Sunday, September 30, 2007
  Interactive MTV-MySpace Forum Taken Seriously
For my Media and Politics class, we have to read political news from national newspapers. I just read a New York Times online article about former senator John Edwards speaking at the first-ever MTV-MySpace forum held at the University of New Hampshire. The event was the first real-time, interactive political forum broadcast on the Internet.

I didn't see the event, but according to the article the questions received via face-to-face, e-mail or instant messaging weren't sarcastic or petty. The young people inquired about major issues like health care, education and the Iraq war.

MTV is hoping that other presidential candidates will be inspired by the relative seriousness of Edwards' questioning and volunteer to do a similar type of broadcast in the not too distant future.

As a young voter, I'm proud that the questions fed to Edwards were intelligent. According to the article, Bill Clinton was asked his underwear and running shoe preferences in a 1994 MTV appearance. I think the change of tone says a lot about my generation. Yes, we might be celebrity-driven and a little too fascinated by "reality" television, but we are also concerned with our reality. The man or woman elected as the next president in 2008 will make decisions that directly affect us, so we should all take an active interest in the campaigns and make informed decisions come November. We've witnessed tragedies like Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina. From these catastrophes, we were forced to understand the importance of leadership.
  "Stuff Happens" when it doesn't happen
I went to the last performance of "Stuff Happens" today. It was definitely a brilliant performance. I was so impressed. As I was sitting and observing the play, I couldn't help but think of the "overpowering effects" media plays in politics.

"Stuff Happens" made me realize that it's not so much what is said, but what is NOT said. What was apparent was that the media did NOT disclose a lot of important information in regards to the Iraq war. Journalists missed a lot of opportunities to hold the Bush administration accountable in regards to the UN resolutions and the ill information of weapons of mass destruction.

I think that priming doesn't necessarily need to be in the messages or behaviors that are spoken; sometimes the behavior and messages of ignoring or hiding are just as effective as "showing and telling."
  TV shrinks the world!
I’m sitting in front of my TV watching this show called Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen this show, but it’s a show about a guy who travels around the world eating the native cuisine of whatever country he’s in. On this particular episode he went to Spain. He goes to the restaurant and orders this dish called suckling pig. It’s basically a baby pig that’s been gutted and cooked whole. When waiter brings him the pig, it actually looked pretty good. Now I’m thinking that he’s only going to eat the meaty parts. But that would make too much sense. Mr. Zimmern makes the comment that in Spain, nothing on the pig goes to waste. So he proceeds to eat the head portion, and when he gets to the brain he proceeds to eat the whole thing. Then he moved on to the eyes. He took a knife and spread the eyes like butter onto some bread and ate it. Now you know how you get that unsettling feeling in your stomach when you see something gross. Yeah, I didn’t get that feeling but it was still disgusting. However, I probably would try it just to see if it tastes good. I guess my point here is that TV is shrinking the world. It enables people to see what goes on around the world, even though most of what we see on TV is edited to give people a false sense of reality. But hey without the joy TV media, I would never have known that a baby pig’s brain and eyes could look so delicious.
  Halo 3? What's That?
My parents came in town from Kansas City for Parents Weekend, and they made several comments that made me realize they will never accept some forms of new media, meaning forms of media they didn't grow up experiencing. One incident in particular made me laugh.

My dad, Mike, was telling me about an encounter he had about a week ago with young employee at work. Mike saw the company's new tech guy leaving for what appeared to be lunch--about noon, no briefcase in hand, etc. Making conversation, Mike asked him where he was going to eat. The guy stared at him like he was crazy, and said, "I'm not going to lunch. I'm going to a bunch of stores to see if they got in my advanced orders of Halo 3!" My dad then proceeded to ask him what type of movie Halo was. The man in his late 20s stared at Mike and said, "Dude. You are so out of touch."

My parents simply don't understand the appeal of video games. In their eyes, it's a complete waste of energy. If they're going to be around a TV, they'd rather watch the news or a family-oriented sitcom than try to figure out how to blow up a virtual car with a complex plastic controller.

Nine times out of 10, my parents are in the late majority--pushing the laggard category--when it comes to anything technological. They figure that if they're getting along alright without the latest phone, gaming system or TV, they probably don't need it. They just don't care. When it gets to the point my younger siblings are telling them their X, whether it be phone or whatever else, is so horrendous that they're committing social suicide, they might consider investing in an updated version of what they already had. But they definitely want to know they aren't purchasing fad items; they research and poll people to see how they like their devices before they go get their own.
  Media can make you act like a child again....
I remember a few years back when the movie "The Grudge" came out. It was around the time "The Ring" and "Saw" and all those sorted movies were being released. In highschool, I was always the one that wanted to watch these scarey movies. I thought i was so cool, because my girl friends were always too scared to watch them. I guess I hit my limit with theses movies.

I watched "The Ring" and was completely freaked out, but it wasn't effecting my day to day life, I would just occasionally think about it and cringe a bit. Then, I saw "The Grudge." I have never in my life been so disturbed by a film. This movie, along with parts of "The Ring" took over my life! For two years I was having nightmares. I know this may sound odd, but I had to get a perscription for sleeping medication because I was not able to sleep! Crazy how media can effect some one as it did to me.

If you have seen "The Grudge" there are certain images that no human should be sortid enough to even imagine! I mean jeez, how were these directors brought up? Let me say, their imaginations are certainly much more broad and artistic than my own. I actually admire such creativity, but I know I am not stable enough to watch these types of movies.

In our Media effects class, we spoke about things in these films that actually make the movie scarey. Its not just the images, but its really the sound effects that do it. In "The Grudge" the most haunting sound was the deafening silence, sometimes with just rumbles splashed here and there. Lord, that can drive someone nuts!

Even now, I will be lying in my bed watching television, and a preview for the next "Grudge" will come on, and honestly, I have to put the mute button on and close my eyes. When the film was coming out of DVD, the commercials always played to promote it! I had to fall asleep with the FOOD network on because the FOOD network never plays commercials like those.

Media effected my life drastically for a while, and not in a good way. It is so interesting to see how something like a film, can change someones life. I now know I can not watch these films. Being such a scary movie gurue now turned into the girls I made fun of in highschool. Crazy.
  Tyra Banks sends a good message
I never thought I'd say this, but... Tyra Banks finally got me thinking. I know she's trying to change the world and all, but before Wednesday I was pretty convinced the woman takes crazy pills.

On this week's episode of America's Next Top Model the contestants did a before and after photoshoot of people who smoke. First the girls shot pictures looking young and sexy with a cigarette in hand and then they shot pics with various side effects that smoking causes. Lets just say the results weren't pretty.

I've always considered myself a very healthy girl- I workout almost every day, eat organic foods, choose the stairs over elevators...blah blah blah, but seeing this episode made me realize what a waste that is if I continue to smoke. I may be in great shape now, but 20 years down the road I'm going to look like a wornout hag. And not just that- I'm increasing my risks of getting cancer.

Both my parents battled cancer last year and it's not something I ever want to go through. They're okay now- healthy and happy- but they're lucky... the doctor's found the cancer very early on. It's so dumb for me to think that 'it's just another another cigarette' when cancer runs in my family. I'm not saying I'm going to quit this instant (i've tried, but it's harder than you think), but I know it has to stop.

So thank you Tyra- I guess even the typically vain shows like America's Next Top Model are good for somethin.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
  Early Adopters are kind of STRANGE!
I was channel surfing earlier today when I came across something strange. I came across this Halo 3 countdown show and decided to watch it for a little while. I was sitting there watching these people that were waiting in inline for hours just to be the first to get their hands on a video game. Now I’m a guy and I do enjoy the occasional video game from time to time, but I don’t think I would ever classify myself as being in the “early adopter” category. I mean the average age of the people in line was probably about 25. One guy was even quoted as saying “I’m done with school; I have nothing to do, all I have time for Halo!” I’m sitting there thinking to myself “if I were done with school I would have something to do, it’s called a job!” I never understood people that have to have the latest thing first. I mean it will be there tomorrow, and three months from now it will be cheaper. Just ask the people who waited in line for three days and paid $600 for an i-phone.
  Your born to be programmed
Earlier this evening, I was leaving a friends house and a Cadillac Escalade pulled in front of me. From the backseat, a huge mobile screen (the size of a laptop) was playing "Talladegra Nights." As I pulled next to the Escalade, I noticed two kids sitting in the back seat focused intently on the screen.

I couldn't help but think that nowadays kids can't escape the influence media plays in their lives. It's constantly placed in front of them: On the Internet, the television and now the convenient way mom or dad places a media screen in the backseat of their car. It's too easy for me to believe that we (as consumers) have made it too easy for the media to effect us. Sometimes I think we blame the media too much for what's within our own power to control.
  Borat = "Great Success!"
I think the movie Borat may be the most excellent example of Diffusion Theory from my generation. I was one of the late majority to see the movie. I admit I was skeptical about it at first. I thought it looked stupid and like every other movie in theaters geared toward attracting college students with its borderline inappropriate plot and comments.

However, the peer pressure eventually got to me. My friends were constantly making references to "sexytime," "King of the Castle, King of the Castle," and saying "very nice" in response to EVERYTHING. I finally got sick of looking at them with blank stares everytime they made a "Boratism" (a signature Borat phrase). Even my mom and dad had seen it...obviously I was so uncool and desperately out of the loop.

My boyfriend and I rented it (yes, we waited untill it came out on video) and watched it on the plane ride home. When we came back we were prepared to finally understand all of the Borat references, but apparently we jumped on board too late because people were pretty much over Borat. Occasionally one of my friends will say, "Nice...nice, I like." but by now they have mainly moved on to newer and better things. I guess next time I will know to adopt an innovation earlier.
Friday, September 28, 2007
  Diffusion at SMU
Diffusion is so wildly present in our everyday life that it can even be observed in our very own little bubble that is SMU.

Sitting in my Chemistry class, where I am writing this right now actually, I am watching about four people continuously texting (maybe to each other?) on their Blackberries/iPhones/Treos/Smartphones.

Phones like these have become somewhat of a phenomena here at SMU. Used to, one would see them occasionally, but the owner was either a self-professed techno-nerd or super wealthy. These early adopters shaped the way for the rest of us who would pick up their phone and go, "Wow! This is really great!"

Now, SMU's PDA Population has grown so vast that those without a phone that can check their e-mail, text their friends, store their grocery list, surf their Facebook, and oh, actually make the occasional call, can be described as none other than laggards.
I've been thinking about the diffusion theory we talked about in class, and it lead me to think about movies. It's crazy how one person can see a movie, tell two friends how good it was, and just by that those two people will go see it. I'm not saying that everyone chooses what they do based on others' opinions, but I judge my movies like that. For some reason, I very rarely see movies in the theater. It may be that I'm too cheap to risk paying for something that I hated, or just that there isn't many movies worth paying $8 to see. Either way, without even realizing it I base what movies I see on my friends' opinions. Of course there are some movies that I'll see no matter, but those are few and far between.

This seems to happen across the board. Everyone practices diffusion in some way or another. There are those groups that are willing to stand in line for a few hours to see a movie on opening night. There are also the people that will wait for the publics' opinion before seeing a movie. And then there are the extreme laggers, that no matter what they hear they aren't going to see it! Diffusion can come in many different forms it seems.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
  Framing and priming: go hand in hand
As I was getting ready for school, I was amazed to see what I witnessed on television. A morning program was talking about a new campaign for a rehabilitation center. The center is using an ad that says, "Don't Die Lindsay."

This made me realize that the power of priming goes hand in hand with the power of framing. It's all about what "effect" can reach us mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually. It seems that with the world of media, whether it is advertising, television, film, radio or print, no boundaries exist.

Nowadays, it does appear that the intention with the media (and this includes all mediums) "everything goes." There doesn't appear to be any regard in how we affect others as long as our message is being effective.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
  Confusing Fiction with Realtiy
I'm not really into "reality TV," Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, any of the CSIs, and National Geographic and Law and Order are more my style. I know that probably makes me a nerd, but whatever. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy the occasional reality TV show...I do.

Anyway, I was watching CSI: Las Vegas last night. The episode centered around a family of six, four of which were killed rather gruesomely. As it turns out the oldest daughter had one of her "boyfriends" murder her mother, father and her two older brothers; because as a child she was sexually molested by her father, and apparently neither her mother nor her brothers tried to stop it. Then at the age of 13, the oldest daughter become pregnant...with her father's child, Brenda, and subsequently her sister, and still no one noticed. So when her father and Brenda's father started molesting Brenda, the eldest daughter decided to step in and protect her daughter, so she killed the rest of her family.

When the entire plot was finally revealed, one of roommates commented on how utterly sick some people are in our society. I laughed at him and told him that not everything on TV is least I hope not and that he had acted under the cultivation hypothesis.

My roommate didn't really seem like he believed my theory. But it was really funny to see the cultivation hypothesis at work.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
  Demolition Man
I saw this movie when I was maybe nine or ten. My cousin was rambling on about how much he loved this movie, granted he was eight years older than me. So one time when I was at his house we watched it. I can honestly say I remember like three things about it. One was that Wesley Snipes is the man character. Two is that at one point where he is fighting "the bad guys" he takes one of their eyeballs out with a pen. It horrified me! Like as bad as horrifying can get, horrified me. For like a year I always thought of that when I was that certain pen he used, or when something specific about eyeballs came into my mind. So I completely surpassed the whole meaning of the movie! It was supposed to be a great action movie with a few gory scenes to spice it up. But all can remember was how sick I got seeing that eyeball on a pen. Was that REALLY necessary?
Sunday, September 23, 2007
  Dirty Dtown nothing new
I was standing in line at Central Market the other day when I got an email about the Dirty Dtown site, warning us to make our facebook profiles private and take off any pictures we wouldn't want potentially posted for the world to see.

This was the first I had heard of the Web site, so I clicked on the link to see what it was about. I scrolled through a couple of the pictures and recognized a few faces, but I didn't really think much of the site except that it was kind of funny and that the creator must have a lotttt of spare time.

Apparently Dirty Dtown has gotten a lot of hits, so I guess it's drawn some attention, but my guess is that most people just go to the site for a quick laugh if they're bored and then go on to something else without really thinking much of it. I think our generation is so used to this kind of "entertainment" that it doesn't faze us. I don't think any of us would be shocked by any of those pictures or that we would pass any judgment on the people in them; we see stuff like that every day on TV, in magazines, on facebook and on celebrity blogs like and we have probably seen enough unflattering pictures of ourselves to know that the camera does not always capture our best moments.

Of course I can see why it would be embarrassing to see a picture of yourself on the site, especially when it's accompanied by a rude caption, but if you consider the audience, you can take it with a grain of salt. It's not a big deal; we've seen worse and we're pretty used to it by now.
  I'm Not Violent! I Just Want to be on TV!
Earlier today I was watching one of my favorite movies of all time called Aliens. I first saw this movie when I was about six, and I have loved it ever since then. This movie is just full of your typical blood, guts, and your usual acid-spewing aliens. As I was watching the action sequences, I tended to envision myself being in the movie killing anything that wasn’t human. I know this sounds really corny and cheesy but I really felt that way. After the movie was over, I was kind of wishing I could go out and shoot something. Now I would never shoot anyone in real life because I don’t think that’s really a smart thing to do! I guess I’m weird like that! Besides, that feeling of wanting to shoot something only lasted about 10 seconds. I guess what I’m trying to say is that TV doesn’t have a small effect on me. Even though I would never kill anyone just because I saw someone shoot someone on TV, there was still a slight effect.
  YOUTUBE is the key
I missed the boat on the whole YOUTUBE thing and I am pissed. I am reading bio’s on up and coming singers and how they made it in this business…and now its all about the YOUTUBE.

Marie Digby (new artist) was discovered by all of the videos she posted up on YOUTUBE. I don’t even know how to put a video up on YOUTUBE! I know I need to be more sufficient with my computer skills, not only for my journalism career, but for my music career.

It is frustrating to not know how to do something that may help further my career, or at least spread the word of my music. YOUTUBE can not be that tough is all these people are doing it! I am pretty embarrassed it has taken me this long to attempt to put my music up there. Ah well, better late than never. I spend so much time looking at YOUTUBE videos myself, I think it would be really awesome to do that with some of my performances singing.
  DirtyD diffused
Someone sent me a link to The Web site is based on people sending frivolous pictures of their friends posed in comprimising positions. The tone of the Web site is much like Perez Hilton. The creators of the site make nasty and quite snippy comments of their "posers."

I know this has been blogged about already. But when I went to tour the site I thought about our reading for this week: Diffusion of Innovation. This Web site is a perfect example of how an innovation diffuses into society and when it's adopted by a great number of people it explodes. What has also been an "adopting explosion" is the pretentious gossiping of those like Perez Hilton and "Gossip Girl." DirtyD proudly brags that it in its recent conception it has had over 500,000 hits.

I guess Big D is trying to stay with the trends.
  Repetition Doesn't Work for Me!
Now I understand that advertisers want to get their products out, but do they have to show them 20 times in an hour? I was sitting down watching a football game and I payed close attention to the commercials. Apparently, advertisers think that if they show a commercial of a truck come out of a plane and make the plane stop that I will want to bye one. I must have saw that commercial about 12 times in about 2 hrs. As if seeing that commercial that many times is going to prime my mind into thinking "Oooo, you mean to tell me that Toyota makes a truck that can make a plane to a complete stop! My longing desire for a truck has been tapped into, and now I HAVE to have one!" Now I know that trucks can't really do that, but I guess it's just my lack of appreciation for trucks combined with my hatred for those commercials!
  Celebrities aren't the only targets of gossip anymore
Today I was watching The E! True Hollywood Story: Rockstar Wives on the elliptical at the gym when a commercial for The Soup--an E! network celebrity gossip show which airs on Friday nights-- appeared on the screen. In the 30-second blurb, a woman was asking the host, Joel McHale, if she could appear on the show.

He asked her a series of questions, including the following: Are you pregnant? Recently released from rehab or jail? Do you have a sex tape? Are you having a celebrity feud?

To all the inquiries, she said no. The gist of his response was that the show only wants to comment on people who have the above credentials.

The commercial was funny, but it made me think once again about how personal TV is now. We no longer really care about actors' or musicians' work; we view or listen to it to see how their rehab stint/shoplifting spree/accidental pregnancy affected it. I would imagine the hardest part of being a celebrity would be having complete strangers know, elaborate on and even lie about their personal lives.

The commercial made the Dallas gossip web site we're all talking about right now come to mind (storage bin model). Most SMU students didn't really think twice about posting our pictures on Facebook until about a week ago. What makes the Perez Hilton spin-off so disheartening is that none of the people in the featured pictures intended to be exploited in such a way. Students, whether they should have or not, didn't think such hazard came with having a Facebook account.

Celebrities realize getting their pictures on the Internet, TV, magazines, etc.--for better or for worse-- can further their career, so they take negative publicity with a grain of salt. Pictures of students on the Dallas web site can't help them in any way, but it could certainly be detrimental to their future careers.

It looks like the online gossip isn't so VIP anymore.
  Privacy No Longer Exists
Well, I just read through some blog’s and it seems as though I have been out of the loop here in Dallas. What is this Dirty D?? I read some blog’s about it and checked out the site for myself…funny enough. I knew many a person on that site.

I look at my facebook pictures and always say: “I don’t really care who sees these” but if this person who comments on these photos said something like “Look at that hippo” or “Attention Dallas Plastic surgeons…” I would probably be mortified. I mean, NOTHING that we put on facebook or myspace is private by any means. It’s crazy that our generation is so open and willing to share our lives. I feel like its kind of a way to brag “Hey! Look what I did this weekend!” “Look who I was hanging out with!” You know? I mean I love love love putting up pictures of past events up on facebook, so I cannot be a hypocrite and say I don’t do that. It is just crazy how our lives are an open book for many.

Nothing is a secret. I catch myself facebook stalking all the time! And I don’t care what anyone says. I am positive everyone has done it at one time or another. I have seen people at clubs that I have only seen pictures of on facebook. People I have never even met! I know what people have done on the weekend, or where they have traveled. I don’t know how normal any of this is. I want to get off facebook, but I can’t bring myself to do it! It takes up probably 3 hours of my day. I love the ideas of all these websites, but we all need to understand that nothing in our lives today are going to be private…it’s just something we are going to have to live with.
  Privacy in Dirty D
Obviously, Dirty DTown has got us all talking, like it was intended to do. I'm not thrilled with the site and sincerely hope that I don't see myself or anyone else I know up there anytime soon, but obviously its creators (who have paid an extra fee in order to remain anonymous on the WHOIS database - I checked!) have succeeded.

Having said that, thinking more and more about the site made me think of another issues that comes up all too often in the discussion of media - privacy.

Is it really fair for us to assume that everything we post on Facebook will be used in good faith? Looking to the past, it's becomes apparent that we can't. Even Miss New Jersey has been affected by playful Facebook photos that were misconstrued to mean something else.

Of course, having said all that, I don't condone Dirty DTown or its creator, but rather I think it is a message to us all that your "friends" and your "privacy" may not be what you think.
  Beware little dallasites! may be after you
So I get a call from my friend the other day and she's freaking out.

"Oh my God, Tay... Someone is stealing your pics off facebook and posting them on this horrible website!"

I know straight away what she's referring to. "You mean DirtyDTown?" I ask, calmly.

"Ya! So you know about it?!" she replies.

Of course I know about it. I wake up to DirtyDTown every morning. My roommate calls me from her bedroom ranting about the newest pics this douche has posted from the night before- many featuring my close friends or people I know. But I must admit, this guy (or girl) is pretty clever... its been two weeks since the website was created and it already has over 500,000 hits. Not bad if you ask me. Come to think of it- I'm actually bummed I didn't come up with it myself.

Basically the concept is this: the blogger takes pics from random people's facebook (or myspace) and reposts them on his site with some kind of witty caption that is meant to poke fun at the Dallas college and social scene.

In the "About" link, a staffer writes:

"DirtyDtown is all about fun and satire. Nothing about DirtyDtown should be taken too seriously as much of this website contains rumors, speculation, and opinions. This site was created for the people of Dallas to have a fun place to go and laugh about the college and social scene. If you cannot laugh and take this site as a joke then I strongly suggest that you click the X in the upper right hand corner. Otherwise, we hope you have fun and enjoy our site! We post new pictures all the time, so be sure to check back never know when you or a close friend could be the next laughing stock of! :)"

Based on that, I have no problem with the website. But much of what DirtyDTown writes is not "fun" nor "satire". Under one picture, for example, DirtyDTown writes "Attention Dallas Surgeons... Please help out our friend here with a nose job, and some lip
injections. Also, if you could take some of her friend's chest hair and put it on his head that would be great!"

If this guy were to diss like that on a celebrity, I might laugh and let it slide. But this poor girl (and guy) are leading private lives and never asked to be put in the spotlight. She's probably trying to get a hold of a surgeon right now! I know if the pic were of me, I'd be making a few phone calls.

The point is- hands together for the idea. Dallas peeps can't get enough of it. But in the future I hope they tone it down a notch. If the website is supposed to be funny, make it funny. Not ugly.


  The Commerical Game
So I was watching the NY Giants vs. Washington Redskins game with my boyfriend's younger brother, Adie, and his girlfriend, Paige. When some commericals come on...and not five seconds into the commerical, both started yelling as loud and as fast as the could the name of the product or service being advertised. Apparently, this game they had made up, made watching commericals more fun.

But what I later found/ figured out from both Paige and Adie was that the way the were remembering the commericals was through Bandura's "social cognitive theory and modeling." I was fascinated by how they were retaining this information and how quick they were to identify the commerical. According to Paige, its easier if you 'play the jingle' in your head after the commerical is done for awhile or if you tie it to something in your memory, because if not, " then you don't get bragging rights."
I was having lunch with a friend the other day and witnessed a "prime" situation of media effects (it was like watching a commercial in the making).

Two high school kids (a boy and a girl - about sixteen years old) were seated at a table next to ours. Once they ordered their meal, they both picked up their cell phone and started texting their friends. Now I don't normally ease drop, but the scenario was irresistible.

It was fascinating to watch them interact with one another as they were texting. BUT what was incredibly amazing is the girl was texting three different friends at the same time and holding ground with her boyfriend's conservation.

I immediately thought of the AT&T commercial where all the family members are in the living room texting (even grandma). Here I'm sitting thinking about all the social theory models this situation encompasses: The cultivation theory (we shape our world according to what we heavily view) and the observational theory (watching and learning). I couldn't help walk away from lunch and start texting my friends... BTW U wnt blv wht I wtnssd.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
  Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
I just recently received the newest John Mayer cd (Continuum) from a friend. I have known a plethora of the songs on the album for a while, but had never gotten around to buying. I even saw him in concert a few months ago, and still I didn't get the initiative to go out and buy his cd! Anyways, it's amazing. Amazing doesn't even do it justice. I have listened to it at least twice daily since I got it on Sunday. It takes me out of my world, and lets me purely relax for a moment. There's one song in particular that really relaxes me. It's number 8, "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room".

My aunt, whom I am relatively close to for an aunt, is in love with John Mayer. She has a great taste in music, which is surprising to me. It shouldn't be, seeing as she was a full-blown hippie in the days when there were hippies. This meaning that I have come to the conclusion that most "hippies" have fantastic taste in music. Back to my point though, this song I am talking about is her favorite on the album. I can't help but think of her every time I hear it. As I arrived at his show, she called me and asked if I could call her when he played it so she could hear him live. That moment when I called her as he played it was one of the closest moments I have ever shared with her, and we weren't even in the same place!

It's amazing how one song can do that for me. I love it. I guess that's one of the main reasons why I Iove music so much. It can always take me to a past memory of a person or an event.
  It's all fun and games... till you're the butt of the joke
I have always had a somewhat disturbing obsession with “celebrity-bashing” websites. I guess you could call it a guilty pleasure. It was all fun and games… until the website came to Dallas. I was browsing the Internet about five minutes ago (indulging in my guilty celebrity-bashing pleasure) when I came across a picture of yours truly.

Of course it’s one of those unflattering pictures—the kind that is taken at the point in the evening when you can’t remember how many glasses of wine you’ve had. And on top of that, the evil blogger rubbed some salt into my wound by writing a humiliating caption to accompany the unflattering picture. Side note: I have to mention the caption was not at all witty or clever. I could have written something much better myself… if only they had asked me.

It’s okay though; I can take a joke. Luckily, the picture posted of me isn’t one that will require years of therapy to un-do the damage. But not everyone can be so fortunate. Calling someone “retarded” or “gay” is something that is bound to hit home for more than a few people. Many people may already be struggling with these issues, and having them posted on the Internet for all to see could really destroy a person.

The creator of this website may think it is just satire, but making hurtful comments about someone they don’t know is a dangerous game to play. And I don’t want to play anymore.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
  Who's to Blame?
Yesterday I received several emails saying that someone on Facebook was submitting people's uploaded pictures to a public web site that I am not going to name because I don't want it to get any more hits than it's already received. It is almost completely dedicated to making fun of and humiliating SMU students. The cautionary, panicky emails specifically listed a couple of females who have turned over pictures to the site. The advice on the matter was to de-friend those girls if you were Facebook friends with them, go through all of your other Facebook friends, and make sure you personally know and trust all of them to see your page, especially your pictures.

The vicious site is intended to be similar to the ultra-critical celebrity blog in that it posts pictures with very mean-spirited commentary. While Perez uses paparazzi pictures, this Dallas-oriented site encourages people to turn over photos so they can post them for the world to see and make fun.

Out of curiosity and fear, I took a brief look at the site. I saw many familiar faces, taken advantage of and essentially exploited in the name of the site-makers' self-proclaimed good fun. It was mortifying. There was nothing funny about it; fellow students' pictures were taken completely out of context and commented on by complete strangers for the world to see.

I'd always heard people, primarily career counselors and the like, tell students to be careful what you post. Now I understand what they were talking about.

But to whom can we attribute the blame? People willingly make their pictures relatively public by putting them on Facebook, but they never intended those personal pictures to go on any other site. Obviously, the people who hand others' pictures don't have any good intentions and are aware of what they're doing. The site contains the following line to avoid confusion: "By submitting photos you agree to express consent to publish and release liability from the owner." Although I don't understand how you can release liability from the owner, apparently this is how the site is getting away with posting the pictures.

I'm astonished that anyone could be malicious enough to turn over other people's property to be mocked on the Internet. I know I'm never looking at the site again. It's disgusting. I don't want to give it any more hits than it's already received, and I hope other people will do so as well.
  Lousiana Case
This morning I heard about the trials occurring presently in Lousiana against 6 black high school students. They are all being tried for attempted murder, even though the situation was just a regular fight with a white student that ended up with only a concussion. The fight was a reaction to some white students who hung nooses up on a tree that is known to be the "white social hangout" of the school. The principal considered suspending the whtie students who hung the nooses, but shortly after concluded that it was a simple prank. Here's the worst part of it, the black students involved in the fight were instantly expelled when their names were announced.

Have we really stayed in this same realm of thinking, where color means practically everything? I would have thought with Obama running for president and actually having a great chance of winning, that America had moved up a step in achieving racial equality. But this to me, takes us 3 steps back. This makes me ashamed to be from the South, and I love Texas (so that's hard to admit). Thank God I have parents that raised me to not think this way! I don't know how I would live day to day being that hateful towards any human being.

Going back to Obama, I am wondering now if he will have any comment on this case. It's hard for him to say a lot, seeing as everything he says right now can have a huge impact on the race ahead. I would love to know what he would truly want to say, or any black leader for that matter. I am going to follow this story closely, to see what comes of it.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
  General Betray Us?
One of the recent media hot topics has been the uproar in regard to the advertisement that the liberal organization recently took out in the New York Times.

The ad, which features General David Petraeus, encourages readers to question Petraeus' motives in Iraq and the "progress" that is being made there.

For me personally, a self-professed libertarian who is fairly apathetic toward all things military and otherwise, MoveOn's ad was a perfect example of priming theory at work.

Because most of society has been inundated with questions about Bush's administration, Petraeus' leadership (or lack thereof, depending on whether your source listens to NPR or KLIF.), and the current situation in the Middle East, I have now been primed to doubt our military and our leadership, whether I like it or not.
  Hey MTV, where's the music?
Monday 9.17.2007
I was driving to class today, singing along to the radio, and enjoying the beautiful day when a fabulous old school rap song came on the radio. Of course priming activation occurred causing me to react in the only way imaginable, I turned the radio up even louder, started singing even louder, and was immediately taken back to my high school days when life was simple.

There was an instant transformation. I was no longer worrying about tests, papers, graduating, and getting a job. I was carefree, had very little responsibility, and was blaring music and dancing at a party with my high school friends. Honestly, does it get any better?

I'm sure the person driving next to me thought I was crazy, but come on, we all get excited when a long forgotten song comes on the radio. I made a point to try and remember what the name of the song was while in class, but somehow between the lectures, a test review, and the drive home it slipped my mind. It was such a prime example of the storage bin model. I can remember every last word from all my lectures today, but I can't even remember the name of that fantastic song or even the words.

However, I know someday (hopefully sooner than later) that same song will come on the radio and bring me back to my high school days and when it does you know I will be blaring the radio and singing along with a big smile on my face.

Tuesday 9.18.2007
"Have you seen the music video for this song?" my friend Marisa asked. "Of course I haven't" I thought. "When is the last time MTV actually played a music video?" Last time I checked MTV stood for Music Television, but who knows these days.

I was thinking about all the TV I watch (and I watch a lot) and I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw a music video on MTV. So then I got to thinking about MTV's VMA's (Video Music Awards)...who makes them the judge of good music videos when they hardly even play them? But that is cultivation for you! Cultivation theory proposes that heavy media exposure changes the way we think about the world. Heavy exposure to MTV's reality programming is causing us to think reality television is more of an art than music videos. It is also changing our perspective of what is considered entertaining to watch.

I know they have TRL (Total Request Live) and MTV2, but I'm my book that does NOT count. What happened to the good ole' days before The Hills, Made, and Cribs? I miss the music videos...oh wait, I really don't. Music videos were usually less than entertaining. I only watched them when nothing else was on or when I thought maybe I would discover a great song and have an excuse to buy a new CD. Looking back now, I would much rather have MTV play endless drama and reality TV. So I guess in the end, good choice MTV!

Wednesday 9.19.2007
Let's face it, we live in a celebrity obsessed world. I'm as guilty as anyone...I subscribe to US Weekly, watch way too much E!, and check multiple times a day. My latest addiction is Chelsea Handler's new show Chelsea Lately .

There's something about a D-list celebrity, her midget assistant named "Chuy," and her round table of even less famous guests who make fun of celebrity pop culture that makes me laugh. Even my boyfriend, a football and beer kind of guy, finds Handler's wit more than tolerable.

So why is it so entertaining to make fun of celebrities?...a number of reasons, but who really cares about why. I just know a new episode of Chelsea Lately hasn't aired since August 24th and everyday I get a little sad when I check my Tivo and don't see a new episode recorded. I have identified with Chelsea. She has become like a friend and I have gotten accustom to welcoming her into my living room on weeknights at 10:30. I, like a lot of people, have become addicted to celebrity pop culture.

I was watching a TMZ special the other day where the host asked people in California what year the 9-11 attacks occured. The results were shocking, but not too suprising. The majority of people interviewed knew Angelina Jolie's kids' names and who Paris Hilton's sister was, but could not correctly identify the year of the 9-11 attacks.

There is nothing wrong with being celebrity obsessed, but let's also be news obsessed, history obsessed, and knowledgable about things that actually matter. It is perfectly acceptable to be familiar with every detail of Britney Spears' recent tragic life choices, but that is not reality. Let's try to be more realistic and focus on the important things so we can have intellectual conversations and look beyond the world of Brangelina and TomKat.
  One second of nipple over 20 seconds of cleavage
Alright - I just couldn't past this brilliant blog moment. I was going about my morning ritual (Today Show - coffee - get ready) and there was a commercial for Playtex bras.

It was 30 seconds of women just wearing a bra with their cleavage shouting "Good Morning." It made me think about all the ruckus over Janet Jackson's (pardon me - not being vulgar) one second of nipple exposure. The issue was what it would do to our children. Well... these women were on a morning show that gains a good significanct amount of children watching and WHAT was amazing was these women were placing their hands over their own (again pardon me) boobs. I can see now how a little girl or boy would mimmick these women and I'm sure some mothers would just laugh it off and think... oh how cute (observational and learning models).... just a ranting thought!
Monday, September 17, 2007
  What do you mean no Internet for a week?
I’m certain I’m addicted to media; I can’t go five minutes without checking my e-mail. If I go an hour without receiving a single e-mail on my Blackberry I automatically assume it’s broken and start fooling with it.

So naturally I was disappointed when Time-Warner Cable told me I couldn’t have Internet until next week. The woman on the phone muttered something about services being back up and the next thing I knew I was on my “this is unacceptable speech.” It appears that in my Internet-addicted mind, not having immediate access to the Web means the world is coming to an end.

When I realized I was starting to sound like my hot-headed father I decided to apologize and accept the fact that, in the words of Mick Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want.”

Yes, I’m a little dramatic. However, ask anyone born after 1980 and he will tell you the same thing. The Internet has become such a staple of our everyday lives that living without it is unfathomable.

I spent last night in my new apartment unpacking box No. 100 and constantly using my Blackberry to check the scores of various baseball and football games of the day. Then I had a realization: “I’m pathetic.”

I immediately put down the phone and turned up the music; Never mind I was missing the Emmy’s (I’m not a big fan of award shows anyway).

I remember when my boyfriend first told me he didn’t have cable; I’m pretty sure my response was a series of Why questions: Why don’t you have cable? Why don’t you want cable? Why are you so strange?

Boyfriend claims he is too busy. I’m a busy person, but I have to be able to hear the news in the morning while I’m getting ready for work and eating breakfast. And then comes the cable television shows. The busy boy then explained to me that he wasn’t allowed to watch much T.V. growing up. Now it all made a little more sense.

I guess it all boils down to how much exposed you were to media throughout the course of your life. I still remember the day my Dad brought home our first computer … and every computer after that.

As a kid, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed media surrounded me. In the morning the radio was on in the bathroom. The news was on in the kitchen. Dad made us listen to KMOX on the way to school (it was news radio in St. Louis). At school we learned how to move a turtle around on old-school Macintoshes using certain key codes. At dinner “Entertainment Tonight” was on and Dad was asking about our weekly assignment involving a single article from one of the following, a newspaper, Time Magazine or National Geographic.

I wonder what drove me to be such a consumer of media? Or better yet, who?
  Suspicious Parents Roll in the Dough...
Much like the mid-nineties murder investigation of young JonBenet Ramsey, the world has been fascinated by the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. After her disappearance this past May, the British toddler’s parents embarked on a worldwide campaign to get their Maddie back. The media coverage was overwhelming as the McCann’s secured the public support of David Beckham, the Pope, and everyone in between.

This case seemed to fizzle out of the media spotlight until recently, when Kate McCann was formally named a suspect in the case of her own daughter’s disappearance. This “new evidence” (which includes the discovery of hair and bodily fluid in the trunk wel of a car rented by the McCanns) sparked my immediate suspicions of the McCanns, and I began to reflect on what now seemed to be an overzealous attempt to clear their name. Could the Pope have been tricked? Could David Beckham really have endorsed a murderer? It was all just too much to take…

Until today, when CNN reported that billionaire Richard Branson plans to contribute $200,000 to help pay for the McCann’s legal costs. I’m not sure what struck me more… the fact that another celebrity is willing to shell out the dough to support these two parents/prime-suspects (who both happen to be doctors in their own right and are extremely well-off), or the fact that Mr. Branson’s own (reported) “BFF” and fellow aero-adventurer, Steve Fossett, has been missing for two weeks and Branson has seemingly done very little to aid in his search and rescue effort.

Regardless of where Branson’s priorities lie, I will continue to be skeptical of the McCann parents as well as the celebrities who are so eager to support them.
  The Facebook Dot Com
I hate The Facebook Dot Com.

I think it is the creepiest thing…ever. I went through a phase where I spent most of my idle time absentmindedly clicking through people’s pictures, looking at whoever had happened to update their profile, scrolling through names, posting on walls. It’s addicting.

I knew all of our lives were going downhill when “will you tag that?” and “oh my god please don’t tag me in that” became common phrases. It’s one thing to sit at your computer and facebook (please note its verb form) for a couple minutes (make it a couple hours if you have work you’re supposed to be doing). But making references to facebook when you’re out to dinner or at a bar takes it to a whole new level.

Last year I broke up with my boyfriend the night before they invented the whole “news feed" thing and woke up the next morning to “[Ex-boyfriend] and You has ended their relationship” next to an icon of a broken heart. First of all, that sentence is not grammatically correct. Second of all, I actually already knew that, but thank you for the reminder,

What is this about employers using facebook as a tool in the hiring process? Are they going to hire my friend Julia on the basis that “Gone With the Wind” is listed under her favorite movies section? Because I can tell you right now that her favorite movie is “What a Girl Wants” starring Amanda Bynes.

A couple weeks ago I was checking my email and clicking around facebook when a little voice inside me said, “please get a life.” So I deactivated. Suddenly I felt anonymous, disconnected…and relieved. It was like unplugging myself. I haven't looked back.

I guess I can understand that people use facebook to keep in touch with friends, but I basically just used it to procrastinate; I talk to my good friends from home on the phone and I see my school friends every day. I would just go on facebook because it was there and I was bored, and it just didn’t feel natural to know things about people that I’ve never really had a conversation with. I don’t really care what Suzie from high school algebra did on her spring break or what Johnny from 7th grade summer camp’s favorite books are, and I’m pretty sure they don’t care about me either.

I think right now there is kind of a sense of ‘get out while you still can.’ Is it going to become normal for our generation to post pictures of our weddings on facebook? Of our kids? I’m personally uncomfortable with that, and I’m afraid if I get too used to being connected in that way now, it will be too late to disconnect later.

Maybe the whole online networking thing is just a phase and some people will eventually lose interest and go back to more traditional forms of communication. Probably not. But I think for some reason we all forgot that we have a choice, and that there is an off button. (Okay not always. I mean, I know I couldn’t just decide not to check my email anymore; that’s how professors communicate with students and I would miss important messages. If I turned my cell phone off for too long, my parents would probably freak out and assume I was dead.) But yes, there are certain things we can definitely choose to live without. So will we?

Anyway, life without facebook is the best thing ever. Not only am I about a jillion times more productive, I don’t have to know what anyone is doing unless I actually ASK them (revolutionary). Without a picture of my head popping up under “recently updated friends” every so often, people I haven’t seen in a while can completely forget I exist, which is how it’s supposed to work – right? I feel kind of superior, like I’m invisible or something. I read more, I clean more, I talk to my roommate more (instead of kind of grunting at her). I’m never going back.

That might be a lie. But I highly suggest giving the "off" button a try.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
  Austin Adventures
I just arrived home from one of my favorite events of the year...Austin City Limits (ACL). Three days. Eight stages. 180 bands. The festival gives me the opportunity to see amazing, well-known bands/artists like Muse, The Killers, and Bob Dylan, but it also exposes me to new, up and coming bands I have never heard of before like my new favorite, The Broken West.

The best part of this outdoor, hippie and college student infested festival is that my dad's company sponsors the event and I get sponsor's VIP backstage passes. I know it is kind of cheating, but when the day got too hot, I got tired of the crowds, and wanted a cold, free beer I would head to the backstage area. In the VIP area I would watch the concerts on a plasma big screen tv while listening to the band live.

I watched Bob Dylan this evening as he closed ACL 2007 and started thinking about how technology advancements have changed the way of seeing a concert. Ten years ago I would have never imagined being at a concert and watching it on a plasma screen while taking pictures with my camera phone.

It is not just the VIP area that is changing. AT&T's Digital Oasis allowed all concert goers to take a break from the heat, check their email, and watch the latest football games without even leaving the park. Who needs to leave the concert grounds for a break between shows when you can do all that in a tent?

I can't even imagine what the future holds in regards to concerts, but all I know is that people won't be "roughing it" like they did when ACL originally started 33 years ago (and I am totally not complaining).

On an updated side note, what is with the obsession with Bob Dylan? I could not understand a word he said/sang. My friend thinks he sounds like Satan with his raspy voice and I kind of agree. I know he comes from a different generation, but so do lots of artists that I love, love, love! I think at some point people need to stop worshipping him for what he used to be and start looking at him as he is now...a drug addicted, incoherent, diva of a mess.

Dylan's "people" told us backstage that we had to put away all cameras or they would be confiscated and we would be kindly removed from the concert per Bob Dylan's wishes. A member of security actually said, "You are lucky because at his Stubb's event last night he wouldn't even let in cell phones." Oh how things have changed. I know when Dylan started his career camera phones and digital cameras had to have been the least of his concerns. So thank you Bob Dylan for an unimpressive performance and taking away my chance to remember it by taking pictures.
  Celebs are human too
So I'm sitting here watching the Emmys and a preview for Fox News comes on... flashing across the screen is a replay of Britney Spears's performance at the VMAs and the headline "Are celebrities to blame for the moral downfall of America?" My initial reaction is yes- I think celebrities have a huge impact on Americans and the moral choices we make. We see Britney struttin’ her stuff across stage in a bra and panties and think “hey, that’s hot.” We see underage stars getting drunk in clubs and think “maybe I should get a fake I.D.” Americans imitate celebrities because we’re celebrity-obsessed. We imitate their style, we imitate their looks, and we imitate their behavior.

But the more and more I think about it, I wonder…is this really fair? The media wants to blame celebrities for negatively influencing young girls and boys, but in actuality, most of them are young and immature themselves. I can’t imagine being in their position- a role model for millions of children everywhere. Being in the spotlight like that would drive me crazy. I think people need to realize that celebrities are human too. They live and they learn just like we do.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve made many mistakes in my college career. I know I’ll look back on pictures ten years from now and think “what the HELL was I thinking?!” But as of right now, I’m doing what I want to do. I’m having fun and I don’t care what other people think. It’s fun to poke fun at Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton for dancing on tables and wearing ridiculous clothing, but how many times have I done that myself? Let them be young. Let them mess up. That’s what young people do!
  Wow, Media does effect
So the purpose of this blog was to discover and be conscience of how the media affects my life on the day-to-day, and boy it really does effect.

Recently, the VMA's were aired and there was huge hype about Britney Spears comeback performance. Everyone I know watched or attempted to watch the performance. To sit in front of the television on that Sunday night to see this was crucial. I rearranged my entire day to make sure I saw the performance. To my dismay the performance was like a dagger in my heart...Was this a joke?? What just happened? After the performance I immediately turned to to see if he had written anything about it...and lo and behold there it was. The performance was already online and Perez had written a long letter to Britney we could all read. That performance affected a lot of people that day.

Continuing on my attempt to see how media effects my life came September 11th. I can honestly say I spent a good hour or hour and a half on YOUTUBE watching footage from that day. I wanted to remember that place I was in on that day. It was devastating, but a good way to remember and mourn for those that were effected. It was nice to be able to have a chance to look back on such a historical event and see the footage that occurred on that day. We were never able to do stuff like that ten years ago. I was so sad after watching that footage. This type of media effected me so much.

Another way media effected me last week was when I took a gander at my credit card statement...Who spends $50 on ITUNES in a day? Well, apparently I did. After watching the VMA's I guess I decided to purchase all the new songs I had heard. It did make a dent in my wallet, but I love music and it is such an awesome way to get the music you want quickly. I love not having to leave my house to try and find this ONE song that I don’t even know the author to. I also realized that ITUNES makes it a little too easy for people to buy songs...they are banking on this idea. Good for them.

I then looked all around me, why do I hold my cell phone in my hand for 80% of the day? I am relying so much on it television programs, internet, or cell phones...everything is so easy to use, but are we dependant now upon media? Yes, I believe we are.
  Media moments--Britney's performance
I loved Britney Spears. I thought that although she wasn't the best singer in the world, she knew how to put on a show. When she danced and lip-synched, everyone--like her or not--snapped to attention. Even if people didn't like her "work," they liked her drama.

Earlier this week she performed, or shall I say under-performed, at the MTV Video Music Awards. My friends and I missed the initial broadcast due to a scheduling conflict. Immediately after Britney's performance aired on TV, my mom left me a voicemail ordering me to go watch it as soon as possible, calling Britney's spectacle terrible and embarrassing. In her minute-long panic-stiken message, she cited the pop star grabbing a male dancer's crotch and fumbling across the stage in an ill-fitting sparkly bra and panties. My mom's closing line was, "Claire, because of this she's going to lose those kids!" (On a side note, Sean Preston is my mother's favorite celebrity baby.)

Hearing this, I logged onto and watched Britney's disastrous array. Kind of like a car accident, it hurt to watch but I couldn't look away. What was going on?! She half-heartedly walked around the stage as the background dancers attempted to distract the viewers from her very apparent lack of enthusiasm. She even forgot to lip-sync about half the song; it was as if she didn't even know the words. Cameras shot to celebrities like 50 cent and P. Diddy who sat in shock, gold pinky rings in the air. Rihanna, the singer of the hit "Umbrella," was laughing hysterically.

The world didn't know what happened. Our favorite pop princess failed us, and her terrible performance is likely her last. No matter how many singles she puts out after this, the old Britney is gone forever.

When I first heard she was going to perform at the VMAs, I was recklessly excited. I, along with all of her fans, expected a classic Britney performance --think of the sparkly flesh-toned leotard show-stopper or the jungle outfit with the snake around her shoulders--and she did not remotely deliver.

Since then, MTV has been accused of exploiting an unstable young woman in the name of ratings. Regardless of who is to blame for the disaster, the damage has been done. Britney's career is most likely over due to those few minutes on the VMA stage.
  I am an advertising executive's dream.
…In a very, very good way.

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t watch much television. Seriously. When people walk into my apartment, they are in awe of the apartment and its furnishings until they see the 13” Sharp television on my desk that I’ve had since 8th grade.

“You don’t watch much TV do you?”

“Nah, not really.”

However, I digress. When I do turn on the TV, I probably spend more time watching commercials than I do actual programs. This isn’t intentional; it’s just that, with my short attention span, commercials are the only thing that I can focus on.

This wouldn't be so bad either if the commercials didn't weasel their way into my everyday life - my actions, my thoughts, even sometimes where I shop ends up being controlled by my commercial habit. For the past week, the only song that I can think of happens to be "1, 2, 3, 4" by Feist. Don't know it?

Now I bet you do.

  The whole world has changed
I was in a meeting tonight and we ventured off on the “effective power” of commercials. Wow! A simple model of sender to receiver can be highly effective.

As we were conversing over the various commercials, someone “wise” in the group said “The whole world has changed.” And if you stop and think about it – the world has changed dramatically. I never imagined that we would be watching an ad on television encouraging men to (pardon my frankness) enlarge their penises.

What sparked our lively discussion was that I mentioned I had to blog about our “Media Effects” class and I was going to use the commercials I saw while I was watching my favorite program, “Saving Grace.” The commercial that astonished me the most was for lubricant… yes I did say lubricant and I don’t mean Penzoil or any other kind of motor oil.

Now don’t jump to conclusion and think I was watching the Playboy channel. “Saving Grace” is on TNT, yet it does have some very racy scenes in it; however, the commercials were astonishing.
If I wasn’t so sure of my emotional and physical health, I could have been talked into having a depression issue or "restless leg syndrome."

Everyone in my group agreed that commercials have become more progressive and effective. Nowadays the most influential commercials are the ones for prescription drugs. If a man is a little stressed out at work and has problems performing, well once he watches TV he’s convinced he needs Viagra.

And if a woman is a little too stressed out at work and feels incredibly tired and moody, well the TV is definitely going to convince her that she needs an anti-depressant.

This week I realized that “media effects” is not only in the news, on the radio or in a documentary or movie; it’s highly effective in commercials too.

Friday, September 14, 2007
  Communication and its' power
I know it's an obvious thought to think just how much of an effect communication has on the world. But it's baffling to me how one cell phone conversation can change everything. I literally just got off the phone with a close friend whose mother just died unexpectedly yesterday. As I was listening to her tell me how hard things are right now and how her family is taking it, I sat there stunned. Tears welled up in my eyes, and it's not even my family! Without my cell phone, I would've never have learned this solemn news. It goes both ways too. Without her being able to call her friends for support, she probably would be worse off. She desperately needs our prayers and our vocal support right now, probably more than she ever has before.

Thinking of how important cell phones are makes me thankful for them. We take them for granted so often. But they could save our lives, or at the least get us out of an emergency! I know I'm sounding a bit dramatic, but it's so true! Think of how annoying or inconvenient it was to stop by a gas station to use a payphone in the past. Thank God we missed those years! The few times I have broken or lost my cell phone were hard times. Having to get used to calling whomever I needed to talk to before I left my house/work was excruciating. I don't know if I really have a point with this part other than how much help cell phones are to everyone I know, including myself. The world is a much better and prettier place with CIngular, AT&T, Sprint...
Thursday, September 13, 2007
  Lyrical Brooding...
So this morning on the way to class I was jamming out to my favorite jam session music or as my mother and boyfriend affectionately calls it, my “angry music”: Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace.

But then again, my boyfriend jams out to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera while working out…no accounting for bad taste, right? Don’t get me wrong, I like Christina Aguilera but Britney Spears makes me want to put anchovies in my ears and bang my head against the wall, REPEATEDLY.

Anyway, I digress, so this morning I was in a particularly pensive mood and I started thinking about the song lyrics (I often do this, I just don’t usually blog about it)…do the writers really experience these things? What do some of the metaphors mean? Are the metaphors supposed to make listeners apply the story to their own live? But if listeners do not know what the song writer means how can listeners personalize the song?

Am I the only one who actively thinks about song lyrics, their meanings and tries to “decode” them?
  Buffalo Bills Injury
This past Monday when I was watching Monday Night Football, I saw a replay of the Injury that Buffalo Bills back up tight end Kevin Everett. His injury sent chills dow my spine because I personally know what its like to deal with a spinal injury. In May 2005 I had to have my spine fused together due to scoliosis. Now, I wasn't born with scoliosis. It was the result of a head on collision that I was in during 8th grade football practice. Eventhough my injury wasn't life threatening like Everett's, I still know what he's goin through. Spine injuries take a really long time to rehab. I mean I had my surgery 2 years ago and it still hurts everyday. However, I would rather feel this slight pain everyday than be dead. I think that's a pretty good trade off!
Monday, September 10, 2007
  Effects of media on social education
Educational television focuses on the basics such as counting and spelling, but it is not sufficient as the sole or main source of education; while it is a great reinforcement, it is not an adequate substitute in teaching the fundamentals. When it comes to educating children about the world around them, however, media – particularly television and the Internet – can be extremely effective and perhaps even crucial in an increasingly plugged-in world.

Children’s television networks such as Nick Jr. and Noggin connect children to each other and to their world by emphasizing cultural values and providing them with a social framework. The characters featured in the shows on these networks (and their accompanying Web sites) are easy for children to identify with, encourage them to use their imaginations and provide a common interest that helps them relate to one another.

Shows like PBS’s Sesame Street and Noggin’s Oswald and Franklin feature animals and muppets, allowing children to identify with the characters regardless of their shape, size or race. Without emphasis on a certain physical ideal, children are more likely to focus on the story’s message. The universal quality of these characters shifts the attention from what they are to who they are. Children are more likely to embrace the concept of “accepting each other’s differences” when their on-screen friends include a furry blue cookie monster or a talking octopus and his pet hot-dog. The use of these characters addresses discrimination, one of the nation’s major social issues, at a very young age.

Children’s television takes routine activities such as playing with friends, doing chores and going to school and translates it to exotic characters in fantasy worlds that will capture children’s attention and engage their imaginations. This makes it easy to teach values such as sharing, treating others as you want to be treated, and thinking for yourself. It also shows children how to handle new situations like the first day of school or the arrival of a new sibling. Television is an effective source of social education because it shows rather than tells.

In addition to television, the Internet is becoming increasingly important in teaching children because of its interactive quality. makes it easy for children to navigate the site themselves even if they cannot read by providing a horizontal navigation bar with a picture to represent each show. As the child scrolls across each icon, the picture lights up and the title of the show is announced. Each show has its own set of games, video clips, “printables” and other activities. Being able to navigate the sites themselves gives children a sense of independence and allows them to choose what they want to explore.

While these mediums cannot adequately substitute formal education and human interaction, they enhance children’s knowledge and make learning fun. As television becomes more interactive and the line between television and the Internet continues to blur – and as school systems continue to rely more on computers as a part of the curriculum – media plays a significant role in educating children.
Media has an effect on the ability of children to be educated. Until recently it was not required in order for a child to be educated. With technology growth comes education growth. Today’s children have far more to learn technology-wise than generations before them.
Remember the old-school Macintoshes? You know, the ones that had the turtle and you had to press certain combination of keys to get it to move in different directions on the screen. Well, I do. My first computer class was in second grade. It’s amazing to realize how far we’ve come both computer and television-wise.
I remember watching “Sesame Street” and “Reading Rainbow” as a child, but I was unaware of its impact on me until I saw the video in class. Broadcast media in particular is powerful because it’s highly accessible and life-like.
Television shows that are geared toward the education of young children are booming in popularity. “Dora the Explorer” has become a huge hit in the United States. Not only does the program teach young children but it interactively encourages the learning of Spanish.
Researchers have concluded that small children can begin learning at the infant level. “Baby Einstein” videos have become very trendy. I’ve watched my nieces and nephews watch these programs and I can say that the children are truly intrigued by the “Baby Einstein” concepts. However, they can be seen as a privilege only afforded to the middle to upper classes. And therefore, unfair.
Obviously television and video media positively effect young minds. On the downside, media can just as easily have a negative effect. Anything with a violent nature is capable of seeping into a child’s education.
Children’s literature is a growing art. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series has given children a reason to read again. Potter Heads – as they call them – are picking up pens across the world and using their imaginations to create fan fiction stories in order to keep the Potter series alive. Children (and parents) can’t get enough of the boy-wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts. What kid wouldn’t want to imagine himself as a wizard with powers and a pet owl?
The most exciting books I read as a child were the “Boxcar Children” and to be honest I found them rather boring. Next came the “Goosebumps” series – which I can’t say I was very fond of either considering I was scared to death of the dark. Point of the story is, I wish I had stories about wizard to read as a child, perhaps I would have read more.
Music cannot be excluded in this topic because it has become such a presence in everyday lives with the evolution of iPods. Music lyrics are just as easily effective as words on a piece or paper or on a television.
Media in general continues to grow and impact not only children but people around the world. Media effects how everyone sees the world because it is a source of information. People choose to absorb the information by using the individual media.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
  Media is the new Black...
The media has evolved in such a terrific way in the past 10-20 years. It is incredible to observe the outcomes of certain media devices used today. The documentary we watched about Sesame Street, really portrayed a great deal of facts and information as to how media can or cannot effect children.

In the film itself, it was great to see media being used as an effective source to educate children. I feel that this type of media does, indeed help children learn. I do not believe, however, it is the primary source of their education, but it does play as an important "helper" in education. Especially in areas of which are not offered the type of education we are offered in the states.

For example, the Sesame Street in Africa that brought the HIV puppet into the mix was brilliant. To see the US get upset over that was embarrassing. Africa needs to be educated on HIV, it is the number one cause of death there. Children need to understand and learn about the disease as much as possible. To me, this is the type of media that definately helps children to learn about a difficult topic.

In this documentary another issue addressed was the never ending conflict with Albania and Serbia. The Sesame Street production was used to create a peace between the two and was giving the children a chance to have a clear sense of understanding between the two. I think that was a brilliant way to educate children not to judge one another.

Today, the media is the only way children are learning. Everything we take in comes from some sort of media source. What a huge effect this has. With the Harry Potter movies and books, something good was brought to children rather than what Xbox and Playstation brought. When Xbox 360 was release people were killed and robbed for their purchased products. The games purchased were that of prostitutes and gangs killing one another...On the other hand Harry Potter was released. Families were brought together...stood in line with eachother for a novel that would teach kids to be themselves and learn of their talents within.

This type of effect with media is a huge one. How amazing is it to see children with their families wait in line at midnight for a book instead of a playstation with violence and sex in it? Harry Potter really hit hte jack pot, teaching children good things, and how to be good people.

There are good things and bad things involved with media today for children. But we must find a way to filter out the bad and see the good...Media is NOT going away now. It is a part of our lives now, so we must be educated and smart enough to find a way to see and learn from good media as educational tools for children and filter out the bad...such as xbox 360.
Even though media can (and does!) educate kids in a positive way, it often seems like negative media reverses these effects. Positive or not, Harvard’s KidsRisk site states children spend more time consuming media than they do in school.

The Sesame Workshop prides itself in offering programs that help children develop cognitive, social and emotional skills – all things that will help children in pre-school and beyond. As seen through Sesame’s addition of characters with disabilities, Sesame also strives to foster acceptance of other human beings, regardless of differences.

So what about Harry Potter? Henry Jenkin’s article outlines some of the most significant examples of Harry Potter’s positive influences on children’s education, such as fan fiction. The sophistication with which Harry Potter is written has also set a precedent for children’s literature that has yet to be reproduced.

Some readers even tout Harry Potter's benefits on their well-being. The Harry Potter website MuggleNet even offers a brief, albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek editorial on the “Mental Health Benefits of Harry Potter.”

Even though Harry Potter and Sesame Street are at the forefront of many minds when asked to think of positive media for children, there are many other options out there that also serve to educate children. Many children who have not caught on to the Harry Potter craze still read other classic children’s literature – the likes of which include Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. All three of these children’s novels (and countless others not mentioned here) have one thing in common – they all have a positive message that they are attempting to impose upon readers.

Even though I personally believe in the educational value of books for children (and will never sway on that stance), a BBC Article states that researchers have proven that children can learn just as much, if not more, from video games rather than books. The article, featuring a study commissioned by PlayStation, uses a game called MediEvil 2. Children who played the game, a historically accurate representation of Victorian London, were cited as “easily understanding rapid cutting rates” and having “unique visual perspective.” These same children also appeared to enjoy playing a video game much more than reading a book.

Recent research supports this sentiment as well. An article from the San Francisco Chronicle based upon a federal study notes a sharp decline in reading among teens. Dana Gioia, the chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts, even goes as far to say that “electronic, commercial entertainment media seems to be taking teenagers away from reading.”

Now that I’ve examined media that aids in educating youth, what about the media that destroys this intellectual growth? It’s obvious that this kind of media – the evil stepsister, if you will – is much more prominent in today’s society.

Violent video games, movies, music, and television shows pervade our society. While it can’t be blamed for everything, violence in the media has contributed to several of the United States’ worst tragedies – Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the instigators of the Columbine massacre and Cho Seung-Hui, the lone gunman in the Virginia Tech shooting – immediately come to mind. All three played violent video games, read violent literature and watched violent television. If those examples alone aren’t enough to prove the disparaging effects of media violence on today’s youth, I don’t know what is.

Essentially, the message is clear - media is an extremely valuable tool in the right hands. Once children learn how to use and evaluate media effectively, they can protect themselves from that which is negative and learn to allow the positive in.

  Media's Ability to Educate
Media is everywhere, and I believe that it can be used as an effective medium to educate children. I also believe, however, that oftentimes those adults in charge of programming/content direction do not consider educating youth to be their first priority. Instead, they are more concerned with showcasing programs that will sell to a wide spectrum, because this is what they believe will keep them in business--in print, on the air, etc. The content of these programs is often more in tune with sex and violence than 1,2,3's and ABC's.

Nonetheless, every once in awhile media will attempt and succeed at formidable educational programming. "Sesame Street" is an example of this. Sesame Workshop-- -- is a nonprofit educational organization that develops engaging content and "tak[es] advantage of all forms of media and [uses] those that are best suited to delivering a particular curriculum" to most efficiently reach its viewers. The content of each episode is well thought out in terms of both educational value and presentation. Due to this research and planning, children can actually be exposed to academic skills, like counting and spelling, without losing interest.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series also engages its young readers and can serve as a catalyst to improve reading and writing skills. By launching the online newspaper The Daily Prophet-- Rowling opened a forum for kids to view and edit other kids' creative writing. Without a teacher or parent hovering over their shoulders, they can take a shot at writing for pleasure, not a grade. They can learn how to take criticism from strangers, and what advice they will take or disregard. This form of online media is a voluntary learning tool for kids everywhere, where they can feel excited about contributing their creative works to cyberspace for other kids--and maybe even adults--to enjoy.

Over the summer, I participated in the SMU in London program. In my journalism class there, a female classmate in her early twenties stood up and shared how Harry Potter helped her overcome her severe dislike for reading. She was dyslexic and did not believe that reading could be fun until her mother gave her the first Harry Potter book while she was in middle school. She was instantly hooked, and she accredited the Harry Potter series for opening her mind to the world of pleasure reading and learning outside a classroom setting.

Media has the capability to affect young minds in a positive way. It can motivate children to want to learn and grown not only in an academic sense but in a social sense as well. For example, children watching Sesame Street may see how much fun the children on the show are having learning, singing and interacting with friends and want to do so themselves.

On the other hand, media can also be violence-concentrated and sex-driven. Children can see this on TV and computer screens and think that what they're viewing is normal or acceptable behavior when it is not. They might even try to imitate behavior they see. Some blame violent video games, television shows and movies for crises like the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings. Parents need to spend time with their children and make an effort to screen their exposure to negative media messages to preserve a sense of right and wrong in the youth.
  Media: a power to hurt and to heal
I don’t think it comes as a surprise that media has the power to influence children in both positive and negative ways. Anyone who has ever watched television during the holiday season has probably seen the back-to-back kid-friendly commercials advertising the “coolest” toys that little Billy and all of his friends just HAVE to get for Christmas.

The classic Christmastime comedy “Jingle All the Way” makes light of this media influence, and the subsequent hell that it can often put a parent through. In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger goes to ridiculous extremes so as not to disappoint his little Jaime who just has to have “the Turbo Man action figure with the arms and legs that move and the boomerang shooter and his rock 'n roller jet pack and the realistic voice activator that says 5 different phrases including, ‘It's Turbo time!’ Accessories sold separately. Batteries not included.”

The media is what makes these toys and trends desirable. Much to the dismay of many over-extended parents, television can provide a direct pathway into the minds of children in a way that not much else can. Armed with this capacity to influence, the media has now become a double-edged sword of power. It is easy to see a number of ways in which the media has an unfavorable effect on children—just think of the violence in video games and the never-ending availability of sugary soft drinks. But it is more difficult to think of ways in which the media positively affects children.

The creators of Sesame Street were among the first to take the power of media and channel it in more constructive ways. Sesame Street encourages children around the world to be accepting of others, to embrace diversity and to make positive choices in areas that have been torn apart by war and defined by hatred. PBS was able to document the development of Sesame Street in the war-torn country of Kosovo. Before Sesame Street hit the airwaves in 2004, Albanian and Serbian children were asked why they do not talk or play with one another. The overwhelming response from most of these children was “I don’t know.” This is precisely the divisive and hateful type of thinking that Sesame Street is attempting to correct.

The “Harry Potter” series of books provides another example of how different forms of media can have a positive impact on children. The series’ overwhelming popularity among children has not only caused an increase in children’s desire to read, but it has also caused an improvement in their classroom performance.

Unlike the “Harry Potter” series, the impact that Sesame Street has had on children around the world cannot be easily summed up into statistics and percentages. But I personally do not have any doubts about the program’s success. If we were to look at the Albanian and Serbian children in Kosovo now—three years since Sesame Street’s arrival—I think we will find their separation quickly fading.
  A world according to Heather
Heather Lawver truly embodies the philosophy of "no child left behind."

Actually, politicians can probably learn a great deal from Heather. She is destined to make sure every child can learn by providing an imaginative forum that excites them to write and read.

I'm amazed while our government is spending millions and millions of dollars to ensure that every child can have an opportunity for an education; one young teenager made it a mission to promote literacy by beginning her own publication with her own allowance.

Heather is a great example of the vision J.K. Rowling and Joan Ganz Cooney have for children: Combining animation with education.

In the documentary "The World According to Sesame Street," the country of Bangledesh is a great example of how many governments fear educating their own children. The only difference with America is that it restricts what a child can learn.

When the Takalani Sesame (South Africa's version of Sesame Street ) wanted to add the AIDS muppet character, Kami; several GOP members became outraged of the notion that American tax dollars would fund an "inappropriate" subject for children's education.

Interestingly, Kami is like the other Muppets. She is friendly, loveable and imbued with with a 5-year old's view of the world that happens to be HIV-positive. Wouldn't it make incredible sense that a character as this could educate a child about love, acceptance and tolerance?

Yet, maybe that is what makes politicians and government leaders fearful; it's more powerful to control a child's mind than to have it become educated through critical thoughts and reasoning.

In Bangladesh, the Prime Minister for Children's Education placed her leaders concerns before her children's needs to learn.

Ironically, American politicians commit the same futile act. Thankfully, young minds like Heather Lawver live without limitations and reach into the world of imagination and challenge and inspire other children to do the same.

I can't help but think that Heather caught the same vision as Rowling and Cooney. And I'm more than certain to believe that their vision was derived from the lessons of history.

In our textbook (Media Effects), it states "Historical evidence reveals that, at first, only society's elite recognized potential societal influences from exposure to the printed word." It further states, "The most compelling examples of the concern for powerful media effects on the masses might be found in the many instances in which authorities have taken preemptive measures to suppress mass media messages."

Heather like Rowling and Cooney are visionary leaders. They have created an imaginative world for the masses that cannot be suppressed by any authority. May the force be with them.
  The media from a positive perspective
It's time to face the facts...we live in an “information society” where television, advertisements, magazines, video games, and radio constantly bombard us with images and messages that affect our thoughts and behavior whether we like it or not.

Though research has shown that media viewing may negatively influence children's behavior, it's important to realize that media can't be avoided. Instead of censoring our children from it, we should embrace the media and focus on what postive messages we can relate.

Take a look at Sesame Street for example. Creators of Sesame Street saw a window for opportunity and created a show that both educates and entertains kids simultaneously. The show now airs in more than 120 countries and is the most-watched children's television show in the world.

Not only do Sesame Street characters teach your basic ABCs and 123s, they touch on social issues and cultural differences as well. Watching the show as a kid you'd never realize this, but Big Bird and friends have some pretty profounding messages to share.

In South Africa's "Takalani Sesame" for instance, HIV-positive Kami helps kids come to terms with a disease that plagues their society. Children are taught not to fear those with AIDs but to treat them like every other human being. Similarly, "Rruga Sesam" and "Ulica Sezam" strive to bring peace to two countries where children are raised to hate their counter-parts before they can develop an educated opinion of their own.

Media has the power to influence- rather than banning our kids from witnessing potentially good messages, why not teach them how to weed out the bad ones?

The American Academy of Pediatrics states on their website: "Just as a print-literate child learns to be critical of the things he reads, he should also be able to do the same with moving pictures and sounds. Your child can learn to understand both the obvious and hidden messages in all media. Once children learn media education skills, they will begin to ask questions and think about the media messages they watch, read, and hear. And they usually will enjoy doing it!"

AAS refers to this as media literacy or media eduaction. Provided on the site are basic media education points your child needs to know and how to get him or her to think criticially about the messages he may watch, read, and hear.

I know when I was a kid, there were certain times of the day when my Mom would turn on the TV and certain times of the day when she'd say "that's enough, time to go play!" Become familiar with shows like Sesame Street's time slots. Make sure your children are watching good TV and maybe sit around so you can talk to them about it afterwards. AAS suggests you make TV viewing a family event so that if certain violent or sexual messages come up, you can help them analyze and challenge its meaning on the spot.

Living in a digitial world isn't exactly a bad thing. We just need to learn to adjust. Stop playing "ear muffs" and help your children understand the good and bad media has to offer.
This blog is a companion piece to CCJN4394:Media Effects taught by Dr. J. Richard Stevens at Southern Methodist University.

August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / August 2008 /

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