COM 245 CUNY Borough of Manhattan Define Plaisir & Jouissance Question

read chapter 10 of the book attached and then answer the question below :

Define Plaisir.  Offer examples.

Define Jouissance.  Offe examples.

  • Go to the textbook/chapter, explain definitions, offer examples, cite theory – including page numbers (demonstrate that you are reading and understanding the concepts).
  • 0002069889.INDD 8
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    About the Authors
    Elinor Christopher Light
    Brian L. Ott (right) is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of
    Colorado Denver. He is the author of The Small Screen: How Television Equips Us
    to Live in the Information Age (Wiley Blackwell, 2007) and co-editor of It’s Not TV:
    Watching HBO in the Post-Television Era (Routledge, 2008). Brian enjoys all things
    sci-fi and was a huge fan of Breaking Bad. His favorite film is Lost in Translation,
    which he believes perfectly captures life in the contemporary moment and, as such,
    provides the inspiration for the book’s cover art.
    Robert L. Mack (left) is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication Studies at the
    University of Texas, Austin. His scholarship concerns the text-audience interface
    with a focus on the medium of television. Rob enjoys tabletop board games and
    passionately believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek captain. His favorite
    subgenres of film include class warfare period pieces, films that attempted to
    introduce computers to the masses before the technology was widely available,
    and movies where Whoopi Goldberg evades danger in large, metropolitan cities.
    Brian L. Ott and
    Robert L. Mack
    An Introduction
    Second Edition
    This second edition first published 2014
    © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc
    Edition history: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (1e, 2010)
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    of a competent professional should be sought.
    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is available for this book.
    9781118553978 (paperback)
    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
    Cover image: Wet evening in Shinjuku © Jon Hicks / Corbis
    Cover design by RBDA Studio
    Set in 10.5/13pt Minion by SPi Publisher Services, Pondicherry, India
    Introducing Critical Media Studies
    Part I Media Industries: Marxist, Organizational,
    and Pragmatic Perspectives21
    2 Marxist Analysis
    3 Organizational Analysis
    4 Pragmatic Analysis
    Part II Media Messages: Rhetorical, Cultural, Psychoanalytic,
    Feminist, and Queer Perspectives107
    5 Rhetorical Analysis
    6 Cultural Analysis
    7 Psychoanalytic Analysis
    8 Feminist Analysis
    9 Queer Analysis
    Part III Media Audiences: Reception, Sociological, Erotic,
    and Ecological Perspectives243
    10 Reception Analysis
    11 Sociological Analysis
    12 Erotic Analysis
    13 Ecological Analysis
    Conclusion: the Partial Pachyderm
    Appendix: Sample Student Essays
    To our billions of readers, welcome to the second edition of Critical Media Studies:
    An Introduction! Okay, we recognize that is an optimistic first sentence, but it sounds
    more impressive than, “Hey, Ian, Gordana, and crazy Uncle Carl, thanks for reading
    our book.” Besides, who knows how many readers we have on Kobol (hello, fellow
    fans of Battlestar Galactica!).
    When we began work on the first edition of the book nearly five years ago, it was
    tentatively titled Critical Media Studies: An Interstellar Guide to Fabulous Dinner
    Conversation. In the ensuing time, the book has undergone numerous changes, not
    least of which was a rethinking of its title. Apparently, “some” (who shall remain
    nameless, Elizabeth!) thought that the reference to dinner conversation might be
    confusing and misleading. We remain convinced, however, that it would have been
    an effective way to target fans of the Food Network – a demographic that has, in our
    opinion, been ignored by academic publishers for far too long (hello, fellow fans of
    Iron Chef America!). Although we harbor no hard feelings about this change, we
    nevertheless hope that readers will discuss the book over dinner (or any meal-like
    activity, including tea time: hello, British readers!) and that the ensuing conversation
    will be fabulous.
    Another significant development has been the book’s cover art. Initially we wanted
    an image of two squirrels “doing it” . . . a metaphor, of course, for the frenzied but
    emotionally hollow exchange that occurs between media producers and consumers.
    But as with the title, more sensible heads prevailed, resulting in the equally enticing
    image of Tokyo at night. We, nevertheless, would like to thank our friend, Greg, for
    bravely approaching said squirrels, snapping a picture, and almost losing a finger
    in the process (hello and apologies, Greg!). Despite our disappointment that the
    squirrel-on-squirrel image was not selected, we believe that the existing cover is
    equally appropriate to the themes raised in the book. The rain symbolizes the steady
    stream of media messages that relentlessly pour down upon us each day. Meanwhile,
    the unfamiliar signs of the cityscape invite readers to wonder about their meanings just as Critical Media Studies asks readers to wonder about the role of media
    in their lives. Finally, the array of brilliant colors that comprise the image reflects
    the array of critical perspectives contained in the book, each shedding its own
    light on the media.
    In closing, we wish to acknowledge our debt to the sensible heads mentioned
    above. In particular, we would like to express our gratitude to the team at WileyBlackwell, especially Elizabeth P. Swayze, Senior Editor, and Julia Kirk, Senior
    Project Editor. Their guidance and support has been invaluable. We feel fortunate to
    have had such a dynamic, creative, and thoughtful team guiding us. We also wish to
    thank Dave Nash for his persistence and good humor in securing various copyright
    permissions. Finally, we extend a very special thanks to Kathleen McCully, who
    copy-edited the manuscript, and Nora Naughton, who oversaw the manuscript
    through its copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading and indexing stages (Kathleen
    and Nora, thank you for your tireless efforts to correct our many mistakes!). Since it
    is cliché to say that any remaining mistakes are solely our own, we instead locate the
    blame squarely with the Illuminati (hello, Illuminati!).
    Brian and Rob
    October 14, 2013
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    Introducing Critical
    Media Studies
    Key concepts
    critical media studies
    mass media
    How We Know What We Know
    Everything we know is learned in one of two ways.1 The first way is somatically.
    These are the things we know through direct sensory perception of our e­ nvironment.
    We know what some things look, smell, feel, sound, or taste like because we personally have seen, smelled, felt, heard, or tasted them. One of the authors of this text
    knows, for example, that “Rocky Mountain oysters” (bull testicles) are especially
    chewy because he tried them once at a country and western bar. In short, some of
    what we know is based on first-hand, unmediated experience. But the things we
    know through direct sensory perception make up a very small percentage of the
    total things we know. The vast majority of what we know comes to us a second way,
    symbolically. These are the things we know through someone or something such as a
    parent, friend, teacher, museum, textbook, photograph, radio, film, television, or the
    internet. This type of information is mediated, meaning that it came to us via some
    indirect channel or medium. The word medium is derived from the Latin word
    medius, which means “middle” or that which comes between two things: the way
    that television and the Discovery Channel might come between us and the animals
    of the Serengeti, for instance.
    Critical Media Studies: An Introduction, Second Edition. Brian L. Ott and Robert L. Mack.
    © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    In the past 30 seconds, those readers who have never eaten Rocky Mountain
    ­ ysters now know they are chewy, as that information has been communicated to
    them through, or mediated by, this book. When we stop to think about all the things
    we know, we suddenly realize that the vast majority of what we know is mediated.
    We may know something about China even if we have never been there thanks to
    Wikipedia; we may know something about King George VI even though he died
    long before we were born thanks to The King’s Speech (2010); we may even know
    something about the particulars of conducting a homicide investigation even though
    we have likely never conducted one thanks to the crime drama CSI. The mass media
    account, it would seem, for much of what we know (and do not know) today. But
    this has not always been the case.
    Before the invention of mass media, the spoken or written word was the primary
    medium for conveying information and ideas. This method of communication had
    several significant and interrelated limitations. First, as the transmission of infor­
    mation was tied to the available means of transportation (foot, horse, buggy, boat,
    ­locomotive, or automobile depending upon the time period), its dissemination was
    extraordinarily slow, especially over great distances like continents and oceans. Second,
    because information could not easily be reproduced and distributed, its scope was
    extremely limited. Third, since information often passed through m
    ­ ultiple channels
    (people), each of which altered it, if only slightly, there was a high p
    ­ robability of message distortion. Simply put, there was no way to communicate a uniform message to a
    large group of people in distant places quickly prior to the advent of the modern mass
    media. What distinguishes mass media like print, radio, and television from individual
    media like human speech and hand-written letters, then, is precisely their unique
    capacity to address large audiences in remote locations with relative efficiency.
    Critical Media Studies is about the social and cultural consequences of that
    ­revolutionary capability. Recognizing that mass media are, first and foremost,
    ­communication technologies that increasingly mediate both what we know and how
    we know, this book surveys a variety of perspectives for evaluating and assessing the
    role of mass media in our daily lives. Whether listening to an iPod while walking
    across campus, sharing pictures with friends on Facebook, receiving the latest sports
    scores via your smartphone, sharing your favorite YouTube video over email, or
    ­settling in for the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory or Downton Abbey,
    the mass media are regular fixtures of everyday life. But before beginning to explore
    the specific and complex roles that mass media play in our lives, it is worth looking,
    first, at who they are, when they originated, and how they have developed.
    Categorizing Mass Media
    As is perhaps already evident, media is a very broad term that includes a diverse
    array of communication technologies such as cave drawings, speech, smoke signals,
    letters, books, telegraphy, telephony, magazines, newspapers, radio, film, television,
    Introducing Critical Media Studies 3
    smartphones, video games, and networked computers to name just a few. But
    this book is principally concerned with mass media or those communication
    ­technologies that have the potential to reach a large audience in remote locations.
    What distinguishes mass media from individual media, then, is not merely audience
    size. While a graduation speaker or musician may address as many as 40,000 people
    at once in a stadium, for instance, neither one is mass mediated because the ­audience
    is not remote. Now, of course, if a Lady Gaga concert is being broadcast live via
    ­satellite, those watching at home on their televisions or streaming it live over the
    internet are experiencing it through mass media. Mass media collapse the distance
    between artist and audience, then. Working from this definition, we have organized
    the mass media into four sub-categories: print media, motion picture and sound
    recording, broadcast media, and new media. These categories, like all acts of classification, are arbitrary, meaning that they emphasize certain features of the media
    they group together at the expense of others. Nonetheless, we offer these categories
    as one way of conceptually organizing mass communication technologies.
    Print media
    In an electronically saturated world like the one in which we live today, it is easy to
    overlook the historical legacy and contemporary transformations of print media, the
    first mass medium. German printer Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type
    printing press in 1450, sparking a revolution in the ways that human beings could
    disseminate, preserve, and ultimately relate to knowledge. Printed materials before
    the advent of the press were costly and rare, but the invention of movable type
    allowed for the (relatively) cheap production of a diverse array of pamphlets, books,
    and other items. This flourishing of printed materials touched almost every aspect
    of human life. Suddenly knowledge could be recorded for future generations in
    libraries or religious texts, and social power increasingly hinged upon literacy and
    ownership of printed materials. Most importantly, the press allowed for an unprecedented circulation of knowledge to far-flung cities across Europe. Although still
    limited by class distinctions, access to information from outside of one’s immediate
    context was a real possibility. Mass media was born.
    Not long after the settlement of Jamestown in the USA in 1607, the colonies
    ­established their first printing press. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the
    press was printing popular religious tracts such as the Bay Psalm Book, a 148-page
    ­collection of English translations of Hebrew, by 1640.2 Although much of the early
    printing in the colonies was religion-oriented, novels such as Robinson Crusoe
    (1719) and Tom Jones (1749), imported from England, were also popular. Religious
    tracts were eventually followed by almanacs, newspapers, and magazines. The most
    well-known early almanac, Poor Richard’s Almanac, which included information on
    the weather along with some political opinions, was printed from 1733 to 1757 by
    Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. Although various cities had short-lived or local
    non-daily newspapers in the 1700s, the New York Sun, which is considered the first
    Table 1.1 Number of consumer magazine titles in the USA
    Number of titles
    Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations.
    successful mass-circulation newspaper, did not begin operations until 1833.3
    The failure of earlier newspapers is often attributed to the fact that they were small
    operations run by local printers. It was not until newspapers began using editors and
    receiving substantial financial backing – first from political parties and later from
    wealthy elites like Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst – that the ­newspaper
    industry mushroomed.
    During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the newspaper industry experienced rapid growth. This trend continued until 1973, at which point there were
    1,774 daily newspapers with a combined circulation of 63.1 million copies.4 This
    meant that about 92 percent of US households were subscribing to a daily newspaper in 1973. Since then, however, newspaper production and circulation has
    steadily declined. In 2011, the total number of daily newspapers printed in the USA
    was 1,382 and they had a combined circulation of 44.4 million copies or less than 40
    percent of US households.
    In many ways, the history of the magazine industry in the USA closely mirrors that
    of the newspaper industry. It began somewhat unsteadily, underwent ­tremendous
    growth, and is currently experiencing a period of considerable ­instability. The first
    US magazine, American Magazine, was published in 1741. But the magazine boom
    did not really begin until the mid-nineteenth century. And though the industry continued to experience growth throughout the twentieth ­century, more recently it has
    suffered a decline in both the total number of titles (Table 1.1) and paid circulation
    (Table 1.2). Table 1.1 illustrates that the number of consumer magazine titles in the
    USA grew by 30 percent from 1990 to 2000 before declining by nearly 25 percent
    from 2000 to 2010.
    Moreover, as Table 1.2 shows, the total paid circulation of the top 10 magazines
    in 2012 is more than 30 million less than the total paid circulation of the
    top 10 ­magazines 20 years earlier. Interestingly, the highest circulating magazine
    in 2012, Game Informer Magazine, had existed for only 1 year in 1992, while the
    ­second highest circulating magazine in 1992, TV Guide, no longer exists. The book
    publishing industry has, until very recently, not experienced the deep losses occurring in the newspaper and magazine industries over the past two decades. But in
    2012, unit sales of traditional paper books fell by about 9 percent for the third year
    in a row; adult non-fiction was the hardest hit, falling 13 percent.5 Despite declining
    circulation and unit sales in the newspaper, magazine, and book industries,
    Americans are still reading. But how they are reading – thanks to e-books and online
    newspapers and magazines – is changing both rapidly and dramatically.
    Introducing Critical Media Studies 5
    Table 1.2 Top 10 US consumer magazines by paid circulation in 1992 and 2012*
    Reader’s Digest
    TV Guide
    National Geographic
    Better Homes and Gardens
    The Cable Guide
    Family Circle
    Good Housekeeping
    Ladies’ Home Journal
    Woman’s Day
    Total circulation of top 10
    Game Informer Magazine
    Better Homes and Gardens
    Reader’s Digest
    Good Housekeeping
    Family Circle
    National Geographic
    Woman’s Day
    Taste of Home
    Total circulation of top 10
    Source: Adweek, March 29, 1993; Alliance for Audited Media, February 7, 2013. *Data exclude
    magazines whose circulation is tied to membership benefits (i.e. AARP The Magazine [formerly Modern
    Maturity] and AARP Bulletin).
    Motion picture and sound recording
    Sound recording and motion pictures may seem like an odd pairing at first, but
    their histories are deeply intertwined thanks in large part to Thomas Edison. In the
    span of 15 years, Edison and his assistant, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson,
    ­created what would later develop into the first two new mass media since print.
    Edison’s first invention, of the phonograph in 1877, was a device that played
    recorded sound, and his second, the kinetoscope in 1892, was an early motion
    ­picture device that showed short, silent films in peep-show fashion to individual
    viewers. But Edison’s goal was to synchronize audio and visual images into a film
    projector that would allow for more than one viewer at a time. Although sound film
    did not become possible until the early 1920s, improvements in film projection,
    namely the development of the vitascope, gave rise to the silent film era in the
    meantime. The eventual synchronization of sound and film launched talking
    ­pictures, or “talkies.” The first commercially successful, feature-length talkie was a
    musical film, The Jazz Singer, in 1927. Hollywood was about to enter its Golden
    Age of the 1930s and 1940s, in which “the studios were geared to produce a singular
    commodity, the feature film.”6
    With the motion picture industry firmly established, sound recording was
    now receiving independent attention and the record industry began to dominate
    the music industry, which had previously been involved primarily in the production of sheet music. By the start of the twentieth century, profits from the
    sale of sound recordings quickly eclipsed profits from the sale of sheet music.
    This shift was fueled in large part by the continuous development of cheap and
    easily reproducible f­ormats such as magnetic tape in 1926, long-playing (LP)
    records in 1948, compact or audio cassettes in 1963, optical or compact discs
    (CDs) in 1982, and lossy ­bitcompression technologies such as MPEG-1 Audio
    Layer 3 (MP3s) in 1995. With the exception of magnetic tape for sound recording, which was invented by German engineer Fritz Pfleumer, and Columbia
    Records’ LP, Sony and Philips are ­responsible for the previously mentioned
    recording formats, as well as the Betamax (1975), LaserDisc (1978), Video2000
    (1980), Betacam (1982), Video8 (1985), Digital Audio Tape (1987), Hi8 (1989),
    CD-i (1991), MiniDisc (1992), Digital Compact Disc (1992), Universal Media
    Disc (2005), Blu-ray Disc (2006), and DVD (as part of the 1995 DVD Consortium)
    formats. Several of these more recent formats have had implications for the
    motion picture industry, as they allow for the playback and recording of movies
    on DVD players and computers at home.
    Broadcast media
    The development of broadcast technologies changed the media landscape once
    again. Instead of media physically having to be distributed to stores or shipped
    to audiences as books, magazines, and newspapers are, or audiences physically
    having to travel to the media as in the case of film, media could now be brought
    directly to audiences over public airwaves. This was an important development
    because it freed mass media from transportation for the first time in history. We
    have excluded the electrical telegraph (1830s) because, like the telephone
    (1870s), it is better classified as a personal medium than a mass medium. Radio
    came on the scene first, ­experimenting with transmissions as early as the 1890s
    and making scheduled broadcasts in the 1920s. But television followed shortly
    thereafter with Philo T. Farnsworth, a Mormon from the small farm community
    of Rigby, Idaho, applying for the first television patent in 1927 and CBS l­ aunching
    the first television schedule in 1941. Not only do radio and television share an
    overlapping technological history, but they also share an overlapping professional h
    ­ istory, as many of television’s early stars came from radio. After the
    Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sorted out broadcast frequencies
    for radio in 1945 and television in 1952, commercial ­broadcast stations spread
    rapidly (see Table 1.3).
    The tremendous growth in the number of commercial radio and television
    ­stations since 1950 suggests strong consumer demand for their content. This
    ­perception is ­confirmed by the data on radio and television ownership and usage. As
    of 2011, 99 percent of US households had at least one radio and 96.7 percent of US
    households had at least one television set (the lowest percentage since 1975 and
    down from 98.9 percent at the height of television’s penetration).7 The average US
    home, however, is equipped with 8 radios and 2.93 television sets.8 And by all
    accounts, these devices garner substantial use. While radio usage is difficult to
    Introducing Critical Media Studies 7
    Table 1.3 Number of commercial broadcast stations in the USA*
    AM radio stations
    FM radio stations
    Television stations:
    UHF and VHF
    Source: The Federal Communications Commission; US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the
    United States: 2001, Table 1126; and US Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012,
    Table 1132. *Data exclude educational broadcast stations.
    measure, as we listen to the radio at work, at home, in cars, and in a variety of other
    contexts, ­industry experts estimate that the typical American listens to about 1 hour
    and 30 minutes of radio per day. But television is still, far and away, the dominant
    medium in terms of usage. The Nielsen Company estimates that, in 2010, the ­average
    American watched more than 35½ hours of television per week.9 Suffice to say,
    Americans spend a significant amount of time with radio and television.
    Before turning to the fourth and final category of mass media, two recent developments with regard to radio and television need to be addressed: satellite radio and
    cable and satellite television. In many ways, these developments are analogous. Both
    technologies charge for content, include some content that cannot be broadcast over
    public airwaves, and trouble the traditional understanding of broadcast media.
    Satellite radio and television and, increasingly, cable television employ a digital
    signal, which qualifies them for inclusion in the category of new media. That having
    been said, not all cable television is digital, and satellite radio and television, which
    use a digital signal, are broadcast. As such, neither cable nor satellite technology fits
    neatly into the category of broadcast or new media. Confusion over how to categorize satellite radio and cable and satellite television has not stopped either one from
    being successful, however. Sirius XM Radio Inc, the sole satellite radio provider in
    the USA, has 21 million paying subscribers and made $763 million in 2011.10
    Meanwhile, from 1970 to 2011, the number of US households with either cable or
    satellite television has grown from 7 to over 85 percent.11 As these data suggest, satellite
    radio and cable and satellite television are growing rapidly, though even their success
    is threatened by the proliferation of new media.
    New media
    New media is the broadest and, hence, the most difficult of the four categories of mass
    media to delimit and define. Though we offer a definition from Lev Manovich, even
    he is aware of its problematic nature: “new media are the ­cultural objects which use
    digital computer technology for distribution and circulation.”12 One difficulty with
    this definition is that what it includes must continuously be revised as computing
    technology becomes a more common mode of distribution. The d
    ­ evelopment of
    digital television, film, photography, and e-books, for instance, would place them
    in the category of new media along with the i­ nternet, w
    ­ ebsites, online ­computer
    games, and internet capable mobile telephony. The ever-expanding character of
    this ­category raises a second problem, which can be posed as a question; will it
    eventually come to include all media and ­therefore be a meaningless category?
    The likely answer is yes, for reasons we will discuss later under the topic of convergence. But for the time being, it remains a helpful way to differentiate it from
    traditional print, ­celluloid film, and broadcast radio and television. As long as
    there are mass media that exist as something other than 0s and 1s, new media will
    remain a useful and m
    ­ eaningful category.
    The history of new media begins with the development of the microprocessor or
    computer chip. Introduced in 1971, the world’s first commercial microprocessor, the
    4-bit Intel 4004, executed about 60,000 calculations a second. By the early 1990s, the
    486 microprocessor, which was typical of computers at the time, could perform
    54 ­million calculations per second. Intel’s Pentium Pro, introduced in 1995, increased
    performance yet again to roughly 250 million calculations per second. But ­computers
    were not only rapidly becoming more powerful, they were also rapidly becoming more
    connected. Developed initially as a communication technology for the US Department
    of Defense, the internet began to catch the public’s attention in the 1970s when its
    potential for sending personal electronic messages (emails) became evident. But it was
    the development of a graphic-based user interface and common network protocols in
    the early 1990s that popularized the internet by transforming it into the hypertextual
    platform we know now as the World Wide Web. At the turn of the millennium, experts
    estimated that there were more than 8 billion web pages, a number that was doubling
    at the time every 6 months.13 With the infrastructure in place, the cost of computing
    ­technology declining, and the ability of ordinary people to become mass producers of
    information, the adoption of new media in the USA is growing exponentially.
    Let us consider the rate at which a few of these technologies have invaded our
    lives. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that only 10 percent of
    American adults were using the internet in 1995. By August 2011, however, that
    number had grown to 78 percent of adults and 95 percent of teenagers.14 Today,
    millions of people use the internet for everything from online banking and bill
    ­paying to job searching and social networking. Indeed, the social networking
    site Facebook, which did not even exist until 2004, attracted more than a billion
    active users worldwide in less than a decade. Other new media technologies, like
    cell phones, MP3 players, and digital games, have also experienced staggering
    adoption rates. Though cell phone adoption in the USA lags behind many European
    countries, mobile telephony still boasts one of the fastest penetration rates of
    any communication technology in history. In 2004, only about 39 percent of youth
    ­(8- to 18-year-olds) owned a cell phone, but that number jumped to 66 percent in
    just 5 years. In that same time span (2004 to 2009), the percentage of youth who
    owned an MP3 player skyrocketed from 18 percent to 76 percent.15 As of 2012, 46
    percent of US households (roughly 162 million people) owned a gaming console
    Introducing Critical Media Studies 9
    Table 1.4 Projected use of select new media for 2013 in the USA
    Users in millions 2013
    % increase over 2012
    % of US population
    Internet use
    Internet users
    Social network users
    Online video viewers
    Online television viewers
    Online casual gamers
    Online movie viewers
    Online console gamers
    Mobile phone use
    Mobile phone users
    Mobile internet users
    Smartphone users
    Mobile gamers
    Smartphone gamers
    Source: eMarketer, US Digital Media Usage: A Snapshot of 2013, November 2012.
    and 39 percent owned a 7th generation console (Wii, PS3, or Xbox 360).16 Table 1.4
    shows the projected use of select new media technologies in 2013.
    Living in Postmodernity
    As the previous section illustrates, the mass media develop and change over time. It
    is important, therefore, to study them in historical context. Since the focus of this
    book is on contemporary mass media, this section reflects on the character of the
    contemporary historical moment. The present moment has variously been described
    as the information age, the network era, the third wave, post-industrial society, the
    digital age, and postmodernity. While none of these labels is without its shortcomings, we prefer the term postmodernity to refer to the contemporary moment given
    its widespread adoption by media scholars. Postmodernity describes the historical
    epoch that began to emerge in the 1960s as the economic mode of production
    in most Western societies gradually shifted from commodity-based manufacturing
    to information-based services. Postmodernity should not be confused with
    ­postmodernism, an aesthetic sensibility or “style of culture which reflects something
    of this epochal change, in a . . . self-reflexive, playful, derivative, eclectic, pluralistic
    art.”17 In the transition from modernity to postmodernity, the mass production of
    standardized, durable goods such as automobiles and toasters has steadily given way
    to the reproduction of highly customizable soft goods such as iTunes libraries and
    cell phone plans. Table 1.5 highlights some of the key differences between m
    ­ odernity
    Table 1.5 Comparison of modernity and postmodernity
    ~1850s to 1960s
    Monopoly (imperial) capitalism
    Manufacturing and production
    Heavy industries
    Durable goods
    Mass markets
    Economies of scale
    State macro-economic regulation
    ~1960s to present
    Multinational (global) capitalism
    Flexible accumulation
    Marketing and public relations
    Image industries
    Information and ideas
    Niche markets
    Economies of speed
    Global corporation
    Free-market neoliberalism
    and postmodernity. As the mass media have both contributed to and been
    ­transformed by this historical transition, the remainder of this section explores
    five key trends driving the mass media in postmodernity: convergence, mobility,
    ­fragmentation, globalization, and simulation.
    The previous section organizes the media into four categories as a way of sketching
    a brief history of mass communication technologies. Ironically, the first major trend
    in the mass media today involves the erasure of such boundaries. Increasingly,
    ­contemporary media reflect convergence, the tendency of formerly diverse media
    to share a common, integrated platform. As strange as it may seem today in light of
    the prevalence of streaming video, internet radio, and online newspapers, convergence is a relatively recent phenomenon that was considered visionary in the early
    1980s when Nicholas Negroponte and others at the MIT Media Lab began exploring
    multimedia systems. Before media convergence could become a reality, it had to
    overcome two major obstacles. First, the noise associated with analog signals such as
    those used in television and radio broadcasting generated message distortion and
    decay over long distances. This problem was solved through digitization, which
    reduces distortion by relying on bits rather than a continuous signal. Second, bandwidth limitations prevented large data packets involving images and video from
    being transmitted quickly and easily over a communication channel. But improved
    data-compression techniques along with bandwidth expansions have made possible
    the real-time transmission of large data packets over communication channels.
    As these technical hurdles have been overcome, convergence has accelerated.
    Introducing Critical Media Studies
    Historically, mass media have not been very portable. If you wanted to see a film, you
    had to go to the theater. If you wanted to watch your favorite television show, you had
    to do so in the privacy of your own home. Even print media such as books, magazines,
    and newspapers were limited in their mobility, as their size and weight significantly
    restricted the amount of printed material one was likely to carry around. But the development of powerful microprocessors and wireless technology is ­rapidly changing all
    this, and today, instead of us going to places for media, media can increasingly go
    places with us. Mobility refers to the ease with which an object can be moved from
    place to place. As one of the book’s authors typed this ­paragraph, for instance, he was
    sitting in his favorite café, listening to music on his iPhone, and working on his laptop.
    In addition to being able to take his whole music library with him, much of the research
    for this book is stored on his ­computer. When he needed to locate information not on
    his computer, he simply connected wirelessly to the University library and downloaded the necessary research. In fact, in the past few years, this author has pretty
    much stopped going to the library altogether. Even when he requires a book that does
    not exist electronically (yet!), he simply logs into the library website and arranges for
    delivery to his office. As technology becomes more and more mobile, media are being
    transformed from generic home appliances into highly personal (often fashion) accessories. In light of the drive toward ­mobility, the next evolutionary stage is likely to see
    media go from being something we carry around or wear to something we embody or
    become in the form of ­cybernetic implants.
    Despite its continued use, the phrase mass media is rapidly becoming a misnomer.
    The mass in mass media has traditionally referred to the large, undifferentiated,
    anonymous, and passive audience addressed by television, radio, and print’s standardized messages. But the explosion of information in postmodernity has given way
    to cultural fragmentation, a splintering of the consuming public into ever more specialized taste cultures. This, in turn, has resulted in a tremendous proliferation of
    media content, if not media ownership, along with niche marketing. What Alvin
    Toffler has called the “de-massification” of media has been underway since at least the
    early 1970s.18 Decreasing production costs have greatly altered the economics of the
    media industry, reducing the necessity for standardization. The result has been a dramatic increase in media output that caters to specific interests and tastes. Long gone
    are the days of only three television networks, which could not fill 24 hours of programming. Today, there are hundreds of networks, as well as premium cable s­ ervices,
    with around-the-clock programming. Nor is television unique; the print media and
    radio have witnessed a similar proliferation of specialty outlets. General-purpose
    magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Life that dominated the magazine
    industry in the 1960s had been replaced by 4,000 special-interest m
    ­ agazines by 1980.19
    The internet, of course, reflects the most diversified medium, delivering a dizzying
    array of content. Even an online bazaar like has country-specific portals and employs tracking software, or so-called cookies, that record user preferences
    to create a highly customized shopping experience. As this technology improves, we
    can count on media becoming more and more tailored to individual tastes.
    Globalization is the buzzword of the moment, having captured the attention of
    ­academics, business leaders, and politicians alike.20 Even as the world has become
    increasingly fragmented by specialized interests, it has simultaneously become more
    global as well. Globalization is a complex set of social, political, and e­conomic
    ­processes in which the physical boundaries and structural policies that previously
    reinforced the autonomy of the nation state are collapsing in favor of instantaneous
    and flexible worldwide social relations. While globalization is multidimensional, we
    wish to focus chiefly on economic globalization. In the past few decades, the spread of
    capitalism has fueled the rise of multinational corporations that wish to profit from
    untapped “global markets.” Hence, these corporations aggressively support free-trade
    policies that eliminate barriers such as trade tariffs between national and international
    markets. For the mass media, which are owned and controlled almost exclusively
    today by multinational corporations, globalization creates opportunities to bring their
    cultural products to distant local markets. This fact has raised fears about cultural
    imperialism, the imposition of one set of cultural values on other c­ ultures. The process
    is dialectical or bidirectional, h
    ­ owever. Local m
    ­ arkets are influencing the products
    and thinking of the very ­companies targeting them, ­leading to concern that cultural
    difference is being eradicated in favor of one large ­hybridized culture.
    Although the concept of simulation can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, its current
    cultural cachet is due principally to the French theorist Jean Baudrillard and his book
    Simulacra and Simulation. “Simulation,” Baudrillard writes, “is the ­generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.”21 According to Baudrillard, Western
    societies, and “America” in particular, are increasingly characterized by ­simulation, an
    implosion of the image (i.e. representations) and the real. This ­argument is premised
    on, in Baudrillard’s words, the precession of simulacra, which suggests that the image
    has evolved from being a good representation of an external reality, to a ­distorted
    ­representation of an external reality, to a mask that conceals the absence of a basic
    ­reality, to bearing no relation to any reality at all.22 The matter of simulation is an
    ­important one, as the mass media are the key social institutions fueling this social
    ­phenomenon. The media, for instance, endlessly ­produce and reproduce images of
    love, violence, and family (to name only a few) that no longer point or refer to some
    Introducing Critical Media Studies
    external reality. Rather, they exist only as images of images for which there is no o
    ­ riginal.
    Simulation suggests that the media no longer represent, if they ever did, our social
    world; they construct a realer-­than-real space that is our social world.
    Why Study the Media?
    Perhaps the most important reason to study mass media today is because of their sheer
    ubiquity. In the transition to postmodernity, mass media have gone from being one institution among many within our cultural environment to being the very basis of our cultural environment. The further back in history one travels, the less central mass media
    are to social life and the more central are other social institutions such as the family, the
    church, the school, and the state. But today, these social institutions have been subsumed
    by, and are largely filtered through, the mass media. More than ever before, the mass
    media have replaced families as caretakers, churches as arbiters of cultural values, schools
    as sites of education, and the state as public agenda-­setters. In this introduction, we
    explored the two ways we know things, somatically and s­ ymbolically (i.e. directly and
    indirectly). Not only do we know most things s­ ymbolically, but the media represent an
    ever-expanding piece of the total symbolic pie of social mediators. Table 1.6 illustrates
    the expanding number of hours the ­average American spends per day with select media.
    As Table 1.6 indicates, though we may gradually be changing which media we use, the
    mass media remain a significant socializing force in contemporary ­society. Socialization
    describes the process by which persons – both individually and c­ ollectively – learn,
    adopt, and internalize the prevailing cultural beliefs, v­ alues, and norms of a society.
    Because all social institutions are mediators, they all contribute to socialization. When
    information passes through a channel or medium, it is ­translated from direct sensory
    experience into a set of symbols. Since symbols are selective, privileging some aspects of
    Table 1.6 Average time (in hours) spent per day with select media in the USA
    Television and video
    Total hours
    Source: eMarketer, Time Spent with Media: Consumer Behavior in the Age
    of Multitasking, 2012. Note: many of these hours are spent multitasking;
    numbers may not add up to total due to rounding.
    the thing being represented at the expense of others, they function as filters. Language
    is perhaps the most obvious example of how symbols operate as filters. When you listen
    to a friend tell a story or read about history in a textbook, you are not experiencing the
    events being described directly. You are only experiencing them symbolically. The words
    you hear or read are ­representations of the event you are learning about, not the actual
    event itself. This is why two accounts of the same event, while potentially very similar,
    are never identical. Stories are inevitably filtered through the symbols, and therefore the
    ­perspective, of the storyteller. As society’s main storytellers, the mass media filter ­virtually
    every aspect of our world, s­ haping both what we learn and how we learn.
    What we learn
    Mediated messages are comprised of content and form. Broadly speaking, the c­ontent
    influences what we learn and the form influences how we learn. Both content and
    form are central to the socializing function of the mass media, though content has
    typically been given more attention. Content refers to the informational component
    of a message, to the specific details, facts, ideas, and opinions communicated through
    mass media. Audiences are often consciously aware of the content of mediated messages. We know, for instance, that when we read the news we are learning specifics
    about our world. After just briefly ­scanning USA Today online, one author learned
    that the American Civil Liberties Union is suing to prevent an Iowa law that would
    make it easier for the state to remove voters from its voter registration lists, that
    Facebook is launching a smartphone that showcases its social networking site, and
    that Justin Bieber is facing fines in Germany for sneaking a monkey named Mally
    onto a private jet without the proper documentation. It should probably be noted at
    this point that the content of a message need not have use-value or truth-value to be
    ­classified as informational. As both misinformation and disinformation would
    ­suggest, fairness and accuracy are not defining attributes of information. Information
    need only be meaningful, as opposed to gibberish, to count as information.
    The content of the mass media matters for several reasons. First, by choosing to
    include or cover some topics and to exclude or ignore others, the media establish
    which social issues are considered important and which are considered unimportant.
    Simply put, the mass media largely determine what we talk and care about. Second,
    content lacking a diversity of views and opinions significantly limits the scope of public debate and deliberation on matters of social importance. Unpopular and ­dissenting
    viewpoints are essential to a healthy democracy, however, as they often reframe issues
    in fresh, productive ways. Third, because media content is ­communicated using
    ­symbols and all symbols are selective, media content is ­necessarily biased. The ­language
    and images used to inform, educate, and entertain you also convey selective attitudes
    and beliefs. In short, the content of the mass media socializes us to care about some
    issues and not others, to see those issues from some perspectives and not others, and
    to adopt particular attitudes toward the p
    ­ erspectives it presents.
    Introducing Critical Media Studies
    How we learn
    Whereas content refers to the informational component of a message, form describes
    the cognitive component of a message. Form can be thought of as the way a message
    is packaged and delivered. The packaging of a message is a consequence, first, of the
    medium and, second, of the genre or class. Every medium or communication
    ­technology packages messages differently.23 The unique ways that a message is packaged influence how we process it. In other words, communication mediums train
    our conscious to think in particular ways, not what to think, but how to think. Media
    scholars generally agree, for instance, that the way we interpret and make sense of
    language differs radically from the way we interpret and make sense of images.
    Whereas language is highly temporal and thus favors a sequential or linear way of
    knowing,24 images are decidedly spatial and hence privilege an associative or nonlinear way of knowing. A simple way to confirm this difference is to place a page of
    printed text next to an image. While the printed text only makes sense when the
    words are read in succession, the elements within the image can be processed
    Because the medium of a message conditions how one processes the informational elements within a message, some media scholars contend that message form
    is a more fundamental and important socializing force than message content. This
    position is most famously associated with Marshall McLuhan, who succinctly
    claimed, “The medium is the message.” Given the transition to postmodernity, in
    which the image has steadily replaced the word as the prevailing form in mass media
    (even print media such as magazines and newspapers are increasingly filled with
    pictures), the belief that young people today are cognitively different than their parents is rapidly gaining adherents. If media guru Douglas Rushkoff is ­correct, then
    television and MTV along with video games and the internet may account for everything from the invention and popularity of snowboarding to the emergence and
    spread of attention deficit disorder. As such, critical media scholars must attend not
    only to what the mass media socialize us to think, but also to how they socialize us
    to think.
    Doing Critical Media Studies
    As powerful socializing agents that shape what and how we know ourselves and our
    world, it is vital that we analyze and evaluate the mass media critically. Critical
    media studies is an umbrella term used to describe an array of theoretical perspectives which, though diverse, are united by their skeptical attitude, humanistic
    approach, political assessment, and commitment to social justice. Before turning to
    the ­individual perspectives that comprise critical studies, let us examine the four key
    characteristics they share in greater detail.
    Attitude: skeptical
    The theoretical perspectives that comprise critical studies all begin with the
    ­assumption that there is more at stake in mass media than initially meets the eye. To a
    l­ay-person, for instance, what gets reported on the evening news may appear to be an
    objective retelling of the day’s major events. But to the critical scholar, the p
    ­ roduction
    of news is a complex process shaped by the pragmatic need to fill a one-hour time
    block every day, as well as to garner high ratings. These factors, in large part, determine
    what counts as news, how the news is produced, and what the news looks like. Just as
    there is value in looking more closely at the news, there is value in looking more
    closely at all media. Thus, the various perspectives within the field of critical media
    studies adopt an attitude of skepticism, not as a way of rejecting media, but as a way of
    understanding how they work and what they do. Some critics refer to this skeptical
    attitude as a “hermeneutics of suspicion.”25 Hermeneutics describes a mode of interpretation grounded in close analysis. So, a hermeneutics of suspicion would be a
    mode of close analysis with a deep distrust of surface appearances and “commonsense” explanations.
    Approach: humanistic
    Universities, like many other cultural institutions, are divided into various departments
    and units. Though the precise character of such divisions varies from one institution to
    the next, one common way of organizing disciplines and departments is according to
    the categories of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. These categories,
    while neither rigid nor entirely discrete, reflect a set of general distinctions concerning
    subject matter, outlook, and method (i.e. procedure of investigation). Whereas the
    ­natural sciences seek to understand the physical world by empirical and “objective”
    means, for instance, the humanities aim to understand cultural and social phenomena
    by interpretive and analytical means. To say that critical media studies is humanistic,
    then, is to associate it with a particular set of intellectual concerns and approaches to the
    discovery of knowledge. Adopting a humanistic approach to the social world and our
    place in it, critical media studies emphasizes self-reflection, critical citizenship, democratic p
    ­ rinciples, and humane education.26 It is an approach that entails “thinking about
    freedom and responsibility and the contribution that intellectual pursuit can make to
    the welfare of society.”27 Because of the subjective element of humanistic ­criticism, the
    knowledge it creates is never complete, fixed, or finished.28
    Assessment: political
    In many scholarly arenas, the final step in research is the objective reporting of one’s
    findings (usually in an academic journal). But critical media studies is interested in the
    practical and political implications of those findings and, thus, entails judgment.
    Introducing Critical Media Studies
    Although there is no universal criterion for leveling political judgments across i­ ndividual
    studies of the mass media, critical studies are generally concerned with d
    ­ etermining
    whose interests are served by the media, and how those interests ­contribute to domination, exploitation, and/or asymmetrical relations of power. Research in this tradition
    interrogates how media create, maintain, or subvert ­particular social structures, and
    whether or not such structures are just and e­ galitarian. A Feminist study of television
    sitcoms, for instance, would examine how the ­representation of male and female
    ­characters in such programs functions to ­reinforce or challenge gender and sexual
    ­stereotypes. Critical studies view society as a ­complex network of interrelated power
    relations that symbolically privilege and materially benefit some individuals and groups
    over others. The central aim of c­ ritical ­scholarship is to evaluate the media’s role in
    constructing and maintaining ­particular relationships of power.
    Ambition: social justice
    One of the most unique and, at times, controversial characteristics of critical media
    studies is its desire to better our social world. While scholars in many fields believe
    that research should be neutral and non-interventionist, critical media studies aims
    not only to identify political injustices but also to confront and challenge them.
    Critical media studies is premised on a commitment to social justice and maintains
    that scholars should “have as their determinate goal the improvement of society.”29
    Many media scholars who work within the critical media studies paradigm belong
    to media-reform organizations such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR),
    the Media Education Foundation, Media Democracy in Action, Free Press, the
    Action Coalition for Media Education, the Center for Creative Voices in Media, and
    countless others. Critical media studies scholars believe that it is incumbent upon
    citizens and not just their governments to hold big corporate media accountable.
    Social activism can take many forms, from boycotts and culture jamming to producing alternative media and supporting independent media outlets.
    Key Critical Perspectives
    In an effort to assist students in evaluating the media critically, this book examines,
    explains, and demonstrates 12 critical perspectives, each of which is rooted in a
    ­different social theory. Theory is an explanatory and interpretive tool that simultaneously enables and limits our understanding of the particular social product,
    ­practice, or process under investigation. The term theory derives from the Greek
    word theoria, which refers to vision, optics, or a way of seeing. Since, as Kenneth
    Burke notes in Permanence and Change, “Every way of seeing is also a way of not
    seeing,”30 no theory is without ­limitations. We believe that since every theory has
    biases and blind spots, no theory ought to be treated as the final word on any subject.
    Theory is most useful when it is used and understood as a partial explanation of the
    phenomenon being studied. Students are strongly encouraged to take each perspective seriously, but none as infallible or universal. We have grouped the 12 critical
    perspectives in this book into three clusters based upon whether their primary focus
    is on media industries, messages, or audiences. A brief examination of those three
    theory clusters provides a chapter overview of the book.
    Media industries: Marxist, Organizational, and Pragmatic
    Part I of Critical Media Studies examines media industries and their practices of
    ­production, paying particular attention to the economic, corporate, and governmental
    structures that enable and constrain how mass media operate. Chapter 2 explores the
    media from a Marxist theoretical perspective by examining the ways that c­ apitalism
    and the profit-motive influence media-ownership patterns and c­ orporate practices.
    Chapter 3 approaches the media from an Organizational perspective by focusing on
    the work routines and professional conventions within media industries. Chapter 4,
    the final chapter in the first part, investigates media industries from a Pragmatic
    ­perspective, exploring how government laws and ­regulations impact media products.
    Media messages: Rhetorical, Cultural, Psychoanalytic,
    Feminist, and Queer
    Part II of the book centers on media messages, and concerns how the mass media
    convey information, ideas, and ideologies. Chapter 5 utilizes a Rhetorical perspective to illuminate how the various structures within media texts work to influence
    and move audiences. Chapter 6 reflects a Cultural perspective and investigates how
    the media convey ideologies about matters such as class and race that, in turn, shape
    cultural attitudes toward various social groups. Chapter 7 adopts a Psychoanalytic
    perspective, considering parallels between media messages and the unconscious
    structures of the human psyche. Chapter 8 approaches media from a Feminist
    perspective, highlighting the complex ways that media influence our cultural
    ­performances of gender, whereas Chapter 9 adopts a Queer perspective to illustrate
    how media contribute to our attitudes about sexuality.
    Media audiences: Reception, Sociological, Erotic, and Ecological
    In Part III, Critical Media Studies turns to media audiences, attending to the diverse
    ways that audiences interpret, negotiate, and use media to create meanings, ­pleasures,
    and identities. Employing a Reception approach, Chapter 10 explores the various
    meaning-making practices in which audiences engage. Chapter 11 adopts a Socio­
    logical approach to media, exploring how audiences use media to negotiate the s­ ymbolic
    and material demands of their everyday lives. Chapter 12 employs an Erotic perspective
    Introducing Critical Media Studies
    to understand the transgressive pleasures that audiences experience as they ­increasingly
    become active producers as well as consumers of media. Chapter 13 concludes Part III
    by offering an Ecological perspective, which concerns the ways media technologies
    dominate our social environment and shape human consciousness.
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    assumes that the literal or surface-level meaning
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    University Press, 1970), 27; see also pp. 32–3)].
    E.W. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism
    (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).
    H. Hardt, Critical Communication Studies:
    Communication, History and Theory in America
    (New York: Routledge, 1992), xi.
    Said, 12.
    Hardt, x.
    K. Burke, Permanence and Change, revised edn
    (Los Altos, CA: Hermes Publications, 1954), 49.
    Part I
    Media Industries:
    Marxist, Organizational,
    and Pragmatic Perspectives
    Marxist Analysis
    Key concepts
    historical materialism
    planned obsolescence
    joint ventures profit-motive
    integration spectacle
    logic of safety
    Marxism synergy
    The Secret Circle, a supernatural drama about a coven of teen witches in the fictitious
    community of Chance Harbor, WA, debuted on the CW television network in
    September 2011 with many indicators of success. In addition to deriving its source
    material from a popular series of young adult novels by author L.J. Smith, the new
    series scored a coveted broadcast slot following the network’s most popular program,
    The Vampire Diaries (another show sourced from Smith’s literary work). Moreover,
    the paranormal juggernaut Supernatural was entering its seventh season on the CW
    at the same time, suggesting that its dedicated audiences might also be open to
    adopting the spellbinding The Secret Circle as well. To some degree these strategic
    overlaps paid off. The Secret Circle’s viewership fluctuated throughout its nine-month
    run, but the program managed to conclude the 2011–12 season as the CW’s most
    watched new series, making it the third most watched series overall for the network
    (ahead of more proven performers like One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl).1
    Fans of the show were understandably puzzled, then, to learn in May 2012 that the
    CW had decided not to renew The Secret Circle for a second season. Why would the
    network cancel something so popular, especially when it appeared to fit so well with
    its brand? One likely answer is cost; The Secret Circle was tremendously expensive to
    produce when compared to other new CW series.2 While fellow fledgling programs
    like Hart of Dixie and Ringer could be filmed in hotspots like New York and Los
    Angeles, The Secret Circle required more expensive, on-location shoots in and around
    the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Furthermore, no other new series on the ­network
    required the costly special effects that The Secret Circle’s witches necessitated. Despite
    Critical Media Studies: An Introduction, Second Edition. Brian L. Ott and Robert L. Mack.
    © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Media Industries
    these practical concerns, fans of the program launched an online campaign called
    “Save The Secret Circle,” encouraging the CW or other sympathetic networks
    (ABC Family, MTV, Syfy, etc.) to renew the series.3 Although fans circulated online
    ­petitions, wrote letters to television executives, and inundated the offices of Warner
    Bros. with 2,500 postcards and ABC Family with 300 lbs of plastic gold coins, no
    network picked up the series for a second season.
    The cancellation of The Secret Circle is as an important reminder to media
    ­consumers about the powerful role that economic factors play in shaping our media
    landscape. Though the program had strong ratings and a dedicated audience, its
    high production costs prevented it from being profitable enough to renew. In many
    ways, this case study illustrates the critical perspective in media studies commonly
    referred to as Marxist analysis. Generally speaking, Marxist media scholars are
    interested in how economic contexts and imperatives impact the production and
    distribution of media content. Books, films, and television shows do not just spontaneously occur: all are created as products to be bought and sold in a greater system
    of commodity exchange. Marxist scholars are concerned with how the idea of media
    content as product, in turn, shapes the way it looks and circulates.
    We begin this chapter with an overview of Marxist theory before turning our
    attention to patterns of media ownership, focusing on how concentration, conglomeration, integration, and multinationalism diminish competition, maximize profits,
    and exploit foreign markets. In the next portion of the chapter, we explore several of
    the key strategies of profit maximization utilized by multinational media conglomerates to increase their bottom line and maintain their economic dominance. Then,
    we examine the role that advertising plays in the media industry, looking at its
    changing dynamics over time. We conclude the chapter by considering how media
    ownership patterns and strategic practices reduce diversity in media content, limit
    the breadth of voices and ideas found in media, and fuel cultural imperialism.
    Marxist Theory: an Overview
    Marxism is both a social theory and a political movement rooted in the idea that “society
    is the history of class struggles.” Its origins lie in the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich
    Engels, who collaborated on The German Ideology in 1845 (though it was not published
    until long after their deaths) and the Communist Manifesto in 1848. Marx, who was born
    in Prussia in 1818, is the more well known of the two due, in part, to his single-authored
    works, including The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), Theories of Surplus Value (1860),
    Capital (1867), A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), and Economic
    and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, which was published posthumously in 1930. The
    central premise of Marxism is that the mode of production in society (i.e. its underlying
    economic structure and practices) determines the social relations of production (i.e. its
    class structure). This theory understands and makes sense of the world through the
    perspective of historical materialism, which regards the character of social life to be a
    reflection of the ­material conditions that exist at a particular historical juncture.
    Marxist Analysis
    Social institutions
    Family structures, religion,
    politics, government, law,
    education, arts, media, etc.
    Mode of production
    • Forces of production
    Natural resources, land,
    factories, technologies
    of production, labor
    power, etc.
    • Relations of production
    Labor practices and
    ownership (of property,
    company shares, and
    modes of distribution)
    Marx believed that the material world (i.e. natural phenomena and processes) ­precedes
    human thought: that the external, concrete, material conditions of social existence
    ­determine or ground human consciousness. As such, Marxism is considered a m
    ­ aterialist
    philosophy rather than an idealist philosophy; idealists maintain that ideas, not material
    conditions, determine social existence. Marx also believed that the material conditions
    of societies change over time and must, therefore, be viewed in historical context. As he
    explains in the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:
    In the social production of their existence, men [sic] inevitably enter into definite r­ elations,
    which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given
    stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these
    ­relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation,
    on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms
    of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general
    process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that
    ­determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.4
    Marxism, then, holds that social consciousness, as encoded in institutions such as
    religion, politics, government, education, law, and art and media, which Marx
    ­collectively referred to as the cultural superstructure, reflects or mirrors the ­material
    conditions of society, which he termed the economic base. Figure 2.1 represents
    Marx’s famous base/superstructure model.
    For Marx, the cultural superstructure and the social institutions that comprise it
    operate in the realm of ideas or ideology. Thus, to understand the ruling ideas or
    dominant ideology in society, one needs to attend to the material mode of production
    in that society. As Marx and Engels explain in The German Ideology:
    The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e. the class which is the
    ruling material force of a society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class
    Figure 2.1 Marx’s
    Media Industries
    which has the means of material production at its disposal, consequently also controls the
    means of mental production. … The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relations, the dominant material ­relations grasped as ideas.5
    The mode of production within any society is characterized by two elements: its forces
    of production such as the land, natural resources, and technology needed to produce
    material goods, and its relations of production such as labor practices and ownership
    (of property, company shares, or the ways goods are distributed). According to Marx,
    a society based on a capitalist mode of production is inherently exploitive because it
    creates two classes, a working or proletariat class and a ruling or bourgeois class.
    Since the bourgeoisie owns and controls the means of production in society, the only
    commodity that the proletariat has to sell is its labor. For Marx, the ruling class exploits
    the economic value (i.e. labor) of the working class to increase surplus value or profits.
    But the capitalist system in many countries has changed dramatically since Marx developed his Labor Theory of Value, and the division of labor that p
    ­ roduced such a harsh
    divide between the haves and the have-nots in the past has been replaced by a system
    that sustains a large middle class, the petty or petite ­bourgeoisie, of small business
    ­owners and white-collar workers (i.e. lawyers, ­doctors, professors, etc.). Their ideological domination – and it is domination (e.g. the ­middle class still behaves in a manner
    that sustains the ruling elite) – appears to be less grounded in their working conditions.
    This has led many contemporary Marxist scholars to reject deterministic models,
    which they label “vulgar Marxism,” that see the superstructure as having no autonomy from the economic base. While Marxist critics are still interested in who owns
    and controls the means of production in ­society, they also recognize that ideology can
    and does influence modes of production. Thus, for them, the process is much more
    dialectical than unidirectional, and it is this dialectic which they wish to understand.
    Capitalism is driven by the continuous desire to increase capital, an ideology
    known as the profit-motive. Contemporary Marxist critics, many of whom adopt
    the label political economists, investigate both the prevailing patterns of media
    ­ownership and how the logic of capital, or profit-motive, influences media business practices. There is good reason to do so, as the media are big business …
    very big ­business! According to the professional services firm PwC (formerly
    PricewaterhouseCoopers), in 2011, entertainment and media was a $1.6 trillion
    a year global business, involving internet access ($317 billion), advertising
    ($486 ­billion), and consumer spending ($802 billion).6 PwC projects that, by 2016,
    entertainment and media will have grown into a $2.1 trillion business. Of the $802
    billion in consumer spending on media globally in 2011, $265 billion was spent in
    North America alone. Table 2.1 breaks down these numbers by media industry.
    Given the staggering size of these numbers, it is useful to consider media consumption on a more personal level. Table 2.2 summarizes how much money the
    typical US consumer has spent on select media since 2004. These data suggest that
    in 2012, the average American consumer spent more than $1,000 a year reading,
    viewing, listening to, and downloading media content.
    Marxist Analysis
    Table 2.1 Consumer spending by media industry in 2009 and 2011 (in billions of dollars)
    Media industry
    TV subscriptions and fees
    Filmed entertainment
    Video games
    Consumer magazines
    Consumer books
    Total consumer spending
    North America
    Source: PwC, Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012–2016, June 2012. Note: numbers may not
    add up to total due to rounding.
    Table 2.2 US consumer spending on select media per person per year (in dollars)
    Publishing industry
    Consumer books
    Consumer magazines
    Motion picture and sound
    Box office
    Recorded music
    Broadcast industry
    Cable and satellite TV
    Broadcast television
    Broadcast and satellite radio
    New media
    Internet services
    Home video
    Video games
    Source: US Census Bureau, The 2010 Statistical Abstract, Table 1094, Media Usage and Consumer
    Spending: 2004 to 2012. *Projected numbers.
    Media Industries
    Patterns of Media Ownership
    Adopting a historical materialist perspective, Marxist analysis of mass media begins
    by examining the means and relations of production under contemporary capitalism, or what Marxist critic Fredric Jameson calls multinational capitalism. Like all
    economic systems, capitalism changes over time. The information-based service
    economy of the twenty-first century is substantially different than the industrialbased manufacturing economy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is vital,
    therefore, to consider how the media industry is organized and controlled today.
    Toward that end, this section investigates four current and deeply intertwined
    patterns of media ownership: concentration, conglomeration, integration, and
    The media and entertainment industry in the USA and much of the world is highly
    concentrated, meaning that it is owned and controlled by a small group of powerful
    companies. The domination of an entire industry by just a few companies is
    ­sometimes referred to as an oligopoly, as opposed to a monopoly in which one
    ­company dominates an entire industry. Microsoft’s domination of the software
    industry, for instance, is often considered a monopoly. Oligopolies reduce competition by making it all but impossible for small, independent, or start-up companies to
    survive in the marketplace. The big companies typically buy up the small companies
    or drive them out of business. Once an industry becomes highly concentrated, the
    few remaining companies function more like a cartel or partners than competitors.
    They each control such a large piece of the industry pie that the other companies do
    not constitute a real threat to their success.
    Concentration occurs both within particular media industries such as music,
    which is dominated by three major companies (Universal Music Group, Sony Music
    Entertainment, and Warner Music Group), and across the media industry as a whole.
    In the USA, the media industry is dominated by six massive corporations that we
    have dubbed “The Big Six.” Each year, Fortune 500 ranks America’s largest and most
    profitable corporations. In 2012, five of the companies ranked in the top 200 on
    Fortune’s list were in the entertainment industry: The Walt Disney Company (ranked
    66), News Corp. (ranked 91), Time Warner (ranked 103), Viacom (ranked 177), and
    CBS (ranked 188). To these five companies, we would add Comcast – a cable and
    telecommunications company that became a major player in the media industry in
    2011 when it paid General Electric $6.5 billion dollars for the controlling stake
    (51%) in NBC Universal.
    Although there are certainly other large, very profitable US-based media companies,
    such as Gannett Co., The Hearst Corporation, Tribune Company, The Washington Post
    Company, Clear Channel, and Liberty Media, they are better classified as second-tier
    Marxist Analysis
    media companies because their profits within the media industry are relatively small
    compared to the Big Six, at least, at present. As a way of demonstrating the domination
    of the Big Six, consider the scope and power of Time Warner, the third largest entertainment and media conglomerate in the USA behind The Walt Disney Company and News
    Corp. In 2011, Time Warner’s total revenues were nearly $29 billion, an 8 percent
    increase over the previous year. But where does all this money come from? To answer
    that question, we need to look at Time Warner’s corporate structure, which is divided
    into four major units, each of which owns dozens of brands and subsidiary companies:
    Turner Broadcasting System, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Home Box Office, and
    Time Inc.
    The Turner Broadcasting System consists of news and entertainment networks
    such as CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network,
    Adult Swim, and Boomerang. In 2011, just one of those networks, TBS, reached
    approximately 99.9 million US television households and was home to basic
    cable’s number one sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, as well as other popular
    ­syndicated shows such as The Office and Family Guy.7 Meanwhile, Home Box
    Office, which features its original programming like True Blood, Game of Thrones,
    and Boardwalk Empire, was the number one domestic premium pay television
    service in 2011. Warner Bros. Entertainment played its part by releasing 22 films
    in 2011, including Green Lantern, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,
    The Hangover Part II, and Horrible Bosses, which grossed a combined $4.7 billion
    in total box office receipts ($1.83 billion domestically, $2.87 billion internationally). Warner Home Video – the distribution arm of Warner Bros. Entertainment –
    captured 21.9 percent of all US consumer spending on DVDs and Blu-rays, the
    most of any studio. Similarly, Time Inc., which distributes 95 magazine titles
    worldwide, captured 20 percent of all US magazine advertising spending. Time
    Inc. estimates that more than 50 percent of all American adults read at least one
    of its magazines every month, and that more than 100 of its magazines are sold in
    the USA every minute. Figure 2.2 provides a detailed list of Time Warner’s
    ­corporate holdings as of January 2013 and also highlights the second ownership
    pattern: conglomeration.
    A second prevailing and closely related pattern of media ownership is conglomeration, the corporate practice of accumulating multiple companies and businesses
    through startups, mergers, buyouts, and takeovers. Whereas concentration describes
    the media industry as a whole and its increasing consolidation into the hands of fewer
    and fewer corporations, conglomeration describes a corporate structure in which a
    parent company owns and controls a host of subsidiary companies. Some scholars
    reserve the term conglomerate to describe large corporations whose media holdings
    reflect only one dimension of their overall corporate portfolio. General Electric (GE),
    which manufactures home appliances and light bulbs, is a good ­example in this regard.
    Media Industries
    Time Warner (January 2013)
    Adult Swim
    Amo El Cine
    Cartoon Network
    Cartoon Network Too
    CNN International
    TCM Asia
    TCM Australia/New Zealand
    TCM France
    TCM Latin America
    TCM Spain
    TCM UK
    The Smoking Gun
    Turner Sports
    Joint Ventures
    Cartoon Network Korea
    CNN Chile
    CNN Türk
    Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
    Warner Home Video
    Warner Bros. Digital Distribution
    Warner Bros. Advanced Digital
    Warner Bros. Interactive
    Warner Bros. Technical Operations
    Warner Bros. Anti-Piracy Operations
    Warner Bros. Pictures Group
    Warner Bros. Pictures
    Warner Bros. Pictures International
    Warner Bros. Television Group
    Warner Bros. Television
    Telepictures Production
    Warner Horizon Television
    Warner Bros. Animation
    Warner Bros. Domestic Television
    Warner Bros. International
    Television Distribution
    Warner Bros. International
    Television Production
    Warner Bros. International Branded
    Studio 2.0
    The CW Television Network
    Consumer Products
    DC Entertainment
    Studio Facilities
    International Cinemas
    Live Theater
    Home Box Office
    HBO on Demand
    HBO GO
    Cinemax on Demand
    MAX GO
    HBO Signature
    HBO Family
    HBO Comedy
    HBO Zone
    HBO Latino
    More Max
    Action Max
    Thriller Max
    5 Star Max
    W Max
    Outer Max
    @ Max
    Hong Kong
    Papua New Guinea
    South Korea
    Sri Lanka
    Bosnia & Herzegovina
    Czech Republic
    Slovak Republic
    Figure 2.2 Time Warner brands and supporting organizations. Time Warner, January 2013.
    Marxist Analysis
    Latin America
    British Virgin Islands
    Costa Rica
    Dominican Republic
    El Salvador
    St. Lucia
    St. Maarten
    Sports Illustrated for Kids
    This Old House
    TIME for Kids
    Grupo Editorial Expansión
    CNN México
    Dinero Inteligente
    Endless Vacation
    IDC Asesor Juridico y Fiscal
    IDC Online
    Life and Style
    Travel & Leisure, Mexico
    United States
    IPC Media
    All You
    Coastal Living
    Cooking Light
    Entertainment Weekly
    My Home Ideas
    My Recipes
    People en Español
    People StyleWatch
    Real Simple
    Southern Living
    Sports Illustrated
    Figure 2.2
    25 Beautiful Homes
    Amateur Gardening
    Amateur Photographer
    Angler’s Mail
    Beautiful Kitchens
    Chat – It’s Fate
    Country Homes & Interiors
    Country Life
    Cycle Sport
    Cycling Active
    Cycling Fitness
    Cycling Weekly
    European Boatbuilder
    Feelgood Games
    Golf Monthly
    Good to Know
    Good to Know Recipes
    Homes & Gardens
    Horse & Hound
    Ideal Home
    International Boat Industry (IBI)
    Marie Claire
    Motor Boat & Yachting
    Motor Boats Monthly
    Mountain Bike Rider (MBR)
    Pick Me Up
    Practical Boat Owner
    Rugby World
    Shooting Gazette
    Shooting Times
    Sporting Gun
    Style at Home
    SuperYacht Business
    SuperYacht World
    Teen Now
    The Field
    Trusted Reviews
    TV & Satellite Week
    TV Times
    VW Camper & Bus
    What Digital Camera
    What’s on TV
    Woman Special Series
    woman&home Feel Good Food
    woman&home Feel Good You
    Woman’s Own
    Woman’s Own Lifestyle Series
    Woman’s Weekly
    Woman’s Weekly Fiction Series
    Woman’s Weekly Home Series
    Woman’s Weekly Living Series
    World Soccer
    Yachting Monthly
    Yachting World
    Media Industries
    GE owned the controlling stake in NBC Universal (NBC, MSNBC, Syfy, E!
    Entertainment Television, USA Network, Golf Channel, Bravo, Oxygen, Telemundo,
    Universal Pictures, etc.) until January 2011, when Comcast became the majority owner
    (51%) in the company. Since media companies are among some of the most powerful
    corporations in the world, we regard each of the Big Six as conglomerates even though
    the majority of their holdings are restricted to media.
    Let us take a closer look at how a media giant like The Walt Disney Company
    becomes a conglomerate. Like many conglomerates, The Walt Disney Company
    has rather humble origins, having been started as a small animation studio in 1923
    by brothers Walt and Roy Disney. Early success at Walt Disney Studios (originally
    Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio) led to the formation of three other companies in
    1929, Walt Disney Enterprises, Disney Film Recording Company, and Liled Realty
    and Investment Company. These companies later merged under the name Walt
    Disney Productions in 1938. In an effort to expand its business, the company
    began designing its theme parks in 1952 and formed Buena Vista Distribution to
    distribute Disney’s feature films two years later. But Walt Disney Productions did
    not become The Walt Disney Company until February of 1986, by which time it
    also included the Disney Channel and a new film label, Touchstone Pictures.
    Under the leadership of Michael Eisner, the company conducted a series of key
    acquisitions in the 1990s, including independent film distributor Miramax in
    1993, which it sold in 2010 after a 17-year partnership, and perhaps more importantly Capital Cities/ABC, a $19 b
    ­ illion transaction, in 1996.8 During the 1990s, it
    also established Hyperion, a book-publishing division. By decade’s end, The Walt
    Disney Company had grown into a global empire with powerful interests in all
    four of the mass media industries.
    In 2004, Disney narrowly escaped a hostile takeover attempt by Comcast, an
    event that contributed to Michael Eisner’s replacement as CEO by Robert Iger the
    following year. Shortly after Iger assumed the reins, Disney acquired Pixar
    Animation Studios in a transaction worth $7.4 billion. “Disney’s performance
    ­during Iger’s first year,” reports the company’s website, “was stellar, with record
    revenues, record cash flow and record net earnings for fiscal year 2006.”9 Presently,
    Disney is organized into five major business segments: Media Networks (ESPN,
    Disney Channels Worldwide, ABC Family, SOAPnet, A&E Television Networks,
    Hyperion Books), Parks and Resorts (Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland
    Resort, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland
    Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disney Vacation Club,
    Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney), Studio Entertainment (Walt Disney
    Studios Motion Pictures, Marvel Studios, Touchstone Pictures, Disneynature, Walt
    Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Disney Music Group, Disney
    Theatrical Group), Consumer Products (Disney Licensing, Disney Publishing
    Worldwide, Disney Store), and Interactive (Disney Interactive Media and Disney
    Interactive Games). Table 2.3 charts The Walt Disney Company’s revenues in each
    of these areas over the past decade.
    Marxist Analysis
    Table 2.3 Annual revenues for The Walt Disney Company (in billions of dollars)
    Media Networks
    Parks and Resorts
    Studio Entertainment
    Consumer Products
    Total revenues



    Source: The Walt Disney Company, 2006 Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Financial Report and
    Shareholder Letter, and Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Financial Report and Shareholder Letter. Note: numbers
    may not add up to total due to rounding. *This revenue category was added after 2006.
    Media conglomerates are by definition integrated. Integration is an ownership
    ­pattern in which the subsidiary companies or branches within a corporation are
    strategically interrelated. Corporations can be integrated vertically, horizontally,
    or both. Vertical integration describes a corporation that owns and controls various aspects of production and distribution within a single media industry like
    ­publishing or broadcasting. Vertical integration can significantly increase the
    profits associated with a media product by allowing the parent corporation to
    oversee all stages of its development, everything from its production and marketing to its distribution and exhibition. A media conglomerate that owns record
    copyrights, record labels, sound recording studios, and record clubs, stores, or
    other distribution outlets would p
    ­ ossess strong vertical integration in the music
    industry, for instance.
    The filmed entertainment division at Viacom offers a concrete example of vertical
    integration. In 1972, Paramount Pictures produced the Oscar-winning film
    The Godfather, which had grossed $134 million in the USA by 1973. But domestic
    box office receipts are far from the end of the story. Today, Paramount Home
    Entertainment markets and distributes the film on DVD, Worldwide Television
    Distribution negotiates its broadcast on TV, and Famous Music licenses the use of
    its soundtrack. All of these companies, which continue to generate profit from
    The Godfather franchise, are part of the Paramount Pictures Corporation, a wholly
    owned subsidiary of Viacom.
    The popular, conspiracy-driven TV drama The X-Files (1993–2002) provides a
    second example of the benefits of vertical integration. The Fox Broadcasting Company
    produced the show, which then aired in first-run production on the FOX network. In
    addition to the profits generated by its initial airing, Twentieth Television, a division
    of Fox Television, syndicated three rounds of reruns on local Fox affiliates and other
    Media Industries
    stations, collecting an additional $35 million a year. Meanwhile, FX, one of Fox’s
    numerous cable networks, also aired the show in rerun, generating $69 million more
    in annual profits. In total, Fox’s yearly profits from The X-Files, after subtracting
    ­production costs of course, exceeded $180 million dollars,10 a rather impressive figure
    when one considers it was only one television show produced by Rupert Murdoch’s
    media conglomerate News Corp.
    Horizontal integration describes an ownership pattern in which a corporation
    dominates one stage (or level in the value chain) of the production process. This
    typically takes one of two forms. Some firms achieve horizontal integration
    through ownership of multiple media outlets in one market, thereby reducing
    competition. A company like News Corp, which owns 35 Fox television affiliate
    stations, several of which are in the same markets, for instance, has strong
    ­horizontal integration. If a company ­controlled all or nearly all the radio stations,
    TV stations, or n
    ­ ewspapers within a m
    ­ arket, then it would have a horizontal
    monopoly in that market.11 As we will see in Chapter 4, the 1996 Telecommunica­
    tions Act, which eliminated or relaxed ownership restrictions in the USA, has
    increased this form of integration. A second way for a corporation to achieve
    horizontal integration is to own and ­control companies across various media
    industries, but typically at the same level of production, distribution, or exhibition.12
    This corporate structure is sometimes referred to alternatively as ­cross-media
    ownership. Like vertical integration, ­horizontal integration can have ­tremendous
    financial benefits, namely by enhancing ­synergy, a concept we will explore
    shortly. As Table 2.4 demonstrates, all of the Big Six US media ­conglomerates are
    ­horizontally integrated.
    A fourth pattern of contemporary media ownership is multinationalism, or
    a ­corporate presence in multiple countries, allowing for the production and
    ­distribution of media products on a global scale. Multinationalism should not be
    confused with g­ lobalization, however. As we saw in Chapter 1, globalization is a
    complex set of ­economic and political processes, and while globalization may be
    contributing to the rise of multinational corporations, it cannot be reduced to this
    ownership trend. Multinational media conglomerates, also known as TNCs (short
    for transnational c­ orporations), do not simply (re)distribute a static, pre-packaged
    product developed in one locale to various countr…

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