Thursday, September 11, 2008

Idealolgies and Power – Branston and Stafford

In this article, Branston and Stafford argue that our ideologies, which are our ideas about the social world, have something to do with social power. The first approach that the authors define is the Marxist approach. In a Marxist society, the capitalists dominate; the dominant ideas of society are the ideas of those who dominate that society. Through this power, the dominant class is able to make those who are not in the dominant class (workers) believe that situations of cruelty and exploitation or abuse are normal. The term hegemony came out of this way of thinking. However, power in a society is constantly fought for by dominant social groups. The author ties this in to Media Studies by saying that media encourages individuals in society to agree or abide to those specific dominant groups. The author presents an opposing view, however. He refers to writers Abercrombie, Hill and Turner. They argue that “though dominant ideologies do exist, they are not the most important means for making social orders hang together” (125). These authors argue that because armed control exists and large means of surveillance also exist that “unified social orders” do not exist. Through these authors, Branston and Stafford argue that Media Studies now look to explaining “powerful or not so powerful ideologies and identities” as being connected to specific social groups (class, ethnic, religious, sexual, etc). These social groups are played out in individuals’ lives through “lived cultures” and “discourses” (126).

Compassion Commercial

This commercial is upsetting in many different ways. But you have to get past being upset or feeling awkward because you may have thought these things or felt these things at one time and realize why this commercial is so effective. Unfortunately, these ideas, what these children are saying comes from some place, be it dominant society or not. The unfortunate part and the most influential part of this commercial is the fact that children are the ones saying these things about cultures that are different or "subordinate" to American society. Although the childredn are obviously of different ethnicities, they are each speaking perfect english and therefore representing dominant "english-speaking" society and its views regarding cultures that are in turmoil or war, etc. I think this commercial is effective in showing how dominant views can possibly affect even the youngest members of society.

Hegemony – James Lull

In this article, the author defines hegemony as “the power or dominance that one social group holds over others” (61). The idea of hegemony is attributed to Gramsci, an Italian intellectual. According to this idea of hegemony, the author points out that mass media are “tools” in which those dominating society, or social groups, can use to increase their power over society by making popular and possibly universal their own specific beliefs, morals, etc. These messages and accepted social behaviors become “routine activities” in individual’s daily lives. This connects hegemony, or “ideological representation” to an individuals own culture (62). Hegemony’s success relies on those not included in dominant culture accepting the dominant ideologies as reality or “common sense.”

I do like football...

I do like football, I really do. And, I think both of these commercials are compelling and effective in relaying motivational messages to do your best and work your hardest. However, possibly because I'm in the mode of criticizing every piece of media that I see, especially commercial related media, these two commercials may have some hidden messages. I believe that we can look past these messages, however, because we have learned to accept them. Both of these comemercials are about power and being successful through being the best. These commercials have a lot of energy, close up shots of rather large powerful men, and frankly these commercials are pretty intimidating. These men are out to get what they want; success, possibly the death of other human bodies, etc... And, these commercials are probably most compelling to young athletes and lovers of football...and who are the majority of those individuals? Young men. Men are being taught to be strong and only successful...of course...I suppose in football you have to be huge and strong and relentless. And I also guess that Nike is the answer to the possibly "weak" boy's struggle for acceptance and dominance...Maybe I'm just reading into things too much. I understand that these commercials are cool and really can motivate, especially athletes, to "be all that they can be"...but there is so much more to life and to individuals than being the most powerful or the best.

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