Archive for October, 2010


My life, according to Disney

I love my niece, Maria. I love babysitting her, too. What I don’t love, is babysitting her when she’s exhausted. She’s quite busy for a nine-year-old, so this occurs with alarming frequency. When she’s tired, she just wants to zone out to the Disney channel. She zones out, while I attempt to tune it out.

Then, Miley Cyrus squawks an annoying melody through the speakers. “YEAAAAAAAHHHHH IT’S A PARTY IN THE USA!!!!”

Despite my best efforts, my eyes slowly and dreadfully ascend from my computer to the TV screen. A girl who looks no older than 15 is convulsing and yelping a song beneath 58 pounds of makeup, and has garnered every bit of attention from my niece. This might be the most disturbing scene I’ve observed all month. And that month includes me seeing the new Jackass movie in 3-D.

When did Disney become MTV for third graders? Why do third graders NEED an MTV? Perhaps it derives from a child’s fascination with adolescence, and wanting to adhere to teenage trends. Hopefully, I can extrapolate this progression, and she’ll be a responsible adult by age 14. But, the likelihood, is that most of society will wind up elongating their teenage years from ages 9 through 29. *Sigh*

Is Disney passively trying to make this new generation of children grow up too quickly? Did they do that to me? Not to my knowledge. When I was nine, I was immersed in movies like Toy Story, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Disney didn’t necessarily preach the same culture as it is today, but it could have been just as misleading.

According to Disney, my life will probably be defined by a coming-of-age archetypal journey to either reclaim what has been unjustly revoked from me, or to rescue a woman in distress for my own personal benefit. I’ll more often than not be betrayed by someone in my extended family, i.e., a wicked stepmother, or a flamboyant and power-hungry uncle. Accompanying me on this journey will be one or two buffoons of best friends who will usually have nothing to offer but clever one-liners and catch phrases, most-likely spouted during a comical chase scene, or preceding a musical montage to portray my preparation for a momentous event.

 

(I’m actually quite frightened at how accurately the last statement parallels my life…)

Can you imagine if I was a woman brought up in this culture? If I took Disney plots seriously, I would have to wait all the way until they made Mulan to understand that my life could have a purpose other than being a damsel in distress. Forget about taking my problems into my own hands, because if I wait around long enough, a prince will come and rescue me and take care of everything. His mere presence will erase everything that I had endured prior to his arrival. As a man, is that really what’s expected of me according to Disney? To assume the responsibility of other people and to not have them correctly address their own fate? What is this?

One of the few redeeming aspects is that other people are receptive to these trends. Please note that while I may not agree with every point the article I hyperlinked makes, but I find it encouraging that not everyone blindly accepts ideals that we’re subjected to.

I’m staring disappointingly at the TV screen, but shake it off. Disney is not imposing anything onto us. As long as we have the remote control in our hands and as long as it is up to us to take the initiative to buy movie tickets, we cannot fault anyone for producing something that we don’t necessarily agree with. Put the responsibility of shaping children in the hands of the parents, not the media. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to watch.

All that said, we could use more movies like Up and Wall-E. Just saying…

With each passing year, millions of tech-savvy and efficiency-obsessed Americans demand and obtain closer glances into the future.

This is one of those glances. This is the future of journalism.

Hear me out…

150 million people use social networking sites. Baroness Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Oxford, fears over-usage will harm attention spans.

These sites provide means of keeping in touch with friends by sharing photos, posting links, and concisely (and constantly) updating statuses.

Twitter, the fastest-growing of all of these sites, has over 190 million users, and updates them in “tweets” never exceeding 140 characters.

Many of these Twitter accounts act as extensions of other media companies, who use Twitter as an effective means to relay information.

With the possibility of having a society with a severely reduced attention span, who’s to say that all journalism won’t be condensed to blurbs?

Will a society that seems more concerned about headlines instead of articles finally get their way?

Will we lose valuable personal interaction skills to the point where “word-of-mouth” becomes virtually obsolete?

Americans are already so bored of bipartisan coverage of internal and world issues, that we only want “news” if it’s entertaining or shocking.

Try to find a general American news outlet that wouldn’t cover a juicy celebrity scandal, and dare say that it is not an important issue.

Try to find a neutral debate show that doesn’t have two opponents trying to out-scream each other.

USA Today is one of America’s most popular newspapers. I’m convinced it has more pictures than text.

Would you rather read books, or cliff notes?

Hear speeches, or sound-bytes?

Do we want the whole story, or what we want to hear?


You can use this article as a test run. Every paragraph meets the 140 character limit of a “tweet.” How do you feel?

Informed? Efficient? Interested?

…Dizzy?

This is not a lament about social networking sites. This is a lament about the deteriorating quality of American journalism.

This is a lament about the people that stopped reading this article after 140 characters.

And if the media only aim to give the public what it wants, where then, does the true responsibility lie?

Read into this article closely.

Closer…

CLOSER…

So close that you can actually see your reflection in the computer screen.

Now in more than 140 characters, decide where to get your facts.



“You want the NFL? GO to the NFL”

For just about every week in August and September, commercials with this tag-line uttered by a raspy, bellowing voice that sounded like a poor man’s James Earl Jones would impose itself in the middle of just about every sports-related telecast I’d watch. GO to the NFL? Did I really have to? It seems like the NFL will GO to me. Between Twitter, Facebook, the radio, VH1 reality shows, billboard ads, blogs, cereal boxes, newspapers, television, and restaurants named after football stars, I don’t really have much of a choice but to GO to the NFL whether I want it or not.

But do I want it? Yeah…yeah, I do.

Needless to say, I GO-ed to the NFL. The first day of football games provided tons of events and excitement that I couldn’t keep track of by only watching one game. I logged into the overly advertised NFL Game Center, which is a web-page that gives play-by-play updates of every game you want to follow, and compliments it with video highlights, game statistics, and a comment box for discussion. After the game is finished, the page looks like this example.  Related videos such as post-game press conferences and game analysis are added as well.

If football is an addiction, then this website is the opposite of rehab. Just about every media use is included right within the confines of one page.  It not only gives you all the information you could possibly want out of the game, but it does it by automatically refreshing itself after every play, saving you the arduous task of clicking a button. It surveys over an event we otherwise have no means of watching, and allows us to discuss it with other fans, providing us with hours of potentially entertaining distractions.

The Game Center function is a great addition to any fan’s Sunday afternoon, but it is far from perfect. If people only want to know the simplest summation of a football game, namely the “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where”, then this site is perfect. However, if one wanted the true essence, the “how” or “why”, then this does not provide a great substitute for sitting in front of a TV set. Game Center attemtps to solve this problem by offering video highlights as the game goes on, but they’re few in number, and never in a timely fashion.

There is potential for intelligent discussion in the comment box they provide, but it’s typically polluted with nonsensical trash talk or ignorantly biased interpretations of statistics or plays, usually laden with numerous spelling and grammatical errors. These are posts that are probably written by people that look like this:

Fans sometimes need to rely on other fans for an accurate depiction of a game, but the NFL seems to care more about allowing anyone a voice rather than just civilized people. More filters and moderation of the chat-boxes would be a great improvement.

 

That being said, all of these subtle imperfections is great news for the NFL. Their Game Center is not perfect, but the fact that there are people (sad ones like myself) who have an insatiable appetite for the content they provide, must speak worlds about what they are doing perfectly. They continue to reap the success of putting their seal on America’s most popular sport by being the most profitable sports league. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy a bowl of Ochocinc-O’s. Yes, they do exist unfortunately…