Saturday, January 30, 2010

US, European, Global Media

Media are simply tools of communication from a printed word to a music note. When thinking globally, media is also meta-language, meaning it is not language specific but can operate across cultures through signs and symbols that are relevant to many languages. An important part of this course is gaining global media fluency to better understand communication in France and Europe specifically.

American media has existing associations and authority to Americans

Global media below aim for a global audience

Global audiences

Numbers above are for live viewers of the channels and readers of the print edition

How can our personal thinking both inform and limit our approach to media?
As educated adults, we receive most messages with a pre-existing degree of familiarity. We recognize the label on a Coca-Cola and already know what the contents are like. We are informed receivers. The same informed perspective can also overdetermine a message, meaning that what we expect can determine how we receive a message and possibly cause us to limit or ignore certain messages. Part of living and learning in Europe is exposure to new media in different languages, preventing the normal practice of overdetermination.

American stereotypes about European media include old fashioned, bizarre, nudity, intellectual and soccer. Clockwise from left traditional Polka, the American Borat, Self Service magazine, The Medici Library talk show and the World Cup.

What are some common American perceptions of European media?
Many Americans immediately think of European media as more restrained, serious and intellectual. Europeans are also seen as more liberal with nudity and the arts. While there is evidence for these perceptions, the EU actually has nation specific regulations that means the media vary from country to country.

Our approach combines an expanding global perspective and media theory.

Media Theory is not American. Below clockwise from top left Karl Marx, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Marshall McLuhan, Roland Barthes in Center.

The European Media Landscape, Southern & Northern Europe
For the first section of the class we will simply get a lay of the land and look at regional differences and similarities across Europe.

Political Uses
We will look at how media can be used to promote political groups and the privacy regulations in France.

Scandal & Misinformation
These are examples of campaigns to stop scandal and misinformation.

Whoever pays for media supports its agenda.

The American film Network represents privately funded media. European networks were traditionally state funded but commercial funding has increased.

Economics of Advertising

We will look specifically at European advertising in print, television and the internet, some from international companies such as Nike, Lego and others.

Social & Cultural Dynamics

Because the EU includes different nationalities, languages and faiths, conflict is ever present.

Parisian riots in 2005

The Culture Industry

We will look at the importation of American media to Europe, the dubbing business and re-creation of foreign films.

"I think we were directly or indirectly responsible for the fall of the Soviet empire," Larry Hagman on the television show Dallas coming to Eastern Europe.

European Entertainment Media

Cannes Film Festival

Sports & Tourism Media

Formula 1 in Monte Carlo is a major media event with drivers that are the most sponsored athletes in the world. Above Ferrari CEO discusses the event.

Music & Fashion Media

The world's most watched music television show.

Global Trends in Media

Pepsi's Worldwide Wordless Logo

New Media

Spain's Social Network site is invitation only and larger than Facebook

Media Research
You will choose a research topic related to French and European media. You may consider a historic topic, for which you can use your birth year as a starting place for checking events. There are many other options.

Sarkozy, or any previous French leader, and the media

Any major French or European news network or web news resource

Any major French or European entertainment network or news resource
Al Jazeera in France
Advertising regulations in France and Europe
Paparazzi in France, or Europe
Formula One Media
The World Cup Media
The Cannes Film Festival
New trends in Reality TV in France or Europe
The Old Guard / European Royalty and the Media

The Swedish Royal Family bestow the Nobel Prize in a ceremony covered by countless global media

Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D Salinger & The Media

The road leading to Salinger's home in Cornish, New Hampshire.

The passing of the celebrated author renews interest in his literary masterpieces. It also prompts a re-consideration of his media strategy. In age when authors have publicists, press junkets, websites, blogs and Tweet every thought, Salinger was silent. He was in fact incommunicado for 50 years living in a secluded New England town, going out only to a Unitarian church and local cafe. Salinger's media silence did not however decrease his fame or the respect for his work. In an era in which we think everything must be legitimized by the spectacle, Salinger let his words speak for themselves. Read the Telegraph report here and the NY Times profile here and read more on media isolation from Garbo to Pynchon here.

“Salinger had remarked that he was in this world but not of it," 1919-2010

This photo of Greta Garbo at the Plaza taken by Cecil Beaton in 1946 was just before she also entered a 30 year seclusion from the media.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Talk Show Set: America Vs. France

With the recent attention to US late night talk shows, it is the right moment to highlight French differences. The American talk show has long consisted of a desk for the host, accompanied by guest seating, normally a couch to the left. The backdrop varies based on the location of the show.

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 1964, in New York with a solid backdrop

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 1983 in Burbank with nature and cityscape backdrop

The Merv Griffin Show used a solid backdrop high glitter set with moveable chairs, parodied on Seinfeld below

The Late Show with David Letterman, a New York backdrop

Leno, Los Angeles cityscape

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, June 2009- Jan 2010

The Daily Show, 2006, solid backdrop and screen

The French talk show by contrast is much more of a roundtable, considered as a televised debate. The host is typically at the center with guests to either side, surrounded by an arena style audience. The French take the talk show very seriously as there are about 650 different talk-shows on French television each week, most of them with a studio audience. One exception is "Bibliotheque Medicis" which is filmed on a closed set that resembles an enormous private library and emphasizes intellectual topics. For more on French talk shows, click here.

Bibliotheque Medicis, Public Senat

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roman Polanski

Journalists based outside Polanski's Gstaad chalet

The Roman Polanski trial now involves the US, Swiss and French legal systems. In 1977, Polanski was charged in the US with sexual assault of a minor and fled to France during the trial. In 2005, an international arrest warrant was issued which resulted in his September 2009 arrest in Switzerland, where he remains. Polanski has requested to be sentenced in Switzerland but this has been appealed by the prosecution. Recent photographs of Polanski under Swiss house arrest showed him indoors with his children. This violates French privacy law which only allows photos to be taken in open public spaces. Polanski has now sued Le Journal du Dimanche, the main French Sunday paper. Read more on the French lawsuit here.

Polanski on trial, 1978, from "Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired"

The media attention surrounding Polanski's case is in part due to his high profile role as a director. He was first subject to mass media attention in 1969 when his wife Sharon Tate was murdered. His early life was also problematic as his parents were forced into concentration camps. Polanski survived using a false name in the Krakow ghetto. His first feature film was in Polish, Nóż w wodzie (Knife in the Water), 1962, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film. He won an Academy Award in 2002 for The Pianist.

Nóż w wodzie (Knife in the Water), 1962

Repulsion, 1965

Fearless Vampire Killers, 1967

Rosemary's Baby, 1968

Chinatown, 1974

Tess, 1979

The Pianist, 2002