Nollywood

Chowdhury, M, Landesz, T, Santini, M, Tejada, L & Visconti, G 2008, ‘Nollywood: The Nigerian Film Industry’, Harvard Business School, 2 May, pp. 13-33.

The ‘Nollywood: The Nigerian Film Industry’ academic journal article is very relevant to the week four topic which is centred around the very same Nigerian film industry. It provides detail as to the general operation of the industry (how movies are filmed, how long this takes, movie distribution) as well as the flaws in the industry and how these may be addressed. Some of the main recommendations made by the authors to improve the Nollywood industry include formalising distribution channels within Nigeria and internationally, supporting participation in film festivals, developing training institutions and establishing branding for the industry on a whole. The journal article was researched through a number of quantitative and qualitative techniques, with much of the data and information coming from government documentation. The content of the journal article was useful in expanding a foundational understanding of the weekly topic. It also reinforced the idea of cultural flows through mediascapes in the discussion about the influence of Western and Eastern cinema, as well as the struggles of international distribution. The authors conclude by calling for the private sector and the government to support the industry in order to boost prosperity and reach a more stable audience both across Africa and globally.

Bright, J. “Meet ‘Nollywood’: The second largest movie industry in the world” Fortune, viewed August 20, < http://fortune.com/2015/06/24/nollywood-movie-industry/ >

Jake Bright’s feature article expands upon some of the issues faced by the Nollywood film industry as mentioned in the academic source. The main topic Bright focuses on is the financial struggle faced in the industry due to a revenue bleed which is resultant from the widespread practice of pirating Nollywood films. This much detail was also provided in the academic source, however, Bright goes on to detail how the new competition in African digital entertainment which has arisen from the introduction of streaming services has provided some economic stimulation to the industry. Bright’s research was not conducted by himself through a study, rather, it was collected from a variety of credible sources and metrics. The article was useful in further fortifying a more in-depth understanding of the economic side of the Nollywood industry, allowing for a better comparison with economic aspects of other international film industries such as Bollywood and Hollywood. A weakness of the text is that it did not provide further detail as to the other critical influences and flaws of the industry, such as the need to develop training institutions, which is mentioned in the academic source. This lack of information may be perceived as a weakness as the article then only provides a two-dimensional, though still quite detailed, perspective on the Nollywood industry. The article is concluded with a statement about the benefits of monetising Africa’s creative content.

Internationalising Higher Education

Long, Susan & Woods, Denise 2017, “I don’t care about Asia”: teaching Asia in Australia’, Journal of Australian studies, vol. 41, no.3, pp. 367-379

The journal article by Leong and Woods is relevant to the weekly topic ‘internationalising higher education’. The authors’ stance is that “learning about Asia should not be limited to units within Asian studies”, neither should it be limited by the cultural experience of the teacher nor the language understanding of the student; their argument culminates in the idea of normalising Asia, shifted from the typical idea of it being a cultural ‘other’. The authors’ research was conducted by observing the teaching of Asian literacy in action and by examining key authorities both within Australian history and on the topic of teaching Asian literacy. The text was extremely relevant to the weekly topic of internationalising higher educations as it analysed both the problems and the solutions surrounding the subject matter, providing digestible and actionable information to readers. Leong and Woods conclude by noting that the teaching of Asian literacy should be done by all Australian teachers, not just those of Asian descent, in order to be as effective as possible Australia-wide.

Asia Education Foundation, viewed August 16 2018, < http://www.asiaeducation.edu.au/professional-learning/illustrations-of-practice/global-citizenship-(leading-schools)/banksie-park-international-school-sa >

A report by the Asia Education Foundation on Bomaderry High School Community NSW is evidence of the effectiveness of learning Asia literacy as proposed in Leong and Woods’ journal article. The report explains how the school has engaged students to develop Asian cultural understanding; it has also explained how the school has professionally developed their teachers to gear them towards effective pedagogy surrounding the teaching of this subject matter. The benefits demonstrated at Bomaderry High School align with those presented by Woods and Leong, for example: “both students and staff are gaining more knowledge of our Asian neighbours and becoming aware of the diversity of cultures, countries and languages in our geographic vicinity.” The findings of the report are based on observation, survey and testing conducted on students and teachers across the school. The report however, is limited in personal testimonials from students and teachers, instead providing generalised feedback which is useful but would be better complemented by specific opinions. This text was very useful in providing evidence of the success behind Leong and Wood’s proposals and also provided further depth to the topic of internationalising higher education.

Globalisation

O’Shaughnessy, Michael 2012, ‘Globalisation’, in Media and society, 5th ed, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic, pp. 485-471

The journal article by Michael O’Shaughnessy is relevant to the weekly topic of globalisation. It explores the impacts of increased global interconnectivity which are characterised as utopic: “empowerment, education, democracy and equality”: and dystopic: “loss of meaningful interpersonal communication and traditional communities, languages and value systems”. These consequences have arisen primarily from advancements in global economy and technology which have facilitated the vast, rapid transfer of culture. O’Shaughnessy critically analyses arguments from Benedict Anderson, Marshall McLuhan, Manuel Castells and Herbet Schiller. Relevant pieces of each are stitched together in combination with O’Shaughnessy’s own understandings to form a conclusion about global cultural hybridisation. He denies the concept of a global ‘monoculture’ in which the cultural diversity and differences are razed and replaced with American customs. Instead, O’Shaughnessy’s idea is of a multi-directional, dynamic global community where economic and media flows create societies which have adapted, appropriated and incorporated aspects of foreign culture with their own in a dignified manner. This closely ties in with the lecture content regarding homogenised and heterogenised cultures, expanding my own understanding of the subject matter.

Saxena, J 2017, Why I always eat at McDonald’s when I travel abroad, Thrillist, accessed 13 August 2018, <https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/mcdonalds-in-different-countries >.

The feature article by Jaya Saxena delves deeper into the idea of a ‘multi-directional, dynamic global community’ which was explored by O’Shaughnessy. The article does this through the examination of cultural ethnoscapes, using the global franchise, McDonalds, as a frame of reference. Saxena’s aim is to highlight how visiting McDonalds across the world is a culturally enriching experience, rather than a culturally limiting undertaking. Saxena discusses her own experiences in association with others’ found from a social media survey conducted by herself. Saxena’s main observation is that each McDonalds incorporates local culture and cuisine into the archetypal American menu. Consequently, the McDonald’s found in each country are a celebration of individualising national traits in a way that is also universally recognisable. This perspective is a useful contribution to the idea of heterogenised ethnoscapes as it demonstrates the adaptivity of international culture to local culture in its purest form, again denying the idea of a ‘monoculture’ which was also dismissed by O’Shaughnessy. Saxena concludes by admitting that though the “ubiquity of McDonalds” is a sign of “globalisation”, it is not an “evil” but rather something that people enjoy because of its localised unique-ness.

Ideating

The concept

I started this semester knowing that I wanted to continue with my digital artefact (DA) from BCM112. I was a content creator for the Makerspace Club Facebook Page, during which I founded the weekly Makerspace Mondays posts. I knew for sure that it was a solid idea with many opportunities for those all-important feedback loops. In the past it had demonstrated for me many successes and failures, as is the objective of BCM114—it seemed to be a perfect choice.

However, with my prior digital artefact I found myself struggling to stay motivated to do a task so heavily dependent on a space which was inherently unpredictable. Some weeks I would visit the space every day and come away with almost no content because the space was simply empty. Other days, people just weren’t undertaking projects which would translate well on camera.

Consequently, I found myself unconsciously dreaming up wild ideas for other possible DAs. These included: writing Buzzfeed Community articles, making a bedtime story podcast for insomniac adults and producing low-budget spoofs of iconic moments in cinema. These all had a certain appeal to me because they were wholly of my own creation and direction, not reliant on the constraints I experienced in my work with the Makerspace.

As much as I loved these ideas, they lacked a certain element of personal inspiration and purpose I knew I would need to commit to something so big. Especially since it would involve dropping a ‘sure thing’.

It wasn’t until one unassuming afternoon that the convergence of confusion and an over-working mind created a shared brainchild which I hope will become a successful DA.

See, my friend Maddie and I were discussing the DA, she had said something about needing to find the right “target market”. But, me being the deaf idiot I am, I only heard the word “market” and in my confusion tried to instantly piece together what a DA involving the markets could possibly be.

The more I kept rambling on, the more we both realised the potential for this idea. There was so much within this realm we could do, so many opportunities, and a real social utility.

In my excitement, I knew we had landed on something we could turn into gold through the alchemy of the DA process. That afternoon, when I was resigning from the Makerspace, I was confident that I was making the right decision.

The Brainstorm

Empathise

As two people who frequent markets on an almost weekly basis, accompanied by friends and family, the empathise process for us has been underway long before the conception of our DA idea.

A conversation we always have when we attend the markets goes something along the lines of, “Where do you wan’t to go/eat from/buy __(insert any item here)__?” to which the other person always responds with something like, “I don’t know, there’s too much choice, it all looks so good!” This is typically followed by a lot of aimless wandering as well as ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ over all the wares on offer. A lot of time is wasted before someone proclaims the words “I give up” and tentatively orders something from the nearest stall.

We’re both personally familiar with this overwhelming feeling induced by the markets, and have heard people, countless times, wanting to either give up early or just “get in and get out” because of the chaotic enormity presented by the markets. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear people wishing for an easier experience.

Solution

We want to establish a platform where we can share our experiences at the markets in the Wollongong and Sydney areas. By highlighting the good and the bad at various markets, we can help local market-goers make informed decisions about their shopping. The best way to share our message is through a blog and an Instagram as these afford us an authentic, yet idealised persona in conjunction with aesthetics and accessibility.

Shopping at the markets can be an overwhelming experience. Simple questions such as which markets to go to, and which stalls are the best, have answers that are challenging to find without first making mistakes in choosing where to shop. This produces waste as a result of a distaste for the product and also wastes the consumer’s money which would be better spent elsewhere.

Our DA aims to aid in this process. It will enlighten people as to the best places to shop for what they want, and will also illuminate some hidden gems which might once have been ignored.

At this point, we have so many great ideas we want to pursue that we start to worry we’ve lost the true essence of BCM114: FIST—fast, inexpensive, simple, tiny. So we brainstorm some more…

fist 4.png

Identity

In formulating our identity as a market guide, we explored the digital meme objects associated with the markets. We investigated Instagram pages from food bloggers; from brands which have stalls at the markets; and from the individual markets such as Glebe Markets and the Newcastle Flower Markets.

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Credit: Christina Di Meglio

Some of the most repeated and remixed meme objects include: bright colours, quirky/unusual food, street food, handmade goods, recycled and vintage fashion, cloth bags and flowers. There is also a lot of colour saturated images with a shallow depth of field; the frame often includes someone holding an item in their hands with their body unseen.

Incorporating these meme objects in our DA is critical to progress as they already have established association chains in the schema pre-existing in the minds of our target audience. This will mean an easy acceptance and appreciation of our DA by our audience, and will also result in feedback that enables us to better fortify our image.

We mapped out our target audience by combining the type of person we associate with the aforementioned meme objects with the traits of people we have physically observed at the markets. These ‘real life’ people tend to be women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are environmentally conscious, enjoy organic and gourmet food, support local brands and are into the Indie or vintage ‘scene’.

DA Audience Starter Pack.png
Credit: Maddeleine Johnston

The persona (branding) of our DA will be formulated around these meme objects and this target audience. By incorporating these elements we are able to appeal to our narrow audience in a way that presents an idealised and ‘aesthetic’ market experience whilst also remaining grounded in perceived authenticity.

Take a look and tell us if you think that so far we’ve been successful in achieving this.

DA Posts II.png


If you want to support our DA follow us on Instagram at @finderskeepers_mc . Our website will also be up and running soon.

Happy Potter Strikes Again

Happy Potter.png

Find where I posted it on Imgur

Robert Entman suggests that “to frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text.” That means, to choose key parts of something’s identity and piece them together to create a story which highlights those particular desired aspects. This process enables audiences to make sense of the media they consume based on their own prior understandings.

In this way, the perceived identity/reality of something can be changed if the framing is altered—if different parts are chosen to be highlighted.

We all know Harry Potter to differing degrees. I’ve chosen to re-frame it based around this meme, and the idea that Harry Potter is too ‘dark’ for children. The elements I have changed and introduced (made salient), when compared to the original, portray a new identity. The movie is the same and yet, if my poster was attached to it, Harry Potter would likely be preconceived as another crappy kids movie from the mid-2000s with bland characters and a boring plot line. This is largely due to the audience’s existing schemas of kids/low budget/early 2000s/magic movies.

How would you have felt about the Harry Potter movie franchise if it was originally branded in my style? Let me know in the comments!

When the Cathedral meets the Bazaar

When applying it to the field of communications and media, we like to think of Eric S. Raymond’s concept of the cathedral and of the bazaar as two binary poles. That we can only have one at the exclusion of the other.

It is easy to think this way. The cathedral is symbolic for walled garden media generation. One where everything—contribution, user access points, production processes and feedback loops—is controlled by and visible to a select number of people. The bazaar, however, is a symbol of open garden, open source media production. One where every aspect of creation can be accessed and contributed to, by anyone at any time.

My video demonstrates how these two aspects can be complementary. It shows how my high school Major Design Project was made successful through the incorporation of products resultant from bazaar processes into a cathedral system. This being my combination of the Arduino with codes from GitHub and designs from the Fusion 360 gallery—all of which are open source—with my own iterative design process—which was tightly controlled by myself.

The video itself was inspired by many process videos which came before it.

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In 2017, this Ultra Tune advertisement was aired Australia-wide. It racked up no less than 357 complaints, one of which described it as a “disgusting portrayal of women pandering to a supposed male sexual fantasy about dumb sexy women having a water fight.”

The advertisement was found by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) not to contravene the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) code of ethics. This is in spite of its clear violation of section 2.4 of the code which prohibits images which are “highly sexually suggestive and inappropriate for the relevant audience… [and] not relevant to the product or service being advertised.”

The Ultra Tune ad particularly emphasises the women’s jiggling buttocks and wet shirts.

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These elements, amongst others, strip the women of humanising traits until their only defining feature is their sex appeal, conflating them with objects. An act which is both degrading and exploitive. It is the textbook definition of sexual objectification.

In response to backlash about the depictions, Ultra Tune CEO Sean Buckley commented that, “Women can jump up and down all they want but they’re not our target audience”. He notes that, “the ads work brilliantly” for their target market consisting of “95%” men who he claims “make the automotive decisions”.

What key issues need to be considered?

What Buckley fails to realise is that in being so successful with using sex to sell his company’s services, he is fortifying many social and psychological problems now ingrained in our society.

pexels-photo-568021

Advertisements such as the one from Ultra Tune, relentlessly propagate and normalise the notion that women are in real life what these images portray—sexual and superficial objects which exist for the pleasure of being seen and not heard; that women’s prime and only purpose is as a tool for male arousal.

Women consequently feel pressured to find validation and respect by trying to fulfil these unrealistic sexual and bodily standards.

Women’s Health West remarks that failing in this pursuit often leads to women having a “negative body image” which “can have serious implications for women and girl’s physical and psychological health status, as it is associated with the development of eating disorders, depression, self-harm and suicide.”

It should be noted that in 2018, one year after the release of the Ultra Tune advertisement, the AANA code was updated to specifically restrict the objectification of people. In essence, the portrayal of “sexual appeal which is exploitive and degrading” in advertisements now comes with greater risk for advertisers.

What are the implications for practitioners?

Its a situation of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Advertisers need to weigh up their social responsibility with their responsibility to do their job effectively. They must ask themselves if there is a better, more empowering way in which they could sell their product. A way which would benefit both their work and society equally.

It is important for advertisers to consider that empowerment sells quite well. Adweek conducted a study in which it was found that, “Women ages 18 to 34 are twice as likely to think highly of a brand that made an empowering ad…” It is likely that these favourable thoughts were converted into a multitude of profitable purchases as Forbes asserts positive perception gives brands an edge in the market.

Who wouldn’t feel good about a brand after watching something like this? >>


In an ideal world, advertisers would empower as much as they objectify women in real life. Sadly, given the nature of business, the most universally important answer to the question, ‘If ‘sex sells’, why should advertisers avoid the sexual objectification of women?’ is: ‘because of the new risk—resultant from the updated AANA code—now involved in presenting objectified images in advertising… and perhaps because of a little guilt.’

If you’re an advertiser and you want to avoid the depiction of sexual objectification then you should consider this checklist written by Brian Niselin, and consider it carefully…

…because if you’re not a ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ type of person then hopefully you at least have a ‘try not to f*ck everything up’ kind of philosophy.

A New Reality

TWD.gif

Find my .gif on Giphy

Academics like Henry Jenkins tend to highlight the logistical elements of transmedia narratives. Generally, this includes things like “creating different points of entry for different audience segments” and the creation of “complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories”. Admittedly, many popular franchises come to mind when I think of this, but the one that stays with me is The Walking Dead. Made up of an unending series of comics, two television series, multiple ‘Tell Tale’ video games, and some more unorthodox media formats, Robert Kirkman’s world of the undead has become a great success.

In considering all these elements, the one thing that strikes me most about transmedia storytelling is its propensity to submerge its audiences into a new reality. By propagating many stories from the one world across multiple channels, a filter bubble is created in which what we perceive to be real is altered. In my remediation I wanted to capture this unnerving side of transmedia narratives whilst enmeshed with the typical aspects I mentioned earlier. I wanted to help people realise how chilling it is to truly see and think about the world in a way that is altered by the unreal.

Thats not to say transmedia narratives are bad, I just think we need to consider how they truly affect us.

You Wouldn’t Steal a Hedwig

Copyright aims to control the spread of memes because the industry wants to control content and ideas. My remediation this week is an example of how this model of highly restrictive copyright is incompatible with the internet.

The internet is open source, no matter how much big businesses try to create control and scarcity. Produsers, such as myself, will always find a way to take someone else’s content and remix it into their own new creation. The internet is optimised for this. There are thousands of online tools available which facilitate the ripping, mixing and mashing of online content. In the battle between prosumers and industry, participatory culture and monopolised material, open and closed formats, the algorithmic measures taken by sites such as YouTube and Soundcloud are insufficient. This week I was told that copyright aims to protect creators but the internet undermines this. Anyone can take an iconic theme song and use an online mashup tool to mix it with a warning video about piracy to create the world’s most ironic banger.

World of Internet Warcraft

The rise of digital and social media has led to a change in how messages, ideas and ideologies are propagated. Anyone with these technologies can produce, aggregate and curate content, without being a professional communicator, and I was inspired this week to do just that.

The information people want to portray can be easily packaged as memes and presented to the consumer, relentlessly injecting that message into the minds of many, thus regimenting the public’s mindset. This process can be used as a more perverted and pervasive form of psychological warfare due to its open-access, and far-reaching attributes—known as meme warfare. Meme warfare can have real and serious consequences without the consumer ever knowing they are being influenced, which only enhances how dangerous this digital weapon can be.

My video is, in itself, an example of how easy it is for an amateur to create what they want for their own agenda and share it with an audience, and influence how people think. I also hope to raise people’s awareness of this topic because in the age of the internet, gullibility will be the death of reason.