Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Michel Foucault - Discourses and Lifestyles

In chapter 6 of David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity – An Introduction, Gauntlett focuses on Michel Foucault’s views of “the self, identity and sexuality” and Foucault’s ideas about how these can “develop our understanding of identities and the media in modern society” (115). Gauntlett points out that Foucault’s views about how individuals are influenced by cultures and ‘outside forces’ has changed over time. According to Gauntlett, Foucault believes that the world is constructed of individuals who adapt to different experiences and their environment and affect the world rather than a world which imposes ‘external discourses’ on individuals in society (116). Gauntlett also points out that Foucault believes that power is something that is not controlled by one individual or group or individuals. Foucault believes that power flows through interactions with other individuals and presents itself to people in different situations. Foucault believes that rather than a negative result, the use of power results in productivity. He is not saying, however, that every act of power is positive; he is saying that even with resistance to power, something is being produced.
I find it interesting when Gauntlett continues to write about Foucault’s view of power in relation to the ideas about sexuality in Victorian times. Gauntlett writes that Foucault argues that because the views regarding sexuality in Victorian times stifled some behaviors those behaviors were given an ‘identity’ which, Gauntlett writes, “…launched them (the behaviors) into the public eye” (121). Thus, the behaviors were almost made 'popular' and individuals in society became more aware of those behaviors and could possibly relate or give a name to the thoughts or behaviors they might have been engaging in themselves.
Gauntlett continues to describe another view of Foucault’s, ‘technologies of the self’. ‘Technologies of the self’ refer to the ways individuals act in society and how outside influences can allow or restrain those individuals from acting a certain way. Gauntlett describes these ‘technologies of the self’ as the “(internal and external) practice of our (internal) ethics. The ethics are our set of standards to do with being a particular sort of person; the technologies of the self are how we think and act to achieve this” (126). In terms of media influences then, our self identities can be influenced by media and images that media portrays to the public, but ultimately we have the decision to act one way or another either in support of the images that media portrays or not. In all, this chapter in Gauntlett's book basically states the views of Michel Foucault and how he believes that when it comes to sexuality, we must develop our own ethics so that we can create our own 'mode of living' which may agree with the messages media conveys, or may disagree with those messages.

Lebron James - Will You Ever be as Powerful?


I'm not exactly sure why this commercial stood out to me, possibly because of the cool music and obscurity of the entire thing. However, I believe this commercial illustrates how Lebron's ethics and 'technologies of the self' have developed him into the 'powerful' person that he is today. It is an encouraging commercial because it tells the viewer, especially viewers who are athletes, that with hard work and effort they can achieve their goals in the midst of people who may discourage them. Of course, what this commercial really wants to convey is that this process of gaining power and fame is much more easily done with Nike products. At any rate, individuals can view this commercial and be influenced positively to work hard no matter what the opposition or difficulties may be, or they can possibly be encouraged to purchase Nike products so that they will somehow become better or more powerful athletes or the viewers could reject this commercial in its entirety as something ridiculous and silly and meaningless.

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