Comm 370 – Week 1

26 Jan

Below follows the first entry in my online journal for my Communication and Diversity course (Comm 370).  In the course, we must keep a journal that chronicles our experience with diversity and the readings that are assigned.  On my separate blog for the class, I only have it open to two people, but I figured that I should open it up to more people.  In this sense, I want to present an honest portrayal of my difficulties in exploring my subtle prejudices as an embodied white male.  Some of my realizations are hard for me to come at, but I hope that I can be as up front as possible to show that everyone has a little bit of prejudice and that the best thing we can do is to confront them rather than to hide them.

So, here we go:

In my previous Media Studies class with Derek, we looked often at the powers within the media and how there has been growth, integration, globalization, and concentration of ownership.  Nevertheless, the figures are no less startling.  I found that the concentration of ownership to be the most frightening with big groups and families influencing the media they control through their biases.  Previously, we studied Disney and how the corporation continues to reflect the ideals of Walt Disney himself through their propagation of “family values” where the women are put into their place and anything that is foreign should become Westernized.  Specifically, I always come back to thinking about Disney Corporation buying out Marvel Comics in 2009 (I believe).  Now, I read a lot of comics, but I’m more of a DC kind of guy.  So, the buyout didn’t directly affect me because I don’t really follow Marvel comics all that well, but, nevertheless, it was interesting to think about this family value corporation owning a comic book company.  Sure, Disney vowed to remain fairly “hands off” with the comics and wanted more of a direct control over merchandising, but it has been unsettling. Then again, Time Warner has owned DC comics for a handfull of years.

The whole notion of ideology also plays a large part in the corporate media world.  I referred to it as a “bias,” but corporations are really trying to further their ideologies.  In this case, News Corps furthers a conservative agenda through Fox News.  The key resistance is through “an insurgent multiculturalism” as it “attempts to show how various people’s voices and experiences are silenced and omitted from mainstream culture, and struggles to aid in the articulation of diverse views, experiences, and cultural forms from groups excluded from the mainstream” (Douglas Kellner, 8).  I feel as if these groups can better announce themselves through online culture.  yes, some people with minor blogs may not have as large of a platform to express their views, but when groups of people ban together to express an oppositional view, the media can be challnged.

Another key point of Kellner’s short essay is “the economic factor” which “explains why there are cycles of certain genres and subgenres, sequelmania in the film industry, crossovers of popular films into television series, and a certain homogeneity in products constituted within systems of production marked by rigid generic codes, formulaic conventions and well-defined ideological boundaries” (10).  I feel like this economic concern is from corporations discovering what sells in the current market and then shoving it down the population’s throats.  However, one must consider what the population is made of to discover what works; who has the money to express their views in participating in media culture.  In that respect, many voices go unheard because they do not reflect the majority of the population, and that is when oppositional views must be expressed in order to promote a fairer society that isn’t based solely on the money that can be tossed around.

Hegemony has been something that I’ve considered in many of my Comm Studies courses, but Lull sums it up with describing it as “the power or dominance that one social group holds over others” (33).  Hegemony can thus be the driving force in keeping many of the oppositional voices quiet.  It works subtly but powerfully to solicit only the popular viewpoints.  It is very interesting to me to find people or groups that attempt to counter or destabilize hegemony.  When a film promotes a masculine agenda by demeaning women, then the most powerful response that can be made is for a large group of people to realize that that depiction is wrong and to show their dissatisfaction through writing, action, or something else that can destabilize and draw attention to this hegemonic force.

Hall’s categorization of racism on 83 plainly but effectively demonstrates the two driving factors in racism: overt and inferential.  I believe that the American society (in most cases throughout the country) has become more inferentially racist than overtly.  However, it is still racism and can still have devastating effects on the structures of society because they become ingrained with racism to quell the voices of those who would oppose the foundations that have been built with racism in it.

Overall, I believe the most compelling article (seeing as the first bit was more so building a foundation for media studies) out of the group was Thomas Nakayama’s on “Dis/orienting Identities: Asian Americans, History, and Intercultural Communication.”  The article explores Nakayama’s experience living as a fourth generation Japanese man in the Southern United States.  His argument that those of Asian descent may never be fully considered American was quite interesting because I had never fully considered it before.  There are all these different assumptions about Asian people, and, to me, sometimes it’s a little strange to hear someone who’s Asian speak with a clear American accent.  Therefore, I’m at fault in the whole process, too.  For example, I’m friends with Samantha who is of Japanese and Italian descent.  Though, she looks primarily Asian.  My best friend Monique and I always refer to her as “My Little Asian” as if it’s a pet name.  She takes it fully in stride and realizes that we’re only joking.  I consider her fully American because I have never known her any differently.  However, when it’s someone who’s Asian that I don’t know, I have some trouble in recognizing that they’re American just like me.  In that regard, my viewpoint unsettles me to realize that I’m not fully open to others and come from a fairly privileged perspective.

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