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Chapter 1-4

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Media Studies
Gray Graffam

Chapter 1 – Introduction What are Digital Media?  Using exclusively technical criteria, one could say digital media are anything that uses a digital mode of communication – including, television, computers, cellphones and video games.  The key issues is not that they are new media forms in some dramatic break from the past, but rather they are new ways of configuring issues of production, consumption and distribution of media  The four relationships can be characterized as sharing, socializing, communicating and interacting.  Sharing  The notion of sharing refers to the ways in which digital media have transformed how people share the products of their (media) labor  Socializing  the way through which culture is enacted and community constructed. Digital media function is to create ne ways for people to socialize.  Communicating  At the heart of all human experiences (belongs to the field of mass communication)  Culture is only understood through acts of communication and communication is only possible through cultural means  Communicating is now being reworked through the idea of mobility  Interacting  The idea of engaging with one another – interacting in a world is a central part of everyone’s life  What’s important in digital media is he relationship of the viewer to the media in form itself  Digital media view interacting as one of the most important elements on media consumption Why Learn Media Criticism?  Learning media criticism is like learning a new language  What media criticism does is provide you with a formal language that allows for an understanding of the cultural role and placement of such narratives Media Surrounds Us  Media is everywhere! Doing media is now second nature  It is much like the water we dink, the air we breath, and the apartment we live in  it is with us at all times, it belongs to us  We utilize media everyday w/o even acknowledging it. Media Affect Us  Media affects us and the way we think  It shapes us, our feelings, our thoughts, our general understanding and perspective  Media criticism allows for a systematic engagement for the effects of living in a media-saturated world – The complex of ways it affects who we are often who we become and who we wanna be. Media tells our stories  Our relationship to television and film is one directional  The media speaks and we listen and negotiate, accept or reject its messages  Media tells our story for us, and to us  Today participating in media is unavoidable and open to everyone: not just reporters What Is Media Criticism  Media criticism is fundamentally constituted by its institution allegiance – it is a scholarly enterprise  Its important to point this out as a foundational principle in all that follows, for there is much that may pass for media criticism that is not  Media criticism is not: a popular journalistic accounting of programming or content on media  What distinguishes media criticism from all f the above is audience – media criticism is written for and by scholars and students of media  First, media critic is centrally involved in a wider societal conversation about media culture  Historically, this conversation was anchored in ideas about what constitutes high and low culture  High culture was the realm of theater, art, and drama  Low culture; the stuff of folk song, popular rhyme, and dance  Later, film joined the pantheon of high culture, with television occupying low culture  Approaches that focus on how a television show is put together are often call industry criticism were the show is experienced.  Approaches that focus on how a text itself is constituted – its genre for example – use an understanding of its internal and discursive elements to engage with how such texts can be experience.  Such approaches are usually referred to as cultural criticism  Media criticism is anchored in a specific mode of scholarly accounting – making wider conceptual use and understanding of its internal and discursive elements to engage with how such texts can be experienced. Guiding Principles for Digital  There are four important principles for digital media criticism.  Foreground emergence  Digital media are in their infancy. While there is now an extended history of media criticism for film and television paralleling the development, growth and change for each genre, there is no such tradition for the digital world  Using the focus is on understanding the shifts and patterns of media use without assuming a prior formalism.  Historicize  while it is important to engage with digital media on its own terms, it is equally important to ask the historical question – what does this video or text message or video game command resemble from older histories of media? As its often noted, nothing’s ever truly really new, it just looks that way  Hybridity Hybridity refers to the notion of combination, a mix of different elements to create something new. The genres of television often advance or change through hybridity, taking, elements of drama and elements of sit-com to create a dramedy  This is especially important principle for issues of mixing, re-mixing and the kinds of cross- platform combinations that are staple of culture online.  Use  The role of digital media, whether it is the internet or video games or cell phones, is strongly determined by how it is used  Digital media whether it is the Internet or video games or cell phones is strongly determined by how it is used Chapter 2 – Methods Key Methods of Media Criticism Genre Criticism  Genre is a French word, meaning genous or family  Genre are associated most generally wit a form of classification  literature, film or television  Genre criticism is centered on identifying and thinking through the implications of the narrative conventions that structure media programing.  The important genres in film include romantic comedy, horror, disaster, westerns and science fiction  The most popular television genres include news, drama, situation-comedy, drama reality shows, soap-operas, medical dramas, detective shows, melodramas and docudramas Auteur Criticism  Auteur is a French term for author, and is usually used in the context of the personal vision of a film’s director and a television show’s producer  A media critic using auteur criticism must be conversant in the other methods of criticism discussed here (genere, culture, and ethnographic)  Because while the author is the point of entry into analysis, it is the wider cultural and narrative frama that allows for the auteur to be successful, as is the ethnographic/audience reception that embeds his or her relevance  Autuer crirticism is underwriten by an understanding of the power dynamics that go into creating a film or television show.  It begins by asking the question, who gets to decide what shots are chosen, what themes are addressed, which actors are chosen and perhaps most important which writers work on the team Cultural Criticism  Cultural criticism is an umbrella term for a range of critical methods that interrogate the “cultural” bases, biases and rationales that underpin media texts “culture” of course is a contested unstable category with often competing definitions of its constitutiveness along lines of high/low. Formal/popular and modern/postmodern theorizations of culture  Culture criticism is focused on two propositions a) cultural criticism is ideational – it deals with normative expectations about media forms and technologies and b) cultural criticism focuses on cultural ideologies, especially as they relate to issues of identity politics  Media Critic makes an (analytic) pincer like movement, taking elements of the text ad elements from the culture aligning them with each other to reveal ideas/discourses and ideologies  Cultural criticism is hybrid, interdisciplinary concern, drawing on its roots in cultural anthropology, centered in the idea that human reality is manufactured, a collective fiction that goes by the name “culture” Ethnographic Criticism  Ethnography as a critical method is the provenance of cultural anthropology and is marked by two interrelated principles – participant observation and fieldwork  Participant observation is a methodological/epistemological principle, where issues of the researcher’s identity (both personal and sociological) are deeply implicated in the process of conducting fieldwork.  Fieldwork in the classic anthropological tradition involves long-term imbued with culturally specific setting – a village, a hospital, or any space that is ethnography has largely avoided classic field worked
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