Americans in general.

Other important aspects to analyze when watching this clip are the actual names of the characters and the clothing they are wearing. It appears that the name BraveStarr is supposed to be a play on words that is based on actual names of  Native Americans. For example, an actual Native American historical figure that pops into my head was named Sitting Bull. Just as actual Native American names have meanings, the name BraveStarr is supposed to signal that he is both brave and associated with the heavens due to his mystical abilities. When it comes to Shaman’s name, well this is pretty obvious. His name relates to the role that he plays as a wise elder. In S. Elizabeth Bird’s work, Gendered Construction of the American Indian in Popular Media, she talks about how male Native American characters are portrayed as hyper sexualized brave men who are very muscular and act as the hero. This fits the description of BraveStarr perfectly in both his name and his physical appearance as a space ranger trying to save the day from evil forces that are at work. She also notes that usually if they are not portrayed in this manner, then they are seen as being a mystic, which is what Shaman represents.

In terms of clothing that the men are wearing, we see BraveStarr wearing a ranger type outfit whereas Shaman is wearing traditional Native American ceremonial garb. In Fantasies of the Master Race by Ward Churchill, he talks about how many times diverse Native American cultures are clumped into one category simply for commodification. Based on the garb that Shaman is wearing, this stereotype is known to be true. For all we know, the garb he wears may belong to a specific tribe, but in the show it is used as a generalization for depicting how every Native American probably looks. Also, being a show that is supposed to take place in the future, it is essentially labeling Shaman as what Churchill calls, a “creature of a particular time.” Essentially, Shaman is depicted as somebody from the 1850s to 1880s as opposed to a person from the future. It is almost as if we are seeing Native Americans as relics of the past even though they exist today as unique peoples.

Based on the way that Native American characters are depicted within the show BraveStarr, it is apparent that many of the stereotypes discussed by the authors mentioned in this blog post are seen to be very accurate. The stereotypes presented in this show reduce the complex and diverse cultures of Native American groups to a single, inaccurate depiction. From the way that the characters are dressed to their mystical attributes, both BraveStarr and Shaman only perpetuate these stereotypes.

Discussion Questions:

1.) Do you agree with Diana George’s claim that many Native Americans on television today are depicted as the “magical Native American”? Explain why or why not.

2.) Are Native American characters on television playing the role as the muscular hero like in BraveStarr? Or are they more often then not depicted as untamed and destructive savages? Provide an example to support your claim.

3.) Can you think of any television show today that does not depict Native Americans with the stereotypes that we discussed in module 8 or this blog post? If so, please name the show and explain how they do not abide by these stereotypes.

4.) Who do you think the intended audience of this animated series was and why do you think it was so popular when it first came out in the 1980s?

I hope that you enjoyed this blog post! Please leave your thoughts and comments below. All responses are appreciated.

Related Readings:

Diana George with Susan Sanders, Reconstructing Tonto.

Gretchen Bataille, Native American Representations.

S. Elizabeth Bird, Gendered Construction of the American Indian in Popular Media.

Ward Churchill, Fantasies of the Master Race.

BLOG POST (MODULE 8): AARON CHELLIAH, A Savage Misrepresentation of a Noble Minority: The Challenge of Native Americans on the Silver Screen

The problem of Native American portrayal in television ­has been rampant since the early days of the media form. Churchill even writes that nowadays “American children believe feathers grow out of Indian heads!” This shocking statement is painfully understandable when one looks at the body of work that portrays Native Americans as only exotic, feather-dawning “others,” foreign to the understanding of mainstream society. Such a blatant disregard for depicting the true culture and practices of Native Americans has allowed this dramatized portrayal to take the place of reality in many American’s worldviews. Throughout the course of this blog post, I aim to examine and address a number of common Native American television stereotypes below.

 

TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9F1SUkymcw&t=6s (0 – 1:20)

 

This particular clip is from a 1950’s television show called The Lone Ranger. Here, we get a look two different stereotypical portrayals of Native Americans: the “noble savage” and “brutal savage.” The scene opens with two men on horseback: one a white adolescent and the other a grown “Indian.” We then see that the white male is being held captive by this “brutal savage,” who is portrayed as a strange “other.” The captive white male even pleads the “Indian” to give him a drink of water, saying “c’mon, you can be human, can’t you?” This specific language connotes that the “brutal savage,” or “bad Indian” in question is in fact not human, a sub-human being that shares little of the White criteria of humanness.

As the two begin to fight, Tonto and The Lone Ranger ride into view, watching the fight from above. Tonto’s childish diction already depicts him as a lesser compared to the rugged, well-spoken White male beside him. When he sees another Native American fighting, he rides with the Lone Ranger not to save the Native American, but the small white adolescent. This action is demonstrative of the “noble savage” or “good Indian” stereotype, where a Native American “acts as a friend to the white man,” offers “aid,” and “saves white men from ‘bad’ Indians, and thus becomes a ‘good’ Indian” (Churchill). This scene is a perfect example of how a “noble savage” demonstrates all of these characteristics and comes to the aid of a white man who was assailed by “brutal savage” (or “bad Indian”).

 

This highlights the fact that Tonto’s “goodness” is purely a function of his proximity and alignment with his white master, who he aids with various crime fighting endeavors against the more vicious, mislead, and “brutal” of his own kind. It is Tonto’s departure from his true culture that allows him to gain the status of the “noble savage.” This premise of whitewashing Native Americans as a means of making them “good” is referred to by Georges and Sanders as “Killing the Indian and Saving the Man” in “Reconstructing Tonto.” Furthermore, the simplistic, dependent portrayal of Tonto is what Homi K. Bhabh calls “a fixed reality which is at once an “other” and yet entirely knowable and visible.” In this way, the audience gets to engage with the unknown while having this “other” simplified enough to remain palatable. This reductionist approach to the foreign stifles true Native American culture and opinion, allowing the audience to stereotype Native Americans as “Tonto like idiots and buffoons” according to Churchill.

The next video is a far different (but nonetheless troubling) depiction of Native Americans in the 1990’s comedy, Seinfeld.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpGfyp6MxkM  (0 – 1:30) and (3:00 – end)

 

In the selected scenes, the White lead, Jerry, embarrasses himself by making a show of a stereotypical Native American statue into his friend’s apartment. Little did he know, Elaine’s friend Winona was of Native American descent. Jerry proceeds to spout off multiple racially charged jokes and turns of phrase to accompany the already abundantly insulting tribal dance he begins when rocking the statue in front of the group of women. After being immensely offended by the display Jerry puts on, Elaine’s exotically “beautiful” friend Winona leaves the apartment, making the mistake obvious.

 

In this situation, the apology that Jerry strives to make is merely an opportunity for him to exert his White dominance over her and work towards a sexual conquest. Winona, in this case, represents the Native American object of lust and desire, the “other” that bell hooks speaks to in her work, “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance.” It is her exotic nature that enthralls Jerry, and as tradition would have it, he “conquers” the Native American beauty. This trend of White conquest of a native American beauty can be traced back to the early story of Pocahontas, a princess of Native American tradition who goes on to reject her heritage and confirm the supremacy of the White man. As Bird puts it, Native American women are “faceless, rather sexless squaws” or “sexy exotic princesses… who desire White men.” Such a clear explanation of the tragedy that befalls Native American women on screen makes it all the more difficult to bear. They are not only misrepresented as “savages” on screen but also as objectified spoils of conquest who yearn to be dominated by White men and Western Culture.

 

Noting these televised atrocities is a somber endeavor, yet all the more sobering when one considers that the aforementioned examples are but a fraction of the negative depictions Native Americans have had on screen. These false and inaccurate portrayals are deeply damaging to the subgroup as a whole and will continue to be unless actions are taken moving forward. With that, I leave you with the following questions.

 

  1. Why do you think these stereotypes of Native Americans are so prevalent on screen? Is it related to the economic incentives to use said stereotypes, an indication of the state of modern society as it pertains to Native Americans or both?
  2. While reading through my analysis of the clips above, did you have a different perspective on the matter? In the case of Seinfeld, do you think the producers of the shows are addressing the problematic stereotypes at hand through satire?
  3. How can we as Americans become more knowledgeable about true Native American culture, and how would this help with the portrayal of Native American stereotypes in the media?
  4. Are there any other shows you have watched recently that employed stereotypes similar to those portrayed in the clips above?

Related Readings:
Ward Churchill, Fantasies of the Master Race (excerpts)
Diana George, with Susan Sanders, “Reconstructing Tonto”
S. Elizabeth Bird, “Gendered Construction of the American Indian in Popular Media”

Thank you all so much for reading this Blog Post! I welcome you to comment on the content and questions above, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about the topic!

Requiem for a Meme