La Divina Commedia di Dante

<i>La Divina Commedia di Dante</i>
I took this in Florence (Nov. 2010) at the Museo Casa di Dante

Monday, January 31, 2011

Media and Ideology

REFLECTION: Write about your personal connections to this text. What does it make you think about? How does it relate to you? Be sure to draw directly from the text so that the author’s themes and issues are clear.

As I read through the text, I could not help but compare the various topics Croteau presents with politic and legal concepts. In the beginning of the chapter, Croteau explicitly sights various ways that politicians have targeted various media texts. Debates, video games, the internet all have been targets of politicians pushing particular political agendas. When Croteau mentions the sexually explicit material on the Internet, I could not help but think of the various obscenity statutes.

One point that Croteau makes is about the nature of political discourse in this media era. In referencing James Davison Hunter’s (1991) work, Croteau write, “ Hunter stresses the ways in which media – advertising, news, letters to the editor, and opinion commentary – provide the principal forms of public discourse by which cultural warfare is waged.” What Croteau is describing is a modern day Saloon. It has been a common practice to gather at Saloon to discuss political issues and form social movement – just like the modern LGBT rights movement started in the bars – but that is not the case today. This modern discourse is happening in the ways Croteau mentions, as well as via the internet, social networking sights, blogs, YouTube, etc. This struck me because of it’s implication on the political discourse of today. There is a fundamental piece of discourse that has been lost as a result of the digital age. People are not gathering in saloons the way they used to. Now comments can be posted on blogs, rants happen on Facebook, and individuals never have to actually meet face to face to have these conversations. What a great disconnect there is without that personal contact. It seems to me that this distance and disconnect makes the battles of “us” and “them” much easier to happen today than it was in the case of the Action-adventure movies of the 1980s. At these those character met in person and established some form of a relationship.

One of the things I struggled with the most was in the section titled “News Media and the Limits of Debate.” Croteau write, “While media outlets fend off attacks from the political right that they are too liberal and attacks form the left that they are too conservative, journalists find themselves precisely where they want to be: in the middle.” I do not agree with Croteau on this one. There is no such this an a non-ideological middle – these are reports not Switzerland after all. It is pretty clear there is no such thing as “fair and balanced” when it comes to the news. With a pretty strong sense that every media text has some ideology, I don’t understand this concept of the middle that Croteau is referring to here.

For the most part, Croteau focuses on the examples of dominant or “normal” ideologies as demonstrated through various media texts. One particularly striking section is in regards to rap music. Croteau writes, “At the same time, rap is full of ideological contradictions. While some politically radical male rappers critique the institutions of society as being racist, the lyrics and imagery of their music are often sexist and homophobic.” This is fascinating. He is a media expression coming from a politically and culturally disadvantaged group. There are schools within the rap community that critique the social norms and give voice to those who are underrepresented or not represented at all in the dominant culture and society. At the same time there are rappers who are sexist, racist, and homophobic. All characteristics that play to the dominant character of society, the same characteristics that have oppressed many of the people who enjoy rap music for centuries.

Just as I understand everything to be political, Croteau shows how everything has and ideological stance. It is important for the reader of the media text to decode what that ideology is, because it changes everything from the news to their favorite sitcom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little about myself

My Name is Dante, I am a four year Senior - graduating in May - majoring in Political Science. My semester is going pretty well so far. I'm taking a pretty easy semester so that I could enjoy my last one here at RIC. Unfortunately, I'm unemployed which leaves me with a decent amount of free time. My three greatest loves are cooking, traveling, and music. In fact, if all goes according to plan, in a few weeks I'll be headed to London for about a week to visit my partner who is getting her Masters in Gender and Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Looking forward to meeting you all on Tuesday.