About bchuck1

I am a super senior at Towson University. I am majoring in Communications with a minor in Art History. My future goals are in advertising, commercial or text, and I am hoping to receive a job at Ocean Spray. My hobbies are running and tennis.

Class Critic

In Media Criticism this semester I learned several theories on the topic. I learned about how ideologies, hegemony, and how elites all embedded specific views into texts to keep a sense of a status quo in our society. I found this class to be very interesting and learned a great deal from my classmates. I read over some of my peers blogs and found them to be insightful with some words of constructive criticism.
Meghan Roth
In your blog, “Culture of Consumption” I enjoyed your discussion based on the film Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood & Corporate Power and the representation of race, gender, and sexuality in Disney movies. I think it is so interesting to look at Disney movies in a form of ideological criticism. From your blog I learned how children can absorb information about the world through all Disney movies. Young girls learn they must be skinny, attractive, and sexually. As well as young men learning to play a role of a “prince” or “savior”, and both young boys and girls learn underlying tones about racial and ethnic backgrounds but in a negative light. Your blog was very informative, I think the only advice I could give is how one could counter-act these forms of ideologies (or counter hegemony) embedded in Disney films, maybe through a multiculturalists view, where other cultures should be portrayed from a “non-traditional” view. I don’t think I could disagree with any of your views on this topic. The only forms of improvement I could give are to have a few more outside of the class sources. Also maybe define some of the terms in a little more detail in case someone out of the class reads this and knows nothing about the topic. Otherwise I thought it was very well thought out and interesting
Erica Glass
Your blog “Buy one, get one Free!!” was very catchy. It had a great opening and had me hooked from the beginning. From your blog I learned a lot about the signifiers and signifieds from the commercials made by “The Canadian Club.” In the ad titled “Your Mom Wasn’t Your Dad’s First”, I thought it was interesting that there was only one chair, and the man was sitting in the chair when typically you would think a gentleman would let a lady sit. I liked how you defined the meaning of this by informing the audience that the male is the dominant person in this Ad. The woman is sitting on his lap, like a child suggesting she is weak and submissive. I knew information about signs in advertisements and there meanings, but your blog definitely pointed out signs and meanings I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. The only suggestions for improvement for this blog are maybe a few links of sources where you found the meanings of the signs. I think sources could be relevant to this blog to prove to the audience that these meanings are what the signs represent. Also maybe a YouTube clip of the song “Gonna Fly Now” so viewers could better understand the intense meanings of the signs you pointed out. I thought your views on this topic were very interesting, I was intrigued to look at each Ad and saw all the signs you pointed out. Great job!
Photi Mavroulis’s
Your blog “The Other Window” brings up some very interesting questions. I like your blog because I found it very comical and you bought up some interesting questions. Some of the questions you ask like “Television has changed, that is a fact. However what has it changed besides more programs to watch and censorship becoming more extinct everyday. Has television as a medium changed our culture? Or is it us, the people who are in charge of television programs changing values as we see fit.” I agree with this statement and find it very interesting to think about. I think this could have been slightly more effective if you had outside of the class links in your blog to either prove these statements to be true or make them more creditable. Otherwise I thought your blog was an interesting way to look at this topic. Good job!

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Beauty and the Very Good Looking Man

Beast: I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO COME DOWN TO DINNER!
Belle: I’M NOT HUNGRY!
Beast: YOU COME OUT, OR I’LL… I’LL BREAK DOWN THE DOOR!!!

This is dialoged from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. Everybody most likely knows the story well but as a refresher- the Beast was originally a handsome prince, but a curse was put on him by a witch (the witch was an ugly women) for mistreating people, and he was turned into a beast. The only way the curse could be broken was to have a true loves kiss by his 21st birthday. Belle was the outcast of her town because she was a book worm; in fact Gaston (a townsman who loved Belle) said to her “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking…”
So it was natural Belle and the Beast fell in love, and lived happily ever after, because they were both different. Though this story is a fairytale, the idea of the movie seems natural, obvious, and sensical. This is how ideological criticism works. In American culture, the ideology is for a man and woman to get married, have jobs, be educated, and live in the suburbs happily ever after. Ideological criticism examines how these ideas get embedded in and circulated through texts. It also looks at how these ideologies reflect and serve the interests of the dominant elites. The dominant elites are the people in charge of government and media corporations.
Their idea of how our society should be gets trickled through media and messages that seem to us to be normal, natural, unnoticed, and unchallenged. So why does this matter? Because the American ideology or the “American Dream” could be considered and ideographic term, which is a deeply valued language term, used to represent a particular normative goal found in our culture. The use of ideographic terms can help guide behavior in our society. Now political economists are concerned with ownership roles in the media industry (or in other words, profiting a ton of money) and how production and distribution practices shape a media text, in a form of hegemonic power of conglomerates. Conglomerates are multi-million dollar companies, who own a lot of the media, and therefore have tremendous influence on pop culture, for example Disney is a conglomerate. So, hegemonic power is the process of a dominant culture maintaining its dominant position, also known as an elite group. The elites want to keep a similar embedded message in media texts that reach a mass audience (aka through conglomerates) the embedded message of the “American Dream.” Going against the “American Dream” would be somewhat similar to being called a communist in America, an ideographic term that could leave one shunned or outcasts from their own society. “In a traditional patriarchal American family, the father is the protector and breadwinner, and the mother is the nurturer and caregiver. Consequently, classic Disney male heroes fight for survival and success, while the female protagonist is preoccupied with love and marriage. If she has a job, it is usually babysitting or teaching. This division explains the gender distinction between Dumbo’s flight and Cinderella’s fantasy. Beneath Cinderella is the domestication of women-girls being socialized by their stories to wait in their tower, like Rapunzel for Prince Charming.” http://cinemaroll.com/animation/the-ideology-of-disney/#ixzz1Pko9Bx8x
So how do we learn this stuff growing up? When looking at the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood, & Corporate Power, http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=112 many social issues are cultural faces were addressed such as race, gender, and even self-image. Now since Disney is such a huge conglomerate, political economists want to work with them in order for themselves and Disney to make more money. They do this through making blockbuster films, cross-promotion, and cross-advertising. These films are watched by millions of children all over the world and help shape the imagination of the world and their own personal world. Since Disney is an American based company it incorporates the American ideology in its films and uses hegemony to keep the dominant cultural dominant and the subculture lesser. For example, all women are portrayed in Disney movies as beautiful and sexualized. The female image has barely changed over the years in Disney films. Women usually tend to be the villains in Disney films as well, and are portrayed as ugly when villainess. http://www.angelfire.com/wizard/putimlia/literature.html
Beauty and the Beast in particular differs from most of the typical Disney trends of the princess meeting her handsome prince. In Belle’s case her prince was an scary beast with an attitude problem, but Belle put up with the Beast’s suggestive abusive ways and he finally became the prince she had always dreamed of. This message suggests two things, first that the only way to have a happy ending in life is to end up in a relationship with someone. Second, is that woman should “reinterpret” rage or abuse from a man just as Belle did and stick beside him because he needs you (a woman) to help him change. This also allows for men to believe its ok to treat a woman poorly because she will always be there. This is a scary message to be sending to children, but since this abusive behavior is coming from a “Beast” it is to be almost expected because it’s hard to see the true meaning of a message when it’s disguised, just like the beast. This is a good example of ideological criticism because this message goes unnoticed and unchallenged. It would be interesting to remake Beauty and the Beast, using the exact same dialogue only different looks of the characters. If the beast were a really attractive man, his behavior could have actually been considered abusive and unacceptable, rather than ok because he is a beast. The audience would have then seen the light and felt Belle should have run away and never went back to the beast. They might even think she would be an idiot to stay with a man like that. This clip could be an example of a remake (from The Bachelorette).
Now logically we could develop a theory based on a correlation between Beauty and the Beast and the likely hood of a child (particularly a girl) being involved in some kind of abusive relationship. (Future research)
Ideological criticism is important because it deals with what is there but hard. The ideological meaning is still inherited but without notice. Sometimes what we thought were innocent sources, like Disney, can be the most embedded with ideologies. By political economists conveying these underlying meanings in mass media texts it keeps a sense of status quo in our culture.

It’s All In The Family Guy


“It seems today that all we see is violence in movies and sex on TV, but where are those good old fashioned values…. on which we use to rely, lucky there’s Family Guy!” These are the opening lyrics to the hit show Family Guy which is a modern day version of the 70’s hit show All in the Family.
The styles of both shows are very similar in the way their plots unfold. A narrative approach was used which is a form of storytelling used by humans to help make sense of our everyday lives. Culture is an important factor to keep in mind when critiquing a TV show using the narrative approach. It is important for reasons of controversy, comedy, drama, etc…. to understand a show, you must understand the culture. Now when looking at Family Guy in this approach we know it’s based on the stereotypical “All American Family.”
In fact this show is mainly based on stereotypes found in American culture. Stereotypes in our culture tend to have negative associations with them. For example Psychologists Joshua Aronson and Claude M. Steele have researched the effects stereotyping can have on people, particularly African Americans and women. They conducted an experiment where they told one group of college students that they would not do well in math. This group was dramatically affected and did not do well on their test performance. They also told another group that they would do well in math and these students were praised, congratulated on their hard work, or told that they scored high. The group praised as smart performed significantly better than the others. They believe that “there is an ‘innate ability bias’. These effects are not just limited to minority groups. Mathematically competent white males, mostly math and engineering students, were asked to take a difficult math test. One group was told that this was being done to determine why Asians were scoring better. This group performed significantly worse than the control group.” http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/69/5/797/

This study helps us understand how stereotyping becomes an issue, an elite group can shape a society by this, keeping certain groups down because they are told they are not good enough therefore the group can sometimes start to believe it. When looking at Family Guy sytagmatically, we can understand some of the messages being told because of the associations with the stereotypes it is referring to. For example the clip above can be found comical because we understand the signifiers involved. Asians tend to score higher in math that is why it was an Asian boy that Peter pulled out. These jokes can also help us understand the author through “encoding the voices for different emotions and situations, and the voices can be either overt or covert —, and through clues that reveal the narrator’s beliefs, values and ideological stances, as well as the author’s attitude towards people, events and things.” http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a729208757~db=all~jumptype=rss
So based on the show and it’s style we can also understand the author and some of his/her life experiences. The creator Seth McFarlane,
studied animation at the Rhode Island School of Design, there he studied several different techniques in successful American comedies. McFarlane did something right because the show has one four Emmy awards and The Sydney Morning Herald named Family Guy the “Show of the Week” on April 21, 2009, hailing it a “pop culture-heavy masterpiece.”
http://www.allrovi.com/movies/movie/family-guy-animated-tv-series-v288489?r=allmovie
McFarlane probably got some of his success from studying Valdimir Propp. Propp is an infamous theorist that believed all folk tales share thirty one elements of function. There are eight main character types which are a hero, villain, donor (someone who gives something to the hero), a magical helper, princess, father, dispatcher, and the false hero/anti-hero. Family Guy tends to incorporate theses characteristic in every show, but the unique twist that these characteristics are not always the same. For example in one show Peter could be the hero, and in another episode his wife Lois could be the hero. Maybe this is why the show is so successful because the view never knows what to expect. Every episode is very similar and very different; this is comforting and discomforting to a viewer which could be a key factor in keeping the show so fresh. The family includes Peter Griffin, who is the father and tends to be the hero quite often. This is interesting because he comes off as unintelligent and usually can’t see obvious answers to problems. He tends to be the hero in a majority of the shows but he can’t pass third grade, yet he can always bring order back to his home. Lois is his wife and a stereotypical stay-at-home mother and piano teacher, she would take the role of princess and the donor. Meg is their awkward teenage daughter who is sometimes the anti-hero. Chris, who is fat, dumb, and in many respects, a younger version of his father, he is usually the dispatcher. Lastly there is Stewie, he is a villains baby who speaks with a stereotypically villains voice and can speak like an adult.
This is interesting because usually a villain is played by someone outside of a family, but Stewie’s main goal is to kill his mother Lois. This is very interesting because if you look Freud’s Psychosexual Theory it states “At the age of 5 or 6, near the end of the phallic stage, boys experience the Oedipus Complex while girls experience the Electra conflict, which is a process through which they learn to identify with the same gender parent by acting as much like that parent as possible. Boys suffer a castration anxiety, where the son believes his father knows about his desire for his mother and hence fears his father will castrate him. He thus represses his desire and defensively identifies with his father.” http://changingminds.org/explanations/learning/freud_stage.htm It is interesting to think about because Freud is an important psychoanalyst in American culture, Stewie seems to be an exaggerated product of Freud’s theories. Stewie’s character seems out there, but so are Freud’s theories, this could be a way McFarlane tries to either discredit Freud because Stewie is an example of how ridiculous his theories are when acted out; or he could be crediting Freud- Stewie is a popular character maybe people do feel like they can relate to him on some level. Creepy!
Concluding, Family Guy tends to break the set of rules and conventions that most television shows tend to follow. This show pushes the limits of what you are “suppose” to say and what you are “not suppose” to say in our culture. The show as a whole is funny because it pokes fun at our culture and how almost “dumb” our society and stereotypes can be.

The Importance of Being a Media Critic

Hi my name is Brittany Chucker and I am a member of MCOM 352 (media criticism) with Dr. Nichols. Media criticism is an important legitimate skill. The reason to critically analyze media is to become media literate. Actually, media literacy courses were suppose to be offered in school systems to help children understand the real motives to all the products and advertisements they are exposed to.
The importance of critically analyzing media is for us, as members of society exposed to massive amounts of media daily- is to ask ourselves not what the media is in front of us, but what motives, ideologies, power, and people are behind it. Mainly to stop and think, what is the real message to this media? It is important to understand how to critically think about the media especially when it comes to television. Television is a powerful industry motivated by profit. This means that television stations want to bring in a large amount of viewers, the common denominator to this equation is how trash tv came about. Televisions are a constant flow of images and sounds. What we constantly see and are exposed to from these shows can reflect our society’s behavior. The use of media criticism can help us step back and become more conscious about our media consumption and the effects it can have. Jane Tallim even says that media criticism is “ the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media— from music videos and Web environments to product placement in films and virtual displays on NHL hockey boards.”
Now that we understand the importance of being media critical, we must understand the tools we need to get there. Media criticism is not an opinionated form of critic. There is a process involved in becoming media critically savvy. 1st select a text, 2nd describe the message you see, 3rd analyze the patterns you see, 4th interpret the meaning of the message and patterns, 5th evaluate the impact the text can have on the viewer, and 6th (the fun part) write an essay about your findings. Everyone may see or interpret a text differently, but using patterns, logical arguments, and supporting evidence is what qualifies you to be media critical.

Recently, the Royal Wedding was a largely publicized event. An interesting preface is that in British cultural, the elites main purpose of control to the media, is to maintain class status, social structure, and ideologies. American cultural is more associated with the power of redeeming, aka profits, and personal identity roles and how it can effect one’s behavior. The Royal Wedding was held in London, the press there tended to focus more on the issue of Kate being a “commoner” and marrying into the Royal family. Though Kate was no commoner in American terms, her parents own a company called Party Pieces, a private mail order company that sells party supplies and decorations. It is said to be worth 30 million dollars. This can become a logical argument for how the British keep an order on class status. Kate is no commoner in American terms but to British culture if you aren’t Royal you are a commoner. This is why it is important to know who is behind the press because the goal here is to create an ideology to help maintain social structure and class statues. This media “stunt” insures a sense of hegemony, meaning that the elites keep the power over the oppressed. The British media’s portrayal of this event leads one to believe that the wedding was like a fairytale that could happen to anyone. That any commoner could be so lucky to marry into the royal family, this keeps people happy and hopeful but the reality of it is not even realistic unless you come from a multimillion dollar family. When looking at the American press coverage on the event, it tended to be more focused on the details to the wedding.
Like what Kate’s dress looked like, who was invited, and how much things cost. Pippa Middleton, Kate’s sister, was the center of attention in the American press for a while after the wedding, because she was considered to be so fashionable. We can logically argue that the American press was more focused on Pippa’s fashion sense in order to make large profits in the clothing industry. Mainly American women were the ones watching the Royal Wedding, because the American press refers to Pippa as a fashion “icon” that makes people want to dress like her, therefore sales go up. Concluding that British culture is more interested on their societies social statuses, while American culture focuses more on profit making from their society.

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