Thursday, February 28, 2008


Television is an interesting thing. It is a medium that enables viewers to absorb whatever is presented to them. A program I will discuss is Spike TV's Manswers. The name clearly identifies the intended audience and intended humour. The show is narrated by a youthful adult male who constantly yells out, spurting almost sarcastically comments on the male condition. The show runs in a similar way magazines such as maxim would, showing some general information on random things like how to remove a bullet from yourself, how shapes of women's breast's can define their personality, how to receive a "happy ending" at a legitimate massage parlour and how to fool a drug test. Amidst these sensible instructions, women pose in all sorts of flattering outfits to contrast the gritty man-ness of the subject matter.
I found interesting what these characteristics mean about our society and how it is presented to us. The mere presence of the show displays how popular interests geared towards one sex are still appreciated in a world of intended equality between men and women. The constant yelling at the viewer adds to the intensity of the experience and is a form of rhetoric that convinces the viewer of not only the extremity of the activity but the truthfulness of it as well. The program uses actual evidence from physicians and professionals to explain the truth about serious guy issues and still tells the viewer certain opinions that seem out of place, like calling a pothead an idiot- even though they have just glorified his actual defeat of the drug test and earning a respectable career. This almost represents what the show is trying to say: These are the things we all wish we could do but won't because they're bad. This is why it is a form of entertainment, it is making spectacle the object of our desires. There is no need to mention why women would be considered "beneficial" to the program.
This is a typical segment on Manswers. The Humour is often geared toward the value of sex and objection of women. But more importantly the way this clip is filmed is interesting because it is filmed on a home video camera pointing at a TV in a room wiht the lights off and you are able to hear the viewers few comments and reactions. This adds a whole new media space within the clip, as there are now two voices: that of the narrator and that of the viewer. There are also now two screens- the television set in the room and the computer screen you are seeing it on. Whether purposfefully or not, the user who filmed and posted this clip brought the viewer into two settings at once, a feat which is not often accomplished in media today.
Early on in Stephen Duncobe's Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics In an Age of Fantasy, one of the ideas presented is that "Spectacle is our way of making sense of the world. Truth and power belong to those who tell the better story." Spectacle is defined in the Oxford dictionary as: "A visually impressive performance or display" and is derived from the latin word spectaculum which means "public show". Stephen Duncombe imagines the News as a spectacle, being the public show that it is, and is saying that it holds the Truth in world because it gives the public a more better viewing, reading, or listening experience. To describe this act of receiving information from mediums of all kind, I would like to use the term 'media absorption', because no matter how the information is physically received the information and type of reception (listening, seeing) leaves a significant amount of influence and thus giving the user a piece of the medium's essence or message.
In a world where media absorption is a regular occurence, there is a certain degree of choice when it comes to where the Truth is believed to be coming from. We can believe whole-heartedly that Stephen Colbert's Comedy is a literal view of the truth in the world, or we can put the same overwhelming amount of faith in our Government's take on life. These media both present their information in a way that is either too grim and plain like the Goverment or too much the exact opposite as with the intense political satire by Colbert. Though being entertained in some way or another, people cannot always completely trust one or the other since they both have an extreme bias toward their own side. Thus, media absorption shifts towards the News as a source of Truth because it can be watched as entertainment and information at the same time without any apparent bias. The News provides viewers with live, up to date information on anything from deaths to celebrity child-births in a way that flashily presents multiple headlines at a time. One could essentially have the News as most of their daily media absorption and still get the same amount of advertising, music, real and non-real stories, seriousness and comedy as someone who watches everything but the News. Despite this, Truth is still placed in what news the News is giving us solely because it does so in a style that pleases our senses (not just physical sense, but emotional senses as well). With so much faith of masses, The News becomes a source of power in society because it becomes an authority. When considering that "author" is the root word of "authority" it is easy to see how what they create gives them power to create, and therefore govern the masses.
In the economic world of today power often translates to money. The more power you have, the more money you earn to represent that power, most evident in the case of major corporations such as news broadcasting companies. These news companies earn enough to money to influence politics through endorsement and henceforth have influence on the government. A huge bulk of news content is government proceedings and legislations and based on what they believe politically the news companies themselves can choose what Truth to tell. This is in the sense of Dream, what is meant by creation of reality.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Quick Idea About Tom Cruise

Recently I was was thinking about the relevance of the three clips presented to us during our last class together and how they had to do with the idea of "fake" news. At first I didn't understand how the clip of Tom Cruise acting crazy on Oprah demonstrated this. After a short while of pndering I came up with an idea. Tom Cruise is a huge superstar, and people like his agents know that superstars get in the news for almost anything. It seems to me that Tom Cruise's actions were dictated by his agent or a PR group to make news. See, after this incident, Tom Cruise was in the news constantly. Whether good or bad everyone was talking about how "Craaaaaazy" he was. And of course, his new movie Mission Impossible: 3 was on its way to theatres so the huge publicity of the main actor of the movie was a generous boost towards ticket sales I'm sure.
This is fake news because there are other people creating it for the sake of the buzz. They are deciding what we should be seeing for the next two weeks by simply making a superstar do ridiculous things. Tom Cruise isn't really news, it's advertising in disguise, similar to the so called "newscasts" that we watched which simply take an ad from a company and twist it into a story that is supposed to sound important to us as viewers.
So yes, that video of Tom Cruise is fake news. I mean, he didn't even say anything intellectually stimulating, he just smiled and jumped around.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Superbowl Sunday

Yesterday was the big day. The day where major corporations spend ridiculously huge amounts of money for 30 seconds of advertising. The day when most people in North America are watching the same thing. The Superbowl. Despite the incredible action on the field (Woo Giants!) there was also some incredible action off the field. In fact that action happens to be unavailable to those present at the actual game. This action I'm referring to is advertising. Advertising has always been a big part of the Superbowl. Beer companies work hard to write some of the funniest commercials of the year so that their pride about their "Fresh Taste" can be heard by the masses. This is not something new to me, however this year soemthing very interesting piqued my curiosity. During the game we were reminded by the commentators and analysts (whose jobs also now include explaining to the viewer what is on after the supebowl) that if you missed any of the commercials during the superbowl go to to watch all your favourites. For some reason that shocked me. Media really is dying. Apparently people don't like missing commercials these days? This just goes to show how a huge aspect of watching tv is watching commercials, and those commercials seem as important as the programming itself, especially since there is a way that you can watch them at will at a human networking site. Not only are these advertisements being advertised, but a website as well. Maybe Myspace is trying to fight back against the Facebook community. It makes me wonder how much Myspace paid to get advertised during the Superbowl.
Another interesting thing. Halftime reports are nothing out of the ordinary for football games. But last night it was the "SOBE Life Water Halftime Report". Man was I excited to see this. The name made it sound so different than usual, I thought perhaps there would be some intense action requiring extreme amounts of hydration or maybe a SOBE lizard commenting on the game. Needless to say I was disappointed. The Halftime report was simply the same guys they ALWAYS have, doing a simple rundown on the game so far. I was seriously confused as to how this was the "Sobe Life Water Halftime report" until I saw a sign in the conference room that had that slogan on it. Really? Sobe calls it THEIR halftime report, but really they have nothing to do with it.
Media truly is dying. Advertisers aren't even trying to mask the fact that they're just trying to sell more stuff anymore. They instead make their advertising a form of entertainment in itself, and name events after their products simply because you know they paid a ridiculous sum of money to have their name simply on the screen at the same time.
I'm curious to know when original programming will end, and programs created by the advertisers will air. Imagine instead of the Superbowl, CorporateBowl! The Sports event for advertisers! Who will become the next champ of the TV?

for those interested in seeing an entire Myspace page dedicated to advertising, visit