MEDIA & CULTURE—We’re Not Unique!

Media is the term used to refer to the particular medium used to deliver a message to a large, anonymous, diverse audience. Even those persons who closely monitor their media consumption are not immune to media effects… A lot of the messages that people get from the media are taken in unconsciously.*

— Mark Orbe

Media continues to dramatically reflect and impact Canadian culture, and perhaps that impact is more pronounced with film and internet since they communicate both visually and orally. The key word here is communication. Media communicates, this being advantageous while also detrimental.

Aside from internet and social media, the following discussion concerns itself with my observations of film content—television and movies—media I’ve spent two decades working in. When watching a TV series or movie, my mind is absorbed with production elements from around the globe.

I’m drawn to foreign creations, and am thrilled to see terrific production quality overall, a quality that most often surpasses North American film. Scandinavian, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, Mexican, South American, South African, Korean, Turkish… All present highly competitive material!

Amazing locations in these productions make it easy to indulge in global customs and culture, all this bringing to light one very simple truth… Canadian lifestyle and culture is hardly unique, in spite of our desire to stand apart, be special, be at the top of the food chain!

Culture has been instrumentalized and digitalized… this resulting primarilyfrom individuals’ abstraction from real life, obtaining digital identities in a virtual world, and then striving for reinforcement of their identities in that medium. Individuals find themselves in an artificial life that is imposed and encouraged… this leading to serious changes regarding culture… a culture of real life led by a commonly created digital culture.*

— Sami Çöteli

HAVE YOU NOTICED?

Have you noticed in film that the very same patio/outdoor furniture sold at our local Canadian Tire store can be seen decorating homes afar? Familiar logos on T-shirts and running shoes are everywhere. Tablets, computers, cell phones… all are very much in use by people universally, enjoying them in the same ways we do. Purchasing power via internet enables us to be socially united with our international counterparts.

It goes without saying that global lifestyle is expressed digitally via film and internet. This leaves me questioning and wondering how the absorption of these images, sounds, and digital interchange impacts Canadian culture and lifestyle. Do we have the mental bandwidth to discern mercurial threats underscoring media communication?

Media influences social norms by means of individuals or direct effect, and via social or indirect effect.*

— Eric Arias, Princeton University

Communicating Sex

Have you noticed in film that sex, commonly exhibited as casual self-gratification with a no-strings-attached approach, favours a standing posture, typically performed up against a wall? Will future generations come to believe that this portrayal of sex is the norm? How would that belief be received or redacted by religious groups, conservative norms, general societal function?

About women in film… they always trip and fall, especially when being chased in the woods. And while penises are more or less verboten, female breasts and butts are common storyboard items. I also remain curious as to why women pole dancers, rather than male ones, are commonly featured in film.

About guys in film… They’re usually the ones chasing the females through the woods. And, you can be sure that newer productions will include token gays making love, until it comes to the penis reveal, that is.

Where are woke police regarding men talking to other men and using derogatory phases that deprecate females? Take, for example, a male-body builder who refers to two male IT billionaires as ‘Silicon tits’, or the army sergeant telling his recruits to not let their panties get all tied up in a knot, or the gang leader calling his lieutenant, ‘my bitch’.

About other people in film… Have you noticed that police are not respected by others or their own, that Americans are seen as rude, pushy, and greedy, old people are frumpy, slow, and overweight, that Brazilian and Mexican government officials are corrupt, that all phone scammers operate in India and the Philippines, that human trafficking is a global ‘norm’, and, that if you’re not computer savvy or sporting a tattoo, you’re not with it…

Media portrays people believing we have a right to be happy, this being a concept that appears less in war films, however. Have you noticed in film that rich people are billionaires, not millionaires, leaving the rest of us nowhere close to that…

In both film and internet, English is the go-to language for conducting illicit business affairs, while obscenities and the word, fuck, are natural lingo for professionals and criminals alike, even in historical movies and television shows that are set before the 1500s when, according to Oxford researchers, the word fuck was not in use. When perusing these shows, I sometimes wonder if media is trying to convince us that this word has always been in use, therefore, we’re to accept it as a norm.

Sexual behaviour of teenagers mostly seems to demonstrate a misconception on sex and sexuality.*

— Anita Cloete

When it comes to children in film, have you noticed that at least one parent is dead or dying, that youth are portrayed as entitled and difficult, that by the time they’re starting college they’ve experienced sex and drugs of all sorts, seen overdoses, are alcoholics, that partying and nightclubs are typical components in their lives? Ivy leaguers are portrayed as clinging to their fraternity mates who stand by them until one of them becomes destitute or commits a murder… with embezzlement as acceptable as long as you get away with it.

Social media companies must do more to fight an increase in graphic crime videos being shared online for clicks, says a B.C. law professor.*

Communicating Violence

Have you noticed in film that when a vehicle enters an intersection, it will inevitably be smashed by another vehicle barreling through at a ninety degree angle, that when certain characters get into their vehicle, it blows up, that transporting prisoners never goes as planned, that police departments are poorly funded and short of workers, therefore evil-doers get away with their crimes in spite of technological advantages, and, that killers are elite, well-funded and unstoppable?

A 12-year old and a 13 year old are in custody, suspected of killing a 12-year-old in the town of Freudenberg, Germany.*

Have you noticed that it doesn’t seem to matter what country is included in a film or episode, there’s a strong negative element attached to that society, to that culture? For example, media presents South America as a hotbed for drug related violent crime; Russian and Albanian gangs are typically the source of major violence in cities; and, Brits appear as snobs, uptight, and lethal corporate crime lords…

Mykonos, one of Greece’s most famous and cosmopolitan islands, is known for its rich history and antiquities dating from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages and Modern Times. Archaeologists who work there to highlight, maintain, and defend its antiquities, are subjected to mafia-style attacks! *

Both foreign and local productions leave one believing that no country is safe, that every country is riddled with horror and destructive behaviour. On that note, horror and fantasy films remain box-office hits.

We have to recognize how the uses and appropriations of media penetrate all aspects of contemporary life.*

— Author Mark Deuze

Communicating Lifestyle

This negative portrayal of global culture is concerning, especially when one wants to believe that the majority of humankind is good at heart (and that the countries remaining on my travel bucket list are safe to visit 🙂 ). It’s also disconcerting from an individualistic and artistic point of view, if media is to be considered artistic.

Many of us artists struggle because of the limitations placed on artistic expression, whether that be in print, music, film, etc. While sexual and ethnic groups are encouraged to tout their specialness, many of us are held under the grip of social vices…

A delightfully wonderful character named, Willy, stars in a children’s story that came across my desk recently. I had to advise the author that a name change would be wise, since a willy also refers to a penis. That same author is wondering how best to write about insects such as queen bees.

A city dweller in one of Canada’s major centers confirmed that gender neutral names are preferred, and that spray-paint vandalism is now considered art and not defacement.

One writer expressed anger about rainbows being a symbol of sexual-identity-preference. The expression, ‘Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’, that once brought many a smile and even hope, is now avoided because of its potential sexual reference. Lost also with this perception is the freedom of openly expressing innocent wonderment and magic when seeing a rainbow after a bitter storm.

A public school teacher raised concern that considering the varied refugee/immigrant students in classrooms across the nation, why is it that each morning, aboriginal prayers are recited, while Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu traditions are excluded?

Communicating Stereotypes

What does it mean to be Canadian? I’ve lived in the US and spent time abroad, and I’m no longer seeing cultures, including my own, that are unique.

The ban against stereotyping was already in full swing decades ago. In our desire to banish the characteristics we labeled as stereotypical, characteristics that once uniquely shaped individuals and countries, have we perchance created a melting pot that we are now mashed into and confined in, one that dictates our survival? For the sake of inclusion, have we lost sight of traditions and originality?

Are we so globally minded that fusion is now a food group for our weekly dinner? What happened to enjoying just Italian, French, Asian, or Mexican cuisine?

Has media communicated a hidden communistic message wherein we are nothing unless a solid member of the neutral group, that to survive, we must be neutral? Is independence fading? Are we drawing closer to Marx’s vision for the world?

Global risks cannot be calculated or forecast anymore.*

The more neutral we become as a society, the more eager some will want to rise above the neutral group that grabs onto their feet during the climb upward. Does the global drive for neutrality, and subsequent lack of uniqueness, drive us to extremes so that we stand out and are noticed?

Is it possible media has created and continues to create new stereotypes, a term snubbed in spite of it all?

Communicating Wealth

Internet is a tremendous creative medium, and its influence is unparalleled. I enjoy all media, using it to my benefit, and hoping it also benefits others.

While creative expression via media is limited by universal constraints such as political correctness and neutrality, artistic expression is now also as much about marketing as it is about creating. The goal is about selling globally, and if you make a significant number of pennies from your work, you’re rewarded with a thumbs up. Only then is one considered a true creative on the transnational media stage.

Media provides a backdrop of ‘banal religion’, comprised of a bricolage of representations and practices without any necessary connection to specific, organized forms of religion.*

Communicating Delusion

To be noticed, to stand out in mediocre, neutral culture, seems to be a driving force in media, the arts, in everyday life. This could be what prompts a parent to post on social media a video of their two-year old playing drums, or why youth crime has become more vicious, or why an aging colleague strives to be an influencer, or why a former student rates personal value by how many ‘likes’ or subscribers they’ve received on their YouTube channel…

And for those of us who don’t want to lose our creative independence so back away from cultural norms, might this explain why in the striving for artistic freedom, some feel lonely, why perhaps loneliness has been declared a global epidemic? 

Is it possible that an upswing away from political correctness is brewing? Trump’s stint as President inspired large groups of people to fight against what was considered ‘political norms’, against political correctness.

The rise of fake news is posing an increasing threat to societies worldwide. Partisans use the term ‘fake news’ to discount and discredit ideologically uncongenial media sources.*

Media in all its forms caresses our desire to be lied to, to believe we are special, to believe that youthful looks can be purchased, that our lives matter. We want to believe we are unique, that we are better than everyone else, that we are truly entitled to the best, and to be and do whatever we want.

We don’t want to accept that we are replaceable, so we continue the struggle to make ourselves valuable while maintaining our neutral role in global culture. We build and nurture our digital assets.

One film character says of current culture… The only sin left is self-deception. Another film character states that only the rich can build a world around them to match their illusions.

As media in general relays to us what we want to see in our lives, in our countries, do we have a mental firewall that protects our minds from the perforating imprints left by this visual and oral communication? Will the survival of our species eventually depend on those who are unplugged from the influence that media has in our lives today?

The main ways in which people gain access to cultural experiences are subject to frequent, radical and disorienting shifts.

— Authors David Hesmondhalgh & Leslie M. Meier

I Need to Ask

Are algorithms our master? Are algorithms controlling our emotions, our identities, our culture?

I leave you with my observations, questions, a few grey hairs and wrinkles because I am concerned… concerned about future grandchildren and the Canada I’ll be leaving behind.

To wake the soul by tender strokes of art, To raise the genius, and to mend the heart; To make mankind, in conscious virtue bold, Live o’er each Seene, and be what they behold: For this the Tragic Muse first trod the stage.

— Alexander Pope

Links

www.analynnriley.com

ROSE in a BROKEN BOTTLE – Adult novel based on a true story
NINE GIFTS- with Study Guide
THE CURSE – with Study Guide
RUSH of the RAVEN’S WINGS – Youth short story with Study Guide
NO PASSPORT FOR ÉTIENNE – Short story inspired by true events
THEFT OF BABY ILY – Short story inspired by true events
MYSTERY of the SINGING GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the TRACTOR GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the THREE SISTERS – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the LOST CELL PHONE – with Study Guide
TEDDY MEETS KIBOKO – Children’s novel with Study Guide
KIDNAPPED SANTA – Children’s novel with Study Guide
Arrow & the Song
May the Road Rise to Meet You
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
Looking Back
Can’t help Lovin’ That Man
Young As The Spring
Danny Boy | Too-Ra-Loo | How Ireland Got Its Name
Prayer
Farewell
I JUST WANNA BE A STAR!
Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s