Media Criticism Feedback

Welcome back to my blog!

Image result for tv shows

Like I mentioned in my previous post, Media Criticism is such an important topic to know when consuming media. In my class we have learned many different way in which we can apply this concept to television.

For this assignment I was required to take a look at three other students’ work and discuss how they applied what they learned in class to their own blog. I was eager to see how everyone completed this assignment.

Here are the comments I left for some of my classmates:

Tyler Hare critiqued “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and here are my thoughts:

Hey Tyler! I enjoyed reading your blog post and the thought you put into the assignment. I am a big fan of the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as well. You made your blog post so easy to read! You have short paragraphs and nice sub titles that led me from section to section.
You make good use of semiotics and John Fiskes Code of Television to further understand the dynamics of the show. You made a good point for the second level about production and the music being lighthearted and sort of quirky. The scene, in my opinion was hard to draw out some of these codes but I think you did a good job a drawing them out in order to connect with the scene.
I would, however, suggest mentioning the ideology of family in this particular scene you choose. We can see the ideology that it’s a father’s job to teach his children lessons. I think it would be a great addition to your points on materialism as well. The father, who is wealthy, feels superior to his children and feels the need to show off to them by buying extravagant things.
A topic you could have developed is the idea of gender. Dee’s character is depicted in a sometimes-negative way. This article explains how she embodies a stereotype.
Overall, I really enjoy your approach and the way you drew out so many great points.

Here is what I had to say on Ali Chandler’s use of semiotics with “The Office”.

Ali, I really enjoyed reading your blog post! You broke down the concepts of semiotics and paradigms to where they were easy to understand. You also use a great and relevant piece of media in the show The Office. I also like the point you bring up briefly about gender and that in a office setting there tends to be more men than women and the picture you choose shows that.
You really explain signs, which are things we recognize and use these signs to connect with what we already know. Signs are what make each approach relevant in study. If there were no signs there would be nothing to pick apart.
I would suggest, however, going into more detail about gender. You touched upon it briefly but think going into the topic a little deeper would provide some interesting perspective. There is another cast photo for the show that would have been perfect to use for semiotics that I found for The Office that could have made some of your points stronger and allow you develop more signs.
This is the image that would be a great example to use. There are a lot of addition signs in the photo that I think that the other one lacks. You could talk about the props use in the photo and the placement of characters to make sense of reality.
Overall I really enjoyed your post!

Last I took a look at Rachel Ondik’s post on Jane The Virgin and I said:

Hi Rachel,
I had a lot of fun reading your blog post. I also enjoy watching Jane The Virgin and loved to hear what you found in the show through the semiotic approach.

You make a good point about the misconception on the word criticism. I never really thought of it that way but I guess some people do. I think that you do a great job with gaining the readers attention this way by squashing this idea.

For the first code I like how you made a point about materialism. An attribute you could have further explained is behavior. Jane is a mom and does a lot of things that show that she is, like how she would get upset early on in the show when she was away from her baby. Also you could compare her wealth to Rafael’s. I know that in a part of the show that Rafael is not afraid to throw money around, while Jane tends to be more cautious when spending money.

I love how you talk about the second code. Jane The Virgin has a narrator that further develops the storyline and the show would be completely different with out it.

One thing I would add to your discussion for the third code is the ideology of family. Family structure is strongly challenged in this show. For most of Jane’s life she grew up with out a father and was raised by her mom, who had her young, and her abuela. This link is a trailer that I think would have been great for you to use to further talk about this point in the show.

Overall great job!


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I really enjoyed this activity and giving feedback to my classmates. I feel like I really understand semiotics and Fiskes codes of television. Each of my peers did a great job with articulating the approach they used and applying it to a TV show. I had a lot of suggestions for my classmates based on the shows they picked. I have seen all three of these shows and tried to add a suggestion that could work with their critique that I picked up on while being a fan of these medias. I think reading other people’s definitions and applications of their approaches shows how everyone can critique the media no matter what kind of text it is.


Mickey Mouse Monopoly Reaction

Disney is everywhere.

We all know Disney from growing up with it. The first movie I have ever seen in theaters was a Disney movie.

I watched Disney movies as a child and I still watch them today.

Because Disney’s timelessness, there is a lot that Disney movies show us about our culture and is a reason for the changes in them throughout the years. However they still portray a set of ideals.

599936-snow_white1_large.jpegWe can compare two princess movies like Snow White (1937) and Frozen (2013) to see a similar ideal about beauty and about femininity. While we have stronger female main character in Frozen to represent the time in which we are now living, there is still a strong sense of how a female should look like and act.

A femininity is portrayed with these women who wear dresses and who are naive. We have a character in Frozen who falls in love with a character after two seconds without knowing anything about him and in Snow White she eats an apple from a strange woman.

imagesWhile the movie Mickey Mouse Monopoly doesn’t reference Frozen, we can still see the culture that influenced the plot of the movie.

SPOILER: A man doesn’t save the day in Frozen. In the end it’s the love of two sisters that saves everyone in the movie.

This is an example of the success of the counter hegemony of feminism.

All of the old Disney princess movies show the men saving the day. After time has pasted and these views of helpless women dissipate we see a change in the movies.

I do think we still have a long way to go from here. There are still groups of people who aren’t being portrayed and strong feminine ideals that are being portrayed to children.



Elements of Drama in Reality TV

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! My name is Nicole Cross and I go to Towson University where I am studying Mass Communications. This semester I am taking a media criticism course.

Critiquing the media something that we all can do. In fact you might even do it subconsciously.

Media criticism is something that we look at to make sense of our culture and presents what social norms are being presented. This is a rigorous process analyzes media such as films, TV programs, and books. These are media texts that we experience in our day-to-day lives and with media criticism we can take a look at the symbols they present and give them meaning in our society.

Image result for hegemony in mediaWith information overload and the extreme content consumption we face in our daily lives media literacy is becoming more important. The job of media literacy is to fight the traditional hegemonic power that only represents only traditional thinking or ideologies.

For example, we are constantly begging for more TV programs that represent people of color. We have come a long way though. Not long ago we only had television shows like Leave It To Beaver, and other 50s sitcoms that featured little to no people of color. Now we have shows like Black Ish and Scandal that give a perspective of these marginalized people in society, in race and gender.

We use different approaches to analyze these media text (which can be anything from a television show to a advertisement.) We call them text-centered approaches. These three approaches are semiotics/structuralism, narrative criticism, and genre criticism.

Let’s take a closer look at narrative criticism, or narrative analysis. Narrative analysis focuses on storytelling. It allows us to take a look into the structure of a text and the cause-and-effect chain of events.

One way analyze the story through narrative criticism is through an Aristotelian approach. This approach examines the elements of drama used to understand genres by plot, character, setting and theme.

Now, I am going use the narrative analysis to compare two Reality TV shows, Survivor and Big Brother, through an Aristotelian approach to talk about how their elements of drama make up their genre.

Image result for survivor tv showSurvivor is a competition based reality show ( and family show that really appeals to audiences ages 18 to 54) that puts strangers on an island to battle for a million dollars.

The show begins with players divided into two tribes that compete in challenges. There are two types of challenges, award challenges and immunity challenges. The tribes go against each other to win these competitions. The tribe that loses the immunity challenges goes to tribal council where the players vote off one person. And they continue to do this each week. In the middle of the season they merge the tribes and players play for individual immunity. At the end, when there are only three survivors left, the players voted off make up a jury that vote for the winner.

Image result for big brotherBig Brother, another reality show based on competition, secludes a group of strangers into a house in order to win a half of a million dollars.

Like survivor, Big Brother house guests vote someone out every week. House guests play competitions to win power and save them from going home. There is a head of household (HOH) competition that has everybody in the house, except for the outgoing HOH winner, battling to win the power to put two people up for elimination. The power of veto (POV) is another competition that the players play after the HOH winner nominates two players to go home for the week. In this game the players nominated to go home can win the power of safety. At the end of the week the all the players, expect for the HOH winner and the two players nominated for elimination, vote for who they want to be evicted from the Big Brother house.

In both of these shows we see normal people, who are not actors, put into a secluded setting to battle against one another for a money prize. On Survivor these people are put on an island in another country and on Big Brother they are in a house. In both settings players are away from technology and cut off from communicating with the outside world while playing.

Image result for survivor million dollar checkWe see the same theme of what people do in order to win a money prize in both of these TV programs.

We also get to see big characters who entertain the audience.

Narrative analysis is all about exploring a story’s emplotment, which is the story told through the creator’s perspective and presentation of the “text.”

You might ask yourself: how is there a plot development in a Reality TV show? Well the answer is through editing.

In Big Brother and Survivor there is a production pretty much filming 24/7. In order to create an episode for airing, all of that film is cut down into an edited version for television. Through an editing process, a production can develop a story line and make certain people come off as villains or a heroes.

Image result for survivor heroes vs villainsThis type of editing is used to keep audiences engaged with the show. People are more likely to keep watch to see the “hero” win and to see the “villain” fail and follow a story arc.

In these shows we also see how humans behave in order to win a prize. In Survivor and Big Brother players will back-stab and lie to one another to make it to the end and win the money.

For a lot of the players the prize money is life changing and it’s what motivates them do whatever it takes to win.

Winning is a performance vehicle used in both of these programs. Winning is always rewarded in these shows and the losers suffer. In Big Brother they sometimes do a “have and have-not” competition where players compete for food. The losers of this competition are forced to eat “slop” instead of real food, sleep in an uncomfortable room, and shower in cold water.

So what? Though this genre is “reality” and not scripted there are still elements of storytelling and elements of drama that gives us insights on our culture.

We can see an ideology of success in this genre. People play with cutthroat strategy and lie in order to win that money.

(Of course now people play the game of survivor for the strategy and the show have become more than just winning the money, but becoming the sole survivor.)

Survivor and Big Brother show what humans will do to get that money because it defines success. One thing we can take away from watching competition based reality shows is the importance society puts on success.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Do you think we see the ideology of success often in media?