Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Activist Project

Often when people think of activist projects they think of their limited time. People will be touched and heartened by the idea and goals behind the project but fail to fall through with participating because they are busy. An issue that has become more and more serious and lethal in our world is HIV/AIDS. Two-thirds of all people living with HIV are found in sub-Saharan Africa, although this region contains little more than 10% of the world’s population[1]. While marathons, telethons and donations are curious and somewhat effective, activists for AIDs needed a new plan. They need something to spark the attention of everyone: young or old, male or female. This is when the product line (RED) came about. (RED) is a business model created to raise awareness and money for the Global Fund by teaming up with the world's most iconic brands to produce (PRODUCT) RED branded products. A portion of profits from each (PRODUCT) RED product sold goes directly to the Global Fund to invest in African AIDS programs, with a focus on women and children[2].

(PRODUCT) RED is branded products that support the cure of HIV/AIDS in Africa with every purchase. Shirts often say “INSPI(RED),” “ADO(RED),” “ADMI(RED),” AND “DESI(RED).” All (PRODUCT) RED merchandise is the colour red, like red iPods, red shoes, red watches, red American Express cards, red laptops, red CDs, etc. Clearly intertexuality is the main selling point behind (PRODUCT) RED. The goal is so that soon, whenever people see the colour red they will identify and automatically thing of supporting HIV/AIDS. This is an effective way to becoming actively involved because the products are stylish; therefore supporting this cause benefits the consumer as well.

To learn more about what you can do to fight HIV/AIDS visit .

Work Cited:

[1] “Africa.” Averting HIV and AIDS. 11 November 2008. 15 November 2008.
[2] “Frequently Asked Questions.” RED. September 2008. 15 November 2008.

Participatory Culture

Three years ago I was introduced to a show called Sex and the City. Once I got passed the graphic sex scenes and coarse language I began falling in love with the show. Attempting to avoid sounding crazy: it is an amazingly written show taking place in New York City about four, very realistic characters (Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte) that all have different personalities. I started watching the episodes on TBS in their later seasons and was always curious about what the show was like in the earlier years. This is when I began purchasing the seasons DVD. Last Christmas I finally completed my series so I can enjoy my favourite show whenever I want.

Over the years I have also purchased Sex and the City accessories, trivia games, books, etc. This was all fun but very individual; I wanted to converse with people about Sex and the City. It was not enough to simply enjoy all of its greatness alone. When I made my Facebook last January and started getting the hang of things I realized I could create Facebook Groups. These are groups that anyone on Facebook can join to talk about whatever they like. There are Facebook groups about practically everything from Favourite Hockey teams to Celebrity Fan Groups to your preferred position when sleeping!

I decided to create a Sex and the City Facebook group entitled Addicted to Sex and the City. Within days, hundreds of people had joined my group. It appeared I was not the only one who felt like chatting. A month later I hit 1,500 members and am now at 5,460. This Facebook group was perhaps the most rewarding experience I’d participated in – including the merchandise I had purchased throughout the years. Creative discussions formed like “Did you catch that mistake?” “Finish this line...” and “A Baker’s Dozen” games. Hundreds of comments and replies were filling the discussion board. I looked forward to logging onto Facebook every night purely for this group and even now I often get e-mails from fashion and make-up companies, or author’s of books related to Sex and the City that ask me to promote their products on my popular group site. I often agree to do my best in helping them out, after all: what would Carrie Bradshaw do?

Culture Jamming

While looking upon thousands and thousands of photographs and videos a particular picture shouted out to me. My favourite band being the Beatles, it is clear as to why this picture struck my attention. Hold on; no, wait. As I looked closer I realized that it was not John Lennon on the far left side of the picture. In fact, it was not any member of the Beatles. Substituting John Lennon was a suicide bomber.

This was extremely disturbing to see. For one thing, rarely have I ever seen what a suicide bomb or bomber look like and the feeling I got was very sad and frightening. It is very coincidental that the bomber’s arms are positioned almost exactly the same as the original album cover. Whoever created this photograph was very creative and intelligent. The fact that the title of the album is Help! is also quite clever. The title now appears as though the bomber is asking for help. An image like this edited onto any album cover would be one thing, but because the photo is pasted onto an album of the Beatles sends a much deeper message. The Beatles are a world renowned group, who even today (decades after their debut) are still as popular as ever. The Beatles are well-known for their outlooks on freedom, love, peace and genuine simplicity. We know them to be the kind of people that would stand up to suicide bombers and attempt to help countries in need.

I feel culture jamming is very effective. As generation who generally live in conformity with advertisements and the media, it is refreshing and eye-opening to see something different and witty. We enjoy being entertained dangerously. Though culture jams may often be offensive and disturbing, they always capture attention, and more often than not get our brains moving and thinking.

Buy Nothing Day

My bus ticket, my morning coffee, my salad wrap from William’s, another bus ticket, a cute headband I saw in the window of that store, a new toothbrush, hair elastics, chicken fingers from M&M’s and yet another bus ticket. This is my average purchase rate per day.

There are times when I spend less and times when I spend more but on an average I spend a total of $25 - $30 dollars a day. Between transportation, food and a few needs here and there this is ridiculous! I’ve never considered myself a big spender, but once doing this math, I know feel I know where all of my money goes. The fact that this seems “normal” to me is shameful. There are thousands of people my age who spend probably close to double that which is another thing to worry about. North Americans in general spend way too much money! When Ian first told me about North America’s addiction to shopping, I thought to myself: Well, I only spend money where I absolutely need to. In fact, I’ve always thought of myself as a smart shopper. With this economic downfall on the rise we have no choice to be cautious and actually attempt to spend money only when it is necessary.

On November 28th North Americans will be expected to participate in Buy Nothing Day. The meaning of the day is pretty clear in the name. I asked Ian, ever so wisely, if this included bus tickets, food, etc. It does! This is when I figured I would have to strategically plan. I can buy my tickets ahead of time, make my sandwich and curl up to watch a movie at night instead of going out to dinner or shopping. If we could all manage to do this for one day of the year, imagine if we could attempt to try it monthly? Or weekly? Imagine if we lived our lives happily, whilst watching where and how we spend our money. Perhaps with all of the saving I could finally afford the new television I’ve had my eye on.

Net Neutrality

We are a generation born into the revised and worshiped media phenomenon: the Internet. We live in a time where we have the world at our fingertips – with our fingertips quickly tapping away at our keyboards. With search engines and websites like Google, Yahoo!, Youtube, Wikipedia, etc. there are slim to no reason why we should ever feel lost. The internet has become a safety guard for many; a comfort blanket, if you will. If a crowd of new friends begin to converse about a subject you are unfamiliar with, you need not worry! Google will help you out. If you meet a person of interest but are too nervous to ask for their number, Facebook will be a great way to ease into conversation. If in desperate need for a new song you’ve heard, limewire will always be there for you to go to. Right? Perhaps not for long. The internet that we have all grown to love has been indisputably taken for granted. We can go on the internet whenever we want, look at whatever we want, practically wherever we want. This is all possible because of Net Neutrality.

Network Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. Net Neutrality means no discrimination
[1]. Net Neutrality is what lets us go on whichever site we want satisfying out wants and needs. This is what has made the internet so popular and admired.

One may ask themselves why Net Neutrality would ever stop. This reason being is that the nation’s largest telephone and cable companies (including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner) want to control the internet in every aspect. These companies want to control how slow or fast websites run, and if certain ones will even be able to load. They also want to charge us. Take a minute to imagine what it would be like for your parents to yell at you for spending too much time on Facebook because it costs them too much money. With the loss of Net Neutrality we are losing freedom, control, access, and efficiency... everything we have become accustomed to.

Sign the Save the Internet Petition at or who knows when you’ll be able to view a blog again.

Work Cited
[1] “Frequently Asked Questions.” Save the Internet. March 2008. 10 November 2008. <>

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Media Hegemonies/Mapping Who Owns What

The Big Ten refers to the ten largest and most dominant companies in the world which are AOL/Time Warner, AT&T, General Electric, New Corporation, Viacom Inc., Bertelsmann, Walt Disney, Vivendi Universal, Liberty Media Corporation and Sony. Of these ten I’ve chosen to explore Disney. While discussing this blog with other peers in my Mass Communication class I found many of us chose to investigate Disney’s cross media ownership. As I got to thinking about what it was about the Walt Disney Company I realized why I personally had chosen it.

As a child who grew up with Disney I considered myself a “Disney Princess.” I had the Bell Barbie from Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella pyjamas, Minnie Mouse winter gloves and hats, Winnie the Pooh comforter, Bambi toothbrush, and practically every Classic Disney film on VHS. I was a child obsessed. In my eyes, Walt Disney was a magical man who created stories I loved and characters I admired; there just couldn’t be a bad bone in Mr. Disney’s body.

My point it not to state that Mr. Walt Disney is a bad man. His image is much different than the kind, humble elderly man I’d pictured drawing all of those adorable cartoons. In my mind he lived in a small room somewhere inside the beautiful Disney Castle I’d visited at Disney Land so many times. The truth is, Walt probably had a house more than double the size.

Disney owns ABC; Disney Channel; Toon Disney; Soap Net; ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS and ESPN Regional Television; A&E, History and Biography Channels; Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network; E! and Style; Fox Family Channel; Disney and ESPN Channels in more than 140 countries, plus stakes in other channels. Disney owns 11 different stations and movie production companies like Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Film Corp., Dimension and Buena Vista International [1].

I find the most unsettling thing about finding this out is realizing how much control Disney has over our lives. I once thought that Disney was a movie-making company that offered movies to the public if they felt like watching that kind of movie. Now that I realize just how much Disney owns, it is quite possible I watch, listen and use Disney products practically every day. This shows that Disney has the ability to control and even brainwash society and would have quite an easy time doing so. We must remember Mede-cognition (thinking about thinking) and remember to always speculate what we watch and see because you never know who owns the idea and why they want it out there.

Work Cited

[1] “The Big Ten.” Media Reform Information Center. 2005. 12 November 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fake News

The United States of America have recently completed one of the largest and most critical elections in history. Senators Barack Obama and John McCain campaigned for what seemed like ages in a battle that began to look exceedingly ugly at the beginning of September. This was at the time when John McCain officially nominated Sarah Palin for Vice President of the Republican Party. Sarah Palin, a woman of obvious physical beauty, became one of the largest targets for the Republican Party. Whether bashing her photo-shopped face on a bikini model’s body, taking stabs at her large, atypical family or most notably: her inability to say the right thing at the right time, Sarah Palin’s reputation throughout the past few months has been quite the rollercoaster.

The most critically acclaimed stabs at Sarah Palin were Saturday Night Live’s parodies featuring Tina Fey. Immediately, Tina Fey’s dead-on impression captured the attention of viewers across the globe, consequently insuring she’d have a spot on the “News Update” section every Saturday. Those who had always kept out of the loop when it came to politics were now enticed by the show’s weekly skit, in most cases causing viewers to stay tuned to the real news and actual campaign. Saturday Night Live is world renowned for its political satire and parodies, but Tina Fey and Sarah Palin’s uncanny resemblance sent rates right through the roof. The implications of SNL’s sketches in turn, popularized the Republic Campaign to a point where viewers were seeing more of Sarah Palin than John McCain, himself. This proves just how persuasive and luring fake news can be and how with just one successful break through, society is changed.