MediaMyopic Collaborates With CTT

Since the start of the semester typically signals a less prolific blog here at MediaMyopic, I want to alert you to a new collaboration with Georgetown University’s gnovis Journal. The peer-reviewed blog through the University’s Communication, Culture & Technology program will feature bi-weekly posts from MediaMyopic. The site is a commendable platform and offers a solid mix of diverse, academic viewpoints concerning today’s culture and media environment. While MediaMyopic will continue to serve its mission, I encourage everyone to support the gnovis blog and tune in to its salient discussions. Below is an exceprt from my first post:

Remember the days when we elected politicians who didn’t know how to e-mail? While some candidates think they can still get by with rhetoric from the Stone Age (McCain, anyone?), those days of the not-so-technologically-savvy president are gone, thanks to Barack Obama’s administration. The Blackberry-toting Obama marks the country’s first president to adopt e-mail, despite the technology going mainstream some two decades ago. As a result of Obama’s Web 2.0 White House, we have a president eager to communicate through mediums neglected by past presidents and — for the first time in my generation — Americans have lent their ears to our new leader..Read On

The Digital Divide



With the looming Feb. 17 analog-to-digital conversion deadline for television sets just a month away, an estimated 19 million Americans are still going it old school, according to former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairmen William Kennard and Michael Powell. In a New York Times op-ed published over the weekend, they argued that the bulk of those who have yet to convert their sets are minority, low-income or elderly people and the Federal government’s $1.3 billion plan to aid Americans in the upgrading process is poised for failure. An insufficient amount of funds were allocated for the $40 federal stipends designed to assist low-income consumers with the conversion, and a convoluted application process means none of those remaining 19 million will qualify for the coupon before the deadline. In addition, it’s suggested that manufacturers of the digital conversion boxes produced anywhere between 4 to 31 million to few. President Obama has called upon Congress to delay the conversion and the networks seem receptive to a delay. The only major anti-delay advocate appears to be current FCC chairman (and Bush appointee) Kevin Martin but MediaMyopic wouldn’t exactly call the pro-consolidation Republican a voice of moral reason. C’mon Congress, seems like a no-brainer to us.

Tit for Tat

Is there anything social networking users do not share on the Web these days? Most of us have been guilty of indulgent Facebook status updates but now a group of mothers known as “Lactovists” are taking this newly gained exposure too far. A coalition of California moms is speaking out against Facebook after the company removed breast feeding photographs from their personal pages. According to KGO-TV, the social networking site typically permits such photos but removes those with fully exposed breasts. Beyond being a story of entitled mothers with too much time on their hands, this truly underscores the dying distinction between public versus private space. Some women now post videos of themselves giving birth on YouTube. Just how far are we from posting pics of ourselves on the potty? Probably sooner than you think. Maybe we’ll even start producing home-made sex tapes inspired by Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. We applaud Facebook for exuding some authority over the integrity of their site and when the day comes that someone posts a breast feeding pic on MediaMyopic, we will certainly do the same.

With a Plunger and a Pen

Armed with a plunger and pen, Joe the Plumber is now an official ‘journalist,’ according to today’s definition, which includes anybody and everybody. Samuel Wurzelbacher, a conservative, uninformed American turned pop culture icon during the charades of the ’08 election, will now be penning articles covering conflict on the Gaza Strip, as an Israel-based war ‘correspondent’ for right-leaning website PajamasTV — a news outlet spouting the tired argument of liberal media bias. A propaganda pawn for McCain, Joe was not in fact a plumber but a tax-owning business owner. Now he’s asking the public to take him seriously as a professional journalist. Here’s the shorthand: ignorant everyman who publically suggests Obama is anti-Israel socialist tries to command the attention of the masses through his ‘reporting’ of one of the most complex current events, an event that even the most seasoned and ethical correspondents have failed to convey with complete accuracy. Joe, can I call ya’ Joe? We’re sorry to hear you’re unwilling to relinquish your 15 minutes of fame but go back to pitching your book deals and spare yourself from the embarassment. And spare the integrity of journalism from going down the drain.

Gupta’s Influence Trumps Inexperience

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Few would dispute that the Obama campaign represented the ultimate confluence of media and politics. The announcement that CNN chief health correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the leading contender to be the next Surgeon General has furthered Obama’s mastery of media in promoting his message. Many of my colleagues in the medical field have derided this choice, pointing to the fact that Gupta’s training as a neurosurgeon, coupled with his relative youth, makes him unqualified to be the leading spokesperson on public health issues like diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease. However, I believe that Gupta’s potential appointment actually has the potential to be a brilliant choice. Gupta’s background makes him uniquely suited to the position of Surgeon General. Over the last few decades, the Surgeon General’s role has morphed into the chief communicator of public health matters. Other than the tenure of C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general, in recent times, has become a largely invisible position. Koop stood out because he had the charisma to attract an audience, and the ability to explain complex issues to Americans in terms they could understand. In short, he was a transformative figure who millions of Americans could identify by sight alone. I suspect most Americans would be hard-pressed to identify the current Surgeon General. In contrast, millions of Americans invite Gupta into their home on a nightly basis; he has proven he can communicate in laymen’s terms. And while most public health issues wouldn’t ordinarily be handled by a neurosurgeon, Gupta would serve as a spokesperson for these matters, not the clinician – a key difference. The choice clearly demonstrates Obama’s continued mastery of not just the roles media and communication currently play, but their potential in shaping our lives. – Matt Buchalter

Third Time’s a Harm

Out of all the news in the world to report right now (the Bill Richardson investigation, conflict in Palestine, the economy etc.), the two biggest stories to break over the weekend was the death of John Travolta’s son and George H.W.’s pitch for another Bush White House. We ask the public this: What’s more alarming? The fact an ineffective one-term president and father of a son with approval ratings spriraling to historic lows has the audacity to suggest the family deserves a third try in getting it right. Or the mindless media, which feels that it is within their perview to report such a mundane, trivial and outrageous suggestion. From the family who brought you the failed policies of trickle-down economics, Desert Storm, ‘compassionate’ conservatism, Homeland Security, No Child Left Behind, deregulation, the Iraq War, voter tampering in Florida and a bevy of mispronounced words, we unenthusiastically present to the American people our 45th President: Jeb Bush. George, READ OUR LIPS: “No New Bush.”

Whoring Out Obesity

Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, triglycerides, coronary artery disease, stroke and sleep apnea isn’t incentive enough for Americans to stay active. According to the CDC, obesity rates have risen “dramatically” over the last 20 years, with most states reporting rates of 25% or more in 2007. Bill Bryson once wrote that American culture has become so lazy that we drive a half-mile to use a gym treadmill. And he’s right: we even avoid activity when we exercise. We can blame television, video games, the Internet and junk-food diets for our expanding waistlines. But one company believes it found a solution — that the key lies in sexual innuendo. The laundry list of as-seen-on-TV products has never included a product so outlandish and disturbing than Flirty Girl Fitness, which recently begun penetrating (pun intended) television air space. The company is marketing a line of exercise products and DVDs that make Suzanne Somer’s Thighmaster look wholesome. The products include routines that encourage women, and young girls, to practice slutty dance routines with stage props like medicine balls and chairs. Hmmm, is that why Britney Spears looks so good? It also includes instructions for pole dancing maneuvers that enable users to act out their wildest stripping fantasies. Why such products have reached the mainstream is beyond comprehension, and we’re in a sorry state if this is what it takes to stay fit. If a slew of health problems, mental well-being or self-confidence isn’t enough to inspire Americans to get off their ass, maybe the dream of being a whore will.

Under Our Skin

Lake Superior State University unveiled its 2009 “List of Banished Words,” which encompasses popular words or phrases of the year that were overused, used incorrectly or just plain annoying. MediaMyopic was pleased to learn of several cross words between Lake Superior’s list and our blog’s monthly survey on irritating presidential election catch phrases. We’d like to take the list one step further, introducing our own “Banished Peoples List,” featuring household names that should have remained in obscurity, infamous people of the year and those who we don’t ever need to hear from again. The list includes: Bristol Palin, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Rod Blagojevich, Bernard Madoff, Keith Olbermann, Plaxico Burress,  John Edwards, The Jonas Brothers, Mylie Cyrus, Amy Whinehouse, anonymous Iraqi shoe tosser, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Joe the Plumber, George W. Bush, Ashley Dupre, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, guy from the Mac versus PC ads, pregnant man Thomas Beatie, Kanye West, A. Rod., Fred Thompson,  Proposition 8 supporters (i.e. Mormons), Hurricane Gustav — and the person who comes up with these asinine storm names, Kathy Griffin, the cast of “High School Musical,” and every financial sector/Detroit automaker CEO. Let us know who we left out.

Sweet Caroline the Leftist Palin?

Caroline Kennedy’s announcement of her interest in filling the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton has opened up a Pandora’s Box of political scrutiny with her biggest criticisms strikingly similar to what the public heard about Sarah Palin, after McCain named the unknown gun-toting mom his vice presidential nominee. According to the critics, Kennedy is a princess who has never worked a 9-to-5 job. Despite hailing from the country’s most prominent political family, the pundits say she lacks experience and has peculiarly avoided the media during Governor David Paterson’s appointment process. Hmmmm, an inexperienced female political office seeker hidden from view? This does sound familiar.  After finally agreeing to talk shop with The New York Times, the paper deemed her vague and elusive. What’s more, she admitted that she seldom votes. While she stopped short of saying she doesn’t know what a senator does — perhaps learning that from the folksy Wasilla gal (wink, wink) — it was far from the entrance to the political stage that her supporters had hoped for. Unfair as it is, women are held to an even greater degree of vetting before taking political office (though, you’d never learn that from McCain); clearly defined goals, visions and voting records must be identified prior to pitching your case. We’d never put you on the same page as Palin but you have not learned from her mistakes either.

Mass Audiences Need a Jolt — or Shot

In one of those quirky only in Philadelphia at Christmas time stories that television media rolls with for days, a man shot a loud movie theater patron in the arm for making too much noise during the film. According to Newsweek, James Joseph Ciallela shot the man because he couldn’t keep a lid on his unruly family. Finally! I applaud someone for standing up to the masses that behave in theaters like they do in malls. I disagree with the means by which Ciallela handled the encounter at the United Artists Riverview Stadium theater, but serious filmgoers have been silenced too long. It wasn’t long ago, before all of our mobile devices, that we went to the theater solely to see the movie; attended a concert simply  for the music, or participated in a sporting event to support the home team. Now these pastimes have been relegated to hangouts, places to see and be seen. Most in attendance chat away on their cell phones; people come in clusters and talk amongst themselves and others are just moving around to scan the crowds for people they know. The experience has been sobering to real fans, resulting in the loss of Hollywood revenue, concert ticket sales and lackluster crowds at professional sporting events for even the most dominant of teams like the 24-6 Orlando Magic. It’s time these entities consider creating a true fan-friendly environment. The problem with appeasing mass culture is the fact that it sours an industry’s true supporters, and history has shown us that the disloyal masses move on from one entertainment source to another: the venue, event, film, band doesn’t matter, as long as they’re entertained, distracted and connected. But they won’t be the ones filling the seats when crowds start thinning out. Now I’m not sure anyone will.