What Do You Think? – Antenna http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 What Do You Think: Protests in Egypt http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2011/02/01/what-do-you-think-protests-in-egypt/ Tue, 01 Feb 2011 18:16:26 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=8249 Today, the demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak and his government entered its eighth day. Initially little covered by mainstream American press, the situation started gaining attention in U.S. media when the Egyptian government shut down internet access through pressure exerted on internet service providers.  As the situation continues to evolve, what is the place of media – both “new” and “old” – in these events?

There are so many different angles from which to approach this historical moment. As such, we at Antenna wanted to open up discussion among our readers and contributors in our “What Do You Think” column. Below are a few issues we’re thinking about; we invite you to add your take and/or your questions.

  • How are mainstream American television and other media outlets constructing and circulating particular narratives in relation to these events?
  • What do we make of the turns to “old media” (faxes, dial-up Internet, landline telephones) in response to the unprecedented constrictions on “new media”? How is this being covered by news agencies and/or commentators?


What Do You Think? The Chilean Mine Rescue http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/10/15/what-do-you-think-the-chilean-mine-rescue/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/10/15/what-do-you-think-the-chilean-mine-rescue/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:15:40 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=6835 This week, 33 workers who were trapped underground for over two months in a collapsed mine in Chile were rescued.  The Chilean mine rescue has been quite a prominent media event, which is already being compared to the coverage of the first moon walk in 1969 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. People around the world have watched live video feeds, produced by the Chilean government, aired nonstop on cable news channels and streamed over the internet. Journalists from around the world were (and are) on the scene (prompting media training for the miners) and the story continues to swirl all over Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.

So, what do you think about all this? Is this a momentous and unprecedented media occasion, bringing the globe together through technological advances and the triumph of the human spirit? Or is it just the classic overblown media spectacle filled with feel-good fluff? Do you find it captivating, emotional, exploitative, or do you even care? Does it deserve our close attention or is it just a distraction from the myriad pressing political, social, and economic issues facing us right now? What are the global dynamics involved here with the international media, the global audience, the people of Chile, the miners themselves, and the Chilean government orchestrating it all?  What does this tell us about media today– even reality TV?


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What Do You Think? The Emmys http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/08/30/what-do-you-think-the-emmys/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/08/30/what-do-you-think-the-emmys/#comments Mon, 30 Aug 2010 13:00:06 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=5842 Like other Emmys before them, the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards were filled with newcomers, upsets, familiar faces, old favorites, and of course best and worst dress lists. And now that the winners are in, and the broadcast is over, what do you think?

Although you might have blogged or tweeted on this topic elsewhere, we’d like you to share your opinions and critique with us here. What was your take on the nominees and which winners surprised you? What aspects of the awards show were particularly exciting or provocative? What aspects fell short? Did Jimmy Fallon’s performance as host pale in comparison to shows past? Was the use of tweeted introductions for presenters successful or just gimmicky? What did you make of this big night for Primetime Emmy first-timers, and the ousting of shows like 30 Rock and The Amazing Race from their award winning thrones? Any particularly sentimental, awkward, or hysterical moments worth commenting on? What’s not being discussed by critics and colleagues that should be, and what’s being given much more attention than deserved?

Let us know what you think. . .


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What Do You Think? Consuming Media in Public http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/03/29/what-do-you-think-consuming-media-in-public/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/03/29/what-do-you-think-consuming-media-in-public/#comments Mon, 29 Mar 2010 18:30:10 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=2753 It’s March Madness, and that’s gotten the Antenna editors thinking about what it means to consume media in public.  At the SCMS conference, Antenna’s own Jeff Jones and Tim Anderson were spotted as they searched for someplace to watch a game.  And at least one of our Facebook feeds has featured a friend mentioning that she seems to spend all of March at a local bar so she can see her alma mater play, even though that school is hundreds of miles from her current home.  And bars nationwide are running special promotions to entice sports enthusiasts to view the game there instead of one of the other 324098 bars in town.  Without question, March seems to bring the crowds out in droves to watch “the game” (whichever game “the game” is at that moment) with others.

But what does it mean to consume our media in public?  In a time when so much is being made of the ability to watch TV on our big screens in the privacy of our own homes, or on miniature screens in the public setting of the doctor’s office or bus, what is it that makes us want to consume media together?

So we want to hear from you–what entices you to watch Project Runway at group viewing nights in clubs?  Or to attend a group sing-along for Rocky Horror or The Sound of Music?  What are the pleasures of consuming your media in public?  Tell us your stories and analyze your behavior below…


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What Do You Think? Framing the Olympics http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/03/05/what-do-you-think-framing-the-olympics/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/03/05/what-do-you-think-framing-the-olympics/#comments Fri, 05 Mar 2010 14:46:55 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=2371 Now that the Olympics are over, and all that’s left is a hefty tax bill for the residents of Vancouver, which news frames stick with you? What were the games’ more important moments, amidst its many “firsts”? Where did coverage prove itself inadequate to the task? Which frames bugged you, and which roped you in?

Was it the spectacle of watching South Korea and Japan find a new battleground in women’s ice skating? Was it the death of Ukrainian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, and NBC’s ghoulish love in the hours afterward for replaying it ad infinitum? The US men’s hockey team’s supposedly “improbable” run to the gold medal game? Contested disqualifications and ensuing death threats in short track ice skating? The debate over who should’ve lit the Olympic flame? The British press’s determination to label the games a mismanaged failure? Joannie Rochette’s skate in the face of adversity? The Canadian women’s ice hockey team smoking cigars on the ice after winning? The Plushenko-Lysacek “to quad or not to quad” debate? “Harry Potter’s” ski jump redemption? Or even the bi-annual, “what? That counts as a sport?!” discussion?

And for our non-American readers, what are the frames that the rah, rah, USA, USA drumbeat of NBC missed? What were the equally egregious rah, rah moments from various other broadcasters that had you cringing?


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What Do You Think? The Oscar Nominees http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/02/03/what-do-you-think-the-oscar-nominees/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/02/03/what-do-you-think-the-oscar-nominees/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2010 14:16:55 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=1540 And the nominees for Best Picture are …

All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory, Network, Rocky, and Taxi Driver.

Whhoooops. Seems the Lost premier had us skipping in time there back to 1977, with the nominees from 1976’s batch. But seriously, what did you think of this year’s crop?


Best PictureAvatar, The Blind Side (whuh?), District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air

Best Director – James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

Best Actress – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side [whuh/]), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up in the Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Best Supporting Actress – Penelope Cruz (Nine), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Mo’Nique (Precious)

Best Supporting Actor — Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christopher Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Best Original Screenplay – Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman (The Messenger), Joel & Ethan Coen (A Single Man), Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy (Up)

Best Adapted Screenplay – Neill Bomkamp & Terri Tatchell (District 9), Nick Hornby (An Education), Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, & Tony Roche (In the Loop), Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)

and so on…

So, now that you see the list, what do you think of the idea of having ten nominations for Best Pic? Are you excited about Nick Hornby possibly winning an Oscar? Will Sandra Bullock seriously win against real actresses like Helen Mirren? Will James Cameron be King of All Worlds? And when they remake Lost in 2033, will anyone look back at these nominees and think as kindly of them as we might of All the President’s Men, Network, Rocky, and Taxi Driver?


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What Do You Think? Most Useful Media Studies Twitter Streams http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/28/what-do-you-think-most-useful-media-studies-twitter-streams/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/28/what-do-you-think-most-useful-media-studies-twitter-streams/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2010 14:49:18 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=1345

Twitter has completely changed the way I relate with my media studies colleagues.  Scratch that: Twitter has allowed me to relate, communicate, share links, and throw around ideas with dozens of grad students, professors, and critics across the globe who are invested, in one way or another, in media studies.  Two years ago, the only way to get in touch with this community would be at a conference, and even that would be difficult and pricey, to say nothing for the underlying awkwardness that afflicts academic meet-and-greets as a general rule.

Those unfamiliar with Twitter, or who join and find it useless, generally neglect the principle that makes Twitter run: it’s not so much about who follows you, but who you’re following.  In other words, the only way to make it interesting and valuable — to make connections and find links and make it a utility in your research — is to follow people who are interesting and valuable and function, as odd as it sounds, as utilities.

The list below features Twitter Accounts that I’ve personally found consistently useful and valuable.  These Twitterers post often (but not too often); they regularly lead me to interesting and diverse links; they retweet compelling links and ideas from the people that they follow.  And some of them are funny to boot.

These are my seven, and they indicate my interest in contemporary Hollywood and celebrity gossip and culture.

Film Studies for Free/Catherine Grant:  Many of us are familiar with Grant’s exceptional website of the same name.  This points me there — and elsewhere — on a regular basis, linking to scholarship on a diverse range of films from all over the world that is free and accesible to all.

Michael Aronson:  Mike may be my former MA advisor at the University of Oregon, but he’s also an accomplished film historian with a focus on exhibition in the silent era.  His ‘Silent Cine Tip o Day’ takes me to newly restored streaming silent cinema, announces new Norma Talmedge DVDs, or alerts me of a new Oscar Micheaux concept album.

The Awl:  The Awl is like Gawker reborn, with far less commercialism and huge implants of wit, sarcasm, and general alertness as to the state of our highly-mediated world.  They don’t only talk about media, but they often do, and it’s always compelling.  And all publications should learn from their clever Twitter headlines to tempt you to the actual article.

filmdrblog: The anonymous Dr. seemingly finds every piece of valuable writing on media studies on a daily basis.  Magic.

Roger Ebert:  Last week, Jezebel argued that Ebert has completely reinvented himself in the years since his cancer and surgery, and he’s more vital and honest than ever before.  You see it in his columns and blogs, but you especially see it in his Tweets, where he comments on everything from politics to Joan Rivers.

Anne Thompson:  The former Variety author, now at home at IndieWire, isn’t that funny or clever.  But she has an MA in Media Studies, and she knows the business.  Mix of links, retweets, and commentary.

RealityBlurred:  “Andy Dehnhart babysits television’s bastard child.”  And he does it very, very well.

James Poniewozik: Writes for Time on television and new media, but also runs an extremely lively account.  In his words, “I wear your scorn like a badge of honor.”  He’s incisive, and he even writes back, even to us minions!

So what are yours?


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What Do You Think? Apple’s new iPad http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/27/what-do-you-think-apples-new-ipad/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/27/what-do-you-think-apples-new-ipad/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2010 22:51:23 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=1332

Thanks to the magic of live-blogging, Apple fans across the country were able to follow the announcement of Apple’s long-awaited tablet in real time. The new product, called the iPad, experienced a lot of hype prior to its official announcement.

Its focus as a media and web surfing device has been particularly intriguing. Would this product function well as an effective mobile entertainment center? Would it change the way that people consumed media? Would it contribute to the number of people who are forgoing cable internet or declining to watch television in traditional ways? Many of my students say that they only really watch television via Hulu and similar websites. Could iPad be the media delivery choice for them? The rather unsatisfying answer is that it depends on the future of app development but right now the iPad’s possibilities as a go to mobile-media device is troublingly limited.

It appears that because iPad is based on the iPhone OS and that you still cannot use flash on it, preventing users from using its web-surfing capabilities to watch Hulu or video from Comedy Central’s web site. It is clear that YouTube works very well, but YouTube’s offerings are limited. Similarly it would require new apps and patches to make Netflix Instant Watch viewable on the iPad or to make TIVO recordings easily uploadable and watchable on the iPad. However all of this would be theoretically doable and would make the iPad a good option for watching the ever proliferating options of on-line video. The extent to which Apple attempts to lock users into the iTunes store may remain telling in this respect.

On the other hand, this new development might have a far more serious impact on games. As pointed out elsewhere on this blog, games created for the iPhone have become an important sub-set of gaming. The iPad looks like a seamless and tactile device for the playing of games and may have its most impact on media consumption in this area. Like the iPhone the iPad will have multi-touch and games developed will have to adapt to the iPad’s specific kind of interactive platform. This will likely continue to produce slightly different kinds of games, including educational games, for different kinds of gamers. This might be a particular boon to the casual gaming market Electronic Arts presence at todays announcement demonstrated that at least some game designers are ready to step up to this challenge. It could be in the area of games that iPad has its most impact on media.

As expected, the device attempts to compete with the Kindle or, more realistically with the Nook, with the introduction of e-books through a program called iBooks. Certainly the large screen looks like an enjoyable way to consume text, particularly magazines and newspapers with lots of color pictures, although its lack of a paper-like display will limit its usefulness for some people.

Additionally while the Kindle attaches to its data service for free, it appears the iPad will require data service from AT&T if it is to be used outside of a WiFi network. Given the far lower than predicted price of $499 for a 16G WIFI only base model (some commentators had predicted precises more like $1000) and the tremendous buzz that the product has generated, one can expect the product will do reasonably well commercially at least in the short term.

Whether or not it has an impact on the extent to which people choose to consume more on-demand entertainment, whether provided by iTunes or through internet services like Hulu.com or Netflix’s Instant Watch, and whether or not it will change the way gamers feel about Apple will depend entirely on the Apps that are developed for it and whether or not Flash will eventually be allowed on the iPhone/iPad OS. (Or if companies like Hulu find a way around the Flash restriction) What do you think about this new product and its possibilities?


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What Do You Think? Most Important Films of the Decade http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/22/what-do-you-think-most-important-films-of-the-decade/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/22/what-do-you-think-most-important-films-of-the-decade/#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2010 23:41:09 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=1071

Continuing with our series (TV here, websites here, musical recordings here), what films would you nominate as the most important of the decade? As with the other lists, we’re not asking for the “best” per se, and we’re leaving it open with regards to what constitutes “importance,” but humor us and play along. We’ve started the ball rolling with a few personal picks, but the list needs your participation too.

All we ask is that you only list one item per post, then let others have a turn, since we want this list to form communally, not simply to be a collection of everyone else’s lists. Also, be sure to say why it’s important.

Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (Matt Sienkiewicz).  An honest to goodness non-Hollywood Blockbuster that put Chinese filmmaking on the map worldwide.  The film’s unique action sequences have echoed throughout the decade and the fear it struck by proving that Big Films can be made outside of California still casts a shadow over any discussion about Hollywood in the era of globalization.  Also a pretty good film.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin (Jonathan Gray). Surely, there are few people (cough, James Cameron) who studios love working with more than Judd Apatow.  Not only do his films gross huge amounts, but they’re also star-makers, meaning that a bunch of them got their talent for cheap. As for audiences, Apatow and friends have created a massively popular genre of geek chic bro comedies. And this is kind of where it began.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Lindsay H. Garrison). My apologies for going with what I think might be a fairly obvious one (or three). Eight years, $285 million dollars, and what seems like the entire country of New Zealand brought to life this monumental epic, one which re-invented notions of the film franchise in 21st century fashion.

There Will Be Blood (Nick Marx).  It wasn’t an industry game-changer, and dropping an “I drink your milkshake” into conversations today will likely draw puzzled looks.  But I’m confident that after some passage of time (and after those historians W always talked about finally get around to proving him right), the salience of this film’s “American dream” allegory will be much more apparent.  Importance issues aside, was there a better American movie this decade?


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Important Games of the 00s http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/18/important-games-of-the-00s/ http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2010/01/18/important-games-of-the-00s/#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2010 02:42:01 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=1113

What makes a game important?  Is it commercial sales, the ways a game showcases how skilled a designer or studio is at their craft, the visceral response a game gives you, the player communities spawned by a game, the ways designers construct character/story/space, or the ways that games open up new genres, new modes of play, or new sectors of the industry?  I’ve selected the games below for the reasons I just listed, and I’m hoping that you have additional criteria and games you’d like to add.
  • Wii Sports: Wii Sports made my mom buy the game console before me.  Effectively launching the Wii and showing us all the joys of the Wiimote, it made me feel like I was sitting in front of the NES in my Spiderman PJs trying to save the princess again.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: Debates about whether embedded or emergent narratives are better and what role carefully crafted stories will play in games will continue to be staged.  After playing Uncharted 2, most critics agreed that well-designed embedded narratives will have a place in the industry, even as social gaming and virtual worlds continue to grow.  Now, if only that Twitter gaffe had never happened.
  • Guitar Hero: Amplitude and Frequency were brilliant early experiments in music game design, but GH proved that music games were going to be a cultural and economic force.
  • World of Warcraft: The most recognizable MMORPG (MMOG if you prefer), WOW spawned player communities and intimate connections.  While those who doubted the potential viability of virtual communities had to eat crow, debates over gold farming signaled divides in the global gaming industry.
  • Deadspace: The sound design in this survival horror game is amazing — ambient, atmospheric and more than a little unnerving.  The use of sound files to communicate information to the player and the in-game interfaces are additional stellar features of this game’s design.
  • Mirror’s Edge:  Taking parkour games to the next level, Mirror’s Edge is beautiful to look at (and listen to) and vertigo-inducing for some players.  This platformer gave us one of the most interesting women characters in a long time and an alternative to the Lara Croft type of female avatar.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Okay, I’m probably going to get in trouble for selecting this GTA and not another one, but this incarnation of the franchise raised the most concerns about cultural visibility.   The music, the sandbox play, and the gritty urbanity made every GTA a success, but Carl Johnson made debates about race and games visible.
  • Anything by Valve (Portal, Half Life, Half Life 2):  Where to begin?  From Ken Birdwell’s account of the cabal design process on Half Life to the modding communities that were spawned, Valve has taken an interesting approach to design and to interacting with players.
  • Katamari Damacy:  A surprise hit that’s spawned more than a little cosplay and some not-so-great sequels, Katamari Damacy surprised everyone by being a transnationally successful game.  Even though your father treated you like dirt, it was still fun.
  • Halo franchise: Let’s be honest.  If it wasn’t for Halo, would millions of people have Xboxes or go online to play?
  • Braid/Flower/World of Goo: These independent games game us an interesting take on the time manipulation mechanic, the sheer poetry of flower petals in the wind, and the zaniness and originality of goo balls.  They also illustrated the potential diversity of games allowed by digital distribution and XBLA, WiiWare, and PSN.
  • The Sims franchise: Even though Chuck Klosterman expresses ambivalent feelings about his character’s materialistic tendencies in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, The Sims drew tons of players and their avatars into plenty of awkward situations.  The franchise also illustrated the commercial potential of sandbox games, cemented Will Wright’s position as a design guru, and proved that gaming was no longer a boys’ club.


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