Sexualisation vs. Art

We now live in a world were ‘moral panic‘ is gradually taking over. We live in fear of not ‘belonging’, of being taken over by a foreign country and we attempt to avoid the daunting thought of being judged. Society is becoming a subject to this fear where now the way we advertise is transforming into G rated marketing strategies.

But what do I mean by this?

Recently I was introduced to the concept of ‘corporate pedophilia‘, yes I was just as confused when I first heard this term. This term is narrowed down by Emma Rush and Andrea La Nauze; “Corporate pedophilia is a metaphor… used to describe the selling of products to children… it encapsulates the idea that such advertising and marketing is an abuse of children and contravenes public norms”. This is a term that creates moral panic. The sexualisation of children is a common topic of discussion when looking at marketing and advertising, it seems as if has become a major ‘danger’ and parents are becoming weary of how their children are being photographed.

I approach this topic witch the analogy of a woman’s make up, some people say she has a ‘cake-face’ while others think she looks ‘good and normal’. Prior to learning about this topic, we were taught about the concept of the public sphere and semiotics and how these concepts have ability to influence they way we interact and our opinions, views and ideologies. I think that this is a contributing factor that influences the way in which we feel about certain advertisements.

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Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau, one of the most famous fourteen year old models the world has seen. The photo above is from Vogue’s 2011 January spread, where the young tween is posing for the renowned brand ‘Tom Ford’. There has been much public speculation about this young girl and the work she does. In an article from the Daily Mail, Dr Emma Gray states “This picture is the antithesis of what childhood in our society should be; a child being exposed to a world she is not yet equipped to deal with solely to serve the needs of the adults around her.” ‘Body image’ and the ‘media influence’, appear to be one of the biggest worries parents are having with their young children. When examining the image it is obvious that she is made to look older and this further highlighted by her clothing, makeup, hair and poses. Furthermore it is understandable as to why this young model can be viewed in a ‘sexualised’ way.

Although for those who are apart of the ‘high fashion’ public sphere this model can be viewed in a different light, some could call it art and have a profound appreciation for fashion. Analysing the above photograph from an artistic point of view, some would say that the young girl is show casing high fashion of the time, with elements of sophistication and poise.

It is evident that there are numerous views on this topic and the way we view these images and the harm that can arise. Due to moral panic we are being encapsulated in ‘bubble wrap’ – the idea that we are being shielded from everything because of the idea that the media has the ability to change the way we view and absorb everything we see.

It seems as if this panic is diminishing the notion of free thought by constantly reinstating negative views.

One persons fun can be another’s worst nightmare.

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Coffee with a side of status

We live in a world that is constantly evolving,  world where once there was an ‘adequate’ amount of citizens who once did not have the right of speech, inherent inequalities and a place where only the elite were entitled to having an opinion. But as such inequalities have faded, each member of society has become part of what is described as the ‘public sphere‘. Theorist Jürgen Habermas defines public sphere as being a place where public opinion can be expressed. He speaks about ‘public opinion’ is the control and criticism of organized political authority which is officially manifested by the public come elections”. To put it in the simplest of terms the public sphere can be described as a metaphor, a place where individuals of society come together and discuss ideas.

As i’ve grown up my participation in the public sphere has grown from my family, to a classroom and further to places such as various social media platforms. We use our micro and macro worlds to discuss and debate different ideas relating to personal or social issues. Due to the rising dependence on platforms such as television, the internet, magazines, radio etc, control is needed in order to maintain a civil environment; this can be referred to as ‘mediation‘.

Recently former politician Pauline Hanson participated in protests against Islam in Australia. As part of this she has spoked about ‘halal certification’, and spoke on behalf of the many Australians who are against being taxed for this certifications. Channel 9 shows Pauline’s interview from the today show:

http://www.9news.com.au/national/2015/04/05/09/57/pauline-hanson-claims-halal-certification-funds-terrorism

Like most social issues and debates, social networks are flooded with trending hashtags, articles, comments etc. By having my own online presence I have found that Facebook has been subject to this trending topic, I have seen numerous statuses, articles, memes, photos etc based on this issue. Facebook has/was being used as a public sphere, various individuals used this in order to exchange opinions, ideas and debate different views and ideologies on the topic. Although a quote from the former politician; “Islam is not a religion, sorry, Islam is not a race, so therefore we’re not talking about racism here whatsoever“, was then utilised as fuel to aid to a debate against various cultural groups in Australia.

Facebook like any other social network is a mediated space, each post is monitored as well as giving users the ability to report offensive or inappropriate material. I came across an article which was based around this issue, although I was denied access as Facebook removed the content.

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The image above is a screenshot that reflects Facebook mediating its public sphere. Whilst it gives to individuals to voice their opinions and views, Facebook have the authority to monitor ad remove what they deem inappropriate or offensive.

From Channel 9s ‘Today Show’ to Facebook, these are two of the numerous public spheres we are involved in on a daily basis. Although within these spheres there is mediation which creates a civil and friendly environment for all. Although it is notable that our public spheres are not just conversations with a friend over coffee anymore. They have become international.

Think Twice Before You Judge

Media ownership influences the way in which certain media platform select what to present to there target audience. Owning various media platforms has become a commodity for the famous, the more an individual either owns or has sharing’s in the more control that individual has in the media. It seems as if media ownership has turned into a multi-layered Venn diagram, Sydney Morning Herald gives an idea of ownership.

Have you noticed that certain media platforms show particular news stories, sports reports and even propaganda? Whilst others either show the same or opposite? For example Channel Nine’s news reports, largely set there Sports reports about the latest news in the NRL and the cricket whereas other sports such as cycling, tennis and Formula 1 are only ‘mentioned’.

An article from the Daily Telegraphy covers Fox Sports recently securing the rights to broadcast Formula 1 alongside Channel 10 and Foxtel. What makes Fox Sports different from the other networks is that they will now be able to broadcast, “every race, every qualifying and every practice live and in High Definition, making sure our subscribers won’t miss a second of the action”, said Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delaney. Whilst other networks have holdings in this sports event, it presents diverse perspectives and focuses amongst networks.

Dating back to Hitler, this was an example of propaganda displayed and supported by owners of the media. Joseph Gobbles was the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, which largely controlled the news that was released throughout Germany and the incorporation of Nazi propaganda. This is similar to today, where it is evident that particular media platforms display various types of ‘subtle’ propaganda for example Murdoch’s Bias in an article from Crikey.

From reading various articles on Rupert Murdoch, it looks like he is one to continuously switch his views on liberal and labour parties and his media platforms present information. Recently Malcolm Turnbull expresses his intentions to ‘deregulate’ media ownership. In an article from The Australian, it begins with Turbull’s intention to allow main broadcasters the right to ‘top-tier’ sports which deny’s Foxtel the right to bid. Murdoch then backlashes in a tweet, implying that this decision is designed to aid specific networks.

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A quote from Ten chief executive Hamish McLennan, supports this idea that media ownership has the ability to dictate the success and diversity of various networks widespread; “just further distort an already uneven playing field”. From this it can then prevent the rights to broadcasting sports over a variety of channels.

So where is this leading? Commonly, we focus on the owners of different media platforms and how they have the ability to dictate what is presented. Although I have found that the government can be a form of media ownership, and their abilities to change regulations instantaneously effect the freedom of broadcasting example sports on different media channels. It is evident that the diversity throughout the media is declining although it is not only occurring internally but also externally.

Orange or Orange?

In science, experiments are conducted in order to decipher the relationship between cause and effect. When the media release an advertisement or image relating to a current issue, society view and react.

During my last year of high school, for my Society and Culture major I chose to study ‘the commodification of breast cancer research’. Sitting through this weeks lecture, the topic of discussion was Semiotics. As Sue began to explain the concept of semiotics and showed different examples, I realised that this concept can be related to the way Breast Cancer is advertised and how different sorts of people interpret and react to what they see. Looking at the example of the Dior ad staring Kate Moss, and the discussion that was brewing in the lecture theatre I became inspired to write about Breast Cancer advertising.

Although before I begin, I understand that Breast Cancer is a serious issue for women in Australia. Breast Cancer advertising is insightful and successful in conveying the importance of the disease and I completely support its effects on society. Therefore my example is not to fault Breast Cancer campaigns or offend, it is something that I have found from prior and current research.

So, lets get into semiotics. Semiotics can be broken down into ‘denotations’ and ‘connotations, which simply is the literal figure in an image and the way society interpret what they see.

Breast Cancer is one of the leading diseases in Australian women, October is the month of Breast Cancer. This is a time where society support and further promote Breast Cancer awareness.

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The denotations of this image convey women uniting ‘together’ to overcome Breast Cancer which coincides with the slogan, “Together, Connect. Communicate. Conquer. For a future free of Breast Cancer”. I feel that this image portrays the ‘inter-racial’ support amongst women. The Pink ribbon and lipstick reflect one of the biggest Breast Cancer Foundations which is the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Connotations vary, for some this can be a symbol for empowerment and unity for women and for others this can be a sexual innuendo.

In a blog by Melissa Tankard Reist she quotes pervious tweet from a former Breast Cancer patient “My ‘donation’ to research in the form of malignant flesh should not be devalued, by my cancer being reduced to a Benny Hill punchline.” Throughout her blog she expresses that ‘sexed-up campaigns’ or advertisements are offending women who have suffered from Breast Cancer as its connotations promote support for Breasts rather than the lives of women.

Ideologies and worldview very much affect semiotics. For instance feminists advocate for equal rights for women, when a feminist views this photograph instant connotations would relate to the sexualisation of women. Emily O’Malley expresses “These ads don’t even contain information about symptoms, prevention and treatment”. Breast Cancer is very much driven by Feminism, as it was one of the ways Breast Cancer was brought into light.

This is just one view from a minority in society. It can vary vastly from a cancer patient to a teenage boy, each individual have their own opinions and attitudes influenced by culture, age, gender etc.

Personally I feel that this example is a sufficient representation of semiotics.

Feel free to leave your opinions and thoughts.

Is it really only the media?

‘Likes’ and ‘Comments’, ‘Friends’ or ‘Followers’ are perceived as a criteria on who thinks you are attractive or agrees with what you’re posting and your popularity in your micro and macro world.

Who knew that these components of social media could create such hype amongst society? Being a teenager myself and recently stepping into the world of ‘adulthood’, I thought there would be a difference between who did and didn’t care about the attention they received on social media. But I was wrong. I found that even mature adults care as much as a fifteen-year-old girl does about their profile picture.

Recently my thirteen-year-old sister pestered my parents to allow her to have Facebook. Since she has ‘connected’ to the online world it has made me notice the amounts of children who are now signing up to various forms of social media.

Over the past week I have been observing her behaviour both online and offline to see if there truly is a difference between children being active on social media. It’s been notable that her reliance of her phone has increased and the way she presents herself in public and online has created her to become more self-conscious.

Studies show that those who care about what others think of them show an increase of people with low self-esteem in comparison to those who have high self-esteem take the time to upload photos and continuously post. Due to this reliance of others opinions, there is an increase anxiety and create the desire to constantly update and refresh social media in order to keep ‘up to date’ in the social world.

An article from The Telegraph states that the “greatest proportion of Internet activity takes place when children reach 11 years of age”. At such a young age, children are learning to interact with both people they know and have never met online. A recent report on A Current Affair talks about a young girl befriending someone she had never met, later being killed by this unknown. By the media showing these heartbreaking stories are they suggesting to society to be paranoid of all friends they have on Facebook?

Child psychologist Dr Richard Woolfson states, “Social media has removed the barriers between a young person’s public and private self”. In order to harness and lower the frequency of cyber-bullying between young children and the rate of depression and anxiety caused by social media, common forms of media such a television shows should promote a larger restriction of children on social media websites.

Violence and abuse is often linked to what adolescents are exposed to on common forms of media, such as the Bugler case. Studies showed that social media did not influence these actions majorly, whereas emotional damage is what was a large factor of the murder.

Overall we need to analyse whether it is solely the medias fault in not obtain higher restrictions or promoting an increased use of technology amongst young children or if it societies interpretation and use of such websites and films.

Being Welcomed To The World of ‘Professionalism’

Brobdingnagian. Pandiculation.

These are what came up as I googled “long and complicated words”. Going through high school we were ‘advised’ by some to utilise the thesaurus and find bigger words that were able to make our arguments sound more ‘sophisticated’ and ‘professional’. Honestly most of the time my writing lost its meaning, if you were to point out a sentence and ask what a certain word meant 7/10 times it was never in my vocabulary.

You’re now thinking to yourself, why? How can you be a good writer if you can’t understand your own writing?

I asked myself this every time I went to write an essay. Commonly feedback would revolve around ‘try using more sophisticated language to boost your argument’, this was never a strong point of mine.

My first day of Uni contradicted this feedback, we were told in several lectures that the best blogs/articles are written in the simplest form. They utilise simple words and expressions that are able to enhance and give clarity to a point.

By reading some of the posts recommended to us by lectures and investigating authors like George Orwell, I found that even the most timeless writers suggest using simple yet sophisticated language and how this can create a professional tone to your piece of work in the simplest ways.

Being welcomed to the world of ‘professionalism’, is quite daunting at first. Fancy vocabulary is what comes to mind when I first picture what it means to become a professional writer. I will be honest it is very intimidating.

But from reading pieces that come from some of the best writers, is comforting when they explain how simplicity can be utilised in such a way to give your writing clarity and make your audience interested in what you have to tell.

Maybe being welcomed into the world of professionalism, isn’t so intimidating after all.