prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for September, 2010

C 3-D PO coming to a screen near you

Posted by prof e on September 29, 2010

Lucasfilm Ltd. just announced that the Star Wars films are being remastered in 3-D and will be released in theaters in 2012. The work is being performed by the team at Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.

According to the Star Wars website,
There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Podrace, the Star Wars Saga has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive. Presented by Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd., the cutting edge conversion will take that immersion to the next thrilling level, with Industrial Light & Magic supervising the project.Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is expected to be released theatrically in 2012.
According to the website The Wrap, IL&M visual effects supervisor John Knoll “told Variety that there are no plans to add or fix visual effects in the films, which should please fans who were upset when Lucas made a few digital tweaks to the original trilogy.”  Unfortunately, that means we’ll have to endure Jar Jar Binks once again! Oh well, hopefully the fly-throughs will make it all worthwhile.

Posted in film, media industry, new media | 22 Comments »

Mocking the legislative process, or just having a little fun?

Posted by prof e on September 25, 2010

Fake news shows on Comedy Central, e.g. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, have a history of poking fun at news-makers, politicians, the media, and the whole news-as-entertainment phenomenon. But when Stephen Colbert testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law yesterday, some saw it as mockery of an institution that should be above the cheap laughs and clever word-play that are standard fare for comedians.

Colbert, who stayed in character for his entire testimony, spoke about the difficult working conditions that migrant farm workers endure. Allegedly Colbert testified from personal experience after spending a day working in the fields beside migrant workers. But with his typical dead-pan delivery of a script that was clearly more about laughs than substance, few in the room seemed prepared to take his testimony seriously. You can watch a news clip of his testimony here.

This led some critics to call the appearance, “a huge waste of taxpayer time and money” and others to call it an embarrassment. But apparently this is not the first time that a committee hearing featured an entertainer who was invited to entertain. Sesame Street‘s Elmo excepted, most celebrity witnesses testify from an area of expertise. What do you think? Does one day in a bean field give Colbert the kind of credibility necessary for an appearance on Capitol Hill?

Posted in journalism, media industry, politics | 19 Comments »

Dot. A very cool stop-motion animated viral video

Posted by prof e on September 18, 2010

Check this out. Nokia asked Oscar-winning film makers Aardman Animations – the guys behind Wallace and Gromit – to create an animated short to celebrate the Nokia N8’s 12 mega-pixel camera and a specially designed microscope. The cell phone camera and microscope can be used for a lot of things, including remote diagnosis of medical conditions for people in remote areas of the world.

Watch the short animation, then watch the making of…

The short film is in the Book of Guinness World Records as officially “the world’s smallest stop motion character animation.” This is also related to our discussion of social media because the viral success of this short animation is bringing a lot of attention to Nokia and their new phone. Pretty cool, eh? What could you shoot with your cell phone camera?

Posted in film, interactive media, new media, social media | 17 Comments »

Misogynistic Hip-Hop Lyrics: What’s the Big Deal?

Posted by prof e on September 14, 2010

In class today we discussed the prevalence of misogynistic lyrics in rap and hip-hop music. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to hear from more than a few of you, and I’m curious about what others think about this issue. To rephrase the issue, is it okay for popular rap and hip-hop artists to denigrate women? If so, are women paying a price for accepting attitudes and images that reduce them to sex objects and second-class citizens? And if not, why do people defend the music and the musicians that perpetrate these images? Before you weigh in, watch this five minute video on YouTube:

Before posting a reply remember that this is not a forum to attack a culture, subculture, ethnic group or individuals belonging to any group. Keep your comments civil and attack the issues…not other posters.

Posted in media effects, media industry, music, regulation, Uncategorized | 47 Comments »

Book Burning, the 1st Amendment, and Global Media

Posted by prof e on September 8, 2010

In case you haven’t heard, a pastor of a small church in Florida is planning to burn copies of the Qur’an on Saturday, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The thing that makes this isolated incident the focus of our attention is that media attention is turning this into a global news story that will be seen by millions of Muslims around the world. And what they see will likely inflame passionate anger directed at the US. The Qur’an is a book, and books are a form of media. So in one sense this is a media story about media coverage of an act that involves the desecration of a media artifact.

Burning patriotic or religious symbols is nothing new. Flags and effigies of heads-of-state are commonly burned to send strong messages of disapproval to the “other side.” In America, the 1st Amendment’s protection of free speech specifically protects these kinds of political acts and we have a long history of protecting speech that is highly offensive. And while no one is debating the “right” of this pastor and his congregants to burn the Qur’an, many are critical of his decision to do something that will be seen as an extremely offensive act to millions of Muslims around the world. Much like the discussion of the mosque proposed for construction near Ground Zero, the right to proceed is not  in question, but the appropriateness of the act certainly is. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and General Petraeus have publicly condemned the proposed burning and have asked the pastor to reconsider. General Petraeus went to far as to say that the burning will endanger the lives of US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Book burning has a long and sordid history of its own…but to fully understand the gravity of this situation one needs to understand the esteem that Muslims have for  their sacred scripture. In 2005 a firestorm of controversy erupted in Muslim countries when it was reported that a copy of the Qur’an was flushed down a toilet in the process of interrogating an enemy combatant at Gitmo. While the Pentagon has been unable to find credible evidence that the desecration took place, the response was rioting that led to many deaths. If the book burning takes place this Saturday, the response may make the 2005 riots look like child’s play.

Of course, without media coverage this isolated incident would happen in a vacuum. Just like a tree falling in an empty forest, the silence would be deafening. But that is not the case in a world of 24/7 news coverage with instantaneous global reach. Secretary of State Clinton asked the media to deny coverage as an act of patriotism, but she knows that won’t happen. The Associated Press quoted Secretary Clinton as saying,

“It is regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Fla., with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distrustful, disgraceful plan and get the world’s attention, but that’s the world we live in right now,” Clinton said. “It is unfortunate, it is not who we are.”

So what do you think? Is this a case where the 1st Amendment goes too far, protecting speech that does not deserve protection? Or is this the very essence of the kind of political protest that the Founding Fathers so passionately intended to protect?

Posted in 1st amendment, journalism, media effects, media industry, new media, politics | 12 Comments »

Craigslist self-censors adult services listings

Posted by prof e on September 6, 2010

Craigslist, the popular online classified advertising service, has decided to pull adult services listings that have been used by those engaging in prostitution and the sex trade industries. In response to criticism from celebrities and politicians, and facing legal battles from a consortium of 17 attorneys general, Craigslist decided to switch rather than fight. This is despite the fact that the adult services section brought in more than $36m last year, approximately 30 percent of their total revenue.

With a graphic of the word “censored” replacing the listing for adult services, Craigslist indicated an unwillingness to fight a legal challenge that it might actually win if it went to trial. Current regulation of the internet is essentially “hands-off” and does not hold bulletin boards and other listing services responsible for content posted by users. However, it is likely that the media attention focused on the Craigslist Killer, a man accused of robbing and killing prostitutes contacted through Craigslist, was a significant factor in turning public opinion against the classified ad service. Critics claimed that Craigslist facilitated the victimization of women.

Will this be a game-changer for those who want to sell sex online? Many worry that those involved in the sex trade business will simply go underground, move to other online sites, or even find other places on Craigslist to ply their trade.

Here’s a news story from CBS News.

Posted in 1st amendment, advertising, interactive media, new media, regulation, social media, websites | 8 Comments »