Every Tuesday evening I arrive to my New Media class a few minutes early, and every Tuesday evening I am greeted by a music video being projected on the big screen. Several times it has been Liz Phair, and recently I have noticed that Duffy seems to have caught the attention of my professor’s ear. Regardless of the music video being shown, it is always the same website playing the video: YouTube.

It is safe to presume that thousands, more likely, millions of individuals use the site to watch or listen to music.But with the recent controversies surrounding YouTube and copyright issues, it seems official music videos and even some songs are become more difficult to find on the website. (Unless the artist has an official channel.) Many recall the trouble YouTube went through last year, when Viacom placed a 1 billion dollar lawsuit on the video streaming website due to copyright infringement.

According to an article entitled YouTube, Universal Music Reportedly Talking Business, by Dee Chisamera, “YouTube may be taking a new approach when it comes to music videos, which this time would not imply any more legal threats on copyright infringement. The video site is reportedly in talks with Universal Music, the number one music company in the country, to create a music video website called Vevo.”

Interesting. With the success of NBC’s Hulu, Universal’s movement to online content comes to no surprise. According to an article entitled, Video Use Seen Hitting Eight Hours a Day by 2013, by Daisy Whitney, “the average American 12 and older spends about six hours a day with video-based entertainment.” As a society, we are becoming increasingly more Internet based.

According to researcher and professor, Damien O’Brien, “YouTube, the video sharing website has risen to be one of the most popular and profitable websites on the Internet.” Media giants like NBC and Universal are smart to follow YouTube’s lead.

 

YouTube #1

YouTube #1

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Recently I was sent the following link to this YouTube video:

  

The video features clips from the popular children’s television series, LazyTown, mashed up with a vulgar rap ditty by Lil Jon, and is entitled CakeRoll. What is most interesting about this amateur video, in my opinion, is not the video itself, but rather the “disclaimer” written in the description, which is as follows:

DISCLAIMER

“Excerpts of “Cooking By The Book” used in this video remain the copyrighted property of LazytownEntertainment. Footage sampled in this video is used as a parody and is protected under United States Fair Use copyright law.

(§ 107 of the Copyright Act. Also, see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994) and Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, 410 F.3d 792 (6th Cir. 2005) for precedents).

This video is free to distribute and not for profit.

The producers and distributers of this video are in no way affiliated with Lazytown Entertainment or the Lazytown brand. The unlawful removal of this video will result in LEGAL ACTION being taken against the responsible parties.

So fuck off you corporate fascists! Do not delete this video! If you have a problem with the video relating to copyright issues please send me a message and I will reply as promptly as possible.”

I find it quite interesting that YouTube users are taking a stand against the site and its current barrage of video removal due to copyright infringement. 

Included on the YouTube website are some “Copyright Tips”, which although very detailed, are not very helpful. Please follow this link to view the information YouTube provides on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright

According to an article entitled, Viacom Sues YouTube for $1 Billion…The End of the Tube, Viacom filed a lawsuit against YouTube for 1 billion dollars, claiming “massive intentional copyright infringement, saying that 160,000 unauthorized Viacom clips have been uploaded onto YouTube, totaling more than 1.5 billion views.”

And quite frankly, YouTube hasn’t been the same since. Videos are constantly being removed from the site, which is frusterating for the viewers… all we want is simple entertainment. But- obviously, YouTube must cater to large corporations,  because let’s face it, they’ve got the power and the big bucks.

I just found the most simultaneously irritating and entertaining YouTube channel of all time…or maybe just this week: iJustine.

She’s blonde. She’s beautiful. She’s Justine Ezarik, the 24-year-old YouTube user, Twitter user, Myspace user, Flickr user and avid blogger. She’s a self-proclaimed “media chick”.  And after watching only a few short videos, this woman is clearly an enthusiastic Apple User too.

Justine’s YouTube videos seem to be divided into four categories, which include:

  • “Apple Store Videos” Following Justine’s visits into Apple stores across the USA.
  • Mozy Commercials” Commercials Justine has participated in.
  • “Must see iJustine Movies” The best of the best.
  • Ask iJ” In which the viewer can ask Justine any question through any online medium she currently uses. She responds to inquiries in form of video.

Her style is improv: she simply speaks into her webcam, or hand held camera and freely speaks her mind- usually on tech-related or media based topics. According to an article in Advertising Age, by Michael Learmonth, entitled, “AT&T’s iJustine Web Series Doesn’t Exactly Go Viral” her videos have earned 25 million views online, 16 million of which are from YouTube. 

The following video “300-Page-iPhone-Bill” is the video that unquestionably created instant online stardom and celebrity status for Ezarik. The camera watches as she opens an iPhone bill sent from her provider AT&T, which was sent to Ezarik in a box and was 300 pages long. The video focuses on the obvious paper-waste of the bill’s size. Please watch:

Couple this video with the hundreds of others created by Ezarik, and you’ve got yet another pop culture amateur online hit! With a collective 25 million views, and target viewers believed by Ezarik to by between the ages of 11-18, her videos further depict the direction in which popular culture and mass media are going. We love the amateurs!

Not only can the youth of today find role models traditionally, through the likes of celebrities: singers and movie stars, but also through the means of online amateur videos, which allow viewers to connect as well as be entertained by everyday people.

“We get free time and we waste it!” –Dr. Strangelove

Feverishly going through my New Media lecture notes (looking for a topic of interest to write about that I haven’t already exhausted) I found a few meager lines in my notebook dedicated to the ol’ television. You know it: the Boob Tube, the Idiot Box, the Small Screen… The square unit is a rare mention in any of my Communication courses.

The tube seems to be a tad neglected these days, mostly due to the Internet taking over the glamour and attention of the mass population. As a 21-year-old female, I don’t have cable and thus rely on the likes of websites and blogs for any means of news and information… and with that responsibility, I find myself a tad behind on all things current, but I digress. TV is of little importance to me (save for my X-Files DVD sets).

So: today’s blog will NOT be about the Internet: Not Youtube, Google, or Facebook. Just the old dusty device we call television-some may think of it as the original time waster.

TV!

TV!

A very interesting article entitled Television and Health, from the website www.csun.edu, provided me with some very interesting statistics and all around entertaining information concerning television and its status in society- which is still quite prevalent, much to my surprise

I will begin with the basics: 99% of households in America have televisions, in fact most have over 2 sets. Not so surprising; however,  the article has dozens of  stats that I found immensely interesting, but because of attention span issues, I will only list six of the most personally compelling:

  1. Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000
  2. Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000 
  3. Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
  4. Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5 
  5. Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
  6. Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million

Thus it seems, for the most part, much of our free time is still dedicated to the television. We have undoubtedly become a visual society, and this is likely due to television. In his book, The Empire of Mind, Strangelove states, “Being so entrenched in the visual logic of television we have dismissed words, particularly the humble speech of the unwashed masses as being of no import.” We have no time for spoken interaction, or quality time: only time to watch murders and commercials: sit and stare with glazed over eyes.

Between hours spent watching television and surfing the Internet, it seems shocking that society has anything but leisurely time.

Fulla, the olive-skinned Barbie-esque doll that is targeted to Middle Eastern and Islamic girls was released in 2003. The doll, who quite obviously bears resemblance to the Western Pink Princess, Barbie, is marketed as, “the little girl who wears modest outfits, her top priorities are respect for herself, and those all around her and being kind to her friends and peers.”  (Fulla.us)

Fulla

Fulla

Fulla.us also states of the brunette doll, “We take pride promoting the virtues to help girls be the very best today so they grow to be the women who make a difference tomorrow.” Fulla is a product which seems to be spawned solely from good ethics and high mortality and seems to be an all around positive contribution to its target market. The doll is currently enjoying huge success in the Middle East.

According to an article entitled, “Fulla” – the Arab World’s Barbie of khaleejtimes.com, “The toy capitalizes on the islamization of cultural life in the Arab world as evidenced in a heightened focus on dress and rituals.”

It seems clear that Fulla promotes positivity and self- respect; however, the doll has indeed raised controversy. Katie Cercone’s article, Fulla Flap, claims, “She’s a plaything, yes, but she’s also an emblem of the cultural pressure to conform to one extremely limiting female role.” Cercone believes that Fulla instills a religious conformity among young Middle Eastern women, much like Barbie is commonly believed to create a desire for materialism and beauty among Western girls. Cercone implies that Fulla is “a residual effect of the recent upsurge of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East.”  

In this light, it seems Fulla’s got some deeper motives than the altruistic, friendly, brown-eyed beauty initially conveys.

Now here lies my opinion, which is quite simple: Fulla, much like Barbie was created for one purpose: $$$. She is a product of capitalism, much like the blonde, blue eyed bombshell, Barbie. Put simply, Fulla and Barbie wouldn’t exist for any other reason: Not to promote religious views, companionship, or to provide enterainment for young girls. These two plastic dolls would cease to exist without the monetary motivations that exists so predominantly on this Earth: Middle Eastern, Western- anywhere . 

“Appropriation often refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of new work”, which today enjoys its prevalence online, specifically on YouTube. For example: films are edited, spliced, reworked, and mixed with a new soundtrack to give something, such as a movie trailer, or film, a new feel or emotion which was not initially intended by the original creator.

I find the number of appropriated movie trailers found on YouTube to be quite interesting: The story of Mary Poppins, turned into Scary Mary; The Shining, an upbeat tale of a man and a young boy; the Lion King, in which Simba and Nala go psycho… the list goes on.

As quoted by Henry Jenkins, “one of the real potentials of cyberspace is that it is altering the balance of power between media producers and media consumers.” It seems that many are no longer merely consumers, but also the producers themselves. Amateur creativity is at the tips of each of our fat little fingers. With the ever-expansion of media and technology, creativity (by which I mean appropriation, parodying and spoofing) is endless.

So, why are people on YouTube appropriating and parodying the existing works created by others? This I cannot answer: but solid entertainment seems to be the best response that comes to mind. It is an era of entertainment: to entertain and to be entertained.

In 1990 a leaflet entitled What’s Wrong with McDonalds? was being passed around by London Greenpeace. According to Chapter 5 of Michael Strangelove’s text, The Empire of Mind, the leaflet accused McDonald’s of “exploiting children with advertising, promoting and unhealthy diet, poor labor practice, environmental negligence and the ill treatment of animals.” McDonald’s immediately sent out undercover private investigators to infiltrate the civil rights and environmentalist group. (Strangelove, 2005) Greenpeace was sued by McDonald’s within the year.

As I read the passage in Strangelove’s text, it struck me as odd that such a well-established and powerful company would act so hastily towards the likes of simple protesting.  It seemed that London Greenpeace was correct in their accusations- and this didn’t make the Happy Clown too happy at all.

The judge ruled that many of the accusations provided by Greenpeace were in fact true, “McDonald’s exploit children with their advertising, falsely advertise their food as nutritious, risk the health of their, most regular and long term customers, and are culpably responsible for cruelty to animals… and pay the workers low wages.” (Strangelove, 2005)  Despite the truths in the leaflet, the defendants were still expected to pay 30,000 dollars to McDonald’s.

All of this to say: powerful companies like that of McDonald’s seem to have an insatiable hunger for the power and control of their image- even if opposing view may, in fact, be correct.

The appropriation of images and brands has been an ongoing topic of interest in my New Media course: McDonald’s being one of the most popular targets for appropriation (as well as culture jamming).

I believe there are several reasons for this. McDonald’s is a huge company, which has a history beginning in 1940. At 69 years old the company currently has 31,000 locations around the world, and according to Hoovers.com, in 2007 the company had a net revenue of 22.79 billion dollars.

It seems, the more powerful the company, the more questions will arise regarding its morality and ethics. As a whole, we as society want to be provided with the truth, and the truth is hard to come by in advertising and corporate companies. We are more reluctant to trust large companies- and when we are unsure, the likes of appropriated images, culture jamming and leaflets are likely mediums for protest.

With the prevalence of the Internet, spreading the word regarding one’s view on a company or ad campaign is easier than ever. For example, 4,600 hits on Google arise when the term “McDeath” is typed into the search engine (Strangelove, 2005).  And as shown in class, it is very simple to come across an appropriated image when McDonald’s is typed into the search bar:

McDeath

McDeath

The power of the company is faltering- McDonald’s can’t possibly control the thousands, perhaps millions, of opposing views mentioned online. The Internet provides a means for the alternate views that were once easily suppressed in the not so distance past. Today, we have the power.

Dance Club YouTube:

Above is a YouTube video I created which examines the reasoning as to why we as viewers are so compelled to watch amateurs dance online!

A special thanks to my friends who gave their two cents; and actually allowed me to use their faces on YouTube.

Bibliography:

Goodwin, A. (1992) Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Hanna, J. (1987) To Dance is Human: A Theory of Nonverbal Communication. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

No Author Stated. (2 July 2006) “Youtube Serves Up 100 Million Videos a Day Online.” USA Today, 16 July 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2008 from, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-07-16-youtube-views_x.htm

Strangelove, M. (2009). CMN2170 New Media Lectures. Ottawa: University of Ottawa, Simard Hall.

Video Clips Borrowed from YouTube are as follows:

  • Mother Fuckin’ Snakes!!!!
  • Never Let Your Mom Dance!
  • Fat Guy Dancing to Single Ladies
  • Numa Numa
  • Single Ladies (Big Girl Remix)
  • Arianna Dancing with Beyonce- Single Ladies

All photographs used are mine!

Ah yes, the cell phone. The camera. Both of which are incredible advances in modern technology, and amalgamated together is a combination that is quickly destroying privacy; adding to the tirade of viral videos on YouTube. A force to be reckoned with! THE CELL PHONE-CAMERA!

No longer can one pick their nose in the car freely, dance like crazy in their bedrooms or trip down a flight of stairs- without the potential for all to see.

According to the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation, Daniel A. Henderson created the first prototype for this masterpiece in 1993. I suspect no one at the time would have fathomed such an enormous impact on the cellular phone market, on the Internet…  or on the entire world.

The cell phone no doubt contributes to thousands of videos and photos posted online each day. Perhaps the most popular video captured by a cell-phone camera to date was that of the execution of Saddam Hussien. No longer can one be executed without the potential for all to see.

Reuters.com stated that, as of November 2007, “worldwide mobile telephone subscriptions reached 3.3 billion – equivalent to half the global population.” Wow. Half the Earth’s population are cell phone users. I can only imagine how many have cameras integrated within them. Very few people today do not own a cell phone; one being my media professor, Dr. Strangelove. (Kudos!)

The world today is dependent on technology, we need it to connect to information, stay in touch… and we need it to film and document nearly every occurrence in our lives.

Countless celebrities have been captured on cell phone cameras, often in risqué situations, or private moments. Miley Cyrus (or Hannah Montana as the 6 year olds know her) being the current leading example.  Recent photos have been leaked of the 16-year-old star in provocative and personal poses.

Thank God for Cell-Phone Cameras!

Miley Cyrus. I don't think I was supposed to see this.

So is the cell-phone camera movement a good thing? Does society really need to incessantly document every minuscule event that occurs? Memories don’t hold the same merit when one can post their photos online just seconds after they are taken.

Last Night's Dinner. Thank God For Cell-Phone Cameras.

Last Night's Dinner. Thank God For Cell-Phone Cameras.

 

Culture jamming, as defined in the text The Empire of Mind, by Michael Strangelove, can be described as “encompassing a large range of tactics across all mediums, (video, pirate radio, digital photography, billboards, websites, songs) is usually appropriative in that it uses corporate intellectual property without permission… it’s goal is to challenge or destroy all forms of intellectual property.”  In other words, culture jamming is the act of defying and destroying public adverts.

Adbusters is the flagship representation of current culture jamming- an interesting term I learned of only earlier this week during my New Media class. I had always known the concept itself existed, as I have picked up a few copies of Adbusters in the past, but I did not know there was a name for this act of challenging and parodying corporate ads.

According to Strangelove’s text, the term itself was coined in 1984 by the audio-collage band Negitivland, with the phenomenon itself having roots early into the 20th century. 

Interestingly, before the well-known Adbusters, there was Ballyhoo, which “reflected the reader’s disgust with advertising and high pressure sales tactics.” Ballyhoo originated in the early 1900’s, with great popularity during the 1930’s. Funny- that for an entire century, society has expressed disgust in the often-brute tactics of corporate advertising…and yet it still continues today.

A Sucker is Born Every Minute

A Sucker is Born Every Minute

With the ever-expanding Internet, culture jamming has become more prevalent and more accessible than ever before. Simply typing in the term “culture jamming” itself into the Google search engine, I am inundated with thousands of parodies, and manipulated advertisements.

We are torn between the corporate world of capitalism and the anti-establishment world of culture jammers.

Strangelove’s text, quotes Kalle Lasn (founder of Adbusters), who stated, “the next revolution will be, as media guru Marshall McLuhan predicted, ‘a guerrilla information war.’  It will be fought in the streets, with signs, slogans, banners and graffiti, but it will be won in newspapers, on the radio, on TV and in cyberspace…” It appears this war has already begun, we as society are force-fed thousands upon thousands of ads and propaganda telling us what to do, as well as what not to do. Everywhere we are exposed to ads- and it is often those ads supplied by mass-corporations that we are expected to follow.

Culture jamming serves as a great way to get the skinny on what we are not being told; an exposé on the dirty side of advertising. But shouldn’t telling the other side of the story be embraced and praised- why is culture jamming seen as such a bad thing, and in some cases illegal? Shouldn’t we as society be exposed to all aspects of the issues, be them in advertisements, or politics, or religion?  

Culture jammers go forth. Spread your words.

Just Douche It

Adbusters: Just Douche It