News!

Published May 26, 2015 by somethingbeginningwithz

So, if you’re following this blog, first of all: thank you. You are obviously one very cool, very awesome person. Respect. However, I rarely post on this blog!

Please visit my newer, cooler blog! www.itbeginswithz.wordpress.com. I regularly post random and entertaining articles, rants, reviews and ramblings. I’m mostly funny, I promise. Anyway, see you there!

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Blogs, Blogs, Blogs!

Published April 28, 2014 by somethingbeginningwithz

To anyone who currently follows this blog or anyone who likes my style of writing:

I’ve decided to continue my blogging journey (maybe i’m just a little bit crazy). It’s not academic; it’s far more personal. But I am posting random pieces I may have written for university. Check it out!

 

It Begins With Z

 

Enjoy!

I came, I saw, I conquered: A Reflection Statement

Published April 14, 2014 by somethingbeginningwithz

I had never written a blog post before; this initially made the assessment quite challenging. The writing wasn’t the most challenging part though (aside from that pesky 300 word limit!). It was the technology side of things that proved to be the most difficult for me. I had no idea how to create a blog in the first place, let alone create and design themes, add tags and categorise posts, how to hyperlink my sources rather than list them in a bibliography or how to add media. Thankfully, I had tools and tips which allowed me to learn.

This assessment really opened my eyes to the bigger media issues, in particular, the concentration of media. Elizabeth Hart’s Media Ownership really helped me grasp this; without it, and many other sources listed on my blog, I would not have been able to write “Media Ownership: it’s all about the money, money, money”. Prior to this, I had never even considered who owned the media and why this is important. It’s especially important to me as I intend to pursue journalism.

The content over the past six weeks I’ve found really engaging; it was invigorating to not only learn new information, but to relate my preconceived ideas about the media to actual proven facts and studies. For my blog post “Body Image vs the Media: is It Justified?” I was able to link the idea of the effects model into my own thoughts about the media’s impact on body image. My post “Let it go, Disney!” was of a similar fruit; I was able to relate the public sphere, and the impact that Disney films has upon it. My favourite post, however, was “Feminism: you put your left foot in, you put your left foot out”. The study of semiotics had led me to the controversial feminist text Lean In which opened my eyes to a lot of issues to do with gender inequality; Rosa Brooks’s article was also particularly interesting, as it allowed me to see the other side of the story.

I found it very interesting to read the blogs of my peers, noting the differences and similarities. Commenting on other’s blogs made me double check my own writing, to make sure I wasn’t making similar mistakes. The comments of others made on my blogs also raised questions which I had not previously thought of. It was heartening to see that people liked and responded to my posts; at times, these people weren’t even fellow students. This task has really helped cement the fact that this is university, not just high school.

I’ve found blogging to be thoroughly enjoyable; not only does it cement the information learned in class, but it gives me a chance to expand my ideas, practise writing and researching as well as giving me a chance to vent about civil wrongs. I intend to continue my blogging journey, despite the assessment’s completion.

Let it go, Disney!

Published April 9, 2014 by somethingbeginningwithz
Classic Disney Princesses  (Source: DisneyWiki)

Classic Disney Princesses (Source: DisneyWiki)

Almost every little girl dreams of being a princess; they’ve become an integral part of our cultural identity. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a princess? A handsome prince, beauty and a happily ever after? That sounds pretty fabulous to me.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

A closer inspection of these classic Disney princesses reveals an outdated ideological core. Their traits commonly include a love for cleaning, meekness, great beauty and tiny, unrealistic bodies. For the most part, they have no desire to better their lives until a man enters their lives and they run off into the sunset together. Now we all know this is not realistic, for the most part:

  • We don’t marry strangers
  • A lot of people don’t even marry
  • A happily ever after doesn’t always involve a true love’s first kiss

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It’s not even just females that Disney impacts; young men, as a result of these films, feel they must “save the day” and are impacted by the male protagonists’ traits: strong and brave. What about intelligence, kindness or humour? Or how about knowing when to step down from a fight, rather than participate in one? Disney appears to be stuck in the 1950s.

"Oh, Anna. If only someone loved you." Source: 2013 Film Frozen - a screen shot.

“Oh, Anna. If only someone loved you.” Source: 2013 Film Frozen – a screen shot.

Thankfully, Disney seems to be singing a new sweet song with the release of Frozen, loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. Since the movie’s release, snowballs of debate have been sparked, comparing Frozen’s ideologies to past Disney films. Outdated conventions were flipped in the film; the notion of “an act of true love” turns out to be sisterly love,  and the issue of why you can’t marry a man you just met is also addressed. Queen Elsa does not even have a love interest; she is content with being herself- a valuable lesson.

Disney films have been long criticised for their representation of femininity and masculinity and its effects on children. It would seem that Frozen is the beginning of a successful and modern ideologically-based princesses. About time!

 

Media ownership and concentration: it’s all about the money, money, money

Published April 5, 2014 by somethingbeginningwithz

“Joseph Stalin…Once suggested that starving Ukrainians ought to be fed grass because, while grass was not nutritious or healthy, it could fill their stomachs and give them a sense of having been fed. This is what the media in many markets has become; [Sic] it feeds readers, listeners and viewers a steady diet of the media equivalent of grass. People feel as if they are partaking in news, but they are actually starved for information” (Nicholls, 2004, listed by E. Hart)

You may not have ever thought about media concentration before; that’s okay. But it is important; it has the potential to limit freedom of expression and diversity, as well as promote sensationalism, rather than real stories. As US journalist John Nicholls suggests: “profit will always trump principle.”

An American Explanation of Media Concentration:

Schapelle Corby’s release from prison:

Many of the stories now flood the media which are based on sensationalism and stories that are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, rather than important, hard-hitting stories.  There are numerous examples of this, from the media flurry surrounding Schapelle Corby’s release from prison while wars were fought, and the focus on Tony Abbot and his budgie smugglers, rather than his actual political policies.

According to the  MEAA, the only way to rectify this trend is through the diversity of media ownership, though federal law makes this difficult. The 2007 amendment to the 1992 Broadcasting Services Actwhich reduced cross-media restrictions, has only succeeded in causing Australian media to become even more concentrated:

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Australia’s media is controlled by only a handful of people; our media is one of the most highly concentrated in the world. The general public, however, are largely unaware of the issue and its impact. If only media owners were to focus on the quality of their stories, rather than the profits. It certainly is a rich man’s world.

 

Feminism: You Put Your Left Foot In, You Put Your Left Foot Out

Published March 27, 2014 by somethingbeginningwithz

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Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a controversial text to say the least. Sandberg suggests that the gender gap in employment is due to women “leaning out” of leadership roles and the only way to rectify this is to “lean in”, challenging society’s expectations of a woman’s place. While the denotations of this text are simply to assist women in achieving success, there is concern that the connotations of the text suggest that women must do extra in order to succeed.

Lean In is certainly merited in its points that women are unequal in the workplace. Using the media as an example, a study done by the University of the Sunshine Coast found that of the 605 Journalists surveyed:

  • 69.9% of senior managers were male and 30.1% female
  • 53.1% of males earn more than $72,000 a year, compared to 35.6% of females
  • Females represent 55.5% of Journalists, though typically have less powerful positions.

These figures highlight the unequal male-female distribution in powerful positions.

The concept of “leaning in” is all about accepting opportunities and doing the best possible job, going above and beyond in order to succeed.

Many women have supported this idea, including celebrity Reese Witherspoon, who says the concept of leaning in has helped her achieve more than she could have ever hoped, despite earlier concerns and anxieties.

However, many women argue that leaning in is in fact a step back for feminism. They ask: ‘Why should women have to lean in? Why do women have to do more in order to succeed?’ An article by Rosa Brooks titled highlights these arguments as well as the exhaustion “leaning in” creates. She suggests that these assumptions must be challenged and that “We [women] need to fight for our right to lean out … Women of the world, recline!”

As a controversial text, there is no right or wrong answer; however, it is my suggestion that perhaps an approach that encompasses both ideas is needed; one foot in and one foot out.

 

Body Image vs the Media: Is the Blame Justified?

Published March 16, 2014 by somethingbeginningwithz

“It’s a Friday afternoon in a Zara change room, and I’m trying to find the best way to break the bad news to Marissa – I can’t zip up the dress she’s trying on.”

Sound familiar?

The above is an excerpt from an August 2013 Cosmopolitan article which states that, despite the fact that the average Australian woman is a size 14, sample sizes for clothing normally come in sizes 8-10. These smaller sizes, which are simply enlarged, are not flattering for larger women; they “hug all the wrong places.

Why are these sizes so small? Many would argue it is to do with the “ideal” body shape which is promoted largely by the media.

An article by Kasey L Serdar suggests that society has the view that a person can never be too rich or too thin, and that this idea is promoted by the media. Serdar notes studies that found an average television or advertisement model are typically at least 20% below the ideal healthy body weight, thus meeting the criteria for disorders such as anorexia nervosa. These women are unfairly seen as having the “perfect” body, causing many women to develop body dissatisfaction  and weight anxiety, despite the fact that these sizes are largely unattainable for most women.

They eyes of someone with an eating disorder

They eyes of someone with an eating disorder

 

Statistics about anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa:

  • The 3rd most common illness for young females.
  • Anorexia patients are six times more likely to die prematurely; 1/5 of these deaths will be from suicide.
  • Studies have shown that children as young as the age of 6 expressed wanting to be slimmer
  • 84.3% of young people said they know of at least one person with an eating disorder
Eating disorder information from the NEDC

Eating disorder information from the NEDC

The media does however also promote positive body image:

Cosmopolitan’s Size Hero campaign also furthers positive body image.

Plus size model Robyn Lawley at a Guess accessory Launch in Sydney.

Plus-size model Robyn Lawley at a Guess accessory launch in Sydney.

Though the media is not the only reason for body dissatisfaction and resulting eating disorders, it certainly has a significant impact, and it is therefore justified to at least partially blame the media for negative body image.

The idea of a "perfect and ideal" body in 1538 is vastly different from what it is now.

Titan’s Venus of Urbino: the idea of a “perfect and ideal” body in 1538 is vastly different from what it is now.