Category: Race and New Media


Ascribed and Achieved Identity

In capitalism and the social order, people have clearly described roles. Today we are less defined by who we are and more defined with what we do. The focus now is on achieved identity.

The focus is the nature of identity in capitalism. The capitalist media system, has a way of classifying people into different identities.This is done most commonly through advertising, political or otherwise, and television consumption and the system of corporate state production.

Under capitalism today, identity is destabilized. One of the ways of creating identity is education. It creates identities of workers and citizens. Education is also a way of creating your own unique identity and deciding for yourself who you want to be.

The intensification of appropriation within popular culture destabilizes identity. It destabilizes the categories of shared information. Appropriation is shown through various forms of media, such as YouTube, television shows, commercials, which affects the way the audience perceives original meanings and identities for individuals and corporations.

A topic mentioned in class was the destruction of the Black man in America which corresponds to the destruction of the black family unit, which is contrary to what is shown as the ideal family situation in mainstream media. When it comes to this situation I believe there are a variety of corresponding negative factors involved in the dissolution of the Black family unit, and the struggles of the black man. For example: poverty, education, and parental guidance/supervision are all intertwined. If a family is suffering from a lack of all three of these factors there are bound to be a lot of social problems to follow. If you fix the situation of these problems you will fix the “plight of the Black man”. As well as out of curiosity, why wasn’t the “Black women” mentioned? For example if a Black American single mom has children, some male and some female, what is the role of the daughter(s) in this situation? Are they more likely to succeed in the realm of education because of the differentiation of the socialization of education towards gender?

In terms of media identity, in my opinion and from my personal experiences, when young Black children and teens are home alone and unsupervised the common programming of the day to watch is BET. Which I believe doesn’t do much to help in the positive formation of “Black identity”. Especially when it seems to promote mostly gangster culture, which definitely isn’t going to help get these already marginalized youth out of their current situation. Maybe if more programming focusedĀ  on a more positive black identity and the pursuing of higher education and in much more numbers, maybe it could have a positive effect on the behaviour of young and disadvantaged black men. But this is just a thought.

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Corporate Control

In the political economy, there is a corporate attempt to control amateur cultural production. For example when you put a video on Youtube that may contain some lyrics or images from a corporate entity, your video may be removed because it is considered to go against copyright law. However what about the rights of fair use?

Media has the biggest influence on cultural production. Thus there is a control by the power elites of society, and the power holders decide what people will believe and how they should act. As Karl Marx said, “the people who own the means of production, also control the production of ideas”.

Social media has challenged corporate media, and there is now two competing systems for the attention of the masses.

Our values and actions correspond to the needs of the political system. They perpetuation of the status quo and inequality is maintained in the social structure.

When I heard this lecture I thought about black people and black identity, most specifically in North America, or the United States of America. For example the Power holders such as Viacom which now own B.E.T. which stands for Black Entertainment Television; Continuously plays videos on repeat which show the “thug life” or “gangster culture”, and are constantly “pimping out” black women. For example if your a child and you grow up watching that stuff on a daily basis and you come from a poor background, there is a high likelihood that you are going to strive to live like how the people on t.v. live, especially the ones who you feel you can relate to. These people are seen as rolemodels because viewers feel that they went through similar struggles. Overall the message that the media sends black youth, in my opinion promotes their oppression within modern society. If they showed a lot more black people on t.v. who were successful and overcame their oppression through education, I think you would start to see more black people raising their socio-economic status, and then the dominating perceptions and stereotypes of non-blacks towards blacks would also change.

The Place of Women in New Media

Throughout history, women have been considered a subordinate group. There is a hierarchy in colour and gender in all societies. We live in a patriarchical culture where men are dominant. White men contain most of the wealth and power within almost every aspect of our society. In terms of media, White men are most of the directors and screenwriters, the producers and CEO’s. A man gets paid more money for doing the same exact work as his female counterpart. Here in Canada a woman makes .70 cents to every dollar that a man makes. There are clear discrepancies of equality and oppression facing women and minorities in everyday life.

The media does an overall good job in reflecting the attitudes and socialization of our societies. The media objectifies and is misogynistic towards women. According to Bell Hooks who is a Black feminist, she argues the misogynist men and white male supremacists work to maintain their own position. I completely agree with this as well, I work for the government and one of my white male co-workers wouldn’t fill out the self-disclosure form because he believes it discriminates against “the white male”. Like give me a break, and get over your own insecurites.

I believe that human beings are products of their society, so that if young girls are taught to act and behave in certain ways, they are likely to do it. It is also a normalization process, for example if you live in a certain culture where it is common for women to become nurses as opposed to doctors, you will have more women aiming to become nurses. Not because they are not intelligent enough to become doctors, but because they are doing what is expected of them.

In Youtube, some women act toward the objectification of women, and other women fight against it. There are some women who make videos on Youtube where they are naked or almost naked, and are objectifying themselves in hopes of attracting the male gaze. While you have other women who are probably more educated, and fight for women’s empowerment in society. Youtube becomes a dialogic medium where people are able to combat each other’s opinions on a women’s place in society. A woman’s self-identity is being defined by the culture.

We use videos to challenge the dominant meaning and also to reinforce them. The representation of everyday life is reflected in everyday media. There is a new meaning system where meanings will come from the internet. As well as the internet knowledge gained off sites like Youtube, reflect your average person, recanting their actual opinions, it is usually not scripted, so it reflects the actuality of what a person’s thoughts are. As opposed to the censorship seen on television, or on television there is a tendency to say things that are politically correct so as not to offend people.