Convergence Culture

Communication between individuals constitutes a lot of what makes us unique. Mark Deuze explores participatory culture and media convergence in his journal Convergence Culture in the Creative Industries. Deuze states that the emergence of a media environment where we are not only consuming, but also our whole online behaviour involves participation, co-creation and collaboration to some degree. Engaging with content through social networks can be defined as citizen journalism. When commenting on a YouTube video or sharing something on Facebook, you are propelling the flow within this online ecosystem. A clip by Henry Jenkins explores convergence culture as a world where stories, sounds, brands, images and relationships plays itself out across the maximum number of media channels. For those of us born in the digital age, this technological shift is one that we can adjust to and advance with little effort required. We are so used to doing everything instantaneously, at the click of a button. One of the most significant themes of media convergence is the ability to send more information further and faster.

Technology is so intertwined with our lifestyles now that we consider traditional forms of media as being “old” and useless on some levels. Why go out and buy a newspaper when I can read it on a website? Why rent a DVD when I can stream it online? Cartoons such as South Park often reference technological convergence in a humorous way. South Park’s episode A Nightmare on Facetime (Season 16, Episode 12) mocks physical media distribution when the character Randy buys a Blockbuster video store and is certain it’s going to bring his family into wealth. ’We’re going to have customers up our ass!’ Randy is proven wrong while the store poses as a “haunted” and “creepy” place that everyone avoids. This was a clever imitation addressing the death of DVD’s and video rental stores.  While Randy’s son Stan is stuck at the Blockbuster with his family, he is still present with his friends trick-or-treating via Facetime on his iPad. The use of the iPad was quite witty – throughout the episode Stan is constantly streaming videos and chatting to his friends, which really contrasted well with the eerie feel of the DVD store. While he was physically stuck in one place, he was also using multiple media platforms and entering cyberspace. South Park really utilised the relevance of convergence culture and this idea of an online environment.

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Street Violence – Reflection

An issue which I found to be significant in the media is violence, and in particular, street violence. All kinds of mediascapes contribute to street violence in one way or another. This includes the influence from certain television programs, films, music etc. Not only is violence represented throughout the media, but violent related behaviour as a result of drug and alcohol abuse is common, sending an important yet persuasive message to audiences. Images and music film clips especially tend to present violence semiotically, particularly through the use of gender ideologies; such as men being portrayed as mysterious and dangerous.

In relation to street violence some popular topics I found the media liked to exaggerate were schoolies, riots, protests and nightlife. When the media focuses on these issues they tend to  single out certain vicinities as well, often producing a poor reputation for that area. An example would be the Cronulla riots in 2005 where the media played a significant role by influencing locals on which side to take in an discriminating manner. The series of incidents known as the Cronulla riots have echoed throughout the town and surrounding areas to this day. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas via radio and print media, flaring tension between locals. The media used this sense of community to connect with locals on a personal level,  and even encouraged violent behaviour.

Ageism is also a factor, especially when the media talks about schoolies violence. The ideology of teenagers is highly pressured within the media. For example it is easy to represent a group of teens as ‘out of control’ rather than, say, a group of elderly people. Violence is an easy topic for the media to nudge on the emotions of readers. Language if often in a negative tone which can make the reader feel uncomfortable, concerned, and scared. The way information is presented is just as important as the content itself, as emphasis is placed on particular words and phrases, audiences are more likely to be convinced.

 Violence portrayed in the media through television, films, video games and music has been known to increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour. This material is harmful especially to the young, prompting immediate and long-term effects. Representations of violence in the media directly provides a child with  particular ideas and experiences which shape their attitudes and influence their behaviours. It is important to consider these mediums as elements in a controlled societal media among children especially. This is because certain characteristics, environments and media content can affect the degree of media violence.

Many people don’t actually realise how powerful the media is. It’s power derives from accessibility and the fact that it is all around us, everywhere we go. Following initial presentations of media violence, other forms of media are then used to perpetuate and emphasise outcomes. This is common within traditional news media such as TV broadcasting, radio, magazines, newspapers and other forms of print media. The media achieves this by blasting biased perspectives on violence related issues, in hopes to mould the minds of viewers to their own attitudes. Language, tone, lighting and sound all add to this effect of influential media.

BUT something I find to be more significant is that…

As violence is continuously targeted and now this new era of social media is evolving, now criticism of violence is also in the hands of the audience – of what is known as the outbreak of citizen journalism. There are new, different, instant types of distribution which are hard to keep up with, proving difficulty when trying to regulate user content. Within the public sphere, sites such as Facebook and YouTube are used to discuss and propel violent behaviour. Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online through these platforms. Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst this user generated content may be used for research and entertainment, it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. These videos uploaded by users which incorporate violence are often in public places such as schools, parks and just on the streets.

It’s issues like these which fuel moral panic about the media, as we are told to trust and believe what they say; however the outcome is not always favourable. As citizen journalists, the role of the media is ever-changing in a free and open public sphere. The representation of violence within the media is already being altered as a result of online prosumers.

Street Violence – Online Media

Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online. This ‘cyber hate’ is typically used to discriminate, threat, and warn victims. Sites such as Facebook and YouTube have been known to propel violent behaviour.

Facebook, for example, has been proven as a powerful tool with relation to violent intimidation. In some cases it is used to organise a meeting time and place for violent behaviour. When this information is posted on networking sites such as Facebook, it is then able to be dispersed online within the public sphere. Subsequently, this causes more people to be involved in acts of violence.

In August 2010, an article posted by The Economist outlined an issue where  two teenagers were gunned down while riding a motorcycle in Columbia. Their names had appeared on a “hit list” which was posted on Facebook that included death threats and menacing messages. The victims were warned and told they  had three days to depart or else they would be in danger of these violent acts once again.

Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst it may be used for research and entertainment it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. In 2006, the issue became so extensive that politicians in the U.K. sought to legislate against violence on YouTube, with U.K. ministers claiming that the videos “fuel random acts of violence.”

An example would be an incident which occurred  in April 2008 where six teenage girls in Florida beat up their peer whilst recording the attack with the intention of posting it on YouTube. Some news media responses blamed the incident on YouTube itself, however arguments were made that YouTube merely reflected violence. In this instance YouTube was used as a catalyst to the violence as the camera’s presence during the assault was purely for the footage to be uploaded for ‘popularity’. Online reactions included  YouTube videos uploaded by users commenting on the story, an example of citizen journalism. Other users posted amateur re-inactments of the video in an attempt for humorous exposure. Traditional news media such as newspapers and TV shows covered the story, most with a biased perspective using language such as “animalistic behaviour”.