Sep 28, 2009

For the past two weeks, much of the reading has had to do with ownership of the media, government control of that media and how the globalization of Information Technology has played such a large role in creating advancements throughout 'the world.' In reality though, much of these advancements don't make it back to the nations that need it the most.

The Siochu and Girard reading begins with a lot of statements about the role that media plays in society as well as in the development of the people of that society.

In listening to, watching, and reading media we do not just consume, we interact. We interact with other people and through them with society in general

Thus, according to Siochu and Girard, the media plays a large role in the development of a nation or ideal (just ask Quentin Tarantino) meaning the media plays an extremely important role in the world. So given the importance of this role, should media be regulated?

The answer is not quite as simple as one may think. When we let Societal Regulation take too strong of a stance we end up with endless talk, debate, and coverage of a Super Bowl Halftime show and Clear Channel dictating that after 9/11 Somewhere Over the Rainbow could not be played yet Bombs Over Baghdad could. On the other hand, if we do not have proper Industry Regulation then we end up with the likes of NewsCorp, Bertelsmann, Viacom, and the aforementioned Clear Channel owning everything from magazines, TV stations, billboards, film studios, recording companies, newspapers, and service providers.

Perhaps the better idea would be to regulate for Plurality which is meant to encourage as much diversity in media interaction and content presented as possible, so that many different audiences can be reached through the media. Of course, that is not something we see in contemporary mainstream American media. Perhaps some people call the dichotomous choice between Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann versus Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck a plurality, but in actuality it is just promoting the continuation of the ubiquitous two-party system in America. So that we are not only divided into two political parties during elections but also two ideological parties in our daily lives. Of course this means that there is very little room for third party thoughts on mainstream American television - other than as a token thrown in from time to time (more often than not as a caricature or for shock value).

Of course, the other side of the coin are nations like Iran or Afghanistan. In Iran, all methods of communication were quickly shutoff in the immediate aftermath of the tenth presidential election and what they couldn't turn off - newspapers and magazines - the authorities quickly dealt with through violent means.

Afghanistan on the other hand, has a burgeoning Television media system with 5 different television stations - 3 broadcast from Afghanistan itself and two from the diaspora in California. Though Afghanistan claims to be at least somewhat democratic, a commentator on the nationally owned Television station was imprisoned for allegedly speaking negatively about President Hamid Karzai (has the Karzai Administration never seen the stations broadcast from California?)


  1. It's interesting that you mentioned Tarantino and his latest INDEED inglorious movie. It was a funny one to watch, but indeed VERY upsetting. Upsetting not because of all the horrid scalping and cutting scenes, but because of the IDEA in it. I surely hope that the majority of the audience will watch the movie "for entertainment", and yet we already established that IDEAS SHAPE PEOPLE AND SOCIETIES...

    I can't get over the fact that he had so much fun distorting history (well, I'd want to ask a 14-year-old American on what he thinks of the WW2 British intelligence officers after watching the movie) and creating a myth out of a blue (be it the Jewish-American OMNIPOTENT squad, RIDICULOUS European warfare strategies, or the extremely UNintelligent Nazi politicians). And just to make sure the movie resonates ENOUGH with the American audience - i.e. to drive home the point - he had to make sure he includes a black guy in the movie (well, after all the Jews had not experienced the discrimination/segregation problem in the US, at least not to the extent that they did in Europe; while making the point by using a black character made it "so much more powerful").

    As for Karzai, do you really think that if he had the POWER to do something about the broadcasting from California, he'd be still sitting around and getting annoyed about it?

  2. The Karzai problem is too large to address in a single comment, so we will leave that one on the back burner for now.

    My point about the Tarantino film was that despite its historical inaccuracies, it was on many levels a statement about film and what it does to the notion of history and memory and of course film as a tool for propaganda.

  3. looking forward to reading more on Karzai!

    Tarantino - again: i REALLY do hope that people realize it's a mockery and NOT take it at least a bit seriously. though knowing the effects that "historical" (or rather - "history-less") movies can sometimes have, i tend to be worried.