Saturday, December 26, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Fabrizio Corona was sentenced to 3 years for blackmailing celebrities over photos. The photos were not of secret love affairs or scandals, but simply embarrassing shots of celebs with their shirts off or next to unflattering friends. Not only does the incident speak to our era of image obsession but also to the rising power of the mediator. Corona is a celebrity in his own right, appearing on an Italian reality show, dating a top Brazilian model and documenting his muscles for public fans while behind bars. Read more here.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Marie Claire France, November 2009
If the images of women in French fashion magazines from November to December 2009 are any reflection of reality, women of Arab descent do not exist in France. Or, if they do—the message seems to be—they do not belong in the world of high fashion and culture. Since after World War II, France recruited many immigrants from North African and Middle Eastern countries to fill a labor shortage, and the Arab population in the country has only increased since (Malonga). In spite of this, however, there was zero representation of Arab women out of 573 pictured in fashion editorials and advertisements from Marie Claire December 2009, Elle November 2009, Vogue November 2009, and Jalouse December-January 2009-2010. But Arabs were not the only racial group underrepresented in this sample; in fact, the women presented were 94.8% Caucasian. In the four magazines analyzed, there were a total of 543 white women (94.8%), 16 Asian women (2.8%), 13 black women (2.3%), and one Latina woman.
Chart numbers indicate race representations of women in photographs with no Arab representation in any (
As Peter Braham wrote, “fashion, as well as being a matter of creation, consumption, and identity, is also a matter of production, distribution, and retailing.” The same thing applies to fashion magazines; like all others, they face commercial pressures to gain profit. Both fashion advertisements and fashion editorials are ultimately tied to their effectiveness in selling a product—fashion advertisements aim to sell specific garments, accessories, or brands, while editorials sell ideologies of fashion, and the magazine itself. Because of the realities of commercialization, if a magazine or advertisement doesn’t adequately appeal to the market, it cannot survive economically. Therefore, magazines and advertisements edit their content to reflect what the reader wants to see—or at least, what they think readers want to see. According to Rosetta Brookes, a “peculiarity of the fashion photograph is that it is positioned on a threshold of a between two worlds: the consumer public and a mythic elite created in the utopia of the photograph as well as in the reality of a social group maintained by the fashion industry.”
Jalouse, Asian women featured but associated with the Geisha aesthetic, December 2009-January 2010
As a result, in order to appeal to the highest number of consumers (and thus make the highest profit possible), magazines and advertisements lean conservative in their selection of what kind of woman to present to the reader. This conservatism isn’t the political kind; rather, it means that fashion magazines feel the need to display women that are not different or disturbing looking—they must be relatable to the reader, but idealized as well. Because France is still a country whose social classes are relatively divided along racial lines, what this usually translates to, in fashion, is whiteness.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Political campaigns are increasingly media based, as media, especially television advertisements, provide a chance to reach and influence a large number of voters in a single instance. Equally important, however, is the content of those advertisements. That they seek to elaborate upon philosophical and policy differences between parties is genuinely good for democracy. Vibrant public debate is the very lifeblood of proper democratic government, and that is only possible with real discussion over genuine differences, rather than partisan bickering over smear jobs. That British campaign media tends to focus on the policy, as opposed to politics, is perhaps the real reason that the sun has never truly set upon the British Empire.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Elyse Inamine writes in "Euro-American coverage of banlieue subculture, in particular the framing of parkour from 2005 to 2009," current stigma, only encouraged by les émeutes de 2005, has risen in French culture and even the global society with widespread news documentation and commentary. However, the parkour subculture arises as the new face of the banlieues. A spokeperson for Parkour-Spot.com, an online international community dedicated to creating a parkour database, noted in an email interview, “it is possible that parkour has needed the suburbs to born: the lack of freedom, to escape the constraints of the habitat, various structures for training and a diverse population and sources of inspirations.”
Parkour is “ultimately a communion with one’s habitat, in goal of exploring how one’s body is shaped by the political geography of the modern city.” Visually, it is leaping from building to building, scaling walls, and seeming to defy gravity. However, within this movement, there is a philosophy and a way of life to this subculture. Using Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style, the parkour subculture transforms the commodities of the urban landscape – the streets as dictated by Haussmann’s grids – into a mode a self-expression.
Today, parkour has emerged from the periphery of the banlieues to the realm of media, commercialism, and popular culture as seen in the 2002 Nike Presto campaign, "Le Poulet en Colere," and a 2002 BBC commercial. However, following Karl Marx in “The Fetishism of Commodities and The Secret Thereof,” parkour is thus manipulated by this mythic value which “converts every product into a social hieroglyphic.”
But as seen in The Office, parkour is more than a product – it is a spectacle. In The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord defines the spectacle as “simultaneously [presenting] society as itself, as part of society, and as a means of unification…it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images.” In a sense, The Office presents itself as the mediator between the parkour subculture and the audience.
By using media, pakour has acted as the subcultural mediator between the banlieues and the universal public. However, it leaves one to wonder if this universalization of parkour has lead to its global demise as the true parkour has been diluted into the commodified, spectacular parkour.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
New Media: Digital, networked communication
New media includes both devices and programs that are increasingly dominating our space and time. The chart below separates new media by device and location.
Social networking sites that require registration indicate the numbers of regular users. Facebook is estimated at 300 million users. Skype states that is has 425 million registered users.
Welsch explains that rather than authentically communicating with one another, we are interacting with machines. This comic segment below from E! shows celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe speaking via cell phone to people in the same room.
Not only are we decreasing in authentic communication with one another, we are increasing in self-interest. Websites, Facebook, Blogs and Twitter are used for self-promotion and can generate a false sense of self-importance and a shallow, quick byte understanding of others.
We are now willingly, publicly revealing ourselves with new media. The idea of continually exposing our innermost thoughts is socially unprecedented. Wim Wender's film Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987) from just 2 decades ago, featured a famous subway scene in which only an angel could hear what people were really thinking.
Now on Twitter, anyone can have a window into anyone else's soul. For example, Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, comments on a feeling of not feeling, while days before he was laughing at flamethrowers on YouTube. Twitter commentary varies from blatant self promotion, as with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, to corporate promotion like the NYTimes (which has gift ideas for the inner child with everything). Even a dog's owner has decided to post for him. Some people consider new media a type of democratization. However with only 1.6 billion people regularly using the internet, 5 million are disconnected. There is also the question if using new media can break through existing social barriers. While it is true that many small voices have received recognition, the most followed Tweets and blogs are those that belong to celebrities and corporations.
New media and television: Pappathanassopoulos describes that television and the internet are converging into screen culture. TV websites began as auxiliary and are slowly providing the same thing as the internet. TV websites are an advantage to channels because they add archiving and a more global audience.
Estonia was considered an old world Russian-Nordic fishing community. Since its independence it has joined Eurovision and generated new media like Skype. The e-election showed photos like the one above, with seniors demonstrating card readers and e-voting publicly. By contrast, computerless peasants like those featured below, dominate Estonia outside of Tallin.