COM 208: Media & Culture

Chapter 1
2008 revenues of five largest media companies

  • Disney, $37.8 billion
  • Time Warner, $35.6 billion
  • News Corp., $33 billion
  • Google, $21.8 billion
  • Viacom, $14.6 billion

American mass media companies earn more than $200 billion every year

  • What impact do these companies have on Americans? and on society?
  • What is the impact of popular culture on the cultural environment?
  • What is the difference between popular forms of culture and so-called “higher” forms of culture?

Survey – hours spent per year using consumer media (TV, broadcast and satellite radio, newspaper, Internet, books, video games)

  • 1999 – 3,280 hours per year or 8.98 hours per day.
  • 2011 – 3,505 hours per year or 9.6 hours per day.

Is popular culture overwhelming higher culture?
Example: American television exposes viewers to “thousands of hours of trivial TV commercials, violent crime dramas, and superficial ‘reality’ programs.”

Four values or features of post-modern era

  • Populism. Blurring lines between high and low culture (Chuck Berry), the comic and the serious (Fargo, Juno), fact and fiction (infotainment, infomercials), staged and real (Real World), serious and comic (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report).
  • Recycling culture. Borrowing and transforming earlier ideas (sampling old R&B, soul and rock classics, making movies out of old TV series (The Brady Bunch, Mission Impossible, Charlie’s Angels).
  • Questioning science. Rejecting rational thought (The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire, Medium, Lost).
  • Acknowledging paradox. During the modern period, writers and artists warned that machines isolate us and cause people to lose their jobs. Now, during the post-modern era, we’re not as skeptical of machines. We are nostalgic for the past, but embrace new technologies (iPhones, Facebook, Twitter)

Media convergence – two definitions

  • Technological merging of content. Example: Magazine articles and radio programs are also available on the Internet
  • A business model involving consolidation of media holdings – such as cable, phone, television and Internet services – under one corporate umbrella

2 thoughts on “COM 208: Media & Culture

  1. Pingback: COM 208: Midterm review | Writing • Photography • Blogs • Journalism

  2. Pingback: COM 208: Media & Culture – chapters 2 through 8 | Writing • Photography • Blogs • Journalism

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