“Denzel Washington Thriller is No. 1 Draw“
Mainstream is, the common current thought of the majority. However, the mainstream is far from cohesive; rather the concept is often considered a cultural construct. As such, the mainstream includes all popular culture. Mainstream media, or mass media, is generally applied to print publications, such as newspapers and magazines that contain the highest readership among the public, along with radio formats and television stations that contain the highest viewing and listener audience, respectively. This is in contrast to various independent media, such as alternative weekly newspapers, specialized magazines in various organizations and corporations, and various electronic sources such as podcasts and blogs. Mainstream music denotes music that is familiar and unthreatening to the masses, as for example popular music, pop music, middle of the road music, pop rap or pop rock. For example, mainstream jazz is generally seen as an evolution of be-bop, which was originally regarded as radical. Mainstreaming can also be found in the film industry.
This article found in the Vancouver Sun talks about a mainstream film featuring Denzel Washington. Mainstream films can best be defined as commercial films that are made by major entertainment studios or companies that are owned by international media conglomerates. Because of better financing, these films can afford more expensive actors, wide releases or limited releases, and are sold at popular retail stores. This has become known as the studio system. Mainstream films are targeted for all cultures and audiences, with the dominating culture and audience being the primary marketing focus, while sub genre films are marketed towards only one specific culture and audience. Mainstream films often recruit talent from all film genres and backgrounds.
“Poll Finds 17% of Canadians Staring at Bills Above $50,000″
False consciousness is the theory of Karl Marx that material and institutional processes in a capitalist society are misleading to the proletariat (the working class), and to other lower classes. In Marxist theory, false consciousness is essentially a result of the elite exercising ideological control which the proletariat either do not know they are under or which they disregard with a view to their own possibility of upward mobility (aka the “American Dream”).
The concept flows from the theory of commodity fetishism — that people experience social relationships as value relations between things, e.g., between their salary and the shirts they want to buy. The cash and the shirt appear to conduct social relations independently of the humans involved, determining who gets what by their inherent values (the value of objects, both physical objects and abstract objects, not as ends-in-themselves but a means of achieving something else). In the view of Marx, this leaves the person who earned the cash and the people who made the shirt ignorant of and alienated from their social relationship with each other. So the individual tries to ‘resolve’ the experiences of alienation and oppression through a false conception based on a natural law argument that there is a fundamental need to compete with others for commodities.
The small article in the National Post focuses on current Canadian consumer debt. In the eyes of Marx consumer debt is the result of the “owners of capital” stimulating the working class to buy more and more expensive goods, pushing them to “take more and more expensive credits until their debt becomes unbearable”. In Marxist ideology, this false consciousness of society needs to be rectified by rejecting such a capitalistic ideal.
“A Black Leader, A Future Diplomat And A Moment In Time”
The term “normalizing” can refer to many subjects, but in this case it is the subject of race. Here, I will refer to professor Richard Dyer and his theories of whiteness in different cultural representations. Dyer explains that “in these representations whiteness is equated with normality and as such it is not in need of definition. Thus ‘being normal’ is colonized by the idea of ‘being white’”.
This article from the Globe and Mail is titled A Black Leader, A Future Diplomat And A Moment In Time. The article discusses a video clip that was recently discovered of a Malcolm X speech at Brown University in 1961. It is not the content of the article itself that shows the process of the normalization of race, but the words used by the author. In the May 11, 1961, speech delivered to a mostly white audience of students and some residents, Malcolm X combines humour and reason to argue blacks should not look to integrate into white society but instead must forge their own identities and culture. At the time, Malcolm X, 35, was a loyal supporter of the black separatist movement Nation of Islam. He would be assassinated four years later after leaving the group and crafting his own more global, spiritual ideology. The legacy of slavery and racism, he told the crowd of 800, “has made the 20 million black people in this country a dead people. Dead economically, dead mentally, dead spiritually. Dead morally and otherwise. Integration will not bring a man back from the grave.”
Both in the title of the article and in the text itself, the author chose to forgo names at some point in favor of descriptions of race. For example, instead of stating in the title of the article that the person being spoken about is Malcolm X, the title says only “a black leader”. The word “black” is used many times in the article and shows that because “white” is the norm, anything “black” or not of the norm needs to be separated and pointed out.
The concept that I chose as “coolest concept of the week” is editorial opinion. An editorial opinion is generally seen as the stated opinion of a newspaper or of its publisher, as conveyed on the editorial page. In the study of mass media using a sociological approach, we see editorial opinion as being a key reason in why the media is so important as the editorial opinion persuades audiences by showing them only one side of an argument or issue.
I saw this concept reflected in the media a lot this past week, mostly over the issue of a comment made by Mitt Romney, a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 American presidential election. In an “oops” moment Romney stated, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” While Romney and many others have made inept remarks in the past and surely will do so in the future, the reason this gaffe made such a splash in the media was that it reflected the current consciousness of Americans.
The remark made by Romney was splattered all over the headlines of major newspapers and news networks, but the most interesting part of the whole issue for me was that many of the headlines differed in their attitude towards the statement and Romney. From CCN taking the comment and turning into an article about Romney’s views towards the ‘poor’ with a headline stating “Romney’s Plan Would Shred Safety Net for Poor”, to the New York Times’ neither here nor there headline of “‘Poor’ Quote by Romney Seized on by His Critics”, to MSNBC’s choice to hide the statement inside an article headlined “Romney Goes West After Big Florida Win” – each media outlet used their own editorial powers to push their opinions on their audiences.
New York Times – “Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Syrian Crisis”
The article in the New York Times newspaper titled “Russia and China Block U.N. Action of Syrian Crisis” is an illustration of the concept of agenda setting. When it comes to media, the sociological concept of agenda setting describes the ability of the media to influence its audiences’ views on what is important, acceptable, and/or desirable by showing certain aspects of a story or issue in a specific light.
In this case, the New York Times has clearly shown their bias towards the views of the United Nations when it comes to the condemnation of violence in Syria. This bias is shown even just in the headline of this article by stating that Russia and China have blocked the effort of the United Nations Security Council to end the violence in Syria. Strong language is used throughout the article from saying that the “effort to end the violence in Syria collapsed in acrimony”, to calling the violence in Syria “the Arab world’s bloodiest revolt”, to quoting American Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, saying “[t]o block this resolution is to bear responsibility for the horrors that are occurring…”.
While there are many quotes from those condemning the violence in Syria, including the President of the United States, there are only three very small quotes (totaling ten words) from those who oppose action in Syria. The quotes used in the article, especially from those who want to take action, are rich with heavy, brutal language while most of the views of their opposition (mainly Russia, as China is hardly mentioned) have been paraphrased.
The implications of this article are severe. The article illustrates the fact that the United Nations is still a weak internationally agency that cannot impose action without the full support of the Security Council, in which anti-intervention Russia and China both have veto power. This is a battle of morals and ethics – the west vs. the rest. The U.S. and their close allies are always ready to tackle any international situation as long as it is in their best interest, or in other words as long as it involves a region rich in oil or other resources.
The other issue that is worth discussing is the fact that with so many strong nations urging for action in Syria it is likely that, whether action occurs or not, that the oppressive and violent regime of Syria will collapse sooner or later leaving Russia and China to scramble to re-form strong ties with the government. It might be a better idea, because of their long-term interests in Syria, that Russia and China show their loyalty to the Syrian people and not to Bashar al-Assad.
It is interesting that Dr. Quist-Adade used the story of him planting cocoa trees to demonstrate the concept of global sociological imagination, because in recent news media there has been lots of interest on the conditions of child labor and slavery in the cocoa business in Western Africa, mostly focusing on the Ivory Coast. Dr. Quist-Adade’s story shows us another side of this story. As a young child he began to grow and harvest cocoa. Many in “Western” society would be quick to label this as child labor or child slavery, not knowing that this work paid for him to get an education and become the accomplished professor he is today.
This is a great example of how the global sociological imagination allows us to look beyond the surface and acknowledge “the fact that our actions, seemingly inconsequential, do have ramifications, rippling far beyond our immediate environments and our shores” (Dr. Quist-Adade). Marshall McLuhan was completely correct when he stated, “we inhabitants [of the global village] are increasingly becoming interconnected, integrated, intermixed, intermingled, and interdependent”. In modern times, it is now true that something that happens on the other side of the world most likely will affect you in some way.
Having traveled to many different places, I have seen some of the happiness and the heartache, the positive and the destructive, the celebration and the despair of the world. Nothing is every as simple as we want it to be.
I was born into a family that believes traveling and seeing other cultures first hand is as important to a child’s education just as much as learning the alphabet. As my siblings and I were growing up it was the goal of my parents to make sure that we never had “a single story” of a particular people or culture. While we identify as Canadians, most of the media we are exposed to comes from the US and an American point of view. Watching, reading and listening to American media is eye opening in that, for the most part, it seems to tell a “single story”.
One issue that I see in American mass media today centers around what we might call “Islamaphobia”. While there seems to be more and more depictions – accurate or not – of minorities such as African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans, there is a huge lack of depictions and characters of a Middle Eastern background. This of course has been magnified after the attacks of September 11th. However, some media are attempting to right this wrong. For example, TLC has introduced a televisiom show called “All-American Muslim” that shows the day to day lives of average Muslim-Americans living in suburban Illinois.
As Chimamanda Adichie said in her inspirational and courageous speech, we as media consumers are impressionable and vulnerable and if all we every see, hear and read “show[s] people as one thing over and over again” how are we supposed to believe anything else. There are always “unintended consequence[s]” of a single story and what the world needs is a symphony of “balanced” stories. There is so much knowledge out there in the world for us to soak in. So then, why are we only being exposed to a small percentage of that knowledge. As Adichie so elegantly said, “when we reject the single story, we regain a kind of paradise”. And who doesn’t want to live in paradise.
My name is Amanda and I write the blog Staring at the Clouds.
I am a post-secondary student currently attending Kwantlen University. This blog has been created for a class I am taking on Mass Media & Society. Through this blog, and the course, I hope to open myself up to the world of media and gain insight and knowledge into the ways that media affects all of us.
I have been attending Kwantlen on and off for a few years, mostly taking one or two courses a semester while working full-time. For the first two and a half years of my post-secondary education, I was enrolled at Kwantlen in the Associate of Science Degree program in Biology. Since then I have changed programs (a few times) and am currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts.
As far as my knowledge of Sociology goes, I have only taken one course (Sociology 1125) but am extremely interested in society and culture. Being a student of Political Science, having an understanding of society and culture will help my studies greatly. I have recently come back to school full-time and I am excited to finally accomplish my goal of getting a bachelor’s degree. Some other academic goals that I have include getting a Masters Degree, studying abroad and eventually getting a Ph.D.
In my free time I love to spend time with family and friends, read, visit my local farmers market, watch old black and white movies, cuddle with my dogs, and play board games. You might be surprised to know that I do not participate in any “social media”, such as Facebook or Twitter. I have never been able to grasp the whole concept of social media vs. real human interaction. If I could have dinner with five famous people, past or present, I would invite Grace Kelly, Bill Clinton, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Warren, and Nelson Mandela. That would definitely be an interesting dinner!
I also love to travel and am lucky enough to have seen many beautiful and fascinating places around the world, but hope to see many more. Some places I plan to go next include Norway, New Zealand and a few places in the US. I speak fluent French and am currently attempting to learn Norwegian. I would love to eventually learn a few more languages (including Spanish and Dutch) when I can find the time.