Old Habits…

Last week at a family dinner my grandfather (henceforth known as Bapak) handed my 10 year old cousin his mobile and asked him to find some text messages. Bapak swore he had received two that morning but because he didn’t open them immediately they had disappeared. My cousin finds twelve-times-tables difficult but he is an expert at technology. After about 15 seconds of navigating the phone, my cousin announced that there were no unread text messages and Bapak must have accidentally deleted them. This was closely followed by protests from Bapak. 

“I didn’t delete them! I’m not that old! The phone does it by itself. It’s happened before. It just deletes them automatically if I don’t open them straight away. It’s a stupidphone not a smartphone!”

After everyone at the table had a go at trying to find the lost messages it was decided that they must have been accidentally deleted or there hadn’t been any in the first place. Bapak looked slightly perplexed but eventually started laughing.

“Maybe I am that old.”

My grandparents watching television
My grandparents watching television

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that less than half of Australian aged 65 years and over are regular internet users. They cite that paying bills or banking online are the most predominant uses of the internet by senior Australians, followed closely by accessing government websites. Pew Research provides many reasons for why the elderly partake in much less internet use such as:

  • Physical challenges
  • Paranoia about new technology and
  • Being afraid of difficult to use new technology

None of these reasons apply to Bapak. He is mentally and physically very healthy, he is very open to technology that he considers improves his life (despite the aforementioned outburst about stupidphones), and if he gets shown how to do something he can usually do it on his own afterwards. By that logic he should be a seasoned internet user, surfing the web for Jamie Oliver recipes and cat videos. However he only accesses the internet at most once a day to check his email and maybe look at a news site. He never goes over his internet plan that includes 5GB a month of data, while my family recently upgraded to unlimited after regularly exceeding our 200GB a month plan.

When I asked him if the internet was important to him his immediate answer was “No. It’s convenient but by no means is it a big part of my life.”

So it’s probably not a surprise that Bapak wasn’t very affected by the news that the NBN was not yet available in his area.

“I would much rather live my life around my family than around the computer anyway.”


The Media Wherezone

The consumption of media has historically been a social undertaking, from families crowding around impressive free-standing wooden radios in the 1920s, to extended family and friends jamming themselves into tiny living rooms to bask in the glow of the first televisions in the 1950s. Today media is largely inescapable, and with the introduction of portable media devices such as smartphones and tablets the majority of us are never without a form of digital media constantly connecting us to other people. Isn’t it ironic then that in some respects media is now less social and more isolating than ever?

Take my brothers interaction with media for example. Bradley and Matthew are twins, which means my parents don’t feel as bad about continuing to make them share a room at 15. Their room is small, always a mess, and lacking in any decor that identifies it as a loved space. However in the middle of the chaos, beside the desk covered in unfinished homework and chocolate wrappers, is a flat screen 40-inch hi-def television. Connected to this is a PlayStation, a Wii and an X-box. On any given day a couple of laptops, a mobile phone or two, an iPod or a Nintendo DS could be lying on the floor. 

They both spend the majority of their time at home together in that room. But rarely speak to each other. If Matthew is playing FIFA on the X-box then chances are Bradley’s watching YouTube on his laptop. If Bradley’s playing a game on his iPod then Matthew’s probably…still playing FIFA actually. That boy spends most of his life controlling pixels in the shape of men to kick other pixels in the shape of soccer balls. Sometimes they even Facebook message each other from different devices.

I would call that social not-working.

…I am actually really proud of that pun…


It’s been real

So this is it, my last post, for BCM110 anyway. The last time you’ll hear from or see me. Unless of course you have surveillance cameras in my room.

That was my ingeniously smooth segue into the topic for this post, surveillance. Nifty huh? Don’t laugh, it took a long time to come up with.

The last six weeks have really made me think about aspects of the media that had never crossed my mind before, and the task of having to use that information in my own way to construct this blog has really cemented the concepts into a day-to-day context. None more so than this weeks lecture on surveillance. I have spent the last week walking around and subtly keeping track of the number of cameras filming me. They’re in the region of too-many-to-count.

The issue of CCTV is a polarised one, with arguments on both sides. Governments cite CCTV as being a tool for the protection of the public, that reduces crime and makes people feel safer. If I relate this back to my post about media effects there is an overlap in that the two boys who murdered toddler James Bulger were caught on surveillance cameras. However the presence of these cameras did not prevent the crime from occurring, rather the images served as a tool of fear that the boy had been taken so easily.

Tabloid magazines, which I discussed in my most recent post, could be considered surveillance instruments in themselves, as they document all aspects of celebrities’ lives and do not seem to understand the concept of privacy.

All in all this assignment has been informative, and surprisingly fun, and continues to shape my views and opinions, and hopefully someday my role, in the media.

Adios! (That was a little practice for my Spanish class)

More, more more?

http://www.civilrightsmovement.co.uk/faq-uk-citizens-cctv-privacy-rights.html (article about surveillance in Britain)

“Real-life” styles of the Rich and the Famous

I am going to make a not-so-bold guess that you, my valued reader, have been in a supermarket at some point. If you haven’t because you have enough money to employ someone to do it for you, I am slightly envious. If you have been in a supermarket you will probably have also seen the numerous tabloids on the impulse racks next to the register (so if you’re someone who leaves without paying you may not know what I’m talking about, no judgement).

This week in class we were asked to blog about a medium that presents real-life issues. I chose tabloids because the lives of celebrities are played out in front of us all like a soap-opera that’s on all the time and never ends. During my half-hour trip to Woolies over the weekend, I found out that Kim Kardashian is being called fat, Lindsay Lohan is in trouble with the law (again), Delta Goodrem and Seal are “in love”, a contestant off My Kitchen Rules “used” to be gay and Joel Madden and Nicole Richie are expecting twins, all without actually opening a magazine.

In the 5 minutes I was waiting in line I was presented with issues of eating disorders, sexuality struggles, and relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusion that most of what is written in tabloids is a fabrication to sell more copies but it was still interesting to consider the fact that we vicariously face these things every day, through celebrities that we admire or dislike. There are whole websites dedicated to giving people a forum to voice their opinions on people they’ve never met, let alone know.

The only positive I can gauge from this type of media (because I’d like to become a proper journalist with morals and ethics) is that it does bring issues real people are facing to the forefront of the mediated sphere and allows people to discuss them in the less-embarrassing context of it being a “celebrity’s problem”.

More, more more?

http://womansday.ninemsn.com.au/ (Woman’s Day website)

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/celebrities-why-are-some-people-obsessed-with-celebrities (article discussing obsession with celebrity)

The Evil Clown Made Me Do It

I’ve loved horror for as long as I can remember. Something about the adrenaline rush, those loud and unexpected moments that push your heart against your ribcage and the relieved, nervous laughter when you find out it was just the cat jumping from one surface to the other. So the idea that violence and gore on the screen could affect a human being to the point where they commit macabre and evil acts in real life has always fascinated me.

My obsession with horror started with a smaller, much-younger version of myself staying up til all hours of the night reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels. I use the word ‘novel’ loosely. I would wait until my parents were in bed, grab a torch and hide under the covers reading about amusement parks that wouldn’t let you leave, summer camps hiding dark secrets and siblings getting replaced by robots. Eventually I would get myself into such a state that every sound in the house sounded like the living dummy, and he was coming to get me.

I did eventually develop my taste in literature (I promise) and now own over twenty different Stephen King books. But this isn’t about the written word.

When terrible things happen people naturally want someone to blame, and in quite a few cases violent movies are used as a scapegoat. Now I have seen everything from Hostel to Halloween, Saw to Psycho, and have thus far never commited murder, torture or the like. I haven’t kidnapped anyone and forced them to “…play a game” or used my telekinetic mind powers to torture the people at school who were mean to me. Yes I do have telekinesis, don’t tell anyone.

So I guess I should probably present some evidence and make myself seem more credible rather than just rattling off cute little anecdotes about Baby Becca who was afraid of the boogeyman.

In 1992 toddler James Bulger went missing and was later found dead. Murdered in such a gruesome fashion that the crime must have been committed by a crazy, disturbed person. When it was revealed the atrocity was committed by two 10-year old boys shocks and fear were sent through parents and the public alike. It’s hard to come to terms with the idea that children, innocent and pure, could be responsible for such a heinous crime, and during sentencing the Judge blamed the act on a horror movie, “Child’s Play 3”.

What the Judge failed to mention was the circumstances the killers had grown up in; domestic abuse, parental alcoholism, family dysfunction and neglect, as well as bullying were all present in both boy’s lives from a young age. By pure mathematics is it not safe to assume that 10 years of abuse and neglect had more of an impact on the people these children became and the crime they committed than an hour-and-a-half long horror movie? In my humble opinion, blaming a movie for the crimes of children is just a cop-out.

When Martin Bryant went on a killing spree in Port Arthur that left 35 dead and 23 wounded, the public was very quick to believe the reports of numerous horror movies and bestial pornography being found in his house. In reality there was nothing of the sort found. In fact Bryant’s favourite films were “Babe” and “The Lion King”. Rather than being inspired by violent films, Bryant was actually taking revenge on a community that had rejected him because he was developmentally challenged.

It’s almost midnight and the pear cider next to me is doing little to keep me awake, so I’ll end it here, with a quote from Ray in “Scary Movie”: “No! Watching TV shows doesn’t create psycho killers. Canceling TV shows does!” I have to agree with him, because I have never had such extreme homicidal thoughts as when Entourage was taken off the air.

More, more, more?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/chucky-films-defended-1468498.html (article written soon after the James Bulger case denying horror movie responsibility)

http://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/7618 (Article about censorship of horror movies)