Humans and animals relationship: we all share this world.

We humans are living a world that are homes of millions of other creatures. We are fully aware of this, but we are also aware that we are the most superior among all species. Indeed, human beings are ones that have developed themselves comprehensively in terms of both physical and mental aspects, which can be seen in our civilization today. With all the achievements going far beyond other animals’ capability that we have gained, we can proudly say we are the most developed.

No matter how developed and superior humans are, it cannot be denied we are also animals. It is the same as a $600,000 Rolls Royce Phantom and a $20,000 Toyota Corolla, they are both cars no matter what. Therefore, human beings have to view the relationship between them and all other species as co-existing, as we all share this world together. However, humans tend to assume that they are as superior as they can exploit other animals in order to serve their purposes, which can be defined as “speciesism” (Horta 2010) . I am not talking about the fact that humans eat other animals, because that is how life works. The strongest stay on top of the food chain, and vice versa. I want to mention the way we look at our relationships with other animals and the way we treat them in regard with that relationship.

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Species tend to pay attention and have a good impression on ones that are similar them to some certain degree. That is how they realize members of their communities as well as of communities within the same lines (Coppinger 2017). As what you can see in this video, the baby tiger and the house cat get along well with each other because they can recognize that the other are in the same Felidae lines (the cats family) , although they are different species. Humans are no exception. We are interested in seeing animals imitate us in terms of expression or gestures which are visible elements (Charles 2017). In return, animals understand that and they do attempt to impress humans in certain ways. Let’s look at several examples:

It was not 100% accurate, but no doubt we can say they did try 100% of their ability.

This is a really touching short film featuring an old Japanese woman living alone with two cats. Her husband passed away years ago and this is still breaking her heart now. Understanding that their owner still feels upset thinking about her husband, the two cats learn how to perform human-like gestures in order to cheer her up. Obviously this film is staged to a certain degree, but it cannot be denied that the emotions it conveys are genuine.

The two examples clearly show that our pets in particular, and animals in general, do want to co-exist with humans in a respectful way. We like them to perform like us, and they do understand that. Therefore, in order to make our relationship with other species a mutual and co-existing connection, we should do the same in return (Howard 2014). “Instead of respecting their wildness, humans want to hold, cuddle, feed and photograph orangutans; they want to treat orangutans as if they were human … [which has] caused them to become endangered by a rampant pet and zoo trade” (Sowards 2011). This is not how it should be working. Animals show their respect by allowing humans to perform natural habitats and even adapting themselves to it, so why can’t we do the same ? We want to express our love to orangutans, but we are doing it the wrong way. We want them to be happy, but how can they be happy when feeling uncomfortable not being in their natural status ?

Humans and all other animals co-exist in this world, that is obvious. In order to co-exist harmoniously, humans have to know how to respect other species, especially when we are the superior. Try to understand them, and if possible, adapt ourselves to it. This can be seen in this another video, when humans finally try how to please cats, but in cats’ way.

It did not work 100%, but at least they tried.

Reference:

Charles, N 2017, ‘Written and spoken words: representations of animals and intimacy’, Sociological Review,  Vol. 65 Issue 1, pp. 117-133.

Coppinger, B 2017, ‘Studying audience effects in animals: What we can learn from human language research’, Animal Behaviour,  Vol. 124, pp. 161-165.

Howard, D 2014, Human and Animal Relationships, Springer, New York.

Horta, O 2010, ‘What is Speciesism?’, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental EthicsVolume 23, Issue 3, pp 243–266.

Sowards, S. K 2011, Gender representations in orangutan primatological narratives: Essentialist interpretations of sexuality, motherhood, and women, Berghahn Books, USA.

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Poverty porn: calling for change, not charity.

Since the media industry is developing significantly, new genres of media product have been emerging. Among those depicting ordinary topics, there are some that dig into more sensitive, strange and narrow aspects. In this blog post I will focus on the case of ‘poverty porn’, a genre that can be defined as any type of media exploiting the poor’s condition to create sympathy in order to sell newspapers, attract charity donations and support people (Roegnigk 2014).

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Human beings do feel sorry for the inferior, which I suppose you guys will all agree with me. Once we see a starving kid, a homeless person, an innocent citizen suffering from war or similar stuffs, we feel sorry for them at a certain degree. I understand that, you understand that and above all, the media understand that too. It is not difficult at all to find poverty porn elements in everything we encounter on a daily basis. We see such pitiful cases in pieces of news, TV shows and even images on Facebook. Exposure to such media products do make us sympathize with ones featured, but have you ever wondered what are the purposes behind all these ?

Obviously we can all understand that by showing such content, the media want us to be aware of other sides of the world which we may not know or even think that they exist. Moreover, we have a chance to realize the degree of seriousness of them by coming up with materials capturing what actually happens.

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“If I don’t take pictures like these, people like my mom will think war is what they see in movies” – war photographer Kenneth Jarecke.

That is the way it is. If we do not know enough, we can never develop enough sympathy or empathy. In this way, it cannot be denied that the media is doing a good job by introducing poverty porn to inform people (Middendorp 2015). However, the consequent actions that are called from poverty porn is what actually worth concerned.

I still remembered one detail in the video above about the story of Hollywood actor Jack Black and a homeless kid in Uganda when the kid told JB “I want to go with you” and he replied “I don’t think I can take you with me”. I liked the whole video in which Jack Black tried to raise funds to offer homeless kids education, except for that detail. Personally, I think that detail makes the whole mood of the video seem to be hopeless. I was born and grown up in Vietnam, a developing country in Southeast Asia in a middle class family. Although I live in one of the most modern city in the country, Hanoi, which is also the capital, I still encounter similar circumstances quite often. I see homeless kids on the street all the time and like anybody else, I always want to help them. I am pretty sure that when I was small, more than once when I saw a homeless kid I told my mom: “Can we take him home with us?” and I received the same response: “No we can’t. We don’t take them home, but we support them. That’s the way it is” and mom gave me something, maybe a little amount of money or food, and told me to gave it to them. And from those moments on, I realized that is how life works. It is not fair for everyone, but who are more privileged can support inferior ones, to make it less unfair (Beresford 2016).

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The above points lead me to my final conclusion. I do not say that people should not adopt homeless kids or offer the poor people or those in harsh situations a new better life. The ones who do that are so admirable as they turn on the light in those dark segments of life. However, that should not be the purpose of poverty porn. By introducing poverty porn, the media should not encourage people to adopt homeless kids because that does not solve the problem radically (Dortonne 2016). There are millions of abandoned kids that we cannot adopt them all, and we avoid the issue by taking home the kids that stay in front of our eyes and fool ourselves to forget the all the remaining kids behind our back. Media makers, through poverty porn, should encourage people to support the inferior instead, by offering them opportunities to earn a better life themselves (for example, education) and beyond that, challenge the policies that push them into, or do not let them get out of those situations (Allen and Silver 2014). Instead of “neglect and obscure the systemic challenges and compounding disadvantages that people face”, the media should “deliver policies that can affect the challenging realities” (Allen and Silver 2014).

Poverty porn should call for change, not for charity. Because that is the way it is.

Reference:

Allen, K and Silver, D 2014, It’s easy to hate ‘poverty porn’ but harder to fight inequality, The Conversation, viewed March 31st 2017, <https://theconversation.com/its-easy-to-hate-poverty-porn-but-harder-to-fight-inequality-33555&gt;.

Beresford, P 2014, ‘Presenting welfare reform: poverty porn, telling sad stories or achieving change?’, Disability & Society, Vol. 31 Issue 3, pp. 421-425.

Dortonne, N 2016, The dangers of poverty porn, CNN, viewed March 23rd 2017, <http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/08/health/poverty-porn-danger-feat/&gt;.

Middendorp, C 2015, Poverty porn: look at these vulnerable people, The Canberra Times, viewed March 23rd 2017, <http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/are-pictures-of-the-vulnerable-poverty-porn-20151003-gk0qv6.html&gt;.

Roegnigk, E 2014, 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person, One.org, viewed March 23rd 2017, <https://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt;.

The branded self: transition, not elimination.

In this digital era, it is common and essential for young people to establish their online personas. With an online profile, people are able to connect more easily as others can partly understand their characteristics by looking at the content they upload on social media. Living in a digitalised world where people have virtual lives in parallel with their real life, a social media persona rich in content is really useful in broadening our communication network.

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Having realized the importance of online profile, employers are now paying much attention on their candidates’ activities on the Internet to further understand them. Therefore, a lot of people have started to establish strategies to customize their online personas in certain ways to achieve professionalism. For example, Filipino fashion blogger Bryanboy has dedicated his whole online life to express his passion in fashion by establishing his own website along with his accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. As a result, Bryanboy received invitation to cooperate with world-famous fashion designers such as Marc Jacob. My UOW fellow Mitchel Trench has huge interest in global media and travelling, therefore he established his own Facebook page and Youtube channel to upload videos sharing his travelling experiences all around the world and this contributes to his employment in several travel agencies. I myself experience the same case as I am an amateur viner with my own Facebook page where I upload vines that I made. This Facebook profile helped me to gain an internship opportunity in a viral marketing agency when I returned to Vietnam, my home country, the previous summer break.

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The above examples have partly proven the importance and advantage of having our online profiled tailored in a professional and strategic way. However, a lot of people are engaging in this process too excessively. By using several examples, Gershon (2014) indicated that young people when deciding to professionalize their online personas tend to give up their existing habits, change the way they interact with friends (or even narrow down their friends list), hide the information or delete contents that they consider no longer appropriate. This is what Gershon (2014) consider a ‘paradoxical and recursive process’ of young people to ‘inhabit their corporate personhood’. Only by doing this do they feel that the transition process happens thoroughly.

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However, I argue against this as I do not think that process can be called a ‘transition’. By hiding information or deleting contents uploaded, a person is also deleting what is inherent to his/her characteristic. Therefore, I might call this an ‘elimination’. Defined by Cambridge Dictionary, a transition is ‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another’. However, in this case, we could not see evidence of the former state prior to the transition as people have hidden or deleted contents from their profile. Without such evidence, other people cannot see the contrast between their profiles at two different stages to properly consider that a ‘transition’. Argued by Berger 2011, “a person’s present self talks about the past self to the future self”. Moreover, the contents uploaded on Facebook present the “aspects of identity work which are tied to imperatives for self-promotion in the current conjuncture” (Goodwin et al 2016). Therefore, a person’s proper transition to a branded self must show others that “I realized the importance of changing myself, and I want people to know that”. By observing someone adopting new patterns of using online platforms alongside with keeping the original contents, we can see how that person developed from a naive, innocent stage into a more mature one in his/her life (Berger 2011). It creates a big picture about one’s characteristic for the audience and also for that person as he can fully develop his self-awareness to effectively improve himself in the future.

Everything you do reflect yourself, you might stage it, but you cannot stage what you really are, and that is your truly ‘brand’.

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“You are just doing it for attention, and you will be back”.

Reference:

Berger, A 2011, ‘The Branded Self: On the Semiotics of Identity’, The American Sociologist, vol. 42, no. 2/3, pp. 232-237.

Gershon, I 2014, ‘Selling Your Self in the United States’, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, pp. 281-295.

Goodwin et al 2016, ‘Precarious Popularity: Facebook Drinking Photos, the Attention Economy, and the Regime of the Branded Self’, Social Media + Society, Vol 2, Iss 1.

BCM212 Research Proposal

In order to accomplish BCM212: Research Practices in Media and Communication this semester at UOW, I have to actually conduct a research. Therefore, in this post I will briefly explain my idea, purpose and approach to this project.

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This is really frustrating. It’s just week 3 😦

First of all, I will indicate the idea of my research project. As a young person and a student, future career is always among my greatest concerns and I strongly believe that my peers share the same interest. Therefore, choosing the field of study at university level is an essential decision because this is one of the very last stages before we get involved in the working world and the knowledge we acquire at school takes up the most space in our baggage to start this journey. However,  while some graduates apply what they have learnt into their jobs, others keep changing work areas sharing no relation to their degrees. Therefore, I want to examine how university students make their decision to declare major and to what degree do they consider their fields of study important to their future career.

honey-badger-meme
In some senses, maybe I  applied to UOW only because the campus is smoke-free.

Secondly, let me explain how I came up with this idea. Before I came to Australia to study Communication and Media, I used to be a Business student back in Vietnam, my home country. With the desire to become a businessman, I spent two years on this degree until realizing it was totally unsuitable and gave up. Following my elder brother’s suggestion about the media field which I had never thought of before, I started to research about it, then felt curious and came here. Therefore, I thoroughly understand that there are always potentials for us to be interested in something that stay out of our understanding. This is what Emily Graslie mentioned in her TED speech: ‘You will not feel curious about one thing if you do know it exists’. I relate this idea to the notion of reflexivity as students may make decision to choose field of study based on either their perception of themselves (Soros 2009) (what they like, what they are good at, etc) or perception/recognition of others about them (Taylor 1992) . A person can think of him in one way based on someone’s reflection on him but that perception can change if he comes up with other reflection of someone else.

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Somehow true ?

Finally, I will propose my possible approach. My main method will be directly interviewing students within UOW and conducting online survey. The questions will be designed to figure out the following:

  • What factors brought them to the decision to choose their current field of study, and whether those are objective or subjective.
  • Have they ever thought of (or felt curious about) studying something different from their current major.
  • To what degree do they think their current major will be relevant to their future career and why they think so.

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Above is my brief proposal for my upcoming research project and it is still early to say whether I will stay with this idea until the end because I may again feel curious about something else based on other reflection 😛

Reference:

Soros, G 2009, General Theory of Reflexivity, Financial Times, viewed March 8th 2017, <https://www.ft.com/content/0ca06172-bfe9-11de-aed2-00144feab49a#axzz425HnJh93&gt;.

Taylor, C 1992, “Multiculturalism and the politics of recognition”, Princeton University Press, USA.

Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious.

So finally I am back with uni after a long holiday back in my country to start a new semester, which means I am also back with blogging (which I have been abandoned for quite a while). This very first blog post of the semester will be for BCM112 – Research Practices in Media and Communication about an experience of mine about curiosity in learning.

To be honest, I do not enjoy studying. I find it is hard to stay focused for a long time reading pages and pages of theories or accomplishing tasks (although that feeling of submitting assessments is awesome). However, I have to admit that I did feel curious about learning, at least once, about which I am going to tell you in this post.

A bit about me, I am an international student from Vietnam. Before coming here in Australia, I did two years of college in Vietnam studying Business. Unfortunately, I did not find it suitable for me so I decided to give up, come here and start over again in Communication and Media. So far so good, although I have only finished a year and a half, still one more semester to reach the two-year mark so I cannot tell for sure whether I will stay still or quit again and do something else (just kidding, my parents will kick me out of the house if I come back and say I quit again so I will not).

Since I major in Marketing, I was excited about things I would learn in the first semester. Before Enrollment Day, I imagined about subjects that I would take such as ones in Advertising, Marketing or Public Relations. However, one really really really strange subject came up following the faculty’s suggestion: PHIL106, a philosophy subject. At that moment, I was frustrated and questions kept popping into my head: “I am a Media and Marketing student, what would I do with philosophy ? I do not need this. I come here to do something else’. And from that moment on, I realized how I feel about this event, and as you can all tell: CURIOUS.

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That was exactly what Emily Graslie said in her TED speech about the value of curiosity in 2015: ‘You will not feel curious about one thing if you do know it exists’. I kept feeling curious about this subject as the first few weeks passed by and I still could not find the purpose in doing it. However, by the end of the semester, I could really understand that things happen for a reason, and I did PHIL106 for a reason: it is a core subject, I have to do it……. Just kidding, I did enjoy it as it set a foundation for me to be respectful to other people’s perspectives, which is an essential element for all those working in Media and Marketing field.

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That was my story of how I first feel curious about studying here in Australia. It made a pretty good start for my journey here and made me curious about all the strange subjects at the beginning of each semester, although at the moment I am still curious about some of them that I did as I could not really tell the point in doing them (or simply because I hated them).

So that is the point, things do happen for reasons so it is important to stay hungry and foolish in studying, by which I mean we should be curious in learning as it might enhance the progress or at least create a motivation for us at the beginning, according to Charan Ranganath and Matthias Gruber in their findings about the impact of curiosity to the brain.

I feel curious about learning new things, I always have and I always will.

Blog Reflection.

Throughout the process of studying BCM288, I have come up with a range of topics which provide me with a comprehensive knowledge about transnational media and culture. In this blog, I will briefly summary my understanding achieved from the course.

First of all, I have understood the meaning of this field of study to media audiences. This is the era where communication is so developed that people are no longer want to stay solely within their native culture and network anymore. Beyond that, they want to approach a range of different cultures and perspectives. Therefore, it is witnessed that different types of media with various content and origins are being enjoyed by audiences with diverse backgrounds. MasterChef, an Australian series creating a huge wave in India or If you are the one, a Chinese dating reality show being famous in Australia are several dominant examples. This phenomenon sets the foundation for ‘intercultural communication’, in which media content is able to approach a massive and diverse amount of audience by conveying universal values. It is understandable because according to Rohn 2009, universal values ‘can be detached from any culture’.

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Credit: Photobucket.

Secondly, knowledge about transnational culture and media is also beneficial for media producers. Due to the fact that audiences are looking for transnational media product, producers have to seek ways to satisfy that demand. As a result, cooperative events such as film festivals are established to provide producers with chances to meet, interact and exchange ideas (Stringer 2001). These kinds of events also promote co-production, which can be understood as the collaboration of producers to create hybrid products once they have achieved a common understanding. Film festivals varies from large and broad events namely Cannes, Berlin or London film festivals to small and centralized ones in Busan or Istanbul. Moreover, co-production can also attract government’s investment on cultural and media industries as producers are able to show their potential by working together (Kwon and Kim 2013).

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Credit: 48hourfilm.com.

Finally, I am taught to overcome barriers to be a part of cosmopolitanism. According to McLuhan 1964, with the help of technology and the Internet, the world is transitioning into a ‘global village’ where global citizens communicate across barriers. Stated by Waldron 2000, cosmopolitanism is when “all human beings belong to a single community”. Therefore, the Internet and other digital communication tools are providing me with not only opportunities but also responsibility to know, sympathize and support what is happening around me in a large scale. Wider news coverage about world issues raises the awareness of people about being more updated to be able to realize, understand, maintain what is good and fix what is not.  Virtual cosmopolitanism is a great movement for young people to turn social media practices, which used to be considered daily activities, into something really meaningful by broadening their network, achieving cultural understanding and forming new ‘third cultures’ (McEwan and Sobre-Denton, 2011).

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Credit: wslr.org.

To conclude, studying BCM288 allows me to understand the importance of transnational media and culture, which is essential to me as a person and in my future career working in the field of media. The subject raises my awareness that although there are still gaps and challenges in co-production or media piracy, the benefits of being actively engaged with intercultural practices to be a cosmopolitan and a global citizen are still significant.

References:

Kwon, S H and Kim, J 2013, ‘From censorship to active support: The Korean state and Korea’s cultural industries’, The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 24(4), pp.517-532.

McEwan, B and Sobre-Denton, M, 2011, Virtual cosmopolitanism: ‘Constructing third cultures and transmitting social and cultural capital through social media’, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 4(4), pp.252-258.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding media: The extensions of a man, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.

Rohn, U 2009, Cultural Barriers to the Success of Foreign Media Content, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, Germany.

Stringer, J 2001, ‘Global cities and the international film festival economy’, Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context, pp.134-144.

Waldron, J 2000, ‘What is cosmopolitan?’, The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243.           

 

Twitter hashtag: a new level of cosmopolitanism.

We are living in a world of cosmopolitanism, which can be understood as “all human beings belong to a single community, based on a shared morality” (Waldron 2000). This ideology can be reflected in many aspects of our lives, from entertainment to politics. People with different backgrounds from various geographical areas are turning into global citizens in a “global village” (McLuhan 1964) to be more aware of events happening all around the world. With the help of high technology and the Internet in particular, cosmopolitanism has developed significantly both in form and scale. This short piece of writing will explain the matter of cosmopolitanism in term of social media practices with the case of one of the most dominant social network, Twitter.

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Credit: discoursesonliberty.blogspot.com.

With the development of the Internet, social media are becoming a great way for people to gather information in order to stay updated to latest news and events. Furthermore, social media also function as a tool to express sympathy, advocate and support others. Twitter, a dominant social network beside Facebook, is a great platform for such activities. Each tweet (or post) is limited in 140 characters only, which makes it seem to be worthless at first sight. However, Twitter has another small function but is able to create huge influence, the hashtag. By simply attaching the keywords with the letter # in their tweets, users are able to connect with others using the same hashtags and follow the topic created in real time. Short posts allow instant information update and with a huge amount of short posts with hashtags, people are able to capture the big picture in seconds.

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Credit: resourceaholic.com.

Thanks to Twitter and hashtag, cosmopolitanism is developing significantly by crossing many boundaries. People are allowed to connect to ones that are millions of miles apart from them by using the same hashtags. Time can be saved as one single message can be disseminated to a huge amount of people tracking those hashtags. As a result, the influence does not stop at the virtual aspect. Let’s take the example of Ukraine protest since 2014. By using Twitter and the hashtag #euromaidan, protestors are able to connect to others in a massive scale (Bohdanova 2013). People supporting the revolution from all over the world are kept informed by reading tweets posted on a secondly basis. Support from money, food, equipment to medical assistance are gathered by messages sent through Twitter. As a result, the protest exists and develops healthily in spite of government’s pressure (Bohdanova 2013).

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Credit: xoxol.org.

To conclude, cosmopolitanism can be promoted through not only formal channels like conventional media but also informal ones such as social media. In the case of Twitter and the #euromaidan, it can be seen that cosmopolitanism can totally develop significantly in term of citizen journalism. What it needs is the medium, or connection, and the hashtag is a great tool to utilize it.

Reference:

Bohdanova, T 2013, How Internet Tools Turned Ukraine’s #Euromaidan Protests Into a Movement, Global voices, viewed November 1st 2016, <https://globalvoices.org/2013/12/09/how-internet-tools-turned-euromaidan-protests-into-a-movement/&gt;.

McLuhan, M 1964, Understanding media: The extensions of a man, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.

Waldron, J 2000, ‘What is cosmopolitan?’,The Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, p./pp 227-243.