Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jung at heart: The media's role in identification

This is going to be a two-part discussion. This first part takes a look at the negative aspects of identification being influenced by the media. The next part will look at the "positives", which are not really positives, but more like inevitable and necessary elements in society. If possible, I'll try to link some ideas back to Jung and his ideas about stereotypes, but if I fail to, you should go and do some worthwhile research.

Stereotypes is not an uncommon topic in discussions revolving around the media. In particular, much concern is raised about the images portrayed and how impressionable youngsters mimic and mirror them. Just yesterday, my girlfriend showed me some music videos from the newly established group, Girlicious. Everything about the video, and I do mean everything, screamed skanky and only worked to degenerate females. I mean, the song was called "Stupid Shit" and it features the barely legal girls strutting their stuff in school girl uniforms before a whole bunch of other girls join them and they all strip to their skivvies.

From this, it is easy to see why people are voicing so much concern. It's easy for me and maybe older teens, say those 16 and older, to recognize that the entire Girlicious thing makes no real sense and is silly and stupid overall. When the group was still a reality TV show, I recall the producer eliminating girls for being too trashy and saying that they're looking for something classy. Honestly, I can't really tell the difference.

When the Spice Girls was initially formed, their target market was girls 14 and older. However, they failed to hit their target market, namely for the same reasons that Girlicious is looking so terrible to me right now. Instead, Spice Girls were popular with a new demographic, the Tweens. The Tweens represent those beTWEEN the stages of childhood and adolescence (aka teenagers). Typically the age group would be 10-12 and, strangely or not so strangely, this group is prominent and easy to identify with girls but not boys. While boys stay immature well into their twentys (some say), girls do go through various stages that marketers have found to have pronounced differences in consumer behaviour.

As I mentioned before, those already in their teens are old enough to recognize the absurdity in these commercial images. However, those in their tweens are not. Instead, they desire to move quickly out of childhood and into adulthood and look at the Spice Girls and Girlicious as a model that they can copy. The biggest issue surrounding this, is that behaviour affected eventually becomes behaviour rationalized. That is, even if one is just acting out a behaviour without a reason behind it, eventually they will develop a mindset to rationalize that behaviour, formally and permanently adopting that behaviour as their own. This is the biggest concern because it means that the teens of tomorrow will actually be like what we see in the Spice Girls and Girlicious. In fact, the reason why the level of skankiness has stepped up to where it is today is because the level had been breached and adopted in the past. Without the adoption, the level would have just been maintained and re-packaged for the same age group year after year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Exam Week Poetry

Exams this week, so I thought I'd laid down some poetry that I wrote down last week while looking out the window. Seems like I keep writing about trees these days.

Seasonal Party (2008)

The largest cherry blossom on my block
Has a poor sense of timing.

It garnishes and accessorizes
Its aged and wrinkly branches
With feminine pink,
A million soft sequins.

But as the other trees arrive
In their best dress and outifts.
The largest tree's modesty
Would already be scattered and spread
On my lawn and on the street,
The blunder of unfashionable earliness.

Street Lamp (2008)

I saw the immediate aftermath.
Rows of uprooted victims.
Months later,
A forest of dull green metal
Conceals the history of the fallen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

M&M part 2

Well, it's finals time and I've no time to really write anything. So I'll just take the lazy person's way out and post some more M&M comics that I did in the past.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sub-culturally diverse advertisement

Happy April fools day! Here's a joke:

I was walking by the Liquor store the other day when I noticed that the large windows were decorated with huge banner ads for "Support Dry Grad." The funny thing was, each ad portrayed a different sub-culture stereotype. There was the jock, the goth, and some others. I found it hilarious because these groups would never be caught dead together. And yet, this may be one of the only times when sub-culturally diverse advertisement might work: when it's advertising to people who have to deal with these different sub-cultures daily (eg. parents and teachers)

Culturally diverse advertisement are those that strive to depict as many cultures as possible. If you ever watched a commercial and wonder why there is always a woman, a black guy, a Mexican, and a Chinese person, this is why. It's supposed to be politically correct in a way, but it's also necessary to reach out to minorities because they represent a huge demographic that everyone wants a piece of. Cultural diversity in media is also prevalent in movies and television shows: there is always a token minority character in an action movie, etc.

Sub-culturally diverse advertisement are those that try to feature as many sub-cultures as possible. Sub-cultures exists within cultures. You can think of them as a specific and large kind of cliques. There really is no wrong way to identify a sub-culture, they can be categorized by the music they listen to, by the forms of entertainment that they enjoy, even by their sexual orientation. As you can imagine, most people exist in several sub-cultures at once while they may only live in one or two cultures at most. This is just one of the problems with sub-culturally diverse ads. It's hard to pin-point recognizable sub-culture stereotypes to use in advertisement and more often than not, you're going to end up offending someone or making people laugh. An unintentional example of this would be a couple of radio ads that I hear on Fox currently. One is the fountain tire ad that features a lifeguard (I'm a lifeguard) and the other is a Red Bull commercial about studying for Biology (I'm a student). Both are cringe-worthy and makes me turn off the radio as soon as they come on, but I'm sure others wouldn't mind listening through all of it.

The biggest problem with sub-culturally diverse advertisement is the fact that you really can't use it to target multiple sub-cultures. While people of mixed origins are used to living with each other and have come to expect ads to feature a cultural mosaic, those in different sub-cultures really don't have any reason to associate themselves with any other sub-cultures. It may happen on the individual level, but rarely as a collective. As such, you can't really make an ad featuring both rockers and country/techno enthusiasts and expect to get a positive reaction from all groups. Rather, the fact that you're trying to associate polar opposites will most likely turn all groups featured away.

Even with individual ads and campaigns, sub-cultures pose a problem to advertisers wishing to target them. When trying to market vodka to straights and gays, Absolut uses different campaigns to target each group. However, if a few insecure macho men discover the gay targeted ads, it would no doubt cost Absolut some customers.

This is why sub-culturally diverse ads are a joke, they're impossible to use without turning people away and costing advertisers money in the long run. I made an exception above for people not directly in the featured sub-cultures, but those that deal with them daily, like teachers and parents. However, even then, there has got to be a better way to advertise to these groups without turning off potential future customers that are in the sub-cultures and will hold a grudge.