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Fucking media studies - Tim Lieder [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tim Lieder

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Fucking media studies [May. 6th, 2014|12:35 pm]
Tim Lieder
It appears that media studies are stuck in the same Noam Chomsky worshiping left wing Marxist ghetto that it's been in since I was in college. I suppose that makes sense. If you have an aptitude for media studies and you aren't a marxist that makes that "Advertising=Brainwashing" assertion without irony, you are not going to go into academia. There are plenty of places for people who know about the media to go in the private sector. This leaves academia with the Naomi Kleins who talk about Nike putting advertising in textbooks as the worst thing to happen to humanity since the Holocaust.

And since it's self-perpetuating, the only people who are going to go into media studies as an academic discipline are the ones that can stand this kind of bullshit and have very vague memories of getting a textbook, throwing out the advertising and going on with their lives. Of course, like most professional moralists the operative phrase is "well what about..." as in "I'm too smart to fall for this vulgar ADVERTISING but what about all the brainwashed masses?" It was also a frequent phrase invoked for comic books, heavy metal music, video games. I'm too smart to fall for this violent imagery but what about all those stupid people in the world?

The fact that the media DOES have an influence makes media studies into something worthwhile (I totally blame Piers Anthony and Robert Heinlein for my inability to get laid in my later years of high school) but it's a give-and-take phenomenon. These assholes like Naomi Klein are basing all of their work on the assumption that advertising is brainwashing and that people are too stupid to reject media or compartmentalize it. If kids see Ronald McDonald as a friend, they will all get fat. And the whole discipline becomes a joke.

[User Picture]From: fengi
2014-05-06 05:45 pm (UTC)
I'm really wondering where you get all this.

Naomi Klein isn't a media studies professor (she never even completed her degree), she's never called herself a media studies scholar. She's an activist who specializes in economic arguments. Nor is Noam Chomsky. I'm sure their work has been read in media studies classes, but it is not the be all end all of the discipline.

I say this because I actually know what Media Studies is about. I know someone who was around when it gained credibility in the 1980s - Robert Thompson. I first met him when I was in High School. I attended the National High School Institute at Northwestern University and he was a grad student who used his lectures to test out his media theory teachings and his papers. Of course he tailored it to his teenage audience - doing a lengthy analysis on the role of bodily fluids in MtM/Steven Bochco drama. It was through Bob that I learned of the then nacent media literacy movement. He became the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture. While Marxist cultural theory was one of his tools, he in no way resembles what you describe above. He was a guy who was engaging in byzantine referential humor, some of which would not be out of place on Robot Chicken (except for the Lacan jokes). I'm willing to bet a majority of his students under his tutelage aren't that way either. In fact it's guys like Bob who managed to bring deconstruction and various critical theories to the masses. One could argue there's a line from him to Adult Swim.

I can't find any place where Klein talks "about Nike putting advertising in textbooks as the worst thing to happen to humanity since the Holocaust". In fact, I sincerely doubt that the author of The Shock Doctrine would be so insensitive to equate major disasters with minor incursions, beyond arguing the exist along a spectrum.

Her argument is also not so simple as "stupid people fall for advertising but I see through it". She's making a very rational point: sponsored content is usually biased towards the sponsors, thus it is reasonable to say a textbook is funded by advertising is not a good idea, because that advertising may bias or censor the content. Reducing the arguments of Klien or Chomsky to "advertising is brainwashing" is oversimplifying which verges on strawman.

Their position is pervasive use of a word or idea can dominate and steer discussion even if most people participating don't agree. If enough of the media acts like antisemitism only counts when it's overt Nazi style propaganda, pointing out subtle forms becomes being oversensitive.

I'd argue the bullshit thinking you see in media studies and even Naomi Klein is in part anxiety about your own hyperbole.

For example, one could analyze the argument that Ian Banks is worse than Fred Phelps implies his fans are so trusting and/or stupid they will accept his dubious political view blindly because they like his novels.

Or one could say it's reasonable to argue a credible person shouldn't lend that credibility to toxic ideas and patterns - which is also what Klein and Chomsky are pointing out.

Edited at 2014-05-06 05:46 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: marlowe1
2014-05-07 04:04 am (UTC)
But since Klein and Chomsky are both purveyors of toxic ideas and patterns, propping them up as the heroes of rationalism and social honesty is bullshit. I also find it curious that you would mention antisemitism in regard to either "scholar" since they are both quite happy to push antisemitic positions.

Also "sponsored content is usually biased towards the sponsors, thus it is reasonable to say a textbook is funded by advertising is not a good idea, because that advertising may bias or censor the content" is a moronic assertion since the company that is sponsoring the textbook is not the textbook. There are thousands of potential sponsors in the world and none of them can control a textbook content by threatening to leave.

My "hyperbole" comes from reading these "activists" and finding their smug condescending manner to be unbearable. No Logo is a particularly egregious example of bad journalism that assumes that the reader will be shocked and dismayed by the presence of Nike flyers in textbook bags, television channels in school rooms (with commercials), fast food companies selling in the cafeteria and other "crimes" of advertising. A side note is the way that she speaks on behalf of the poor kids who can't afford to eat McDonald's or Pizza Hut and have to deal with the regular school lunch is particularly irksome since it represents another pseudo-intellectual speaking for me as a poor person who got free lunch tickets in school.

I'm sure there are some non-marxist zealots in academia when it comes to media studies, but I haven't encountered them. Most other disciplines that I've written about have a multiplicity of perspectives, but media studies seems enamored with the simplistic economic theories that reduce everything to capitalism and imperialism.
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[User Picture]From: tcpip
2014-05-07 04:17 am (UTC)
But since Klein and Chomsky are both purveyors of toxic ideas and patterns....

Such as? Be specific.
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[User Picture]From: howlin_wolf_66
2014-05-07 03:22 pm (UTC)
A+ (as somebody who took media studies, and agrees with every word you said.)
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