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Content Issues Issues raised by Fiske & Hartley and by Sontag.

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Presentation on theme: "Content Issues Issues raised by Fiske & Hartley and by Sontag."— Presentation transcript:

1 Content Issues Issues raised by Fiske & Hartley and by Sontag

2 The “Bardic” Function (Fiske & Hartley) A bard was a “tribal poet-singer gifted in composing and reciting verses on heroes and their deeds” A bard was a “tribal poet-singer gifted in composing and reciting verses on heroes and their deeds” Bard is part of oral rather than literate culture Bard is part of oral rather than literate culture The bard glorifies central values of the group, projecting a confirming and reinforcing vision of the world and their role in it The bard glorifies central values of the group, projecting a confirming and reinforcing vision of the world and their role in it The existence of the bard reflects the needs of the group even if he or she is a creative individual The existence of the bard reflects the needs of the group even if he or she is a creative individual

3 John Fiske and John Hartley Reading Television

4 The “Bardic” Function (continued) The bard’s audience is not particularly concerned with authorship The bard’s audience is not particularly concerned with authorship Bards are viewed as mediators Bards are viewed as mediators Audiences are not as interested in them as in the heroes they sing about and the lessons in the stories Audiences are not as interested in them as in the heroes they sing about and the lessons in the stories Bard occupies the center of his/her community Bard occupies the center of his/her community “claws back” events that threaten to destabilize the community “claws back” events that threaten to destabilize the community constructs Barthesian “myths” constructs Barthesian “myths” Reinforces established ways of seeing and knowing Reinforces established ways of seeing and knowing

5 Television as Bard Articulates accepted reality Articulates accepted reality Implicates viewer in dominant value systems by confirming viewer’s status Implicates viewer in dominant value systems by confirming viewer’s status Celebrates achievements of community members (and claw back their peculiarities) Celebrates achievements of community members (and claw back their peculiarities) Assures community that its culture is good and its world view is true Assures community that its culture is good and its world view is true Exposes practical inadequacies in the world-view Exposes practical inadequacies in the world-view Convinces people that their community guarantees their sense of status and identity Convinces people that their community guarantees their sense of status and identity Transmits sense of community membership Transmits sense of community membership

6 What Happens to Peripheral Views, Lifestyles, Individuals? Some are explicitly rejected & labeled as deviant (e.g. drug abuse, child pornography, suicide bombers) Some are explicitly rejected & labeled as deviant (e.g. drug abuse, child pornography, suicide bombers) Most are “over-mediated” Most are “over-mediated” Portrayed as a problem (e.g. pregnant teens, strikers) Portrayed as a problem (e.g. pregnant teens, strikers) Portrayed “sympathetically” (with self-conscious tolerance and dutiful appreciation) (e.g. ethnic minorities and “discrete” homosexuals) Portrayed “sympathetically” (with self-conscious tolerance and dutiful appreciation) (e.g. ethnic minorities and “discrete” homosexuals) Portrayed in a mocking, mildly degrading way (e.g. obese people, women, intellectuals) Portrayed in a mocking, mildly degrading way (e.g. obese people, women, intellectuals) Ignored (e.g. Palestinians, U.S. Muslims, transsexuals, single fathers, atheists & agnostics) Ignored (e.g. Palestinians, U.S. Muslims, transsexuals, single fathers, atheists & agnostics)

7 What is the Most Common TV/Film Plot? Think of E.T. Think of E.T. Individual (intellect, courage, love, etc.)… Individual (intellect, courage, love, etc.)… triumphs over evil (natural disaster, crime ring, alien, etc.)… triumphs over evil (natural disaster, crime ring, alien, etc.)… while “secondary” social institutions (school, courts, police, etc.)… while “secondary” social institutions (school, courts, police, etc.)… are of no help (misguided, ignorant, pathetic, corrupt, etc.). are of no help (misguided, ignorant, pathetic, corrupt, etc.).

8 How is This Plot “Bardic”? American values put the individual before the collective American values put the individual before the collective Institutions (all branches of government, schools, police, courts) are portrayed as suspect to reaffirm this priority Institutions (all branches of government, schools, police, courts) are portrayed as suspect to reaffirm this priority Plots that would either affirm the competence of institutions or question the dichotomy itself (how can something good for the collective be bad for the individual?) are avoided Plots that would either affirm the competence of institutions or question the dichotomy itself (how can something good for the collective be bad for the individual?) are avoided

9 Susan Sontag On Photography

10 In Plato’s Cave Plato’s cave is an allegorical (or metaphorical) image indicating that people normally see only shadows of reality (see link on “schedule” webpage Plato’s cave is an allegorical (or metaphorical) image indicating that people normally see only shadows of reality (see link on “schedule” webpage The first chapter in Sontag establishes that all we know is images but the camera gives us a new collection of images The first chapter in Sontag establishes that all we know is images but the camera gives us a new collection of images

11 Photography is… (according to Sontag) A grammar A grammar An ethics An ethics “experience captured” “experience captured” A way of feeling that one has power over the thing photographed A way of feeling that one has power over the thing photographed Evidence Evidence * (Cycle back) * (Cycle back)

12 Quotes “As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.” “As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.”

13 Quotes “The immensely gifted members of the Farm Security Administration photographic project of the late 1930s… would take dozens of frontal pictures of one of their sharecropper subjects until satisfied that they had gotten just the right look on film—the precise expression on the subject’s face that supported their own notions about poverty, light, dignity, texture, exploitation, and geometry.” “The immensely gifted members of the Farm Security Administration photographic project of the late 1930s… would take dozens of frontal pictures of one of their sharecropper subjects until satisfied that they had gotten just the right look on film—the precise expression on the subject’s face that supported their own notions about poverty, light, dignity, texture, exploitation, and geometry.”

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15 When? When? What? What? Poor migrant mother, Nipomo California Poor migrant mother, Nipomo California Dorothea Lange, photographer Dorothea Lange, photographer perhaps this is the most famous photo taken by the Farm Security Administration, drawing attention to poverty in the U.S. perhaps this is the most famous photo taken by the Farm Security Administration, drawing attention to poverty in the U.S. Has become a “cliché” image Has become a “cliché” image

16 Quotes “Images transfix. Images anaesthetize.” “Images transfix. Images anaesthetize.” “The ethical content of photographs is fragile.” “The ethical content of photographs is fragile.” “Aesthetic distance seems built into the very experience of looking at photographs, if not right away, then certainly with the passage of time.” “Aesthetic distance seems built into the very experience of looking at photographs, if not right away, then certainly with the passage of time.”

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18 When? When? What? What? Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, on fire with napalm Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, on fire with napalm Nick Ut, photographer (won Pulitzer Prize for this photo) Nick Ut, photographer (won Pulitzer Prize for this photo)

19 “The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who records cannot intervene.” “The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who records cannot intervene.” “Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention.” “Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention.” “Like sexual voyeurism it [photographing] is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging whatever is going on to keep on happening.” “Like sexual voyeurism it [photographing] is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging whatever is going on to keep on happening.”

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21 In 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese President, was rapidly losing support In 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese President, was rapidly losing support Diem (a Catholic) oppressed the Buddhists in Vietnam and prohibited the flying of religious flags on the birthday of Buddha Diem (a Catholic) oppressed the Buddhists in Vietnam and prohibited the flying of religious flags on the birthday of Buddha In an effort to draw attention to their position and overthrow Diem, Buddhist monks committed suicide by self-immolation In an effort to draw attention to their position and overthrow Diem, Buddhist monks committed suicide by self-immolation Most famous incident happened on June 11, 1963 when the elderly Buddhist monk, Rev. Quang Duc, engulfed himself in flames Most famous incident happened on June 11, 1963 when the elderly Buddhist monk, Rev. Quang Duc, engulfed himself in flames The photographer, Malcolm Browne, was labeled a communist for his “anti-American” images The photographer, Malcolm Browne, was labeled a communist for his “anti-American” images

22 “Photography implies that we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it. But this is the opposite of understanding, which starts from not accepting the world as it looks.” (recall Plato’s cave)

23 A fake… or artistic license?

24 Raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima Raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima Perhaps the most reproduced photograph ever Perhaps the most reproduced photograph ever Photographer Joe Rosenthal Photographer Joe Rosenthal Has argued for 50 years that the photo was not staged Has argued for 50 years that the photo was not staged It looked too perfect, too sculptural It looked too perfect, too sculptural It commemorated the bloodiest battle of WWII It commemorated the bloodiest battle of WWII He even said it was posed (but later clarified that he meant a different photo was posed) He even said it was posed (but later clarified that he meant a different photo was posed) Its iconic status means it is a very important symbol, so people obsess about it Its iconic status means it is a very important symbol, so people obsess about it

25 The U.S. Marine MemorialA “collectible” statue Iwo Jima as a Cultural Icon

26 It took but a sliver of time: 1-400th of a second. It has consumed the past half-century of Joe Rosenthal's life. He has been called a genius, a fraud, a hero, a phony. He has been labeled and relabeled, adored and abused, forced to live and relive, explain and defend that day atop Mount Suribachi on each and every day that has followed, more than 18,000 and counting. "I don't think it is in me to do much more of this sort of thing," he said during an interview — his umpteen-thousandth — about Iwo Jima. "I don't know how to get across to anybody what 50 years of constant repetition means.“ It took but a sliver of time: 1-400th of a second. It has consumed the past half-century of Joe Rosenthal's life. He has been called a genius, a fraud, a hero, a phony. He has been labeled and relabeled, adored and abused, forced to live and relive, explain and defend that day atop Mount Suribachi on each and every day that has followed, more than 18,000 and counting. "I don't think it is in me to do much more of this sort of thing," he said during an interview — his umpteen-thousandth — about Iwo Jima. "I don't know how to get across to anybody what 50 years of constant repetition means.“ “Fifty Years Later, Iwo Jima Photographer Fights His Own Battle” By MITCHELL LANDSBERG, AP National Writer


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