MORAL HYSTERIA AS DAKOTA FANNING…SHOOTS A PERFUME ADVERTISEMENT.

What is it you see when viewing this advertisement featuring Dakota Fanning and bottle of Marc Jacobs perfume? Unlike mine, your perception has not been completely altered yet.

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However if I contextualise the advert, revealing the fact that it was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority and deemed as guilty of sexualising a child (Bergin 2011), you see the image differently. As discussed in my previous post, ‘Big Night Out For Fashion Junkies,’ the way each individual views an image is idiosyncratic. You may or may not have seen the implied sexual innuendo that is under question in this advertisement. So is the commercialized choice of actors media exploitation and sexualisation, or is it in fact the actors’ choice?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) stated, “We noted that the model was holding up the perfume bottle which rested in her lap between her legs and we considered that its position was sexually provocative. We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16…along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child” (Bergin 2011). The sexualisation of children is another issue that can be added to the list of topics blamed on the media. The ASA’s statement exemplifies the power of the media and society’s trepidation of increasing sexualisation of teens. This ‘moral panic’ of the sexualisation of apparently ‘vunerable’ children is certainly magnified through the media but is also created by it.

 If Lateysha from ‘The Valleys,’ examined in ‘Breaking News: Lateysha has chilli sauce in her hair,’ shot the same advertisement as Fanning it would probably just have been seen as a extremely tame campaign for her outrageous reality TV show. So why is this ‘mediated’ representation of Fanning considered sexualised enough to be banned?

Fanning plays the young Sally Walden in 'The Cat in the Hat' (2003).

Fanning plays the young Sally Walden in ‘The Cat in the Hat’ (2003).

The all-powerful media has encapsulated Fanning’s innocence that has lived on through films such as ‘I Am Sam’ (2001), ‘The Cat in the Hat’ (2003) and ‘Charlotte’s Web’ (2006) (Bio 2014). Even her role in ‘The Twilight Saga’, her first appearance in 2009, Fanning was chosen for the role of Jane to represent a ‘child-like beauty’ (Wikia 2014), that the character is described as having. The same can be said for celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan, who are remembered and constantly compared to their appearance and reputation when they were young girls. These women are evolving, is it so unfathomable to understand that their characteristics evolve with them? It does say at the top of the Marc Jacobs advertisement ‘The New Fragrance for Women,’ so perhaps Fanning wants to be treated like one rather than the innocent girl she is remembered for.

 Marc Jacobs decision to shoot Fanning in the campaign due to her ability to be ‘seductive yet sweet’ (Bergin 2011) is questionable, as well as his statement that she is the ‘contemporary Lolita’. Due to the fact that Lolita featured in the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov about a middle-aged man’s sexual obsession for a 12-year-old girl, you can see where this moral crisis on sexualisation may have stemmed from. However a fellow BCM student Tiarne provided a new perspective for my study in her post ‘Reflecting, Reliving, Remembering & Reminiscing.’ The 7-year old daughter of ‘real life Barbie’ Sarah Burge was given no say in a media interview. In contrast with my case study, Fanning, although underage, clearly had a voice in the way in which she was represented highlighting ‘If you want to read something into a perfume bottle, then I guess you can’ (Toronto Sun 2013). I believe Fanning’s previous reputation has shaped our perception of her as a young adult thus this ‘moral panic’ is overly exaggerated.

However there are innumerable angles to analyse the media, my study over the past weeks and other students’ interpretation has taught me this. You are shaped by your personal context in the way you view the media. The media shapes your perspective. And those in charge of the media shape the ‘mediated’ public sphere. Objectivity? Hardly.

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Breaking news: Lateysha has chilli sauce in her weave

Hold up. Complete catastrophe. Have look at the video below (MTVUKofficial 2013):

I am shameful to say that Lateysha, weave and all, is my favourite cast member.

‘The Valleys’. A British reality television series broadcasted on MTV about a group of ‘young adults’ from South Wales Valleys. Whilst the show assures their experiences in Cardiff, Wales will allow them to better their career and future opportunities, I noticed not a large portion of air time was dedicated to this ‘important’ feature of the show. So how is Leeroy going to become a rapper? How is Jack going to become a stripper? Will Lateysha achieve her dream of being the new Beyoncé? Their publicity might have something to do with the fact that the cast have their clothes off for majority of the show…

When Jurgen Habermas (1962) envisioned the public sphere, it was a place for news and debate. Alan McKee (2005) believes the public sphere is a metaphor for the way in which we come together to exchange ideas and discuss what really matters to one another in society.

So why has the ‘mediated’ public sphere in ‘The Valley’ developed and why is it contradictory from Habermas’s academic, controlled scenario? To be fair, ‘The Valleys’ does show aspects of Haberman’s perception of discussing issues of the day. However rather than a debate about politics, it’s who’s picking up a ‘bird’ and getting a ‘bang.’

With the average MTV viewers being 581,000 for Season 1 (Wikipedia, 2001), I believe ‘The Valleys’ raises the issue of society’s fascination and captivation with ‘popular’ media. As Chidgey explains his modeling promotion as ‘There’s me, me, me… all you can see is me’ (MTVUKofficial 2012) and Lateysha goes ‘mental’ to protect her Y.S.L nail polish, the series raises the issue of materialism and exemplifies McKee’s notion of citizen’s becoming apathetic to ‘serious’ affairs. Publicised proudly by MTV as ‘The most outrageous show on TV,’ the commercialisation of the public sphere is further accentuated as the cast drink, dance, fight and scream to get you hooked onto the series.

So if you have the choice to view a possibly important news update or a clip of The Valleys, what would you choose? Would you miss watching a political segment today so you can discuss Lateysha’s latest escapades tomorrow?

 

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If the victors write history, do the powerful warp the media?

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Let our voices be heard- A protester holds a sign high in the crowd at Sydney’s March In March 2014.

“The power of the people is stronger than the people in power”

(Pereira 2014).

The words stood tall amongst the protestors in Sydney’s March In March two weeks ago. This movement aimed to signify ‘people’s vote of no confidence’ in the Abbott governments’ policies and actions, exemplifying the everlasting issue of power and control. In relation to media, I pose the question of who holds this idealized authority and is this necessarily important?

Mr Timothy Pembroke seemed to think so, publishing a disappointed and sarcastic letter addressed to the popular paper, The Sydney Morning Herald. Pembroke questioned why there was not a single printed article on the movement March In March that (he describes) ‘…attracted more than 100,000 and attendees nationwide over 2 days’ (2014). As the protestors held signs conveying ‘We represent the 99 per cent,’ Pembroke inclusively communicated to The Sydney Morning Herald ‘We seek truth. Yesterday was a big day and you blatantly ignored it…we needed you.’ Analysing this perspective, those who control the all-important media clearly have the vital power in which voices are heard in society. So when you’re enjoying an invigorating pot of tea on your Sunday morning and flipping through the paper, stop and think- who decides what you read?

The Sydney Morning Herald is owned by Fairfax Media. Gina Rinehart owns the biggest shareholding of Fairfax Media at close to 19 per cent. According to Ricardo Goncalves, a finance reporter for the SBS, there are public concerns that Rinehart may use this influence to ‘sway editorial policies at publications like The Sydney Morning Herald…which the company owns’ (Goncalves 2012).

However with technological developments and the wide array of resources available I believe that whilst certain personalities, like Rinehart, have important ‘control’ of media outlets, the truth behind a story is accessible. Mr Pembroke’s letter, for example, went viral on the Internet, stirring up more awareness of March In March as he declares ‘Your (The Sydney Morning Herland’s) silence astounds us.’ As a direct response, journalist for the paper Jacqueline Maley was ‘allowed’ to publish a printed article in the News Review section; ‘Two sides to the story we didn’t run.’ Thus whilst the ‘people in power’ ultimately make the decision, the ‘power of the people’ pushed to publicise their cause.

The control of the media is an ongoing issue due to its impact upon society. It undoubtedly matters who has the authority as this distorts the representation. Their intentions filter through the system but in a technologically advanced society, there are countless measures to obtain news. I understand that majority of texts include bias due to our experiences and intentions. However stories and a multitude of perspectives are more attainable today than they once were. Mr Pembroke demonstrated that the ability to voice your passion and generate recognition is certainly achievable.

The home front had a radio. We have the World Wide Web.

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Big night out for ‘Fashion Junkies’

A stark white object lies diagonally across the image. Two small cylindrical items. The whites of the girls eyes. Deep purple dress. A powdery substance on a credit card and the bold words centered in the image; ‘SISLEY’.

SISLEY-FASHION-JUNKIE-1

That is purely what you see in the image above (Zoo Advertising, 2007), the signifiers. However (judging by my audience) the connotations of the advertisement most likely hit you at first glance.

I completely acknowledge that different companies have to push the envelope to stand out in the competitiveness of the worldwide market. However with media so increasingly accessible and advertisements exposed to a large range of audiences, the elements of the image are extremely significant. Social consequences and ethics disappear in the whirlwind of commercialism. This advertisement plays on the innuendo of an addiction to drugs and correlates it with an obsession with fashion. It operates as a sign of compulsive shopping for women. Are the connotations of the image providing a perspicuous reflection of contemporary society? Does the arguably offensive material negatively influence the public? Or do you just want to Google ‘SISLEY’ and start your online shopping spree now?

The placement of the white shirt and thin straps with the two girls leaning over about to inhale the item immediately implies the consumption of drugs. Not too sure? A credit card has been placed on the bottom right hand corner of the image covered with a white substance, forcing the theme of ‘addiction’ upon you. The context of the image further emphasises this notion; a concealed background and the provocative attire of the girls suggests either a nightclub or evening event. The print advertisement thus presents the girls to be fashion ‘junkies’ and clothing to be their required drug, arguably alluding to the obsession with attire and materialism by young figures in society today. Smart, really. ‘Sisley’ clothing must be that amazing that it is as influential and addictive as a narcotic. The beautiful fabric, magnificent cut and that all important label are all it takes to make the compulsive purchase.

But does everyone recognise this as the signifieds in the advert? A 10-year-old young girl may only see the denotation: two elder girls inhaling a white substance. Conclusion- it must be completely normal to wear a see-through dress, find a secluded room, act this way and seemingly not be able to see straight as a result. There are barriers to the intended connotations of images. Age is certainly one of them as well as perspective and experiences. It’s how you analysis the image. So the intended undertone of an advertisement, may not be uncovered at all.

Associated with the Benetton group, Sisley later denied links with the advert. The power of an image… guess they misread that one.

References:

Zoo Advertising, 2007, Sisley: Fashion Junkie 1, image, Ads of the World, viewed 21 March 2014, <http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/sisley_fashion_junkie_1>

Around and around we go… Where to place the blame on cyberbullying?

I’m sure when the first computer was developed no one stopped to think ‘But how will this mentally effect the public?’ Most were likely driven by enormous ambition, determined to created unprecedented technology and etch their name into history. With technology and the media dramatically changing in what can be considered a short period of time, one is forced to confront the consequences in this reorientated society. Is it correct to condemn and challenge the misuse of media in a dystopian mindset? Does access to the media cause specific behaviour or is it a tool of human employment?

The detrimental repercussions of cyberbullying is a key issue, publicised throughout the world. On September 9 2013, 12-year old Rebecca Sedwick was ‘terrorised’ (The Guardian 2013) through social media and committed suicide in Florida, United States of America. In addition, the recent death of Charlotte Dawson has ‘Australia reflecting on depression and the increasing incidence of cyberbullying via social media websites’ (ABC News 2013). The blame can easily be placed on the media in these situations- it allows for simultaneous bullying through numerous avenues such as mobile phones, computers, articles and the many social media sites available.  Arguably, cyberbullying’s psychological effect serves as one of the most damaging forms of bullying; it’s constant influence exceedingly impacting individuals and their mental health.

However can we potentially shift the blame from the media outlet and place it on people? Exploring this possibility, people are abusing technology themselves. Humans may be taking advantage of new media sources that was not created for such damaging uses- therefore can be considered the liable culprits.

Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad star as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 'Jobs' (2013)

Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad star as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in ‘Jobs’ (2013)

Recent films such as ‘The Social Network’ (2010) and ‘Jobs’ (2013) (image left) exemplify the advancement of media throughout recent history. At the beginning of both films, the initial ‘dated’ technology and sources of media can be viewed in contemporary society with astonishment even hilarity. These new media outlets available to the public can, on one hand, be justifiably blamed for cyberbullying- allowing perpetrators to effortlessly assault others online through the click of a button. However whilst it is rational to hold media accountable for cyberbullying, as it is indeed ‘cyber’ bullying, we can additionally place liability on the background of the perpetrator themselves and even the way in which the situation was handled. It is not simply the fact that the media is ‘dangerous’ and it’s removal will solve the matter of bullying. The continuous circle of blame goes around and around. It is and will remain to be an issue, as no one call resist the alluring call of technology. Thus media flourishes.

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Welcome!

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Serving as an outlet for inspiration, I would like to welcome you to my blog!

My name is Teika Paegle and I am a first year student at university studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media and International Studies. Journalism has always sparked an interest for me and hopefully, over the coming few weeks, I will be able to delve into the engaging world of the media. Whilst I imagine this will only skim the surface of it’s ever-changing complexities, I only aim to develop my perspective along the way.

Recently returning from South East Asia, my yearn to travel has dramatically increased. In the future (which dauntingly continues to slowly progress into reality), my dream job would allow me to see the big, wide world that longs to be explored whilst me doing what I love. Although I struggle to define who I really am, I leave the next few years to help me discover this with the help of my blog- allowing me to publish my opinions throughout the journey.

I hope readers enjoy my posts over the coming weeks and, too, deepen their perspective.