Friday, December 31, 2010

Curtain Call

Isle Wight Festival 2010 /36Image by joedawson via Flickr
As we were seeing in the New Year at a friends house, we weren't required to participate in any of the organisation.

Instead we went to Bluewater, the aim to pass the time more than anything but there was potential to find last minute purchases in the sales. I wasn't motivated to buy something purely for the sake of having a new outfit for the evening, but if I were to have found anything I would have considered! To be fair, I have been disappointed in the sales this month, especially as it's expected that consumers will take a breather from spending in the early stages of 2011.

Distancing from the state of the economy, I have really enjoyed the past year! Other than the occasional difficulties gaining access to the children, I have met someone that inspires and makes me very happy. Without her influence, the likelihood is that I would have never considered higher education. I feel energised, confident and feel our relationship can become even stronger!

I'm sure there will be challenges ahead, we're both open minded about the future and still trying to find our place in another city. I also hope that I will be able to work around studies, mainly because I want a holiday and to experience more of The North. Anyway, let's give this year a decent send off first...
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kinect and Beyond

200 pxImage via Wikipedia
Everyone received various DVD's this Christmas and we have been watching them over the last few days. Toy Story 3 being a popular choice, the story continues the adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy's toys. We were really moved at various parts of this amazing sequel, especially the final scenes which brought us to tears and I was left wanting my own Spanish mode! This was one of only a few movies that had me watching all of the bonus material and additional footage. The trilogy is an absolute masterpiece!

On a similar populist note, Xbox Kinect has also proved to be popular and the children - of all ages - have participated in the action! I'm hoping this won't be another present that the children take home, that will either disappear or gather dust! From their reaction to the add-on that seems unlikely which is good news. We have played an excessive amount, especially today at my brothers which was enjoyable. Mario Kart was introduced and remains a firm favourite, my son actually had some competition for once! Although he let himself down at times with his rants and outbursts when not finishing in first place. At least with the children's renewed interest in the Xbox platform, the console potentially opens up another method of communication from university!
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's That Time

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...Image via WikipediaLast night was memorable but not for the reasons I had foreseen! I began the evening travelling to Crayford to be reacquainted with friends for the usual Christmas Eve gathering. By midnight I was the designated driver, taking friends to other venues, my girlfriend and her crowd required assistance and in the early hours I rescued her sister from the elements.

I didn't mind because I was still wrapping presents then anyway! Driving around isn't exactly a challenge but to the people walking in the road to avoid the ice, you are NOT in a car!

Sadly I didn't get vajazzle for Christmas, I was obviously really disappointed but I was satisfied with what I did receive from everyone regardless. Especially the presents from my girlfriend, one of which was a book, like the one featured in the movie Up, containing many of her favourite moments we have shared this past year! I also received gifts from The Gorillaz and The Klaxons, both releasing free material to mark the occasion.

Arrangements with my children's mother are always complex and the outcome was frustrating, especially as both children were clearly over the events of the day and burnt out when they arrived at mine. My son tore through the presents with minimal interest, although the potato gun I purchased appeared to be popular! Least I will get to spend the duration with them tomorrow..

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Keeping With Tradition

Christmas StockingImage by joedawson via Flickr
I had intended to browse stores for last minute offers in Bromley, but everything closing early didn't help that cause. Even if I had better planned I wouldn't have purchased much because an unexpected loan repayment caught me more unprepared than had I contracted herpes. I had spoken to the loan provider prior to this but a miscalculation and an oversight means that I will be depending on Santa to produce the goods tomorrow.

At least I was able to leave a present; I decided against any awkward situation and left the gift at the front door! I was disappointed about the loan repayment, but meeting the children and taking the traditional Christmas Stocking photo made me haps again. They're spending Christmas Eve with their mother this year, which means that I will have an extended night with friends.

Looking forward to seeing them because being at university I haven't spoken to them as frequently as I would have liked. Hoping that tonight will be a memorable one...
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Better Watch Out

OllyImage by joedawson via Flickr
Last minute Christmas shopping is rarely enjoyable, but other than the excessive traffic outside Lakeside it's been bearable!

We even met Olly Murrs, willing to be photographed and out shopping for essentials! Christmas had come early for my girlfriend who was eager to have her photo taken with the X Factor finalist. Providing instant bragging rights as one of her friends believes that she's in a relationship with the singer-songwriter.

Unable to find exactly what I'm looking for in Thurrock, I headed to Bluewater with my brother, who treated me to a new pair of shoes. Very nice of him! The pair I was wearing had seen better days, although the Urban Outfitters team thought otherwise, displaying them for everyone to see?!

I'm really excited about Christmas now that I have made some progress, but I still feel short on presents. I have presents for the daughter of my ex-girlfriend, even though no real effort is made with my children. I understand the different circumstances involved though! I'm hoping that all the children appreciate what has been brought for them as Christmas is all about them...
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Monday, December 20, 2010

One More Time

Daft PunkImage by joedawson via Flickr
Being a student can seriously damage your health, so today I made an appointment to visit the Dentist. Not sure what happened but as I'm entitled to free NHS dental treatment I'm not going to be shy! The children had visited and to pass the time, before the appointment, I helped them construct several masks from boxes. For the purpose of entertainment I made them wear the masks to the Dentist surgery, sitting in the waiting area I felt like I was with the Daft Punk duo. Alternatively, I could also have been interpreting Michael Jackson, who famously made his children wear masks in public. Either way, I thought it was comical and people in the surgery appeared to as well. After speaking with the surgeon and being patched up (again), we were off to share our creativity with the World. I was disappointed that the mask they had created for my head, didn't fit properly but I don't think wearing a cardboard box whilst driving would have been the safest!
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Driving Home

Driving Home For ChristmasImage by joedawson via Flickr
I'm sure I heard several times before the journey home for Christmas that I wouldn't be driving the duration with no conversation and a sleeping passenger. That commitment lasted thirty minutes, I wouldn't have minded but being in the North, other than Radio 1 in the evening the other stations aren't much to write about. 

When home I usually listen to XFM London but that's not an option until close to the capital. I could have drove home in the evening but I had tickets for Young Rebel Set, who were performing at Koko, London. Fortunately I did have her company for the majority of the route, and if I'm honest if I had been the passenger I would have slept because it's a long journey! Eventually arriving home we rested briefly before heading back to Camden for the Young Rebel Set performance. I had also won (yet) another competition, Ellie Goulding at Propaganda but decided that we were too tired to participate. Young Rebel Set were great, their song If I Was is a personal favourite and they finished their set with that track. Afterwards, we walked the streets in the cold before meeting relatives/friends and heading home on the night bus! I suppose tomorrow I should consider Christmas shopping...
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mo Money Mo Problems

Emiliano Zapata sporting a wide "Hungaria...Image via Wikipedia
During November I attempted to grow a moustache, I wasn't impressed with the effort but I managed to earn some moola for The Prostate Cancer Charity. I participated with Club Moustache, through the Movember website and had every intention to attend the moustache shaving party that was organised, but the snow ended that spectacle. Last night the remainder of our group that had either not gone home; been kicked out of university; travelled to China for an arranged marriage; or just turned their back on our advances headed to The Faversham to participate in Club Moustache. I was disappointed that Kopparberg wasn't available, according to the bartender the popular cider isn't a serving choice but that wasn't the case when Rebel Bingo visited Leeds! I was bursting with enthusiasm for the evening, I had finally received the Student Grant and Maintenance Loan that I had been owed for the entire semester. Pointless being provided at the end of the year but makes Christmas that much better! The night was average but there was a minor disagreement between our friend and an ex of a former girlfriend?! Someone obviously didn't inform the guy that our friend has the self-proclaimed 'hardest punch' in Bolton! Thankfully this didn't make an appearance, for the sake of everyone in attendance!
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Monday, December 13, 2010

How New Are New Media? (Essay)

Emergency "Twitter was down so I wrote my...Image via WikipediaThe transmission of data between two different locations isn’t a new method of communication; the concept actually pre-dates the introduction of the first computers. ‘Telegraph systems and telex machines can be considered early precursors of this kind of communication’ (Wikipedia, 2010, [Internet]). The expansion of the Internet in the 1990’s and the ‘Dot-com bubble’ have had a significant impact on culture and communication. The world of computer hardware, software, email and social networks is for most the latest communication and information frontier. The novelty aspect is there but how new is new media?

All media were once “new media”; to understand what can be considered as emergent media we have to distinguish new media from traditional media. ‘Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and, allegedly, impartial. New media is not television programs, feature films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications - unless they contain technologies that enable digital interactivity, such as graphic tags containing web-links’ (Wikipedia, 2010, [Internet]). The main threat to traditional media will be its ability to understand, implement and embrace these new interactive tools. The Internet gives people the opportunity to share their knowledge; blogging, microblogging, social networks and web streaming are revolutionising the publishing world. The abundance of personal choices in communication is slowly draining the profit from traditional mainstream media. Communicating through traditional media, professional journalists gather and report the news they deem newsworthy, publishing content through large corporations, “new media” alternatively enables the audience to become the media themselves. The free exchange of information online enables anyone or any idea to “go viral” and become a global phenomenon. There has been a great deal of discussion in recent years about globalization. Technology, most notably the Internet, is perhaps the most visible aspect of this and in many ways it’s driving force. The Internet has continued to mature and experience growth, driven by consumption, with greater amounts of online information, knowledge and the emergence of social networks and Web 2.0 applications. Web 2.0 is a term commonly associated with user-generated content and interactive web applications, although it’s wrong to make the assumption that this is the second generation of the World Wide Web.

Facebook and Twitter are the obvious examples, both gaining popularity with Internet users and experiencing growth at an explosive rate. Comedian Jimmy Carr summarised the popularity of the two most influential social networking sites at Engage 2010. “No one will overtake Facebook and Twitter," said Carr. "They're like The Beatles and Elvis. They were the first” (Internet Advertising Bureau, 2010, [Internet]). The debate over whether they’re fads or sustainable business models has yet to be resolved. Their popularity though is indisputable, and they have become synonymous with the new media revolution. Twitter incidentally still doesn’t have a use case, which is categorical with new media - ‘We might say that new media, when they first emerge, pass through a phase of identity crisis, a crisis precipitated at least by the uncertain status of the given medium in relation to established, known media and their functions’ (Gitelman, Lisa. and Pingree, Geoffrey, 2003, [Internet]). Although vastly popular, “new media” often prefer imitation to innovation, acquiring talent and popular start-up services instead of unveiling untested products developed in-house. Facebook even attempted to acquire Twitter in 2008, back when the microblogging service was first gaining traction, for $500 million of its stock, which also included a cash component (Swisher, 2008, [Internet]). They often advertise their newness by depicting old media. The first printed books looked like manuscripts, radios played phonograph records, and the Web has "pages." Through this constant imitation, technological advances reinforce the age-old adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. Admittedly the rise of new media has increased communication between people all over the world. Facebook and Twitter being an ideal way to generate interest, engage the audience and draw them in through participation, discussion and debate. The audience has a relentless demand for information, as it happens, which has seen the emergence of the real-time web as the Holy Grail. This enables users to receive information and provide feedback as soon as it’s published, rather than through a system that periodically checks for updates. The most successful examples of real-time web are Facebook's newsfeed and Twitter. This approach makes the experience more like instant messaging with the benefits being increased user engagement, although reliability of the source is often brought into question.

It’s interesting how the focus tends to be different between traditional and new media organisations. The emphasis of new media is on the personal brand, the ability for the journalist to have their own voice and engage readers which isn’t the case at traditional media companies. Traditional media is elitist in topics, language, scope, circulation and outlook. Being new means more democratic, providing space and voice to others. Lisa Gitelman and Goeffrey Pingree argue that no medium new or old exists as a static form. The emergence of a new medium is always the occasion for the shaping of a new community or set of communities, a new equilibrium. A new medium offers positive and negative possibilities, instances of both risk and potential. The Internet offers unprecedented possibilities for communication, but still has the ability to threaten national or ethnic cultural traditions and provoke backlash on privacy in this “connected” age.

To conclude, this essay set out to understand the “newness” of new media. As Walter Benjamin cautions, "Newness is a quality independent of the use value of the commodity” (Benjamin, 1940, p. 11) Are there new problems in “new media” or is it the same kind of problems only in a new setting? It’s all down to a matter of emphasis. Many are using new media and interacting with “user-generated” content and treating it as something new and that has to be taken into consideration. Overall “new media” is an evolution of existing practices with the objective to monetize and distribute content.

Benjamin, Walter. (1940) The Arcades Project. Eiland, Howard. and McLaughlin, Kevin. (ed.) trans, Tiedemann, Rolf. (1999) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, p. 11.

Gitelman, Lisa. and Pingree, Geoffrey. (2003) What's New About New Media? New Media, 1740-1915. [Internet] < > [Accessed 10 December]

Internet Advertising Bureau. (2010) ‘Facebook and Twitter are ‘like Elvis.’ [Internet] < > [Accessed 10 December]

Swisher, Kara. (2008) ‘When Twitter Met Facebook: The Acquisition Deal That Fail-Whaled.’ Boom Town. [Internet] < > [Accessed 10 December 2010]
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Got There Eventually..

Party BoyImage by joedawson via Flickr
The previous attempt to experience The Cockpit, Leeds - it ended rather badly before I had even entered the venue. Several months later, potentially one of the last nights out this semester and we finally returned to enjoy the festivities! According to the invitation this was the Christmas special, Sherry was being offered and that was enough to convince us that this required participation. At first the venue appeared to be quite cramped but they opened up the larger room and everyone piled onto the dance floor to unleash shapes! Our friend from Bolton wasn't impressed, instead of enjoying the music being played, he opted instead to listen to his iPhone Playlist and move around like imitating Liam Gallagher! He soon realised this was rather unsociable and involved himself with the wider circle. Quite a few people from my Media course were there, I groped one of the guys who believed it to be a group of females in close proximity. Not sure how that ended but we left before the end of the night and met another friend to assist with our after party arrangements..
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Shooting Stars

Leeds Ment Students' Union logoImage via Wikipedia
At the start of the semester, I registered interest in working for Leeds Met Students' Union and Leeds Metropolitan University. They were seeking outgoing, capable and committed students per Faculty to become Faculty Student Academic Representatives (STARs) for the year 2010/11. I haven't had to do too much, but this week I was required to participate in an annual review as part of a Student Focus Group. It was interesting and I was able to put forward suggestions and feedback. Earlier in the semester I created a Facebook Group for everyone on my course, this has proved to be essential in generating discussion and understanding everyone's views. I also wanted to be able to arrange nights out, but that aspect hasn't been successful! University, I felt would be about continually meeting new people, but it seems that most are content with who they know. Maybe I'm not cool enough though! Writing this post about Student Academic Representatives (STARs), I have learnt that there's a cash incentive involved which adds to the appeal of contributing as a figurehead of the course.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Moving Forward (Assignment)

Scenario Concepts: We considered various scenarios and settings that would provide relevance with our target audience and referenced what we have been introduced to through the duration of the module. We examined several different concepts, before deciding on what would generate the most interest between our desired age category -

University / Societies - Building on the popularity of shows like Skins, The Inbetweeners and Hollyoaks but basing the theme on universities and societies.

Emergency Services - An alternative to Casualty, Scrubs, ER and London's Burning that incorporates every service.

Sailing Community - A glamorous setting that could be the UK alternative to The Hills.

Cartoon - This option would provide flexibility, creative freedom and unlimited boundaries to create any setting and culture.

Olympics - This would promote the games, athletics - what happens during the build up to games.

Rap Scene (East London) - Struggle for acceptance - pioneering a music scene.

We decided that the University / Societies setting was the most attractive concept for our target audience. This was because it would build on a genre that they would be familiar with and tackle issues that were important. We felt that the show should be UK based and provide an alternative perspective on how UK universities differ from their American counterpart. We also felt that through education we would be able to incorporate aspects of the other scenarios - studying to become a doctor; the athletics star working towards the Olympics; music production and attempting to make a break in the industry.

Title Semiotics: We choose the title Forward because the definition provided semiotics that we felt were relevant to our show.

As sign users we were able to identify many meanings that we felt were relevant. We applied the theory that Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguistic, introduced and founded for many significant developments in linguistics in the twentieth century.

A few examples from the free dictionary definition -

The notion of progress; being in front: moving towards a point
Being in front of trends: student protests being a political example
Deviating radically from convention or tradition: providing a different, possibly extreme approach to tackling issues
Moving in a prescribed direction: A clock and cassette are mentioned which we have referenced in our radio advert
Sports references which relate to the various sports played by societies

Promotion / Airplay: Ask some businesses about radio advertising and they will tell you it's the greatest investment they have ever made, while others will tell you it's a complete waste of time and money. We feel that radio isn't an ideal method of advertising a television show, especially when the radio commercial would be paired with multiple advertisements aiming to stand out! This meant that we needed to inspire and also extend the listening experience.

We wrote down a detailed description of our core audience and the potential time they would be listening to the radio.

As the advert would be aired on national syndicated radio, we decided on the 19:00 - 00:00 time slot.

We also wanted to extend the listening experience for our audience and make the radio advert more interactive. We opted for social media channels, they're easily accessible and provide scalable publishing techniques. This would provide additional content for the show and enable them to share with their network, thus raising exposure of the show.

Production: We used Cubase 4 which is music software, developed by Steinberg for music recording, arranging and editing as part of Digital Audio Workstation to produce the advert.

Music: The intro to the advert is Imagine (1971) by John Lennon, with lyrics 'you may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one,' we felt that it signified aspirations and dreams about achievement. The lyrics mention not being the 'only one' which we felt related; being at university with others and working towards a better future. The chords for Imagine were later sampled by Oasis, in their track Don't Look Back In Anger (1996). The voices of my children accompanied the sample to imply childhood memories and not looking back in anger! The second sample is the Gives You Hell (2008) chords by All American Rejects, selected because the track implies rebellion and being given hell when being confronted!

Media Studies: We wanted to portray images of 'youth-as-trouble' and 'youth-as-fun' through the advert, suggested in wider reading material from Media studies: texts, institutions, and audiences. By Lisa Taylor and Andrew Willis.

Narratives: The voices provide the dreams of a child and the struggles of a teenager trying to make the right choices.

Movie References: We referenced movie dialogue throughout the script that would be instantly recognisable within the advert. These were the movies Fight Club (1999) and Trainspotting (1996), the repetition providing the listener with choices.

Sound Effects: We added cassette fast forward and vinyl fade out sound effects. Both being retro and iconic from youth, and Forward being the name of the show also influenced this decision!
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Free Citizens or Cultural Dupes (Essay)

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)Image via Wikipedia
Many people don't believe that they're susceptible to being influenced, let alone manipulated, by advertising. Are consumers compelled to buy and use products even though they can see through what is regarded as the triumph of advertising in the culture industry? ‘The social studies approach tends to see the consumer a ‘cultural dupe’ manipulated by advertising and the social world’ (Slater, 1997, pp. 33-34). ‘The contemporary dominant approach in social studies sees the consumer as self-reflective, active agent who is able to create new meanings and take critical distance to mass media and advertising’ (Lash & Urry, 1994, p. 4). The Introducing Cultural Studies module looks specifically at the critique of a key group of critical theorists (Max Horkheimer, Theodore Adorno, Walter Benjamin) who employed a neo-Marxist approach to interrogate culture after the second World War. The Orson Welles film, F For Fake (1974), a documentary, which could also be described as an “essay” or “essay film”, was shown and provided validity for the system.

As a case study I associate with the movie Fight Club (1999), I’m not a person that displays multiple distinct identities or personalities, instead I relate to how the movie has helped define a generation. The director David Fincher intended Fight Club’s violence to serve as a metaphor for the conflict between a generation of young people and the value system of advertising. Fincher puts forward a cynical view of the world in which people are at the mercy of big corporations and have no individual power. The narrator “Jack”, struggling with insomnia, on a meaningless pursuit of purpose and fulfilment has reached a point in his life that is devoid of meaning. He begins to reject the consumerism that has enslaved him and subconsciously creates an alter ego, Tyler Durden. Fight Club has various meanings, primarily about masculinity, constructing the male identity, specifically the working class or ‘slaves with white collars’ (Redd, 2004 [Internet]).

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. (imdb, 1999, [Internet])

Fight Club has Marxist elements that present a cynical view of capitalism; the film champions the working man, follows a group intent on destroying the financial institutions and who are invited to share their point of view and in the end the ‘terrorists’ succeed. The film criticises the capitalist world in which we live, but the alternative it offers is not seen to succeed (Healey, n/a, [Internet]). Marxism, encompasses the economic and political theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Mediation in Marxist theory refers to the reconciliation of two opposing forces within a given society, for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, this mediating factor is capital or alternately labour, depending on how one views capitalist society (Wikipedia, 2010, [Internet]). ‘These theories assert that all of human action is predicated on economics and that class struggle will inevitably lead to the triumph of communism over capitalism. ‘Marx believed that the lack of meaningful labour in society would inevitably lead to the proletariat revolution. There is no question that Marx would also look on in disgust at “an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables…” (Goodman, 2005, p. 1).’ Durden’s view of religion is also influenced by Marxism, evident in the scene in which he inflicts ‘Jack’ with a chemical burn. Establishing the conclusion that Durden was in full agreement with Marxist Theory.

You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen. (imdb, 1999, [Internet])

Marx believed that people used religion as an escape, summed up in a passage from the preface to Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1843), he described it as ‘the opium of the people’ (Marx, 1843, [Internet]). ‘Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.’ Religion could be described as an ‘imagined community.’ John Lennon famously stated that The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” (Cleave, 1966, [Internet]), although this was later taken out of context, celebrities have become a major part of contemporary popular culture and arguably have become more popular than religion. Marxism views celebrities as commodities, ‘products’ that are used to sell an ideology. As semiotics, celebrities are constructed through images, texts (such as magazines and newspapers) and the meanings that are associated with them change over time and can be interpreted differently. Adorno states that it is idle to hope that this self-contradictory, disintegrating ‘person’ will not last for generations, that the system must collapse because of such a psychological split, or that the deceitful substitution of the stereotype for the individual will of itself become unbearable for mankind. He also states that the popularity of the hero models comes partly from a secret satisfaction that the effort to achieve individuation has at last been replaced by the effort to imitate, which is admittedly more breathless. The idolization of the cheap involves making the average the heroic. This message was portrayed in the film screening of the Orson Welles film, F For Fake (1974) which brought into question validity and authenticity. It's pretty but is it art? How is it valued? Who’s the expert? Who’s the faker? Adorno argues that ‘whenever Orson Welles offends against the tricks of the trade, he is forgiven because his departures from the norm are regarded as calculated mutations which serve all the more strongly to confirm the validity of the system.’ The referenced quotation is taken from the most celebrated segment of the film, treating the power of art and the nature of authorship. Welles narrates a montage sequence of the medieval French landmark, Chartres Cathedral –

Our works in stone, in paint, in print, are spared, some of them, for a few decades or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war, or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash - the triumphs, the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life: we're going to die. "Be of good heart," cry the dead artists out of the living past. "Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing." Maybe a man's name doesn't matter all that much. (imdb, 1973, [Internet])

In the Enlightenment of Mass Deception, Adorno states that there is nothing left for the consumer to classify. Producers have done it for him. Producing them, controlling them, disciplining them, and even withdrawing amusement. The whole world is made to pass through the filter of the culture industry. Not to conform means to be rendered powerless, economically and therefore spiritually – to be “self employed”. ‘Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type’ (Adorno, 1979, p. 120-167). According to Adorno; in this age of statistics the masses are too sharp to identify themselves with millionaires on the screen, and too slow-witted to ignore the law of the largest number. ‘Demand though has not yet been replaced by simple obedience’. Throughout the module, we discussed the relationships between people, objects and how consumer goods mask the social inequalities which are connected to its production. Historical context continues to change, work revised in ways that weren’t anticipated, structures have no deterministic impact and identities are constantly made and remade with reference to the media/consumer culture. Hip Hop as an example has even lost its authenticity. It used to be about having a voice, coming from the ghetto but now it’s about making money and social recognition (Bennett, 1999, pp. 77-91).

"They rewrite history I don't believe in yesterday" from "Gorgeous" by Kanye West

To conclude, I could argue that the culture industry wants me to construct the perception that I’m self-reflective, able to create new meanings and take critical distance to mass media and advertising. Although standardization and mass production will ensure that I can be duped and manipulated when a need is identified. I have a choice, I accept the decisions that I make and learn from the various experiences and circumstances. Production creates false needs, problems that require solutions, that’s the triumph of advertising in the culture industry. I see through this, but as a consumer I feel compelled to buy and use products even if they are just an evolution of an existing model or lifestyle aspiration.


Adorno, Theodor. and Horkheimer, Max. (1979) Dialectic of Enlightenment. London: Verso. pp.120 – 167.

Bennett, Andy. (1999) Hip Hop am Main: The Localization of Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. Media, Culture & Society. (21) pp. 77–91.

Cleave, Maureen. (1966) How Does a Beatle Live? John Lennon Lives Like This. London Evening Standard. [Internet] < > [Accessed 05 December 2010]

Goodman, Adam. (2005) Is Tyler Durden A Marxist? [Internet] < > [Accessed 05 December 2010]

Healey, G. (n/a) FIGHT CLUB: A Marxist Analysis. [Internet] < > [Accessed 05 December 2010]

Internet Movie Database. (1973) F For Fake. [Internet] < > [Accessed 06 December 2010]

Internet Movie Database. (1999) Fight Club. [Internet] < > [Accessed 06 December 2010]

Lash, Scott. & Urry, John. (1994) Economies of Signs and Space. London: Sage. p. 4.

Marx, Karl. (1843) Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. [Internet] < > [Accessed 05 December 2010]

Puustinen, Liina. (2006) THE AGE OF CONSUMER-AUDIENCE. Conceptualising reception in media studies, marketing, and mediaorganisations. (5), p.4.

Redd, Adrienne. (2004) Masculine Identity in the Service Class: An Analysis of Fight Club. [Internet] < > [Accessed 05 December 2010]

Wikipedia. (2010) Marxist. [Internet] < > [Accessed 05 December 2010]
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Saturday, December 04, 2010

It Will All End In Tears

The DrumsImage by joedawson via FlickrThe University announced that it would be open for business as normal but many lectures and seminars were still cancelled. Thursday evening I took my partner to the Northern Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre. The show was thoroughly enjoyable, offered through a partnership between the University and Northern Ballet which was appreciated! After watching the performance we froze in the German Market before retiring for the evening. To celebrate the anniversary of our first gig together; we headed to The Refectory (Leeds University) tonight for The Violens, Two Wounded Birds and The Drums! The tickets were another freebie, I managed to win them in a competition, writing a review for a Darwin Deez show earlier in the year. The venue is a much better alternative to the Leeds Metropolitan Student Union. The security were a disgrace though, throwing people out who attempted to mosh and they even attacked Jonathan Pierce, lead vocal for The Drums!! This fired-up the singer, which meant the crowd witnessed an energetic show from the band. Afterwards we caught up with Connor Hanwick, drummer for the band and he was as shocked as us about the attitude of the security team. As we spoke to him the security team assembled in the background looking menacing and gesturing in his direction. Safe journey home guys!!
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

On The Down Low

Rebel Bingojoedawson via FlickrTonight the Underground Rebel Bingo Club hosted a night in Manchester for Vauxhall Motors, offering the chance to win a brand new Corsa!! Tickets for the event were free, but strictly limited to 500 which meant that we had to attend! 

I secured tickets for the event but the challenge wasn't gaining tickets but navigating to Manchester in blizzard conditions. No problem! We had intended to participate with friends but they weren't brave enough to commit to the adventure. The Monastery, Manchester hosted the action and I travelled there with my partner who was also had her eye on winning the car! The venue, is an architectural masterpiece, and following a £6.5 million restoration scheme, has taken its place as one of the UK’s most inspiring venues for any corporate, social or cultural occasion. The night lacked the usual Rebel Bingo energy, but it was still enjoyable. We didn't win anything but instead managed to obtain several Bingo balls! We will persevere, the obvious sentiment being that if at first you don't succeed... We shall return in the new year, with every intention of securing - at the very least - a Panda! We took a detour on the way home, discovering a drive-thru Subway and to also visit the home of Manchester United - The Theatre of Dreams.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Only Fools And Horses

Pooh Bear is cold.Image by eldarbee via Flickr
Enjoyed a great weekend in London, where we visited friends, family and attended the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange. Arriving back in Leeds early Monday morning, we were greeted by what could be described as a disco revival. Everyone except one person was full of enthusiasm! This was encouraging because I had returned with a sledge and took everyone out on the 'slopes' surrounding their accommodation. A few hours later we received a warning for misbehaviour, and waved farewell to someone who should have been more open minded. To add to the excitement, there was a power failure in the evening that affected the entire building! This didn't faze us but when the alarm sounded we decided to be safe and head out into the cold. I don't think that anyone could have anticipated being banished for several hours, unable to gain entry due to safety concerns. We found shelter and entertainment in a lecture room, above the library, and watched YouTube clips on the projection screen. Obviously we survived this horrendous ordeal and were able to learn from the experience. Should the alarm sound and it's snowing, wrap up warm just in case...
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Smirnoff Exchange

Smirnoff ExchangeImage by joedawson via FlickrFollowing on from the earlier snow, we were awake early the following morning to confront the weather conditions and travel down to London for the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project. Waiting in the cold for the Megabus was a beautiful experience. I couldn't feel my feet by the time the coach arrived! For the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, fourteen cities were selected, paired together and swapped nights out, taking the best of their local artists, events, clubs and attitudes, then exporting them to their partner city. The journey had it's share of drama, the driver was reluctant to drive in the snow and the grit affected the windscreen visibility which caused delays as we stopped several times. Eventually arriving at Victoria, we were greeted by no trains heading to our desired station and had to seek an alternative route home. After a cold shower, we were on the DLR and heading back to London.

The destination was the Troxy, which according to the website is London's most versatile venue. Once inside, away from the cold, we were each handed an electronic wristband, offering the ability to check-in to Facebook at various access points, and five hundred Smirnoff dollars courtesy of the United States of Smirnoff. The legal tender for the night entitling us to several promotional offers available, courtesy of the vodka brand. Tinie Tempah greeted our ears as we entered the main area and we wished he hadn't because he sounded terrible. Having seen him several times this year and been impressed, this wasn't one of his finer performances. Zane Lowe was the next act on stage and he really set the tempo with his fast paced DJ set! N.E.R.D had earlier cancelled, replaced by Example, riding on the back of a successful year but not in the same league as Pharrell Williams and company. He was solid but the set was too short, credit to him for stepping in at late notice! By this point we had managed to acquire Miami themed hats, sunglasses, personalised flipbook's and several cocktails. Jaguar Skills then emerged from the Smirnoff shipping crate, famously known for playing the character of a ninja. During his live shows he is dressed as a ninja with a full ninja mask so that only his eyes. A great finale, and we managed to secure a promotional beach ball so plenty to return to Leeds and brag about from the experience.
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Friday, November 26, 2010


Snoh!Image by joedawson via Flickr
Whilst making preparations to travel home for the weekend, we experienced the first snowfall of the season. A blanket of snow has covered Leeds, and full of excitement we headed out to get involved. As it was the early hours of the morning, we were probably the first out but word spread quickly and soon there was an army of students participating in snowball fights. Snow really brings people together, if only it snowed during freshers week as that would have been an interesting spectacle. Not that it isn't now but everyone was more actively involved then! My partners flatmates weren't going to be deterred by the weather conditions, having previously organised a night out tonight. To be fair they weren't in the best condition themselves, with the amount of alcohol they had consumed, so should be an interesting contest. I'm hoping that the snow isn't too relentless because we have to get a coach to London in the morning and it's not about being stranded on the motorway! We're heading home for the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, fourteen cities have been paired together and swapped nights out, taking the best of their local artists, events, clubs and attitudes, then exporting them to their partner city. Should be interesting, although I'm disappointed to learn that N.E.R.D won't be involved.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hard Act To Follow

Snoh!Image by joedawson via Flickr
Today was the first round of Media Studies presentations. We have been working in small groups, using both the theoretical and conceptual aspects of the course and our own creativity to devise, script and present a national radio advertisement. The concept being for a new television soap aimed at 18-25 year olds to be broadcast on Channel 4. We then have to deliver the advertisement and a power point presentation which presents a production log outlining how the theoretical and conceptual aspects of the course have been used to make the advertisement. The first group set the marker, their work was well presented and organised. Everyone had that look of despair on their faces afterwards, clearly my group isn't the only one with work to do! Unfortunately the second group to present were interrupted by the student protests in Leeds. They battled onwards and finished but they struggled with the distraction outside. I have a few ideas for our advertisement now and will present them to the group at our next meeting. I joined the student protest briefly afterwards but hunger took priority and I left them outside the Gallery. Not sure the protests will make any difference but it's great everyone coming together to show unity against the decision to increase tuition fees.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

And Sleep...

sleepy alreadynotsogoodphotography via Flickr
I have noticed with university, that due to the minimal time that I'm expected to attend lectures and seminars that I'm having motivation issues. I'm told that the workload will increase considerably in the second year and that I should enjoy the night life whilst I can. I just feel too casual and although I have attempted to find work, it's not available in abundance for students. I guess I should follow the advice that I should concentrate on the night life more then! With university finished for another week, we headed out to Mint nightclub yesterday evening. There weren't many people out but we had a decent night until everyone felt sick. Must have been something that we had eaten. A poor attempt at enjoying the night life! The conditions didn't last too long, and we've been unusually productive today and feeling the love. Walking around the city and taking in what's happening around us, instead of sleeping through the duration of the day. My partners flatmates have been keen to visit the Royal Armouries these last few days but that still hasn't materialised. There's always tomorrow..
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Not Just A Game Anymore

DockImage by joedawson via Flickr
Returning to Leeds I discovered that the back window in the car had been smashed. There wasn't an explanation about what had happened, only a brief note on the back seat from the police. I called the number provided and spoke to someone that took details. Afterwards I received another call and filed a claim to receive a crime reference number. Thankfully conditions on my insurance meant that I could claim and pay a minimal excess fee. The Leeds Mafia have issued a statement of intent! At times I wish that I had sold the car because it's proved to be more trouble than what it's worth. The first semester has been difficult enough with limited funds available because of student finance. While the window was being replaced, we explored the area and stumbled across Clarence Docks, home of the Royal Armouries, located within easy reach of Leeds city centre on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Clarence Docks is a ghost town, I expected to see tumbleweed but instead the Royal Armouries was a treat. When the children next visit, I'm definitely going to bring them here because there's plenty available to keep them interested. The free bananas were my favourite.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Keep The Change

Home Alone | Один домаImage by Anatoly Kraynikov via Flickr
Following on from the previous blog post, I mentioned that I was feeling disillusioned. The siblings still at home rarely leave their bedrooms, interaction under those circumstances is minimal. I have the children but only when I'm  permitted access. I guess I'm actually scared because without my partner and university I would cut a lonely figure. 

I attended a house party on Saturday, although I immediately felt out of place because I didn't really know anyone. Being screamed at didn't help! I felt like Kevin McCallister, reaching the top of the stairs and having placed a tarantula on their face. Although in this instance, I was the unexpected guest. I'm lost in the world, although I know this city and I'm down for the entire weekend. My partner thankfully saved me with those beautiful eyes, I was prepared to walk home but she changed my mind. Revealing her concerns about being divided between two locations. The following day I watched the formula one season finale at my brother's place. He's been great these last few months, and one of the only people to fully understand how difficult it's been. We were both happy that Alonso didn't win the championship. The final day in London today and after saying farewell to the children, it's time to head back to Leeds...
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Play More

cards....Image via Wikipedia
Open evening was yesterday and I managed to speak to the children's teachers about their work. I was keen to hear about how they were performing at school and how they could improve. I attended with their mother and we both had many questions about the 11-Plus, an exam administered to some students in their last year of primary education. We both feel that our daughter should be considered because she's intelligent and full of ambition. My son is making progress too and doesn't seem to be getting as distracted, although on occasion still acts the class clown. In the evening I travelled to a friends, his Xbox Kinect proved to be a huge success, especially with the children. I think that their Christmas present has been chosen because they were enthusiastic and laughing at every opportunity. I can see this being a success with any family because the entertainment value was available in abundance. Afterwards we collected my partner from her sister's birthday party and all stayed at mine. We awoke to breakfast in bed from the children, providing a reminder of everything before we departed for Leeds. That said, being home not much seems to have changed which is a peculiar feeling because being away I feel so different...
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Vampire Interpretations Through Media (Assignment)

Sarah Michelle GellarSarah Michelle Gellar
This is an assignment that I have been working on for my portfolio -

Through the many forms of media, vampires have shown incredible adaptability and represent an intriguing pop culture. The vampire has risen from the uneasy sleep of the earlier part of the century and experienced his own dark renaissance (Benefiel, 2004, p 261 – 271). Their presence has manifested to become the perfect metaphor of our insecurities and play an influential role.

As a signifier, Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person (Wikipedia, 2010, [Internet]).

As a signified element; Vampires symbolise sensuality and fear; exercise caution when charmed by an unsuitable person and ‘the omnipresent reality of male violence against women’ (Early, 2001, p 11 – 27). Zombies have sustained one role through popular culture, whereas the vampire paradigm has evolved dramatically; marketing machines have tapped into their mystique and created new incarnations. This keeps the public interest high, especially through younger generations perceived as the most vulnerable, often duped through peer pressure, ideology and acceptance which guarantee a high profit return. We’re exposed to vampires everywhere, cinema, television, magazines and even the Arctic Monkeys, an English rock band, identified with vampires in their track ‘Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But...’ The usage is open to interpretation, are we to believe the vampires are the record label, the fans; either way the outcome is the inevitable failure. This vulnerability is what encapsulates the masses; it generates widespread interest and goes for the jugular.

‘Cause all you people are vampires and all your stories are stale. And though you pretend to stand by us, I know you're certain we'll fail (Turner, 2005, Wikipedia [Internet]).

The portrayal of the vampire through the media has shown incredible diversity, being able to incorporate many different themes, forms and identities. The character Bram Stoker created in 1897 is a being without a conscious, a monster that is human only in physical appearance. Critics have examined many themes in the novel, such as the role of women in Victorian culture, conventional and conservative sexuality, immigration, colonialism, post colonialism and folklore (Wikipedia, 2010, [Internet]). Interview with the Vampire: the Vampire Chronicles (1994) tells the life story of a vampire, portraying struggles through love, betrayal, loneliness and hunger. The movie depicts the character as being vulnerable and struggling to find a place within class and society. Blade (1998) is the story of an outcast semi-human African-American who resists his vampire urges, to protect humans. Blood could easily be used as a metaphor for family and race, especially as ‘Blade is one of the few movies with African-American characters who succeed because of their difference’ (cinemademerde, 2005 [Internet]), rather than through similarity and identity (Hall, 1996, p. 436). This is a far cry from the positioning of blacks as ‘the unspoken and invisible “other” of the dominant (white) aesthetic and cultural discourse (Mulhern, 2000, p. 120). Buffy the Vampire Slayer emerged as an alternative, although “Buffy” presents a world where people excitedly search books for passages that will literally save the world (Hendershot, 2005, p 67). “Nerd-dom” is the term used which I don’t feel is very empowering, I also agree that the female figure, Sarah Michelle Gellar, is constructed as spectacle in classic Hollywood, coded in terms of ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’, typically halting narrative action to facilitate the spectator’s visually based erotic gratification (Tudor, 1999, p. 142).

The current incarnation of the vampire mythos, presents them as romantic heroes, most notably through the Twilight Saga which has completely changed the perception from one-dimensional savages to a complicated, 'vegetarian', brooding pretty boy. Daybreakers, another hybrid form presented a further adaptation in which a plague transformed much of the world's population into vampires. Gender relations and roles are evident in both and have prevailed through the many incarnations, and can be interpreted as a reflection of the entire culture. When television women are involved in violence, unlike males, they are more likely to be victims than aggressors (Strinati, 1995, p. 182). Film analysts and the blogosphere have been particularly critical about the underlying message from the Twilight franchise. Carmen Siering, assistant professor of English and women's studies at Ball State University views New Moon as an anti-feminist film that reinforces gender stereotypes to a "scary" extent –

"With just a moment of critical analysis, feminists can't be too happy about how the latest episode in the Twilight series, adapted from Stephenie Meyer's popular books, represents a young woman and her place in the modern world. In fact, the New film is really just more of the same, only worse." (Singh, 2009, Telegraph [Internet]).

Reading many blogs that reviewed New Moon at the time of release, I encountered the following from Skepchick, a blog founded by Rebecca Watson, which shared the same views and highlighted my concerns –

The messages behind Twilight? Be weak, let your man protect you. Be careful, don’t get him angry. If he hurts you, it’s your fault. Abuse is part of life. Accept it. If he really loves you, he’ll try not to hurt you but don’t be surprised if he does. You probably deserve it. You are nobody without your man, so don’t bother trying. (Skeptic, 2009, [Internet]).

Does the underlying message accept domestic violence or what is now commonly referred to as “intimate partner violence” (Dutton, 2007, p. 432). I don’t believe that’s the message the Twilight Saga attempts to produce but it’s difficult to associate with Bella who although misguided is an intelligent person. I mentioned that Hollywood constructed the Buffy character to facilitate the spectator’s visually based erotic gratification. Edward Cullen and Jacob Black are constructed in the very same manner. Much like the character Alice, who has visions based on decisions and events, the vampire persona is subjective and open to multiple interpretations which is why mainstream media is fascinated with the role vampires have within popular culture.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Revolting And The Revolting

Demo 2010Image by joedawson via Flickr
One of the largest and most vibrant protests in recent history took place in London earlier. 50,000 students and education workers took to the capital to protest against the rise in tuition fees, reforms in education in general and to protest for a fairer, free higher education system. Unfortunately the march will be remembered for the property destruction and occupation at Millbank Tower but there was a message here even if the press focus on the disruption. My partner and her friend participated in the march and I arrived later, having travelled separately with the luggage. I followed the events on Twitter and once I arrived at Victoria Coach Station I headed to Millbank. I met my partner at Big Ben and we ventured back to Millbank Tower. There was a heavy police presence outside the building, they appeared to have gained control, ordering away the remainder of the crowd outside their perimeter. There were a few innocent bystanders and people travelling home from work caught up in the fracas, and with the Sky News helicopter overhead we decided it was safer to move on in search of warmth. My partner and her friend had enjoyed the occasion, sharing photos and stories they had taken of the many banners, messages and events. I was disappointed that I hadn't travelled to London sooner but I'm sure there will be further demonstrations.
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Keep Calm & Travel Long Distances

Pridejoedawson via Flickr
I'm currently living in Leeds, studying at Leeds Metropolitan University but I made it clear that whenever there was an important date for my children that I would travel to be there. Today was the first special occasion, my daughter reached her tenth birthday. Quite the milestone - double figures - and I admit that does makes me feel considerably older! What thirty year old student?! Who's that person trying to stay in touch with the cool kids?

I choose the Megabus instead of driving, mainly because inflated petrol prices aren't an attractive alternative. I arrived at the bus station early in the morning and the bus coach arrived approximately thirty minutes later. For the duration of the journey I attempted to read a media book that I had loaned from the Library. This proved to be a difficult task, not the reading per se but how the sentences were constructed. I gave up eventually and figured that sleeping would be wise but the coach was so uncomfortable. I soon arrived at Victoria Coach Station and then caught the train. I was lucky that the children's mother was available, as I met her at the train station and she took me to their school. That was a result because I would have been late otherwise. Today was also the funeral of my cousin, after I collected the children I briefly offered words of condolence at the wake before heading home. Although everyone had experienced an emotional day, once home we celebrated my daughters birthday with presents and a cake. I think that both children were relieved that I had kept the promise to always be there when required. Their also excited for the weekend because I'm returning for a few days! First, the long journey back to Leeds tonight...
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