The Animal – Blackfish

This week in tutorials we watched the 2015 documentary Blackfish. Blackfish is about killer whale Tillikum, captured in the wild at a young age and taken to live and perform in aquatic parks in Canada and The United States. Focusing on the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, the documentary explores the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry.

 

 

Before the tutorial I had see this documentary once and I understood while the whales acted out the way they did but I also didn’t understand why after the first incident or even the second involving Tillikum, that he wasn’t set free back into the ocean and then after two more incidents put into isolation and treated like a sperm bank for breeding purposes until his death in 2016.

This kind of behaviour doesn’t just occur in killer whales, it happens to many animals kept in captivity. For example what happened with the gorilla Harambe at Cincinnati Zoo. If you are not familiar, in May 2016 a little boy climbed into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo and grabbed and dragged by a male gorilla named Harambe, The employees of the zoo feared for the boys life and felt the only solution was to shoot and kill the gorilla. The incident was recorded and cause worldwide controversy over the zoos choice to kill Harambe. The screams of the those watching on are said to be what agitated and disorientated the gorilla. This also highlighted the danger of animals kept in captivity in close proximity to humans and the need for better standards of care much like Tilikum’s situation.

During the lecture we also spoke about ‘Speciesism’ which is the idea that preferences of certain species such as humans should be catered to over other species such as animals, like a form of discrimination. But the documentary shows that the orca whales featured, use a special kind of pitch to communicate with their calf’s after they are separated. In the documentary these vocals never heard before was described as long range vocals, from the mother looking for their calf.

 

 

These creatures are highly intelligent, they are capable of emotions and yet they are treated so poorly and made to perform daily for hundreds of people around the world. These animals are used to swimming hundreds of kilometres a day are confined to, in comparison, a tiny tank and left to swim around in circles all day long.

The trainers all throughout Blackfish talk about their anthropomorphic views of the whales, it is clear that the relationships formed between the whales and the trainers blind them to the cruelty towards them. Although hundreds of people might enjoy the entertainment of watching the shows at places like Sea World, the treatment of these animals is terrible. To lock these animals up in tiny tanks and enclosures is just cruel, to be taken away from your home or taking a child from its mother, or being isolated and left alone or being made to perform tricks all day, would you be angry? If you couldn’t verbally communicate wouldn’t you use any other way necessary to get your point across? Although the outcome of this communication is awful, things like this wouldn’t happen if animals were more fairly treated.

 

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Poverty Porn // Struggle Street

‘Poverty porn’ is defined as any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause. It can also be a term used to explain when media is created to generate anger or outrage rather than sympathy

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Filmed over 6 months, the SBS documentary ‘Struggle Street’ aired in 2015 as a three part documentary featuring the lives of 10 key people living in Mt Druitt, New South Wales. The three part series was taxpayer funded and said to be produced at $350,00 an episode which lead it to be called by many was “publicly funded poverty porn”. A second season is currently in the works to be filmed in Queensland and Victoria with a focus on Australians from a diverse mix of backgrounds battling against the odds.

The first season of the documentary caused widespread controversy and even resulted in a protest in Sydney but SBS Television representative Marshall Heald has said that “the second season is sought to continue the important national conversation started by series one and will seek to raise awareness and deepen our understanding of those of us in the community facing social and economic hardship and what its like to be doing it tough in Australia”. But rightly so SBS was slammed for their representation of Mt Druitt residents during the first series.

Peta Kennedy who was featured in the series with her husband and 10 children told The Daily Telegraph “When we signed up for it we thought it was supposed to be about people’s struggles and going through their problems and getting back on their feet, but this is awful. I don’t how I will manage when it goes to air” and this was only after seeing the promo. Not just Ms Kennedy but all the participants feel they were lied to about what the documentary was going to be about.

Often the media does objectify people for one reason or another to generate some kind of a profit or boost ratings. So was this objectification of Mt Druitt residents, portraying them in such a bad light and exploiting their misfortunes and suffering worth it? The first episode of the series attracted 985,000 viewers and was SBS’s best ratings of the year and the largest viewership since the World Cup the previous year.

Yes it is clear that poverty exists in this world, it is seen every day in many places. But I do not think that it needs to be shown and exploited turning it into poverty porn I believe that if told correctly the stories of the marginalised can bring awareness and contribute to the important national conversation started by series one of Struggle Street and deepen our understanding of those of us in the community facing social and economic hardship.

Narcissism or Empowerment?

We live in the era of the selfie, a fast self-portrait taken with a smartphone which then can be shared instantly on social media. The selfie has become a way to instantly communicate where we are, what we’re doing and as of 2013 ‘selfie’ is officially a word in the Oxford Dictionary and the dictionaries of the world. Some see the selfie as something only narcissistic teenagers take part in at a Justin Bieber concert, used to fill their Instagram profiles with the best parts of their life making them look like they live a luxurious life again considered narcissistic by some. Others see selfies as a form of empowerment. Men and women of the world have used selfies on numerous occasions to show support of social causes. From a social media tag to a mainstream term, the evolution of the selfie is a definitely a journey.

The Evolution of the Quality of Selfies – from The Brick to IPhone

According to Pew Research Centre (2013) 92% of American teens post selfies to their Facebook. Paul Malcore for rawhide.org wrote about ‘selfie obsession – the rise of the social media narcissist’ where he claims that “the popular teen obsession is time consuming and may lead to mental health issues”. According to the article psychologists have noticed a rise in narcissistic personality traits, insecurity, self-objectification, body dysmorphic disorder and depression that coincide with the rise of selfies. The article also associates selfies as an activity that only teenagers/young adults partake in and I don’t know about you but I’ve seen my fair share of selfies posted by my parents, aunts and uncles etc. on Facebook.

I see these and selfies of my friends and I don’t see narcissism, I see people documenting their lives might it be an a concert, an event or just a gathering with friends, showing their happiness and wanting to share it with the world. That leads me to the empowerment that the selfie brings. The most talked about kind of empowering selfie is the nude selfie. This kind of selfie is most common amongst women because men’s empowerment is not often connected to their physical appearance. Although thought by many to be controversial, many women including celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski who posted their nude selfies on to social media with #liberated.

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Many social media campaigns now use selfies and encourage men and women to take and upload a selfie in support of a social cause such as depression and mental health issues, women objectification, inequality and even the right for women to publicly breastfeed. The Free the Nipple Campaign have become one of the fastest growing movements, the mission behind the campaign is to raise awareness and affect change in the area of the inequality of men and women that is experienced in the world today. After a feature film the movement was sparked and has quickly become and international movement seeking equality, empowerment and freedom for all human beings.

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The ‘Brelfie’ has also become another way to use selfies for empowerment. Women who choose to breastfeed their children in public are often looked down upon and mistreated, this form of selfie gives mothers the change to celebrate their bodies and what they can do with them as well as showing those who disapprove of public breastfeeding that it is a natural thing. This growing trend in selfies has seen one in five breastfeeding mothers already take their own brelfie, following the lead of celebrities such as Miranda Kerr and Gwen Stefani. One mother shared with the Daily Mail “while some may see it as oversharing, its actually very comforting to know others are going through the same situations”

The are many opinions about what the selfie really means and what its purpose is. Personally, I feel that the selfie can be used for both narcissism and empowerment. You can tell if someone has shared a selfie on social media for the intention of attention, to get that perfect life illusion but on the other hand the use of selfies in many of these social causes and campaigns for example the nude selfies or Free The Nipple bring attention to the cause and although some may find it controversial and inappropriate, its effective and if the individual feels liberated and empowered for posting then they should not be torn down by ‘trolls’ for making a stand for what the believe in.

Digital Storytelling Post 4 – Conclusion

in conclusion, my research – discussed in my previous post – brought back some very mixed responses to my original question of if how television audiences use social media during and after watching television shows hinders or enhances the watching experience as a whole.

Although mixed, the main results discovered were this: it became apparent that the major form of audience participation on social media regarding the watching of television was live-tweeting and blogging and that although it may be a good way to be involved in the show and its fans it also is a very large source of spoilers for shows for many people. The ages of those involved in these social media activities were those from the ‘technology generation’. All this was unsurprising to me as I’m sure it also may not be a surprise to many others. And all up this led to many people stating that overall the audience participation online can hinder but also enhance the television watching experience.

Many people may have their opinion on this subject but it doesn’t look like audience participation is going anywhere any time soon, it’s just going to grow and grow, bigger and bigger the more technology advances. If interested to find out more about this topic perhaps reading this may be some use to you as it discusses social media and audience participation in regards to television.

Maybe one day the thoughts we have while watching our favourite shows will go straight from our minds onto our social media, cutting out the distraction of focusing on another device as well as our shows and spoilers will become a thing of the past, solving everybody’s worries of audience participation on social media while watching television and the medium can thrive and enhance the television watching experience rather than hinder.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Digital Storytelling Post 3 – My Findings

To get a better idea of if how television audiences use social media during and after watching television shows hinders or enhances the watching experience as a whole. I posed a short survey online which was open for 2 weeks and it received 20 responses.

The first question I asked was the basic “Are you currently on any social media?” question to get a general feel of how many people were on different kinds of social media, more than one response was allowed. As imagined almost all respondents but surprisingly not all of them (92.86%) selected Facebook. The second most common medium of social media with 9 responses (64.29%) was Reddit and third was Twitter (50%). Instagram and Tumblr as well as an ‘other’ option were available and although some responses were for Instagram and Tumblr they were significantly less than the media mediums mentioned earlier. Also no one had any ‘other’ social media responses leading me to believe that these five social media platforms are the most common used by audiences presently. The three most popular responses evidently are all media platforms where it is quite easy for audience participation and all, especially Twitter, are used frequently in the kind of audience participation while watching television I was looking for.

I also discovered the age group that is most likely to participate online while in television watching situations is those in the age range of 19 – 22 years old, closely followed by those 23 – 26 years old. This is more than likely due to the fact that individuals who fall into these age ranges are of the ‘technology generation’ who have grown up with the ever changing technologies we have access to today and although they may have had their fair share of pink flip phones and dial-up internet, they all know how to use an IPhone without asking for help.

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Of these 20 people I then asked if they were a part of those who participate or use social media while watching television. Choices includes yes, no or sometimes for those who sometimes have something to say but also might not be as avid as some. Majority chose sometimes as their response with 4 responses each being ‘yes’ or ‘no’

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To get a better idea of the kinds of participation television audiences contributed to online the next question was a follow on from the last question and asked “if yes, in what ways do you contribute online” again choice of more than one answer was allowed. Four who answered no to the previous question did not have to answer. Out of the remaining 16 100% said they live-tweeted or blogged, 5 said the participated in discussion forums, 4 said fan theories and one said fan art. This again emphasised that live-tweeting and blogging is the most popular form of online audience participation

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Finally, the question “do you think that this contribution online during or after watching television hinders and enhances the overall watching experience and why?”. Between the three available responses ‘hinders’, ‘enhances’ or ‘sometimes both’. ‘hinders and ‘sometimes both’ received 8 responses each while enhances received 4 responses. Participants of the survey responses to the why factor of this question helped shared further light on way the felt about audience participation. Responses varied from “It’s a fun way to get involved and meet people who are big fans of the show like you” to “spoilers” to “it lets you give your opinion and also the opinions of others but this can be good or bad”. And as you can see opinions varied on whether overall audience participation during or after watching television hinders or enhances the watching experience and it was hard to make an overall conclusion to my original question.

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Stay tuned, final post coming soon! 🙂

Digital Storytelling Post 2 – What Have Other People Said?

In my last post I briefly touched on the rise in audience participation while watching television. This increase in audience participation has led to television creatives in the television industry to believe that the traditional television is in danger of becoming the second screen to other devices including IPhones, other smartphones, IPads and tablets, laptops etc. fearing that not only will people be participating in these shows through their other devices while watching and not truly paying attention in the way that they should – In the UK up to 60% of viewers are guilty of this and have some other kind device running while watching – but also that online streaming on these devices could become the way we all watch television in the future.

Although many kinds of audience participation occurs every day on the Internet, one of the most common forms that receives the most attention frequently and I will talk about most is live-tweeting or live blogging. This form of participation receives the most attention as these days many live entertainment shows are using and encouraging audiences to tweet about the show and showing these tweets on the screen as the show airs. This form of participation is also used frequently by actors, directors, producers etc. of television shows encouraging their audience to participate in the airing and with them during. Some shows that use this include, Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

The Hollywood Reporter recently did a survey on some of the showrunners for a selection of television shows currently running, they were asked what it was like making content today and to finish the sentence “Live tweeting is…” Most showrunners felt that this was a positive thing for the overall watching experience, enhancing it. Some of the answers from show runners who felt it enhanced the experience included things like “A form of hubris that probably reaches fewer people than you think (unless you’re Shonda Rhimes), but that allows you to connect with your most passionate fans.” (Shaun Ryan), “A great place to connect with fans, share behind-the-scenes details, and find out all the things I’m doing wrong.” (Mark Goffman) and “Something I’ll never understand, since I watch TV in order to AVOID reading. But if they tell us it’s good for the show, then we’ll do it.” (Chris Harris)

However, a few of the showrunners had negative opinions on live tweeting hindering the experience these included things such as “Dangerous!” (Josh Berman), “Real time reviews and only painful if you’re human.” (Peter Lenkov) and “A garbage idea perpetuated by garbage people. Watch the show, enjoy the show. Twitter will still be there when you finish. “Unless my employers demand that I live tweet future episodes, in which case live tweeting is a grand idea and everyone should follow @jerslater.” (Jeremy Slater).

As you can see people have many opinions on this kind of audience participation, some positive and some negative. However, it seems at this stage that people’s biggest issue and hindrance with the watching experience when it comes to the example of live-tweeting and blogging is spoilers but this form of participation also enhance the watching experience by offering quick and easy ways to communicate with the other audiences. Although, live-tweeting is just one example, the same opinions at the moment apply to possibly 90% on all audience participation on social media these days when it comes to television. The only exclusion from this percentage seems to be content such as fan art.

Stay tuned, more to come 🙂

Digital Storytelling Post 1 – Introduction

Social media has been on the rise for years and these days more and more people are watching television shows whether they be live entertainment or the newest episode of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead while simultaneously or afterwards interacting with content and creating content on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Reddit. Because of this television has become something that audiences participate in rather than just sit back and watch. From live-tweeting (tweeting along with a show as it airs live) to crazy fan theories and fan art, the Internet is a big and scary place and it is full of all kinds of content just like this.

Audience participation during television shows has become so prominent in this day and age that the show Gogglebox is literally a television show where you watch other people watch television and give their opinions and you can also get involved by live-tweeting along with the show. Each episode of the show is then uploaded to the shows YouTube page for audiences to go back later and watch it again. To me this is quite surprising that this kind of television show is as popular as it is. Here’s a quick clip of the show in case you’re not sure what show I’m talking about. In the clip the participants of the show are watching and discussing the show Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

 

My curiosity of why people participate in these sorts of things and the huge more recent boom in audience participation is the reason I chose to research if how television audiences use social media during and after watching television shows hinders or enhances the watching experience as a whole for my Digital Storytelling Project.

I have chosen to present this project as a digital storytelling. Over four blog posts, including this one I will discuss what other people have said about this topic, my findings when I posed a survey to individuals and my final post will be a conclusion post wrapping it all up and reflecting on my results and overall what I found and what surprised me or I expected when conducting this research!

So stay tuned and watch this space, more to come! 🙂

Television and Film Regulation in Australia

The television and film regulation in Australia is stricter than in most countries. Things such as Netflix, everyday television shows and films aired in Australia are edited by the powers above in an attempt to save shield the Australian public from possible things that might offend or upset. But I think most people would agree that this is just a major inconvenience for the viewer.

Certain television shows and films are only shown on paid for television like Foxtel and if the show is ever shown on free-to-air television scene too graphic or inapproriate are cut out sometimes causing confusion in the storyline of the show or movie. This is never something that paid for television does they play the content of the show or film as is, unedited.

Just the other day I was watching Pulp Fiction on free-to-air television and a huge chunk of the movie involving drugs was cut from the movie and it just skipped a head at least 5 minutes. Fair enough if the movie was playing at a time when children could have seen the movie, but this was at 11 at night, no need for edited content.

Australian Netflix also has far more less content than American Netflix, there are hundreds of shows on the American Netflix that aren’t available in Australia. YouTube is another media platform with regulations, certain videos are only available in certain countries.

All this media regulations mostly come from media anxiety. Subjects of the rules of regulations are usually vulnerable groups such as the working class and children, who are supposed to be most likely to be negatively affected by the media.

Regardless of all this, don’t you think we should all be able to access the same content all around the world? Why should one country not be able to access something that another can, we’re doing the right thing and not illegally downloading and pirating so why should Australia miss out?

I Have No Attenti…. Oh Look a Puppy!

This weeks blog task was to set up a small informal test that allows me to see what happens to someones attention of multiple media devices and report and discuss what I observe. And as I wrote this post while at chilly Tumbarumba near the Snowy Mountains I didn’t really have the materials or people around me to conduct a test like this so, I decided to test myself.

Media devices are a constant distraction for me, just the other day I was so immersed in my phone texting back my best friend that I slipped walking out of my boyfriends driveway and almost fell into the creek next to his house. Hilarious yes but really is an excellent example of how little I pay attention to things around me especially when media devices are involved. The same goes for almost everything I do; when I watch TV unless whatever I’m watching fully grabs my attention, I’m playing on my phone or computer or chatting away. At uni one minute i can be intensely listening to a lecture, the next I’m scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, texting my friends back or checking my Instagram feed. My main problem is media device distractions when it comes to me doing any kind of assessment for uni. I can never just and purely focus, I’m always being distracted by my phone or laptop.

So my test for myself was this, Ted was playing on the television and I set myself the task of watching the whole movie from one ad to another  – trying to include not getting distracted during ads – and trying not to let anything around distract me, then when if I made it through to one ad, I tried to do it again. If I got distracted I noted what distracted me and how many times I would get distracted and for how long I was distracted instead of watching the movie.

As expected I could not go the whole movie without getting distracted. But I found that everything was distracting me. I’m not sure if it could have been because I had seen the movie before, that I just wasn’t interested, that I was focusing so hard on not getting distracted by anything that everything distracted me or really it could have been a number of other factors or a combination of them all.

My phone was a huge distraction for me, I can get to everything on there. I can text, get on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, everything. Next my computer became the distraction and pretty much for the same reasons as my phone. After doing this DIY attention test it also became obvious to me that Facebook is sucking up SO much of my time and is one of my major distractions.

I’m hoping to work on these things in the future and reduce the amount that I get distracted by things and hopefully apply my new found attentiveness to important things like while watching uni lectures.

Preliminary Proposal for Ethnographic or Narrative Research Project

So as of right now I am not sure at all specifically what I want to do for my Research Project for BCM240. To be honest i hadn’t even properly thought about it until earlier this week, having been so preoccupied in other subjects assignments and trying to keep up with lectures and class work etc.

I know I would like to do something involving television as this kind of media is something I am quite interested in and perhaps my vast unnecessary knowledge of TV or TV shows from spending far too much time watching TV – whether it be binge watching or procrastinating doing things that are far more important – will come in handy for something and I can proudly tell my Mum all that TV watching wasn’t for nothing.

My project will have a particular focus on how the audience of a certain TV show or perhaps multiple TV show’s engage with said show and then how they engage with this media on other types of media such as social media including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or personal blogs. I realise this might be a bit of a broad research topic and I will work over the next few weeks to rein it in and make it a more specific and simple topic to research.

I would like to know and learn more through this research about how the audience uses different social media after having consumed a certain show. For example, if they didn’t particularly like an episode do audience go online and voice their dislike for the episode or vice versa for an episode they see as good or even excellent.

I’m aware that certain television shows such as Game of Thrones and Pretty Little Liars all have an audience that are all very loud online. Although these two shows possibly have two very different audiences as the shows are VERY different, both shows share a common factor of how their audiences use their voices online. Audience’s of the show use the social media online to voice their opinions, discuss theories, vent, post fan art and all kinds of other similar things.

For my ethnographic research project on this topic I will observe those who voice opinions online, collect surveys and maybe even hold a focus group. All research conducted will be ethical and permission will be sought if needed from participants of any surveys or focus groups so that I can use the information I receive from participants in a final write up of my findings.

I have not decided yet if the final write up of my findings will be publicly posted online on this blog or if I will use a different format such as a video on YouTube or a Prezi in all cases again permission will be sought.

As I am still uncertain on all the details of my research project any suggestions or help would most certainly be welcome 🙂