Trapped

For many, visiting the zoo is an experience like no other. Watching in awe as these creatures move and interact with their surroundings, something that many people would not see if these animals were in their natural habitats. As a child, visiting the zoo was an incredible event, but as we grow older, we start to have a different perspective on these animals and zoos, and in particular, how they are actually a prison for animals.

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Deprived of their natural surroundings, the freedom and space that they once had, these animals now restricted to a smaller space, and even the largest of spaces, provided by zoos, are simply not large enough. Most zoo enclosures often disregard the natural needs of the animals, often eliminating natural behaviours such as hunting and mating. This restriction in space and freedom can lead to a condition called “zoochosis”, which is often brought on from the animal being bored and lonely, and is not helped by the fact that some carers even abuse these poor animals.

Zoochosis’ psychological effect on the animals can often lead to the animals resorting to self-abuse, with the animals often biting or scratching their skin. The restrictive spaces brought on by zoos can also have a lasting effect on the physical condition of the animals, for example, an elephant name Lucy, who was stuck inside the Edmonton Zoo for several months, due the poor weather conditions. With Edmonton’s winters being below freezing and that elephants shouldn’t have to suffer winters of the North (Detroit Zoological, 2001) ultimately leaving Lucy to develop arthritis.

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Lucy the Elephant

So why do we put these animals in these terrible living conditions?

Well, to put it in simple terms, the money.

There are some private-non-profit zoos that are dependent on donations and memberships, however, most zoos are functioning for pure financial gain. In 2013, a report by a professor at George Mason University had found that over 160 million people had visited American zoos across the country, making billions for these zoos. Most of these zoos do no invest that much money into the monitoring and animal care of the animals. The monetary gains made by these zoos may benefit the companies behind the scenes, but at what cost does it help the animals?

Most zoos claim that they are providing the public with educational opportunities, however this is not the case. Most people would benefit educationally from watching animals in their actual habitat rather than spending a few minutes reading a small display. This belief from zoos that they are educating their visitors is false, as the visitors are simply more entertained by the presence of the animal rather than learning about the animal (Booth, 1991). Television shows and documentaries are much better than zoos for educational purposes, along with the fact that the animals are in their natural habitat and the main point of these pieces of media are to inform and educate their audience.

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So how can social media help in the fight against zoos?

With social media being the juggernaut that it is, there is now a platform for groups like PETA to promote their beliefs and messages to a wider audience. Social media also provides a platform for users to connect with others that have the same values as them. Across all social media platforms, there are many pages and groups dedicated to protecting animals from cruelty.

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Currently, PETA have over 400 thousand followers on Instagram, and over 5 million likes on their Facebook page. With an audience that large and how accessible it is to interact with organisations like PETA, their blogs, articles and videos can now be shared by millions of people, and continue to grow. If PETA utilise social media as they have been and continue to promote the reality of zoos, and the cruel disease of “zoochosis”, there will be enough support behind them to potentially close zoos in the future.

References:

‘Big Beasts, Tight Space And a Call For Change’, 2003, New York Times, vol. 152, no. 52624, p. A26.

Detroit Zoological Institute, “Detroit Zoo Intends to Send Elephants to Elephant Sanctuary,” PR Newswire, 20 May 2004.

William Booth, “Naked Ape New Zoo Attraction; Surprise Results From People-Watching Study,” The Washington Post 14 Mar. 1991

 

Watching Them Struggle

On April 28th, 2016, SBS announced that they would be airing a second season of their controversial documentary series “Struggle Street”. The three-part documentary will this time focus on a diverse range of Australians living in Queensland and Victoria. So, this leaves the question for many including myself, and that question is why?

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Why are they making another season? Why do the media love exploiting poverty for entertainment purposes? Why do I want to watch it?

These are just some of the questions that came to mind when reading the announcement about the second season of “Struggle Street”. When the documentary originally released in 2015, it copped a lot of criticism from their audience. It was a false representation of a Western Suburb, where there were only a minority of people living as presented by SBS. Former rugby league great and current Triple M radio host Mark Geyer was outraged as it ‘has gone too far’ in the way Mt Druitt has been presented by the media. Geyer, who has lived in Mt Druitt all his life, “was sick to death of the suburb I grew up in copping it from people who have never walked in the shoes of the residents.”

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But all publicity is good publicity, right?

Well, in this case, yes. The more that people complained about the show and how residents were perceived, the more tuned in to watch. Seeing people in these living conditions strikes several reactions, especially considering how some of the people presented on the show are funded by tax payers through government welfare. Many may have anger towards where their hard-earned money is going towards, and some may feel empathy for the families and the situations they are facing.

So why do we want to watch these shows?

Below is a clip from the show that has been shared around Facebook.

When this video showed up on Facebook, there were a multitude of different reactions. From personal experience, the demographic depended on the reaction towards the video. Younger audiences found it disturbing, while older generous had empathy for the baby, and anger towards the people involved in the scene. There was an inclination from social media to have a reaction towards the scene, and therefore may give them the urge to watch the documentary.

There are also multiple factors that can come into play when we watch Struggle Street, for example their relationships with each other, their ages and genders, but as an audience watching ‘poverty porn’, we don’t really connect in the way. This in turn, allows people are to harshly judge and embarrass others in public without the judged having the opportunity to respond (Couldry, 2011). We connect in the way that SBS and production companies want us to connect with the documentary, for pure entertainment. These companies know that their audience is going to turn a blind eye to the living conditions of these families based on their focus on entertaining the audience.

Questions will still be asked when they begin filming the second season, with audiences and critics wondering if they will present it similarly to the first season of struggle street, or will they take into consideration the controversy surrounding season one and change the way the present the people of Queensland and Victoria. Either way, they now know what attracts people to watching their show and probably won’t take into consideration whether the show presents a negative view of those living in poverty or not, the ultimate goal is to make sure that show brings a large number of viewers, along with copious amounts of money going into the pockets of SBS, rather than those who really need it.

References:

Couldry N (2011) Class and contemporary forms of ‘reality’ production or, hidden injuries of class 2. In: Wood H and Skeggs B (eds) Reality Television and Class. London: British Film Institute/Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33–44.

Paterson, LL, Coffey-Glover, L, & Peplow, D 2016, ‘Negotiating stance within discourses of class: Reactions to Benefits Street’, Discourse & Society, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 195-214. Available from: 10.1177/0957926515611558. [15 March 2017].

‘I run every game’: How social media grew a multi-million-dollar empire

On November 12, 2016, the mixed martial arts world had witnessed an event that had shaken it to its core. At UFC 205, Irish UFC Featherweight champion ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor defeated reigning Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, to become the first dual champion in UFC history. A sold-out Madison Square Garden, rose to their feet as they witnessed history, and ultimately, the story of poor Irishman becoming the face of a multi-billion-dollar company.

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His popularity grew rapidly after a video emerged on Facebook, showing a compilation of McGregor’s insults aimed at Featherweight champion at the time, Jose Aldo. The compilation showed multiple press-conferences, behind the scenes footage and interviews where McGregor’s wittiness and confidence overpowered Aldo. McGregor predicted that Aldo would come swinging and ‘felt his right-hand twitching’ when they had come face to face.

This prediction came to fruition at UFC 196, when Aldo’s 10-year undefeated streak came to an end in just 13 seconds, when McGregor dodged Aldo’s swinging right hand and knocked out the champion. This prediction, along with the fight result, gave McGregor the nickname ‘Mystic-Mac’ and ultimately began McGregor’s rise to becoming the face of the UFC.

So how did this fighter from Dublin, go from living week to week on the government’s welfare system, to becoming worth $60 million and the face of a multi-billion-dollar company?

It’s simple: social media and branding.

With McGregor’s last four fights reaching over 1 million pay-per-view buys and generating millions of dollars for the UFC, the UFC have made McGregor one of the key players in mixed martial arts. He’s been featured on video game covers, done late night interviews with Conan O’Brien and has even branched out and appeared in YouTube videos with some of YouTube’s most popular content creators.

As McGregor’s wealth grew exponentially, his choice in how he would present himself changed. He would wear tailored suits and Rolex’s to interviews demonstrating a more professionalised approach. Although he would often boast about his money and how much money he made for the UFC, he would often mention how humbled and blessed he is, focusing on his connection with the fans. This focus on relationship building would automatically see an increase in engagement with his fans which keeps them interested (Gholsten, Kuofie 2016).

According to some sources, McGregor will make approximately $60 million in the next year. This focus around how much he has earnt, became the foundation of his social media pages, such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

His Instagram page is particularly interesting, for its incredible growth especially after his historic UFC 205 victory, which saw his followers grow from around 4 million to 9 million in just the short span of a month. After this large growth in followers, he became much more aware of his marketability. And began to create consistent visual image for his brand that would make the right impression on his target audience. (Chritton, 2013)

His Instagram posts demonstrate a range of different photos and different captions. For example, a post featuring a family member would include a post about the importance of that person and family in his life, while another photo may be just a shot of his Rolex with a simple one line such as ‘this left hand made me millions’. This broad spectrum of posts has different connections with his audience and is a way in which McGregor can strategically boost his popularity and maintain this lavish persona.

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With his social media pages demonstrating his flamboyant and expensive lifestyle, he has recently been getting attention from boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Both competitors have taken shots at each other through social media, generating hype for what could be one of the biggest boxing fights in history. Analysing McGregor and Mayweather’s Instagram pages, both have similar themes revolving money and family, which has caught Mayweather’s attention and had started this feud.

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Conor McGregor and his exponential growth in popularity, demonstrates perfectly how people can be their own brands. Utilising social media and focusing on a connection with his audience has become a key factor in becoming his own brand.

References:

Gholston, K, Kuofie, M, & Hakim, AC 2016, ‘Social Media for Marketing by Small Businesses’, Journal of Marketing & Management, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 24-39.

Lee, C, & Kahle, L 2016, ‘The Linguistics of Social Media: Communication of Emotions and Values in Sport’, Sport Marketing Quarterly, 25, 4, pp. 201-211, SPORTDiscus with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 8 March 2017.

 

Moving Image Project (Establishing Place)

For the final MEDA101 assignment, we had the task to create a still image film, utilising audio pieces from the first assessment task and our own photography. After listening to a large variety of sound pieces, I decided to pick this one. This soundscape had a very evil vibe to it, sounding very dangerous and mysterious, which was something I tried to develop in my photography.

The photographs used in the film either have a hint of danger or mysteriousness, also utilising shade and darkness throughout the photographs to create this sense of mystery. I also tried and mess around with the camera, playing with different setting and angles. These photos are then placed in time with the soundscape at various instances. I also focused on the gaps in between the photos, as I felt that it built onto this idea of mystique.

I believe that the photos and audio work well in creating a mysterious and dangerous tone to the piece. They work well in creating a sense of place without revealing too much of the place the photos were taken.

The execution of the concept in the final piece was good, but I felt could be better with maybe taking the photos at a different time of day and using more shots with a darker shade to create more of a mysterious tone.

Week 8 Excursion Worksheet

This week, MEDA101 embarked on an excursion to the Carriageworks exhibition in Eveleigh. The class were given the task to explore the exhibition and complete a worksheet, which would be later uploaded on our blogs.

Below are the worksheet questions and answers, discussing the work of Yuta Nakamura and her piece, Atlas of Japanese Ostracon (Kitaama Igano, Minamiawaji-sji, Hyogo).

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Name of the Artwork: Atlas of Japanese Ostracon (Kitaama Igano, Minamiawaji-sji, Hyogo)

Artist: Yuta Nakamura

Year of Production: 2014

 

1. Describe the works: what are the components that make up the exhibit (e.g. still photographs, video stills, screen works, sound etc.)

 

Yuta Nakamura’s Atlas of Japanese Ostracon are a series of framed postcards along with fragments of pottery placed around the postcard.

 

2. How are these elements displayed? (e.g. projected, framed and mounted on wall, LCD screens in a particular configuration etc.)

The works are framed and mounted on a wall, all in a series.

 

3. What do these individual components convey?

 

Each of the individual components represent a piece of 20th century Japanese culture.

4. Describe the relationship between the components. For example, do the images work as single images, as a series, or as a sequence? How do multiple still images relate to the video/ moving image works?

The pictures all work as a series to demonstrate early 20th century Japanese culture. The images all represent the particular spot where the pottery could be found in Japan.

 

5. If the work includes objects, what are these and how are they displayed? How do they relate to images?

The work involves fragments of pottery, which are used in relationship to the postcards, that depict the area where these pieces of pottery could be found.

 

6. Without consulting the didactic panel, describe the intention and the subject of the work.

The intentions of this work was to demonstrate early Japanese culture and using the pieces of pottery and the postcards together in unison to demonstrate the relationship of a particular area of Japan.

 

7. What does the work mean to you? Explain which elements influence your interpretation.

To me, these works are used in a manner to represent history, in particular Japanese history. The monochrome postcards and the shards of pottery further extenuate that historical feel to the piece, and could be easily used in a museum.

 

8. These works all perform some kind of mapping, what does the work you have chosen to analyse map? What medium does it use to map?

The piece maps pottery and postcards throughout Japan, and utilises objects and photographs to map this history.

Assessment 2: Still Image Project (Spatial Portrait)

After listening to a variety of soundscapes, I decided on a soundscape that took place in Area 27, which featured sounds from Guest Park and the surrounding streets. The audio piece created a sense of calmness, with sounds being very symmetrical and repetitive.Taking inspiration from Rinko Kawauchi and her work Utatane, I decided to focus on symmetry within the photos. Utilising a variety of angles, I was able to create symmetry in an area that seems very basic and plain to the public eye. Colour was another central theme that was important to my concept of this assessment, along with the symmetry (especially images 6 & 7), created a focal point and added character to the photos.

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Helping the HEMP Party

In this weeks tutorial, we were asked to design an ‘outsider’political campaign for a micro-party in this year’s Federal Election. The micro-party that will be presented in my ‘campaign’ is the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, simply for the reason that social media has been on the case of the Australian government to legalise the drug.

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A few months ago, the Australian Government legalised medical marijuana, with a bill passing through parliament to allow those who suffer from chronic illness, to partake in using the drug.

Some of the questions that come to mind when creating a campaign is what do you need to consider, what kind of symbols do you reach for and which voters do you target and how you target them.

What do you need to consider?

This micro-party and this campaign may come across as controversial to particular people in society, whether it be from religious parties or the media. So one thing that should be considered is to make sure that the campaign isn’t presented as offensive.

Other things needed to consider is what tools that need to be used to promote this campaign and the resources available.

What kind of symbols do you reach for?

Within particular communities and societies, there are usually a range of symbols or words that are used amongst members of that community.

Which voters do you target? How?

Social media has allowed those with similar interests communicate and connect with one another. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram having dedicated pages to particular activities and events, even where you can like a page to which country you live in, allowing you to connect to those around you.

The voters that would be targeted in this campaign would be those who ‘like’ particular pages that promote marijuana use in Australia, through a series of social media posts ranging in different forms such as videos, posters and the occasional dank meme.

Slacktivism: Is it worth the effort?

Identified as the act of showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. Websites are now integrating social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook into their website interface to allow people to like, share and tweet an interesting topic without using any effort.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Bring Back Our Girls and the Kony 2012 are examples where simply clicking like or share made people feel good about helping the world by demonstrating their support for these causes. However, in reality, their likes, shares and retweets are only bringing this issues to light but not doing anything to solve the issue.

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According to Yu-Hao Lee and Gary Hsieh at Michigan State University, with their paper, ‘Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism?: The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism,’ they define slacktivism as “low-risk, low-cost activity via social media whose purpose is to raise awareness, produce change, or grant satisfaction to the person engaged in the activity.”

There is nothing wrong in posting, sharing and liking videos and articles. Bringing to light these issues may aggregate an active campaign, but without action, the impact is insignificant.

Celebrities and Their Influence Over the Fashion Industry

Media consumes our lives through its multifaceted features. Whether it be through social media and the internet, or the variety of television programs that are available to the general public, the media can have an effect on our lives. With celebrity journalism becoming more popular with today’s society, coverage on all the biggest stars has increased along with the development of modern technology. Celebrities are now featured in all forms of media, and have an effect on consumers, whether it be through the brands they are sporting or the food their eating, celebrities influence our society. In the fashion industry, celebrities have been trend setting for decades, but with the increase in social media and celebrity coverage in the recent years, to what extent do celebrities influence today’s fashion industry?

This topic became of interest to me when I stumbled upon an article relating to Kanye West’s ‘Yeezy’ sneakers, where Kanye and Adidas, the brand that is helping Kanye manufacture and create the shoe, were losing profit even though they sold out in every shop where the sneakers had been made available. So how come they were losing all this money? Well, when a person would go and purchase these sneakers for the retail price of $280 AUD/ $200 USD, they could resell the sneaker at quadruple the value, with the sneakers now costing over $1000. This ultimately resulted in resellers making more than Kanye and Adidas, the original manufacturers of the sneaker. But what was the cause of these sneakers skyrocketing in value? It was down to the fact that not only were they a limited sneaker, but the fact that this shoe was the idea of Kanye West, who is easily considered one of the most famous celebrities in the world today.

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After reading this article, I was intrigued and continued to find more articles and academic readings that discussed the influence celebrities have over society and its fashion choices. With this extensive research of the product, I uncovered more information about the relationship between celebrities and fashion. “The relationship between celebrities and fashion may become symbiotic; brands benefit from the attention celebrities bring them… but also enhance their own reputations thanks to their association” (Wigley, 2015).

To clothing brands, celebrities are the perfect outlet to endorse their products, knowing that with social media having a strong influence in people’s lives, that their product will likely be seen by large amounts of people. “Celebrities, with their pervasive media coverage and popular associations with notions of glamour, success and attractiveness, are natural partners for fashion brands seeking to convey attractive lifestyle affiliations and hence tap into consumers’ liking for easily understood archetypes in advertising.” (Carroll, 2009)

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This research project is going to try and answer the question of the extent that celebrities influence today’s fashion industry. To answer this question, I will tap into my social media connections with sneaker collectors from within the university as well as using in person and online surveys with university students to gain an understanding into how much celebrities influence our society’s fashion choices. After collecting a sufficient amount of evidence from surveys as well as using the extensive research of academic readings and even economic figures in regards to sneaker resale values, I will compose a research report that I believe will have efficient findings and provide a more personal perception into the way modern technology and digital media has allowed celebrities to have an influence on our personal choices when it comes to fashion.

Celebrity endorsements have been a strong marketing strategy since the late 1920s, where companies utilise a celebrities fame and popularity to gain an increase in consumers. The earliest recorded celebrity endorsement was by Lucky Strike cigarettes in 1928 where they utilised actor Al Jones quick rise to fame to promote their brand of cigarettes. With the success that the endorsement accumulated, companies began to use more and more celebrities to endorse their products, ranging from food to fashion.

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This lead to companies having groups of celebrities, ranging from all types of fame, from sport stars to actors to musicians, covering all aspects of society. As media and technology began to develop more digitally, there were more outlets for companies to spread their brand, more recently YouTubers and internet ‘celebrities’ being sponsored by a range of brands. With celebrity endorsements now spread across all media platforms and the fact that media now consumes our lives, many industries including the fashion industry can now be influenced by celebrities and their popularity.

Readings:

Wigley, Stephen M. (2015) An Examination of Contemporary Celebrity Endorsement in Fashion. International Journal of Costume and Fashion, 15 (2). pp. 1-17.

Carroll, A. (2009). Brand communications in fashion categories using celebrity endorsement, Brand Management. 17(2). 146-158.

Assessment 1: Sound Project (Audio Snap-shot)

Sound has a purpose. A purpose to enhance the visualisation of what the mind is seeing, enriching the body with a variety of senses when interacting with nature. That is the approach I took to this assignment. Inspired by noise musicians such as Merzbow and Lou Reed (in particular his Metal Machine Music album), I focused on all noises that would have a purpose, not only to me, but to my conceptual piece. The different recordings I had acquired after a few visits to my location (Area 15), may have just been everyday noises and sounds, such as cars driving past or the faint noise of a lawnmower in the distance. However, when these recordings were edited through sound effects, it expressed my different ideas, such as the way sound travels through the air or how one sound can be altered in a way to be represented as something else. When these ideas came to a fruition, it had demonstrated my motive for this assignment, to give sound a purpose.