Monday, December 05, 2005

Week 10 Resou, Evalu & Analy

Alas, we have come to the end. This is the last week of posting for this class project on Global Media & Culture. If you are reading this and you are not a member of my group, I encourage you to follow up on the results of this ten-week journey and check out our team's wiki project.

Ok, now to this week's posting:

This week I focused my attention on another chapter ("Globalization, Culture and the Fate of Nations") from Global Transformations by David Held, Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt & Jonathan Perraton, which we had neglected before but which has turned out to be the chapter most directly applicable to our subject.

The writer(s) begin: "Few expressions of globalization are so visible, widespread and pervasive as the worldwide proliferation of internationally traded consumer brands, the global ascendancy of popular cultural icons and artefacts, and the simultaneous communication of events by satellite broadcasts to hundreds of millions of people at a time on all continents" (Held, et al. 327). In the Information Age globalization moves at the speed of light, electrons and digits. Nothing else in history has been so powerful a unifying force globally than mass media and popular culture. "New technologies of telecommunications and the emergence of international media corporations, among other factors, have generated global cultural flows whose stretch, intensity, diversity and rapid diffusion exceed that of earlier eras" (Held 328).

And the state of things in the media world is such that this "worldwide proliferation" is controlled by an increasingly limited number of "international media corporations."

The chapter lists the few most dominant corporate players in several media bold and parentheses after each quote I'll total the number of corporations mentioned:

"news gathering...UPI, AP and Reuters" (3)
"visual news gathering outside of the main networks...Reuters and WTN." (2)
"Internationally available [TV] news...CNN, News International and...the BBC." (3)
"Global recorded music sales...Thorn-EMI, Polygram, Warner and Sony held 73 per cent of the global market in 1991, while Bertelsmann and Matsushita account for much of the rest." (total, 6)
(all of the above, Held 349)

This Global Transformations chapter did not list so clearly the primary corporations in the television and film industries, short of pointing out through other research how much the global landscape of those are dominated by the US. However, an article by J. W. Robert McCheesney (whose work in this field was qoted by Held et al a number of times) which I made reference to in a previous post does give a clear, and more recently updated list of the 8-9 companies that make up the global oligopoly controlling the vast majority of the media on the planet: "...the global media market has come to be dominated by the same eight transnational corporations...that rule US media: General Electric, AT&T/Liberty Media, Disney, Time Warner, Sony, News Corporation, Viacom and Seagram, plus Bertelsmann, the Germany-based conglomerate." A quick recall of recent buy-outs and mergers will remind us just how comprehensive that list is: GE also owns Universal and NBC, Disney owns ABC and a numbers of major movie studios (I read in the 1996 or 97 Disney stock prospectus that 4 out of every 5 movie tickets sold in the US were for Disney-owned movies), Time-Warner also includes AOL and CNN, Viacom owns CBS... these companies account for nearly every major TV network and major film studio in the US. That is a high degree of concentration of money, power and influence, and that means that the unprecedented massive flow of information and cultural product flooding the global marketplace and impacting every nation is in the hands of a very few and mostly like-minded entities.

These corporations may not be making the political, cultural and sociological impacts they are making on nations and cultures intentionally...they are mainly focused on their profits...but nevertheless they are making such impacts, if only because they are redefining the playing filed for everyone else, and making it in their own image. Held and his fellow writers summed up well in their chapter, writing, "In the end, Hollywood, Microsoft and AT&T are in the business of making money - not founding alternative centres of political identity and legitimacy. Yet the huge flows of information, people and imagery that circulate around the globe, crossing borders with impunity, have changed the context in which national projects of any kind must develop” (Held 374). No longer can individuals, societies, cultures make national media products in isolation from the rest of the world, globalization of media has taken that away forever. Everything must be done in a world in which those 8 big companies exist, and in which the standards set by those corporations are the bar to reach.

The good news for followers of Jesus who want to make sure that smaller cultures and marginalized peoples are not ignored and boxed out of this global cultural dialogue, is that just as media has expanded globally at exponential rates in the last fifty years, so has technology, and the more the technology develops and becomes cheaper and easier to access, the more opportunity minority peoples will have to get their voice heard: "...technological shifts, including for instance the camcorder, have reduced the costs of production and so created new cultural spaces for 'alternative' TV channels and production" (Held 374). We can be advocates for such opportunity.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Week 9 Resou, Evalu & Analy

This week my wife and I traveled to the Northwest for my cousin's wedding, and as I was reading John Storey's book, Inventing Popular Culture, I saw pieces of it coming alive all around me.

Storey writes a convincing manifesto on the development of the phenomenon of Pop Culture, describing its evolution from the old modernist dichotomy of high and low art/culture to today's postmodern leveling of the cultural playing field and blurring of the high/low distinctions.

What intrigued me the most from Storey, for the sake of this project on Global Media and Culture, was his chapter on Pop Culture as Global Culture. He makes the same point that was discussed last week from Pieterse (in fact, Storey quoted Pieterse several times)--that rather than destroying local cultures and Americanizing everything into a homogeneous mass, globalization is more accurately providing for the blending of cultures into unique and never-before-seen hybrids: "Globalization offers the possibility of cultural mixing on a scale never before known. This can of course produce resistance to difference, but it can also produce the fusing of different cultures and the making of new and exciting forms of cultural hybridity" (Storey 117).

This is what I witnessed last week as I drove through Vancouver, B.C., observing both trappings of contemporary Canadian culture and remnants of its British heritage; totem poles, museums and community centers representing its Native past and present; and restaurants featuring food from a hundred different nations world-wide.

This is also what I witnessed on a much more personal level through the celebration of the marriage of my west-coast American cousin and her Guatemalan husband. The wedding was a fairly typical North-American wedding, but the groom gave his vows in his native tongue. The reception was a mixture of Guatemalan marimba music, dancing, many international foods and drinks, US traditions. The couple was from the very beginning intentionally mixing their two very disparate cultures into one special hybrid that maintained some unique flavors of both while exploring new frontiers that could only be discovered together.

Storey said it well when he concluded, "Perhaps there will never be a global culture shared horizontally by all peoples of the globe; local circumstances, including local traditions, may always preclude it. But is that the kind of global culture worth working towards? Better, I think, to build a world culture that is not a monoculture, marked only by hierarchical distinctions, but a world culture which values plurality, in which diversity and difference exist in horizontal relations...." (Storey 119-120).

Some US MNCs seem to globalize with such capitalistic aggression that their intent appears to be total global Americanization, and many of us "enlightened," intentional Jesus-followers show in our actions and our attitudes that such cultural domination is what we fear. I think the things we have read the last few weeks serve to address our fears that the US will wipe-out other local cultures and expose our fears as unfounded.

The question we are still left to ask is what our response is. What is our part to play? As the cultures of the world are hybridized by globalization what should Jesus-followers stand for? I believe we should stand for open, even-handed cultural mixing that honors all the cultures that enter the mix. We should still be on the look out for the powers and structures that would discriminate or marginalize on the basis of race, class, or any other distinction. We also can ground ourselves in the unshakable core of our faith, so we do not get nervous or defensive around the increasing plurality of religions and philosophies.

Media can play a role as well. As we have discussed a number of times before, one of mass-media's most effective uses is that of advocacy. Also, as technology gets cheaper and information pathways are increasingly opened to all, mediums such as the internet can be used by local cultures to join in the global conversations and add their voices to the mix. We as Jesus-followers can work to be just in the ways we use media, and create bold, beautiful works of Popular Art that embody and evoke the best values we hope to add to the global cultural discussion.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Week 8 Resou, Evalu & Analy

This is our last week working with Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton's Global Transformations text (although, there is a really good chapter later on "Globalization, Culture & the Fate of Nations" that I think I may bring into the discussion in the next week or so). Here are some thoughts I have on their chapter on"Corporate Power and Global Production Networks":

The chapter begins... "Aside from global finance, perhaps the commonest image of economic globalization is that of the multinational corporation: huge corporate empires which straddle the globe with annual turnovers, matching the entire GNP of many nations" (Held 236). I began alluding to this when I was interacting with their historical surveys of global influence and political empires (see week 6). Today's global landscape is no longer dominated by such large, territorial, military/political empires like ancient Rome or 19th-Century Great Britain. The new empire is the Multinational Corporation (MNC). These companies span the globe, manufacturing, marketing and distributing their products all over the world. The expansiveness and pervasiveness of the influence of MNCs makes their impact much greater than their own profit-margins. MNCs function as influencing powers on the global level.
"...MNCs are not simply 'national firms with international operations' which wander the globe in search of maximum profits.... MNCs and global production networks are critical to the organization, location and distribution of productive power in the contemporary world economy" (Held 282). Where MNCs choose to do business can make or break the economies of entire nations. Where MNCs choose to make their products or services available, they impact not only the economy, but the society and culture as well.

And no nation on earth has done the MNC-thing quite like the United States: "US multinationals continued to expand on the basis of their technological superiority across a range of sectors" (Held 243). This, in effect, makes the US a dominant, and even colonial power in the world, not through military conquest and territorial occupation (although recent activities in the Middle East are worth discussing in that light), but through economic and cultural presence via US MNCs.

In addition to Held et al's Global Transformations, we've been reading a new book this week: Globalization & Culture:Global Melange, by Jan Nederveen Pieterse. At one point in his book, Pieterse discusses three paradigms of globalization: "Clash of Civilizations," McDonaldization," and "Hybridization," all of which I thought aptly describe the ways I've seen impact of globalization in recent history. The second of those, however, is the one that most appropriately applies to MNCs and my group's topic of Global Media as a whole. "McDonaldization is a variation on a theme: on the classical theme of universalism and its modern forms of modernization and the global spread of capitalist relations. ...These are variations on the theme of cultural imperialism, in the form of consumerist universalism or global media influence. ...Modernization and Americanization are the latest versions of westernization. If colonialism delivered Europeanization, neocolonialism under U.S. hegemony delivers Americanization." (Pieterse 49). Through its fast food, its media, and the impacts of other MNCs, the United States has been exporting one thing more than anything else: its culture. A professor in a Theology and Pop Culture class I took two years ago said the Popular Culture is America's biggest export. We need to be aware of that as Americans. As Americans who are first and foremost followers of Jesus, we need to be aware of the impact our culture is having on others. We need to be careful about the ways we choose to support US cultural dominance, and savvy about the ways we can subvert it.

I was interested, however, to read Held et al's analysis of the USA's diminishing dominance: "The USA clearly remains the largest overseas investor and its foreign FDI stock has continued to grow in absolute terms. But its share of global FDI has fallen, from around 50 per cent in 1960, to around 25 per cent today" (Held 248). As more and more nations get into the globalization game, the less extreme will be the USA's global cultural presence. Of course, we still need to be wary of a relatively small clique of Developed nations hoarding the pie and leaving few or no pieces for the Developing world. But nevertheless, there is hope that globalization, as unstoppable a force as it seems to be, may not ultimately result in a universal US/Western global culture.

Pieterse thought the same, and suggests that what we are headed for is Hybridization in this post-modern, post-colonial era. Instead of completely distinct cultures clashing, or all cultures being subjected to the dominance of one, he sees a hybrid coming, where distinct local cultures will be enhanced while interacting more freely and openly with every other local culture, creating an ongoing, dynamic global culture that is integrative and representative of the whole (Pieterse 52-55). I think that is the sort of future we as Christians can confidently work toward and look forward to, because it is one in which the Kingdom of God can be proclaimed without being combatant toward any peoples and without destroying any cultures. The Kingdom has come to fight evil, and destroy the power of Hell... not peoples and cultures. To the people of the world we can proclaim justice and freedom in Christ, and from the cultures of the world we can call forth a beautifully rich palette of new worship to God.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Week 7 bonus

Here's some other brainstorming on my part of potential ways to phrase our alternative values, or our responses/tasks/uses of Global Media for Jesus followers:

Intead of self-promotion - Raising awareness on a mass scale of the plight of the poor through media advocacy, and creatively and artistically moving audiences to action.

Instead of separation - Engagement as "Roaring Lambs" within the media industries, producing quality, innovative media Art... be salt and light.

Instead of ignorance & isolation - Engagement through Media Literacy (and study of Media Ecology) and theological reflection, in order to know how media functions, what it does, and how God is already at work within it. (see also the Media & Family group)

Instead of seeking profits or selfish gain - Making liberating media technologies available to those whose voices, skills and gifts have been ignored. (see also Global Technology group)

Instead of creating only for our local community - Provide mass media resources, free of charge whenever possible, for the churches worldwide that have less access to such resources.

Instead of getting News/information from only one "pet" source - Get News/info from multiple sources, so as to have a broader picture of the world and what's happening in it, and not merely one view sponsored by a limited set of corporate agendas.

Instead of making copycat products - Creative artistic innovation, including educating ourselves in good style, aesthetics, and effective techniques... so our products are not behind the curve but on the leading edge.

Instead of making the typical accusations - Be aware of what forces really control the media (i.e. conservative corporate America more so than liberal culture)... also acknowledging we are not merely passive victims because in this market consumers have a great amount of control.

Instead of reinforcing negative stereotypes & enforcing the status quo - Focus not on the powerful, rich, beautiful or famous, but rather use media to tell the stories of the marginalized and the "least of these."

Does anyone else have an "Instead of..." phrase of their own to add to this?

Week 7 Resou, Evalu & Analy

This week we were looking at the chapters in Held's (et al) Global Transformations on Globalization of Trade, and of Finance. The latter of those chapters had lees to offer my area of interest, but there were some thoughts from the chapter on Trade that are worth interacting with.

One major force in the growth of globalization has been increasingly free trade world-wide. "Trade has revolutionized the prospects of all industrial sectors - today few industries rely purely on domestic markets or domestically produces components and raw materials" (Held 149). The Media industry is no exception, particularly in the area of market. The market for media productions is becoming more and more global, as illustrated by the growing mass distribution of books in translation, films, television programs and music to many if not every corner of the globe. Films, for example, produced by companies in the US (but often filmed in other countries, using crew labor from those nations) are no longer released exclusively to a domestic audience first, but are often premiered simultaneously in several countries (e.g. The Matrix, Lord of the Rings). Media is produced for global market.

However, even though I think there has been some within other regional areas (not to mention the rising popularity of "world music), when it comes to media, the US is still by far the largest producer by numbers and scope of reach. The authors of the book said, "Of course, this competition can take various forms such that global markets may often reflect oligopolistic rather than perfectly competitive conditions, with a few major producers dominating a trading sector" (Held 150). Such is certainly the case with media corporations. Worldwide, more and more media producers and outlets are owned by fewer and fewer corporate entities. I made reference to an article that touches on that two weeks ago (see resource #9, The New Global Media, by McChesney). I hope to more clearly boil down that information and map it soon.

Another intriguing discussion in the chapter was on the topic of national protection. As I expected, the US has always been very big on protecting its own trade and domestic product. A pair of tables in the chapter chart tariff rates. On the first covering tariff rates from 1820-1931, the US was by far the highest from 1875 on, with a rate in 1931 of 53% (Held 158). Though it all evened out to a much lower and much more level playing field in the latter 20th Century, the US rate in 1985 of 3.5% was still the highest in the world. Even though our nation has always been a proponent of freedom in the forms of both democratic politics and free-enterprise capitalism, we still have maintained a culture of "protecting our own." Our unbalanced protection policies have probably contributed to our world-wide dominance in certain areas of exportation, among them our popular culture media (likely our biggest export currently). I wonder if any of this dominance will every change since the global state of economics have made nations more dependent on each other. "By the late twentieth century institutional constraints, as well as economic costs, have severely limited the scope for national protectionism" (Held 187).

These observations may not find direct ways of influencing our wiki, but they are at least informative as background. I think there is likely to be more directly useful information in the next chapter on global corporate practices, and in the later chapter on the globalization of culture (and cultural products such as film).

OK, shifting focus... I have some thoughts from work in class last week to post here for consideration of inclusion on our wiki project.

I was spurred on by Bolger's lectures the last several class sessions on Jesus practices in the Gospels to think specifically about certain practices that might speak directly to the subject of cultural transformation in the arena of Global Media.

First, Jesus' practice of caring and providing for the "least of these," as described in his parable about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, and expressed through his multiple healings of the poor and needy. The questions pertaining to Global Media that I believe this Jesus-practice forces us to ask are: "How does Global Media oppress those in need?" "How might it liberate them provide for them?"

Secondly, I think of the theme throughout the Gospels, but particularity Luke, of Jesus sharing table-fellowship (interacting intimately) with sinners and outcasts of the society. A good example of this is in the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19. The main question I believe this Jesus-practice raises for us within the context of Global Media and Christian involvement is: "Is isolationism or combatant separatism really the best response for Jesus-followers?"

Finally, Jesus' teachings about being "salt and light" in the world (see Matthew 5:13-14) force me to consider such questions as: "If Jesus-followers boycott participation in the realms of media, how will we ever be a positive presence of 'salt and light'?"

Monday, November 07, 2005

Week 6 Resou, Evalu & Analy

We've been reading Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture by Held, McGrew, Goldblatt & Perraton. Here are some thoughts from the first couple chapters of the book.

Their historical description of the emergence of territorial nation-states and the "rules" that governed their interactions with each other was interesting to me. One thing that struck me was how the Westphalian model that developed from 1648 into the 18th and 19th centuries seemed to set up the global 'society of states' in such a way as to easily allow the global market to be dominated by one (or a few) overpowering nation or economy. All nations were seen as "equal before the law," and yet because the understanding was that differences between nations would be "settled by force" the wealthiest or largest nations could easily dominate the global economic landscape by sheer show of power. It's clear how that model set up the global colonial domination of
Europe as a whole and Britain in particular in the 19th Century. The developing understanding of the free sovereignty of each individual nation somewhat ensured that empires in the model of Rome would no longer exist, but the "principle of effective power" (essentially that might makes right... survival of the fittest) meant that new empires of global economic presence and influence like Great Britain's in the 1800's (on which the sun never set) were free to flourish, to the detriment of weaker, poorer nations.

The similarities between the evolving and pervasive global dominance of
England in the 19th century and the current state of United States global influence are uncanny to me. As territorial or political imperialism diminished, global domination of trade routes, precious natural resources, and socio-economic systems became the new model of influence. "Powerful national economic interests were often able to retain hegemonic positions over former colonial territories through the replacement of 'a visible presence of rule' with the 'invisible government' of banks, companies and international organizations" (Held et al, 45). In a somewhat Westphalian way, the sovereignty of each nation is recognized more now than ever and yet the United States has been so dominant on the global landscape... mostly in those same "invisible" ways... through pervasive financial systems, internationally influential corporations, and organized associations of nations in which the U. S. can so easily enforce its own national interest.

From a Global Media perspective the thing that intrigued me the most was the effectiveness of
England's implementation of speedy global communications. The connecting of their colonies with a submarine cable telegraph system must have been the first electronic global media. The ways that helped them cement their influence globally via quick communication and global dissemination of British-dominated information is a fascinating historical counterpart to the United States' pervasive use of global electronic media for leveraging cultural influence through its number one worldwide export: Popular Culture.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Week 5 Analysis

Well this week I decided that if the project my colleagues and I are working toward is a wiki resource for Christ-followers which will be posted on wikipedia... then I better know what is already in the wikipedia that covers some of our subjects.

The wikis covering subjects like Media Ecology and Media Literacy do little more than define the topic in a pretty general way and then provide lists of key figures and links to external resources. I don't know that we need to do much of that, then in our wiki. That should free us up a bit to focus on applying the learning we've gained from those areas and then to focus our resource listing on more practical guides and examples for Christ-followers seeking to effect cultural change in the area of Global Media and Culture.

Other helpful stuff from this week, though, will be those pieces helpful in mapping the Global Media landscape. The article, "The New Global Media," paints a useful picture of the corporate scheme (at least as it had developed in the 1990s) and describes the "creation of a global oligopoly... [like] the oil and automotive industries earlier this century." That means that Media on the global scale have become controlled by the same few HUGE trans-national corporations that control all the US media. I'm sure this has only become more the case thus far in the 21st Century.

Week 5 Reso & Eval

1. wiki on Media Ecology

2. wiki on Media Literacy

3. wiki on Media Studies

These first three resources are just for my colleagues and I to take note of so that as we interact with each of these areas in the development of our own wiki we do not find ourselves repeating too much. Also, we may want to link to them for simple definitions.

4. A well known article in Media studies circles on The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin. This is perhaps a bit too philosophical and aesthetically focused for our purposes, but is nevertheless a fascinating article on how the role of Art society has changed since it shifted from being a unique, one-of-a-kind expression to a product reproducible by mechanical means.

5. A book entitled Media, Communication, Culture: A Global Perspective by James Lull. Only a few pages of this are viewable online, but it seems to offer a uniquely Global look at things, particularily with Sports as an example (at least in these few pages).

6. Another book entitled Spaces of Identity: Global Media, Electronic Landscapes and Cultural Boundaries by David Morley. This book also has only a few pages available online, but it looks promising for the purposes of understanding and mapping the Global Media landscape as it has developed over recent decades.

7. An article, New Media and Borderless Education: A Review of the Convergence between Global Media Networks and Higher Education Provision An interesting (and LONG, at 250+ pages) study and report on the issues surrounding Global Media and education. Doesn't end up sounding as promising as it could, but has some good insight into the affects of globalization through the Media on significant areas of culture such as higher education.

8. An article, Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, and Media Culture by Douglas Kellner. Kellner has also written a great book entitled Media Culture, but both this article and the book approach the subject mostly from a Cultural Studies stand-point. This may not be as helpful for us because we are not so much wanting to study a culture or cultures by analyzing their media (as Kellner does), but rather our task is leaning more toward understanding Media's effects on culture in order to work within Media to bring positive change to a culture. Nevertheless, both are worthwhile reads if you are interested in such things.

9. An article, The New Global Media: ItÂ’s a Small World of Big Conglomerates by Robert W. McChesney. Sets the stage pretty well, and helps us in our mapping of the Global Media climate, including its structures and practices.

10. The website for Global Media Outreach, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. One of my colleagues may have already pointed out this resource, but is is quite possibly a good practical resource for stories and examples of people/groups doing this well.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Week 4 Analysis

The question is just about as perennial as one can get: Is society just bad, or did the Media make it so? Should we blame our brokenness on the Pop Culture machine, or did something of our own brokenness seep into our inherently neutral Media and corrupt it from within. I think to some extent we have to say both. We cannot, like the man in the comic strip, cop out and blame our own downfall on anything external (on an individual or corporate basis)… if we find ourselves in Hell (whether you mean it literally or figuratively) it will be of our own doing, you can be sure of that. And yet, at the same time we cannot deny the power Media has to shape our culture, and those changes will inevitably express both good values and bad.

Is the Media to blame for our cultural depravity? Well according to one writer, at least Hugh Hefner is. “It's pretty hard to deny the complete cultural victory of pornography in America today.” Analizing the Playboy-effect on our society and culture, Mercer Schurchardt says, “what was really happening was that Hefner was imposing his new standards on society, making us conform to his new ideas of goodness, truth, and beauty.” Schurchardt (touching on one of CT’s favorite subjects) even goes so far as to just about blame Hefner for the rise of Abortion: “The Playboy philosophy, which requires women to be thin, infertile, and always available, essentially requires childlessness. And you can bet your birth control packet that abortion is the natural bedfellow of the successful playboy.” Does the kind of Media produced by the likes of Hugh Hefner really shape our culture that much? Is Playboy to be given credit for the wide-spread acceptance (at least behind closed doors) of pornography and sexually explicit media in general in America? Well, on at least that count I do come pretty close to agreeing. Again, we cannot underestimate the power Media has to subtly shape our perspectives on a cultural level.

I appreciate the Charlie Peacock article for its exhortation and optimism (perhaps it would work well to be quoted in our exhortation section on the wiki). His perspective, illustrated through the story of the Sarajevo cellist, applies well to the kind of message we should encourage Christians to carry into the Media. This quote summed it up well: “I should rise each day and ask God, ‘What rubble do you want me to breathe your life into today? Where do you want the Kingdom rule to be made visible? How can I help to make something or someone beautiful?’ This kind of lifestyle is world-changing, and you never know how far or how long a story will travel on its trajectory of good.”

The “Lies that Go Unchallenged” resource I found both intriguing and disturbing. First and foremost, I think it is very important for us to be AWARE of how we assume things or take things for granted in culture. We can’t ignore the subtle ways we are affected by culture because being aware of such forces is the only way we can work within culture for good.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Week 4 Res and Eval

1. Non-Sequitor - This particular strip offers a humorous illustration of the way many of us (whether the finger is being pointed politically, culturally, morally, or religiously) blame the Media for the bad state we find ourselves in. Well, is it true? Is our living Hell entirely the fault of the Media?

2. CT Article: “Hugh Hefner’s Hollow Victory: How the Playboy magnate won the culture war, lost his soul, and left us with a mess to clean up.”

3. CT Article: “Blockbuster Evangelism: Millions have been converted after seeing films about Jesus, and Hindu radicals are responding with violence.”

4. “Recreating With Eyes of Faith” – yet another article by John Fischer, published in Relevant Magazine, Nov/Dec 2003. Couldn’t find it online, but here are some quotes and summary…

5. CCM Article: “So Much More” by Charlie Peacock - read both pages.

6. CT Article: Free PowerPoint Challenges Misconceptions in Pop Culture - reporting on a free PowerPoint presentation for Christians to download to be made aware of the “lies” around us in culture (including the media).

7. Lies That Go Unchallenged
The actual site for the free PowerPoint, based on the book by Chuck Colson… all of it is interesting, but these last few “lies” especially so:

The Arts
Lie #4: Art should break traditional norms and challenge outworn beliefs.

Christians in Culture
Lie #5: Christian beliefs are a private matter.

The Media
Lie #6: Entertainment is a vehicle to help us fulfill personal desires.

Spirituality in Culture
Lie #7: God accepts us as we are, and there are many ways to him.

8. Books & Culture article: “Book of the Week: Moody, the Media, and the Birth of Modern Evangelism.”

“Bruce J. Evensen, a communications professor at DePaul University, masterfully recounts both how the newspapers elevated Moody to celebrity status and how they came to occupy a central role in modern mass evangelism.”

9. Book Review: “How The Monster Grew

A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian looks at the origins of modern media.”

10. Communication As Culture - Some interesting resources on the theory surrounding Media, Communication and Culture.

I don’t know how I found this, but it contains some of the good theory pieces I saw presented by Shane Epps when he lectured on Media Ecology in my Media and Ministry class. That particular bit of information is James Carey’s understanding of Transmission vs. Ritual models of communication—which essentially allows us to analyze the kind of effects different modes of communication have on groups of people (or societies and cultures).

The site also includes some great sub categories of resources like Media Theory, which discusses other theorists I’ve mentioned, like Marshall McLuhan.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Week 3 Reso, Evalu, Analy

Left Behind 3
Wow… so how’s this for a media shift… this movie is being released on DVD only, and then screened in CHURCHES instead of theaters. What do you think of this shift if it becomes a trend?

Fearless Faith
This is a great book that I think helps us think about Media and Culture from a Christian sub-culture perspective. Or rather, challenging the Christian sub-culture’s perspective. The book by John Fischer is entitled Fearless Faith: Living Beyond the Walls of “Safe” Christianity. This link is from Fischer’s web-site, and has a first-chapter excerpt from the book. Check it out.

More John Fischer
An article from Fischer (originally in CCM magazine) that fits some of what our group discussed in class today about the high ideals of creativity and artistic integrity and how quickly that can be usurped by the powers and practices at play in the Entertainment Industry in the U.S.

Roaring Lambs
Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan To Radically Change Your World. Another one of the books I mentioned to my group in class the other day… Bob Briner was the president of ProServ Television and an Emmy winning TV producer… and a Christian who wrote this book as a “manifesto of our proper stance regarding the ‘culture-shaping arena”, arguing that “Christians can and ought to be the movers and shakers of social change.” He applies it particularly to Media and the Arts and other areas he saw as “culture-shaping arena” that Christians have not had much presence or influence in.

The 500 Year Delta
This book is quoted in Fischer's Fearless faith book, so I only know that part of it that applies to Fischer's book, but they way Fischer references it, he talks about it as being "one of the first books to talk about the vast changes facing society [in the near future]." They suggest that what society is heading toward is the deliniation "of the current splintering of the social, political, and economic organization of society into what they call "media communes." And they identify one of those separate groups as "God Talk," the Christian "media commune. We are relegated to our own separate niche, being marketed to and sold to based on our "demographic," but without any effective crossover into the rest of society and life. That certainly does not bode well for Christian interaction and engagement with the rest of culture, and that in effect means Media, as a power and structure in this world, will have pushed the Church a safe distance away from the rest of culture. Yikes!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Week 2 Resources, Eval and Analysis

The subject of Media Ecology is one that is very intrigueing to me, and in general I think we need to be thinking deeper about just how Media shapes and influences individuals, communities, societies and cultures. Media Ecology is just that, the study of how Media effects people, and then how we can make decisions about using Media that are well informed and good for our cultural "eco-system."
Here is a reading list of potential resources. Marshall McLuhan is a must for informing us about the effects of Media on society and culture. A genius before his time.
More avtual content from this site will help us figure out whether the subject of Media Ecology is a direction we want to go with this project.
This is a site list of resources having to do with media ecology. It has a couple great quotes about the subject at the beginning:
Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.”Neil Postman
"Media ecologists are interested in the interactions of communications media, technology, technique, and processes, with human feeling, thought, value, and behavior."Christine Nystrom
Further down the page it lists resources under Academic Resources, Organizations and Programs; and then some Online resources. I’ve began checking some of them out, and a few of them are also on this week’s list.
Sage publications looks like a promising source, if only as a bibliography of further reading. Particularly, they are the publishers of the journal, “Media, Culture & Society” which “provides a major international forum for the presentation of research and discussion concerning the media, including the newer information and communication technologies, within their political, economic, cultural and historical contexts. The journal is interdisciplinary, regularly engaging with a wider range of issues in cultural and social analysis. Its focus is on substantive topics and on critique and innovation in theory and method.”
The Sage website itself doesn’t have much else in the way of content, but I should take a look at that journal in future weeks.
Another one of the programs listed on the media literacy site is this study abroad program through Michigan State University, “Media, Environment and Culture in Australia.” I don’t really know how helpful this would be for this project since it seems more like they are three separate areas for the program, rather than one program covering the integration of these three areas.
A really intriguing-looking book. There might be some helpful information here on the site as well, but I wonder if this book could be helpful. know this is an interview about an upcoming movie, but if you’re like me you can’t wait for the Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe to come out. The interview is with the head of Walden Media, the company that is producing the film (it’s only being marketed and distributed by Disney, Walden kept all creative control). The interest I have in this interview from the perspective of this blog is the way it discusses the phenomenon of interaction between a Media corporation and the mass public over the production of a well-loved story. It’s almost as if because the story is so well known and the book is so deeply loved, there’s a powerful though indirect relationship between culture and corporation which puts pressure and leverage on the decision-making processes of the project. The not-so-silent partner in Media decision IS the culture which it both caters to and shapes.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Luke and Marla @ Abby's wedding

Luke and Marla @ Abby's wedding
Originally uploaded by lphyder.

First Post

Hi. Welcome to my blog.

My name is Luke Hyder. I'm in my third year in the MDiv program at Fuller Seminary, concentrating in Worship, Theology and the Arts. I am from a lot of places if you go back far enough, but my family has been in Fresno CA for about the last 16 years. I came to Pasadena from Spkane WA where I did my undergrad at Whitworth College, worked as a worship leader at First Presbyterian Church, and met and married my wife, Marla. I am the son and son-in-law of two Presbyterian Pastors and am training to be one myself.

In this class and on this blog I hope to do some meaningful processing of the subject of Cultural Tranformation, especially as it pertains to Contemporary Culture, and specifically how it can be applied to a local church's vision and mission in engaging its immediate community and cultural context(s).