media darling

a personal record of how different forms of media and their content affect me (a college student)

marijuana in the media October 21, 2008

Filed under: drugs — katie @ 9:27 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Although marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug and not considered a big deal for college students, getting caught with it is still a very big deal and the repercussions are taken seriously. I saw “Pineapple Express” last night and began to think about how Hollywood portrays the use of weed and the life of a pot head.

“Pineapple Express” is one of the few movies that actually does show some of the consequences of using marijuana, but not in a legal sense – in a getting caught with drug lords sense. So really, it’s still a very unrealistic result of getting in trouble for weed.

Here is the trailer for “Pineapple Express”:

Pot is a familiar drug used in the media. “Cheech and Chong” are arguably the original pot heads that found a wide audience in the 1970s and 1980s for their stand-up routines, which were based on the era’s hippie, free love, and especially drug culture movements. They were hilariously stoned all the time and people found it very entertaining, and most likely intrigued by the drug.

Cheech and Chong

Cheech and Chong

Since then there have been tons of stoner films, but the few I have seen definitely portray pot as harmless and fun. Recently, there have been “Half Baked,” “Knocked Up,” “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” and “Pineapple Express” all of which contain a ton of weed and many high adventures.

Half Baked

Half Baked

Knocked Up

Knocked Up

Harold and Kumar

Harold and Kumar

That 70’s Show” doesn’t blatantly talk about weed, but the high school kids are shown sitting around a smokey table acting dopey and stoned in many episodes. This show obviously portrays a different era, however it is still a popular show among high school and middle schoolers.

That 70's Show

That 70's Show

Weeds” is another popular show about a housewife who becomes a dealer in her suburban town. This show is intended for adults, and show many adult professionals smoking pot all the time – making it clear that it’s not only used by high school kids. Nancy, the pot-dealing mom, begins to make quite the living selling drugs, glamorizing the life.




radio – vintage media October 16, 2008

Filed under: radio — katie @ 9:54 am
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I was lucky enough to get a private tour of NPR this weekend from Pam Fessler, a correspondent for the National Desk, currently doing research and pieces on the “voting process.” I must say, I was really surprised as to how interesting and stimulating the NPR atmosphere was, because most people my age would consider it to be a boring talk show on the radio.

Pam Fessler

Pam Fessler

Why does my age group refuse to examine the benefits of talk radio? It is one of the oldest forms of media where people used to only use it to to get any news. We probably underestimate it today because we are so used to multi-media forms, that we overlook the simple radio and think we can’t get as much out of it’s programs as opposed to a visual or interactive program.

There actually are many benefits of talk radio that I didn’t think about before this weekend. It is flexible so that it not only records commercials but also advertorials and live reads. Live reads are interpreted by listeners as endorsements of a product by a favorite radio personality to add weight to a campaign.

It is informative, as well as entertaining. NPR, and other shows, are not limited to filling gaps between music to convey news and messages. Their main goal is to keep the public informed with both serious and lighter, interesting news. Pam said the reporters try extremely hard to stay unbiased, particularly when it comes to politics, and sometimes bend too far over backwards giving the opposite view. Also, the amazing music library NPR has to fill gaps between news stories was quite impressive.

Talk radio attracts listener loyalty which leads to awareness and familiarity, and eventually trust. It is also considered is foreground radio. People listen to talk radio more attentively and don’t simply have it on as ‘background music’. It is also selective, which mean it has the ability to contact a mass audience or pinpoint a specific consumer group.

Talk radio is recognized as potentially the most powerful form of media currently in Australia, according to 6pr882 News Talk’s Web site. It offers incredible opportunities for businesses that have previously relied on either the press or TV to relay their message to potential customers.

I have a newfound respect for the “vintage” media form, and have a goal to start listening to it more often.


Violence in the Media October 9, 2008

I saw the movie “The Departed” for the first time a few days ago and thought it was a great film with amazing acting and so much violence I found myself not even noticing it by the end. At least in “The Departed,” the violence was relatively without suffering – there were many gun shots and some fight scenes, usually causing instant death. If the violence in films involves a lot of torture and suffering, I usually can’t handle it.

Violence in the media is expected and often time necessary to portray a theme or event. However, is there too much violence in the media these days? I would say so, considering there is overriding research on the mass media that exposure to media portrayals of violence increases aggressive behavior in children and young adults. The National Institute of Mental Health has reported that “In magnitude, exposure to television violence is as strongly correlated with aggressive behavior as any other behavioral variable that has been measured.”

There have also been studies that have demonstrated that exposure to depictions of violence causes desensitization, fear, and even a distortion of reality. Individuals with greater exposure to media violence see the world as a dark and sinister place – often called ‘Mean World Syndrome.’ Television programs present a narrow view of the world, and the world they present is violent. So, people who watch a lot of television are more likely than those who watch less to see the world as being violent, and they probably overestimate their chance of being involved in violence.

Because there was so much violence in “The Departed,” I got used to it and wasn’t even phased by it by the end of the film. The insane about of violence desensitized me to it for the two hours I was watching it non-stop.

If there are such drastic effects of violence in the media, then why is there so much? And why do people continue to watch it, knowing the effects it could be having on their children? It could be because most people who are watching these television shows and films aren’t immersed in comparable violent worlds and enjoy the violence as a thrill of something new and different to experience.


Remakes of Films October 6, 2008

Filed under: movies — katie @ 11:21 pm
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I was thinking about remakes of films recently and came to a conclusion that there is more to them than a lack of original material being written. A few recent remakes that I can think of off the top of my head are The Stepford Wives, Planet of the Apes, King Kong, Superman, Cheaper by the Dozen, and War of the Worlds. Yet another remake is on the horizon, although it doesn’t make much sense because the original is known for it’s wooden acting, terrible special effects, and lack of continuity. But a guy named John Johnson wants to change all that and remake Plan 9 From Outer Space, hoping to release it Sept. 9, 2009 (9/09/09).

Original Plan 9 poster

Original Plan 9 poster

Remake poster for Plan 9

Remake poster for Plan 9

I thought about why someone would want to remake this movie. Why now? Is it because we’re living in a time of war? Or because we’re in a time of economic contraction? For the scarcity of sources? Because we need more cooperation on a global level?

I came to the conclusion that different themes will fulfill different needs for people at different time periods. History tends to repeat itself, so we crave the same themes after years of being without them. We have a need for reinvention of stories, even though sometimes (arguably usually) the remakes are not great, but the process of making them fulfills more for us than the film itself. I’m interested to see how Plan 9 From Outer Space turns out, and if people will even give it the time of day.


Media tells us: Don’t Vote!! October 2, 2008

Please watch this awesome video!

This is the most hysterical and influential voting campaign I have ever seen. I really believe that this type of humor-involved swaying method will work better than P.Diddy‘s “Vote or Die” campaign, which was great. This video has some of the biggest names and faces in the entertainment industry and seeks out to make anyone and everyone register and vote. This video is currently on which is the perfect outlet for the demographic they are trying to reach, and I hope it expands to more places as soon as possible.

The public service announcement pleads with young people to not vote, brilliantly creating a reverse psychology that will make them want to vote. Leonardo DiCaprio produced the PSA, which was released yesterday, and enlisted the help of several stars such as Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Tobey Maguire, Eva Longoria Parker, Ellen DeGeneres, Forest Whitaker, Dustin Hoffman, Demi Moore, Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Ashton Kutcher, Courteney Cox, Laura Linney, Natalie Portman, Jamie Foxx, Usher, Kyra Sedgwick and The cast of this short clip is amazing and bound to make some influence.

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman

Actors Jonah Hill and Sarah Silverman add sporadic and ridiculous comedy to the video peppered amongst the other stars’ harsh sarcasm.

I love it when the media gets this witty and sarcastic because this is the type of thing that gets responses from the hardest people to push, mostly lazy college students like myself that think they don’t have a voice in politics. This is such a crucial time to get people to start moving and educate themselves on their choices for their future, and I’m ecstatic to see the media helping in a unique and innovative way.


women as gatekeepers – not the media!

I recently watched a very old episode of “Felicity” which I believe is from the first season, because she is a freshman in college. It is the episode when Felicity decides that she is ready to have sex for the first time with her current boyfriend, Nole.

Although some parts of the episode were somewhat idealized and unrealistic (and corny), it was a great episode and rare to see on such a popular show because of the blatant effort to advocate consent, safe sex and sexual responsibility. It was similar to the “Friends” condom episode that I mentioned in an earlier post, however the “Felicity” episode definitely sought to educate viewers on safe sex with discussion and visuals.

In terms of gender, however, I feel that this episode would reach out to females much more than to males because Felicity was calling the shots about the sex the entire time. It was her decision to have sex with Nole in the first place, granted she was a virgin (he wasn’t) so it should have been her decision when she was ready, but she decided when and where they would have the sex, she learned about the condoms and protection to use, and basically ran the whole show. This would make males feel pretty useless in my opinion, except when it came to the sexual act itself, which never actually occurred by the end of the episode for a multitude of reasons.

I think this portrayal of a character’s sexual experience is the type of media that causes sexual schemas for real people. I believe the “Felicity” episode is a perfect example of the social norming effect and why there is the stereotype that women are “sexual gatekeepers” and say yes or no to sex when men want it. Felicity didn’t even leave the responsibility of getting condoms for their sex up to Nole – one of the ways men are typically viewed as sexual gatekeepers. Watching Felicity manipulate (more or less) Nole into doing exactly what she wanted in terms of their sex-life, strengthens the stereotype that men always want sex and women decide when they can have it.

It’s a common opinion for people my age to think of guys who have a lot of sex as players (or awesome), but to also think of girls who have a lot of sex as sluts. It’s things like the “Felicity” episode that reinforce this stigma, unfortunately, because it was putting out a great message, but possibly causing other effects, like stereotypes.


Gardasil campaign pushes it’s product September 30, 2008

Filed under: advertisements — katie @ 11:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The huge push for young women to get the Gardasil shot has gotten out of control, in my opinion. I think it’s totally worth a woman’s choice to get vaccinated if they want to protect themselves from the many strains of HPV, but the guilt-tripping commercials on TV that tells girls it is irresponsible and life-threatening to not get the vaccine are over-the-top. Gardasil is a solid product and I’m not at all discrediting it’s use or benefits, however the overblown marketing makes it seem like it is absolutely necessary for all females to get.

I have not gotten the vaccine, so obviously I am biased, but I’m not entirely against getting it – I just need more information and better reasons for getting it as of now.

On one hand, the new drug may help prevent the human papilloma virus, a group of more than 100 viruses, some of which are associated with certain types of cancer. Young women and pre-teenage girls are being influenced to receive the HPV shot as highly effective in prevention of persistent HPV infections, including the types of HPV that cause genital warts – the most common and rampant STD on many college campuses, including UConn, according to Student Health Services.

On the other hand, holistic health practitioners and parents are increasingly wary of giving vaccines at all. Gardasil, in particular, is recommended for girls as young as 9-years-old (and up to 26-years-old), with the idea that they have not yet become sexually active. The National Cancer Institute Web site states “almost all women will have HPV infections at some point, but very few will develop cervical cancer. The immune system of most women will usually suppress or eliminate HPVs.”

At this point, medical science cannot figure out which women who have HPV are the ones that will most likely progress to cancer, so preventing HPV infection in all women is recommended, but it is a good idea to put an extremely potent vaccine in our bodies if we don’t necessarily need it?

Cervical cancer is a timely concern for all women, however the National Cancer Institute’s online statistics show that few women actually do contract it from the multiple strains of HPV. With these statistics in mind, the pressures and even recent demands in some states, like Texas being put on girls to receive the vaccine can be questioned.

My friend Gina and I talked about the Gardasil shot. She hasn’t received it either and said that “parents and young women see one heart-wrenching advertisement after the other that uses inflated statistics as scare tactics to pressure them into having their daughters or themselves vaccinated, so that they can be ‘One Less’ to contract cervical cancer.”

“One Less” is the Gardasil campaign slogan that encourages females who are eligible for the vaccine to begin their vaccination series.

This is one of the Gardasil, “One Less” commercials that have aired.

This might sound strong, but I feel like the drug companies are brainwashing people into thinking that they’re going to die in six months if they don’t get whatever the newest thing is to stay healthy. If girls have safe sex and yearly gynecological exams, I don’t believe that they need to get the vaccine, but the media are making many feel differently.

There have been several negative reactions reported to Gardasil, and the set of three shots included in the vaccine cost almost $400. With the millions of women becoming “One Less,” no wonder the company has enough money to put out more and more tear-jerking commercials. Also, it is so new, that we really don’t know of any long-term side effects yet.

The Cultivation Theory of mass communications states that society’s perceptions of reality are cultivated by what is watched on television. This theory may be proving its effects if the numbers of girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine (which is arguably unnecessary) keeps rising.

Men are carriers of the human papilloma virus, yet there is no such vaccine for them so far and there is little talk of men being required to get vaccinated. Men can infect their sexual partners with it, and many are not aware that they are carriers. Is this even remotely fair that young girls are required to get the vaccine in some states, but the actual carriers (males) of the virus are not?