Why Do We Anthropomorphise?

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Anthropomorphism is ‘considered as the attribution of human characteristics and the qualities to non-human beings, objects or natural phenomena’. Giving human characteristics to animals and inanimate objects is a natural human trait. Today we find that anthropomorphism is used increasingly in films, cartoons and books aimed towards children. We grew up with Humphrey B Bear, and A Bug’s Life. Children now have Dora The Explorer and Go Diego Go.

Like anything, this humanisation of animals can be quite dangerous for people and their environment. In some cases, audiences have become so sensitised to this new, false image of animals that they question why animals attack. People are so used to the humanised versions of animals we see in film that they start to forget that animals are in fact animals. This idea is shown through the attacks at SeaWorld from the captive orcas. As mentioned in Brereton’s Environmental Ethics and Film (2015) ‘wildlife films can (intentionally in some cases, unintentionally in others) provide viewers with heavily mediated but potentially transformative modes of access to the emotional lives of our non-human kin’ (Wlling in Weik von Mossner, 2014). After visits to SeaWorld, a lot of young children dream of being an animal trainer when they grow up. They see the trainers at the time being allowed to kiss and swim with dolphins, and that inspires them. This dream doesn’t become a reality for a large majority, once the find out what is actually going on behind the scenes. BlackFish (2013) went against what Brereton (2015) describes as the norm and introduced audiences to the reality of training sea animals. While in the moment, audiences don’t always stop and think that the animals on show are usually beaten and harmed when they don’t cooperate. The documentary detailed experiences about how animals were starved if they couldn’t perform tricks and the orcas were racked if they underperformed.

Continuing with education about animals, films such as Finding Nemo ‘contain a very explicit moral fable against removing reef fish from their habitat’ (Brereton, 2015). “Fish are friends, not food” wasn’t just thrown in there for comedic relief. The film criticises the idea of keeping wild animals as pets to portray to the viewer that captivity is harmful. There are actually many positives when it comes to anthropomorphism. The experience, through films and television shows, isn’t always a negative one.

While in the anthropomorphic imaginative state, we learn more about other animals while experiencing feeling very similar to theirs. This makes us want to help the animals in any way we can to minimise their levels of suffering. These animals, created for media purposes, possess emotions of happiness, sadness, fear, etc. The animals in Disney’s Cinderella can talk and interact with human characters and can clearly show emotion. This can teach younger audiences that animals do experience the emotions most would only identify as human. While still trying to push the point across that some animals in particular are dangerous, they are still capable of feeling hurt, distress and happiness.

The use of anthropomorphism proves to be successful for entertainment and educational purposes. The message may not be noticed by younger audiences during one viewing, but as time goes on and education about animals increases, the message almost always reaches the target audience.

References:

Brereton, Pat. Environmental Ethics And Film. 1st ed. Routledge, 2015.

“Anthropomorphism Of Animals: Types, Pros And Cons – RHEG”. Raymondinegypt.tripod.com. N.p., 2016. Web.

Blackfish. Gabriela Cowperthwaite, 2013. Film.

“‘Blackfish’: The Documentary That Exposes Seaworld”. SeaWorld of Hurt. Web. 

 

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#SelfieNation

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A ‘selfie’ is a self-portrait, typically taken on a smartphone and shared via social media. Selfie’s dominate most social media feeds and can be used for promotion, and to showcase self-identity, worth and mood. Selfies allow us to control and dictate how others view us.

As popular as it is, selfie taking has developed quite a negative stigma. Take a photo of your own face? It’s narcissistic. But get someone else to take a photo of your face? It’s not the same, apparently. Somehow, these two different photo styles evoke a world of different responses. Does the effort of capturing, editing and posting selfies take away from the legitimacy of the photo? Why are people still being shamed for sharing them? These self-portraits today are very similar to what was being presented in the past. It’s not a particularly new ideal. They’re a way of us controlling how we are being portrayed in the online world. Herring (2015) states that “self presentation is generally considered to be motivated by a desire to make a favourable impression on others…”. Herring’s current research is concerned with how teenagers present themselves through social media. It considers the implications of social media use, profile constructions, visual and textual self-presentation, profile visibility, truthfulness, and other facets of teens’ self-presentation in relation to their gender. As much as we don’t like to admit it, we are constantly judging and monitoring others on our social media feeds. Social media and selfies are being used to gain status and carve the identity we always wished we had.

It’s still quite a new concept but status on social media is a big deal to some people. To Youtube and other online stars, it’s their livelihood. There are still a lot of people out there don’t care about their follower count at all but there are others who will delete photos from Instagram and status’ from Facebook if they don’t get over a specific number of likes. These people get trapped into thinking that their follower count reflects who they are in real life and how they are represented. Katrin Tiindenburg introduces us to the idea of a popularity paradox. These individuals feel the need to provide an excess amount of pictures and selfies, or perform in a particular way to gain more likes and followers on any given social media site (Tiindenburg, 2015). This kind of lifestyle contributes to their anxieties and nervousness of underperforming for their audience and not meeting their expectations. Tiindenburg (2015) argues that self-shooting, of selfie-taking, is a therapeutic act. While this may be the case, have we, as society, taken it too far?

A very recent example of this is Australian micro-celebrity Essena O’Neill. O’Neill was a very popular Instagram personality who has become an influential voice on the fakery that is Instagram. In 2015 she did an exposé on the lies behind every single one of her posts and what was required of her from companies. What once started as an innocent account to share photos, it quickly blew out of proportion. She had created, what turned out to be, a very fake and misrepresented online version of herself. O’Neill was being paid by companies to promote their products to her ever growing audience. She was living the ‘perfect life’. She has since gone back and changed the captions of posted photos to reveal what really went on behind the scenes.

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Reference:

Herring, Susan C., and Sanja Kapidzic. “Teens, gender, and self-presentation in social media.” International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences. 2nd ed. Oxford: Elsevier (2015): 1-16.

Tiidenberg, K. and E. Gomez Cruz. “Selfies, Image And The Re-Making Of The Body”. Body & Society 21.4 (2015): 77-102. 

My Four O’Clock

instagram.com/myfouroclock/

My Four O’clock was created to compare and contrast the everyday life of your everyday person. This digital artefact captured a moment in time from the 18th April 2015 at 4pm. Instagram allowed for this to be captured as it simply showcases the photo with a caption which gave context to what was happening. Hashtags were utilised throughout this digital artefact to showcase the photos on a wide number of feeds and share it with similar communities (#BCM112, #DigitalArtefact). Created in 2010, Instagram currently has 150 million active monthly users (Geoff, 2014). The app was originally only available for iPhone users, but through rapid success, it was developed for Android. The introduction of new features (filters, video, direct messaging, web access and tagging) is what keeps consumers interested and the app as the fastest-growing social site.

When asking around the greater public, most would simply say that Instagram is a platform to share photographs on. Although that is one of the apps functions, it is only the beginning of the theory ‘the medium is the message’ (McLuhan, 1964). Instagram’s message is different for each individual though. An artist can use Instagram as a portfolio for their work, where someone else can use it to simply post photographs of their day-to-day life. McLuhan’s theory suggests that the channels and the means in which society discusses and views messages creates a new meaning. My Four O’clock showcased this idea, as the images that were presented varied quite a lot. It acted as a travel diary to some, and a place to showcase talents for others.

My Four O’clock utilised many of Instagram’s mediums. Features and technologies, such as filters and tagging, were used for the overall aesthetic look and distribution of each photograph. The purpose of this artefact was to showcase how so many people are connected to each other without common knowledge. This was proved by a number of images that related to one another (people at work, someone watching a race from Caulfield on television while another person was working at Caulfield, people playing and watching sport, etc.). Each photograph was edited and uploaded with McLuhan’s theory in mind. Instagram’s mediums of image, text and distribution through hashtags were considered for the overall success of each individual entry. If I could develop this digital artefact further, I would try and get the message out to a larger group of people from as many different places as possible. The creation of this task was very quick and easy, but the distribution was what struggled the most.

The overall outcome of this digital artefact was achieved. Each photo represented a different person and showcased what they were doing on a particular day at a particular time. If this project were to be continued on, or recreated, a clearer set of instructions would have been presented from the start (no filters on photos, no selfies, etc.) so photographs could remain anonymous and focus specifically on the task at hand. A greater time frame would also be used to have a more diverse feed and greater number of images and subjects.

Reference:

Geoff. WERSM (We Are Social Media). 2014. The Complete History of Instagram. [ONLINE]. Available at: http://wersm.com/the-complete-history-of-instagram/

Federman, M (2004). What Is The Meaning Of The Medium Is The Message? [ONLINE] Available at: http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/MeaningTheMediumistheMessage.

That Cat Has More Instagram Followers Than Who??

So, I know the lecture was about twitter and our online persona but I thought I would focus on Instagram, pets, and this strange fame that has come with it all. Recently I have seen celebrities, YouTube stars, and regular Joe’s creating online accounts for their pets. It’s bizarre to me… Also awesome, but bizarre all the same. Most of these ‘famous’ pets have more followers than everyone I know has, combined. And by most, I mean all of them.

Norman and Bambie (@normieandbambiejenner

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Kylie Jenner’s pooches have a crazy 412,000 follower count.

Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat)

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Grumpy Cat, originally a meme online, has appeared on shows like Good Morning America and American Idol and has even featured in movies! She has 688,000 followers on Instagram.

Boo (@buddyboowaggytails)

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Boo, a fluffy pomeranian, has over 17 million likes on Facebook and is the subject of four photo books.

Digital Transformation in the Art of Craft

This weeks topic reminded me a lot of what I did in my media arts class last semester. We spent a couple of lessons studying Sol LeWitt and his infamous wall drawings. There are many different types of technologies used throughout this process to encompass all of the transformations. Each one of LeWitt’s drawings have a set of instructions, distributed over the internet for others to recreate. The instructions, written originally by LeWitt, are shared online and available for people to print off, reproduce, photograph, and then reupload. In this class last semester, we were given the opportunity to take a copy of these instructions into a studio space and recreate what we thought it was to look like. Here is my attempt:

Citizen Journalism

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A new type of media user has been born… We’re all about producing, sharing and consuming. Citizen journalism is so appealing to some because it has no cost of entry and unlike actual journalists, there’s no quality filter and no upfront risk. Citizen journalism is the absence of authority, an open process with no closure.

Citizen journalism refers to “public citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information”. Blogs and social media have taken away the feature of gatekeepers (editors and publishers, in some cases) and allows individuals to post whatever, whenever they want.

As social media allows for instantaneous uploads, it is quickly becoming the main place where all news is found first. Victims of tragedies are tweeting/ posting what is happening to them, in real time, on their own terms. Citizen journalism allows for instant access and instant knowledge for people all around the world.

Supernaturally Into This

I was going to be that person that posted yet another blog on Harry Potter/ transmedia storytelling, but I thought I’d play around with another franchise.

I think the key point when looking at transmedia is understanding that it is a completely different thing to multimedia… Transmedia relies on multiple platforms to convey the key story to audiences. The online world has allowed for there to be an introduction of this sub-culture/ fandom life. Now, more than ever before, fans are able to take their love for films, television series, and celebrities to a whole new level. The story never has to end for them.

Supernatural, with a huge ten seasons under its belt, is widely known all around the world. But it isn’t simply a television series to some. A quick search on Tumblr will reveal thousands of blogs dedicated to their favourite characters, and even more posts relating to the show. Supernatural Wiki is a thing that exists for all the latest news on the show, the cast, and any upcoming events for fans to get involved in. Fans take the story into their own hands by writing fanfic (you can find that on your own if you’re really interested) and creating artworks. The American fantasy horror show even has an anime spin off series!

Transmedia is done with the intent of grouping everything into one story, and is done so to maximise the number of sources people can use to access the material. The idea is for fans to utilise the different media sites while still being engaged in what they’re ultimately interested in.