Consuming media: be smart or get smashed ?

So another week passed by and I come back to my blog. It’s been a great week that I finally (or partly) recovered from jetlag and got familiar with a new sleeping pattern (it’s the 90-minute rule if anyone is wondering). That means now I can wake up early on Wednesday morning to attend BCM110 lecture which is way more interesting than listening to it online. However, Game of Thrones is becoming a tradition of this class and I still have no idea of it.

It is obvious that the media are becoming an essential part in our lives that we interact with them on a daily basis. We may use many different forms of media (TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet) or only one but convergent form – the smartphone. The increasing usage of media raises anxieties that whether it makes us better or worse ?

One  problem mentioned in the lecture that I am really interested in is about kids that grow up online. It is pretty shocking to me that this problem seems to emerge around 10 years ago, but actually it has been anticipated since 1995 (when I was born). This problem can be seen anywhere as anytime I babysit my 2-year-old niece, she asks me to show her Youtube videos (Ju-Tut – according to her babbling voice). It is truly a light headache that she is so cute asking me that I can’t deny but the BCM110 lecture taught me that it is a real problem caused by the media.

And here the question is, do the media change our behaviours, or do we ourselves ?

Come back to the example above, ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ is my great baby sitting tool that I can just open it on a tablet and give it to my niece then enjoy one hour in peace video calling my girlfriend. In other hand, it’s gonna be a real Hunger game: me, my niece, fighting for the tablet. She has a real weapon, her tears, which neutralizes all my attributes. Do I even have a choice ?

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The media do influences me. And I got to thank them for that.

However, we have to take a look backwards. Do the media have the power to force us to do things we don’t want to ? Do the media invent themselves ?

No, they don’t.

It is us ourselves who give up our own power to control and authorise that power to the media. We blame the media because it is never easy to admit it subjectively. Honestly, I am totally able not to show me little niece any Youtube videos although she may cry. However, I can find other ways to satisfy her such as taking her out to the playground, letting her play with my cat or even singing Twinkle Star myself (not smart actually, I sing terribly). The underlying cause here is people’s laziness, both mental and physical.

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Media are great extensions of ourselves. Therefore, take full advantage of them wisely. Use them smart, or get smashed by them.

 

 

 

 

 

A shift in media power

According to Henry Jenkins, the technology landscape is changing. Media content is accessible in many different platforms. Media users are changing from passive consumers to active participants. Beside the producers, the consumers are now also deciding and affecting the media. The media power, is shifting

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Credit: munfitnessblog.com

Everyone can affect the media, so everyone can create a medium. McLuhan’s ‘medium’ in the quote does not literally mean communication media but every action can be considered a medium. For instance, US president Barrack Obama when randomly appeared eating at a restaurant, although he did not say anything about it, he wanted the people to know that he stayed close to them and lived a simple life (although his visit cost millions times a burger).

This blog post of mine is also a medium: “I dedicate to it, I want to pass!”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey continues

So finally i came back to the University of Wollongong after a three-month summer holiday that I spent in Vietnam – my home country. I am still eager to learn, eager to write and eager to discover but it cannot be denied that such long vacation did hold me back so I am still not into the studying stuffs.

Coming back to school, is never easy, at all.

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I just made a fees payment to the University yesterday so that movement really brought me back to reality, that I am using up a big amount of money here so I got to focus on what I suppose to do. However, it is the University and the Communication and Media studies course my greatest motivation that I finally found something that I love to learn and love to do.

The first week was amazing that as far as i know, the subjects I take this session really into the practical field, which is really different to the foundational ones of the previous semester. One more great thing is that I can come back to writing blogs, which was just a new experience to me since I studied BCM111 last year. Hoping I can make this a new routine from now on.

The BCM112 lecture was interesting that I partly understand what ‘convergent’ in the subject name actually means. It is cool to figure out that media are changing from analog to digital forms, that we are having a ‘convergent’ medium in our pocket – the smartphone which is called by a Japanese name (that i do not really remember the spelling) meaning the ‘always with me’ (thumbs up for Professor Sue Turnbull for providing this in the BCM110 lecture, I will bear this in mind). However, I still wonder that which types of medium are defined ‘analog’ ? Is it possible that maybe in the next century, when we have a much more superior device then the smartphone will be listed ‘analog’ ?

Anyway it is just the first week so I consider it a warm-up week and this first blog is the first getting-ready movement. Australia is a big journey to me, and let it continues.

I will still be eager to learn, eager to write and eager to discover.

 

 

 

From the case of Pacific Rim: Does Hollywood actually produce transnational films ?

Credit: Youtube

Above is the trailer of the movie ‘Pacific Rim’, directed by Guillermo del Toro, the biggest blockbuster of summer 2012 which grossed $411 million dollars worldwide. The film presented the same motive with many others Hollywood films as it depicted the world trying to overcome its end. The story was about human fighting against monsters to protect their own planet with weapons are giant robots controlled by pilots. Beside excellent movie graphical techniques, the makers have imported into the movie several elements which distinguish it with others of the same genre in order to mark it a ‘transnational film’. Transnational film can be defined as a film which ‘draw upon structures of hybridity to meet increasing demand for glocalized content within globalized distribution networks’ (Schaefer and Karan, 2010).

Hollywood fans have a joke that each summer comes, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are destroyed again. It sounds weird but if we look at the recent sci-fi action blockbusters, the background of the fights are normally in the US, in particular are the cities mentioned above (The Dark Knight series, Transformers series, etc). Therefore in Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro decided to bring the war to a totally different but familiar region, Hongkong. The fact that this beautiful Asian paradise is the last place standing and it is the only hope of human race rather than America has created great appeal to Chinese and bigger, Asian audiences. Moreover, the crew represents the diversity as the main director is Mexican and “the stars are a melange of British, Asian, Russian and Australian, some speaking with American accents, some not”. (Timmons, 2013).

However, those are not enough to make it a transnational film. The main element is the characters. First of all, the Jaegers (name of the robots) are stereotypes of the countries they represented. Crimson Typhoon, belongs to China, can be recognized at first sight as a made-in-China products from its flashy appearance and name which resemble the color of the national flag. Its signature attack, Thundercloud Formation,  is also inspired by Kungfu. The Russian robots named Cherno Alpha features exactly what is always thought about Russian products. Ancient, blocky design but optimal efficiency, ‘old but gold’. It is also painted with patterns of the T-series Russian tank.

‘It is about the world saving the world’, said Guillermo del Toro.

But is it actually is ?

Credit: Internet

The Chinese Jaeger Crimson Typhoon was equipped with state-of-the-art technology but was defeated easily in the beginning. This detail led to the complaint of the South China Morning Post: “Why are the Chinese characters in the film the first to die?” (Timmons, 2013).  Cherno Alpha, the Russian one, which had gained huge reputation from its fight history, ended up eliminated right after its Chinese teammate. Two deaths in only 5 minutes of display. Striker Eureka, the latest and strongest Jaeger which is from Australia, was luckier as it was only neutralized. Finally, the rescue came from Gypsy Danger, the main robot character, and of course, is an US made. And that was only the first fight.

When the fight was getting to an end, both the Australian and the American Jaeger collaborated. However, it was the Australian which had to sacrifice for its teammate to make the last hit. Furthermore, among the two pilots controlling Gypsy Danger, the Japanese girl was unable to stand until the last minute and we have “a standard white hero that ends up saving the day” (Timmons, 2013), which is American.

To wrap up, Pacific Rim deserves an Oscar awarded by the UNO for being a transnational but still high-grossing film. However, it could not make it, because it is only ‘an international movie created through a Hollywood lens’ (Timmons, 2013).

Lucky for the fans that this movie will have its sequel, and ‘maybe next time, they’ll let the Chinese guys save the day’ (Timmons, 2013).

Reference:

Korean Hallyu in Vietnam: a threat of cultural invasion

Photo: Young Vietnamese males bursted into tears after seeing their Korean idols at the airport in 2012. Credit: Yan News.

“Idolization is a good cultural feature, but doing it unconsciously is a disaster”.

Above is the content of a discussing question in Vietnam University Entrance Exam in 2012 mainly aiming the effect of the South Korean’s music and movies on Vietnamese young people, which created controversies throughout the country at that moment.

The Korean Hallyu (or Korean Wave) refers to the escalating spread of South Korean culture since the 1990s (Ryoo, 2009). Its effects are recognized throughout the world, but mostly in East Asia countries including Vietnam. It has been nearly 20 years since the Korean Hallyu reached Vietnam (Pham, 2015) but this phenomena is still being questioned: Whether it is merely cultural exchange, or an implicit cultural invasion ?

The rapid approach of Korean Hallyu into Vietnam roots in the fact that the two countries share the same Confucianism ideology and values which are reinforced in Korean cultural products (Ryoo, 2009). Moreover, close geographical distance and the reasonable price compared to that of Japan or Hongkong attracts Vietnamese media managers to import dramas or artists’ shows.

Korean K-pop boyband EXO performing a Vietnamese song in a concert in Hanoi, 2015. Credit: Youtube.

The Korean Wave introduced to Vietnamese audiences a new trend of entertainment which is a hybridity between modern features and traditional values. Most of the dramas and movies refer to love, family issues and traditional values but in “an age of changing technology” which are more easily to relate than Western products (Ryoo, 2009). Furthermore, Korean popular music (or K-pop) with beautiful singers delivering songs with soft, ear-catching melodies also draw great attention. Its positive effects are obvious. Teenagers are directed away from social evils as they spend time updating news about their idols or enjoying their products. Young people develop new trends of fashion and interest in Korean cuisines, which diverse their taste of enjoyment. Even middle-aged audiences can refresh their mind watching TV dramas which closely relate to their daily issues.

However, those surface benefits have inner threats as young Vietnamese can strip away their self and traditional identity (Dang, 2009). Fans’ admiration to their idols are expressed not just through buying albums, posters or watching music videos but spending millions VND in order to buy tickets or travel across the country or even overseas to be at concerts. Some cases proved that the support are becoming over-excessive. After a show in 2012, many girls kissed the chair on which a famous actor have seated. Some fans were not hesitant to insult or threatened to murder their parents because they were not allowed and provided money to chase their idols. Others were willing to give up their future as they decided to quit the University Entrance Exam claiming that the question humiliated their idols and favour. Moreover, Korean culture are taking over young people’s awareness of their country’s image. K-pop performances such as dance or songs covers take place at traditional events such as school ceremony or celebration of important dates such as Teachers’ day.

So what is the actions to take ? And who is responsible to take those ?

Back to 2010 when I was standing outside of a Korean concert in Vietnam waiting for a friend, I had a short chat with a middle-aged man whose daughter was a K-pop fan. After listening to him expressing concern about the effects of this trend on his daughter who was still 15, I asked him what would be possible to prevent it. “They keep showing films, selling tickets, and the kids have internet and other kinds of access. What can I do ?”, he said.

References:

Globalization: Outsourcing

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Photo: 9GAG

It is obvious that globalization has impact on our lives in many aspects in terms of culture, politics and economy. Outsourcing is a significant development in the economy globalization process. We take great advantage of it, but is it always beneficial ?

We cannot deny the profit outsourcing brings about. First of all, it enables enterprises to reduce production costs. A number of companies all over the world are empowering third parties in developing countries in order to exploit cheap labor prices. Such areas namely Vietnam, Egypt or India are attracting many investments into manufacturing field. According to The Richest, Indian workers are paid $0.48 USD per hour, which is only 3.2% compared to that in Australia ($15 USD). Therefore, if a corporation is able to find a market where they can transfer their production technology, it can be a great competitive advantage because manufacturing costs the most of the total input. Secondly, outsourcing improves specialization. Enterprises can focus on their core tasks while the remains are taken care of by other companies. For example, although assembled in the US, 30% of the Boeing Aircraft’s parts are manufactured overseas. Certain duties are in charged by various parties, rather than one control the whole process, which guarantees high output quality. Finally, outsourcing contributes to sharing management costs. Companies do not have to concern about managing their human resource because they are able to hire local staff to take care of this. Moreover, native managers can understand the culture and characteristic of the workers as well as the markets, which results in effective administration.

Despite of the advantages mentioned above, outsourcing has several drawbacks. First to be mentioned, although cheap, the sources of labor may lack of necessary abilities. A large percentage of workers are lack of English ability, which affects communication between them and supervisors and directors. Moreover, they are not equipped with enough ‘industry-ready’, ‘industry-relevant’ skills (Kuruvilla and Ranganathan, 2010) in order to perform appropriately in various fields. Therefore, the output may not meet the demand in high-requirement markets. Another disadvantage of outsourcing is that the local industries where it takes place are affected. Local enterprises face the difficulties in human resource recruitment because the labor force is attracted by higher wages from bigger global corporations, which results in decrease in production. Furthermore, the local countries do not benefit from the products which are brought back to where the host companies base. According to Nike Manufacturing Map, 41% of Nike footwear are produced in Vietnam, its biggest manufacturer, but Vietnamese customers still have to pay original price plus importing tax, which is much higher than that in the US, for a pair of Nike shoes. Consequently, outsourcing does not really stimulate economy development, it is mainly on the host countries.

Those arguments above, although brief, have indicated several pros and cons of outsourcing. There are some drawbacks, but everything is a two-slide sword and the strengths may compensate. However, in near future, when barriers are terminated, we can expect of a more comprehensive process of outsourcing which promotes our global economy significantly.

Reference:

  1. Kuruvilla, S and Ranganathan, A. 2010, “Globalisation and outsourcing: confronting new human resource challenges in India’s business process outsourcing industry”, viewed 12th August 2015.
  2. The Richest. 2013, “Countries with the Cheapest Labor”, available at http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/poorest-list/countries-with-the-cheapest-labor/, viewed 11th August 2015.
  3. Nike Manufacturing Map, available at http://manufacturingmap.nikeinc.com/, viewed 13th August 2015.
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