James Murdoch’s Mac-‘There’s been a murgh-dah’-Taggart Speech

23 Nov

Just to explain the title so no one feels left out…:

Right, so this week, I’ve been asked to look into the speech of James Murdoch in 2009 on the digital age.

Firstly, I’ve been asked to to clearly define the point of the speech. Quite simply, it was there to inform people about convergent media and how all platforms of media consumerism are merging into one giant online platform. However, the bourgeoisie are trying to stop the convergence in it’s entirety in order to prevent the masses becoming too strong – they want to keep markets separate so that businesses can continue to reinforce ‘spectacle’ and the society of thereof. He says it is an archaic way of thinking, and is only there to keep the rich in power, and proletariat without. He concludes that independent media is the way forward, but will only be achieved if it benefits the society. This notion will only happen if the the society agrees to make it happen – a similar conclusion to my essay; nobody can accurately predict the future, so the society simply has to hold the firm belief that promoting convergent media can’t make the state any worse.

This speech of course relates to Power and Spectacle, and also incorporates pieces of Memory as well, from the old ways of thinking of separate media markets, to Darwinism. The emphasis however was not on the past or future, but on the present situation.

Key quotes that support the above analysis are as follows:

“This all sounds like a dynamic, exciting, thriving sector to be part of.Moving faster, being more interconnected, expanding its scope. And in some ways it is.
But the present is not as great as we tell ourselves.

You don’t need to scratch the surface very hard to see that opportunities for media businesses are limited, investment and innovation are constrained, and creativity is reduced.

This is bad for customers and society.”

“Tonight I will argue that while creationism may provide a comfortable illusion of certainty in the short-term, its harmful effects are real and they are significant.”

“Is this creationism good for investment? No. A heavily regulated environment with a large public sector crowds the opportunity for profit, hinders the creation of new jobs, and dampens innovation in our sector.”

“Indeed, the defining characteristic of the UK broadcasting consensus is the absence of trust.”

“There is an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society.

The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor or independence is profit.”

So put simply – creativity will make the market more diverse, and is the natural progression of the media industry, now being hindered by old-fashioned modes of capitalist thought. Do I agree?

I agree capitalism is an archaic way of thinking, yes. I agree with the conclusion that the society will only better itself if the society profits from it. However, therein is the juxtaposition – of society only cares about profit and benefits for it’s own gain as opposed to the gain of the government, doesn’t that make the ideologies of capitalism reinforced? Society must want to change for the benefit of the society, but not necessarily for profit directly. Profit can promote change, yes, but the true incentive surely lies in a context much deeper than that of money. Profit is part of a capitalist dialect – a society wanting to end capitalism so poor people can make more money is like saying you want peace in Iraq so that America can safely invade without incident.

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Spectacle [&&] Simulacra – 16.11.11 Discussion

16 Nov

[Yasmin’s Contribution]

The simulacrum is never what hides the truth – it is truth that hides the fact that there is none.
The simulacrum is true.

Ecclesiastes

What does Jean Baudrillard mean when he discusses ideas around ‘Simulacra’?

Baudrillard claims that we are no longer in the society of the spectacle – that instead of viewing images representative of the real, we are viewing the “hyperreal”.

The simulacra that he refers to are the significations and symbolism of culture and media that construct perceived reality, the acquired understanding by which our lives and shared existence is rendered legible. Baudrillard believed that society has become so saturated with these simulacra and our lives so saturated with the constructs of society that all meaning was being rendered meaningless by being infinitely mutable.

Examples such as The Truman Show, Everybody hates Chris and Friends are part of the spectacle. They are representations of real life interactions.

Above: Simulacra and Simulation  

Above: Video on Hyperreality

A great example showing this theory by film.

What is the relationship between Spectacle and Simulacra?

They are both known for its discussion of images, signs and how they relate to contemporary culture. Baudrillard claims that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and sign, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality.

What are the implications of this for contemporary activists like the anti-globalisation or anti-capitalist demonstrators?

Firstly I looked more thoroughly into what the anti-globalisation covered to familiarize myself with it.

Source: BBC News

Blog that further discusses the meaning of anti-globalisation

Who?

Anti-globalisation is the umbrella term for a group of different protest causes, including

  • environmentalism
  • third world debt
  • animal rights
  • child labour
  • anarchism, and
  • anti-capitalism and opposition to multinationals

Globalisation has really accelerated since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

How?

Protests have often resulted in violence, eg the scenes in Quebec. But most of the protesters are supporters of non-violent direct action, and have used tactics such as guerrilla gardening (which saw Winston Churchill’s statue getting a turf mohican), and Feed the Birds (giving pigeons in Trafalgar Square food when authorities are trying to remove them).

 

Why?

Opponents of globalisation say it leads to exploitation of the world’s poor, workers, and the environment. They say it makes it easier for rich companies to act with less accountability. They also claim that countries’ individual cultures are becoming overpowered by Americanization. Several of the largest US brands (eg McDonald’s and Starbucks) face particular opposition.

After gaining a better understanding of what this covered, I was then able to begin applying Debords and Baudrillards theories.

If the spectacle has supposedly won and we’re all trapped inside then whatever happens in this entrapment isn’t considered a spectacle at all. If we are trapped inside such an inauthentic life then does that mean that the protests are all fake? Maybe there is no such thing as power but just different people voicing there opinions out loud?

‘OCCUPY WALL Street has sent a bolt of electricity through American society and politics in a way that hasn’t happened in decades. It has made the powerful and wealthy of this society the focal point for decades of class rage that has simmered beneath the surface. The Occupy Movement has forced the mainstream media to report on and discuss poverty, economic inequality, and the corruption and money that pollute the political system in this country’. – Source: Socialist worker

Above: News clip on evicting ‘Occupy on Wall Street’

Is occupying just a representation of what we think is challenging power as Baudrillard may argue. It’s symbolic of what society would consider to be ‘deconforming’ but is there a possibility that without realizing we are actually conforming because of how many other protests and riots have taken place. It’s been done so regularly that it’s now become a representation of standing up for your rights and voicing an opinion.

‘Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world’.

Are their actions in opposition to the Spectacle?

For it being part of Spectacle:

  • It could be argued that the occupy movement is part of the spectacle as individuals from society are trying to create a situation out of the normality of life as Debord would call ‘Derive’ (Disrupting the flow of everyday life) in order to gain attention from those who are higher in power.

Against:

  • The spectacle wants us to think that we’re standing out by carrying out these violent acts for example but really it’s all part of the pre-planned life that we lead. If music, television, our conversations etc has all been controlled by power, then we are constantly recycling this therefore the spectacle of the entire world to be fake or as Debord puts it ‘inauthentic’.

All sources of information:

 

The Grand Narrative: Rebels Fighting Rebels

8 Nov

[David J]

Against

It has been often said that the BBC will never reply the interview with Darcus Howe, which may be correct, but I think the controversy came from the fact that there were two different sides to the debate; on the one side there was the riots which caused criminal damage and looting shops, and on the other side there was the feeling that the police didn’t care for certain sections of society, particuarly black people living in urban areas. The BBC reporter knew of Howe’s many decades of involvement in the black civil rights movement and thus the BBC reporter may have thought that Howe justifying the riots would make good television. But Howe was instead commenting on the black person who was shot by the police, and Howe went on to compare the public anger to the reaction of police actions in Brixton 1991 and even the Arab Spring, saying “Where were you in 1991 in Brixton? I don’t call it rioting, I call it an insurrection, of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria…”

the ‘masses of the people’ may well be angry at the police shooting an innocent person and using  heavy-handed techniques such as kettleing and horse-mounted charges in student protests, but I doubt Howe was condoning the looting, as the people of Syria and others were fighting for their freedom, not for free TVs. Indeed, the ‘masses of the people’ showed their solidarity with the ‘Broom army’ in cleaning up the mess that the rioters left behind.

But what was the Grand Narrative? That the government needs to try to control society through the media, by making riots look like mindless violence and hiding the true cause behind it? One could say that the Occupy protests may brake this cycle of the media reporting the violence instead of the politics, as it is no-violent yet has the media-interest that conventional protests do not. However, the Occupy protests are new and as with all new things, the spectacle becomes old and thus the media may no-longer report on it; despite the fact that the political message is no less important.

The government will always try to seek control and alternative movements will always seek to undermine it. This is because of a kind of ‘permanent revolution’. Leon Trotsky described it as the theory of the proletariat’s strategy in a democratic revolution in related to a “Bourgeois Democratic Revolution” and how a workers’ state can or can’t survive when surrounded by a ‘hostile capitalist world’. However, with this issue I’d take the ‘permanent revolution’ in a more literal way- with countries always having at least an undercurrent of revolutionist sentiment nomatter what the state’s government is.

Take the “Guardians of the Islamic Revolution” in Iran or the Libyan “Revolutionary Guard Corpsfor example; it was fighting for Muammar Gaddafi against the Libyan rebels; which then meant that in the 2011 Arab Spring there was the odd situation of “Revolutionaries” fighting against rebels/more revolutionaries; except that it isn’t really odd as it is seen throughout history. Iran and Gaddafi’s Libya used to be a revolution, it used to be the alternative but it is now (or in Gaddifi’s case, was) the state, the Man, the unaccountable oppressor. Being seen as “revolutionary” or of the “people” is very good for someone’s image because they are seen as fighting the greater power, being the underdog. On an individual level, like a poor Dickensian child, Bob Geldof dresses so scruffily and speaks in that whiny-droning-depressing-I’ve got a weight on my shoulders voice so that the audience is more likely to give lots of money to his cause. That’s not to say that Bob Geldof’s charity isn’t a noble one, as helping the poor in Africa is a very noble cause; but one can’t help but look at all the tricks of the trade on a national and individual level.

To conclude; the Grand Narrative will never end. Like the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 , today’s rebels will become tomorrow’s establishment with their valued ideals; the very people who they used to fight against. If the rioters of 2011 are entirely successful it will always be inevitable that, rightly or wrongly, they will end up being the established media of 2030, not giving a voice to the Darcus Howe or Julian Assange of 2030.

The Postmodern Condition

8 Nov

Richards Topic of Discussion

In the book of the same title as this article Jean-Francois Lyotard argued that, due to advancements in mass media, communication and computer science grand narratives are untenable.

If we look at how the recent riots fit into this theory then its clear to see how, especially communication via the use of social media has prevented a grand narrative being formed. But firstly, what is a Grand Narrative?

Well… Grand Narratives are essentially stories told by those in power (the government, media etc) with the aim of legitimising different versions of ‘the truth.’

A great example here would be the War on Iraq. Since 2003 we’ve been in Iraq. But why? Well, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s alleged support for terrorism and to free the Iraqi people. These reasons or stories were just Grand Narratives, told by those in power to cover what some believe to be the truth. That we really went out there for the Oil.

The stories told by the various governments, aimed at justifying the invasion of Iraq, covered up many of the resignations and protests that took place arguing that, without a U.N Mandate, the invasion was illegal.

Television coverage of the war was mostly Pro-War both in the UK and especially the US.

One key point we need to remember about metanarratives (grand narratives) are that they are told by and reinforced by power structures and therefore cannot be trusted. Television companies are often controled by the government and, despite appearances, are often bias.

If we compare the recent riots and demonstrations in the UK that took place this summer as well as those that are going on in other countries at the moment (Occupy Wall Street etc) its clear to see a drastic change in how these narratives are told. The people aren’t sitting back and watching the TV, they’re getting up and saying no to this totalitarianism rule. Letting the powers in control know that they won’t be able to get away with covering up the truth anymore and that the people who should be punished need to be.

The rise in social media. the ability for anyone to create their own media to tell their own stories and the fact that news papers are selling less and less and tv news ratings are dropping more and more means that people are looking to independant media more and more as a source of truth. Thus removing some of the power from those who contribute to the grand narratives.

Sources

The Postmodern Condition, Jean-Francois Lyotard, 1984, University of Minnesota Press.

Start of the debate..

8 Nov

Yasmins Topic of Discussion:

In terms of the Summer Riots, Darcus Howe voiced his opinion live on BBC and it is said that it will never be showed again. He stood up on behalf of the rioters and explained how it was predicted for such a spectacle to eventually occur due to the ignorance of both police and the government. He felt that youths, especially blacks were mistreated and judged. He called it an ‘insurrection of the masses of the people’ and not a riot. The BBC interviewer Fiona Armstrong challenged Darcus and stated that he had been taking part in the riots which ultimately, to the public, is steering him into the direction of looking bad and associating him as being part of this mass riot. By accusing him, her aims were to provoke aggression which is exactly what the media want. They want to portray this whole riot as being a negative move instead of people fighting for their rights as a positive revolution as it could result to even more people getting involved so much that it gets out of hand and the government aren’t able to control it any longer. The media selects and alters information in order to sway the population’s beliefs. They often succeed because people allow themselves to be influenced by biased media but things are beginning to change.

Soon after this broadcast, an apology was sent out to Darcus by the BBC for accusing him of such things. So if the media are being careful of how they continue to show and approach this matter due to fear, then how much power does the government REALLY have if they have to rely on the media to help control society and put them into a certain state of mind.

Even just by going to the pub, there are television screens everywhere with the news on so subconsciously we are absorbing this and getting back into a passive state and as Ash’s theory suggests, conforming to it.

As a group, we do believe that it has come to the end of grand narratives as events such as these will remain a memorable one even a unique addition to England’s history. Although this is the beginning of society fighting for what they believe in, they still have not yet learned to fight government control fully and protect their individual rights.

In 1984 the issue of government control through universal surveillance was a big issue and it continues up to today. Every person is estimated to be on camera at least three hundred times each day, and that number is constantly increasing. Who gives the government the right to be able to watch us in such a way when we haven’t given them permission to do so. This is just an example of an area that we still haven’t gained control over just yet but I feel that as a society, we are getting there and becoming stronger.

 

Links used for information:

Discussion of society

Apology from BBC

The Broadcast interview:

 

Becoming famous?

2 Nov

Above: Jesus Parody

How it started…

..what it resulted to.

 

Who provides it?

Society create videos to get themselves recognised and known. We create them as entertainment for others as well as hope to become noticed. The website ‘YouTube’ provides the facility for us to do so therefore they get free content which as an alternative, allows their website to continue to stay running.

We aspire to become famous and the media gives us the platform.

Who consumes it?

Once again the society does as well as institutions who look for individuals to exploit and use to their advantage to make money. A television programme ‘rudetube’ has specifically been created based on peoples videos so in return the television company make the money from us.

 

Example Two: X-Factor

Desperate measures to become famous …

 

Counter Discourse:

Steven Hawkins – Genuinely intelligent so he was recognised for this reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

My example of being tracked..

2 Nov

We were asked to find an example of personal incidents where we’ve been either tracked or we’ve been tracking someone else and the only one that stood out to me was the advertisements that I receive on a daily basis aimed at me through my Hotmail account.

Left: Screenprint of adverts aimed at me

Through the emails that I receive from different companies, the are being noted and advertisers are able to use this to their advantage. I feel as though it’s almost an invasion of my privacy but these techniques are used everywhere to appeal to that individuals desires.