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We Media vs The Empire Strikes Back
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We Media vs The Empire Strikes Back

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  • 1. We Media | The Empire Strikes Back
  • 2. Tribute
  • 3. Hypotheses We are now in an age of Media 2.0 This is more participative, more interactive and more democratic. The REALLY democratic aspects of this we can call ‘WE MEDIA’. - or - The ‘veneer’ of new digital democracy masks ‘1.0’ – style control and surveillance by big corporations; ‘We media’ is the luxury of a tiny minority in the affluent, developed world; We have been colonised by the machines we have created. Have the affordances of the internet, cross platform media and fan interaction really democratised media and culture or should we still fear ‘Big Ideology’?
  • 4. Back to our premise – the story of text
  • 5. The story of .gif
  • 6. Modalities
  • 7. Plato’s Republic App 375bc. Society is ‘naturally’ divided into 3 classes of citizens, who each “know their place”: Philosopher-Kings Guardians Workers Best to keep the workers distracted – the cave (early media).
  • 8. Anti democracy? Those with wisdom exercise authority over the masses. These people possess ‘reason’. Justice = doing one’s job, not interfering with the order of the state, not questioning. Self-discipline crucial (and repression – link to Freud). In the ideal state, the majority of people have little power over their lives. They are not capable of ruling themselves:
  • 9. Mill’s Utilitarianism 1859 – On Liberty. Centres on notion of liberty. Individual freedom = collective freedom. Rights crucial. Everyone free to do what they want, as long as they don’t harm anyone else. So no need for surveillance etc. A human being should only be restrained from acting in a certain way if that action can reasonably be expected to harm others. A self-regarding action is OK. An other-regarding action is only OK if it does not harm others.
  • 10. Mill in practice - Discussion Which of these are self-regarding and which are other- regarding / potentially harmful to others? Smoking in public Gambling Fox hunting Masturbating in private Obsessively touting for ‘Likes’ on Facebook Writing a book disputing the existence of God. Breaking wind Paying a prostitute to hit you. Wearing a veil on religious grounds. Playing Minecraft 8 hours a day
  • 11. Marx and Marxism Power is held by the ruling class They control economic distribution AND ideology The system reproduces these power relations by presenting them as ‘normal’ Althusser (ideology) and Gramsci (hegemony) offer extensions of Marxism Class struggle is the suggested response MEDIA = IDEOLOGICAL STATE APPARATUSES
  • 12. Example?
  • 13. (Negatively) Benefits Street: The Return of Naked Ideology The idea that we live in a post-ideological society proceeds a little too quickly: cynical reason, with all its ironic detachment, leaves untouched the fundamental level of ideological fantasy, the level on which ideology structures the social reality itself. (Zizek, 1989) Benefits Street is, in spirit, straight out of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle: a sort of visual vomit-fest in which you can binge on things you purport to hate the sight of, and then purge yourself on Twitter, venting empty outrage then going back for more. (Lynsey Hanley, Guardian, 8.1.14) The very notion of a ‘benefits culture’ exemplifies the discursive operations of othering, with the power of (mis)representation as so often exercised through popular culture in the form of television documentary and extreme, often hateful paratextual responses. Consider ITV’s Ann Widdecombe versus The Benefits Culture – the most starkly hegemonic binary imaginable – and more recently Channel 4’s Benefits Street, the focus of this chapter. Debates, often ill-informed and almost always marginalising, in media discourse in the UK around benefit cuts and the opposition in the public imagination between the ‘worthy poor’ and an underclass of ‘scroungers’ have been apparently ‘screen-grabbed’ by this series. The political commentator and campaigner Owen Jones, on BBC’s Newsnight, described the text as "a medieval stocks updated for a modern format", the result of a “relentless, almost obsessive hunting down of the most extreme, dysfunctional unrepresentative people”. Zizek’s recent work has, for some, heralded a return to ‘doing hardcore ideology’ (Fenton,
  • 14. The Frankfurt School 1930s extension of Marxism The “Culture Industry”: Popular culture compels ‘the masses’ to be passive and accepting of how things are Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer, Benjamin Contemporary focus – discourses of ‘talent’ + textual value regimes Reproduction of alienation in reality / talent TV (impact on schooling) Notions of ‘toxic childhood’ and associated moral panics.
  • 15. Media Ideology – Chomsky
  • 16. Media Ideology – Zizek
  • 17. Media Ideology – Curtis
  • 18. Interactive / Democratic?
  • 19. Or Demotic? Turner - there is no clear connection between the exposure given to ‘everyday people’ by reality TV and any kind of progressive or emancipatory shifts. Thus the ‘demotic turn’ equates merely to the increase in exposure of / to the public with no necessary democratic outcomes. Rather, the rise of celebrity culture – and with it the clamour for us to seek the prize of commodifying ourselves as celebrities - has had the effect of charging the contemporary media with the power to ‘translate’ cultural identity.
  • 20. Media 2.0 Lots of DIFFERENT IDEAS on this. Very much a CONTESTED view.
  • 21. Merrin | Gauntlett Media 1.0 • Celebrates key texts produced by media moguls and celebrated by well- known critics • Vague recognition of internet and new digital media, as an 'add on' to the traditional media • A preference for conventional ideas where most people are treated as non- expert audience 'receivers', or, if they are part of the formal media industries, as expert 'producers'.
  • 22. Merrin | Gauntlett Media 2.0 • Interest in the massive 'long tail' of independent media projects such as those found on YouTube and many other websites, mobile devices, and other forms of DIY media • Recognition that internet and digital media have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with all media • Media now more democratic through people making and connecting
  • 23. Participation Culture
  • 24. Internet Democracy • Often seen in terms of ideals – eg JP Barlow’s Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace (1996) had 3 central characteristics: – Information democracy – unfettered information construction and dissemination, free from the stranglehold of MSM – Democratization of decision making power – e-democracy, direct participation – More engaged citizens • Has any of this really happened?
  • 25. The Realities? • However, use of the web can be used by specific groups for: – Visibility and publicity – Organisation and mobilisation – Coordination and collaboration (Rheingold – smart mobs) • Can often be short term issues • Or is online activism merely “slacktivism”? (Morozov) • Lievrouw shows how Global Justice Movement use the internet for: – Co-ordination – Platform – Engagement (limited)
  • 26. Morozov • MYTH of Twitter Revolution in Arab countries • The Iranian Government is still in power! • What are people REALLY using the web for? – Uses research in Eastern Europe and Middle East – Sex, shopping and entertainment – This is the REAL American Dream – Authoritarian Governments happy for this to continue
  • 27. Morozov • View that the web is emancipatory is a “mis-reading of history” • Part of the technologically deterministic, cyber-utopian “Google Doctrine” or “Twitter Agenda” – an exaggeration • Governments are actually using the web for propaganda, control, surveillance, censorship and suppression
  • 28. Imagine OK, but
  • 29. Charles Leadbeater Clay Shirky
  • 30. Tapscott & Williams Peering Free Creativity Democracy Global Thinking Perfect Storm – technology, digital natives, economics.
  • 31. Present Shock? Alvin Toffler’s radical 1970 book, Future Shock, theorized that things were changing so fast we would soon lose the ability to cope. Rushkoff argues that the future is now and we’re contending with a fundamentally new challenge. Whereas Toffler said we were disoriented by a future that was careening toward us, Rushkoff argues that we no longer have a sense of a future, of goals, of direction at all. We have a completely new relationship to time; we live in an always-on “now,” where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything. Wall Street traders no longer invest in a future; they expect profits off their algorithmic trades themselves, in the ultra-fast moment. Voters want immediate results from their politicians, having lost all sense of the historic timescale on which government functions. Kids txt during parties to find out if there’s something better happening in the moment, somewhere else.
  • 32. Bart’s research Douglas Rushkoff
  • 33. The right answer = Yes and No
  • 34. Always back to this .. … to measure this