The Internet has become the principal window through which college students, and many of us, view the world. Students who swim daily in the waters of YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and myriad online sites often fail to recognize that representations of ethnicity, gender, and other cultures were not created by informed professional journalists or media makers, but by media amateurs with little knowledge of the cultural images they are producing. In this era where UGM (user generated media) dominate the Internet, anyone can post erroneous representations that become viewers’ worldviews.
In the college course Culture, Race & Media, a website-based curriculum was created to observe and analyze Internet sites’ cultural influences http://www.cultureraceandmedia.com. Pundits and media experts bemoan that media have transformed representational images into what are now perceived as “reality”. Can Baudrillard be correct that the televisual image has become hyper-real, so that cultures and people viewed through YouTube are more believable than the actual people depicted on these sites? For students to answer these questions about their digital media they were required to research visual representations of ethnicities other than North American on the Internet, as well as gender and religions. Students posted their found media examples to the class website, with provocative questions to stimulate their peers’ reactions to their samples, and their own analyses of “truth” vs. media. Previous to this assignment, students practiced image deconstruction using Frith’s analysis model from the GenderAds Project to recognize surface meanings, cultural, and semiotic influences, as well as media analysis exercises. Participants in the workshop and readers of this paper will have opportunities to analyze their cultural worldviews regarding reality vs. mediated images.
|Keywords:||Media Representation, Global Worldview, Ethnic/Minority Images, Internet, Participatory Media|
Professor and Coordinator of Culture, Race & Media, Television Department, School of Media Arts, Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
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