Monday, February 11, 2008

6: p.s.

Just following up the comment I made in class, I really want to mention that I don't think that shows like The Daily Show, or fake news in general isn't important or making an important contribution to the way we view news and the potential activism that follows. I eat parody and fake news up. I think that putting too much stock into the idea that it will somehow revolutionize the way we perceive media and interact with it is just a little too idealistic for me. I've been reading a lot of Emma Goldman lately, and because of this I've been thinking a lot about fetishism and what that means. I think, in this case, to fetishize the importance of something like The Daily Show is harmful, because if too much stock is put into something being the answer, being empowering, it's more than likely to aid in keeping you apart of the system.

I don't know if I completely buy into that, but I think that's the sentiment I was going for. Except I worded it poorly and couldn't find the words to rephrase myself and convey what I meant properly.


5: presentation

here is the full length version of my presentation. minus the nervous jokes that weren't any good. promise.

About The Campaign

The contest was created by, a website that raises money and awareness for the democratic party. The contest was open to the public, with submissions that critiqued and reflected the creator’s opinion of the Bush Administration. The winning ad would be played on a major American channel during the Superbowl.

There was one overall winner, Child’s Play, but an additional 6 categories with top submissions were listed as well. The website additionally gave viewers access to the best 150 entries from the over 5000 that the campaign received. The ads were evaluated and ranked by a panel that included celebrities that have been vocal about their political affiliations, including Jack Black and Moby (

There was controversy over the campaign when two ads that compared Bush’s administration to Hitler and the Nazi party were posted on the website, which ended up gathering protest and great concern from three anti-defamation groups. Originally, CBS was to broadcast the 30 second short, but declined. The ad was then picked up by CNN, and was still broadcast during the Superbowl. (

In 2005, there was a follow up campaign by called “,” that had over 140,000 entries that were to inform the public about Bush’s changes in Social Security laws. This time, the winning entry would get an Apple computer and their short would be run on several “youth websites,” with the opportunity for the public to contact the winner, if the winner so desired.

So What Does This All Mean?

As Boler stated in her article, “visual satire offers an ideal form to transmit to post-911 contradictions because irony turns on the unsaid; is uses the dominant forms of logic to express what is otherwise silenced as dissenting didacticism; it expresses horrors in forms that are palatable; it creates a sense of shared meaning and community by using the unsaid to create a recognition of the dominant culture as misrepresentation (Boler, 1-2)

Bushin30Seconds is a perfect example of this sentiment. With this campaign, the voices of the submitters are actually put into motion. While The Daily Show feeds on its viewers’ fundamental longing for the objective, the alternative, is a direct representation of what the participating public felt about the Bush administration. This campaign dealt directly with parody on several levels. It wasn’t just the Bush administration’s blatant lies on display that were the subject of the critique, it was a reflection on politicians’ ad techniques as well; when one views these audience submissions, they can see the similarity. The Bushin30Seconds campaign heavily relies on its participants’ prior knowledge of how political propaganda works, and therefore these ads are a citizen’s comments on the effectiveness of the political campaign and how the public is interacting with these advertisements.

Furthermore, In The Death of Media gives a comprehensive list, directing the reader as to how they can aid in the formation of a democratic media. Step number nine, in particular really represents what the Bushin30Seconds campaign really strove to achieve:

“9. Become the media – develop media-making skills including video, photography, and
websites. Democratizing media is not just about what they do, it’s about what we do.”
(Schechter, 151)

Questions are raised with this sort of media though. When extremist views were put on the website, the effects were off putting. Did this extremist view of the Bush administration and the negative exposure the website got because of these entries?

Does this vilify the alternative media? Because of the views of extremists, does this isolate the public, and make them weary of trusting that which is not mainstream? Will occurrences like that scare people away from being exposed to groups whose agendas are really to inform the public?

Contemporary Comparisons

The user-based parody is obviously still prevalent. With the growth in popularity of “fake news,” and YouTube, it is clear that there is serious support for fair, non agenda pushing media representation. One example of this is the Rick Mercer Report’s online exercise where viewers are given an image of a politician / politicians and are asked to manipulate the image in a humorous and satirical manner. While the images are usually camp, there is meaning there. Why does the user chose to put said politician in this reworked image? What does it say about their role in society? What meaning does it have for the state of politics at the time?

Another example of user based political satire is the endless number of YouTube videos and other viral websites that have user made parodied videos. Such videos include a scantly clad woman parodying “In love with a stripper” with “I’m in love with Obama.” Another video compares the moronic answer that a Miss Teen USA finalist gave about the state of education in America to Republican frontrunner, McCain. Will Farrell’s comedy, user based video website,, has an entire section dedicated to videos that are political, and clearly reflect the thoughts of the 18-30 demographic that the website appeals to.

As the article states, in the case of The Daily Show, one must be informed of what is going on in the MSM, what information has become public knowledge to really grasp the effect and meaning of the daily show (Boler, 2). If you aren’t informed, are you truly getting the meaning behind the message? Or, if the satirical is relied on solely for information, does the parody become a form of “Infotainment” rather than a legitimate source of alternative news? Does it become Perez Hilton like in value? If one was not fully aware of what the political climate was at the time of the making of the shorts, would the message still be as effective, as important to the viewer? Would it still have meaning?

*p.s. i will properly cite this as soon as possible

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

4: response to death of media

I’ve been slugging away at The Death of Media for the past three days now. I attempted to read it all in one go to save myself some time. But after starting it, I realized that it was something that I should pace myself with and really contemplate, because it had a vast amount of information in a small amount of space. I think this ended up benefiting me, since I could contextualize and process the information and think of examples for myself.

With this in mind, I immediately thought of Manufacturing Consent. I studied a little bit of Noam Chomsky last year (nothing extensive, just enough to make me seem cool), so the majority of the information that I was reading – big corporations having even bigger choke holds on media ownership and diversity, infringement on journalistic freedom, etc – wasn’t completely foreign to me. However, it did a fantastic job of reinforcing the things that I had already read, and putting them into a more relatable and frankly, a more enjoyable, context.

The last two sections really sold the book to me. With the steps to contribute to the democratization of the MSM included, it made seeing examples of progress clearer. On page 145, Schecter spoke of “the advent of ubiquitous …community wireless networks…mobile podcasting...and other interactive media, [that are] dedicated to the principle that all citizens have the right of access to, and the right to speak in, the public sphere.” This reminded me of an interview with Michael Geist that I had watch on The Hour’s podcast about the impending changes on Canadian Copyright legislature:

I think this example is the above concept really put into motion. Using social networking and new forms of media, the message about a law that will ultimately impede on the privacy and rights of citizens is getting out to people. Through the facebook group, which has been joined by over 40, 000 members, people are actually getting information about how to contact MPs and getting their ideas from forms that are accessible to them; in means form that are popularly used, related to, and understood. With the interest over the internet, the message is finally pushed into the MSM, as demonstrated by the video, and there is widespread access to the information.