The Voice for the Voiceless

Animals and humans have an interesting and complex relationship with one another. It is no surprise that contemporary global media have been increasingly covering animals and their issues. Especially in recent times with a heightened prevalence of movements such as veganism, no animal testing and animal-free entertainment to name a few.

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The media has become an extremely important and influential tool for activists and others to bring these types of issues to light and shape opinions of those who watch. This is why it is important to analyse the ways that individuals and companies are portraying animals in the media.

There is a lots of data out there to show that animals are smart, emotional and moral beings and that they care about what happens to them. The way that we refer to animals in the media inform the thoughts and perceptions of those people watching and therefore influences their actions. As the voice for animals, we have an ethical responsibility to advocate their rights through media platforms.

Animals are often represented in the media as having human qualities, characteristics and abilities which is known as the term anthropomorphism. Kaplan (2014) explains that it is the expression of human feelings and motivation and in itself is neither good or bad but it all depends on how it is used by humans to refer to actions and motivation of non-human animals.

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It is used commonly in cartoons and movies where animals will be able to walk and talk and wear clothing but it is also a technique that is used by activist and in documentaries where animals are humanised through the narrative stricture and the social behaviours or ideas that they explore. (Evans, 2016)

When using anthropomorphism in this context, the ridiculousness of the situation is lessened. Rather than specifically assigning human characteristics to the animals, we draw parallels and similarities between ourselves and the animals and we are able to identify and empathise with them and as a result of this we are more likely to do what we can to help or save them.

Anthropomorphizing brings us out of our selfish prioritization of human needs. It helps us connect to the world of species around us. Human compassion for dolphins or pandas makes these animals the poster children of the environmental movement. To a great extent, our love for, and joy in, the animals around us fuels our efforts to protect them. (Tackett, 2013)

March of the Penguins is a great example of the use of anthropomorphism in a documentary. The documentary uses the narration to describe the penguin’s actions in a human sense of the form. Cubitt (2013) says that this allows the audience to make personal connections to the animals.

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“In this shot, a family of penguins is focused on and the audience is told about the strong bound and love that they all share for each other. Humans will interpret this scene has two penguins that are in love cuddling. However, it could very well be for some survival purpose or alternative motive outside of love.” (Cubitt, 2013) This technique is allows the penguins to become more relatable and gives them the ability to show relationships and emotions.

It is possible, however, for anthropomorphism to be damaging for animal welfare. It is important to avoid the ‘bambification‘ of animals as caused a skewed view of what really occurs in nature. According to deWaal, (2001) “bambification” is the entertainment industries business stripping away animal’s bad characteristics while endowing them with “baby appeal” using cartoon characters with “enlarged eyes and rounded infantile features” that provoke human care giving endearment and protectiveness.(Kesling, 2011)  This is used commonly in children’s movies and TV shows and should be viewed with a critical eye and it creates unrealistic views about the needs of animals.

Zootopia-2016
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Ultimately, the success of anthropomorphism is determined by the reaction of those who view it. When done in a way in a proper and sensitive way, the outcome will more than likely be positive. Documentaries that address animal welfare can benefit from the anthropomorphism of animals when the outcome triggers an emotional and empathic response.  The humanisation on animals must move less from the ‘cute’ aspect in children’s entertainment and move towards a tool that promotes positive change and inspires action among those who watch.



 

References:

Evans, N 2016, ‘Looking at Animals’, Lecture Week 4, BCM310: Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, UOW, 23/03/16

Cubitt, Sean, Salma Monani, and Stephen Rust. “Penguins are good to think with: wildlife films, the imaginary shaping of nature, and environmental politics.” Ecocinema Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge, 2013. 109-123. Print.

Kaplan, M 2014, “Ethology, Ecology And Critical Anthropomorphism”, Anapsid.org, viewed March 30 2015, <http://www.anapsid.org/ethology.html&gt;

Kesling, J 2011, “Anthropomorphism, Double-Edged Sword”, Responsible Dog – It’s all about dogs, viewed March 30 2016, <https://responsibledog.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/anthropomorphism-double-edged-sword/&gt;

Moss, L 2014, ‘Can humanising animals help us save them?’, Mother Nature Network, July 16, blog post, viewed March 30 2016, http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/can-humanizing-animals-help-us-save-them

Tackett, C 2013, “How Anthropomorphism Can Be A Tool For Animal Conservation”, TreeHugger, viewed March 30 2016, <http://www.treehugger.com/endangered-species/can-anthropomorphism-help-encourage-conservation.html&gt;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selfiesteem: How it really effects you

If theres one big thing that have come out of the rise of social media, it would have to be the good old ‘selfie’. From the skydiving selfie to the Oscar selfie and all of those on your newsfeed, you can see them just about anywhere. But is there more to the selfie than just the cute outfit you had on today?

The opinion of other people have had an affect self esteem for years. It is a term coined as the “looking-glass self” where we develop a sense of ourself based on the perceptions of those whom we interact with. The media has increased the realms of this.

“Now that we can interact with hundreds — no, thousands — of people simultaneously, we’ve strengthened the impact that others have on our self-value.” (Erikson, 2013)

You use selfies to judge other people (be honest guys) and you post pictures that show other people how great you were looking. The media has created this whole new level of interaction with someone else where you can actually put your opinion on their selfie and say to that person “yeah, you look really great”, or not at all.
Likes. 

10, 30, 60, 1,000 or  1,000,000. These are all numbers that many people use to value themselves and this has a really damaging effect on people’s self-esteem and has created a big issue in particularly young people.

“Our identity is partly shaped by recognition often by the misrecognition of others, and so a person or group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirror back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves.” (Taylor, 1994)

We all take selfies. Yes its, true. For me it’s always scary to put one up. Like… Is it worth the risk?  You could end up getting a handful of likes and end up feeling like crap for the rest of the day or you could get stacks of likes and comment and then by glowing all afternoon. It’s crazy isn’t it, that the fact that no one has liked my photo that I could end up feeling sad, ugly and even worthless.

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The University of Salford in the UK did a study last year on social media’s effects on self-esteem and anxiety, and reported that 50% of their 298 participants said that their “use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter makes their lives worse”.The study also reported that participants also said that their self-esteem suffers when they compare their own accomplishments to those of their online friends. (Soltero, 2013)

This has created the debate ‘Is Instagram fake?‘ as people have started to fabricate their lives to seem more interesting than they actually are to get more likes and attention from their peers.  Co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory (Swyane, 2013) comments that”the types of actions users take and the kinds of information they are adding to their Facebook walls and profiles are a refection of their identities”. Creating an image of yourself that is ‘better’ than your self life, is a way that people try to gain more likes and boost their confidence. I investigated this in more depth last year where I investigated what was behind the typical Instagram image and the results of it showed that they are captured during the most exciting or ‘likeable’ moments. Has it really come so far that we have to stage our lives to look good to other people?

 

An important and highly publicised example of this is Essena O’Neil. If you don’t know who she is already, Essena is an Instagram famous Australian who decided to ditch social media for good as it completely destroyed her self-esteem. Announcing that her Instagram was a “contrived perfection made to get attention.”

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“I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it,” she wrote of her first-ever post on Instagram, a selfie that now has close to 2,500 likes. “It got 5 likes. This was when I was so hungry for social media validation.” (Gajanan, 2015)

The important thing that came out of this was that it started a conversation…

Studies show is a strong connection between social media and a person’s self of self and many people feel the likes that a person gets on their photo is an indication of who they are as a person. It is important to step a way from media if this is the case and understand that you are amazing no matter what the numbers on the screen say.



 

References:

Erickson, Christine. “The Social Psychology Of The Selfie”. Mashable. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2016, <http://mashable.com/2013/02/15/social-media-and-the-selfie/#UVQVTH.NrZqB&gt;

Gajanan, Mahita. “Young Women On Instagram And Self-Esteem: ‘I Absolutely Feel Insecure'”. the Guardian. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/nov/04/instagram-young-women-self-esteem-essena-oneill&gt;

Soltero, A. “The Relationship Between Social Media And Self-Worth”. The Social U. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2016, <http://thesocialu101.com/the-relationship-between-social-media-and-self-worth&gt;

Swayne, Matthew. “Esteem Issues Determine How People Put Their Best Facebook Forward | Penn State University”. News.psu.edu. N.p., 2016. Web. 17 Mar. 2016, <http://news.psu.edu/story/286310/2013/09/05/research/esteem-issues-determine-how-people-put-their-best-facebook-forward&gt;

BEHIND THE IMAGE


References:

Callahan, C. (2014). Creating or Capturing Reality? Historical Photographs of the Progressive Era. The Social Studies, 106(2), pp.57-71.

Hochman, N. and Manovich, L. (2013). Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media. First Monday, 18(7).

Kentish, F. (2015). Photos reveal what’s going on outside the Instagram square and it’s all lies. [online] Metro. Available at: http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/18/photographer-shows-whats-going-on-outside-the-instagram-square-and-its-all-lies-5397181/ [Accessed 1 Nov. 2015].

Leach, N. (2015). Revealing how Instagrammers lie to create the perfect shot. [online] Mail Online. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3241914/Deserted-beaches-everyday-yogis-gourmet-cuisine-Revealing-Instagrammers-lie-create-perfect-shot.html [Accessed 1 Nov. 2015].

Valenti, J. (2015). My ‘perfect’ Instagram life is a fun refuge from a messy reality. I like it that way | Jessica Valenti. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/14/my-perfect-instagram-life-fun-refuge-reality [Accessed 1 Nov. 2015].

Hello… I’m still sitting here…

Phones are always with us. In our pocket, in our hand, on the table. We get a notification when someone is trying to contact us and we look down. But do we answer it? Is it an appropriate time?

When we are by ourselves, in our own private space, the limits are endless. We check our social media, emails, send out text messages if we need to and I even go for the occasional face time. We aren’t necessarily controlled by rules and regulations or social etiquettes and expectations. But as soon as we are in the company of other people and surroundings, there may be.

Phone use: http://www.saintpaulrez.ca/en/images/yourroom_main.jpg
Phone use: http://www.saintpaulrez.ca/en/images/yourroom_main.jpg

In my family home, we have an extremely strict rule. This is DO NOT under any circumstances look at your phone when at the dinner table. I never really thought much of this rule, I always thought it was normal and that every family had their “no-phone zone” dinner time. But as I grew older and went around to my friend’s houses, I noticed that many families do use their phones at the dinner table.

It’s interesting because growing up having this rule around using my phone, has taught me the value of having this quality time with the people you are with and ,I guess, the insensitivity of being on your mobile phone in an intimate situation.

Although this rule, is not formal or regulated in the public space, there is certain conversation around the topic.

Phone use in public: http://baybusinesshelp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Fotolia_34725698_XS-mobile-at-dinner.jpg

Research reported by the Daily Mail Australia have found that “mobile phones can damage personal relationships merely by their presence even when not in use.”

Two studies found that a mobile phone that is visible during a conversation, people feel less positive towards the person they are with. ‘In both studies we found evidence mobiles can have negative effects on closeness, connection, and conversation quality,’ said lead researcher Andrew Przybylski.

There are loads of other scenarios where mobile phones are also deemed inappropriate. The Pew Research Centre has found that the rudest public places to use a mobile phone are at a church or worship centre, at the cinema and other quiet spaces, during a meeting, at a family dinner and at a restaurant.

What do you think about using phones in the presence of other people? Do you think it’s downright rude or socially acceptable in this modern day?
Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, read some really cringe-worthy moments of inappropriate phone use by clicking here.

*Snapped*

You’re walking down the main street in the city, looking around for a nice cafe to have lunch at. You see a man wandering around and taking photos. Feeling quite uncomfortable, you try and stay of the shot. He turns around in front of you and takes a picture of the street crowds, this time you know you’re in the shot

http://blog.edinchavez.com/30-days-of-street-photography-day-7/
http://blog.edinchavez.com/30-days-of-street-photography-day-7/

Many people believe street photography is an art form and a way to document society but with this there are lurking concerns of privacy, consent and ethics. As a street photographer, people may confront you about photos that you have taken and even ask for them to be deleted, so should you? Technically, to photograph people in a public space is legal and many photographers may go ahead and use the photograph anyway. Is this ethical practice?

It is a topic that is highly debated. David Sutton provides a very coversation on the topic in his blog ‘Is Street Photography A Violation Of Privacy, Or Ethics?

“Ironically, today everything we do is becoming increasingly captured on digital surveillance- whether is be at the ATM, in a shop, or even at a set of traffic lights – and due to this public awareness is increasing as opinions and debates form around the topic of street photography.”

User UtahN8 on Street Photography in a Paranoid time  also comments on this idea. Arguing this it is not that artistry of street photography that society should be worried about, but surveillence that should concern us.

By walking out of our homes we essentially consent to be filmed and watched and photographed by any number of entities; at least a street photographer is making photos out of some interest in art or their fellow human being.

I thought I would test it out for myself and see how I felt about taking photos of people in a public space without asking them before.

I walked around the university campus and took photos of people engaging with a media screen (being either the uni’s televisions or their phones, iPads or laptops).  I felt like I had to give myself a defence, like pretending I wasn’t actually taking photos of them for fear of looking like a complete weirdo. In saying this, I definitely felt uncomfortable taking a photo of someone without asking for their permission first.

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Joel Colberg in his blog, The Ethics of Street Photography, has created advice for street photographers in their ethics.

It’s the photographic community’s task to educate the public about what they’re doing. In other words, instead of posturing about what they can do, street photographers better tell the public how what they’re doing is not only mindful of the public’s concerns, but also constitutes an important and valuable artistic practice that enriches not just the practitioners’ but everybody else’s lives.

An Avid Movie Goer

I looooove movies! It’s honestly hard to think of a movie that I haven’t seen yet. Lucky for me, I have a just as eager movie companion (a.k.a my boyfriend) who comes to the movies with me around once every fortnight. Whenever I tell people how often I go to the movies they are always surprised. I get responses like “as if you can be bothered, why don’t you watch something at home”, “I haven’t been to them in months!” and “why would you waste your money when you can just stream it?”

To me, going to the movies is an experience. One in which you can escape from reality, learn something new and get you thinking about things that you might not have before. With an average Australian going to the movies 6.8 times a year, I quadripple tripple that (I’m not positive that’s a number but you get what I mean) So thanks BCM for giving me another reason to hit the movies!

http://www.eventsonthehorizon.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/kids-movies.jpg
http://www.eventsonthehorizon.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/kids-movies.jpg

We chose to go to the movie Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials on Friday for a 9pm session. Usually I choose an earlier session but I wanted to see this movie in VMAX- an ungraded movie cinema with bigger screen, bigger seats and waaaayyy more personal space. My boyfriend picked me up and we drove to the local cinema which is around 5 minutes from my house. We picked our seats before we left and cruised our way through the crowd to the candybar.

Once we had done this, we had easily passed through Hagerstrand’s principles of  ‘capability’, ‘coupling’ and ‘authority’ as we could easily get there, had the spare time and are old enough to buy our own tickets for the PG movie.

The seats that we chose in the movie theatre are the same as where we usually go. Because VMAX cinema’s have four rows of viewing rather than three, we sit on the isle (which is technically in the middle) which is perfect because it allows me to run out and pee from sculling my drink during the ads!

It’s also interesting to notice that although the cinema is quite full- presumably due to the time slot, newness of the movie and the upgraded cinema- each group of people are separate from one another. I know when I am booking online, or sitting down at a seat, there is one or two spots in between myself and everyone else. It seems in a public space, people are creating their own private space and bubble where they feel they are at the movies just with the people they have come with.

As I said before, the cinemas as a whole area at Miranda Fair has become extremely busier than they ever have before with their upgraded Event Cinema. In previous experiences at the old cinemas there and even at the cinemas at Cronulla, the audience would be around 10% of what there is at this movie.

New Vmax Cinemas: http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2012/10/18/1226498/469988-vmax.jpg
New Vmax Cinemas: http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2012/10/18/1226498/469988-vmax.jpg

Screen Australian (2014) state that 14–24 year olds recorded the highest number of visits in 2014 but the frequency of visits has been in steady decline for over a decade.

I think this gives quite a good insight into where the cinema will go in the future. With an increased accessibility to stream movies online, especially now with Netflix, and interest from the 14-24 year old age group, the future of cinema is unknown. I think the movie industry has responded and increased interest in cinema’s with new cinema screens all over the world, such as gold class and Vmax.

Don’t worry though Event Cinemas, you’ll still be getting ticket sales from me!

It’s Full Speed Ahead… for some lucky internet users

NBN (National Broadband Network) is starting to roll out in suburbs across Australia and is”set to change the way Australians access the internet, with lightning-fast fibre-optic, fixed wireless and satellite technology being made available over the next 10 years.” (iiNet, 2015)

iiNet (20115) state that “there are plans to connect more than 93 per cent of Australian homes to the NBN’s fibre-optic network, allowing access to download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second – that’s four times quicker than the fastest ADSL2+ broadband currently available.” Faster internet?! Heck yes.

It’s all fun and games until you realise that NBN may not even be coming to your area… just like me.

NBN roll-out guide
NBN roll-out guide

I live in a house with my mum (Jackie), dad (Terry) and sister (Bree). Little amount of people, big amount of internet. With 2 desktop computers, 3 laptops, 3 iPads, 4 phones and 2 Netflix subscriptions, you could say we are internet fiends. Which means we need a lot of internet, unlimited in fact… thanks dad!

Whenever dad is not at the TV, he is at the computer. He spend his time on his desktop, reading the news about his favourite soccer team, playing fantasy league and watching the surf cameras. When asking him about faster internet, he said “It would be good but I’m right near the wifi so I don’t really notice it that much.”

Mum is a new internet fan, once she bough her iPad  she was hooked. From being completely internet illiterate to streaming health seminars that go for literally hours. I know when the internet is slow because I can hear mum complaining that her video wont load, so it’s safe to say that she would be ecstatic to have fast internet speeds.

My sister and I are avid internet users. We use it for Netflix, uni, work, but mostly social media, which is a lot. When the internet is slow I could almost chuck my phone out the window.

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Fast internet, I need you! NBN I need you!


References:

iiNet 2015,’The National Broadband Network explained’, iinet.com.au, viewed 23 August 2015, <http://www.iinet.net.au/internet/broadband/nbn/about/&gt;