Media literacy, and specifically the core concepts and key questions for media literacy, are among one of my most favourite concepts I have learned about throughout the course. Media literacy proves to be one of the most important concepts to be educated about in general as without media literacy skills, one can be susceptible to the negative messages that the media portrays which in turn have a negative effect on the psyche.
I enjoy learning about the break down of media literacy as well as the questions to ask yourself when using your media literacy skills to critically analyse. The lecture on media literacy is definitely something I will take with me when the course is over and share with others, especially my younger siblings and cousins! Children are especially impressionable and in my opinion, the sooner people learn to be media literate, the better!
I have watched Sut Jhally’s documentary series Dreamworlds several times and each time it is difficult to watch. When we watched Dreamworlds 3 in class on April 2nd, it was just as hard to watch as the first time I had watched it awhile back. Although Jhally’s documentary series were produced quite some time ago, the issues, points, and discussions touched upon in the documentaries series still proves to continue to be valid today. There has been little improvement in representation of women in the media since the release of Jhally’s documentaries. Women continue to be negatively portrayed, heavily degraded, dehumanized, and objectified in the media. When women are represented in the media they are cast in stereotypical roles and archetypes that further oppress and dehumanize women. Audiences constantly receive the message that women are sexual objects. Boys grow up learning women are objects and girls grow up learning that their physical appearance equates their worth. The misrepresentation of women in the media is extremely damaging to society.
Genocide is is described by Dr. Quist-Adade in his book Lost In transmission: Representation of Radicalized Minorities as “the deliberate, systematic killing of an entire people or nation.” (Dr. Quist-Adade, 2012, p.48)
I was glad genocide was touched upon in class because often, I am not sure many people understand the definition of genocide. My family faced genocide during the Khmer Rouge rule in the 1970′s and although I was born in Canada and did not face genocide myself, genocide remains a personally sensitive subject nonetheless.
Genocide being brought up in class made me think of a pro-life group called the “Genocide Awareness Project.” The projects comparison of unwanted pregnancy to the suffering, torture, and pain of live people is extremely offensive to genocide victims. Furthermore, it further traumatizes and re-victimizes these people and trivializes the concept of genocide. Currently the “Genocide Awareness Project” is on campus at The University of Massachusetts’ Lowell campus. Contact the school to put an end to the outrageous project: http://www.uml.edu/default.aspx
I was delighted to find feminism discussed in class as I feel feminism is not talked about enough. Some of my inspirations include famous Black feminists such as bell hooks, Angela Davis, Audre Lourde, and Alice Walker. As a Cambodian woman, I am both a woman and a person of colour and thus, I find strength in Black feminism as I often find issues of race are often disregarded in white feminism.
I define myself as a feminist and personally find I receive a lot of criticism for presenting myself as a feminist. In a patriarchal society, feminist are portrayed negatively as angry, hairy, unkempt, women. It is widely perceived that feminism is about hating men. This is not true however. If you simply believe in equal rights for all people then you are a feminist.
Agenda setting is described by Dr. Quist-Adade in his book Lost In transmission: Representation of Radicalized Minorities as “the ability of the media to influence people’s perception of what is important, acceptable, or desirable by drawing attention to certain aspects of reality and away from others.” (Dr. Quist-Adade, 2012, p.39)
I think agenda setting is a fascinating concept as it illustrates how powerful the media truly is. Learning about agenda setting made me think of the media coverage of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. With the United States of America and Israel having government relations, media coverage on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict in the U.S. was very pro-Israel. The pro-Israel media coverage thus influenced American civilians’ perception of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
‘Ethonos’ is the Greek word for ‘people’ and ‘centrum’ is the Latin word for ‘center’. (Dr. Quist-Adade, Barry, & Kenney, 2009, p.264) Dr. Quist-Adade, Barry, & Kenney further explain the definition in chapter 10 of Issues in Social Justice stating that, “…when individuals account for an individualistic perspective, all external norms and values are judged in comparison to its internal ones.” (Dr. Quist-Adade, Barry, & Kenney 2009, p.310) Those who possess ethnocentric views thus possess the idea and “…false sense of superiority and invincibility.” (Dr. Quist-Adade, Barry, & Kenney 2009, p.310)
In early March, Invisible Children’s video campaign Kony 2012 went viral. The video calling for the capture of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and American military intervention, portrayed Ugandans as helpless and in desperate need of American aid. In fact Nigerian writer Teju Cole reflects upon such ignorant comments from Americans such as “we have to save them because they can’t save themselves” in his article, “The White Saviour Industrial Complex.” Cole elaborates on the issue of American ethnocentrism and “The White Saviour Industrial Complex”, stating, “…From the colonial project to Out of Africa to The Constant Gardener and Kony 2012, Africa has provided a space onto which white egos can conveniently be projected. It is a liberated space in which the usual rules do not apply: a nobody from America or Europe can go to Africa and become a godlike savior or, at the very least, have his or her emotional needs satisfied.”
As Cole explains, “The White Saviour Industrial Complex” where Europeans and Anglo-North Americans help Africa to “become a godlike saviour” illustrates the ethnocentric and Eurocentric idea that Europeans and Anglo-North Americans are superior to Africans.
Furthermore, American campaign Kony 2012 is extremely ethnocentric as it casts American ideology as superior to Ugandan’s. It also portrays Americans as kind hearted “godlike saviours” while casting Africans negatively as “helpless” and “evil.” Ugandans have come a long way and do not need the help of Americans. Cole uses an example of the recent protests in Nigeria to illustrate the fact that many African countries are strong and independent. He acknowledge that,
“Men and women, of all classes and ages, stood up for what they felt was right; they marched peacefully; they defended each other, and gave each other food and drink; Christians stood guard while Muslims prayed and vice-versa; and they spoke without fear to their leaders about the kind of country they wanted to see. All of it happened with no cool American 20-something heroes in sight.”
Cole, T. (2012, March 21). The White Savior Industrial Complex – Teju Cole – International – The Atlantic. The Atlantic — News and analysis on politics, business, culture, technology, national, international, and life â TheAtlantic.com. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/
Kenney, M., Barry, D., & Quist-Adade, C. (2009). Terrorism. Issues in social justice (p. 264). Sault Ste. Marie, ON: Landon Elsemere
Dr. Charles Quist-Adade explains that there is no “one standard definition of race” and the theory that race is “in the eye of the beholder” in the book Issues in Social Justice by Frank Tridico, Joseph M. Pellerito, and Jacob Armstrong. (Dr. Quist-Adade, 2009, p.310) Dr. Quist-Adade describes this theory by explaining that “…there lacks a uniform definition of the concept and confusion is rife regarding racial identity in the global community. What constitutes a ‘White’ person in Brazil, Haiti, or Ghana is different from what constitute a ‘White’ person in the United States of America or England.”(Dr. Quist-Adade, 2009, p.310)
George Zimmerman is the accused murderer in the highly publicized Trayvon Martin case in which 17 year-old Black male, Martin was fatally shot. Allegations of racial motivation and racism linger over Martin’s death. Zimmerman’s ethnicity has been widely debated causing much controversy.
An article published on The Washington Post’s website titled, “Why did New York Times call George Zimmerman ‘white Hispanic’?” written by journalist Erik Wemple discusses the debate on Zimmerman’s ethnicity, New York Time’s choice to use the term “white-Hispanic,” and the definition of “Hispanic.” As Phil Corbett describes in the article, Zimmerman, who’s “…father is a non-Hispanic white, and his mother is a Peruvian immigrant,” has been labeled “white-Hispanic” by various other media outlets besides The New York Times. Corbett goes on to explain the difficulty of defining or describing Zimmerman stating, “…there are no absolute, clear-cut rules on this. People often treat white, black and Hispanic as three parallel categories, but it’s not always that simple. As you know, Hispanic people can be different races.”
The article illustrates the theory that race is “in the eye of the beholder” and that there is no “one standard definition of race.” In North America identifying Zimmerman evidentially comes with some difficulty and controversy whereas in other parts of the world Zimmerman would be identified as “White” as he possesses light skin and the privilege that comes along with it.
Wemple, E. (2012, March 28). Why did New York Times call George Zimmerman ‘white Hispanic’? – Erik Wemple – The Washington Post.Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/why-did-new-york-times-call-george-zimmerman-white-hispanic/2012/03/28/gIQAW6fngS_blog.htm
Quist-Adade, C. (2009). The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism. Issues in social justice (p. 310). Sault Ste. Marie, ON: Landon Elsemere Press.
John D. Jackson, Greg M. Nielsen, and Yon Hsu (2011) discuss dehumanization and effacement in their book Mediated Society: A critical sociology of media. Judith Butler is quoted on page 138 describing dehumanization in which she explains that it is characterized by “the derealisation of loss- the insensitivity to human suffering and death… This derealisation takes place neither inside nor outside the image, but through the very framing by which the image is contained. (2006: 148).” Media effacement is defined as “a framing technique that makes the victims faceless, non-auditable, and closed to grief. It denies the victims’ sufferings, demands, and even existence.”(Jackson, Nielson, & Hsu, 2011, p.258)
In March of 2012, the murder of 16 innocent Afghani civilians by an American soldier made news media headlines. In an article published on Al Jazeera titled, “No one asked their names” written by Qais Azimy, Azimy points out the dehumanization and effacement of the victims stating, “…Many mainstream media outlets channelled a significant amount of energy into uncovering the slightest detail about the accused soldier – now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. We even know where his wife wanted to go for vacation, or what she said on her personal blog. But the victims became a footnote, an anonymous footnote. Just the number 16. No one bothered to ask their ages, their hobbies, their aspirations. Worst of all, no one bothered to ask their names.”
As Azimy explains, the way in which the media portrays the victims dehumanizes and effaces them. The media portrays the victims simply as a number, the “16 civilians.” This portrayal of the victims by the media converts the victims into “faceless” subjects and “denies the victims’ sufferings, demands, and even existence .”(Jackson, Nielson, & Hsu, 2011, p.258)
The media’s reports revolved around the American soldier while the Afghani victims and their families were left anonymous. With the American soldier being the focus of the story, the Afghani victims act as mere background information of the news reports which further dehumanizes the victims.
Azimy, Q. (2012, March 19). No one asked their names | Al Jazeera Blogs. Al Jazeera Blogs. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://blogs.aljazeera.com/asia/2012/03/19/no-one-asked-their-names
Jackson, J. D., Nielsen, G. M., & Yon, H. (2011). Global Media Events.Mediated society: a critical sociology of media (p. 258). Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press.