Reading Media Critically



I Love Lucy, Seinfeld.

1. Who is empowered and dis-empowered in I Love Lucy and Seinfeld?

In “I Love Lucy” Job Switch Lucy and Ethel are empowered with their jobs, while Ricky and Fred are dis-empowered having to stay at home.  In  “Seinfeld” The Outing the news reporter is empowered with her story, while Jerry and George are dis-empowered trying to explain their sexuality.

2. Looking at the two shows as texts, what are the signs that create meanings to unify (or not) people in their everyday lives.

The way Lucy treated Ricky in the morning was a great reverse representation of how women were treated, men being the typical and symbolic bread winner for the family.  Jerry and George’s bromance is easily misinterpreted when they quarrel over issues that are mistaken as a gay couple quarreling.

3. Looking at the shows as an artifact, what group identifications are prevalent?

The main group in “I Love Lucy” was gender roles; males’ vs. females’ roles in society/culture.  Homosexuals vs. heterosexuals in “Seinfeld”.

4. How do these shows reflect our reality/culture?

Our culture was reflected in “I Love Lucy” for the given time period.  Then men were expected to work and the women kept the house in order.  “Seinfeld” portrays a modern man, Jerry defending his sexuality.  When George claims he will have sex with her to prove it, that exaggeration keenly depicts a man vowing his manliness.  They repeat the phrase, “Not that there is anything wrong with  that”,” that” being gay every time they claim they are not “that”.  This is slightly hypocritical today, and redundant because there is nothing wrong with “that”.

5. Since these shows aired, how have perceptions changed about the topics in these shows? Explain.

For example, there was a time when my dad  was the family’s cook and took care of my sister while my step-mom worked full-time.  There is no specific gender roles people have to follow now.  People don’t focus on people’s sexuality as much, but I think some of “Seinfeld” still resonates

today.  I think it would perfectly acceptable if someone overheard a homosexual girl say to a heterosexual guy: “I love Lucy, Seinfeld!”

My Rhetoric on Rhetortic

My text ask us the following questions: “What other meanings for rhetoric have you heard or read?  What does the term mean to you?  Are there some things or events that you would identify as definitely rhetorical and others that you would say are definitely not rhetorical?”

When I think of the word rhetoric, I tend to first think of the phrase: rhetorical question.  Rhetoric is how communication is interpreted, while rhetorical refers to something that is not supposed to be answered.  Plato and Aristotle put it best.

Rhetoric is “the art of winning the soul by discourse.” Plato

Rhetoric is “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.” Aristotle

For me, rhetoric is a means of how people relate to one another through shared beliefs and ideas.  The language and tone used to send a universal message must follow within the intended audience’s sensibility.

Others have defined the word as

“Rhetoric is the art of speaking well” or “…good man speaking well.” Quintilian

“Rhetoric is the study of misunderstandings and their remedies.” Richards

“Rhetoric is a form of reasoning about probabilities, based on assumptions people share as members of community.” Erika Lindemann

“Rhetoric is the art, practice, and study of human communication.” Andrea Lundsford

I truly believe that words are powerful, and used wisely can have a serious impact.  When rhetoric is abused for negative motives or slanderous ones, that is when its power should not be considered rhetorical.

“Rhetoric is an action human beings perform when they use symbols for the purpose of communicating with one another…, [and it] is a perspective humans take that involves focusing on symbolic processes.” Sonja and Karen Foss

My Media Thoughts

The media has become our source of information, entertainment and an addiction that self perpetuates. We are following trending topics, reacting to actors’ lifestyle choices and offering our opinions on an open platform 24/7. We are so immersed in the media that our lives have slowly have become dependent on the hype. 20/20 investigates how the media can get out of control in their report, Media Hype.

Over sensationalized media causes undue fear and panic. The Summer of the Shark was an over-reaction to reports of shark attacks. The reports neglect to inform that there was no change in the amount of attacks from previous summers.  Bob Lichter reports that the media is hyped to cause fear. If there is excitement (murder, sex, scandal, etc.) the benefit is the amount of magazines, papers sold increases. Good television equals bad journalism.  BMW offered an all expense paid trip to Italy/Spain to car journalists. Some journalists don’t allow for “gifts” to maintain a clear objective and perspective.

Joey Scaggs, an artist and satirist, made up stories in order to force the media to be more careful about what they report. He allows the media to run with the story, no matter how ridiculous and outlandish. The Fat Squad was a group of people that he created who physically reprimanded people for eating unhealthy. Once revealed as a hoax, the media does not usually report they have been duped not do they admit the mistake of not researching the story before releasing it to the public.

While Jennifer Aniston defends her choice to have a father for her possible future child, I think we should question why we care. Do we care because the media has given their two cents? If we decide to add fuel to their fire, there will be smoke and it will be seen by many. People are taking control of what is being said today, and what will be read as our history in the future through shared networks and open source platforms. With that amount of influence and control, we should have something more meaningful to say and remember that today will be tomorrow.

Insider: One in a million

This is a clip from the show, The Insider, documenting the negative reaction to a flu shot this year.  This clip has been altered though, saying that this should discourage people from receiving the vaccine.  When originally aired on The Insider, it said this should NOT discourage people from getting the shot.  This propaganda or prank helps promote the lack of authority YouTube carries.  Only a doctor can give you the facts.  There is only a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of this nerve damage occurring.  Debates about vaccines linking to autism has been a controversial topic for a few years now.

“There’s an edit at 2:03 that makes it sound like “doctors say this should discourage people from getting flu shots” but it’s obvious that the original report said “this SHOULDN’T discourage people from flu shot”.. Also I wonder if she can talk while walking backwards.”  Comment by tilopudrye

Journalists, even The Insider, should hold an unbiased opinion about all issues.  There should not be any commentary on how this video will influence people on vaccinating themselves.  People can make their own judgements on the pros and cons on vaccinations.  The fact that it has been tampered with shows that people will impose their opinions regardless of the truth.  After getting my shot and seeing this video, I am glad I am vaccinated and grateful I did not suffer from this rare reaction.  I am more than disgusted with the reaction to this video from YouTube users though.

Wikipedia Outsource Project

The Dallas County population was incorrect on  I made the correction from 2.3 million to 2,412,837 according to the United States Census 2008 report.  I accidently made Dallas the city’s population to 2.4 million, when actually the county is that large.  I did not add any other information to the page, the number has remained the same for over a day now.

Wiki pages have constant supervision by administrators and users.  Within an hour, the post on the City of Dallas Wikipedia page was corrected to 1.4 million people.  The immediate response to my error proves that people are aware and watching everyone else’s edits.  This system works, for now.

Michael Jackson’s Wikipedia NPOV

Wikipedia allows for content generated by the user.  Users must follow the five pillars in order for the post to remain.  The policies say “Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, has a neurtral point of view, is free content, has a code of conduct and does not have film rules.”  Maintaining a neutral point of view when writing about controversial topics, like Michael Jackson, can be cumbersome.  Utilizing sources that are reliable and unbiased help achieve a single point of view.  There are talk pages where users and editors can voice their suggestions and reasoning. 

This is Michael Jackson’s discussion page.  On the 28th page of the archives, two users dispute and attack one another because of “POV-pushing”, which translates to point of view pushing.  The topic focuses on the paternity of his children. 

One user felt the neutral point of view depends on the wording; “And in that case, we should stick to neutral wordings instead of actively pushing the point of view that Jackson was the biological father. ‘She gave birth to two children’ and the heading ‘children’ don’t imply anything in either direction, the wordings don’t state he wasn’t their biological father, they don’t state he fathered them either”. 

Two minutes later, another user retorts with; “Stop.  There were no problems regarding this issue until you showed up.  None.  As for my own POV, I don’t care whether he was their biological father, and that issue has nothing to do with using the word ‘fatherhood’ in the above-mentioned subsection, either.  Reliable sources call him their father, which is all that is needed”.

Obviously they go on to accuse one another of being liars and POV pushers, but their opinions show how vital language and information is.  The majority remains the loudest, but when the minority is heard people can make a change.  Ultimately Michael Jackson has two children, but is not the ‘father’ according to Wikipedia.  The reason for ‘children’ vs. ‘father’ relies on the point of view of one user speaking for others.  This prevents readers to decide what the word “father” implies. 

“‘Children’ doesn’t say anything about whether Jackson was the father or not, only that the children became part of his life, and is perfectly neutral and accurate. ‘Fatherhood’, on the contrary, implies he fathered the children, which is a point of view.”