Who am I and what is media criticism?


My puppy Andy and I the first day we got him.

Hi everyone, welcome to my blog for my media criticism class I am taking this fall. My name is Ashley Wellington and I am originally from Jackson, New Jersey. Back home I live with my mom, dad, and two younger sisters. I also have the cutest puppy ever, Andy.

I am a senior here at Towson and I plan on graduating in May 2015. I am studying Mass Communications with the Journalism and New Media track. I am focusing on broadcast journalism. My dream job is to be the sideline reporter for the Baltimore Orioles but I would be thrilled to just be a sideline reporter for sports in general. I love sports and baseball is my number one passion. I would love to have a career like Erin Andrews. Along with loving sports, I love country music and playing with my dog.

I love being from New Jersey and I loved spending the past three years here in Maryland but I look forward to graduating in the spring and getting to experience something new and exciting. I would love to travel out to California and start my career there or even in New York City. I definitely see myself as a city girl.

Last year I started interning at Towson Sports Network here at Towson. I am still interning there this year and I am learning so much. I love being able to get close to all the sports action. I have stood on the sideline at a football game, sat court side at a Towson basketball game and hung in the baseball dugout to get the close up shots to make a great highlight for the Towson Tigers website.

Feature story on the softball team's senior day.

Feature story on the softball team’s senior day.

Now that you know a little bit about me, let me tell you about media criticism.

In class I learned that media criticism is the systematic process used to understand media texts as meaningful sociocultural symbolic forms and forces. That is a book definition, but what does it mean to me. Media criticism is the structured process that we all use to be able to understand different forms of media such as television, movies and advertisements, and how we study them to see the impact they have on us and the media.

Why is media criticism important? Why do we learn media criticism? We as millennials are the most connected generation. We have the power of media to shape out lives individual which is at a micro level and society and culture which is a macro level. When we look at text and criticzie it, we are using the critical process. That process is, selecting (media text), describing (messages), analyzing (patterns), interpreting (meaning) and evaluating (impact.)

I think it is important to be able to look at different types of texts and be able to interpret and analyze them. Most people just look at an ad in a magazine or a video and just see it as that. Clearly there is more to that text than what most people see it as. It is important to understand that media has a great influence on everyone. Understanding media text is being able to interpret them. The signifier and signified are key things. Also being able to know the dominate reading, negotiated reading and oppositional reading. It is also important to know that meanings in text are different to every person, time, place and context. One people might look at a picture for instance and see one thing, while someone looks at it and sees another.

Katy Perry 2

Katy Perry

If you look at this picture of Katy Perry, right away you notice she is topless, covering her breasts, her nails are painted black to match her hair color and is wearing a necklace with crosses on it.They are the signs or the signifier. The meaning or the signified is that she is being sexual with her pose. She standing there topless and covering her breasts with her hand and arm. She is posing as if she is representing sex but the necklace she is wearing has crosses on it. This could be meaning that she is trying to be sexy but is also trying to keep her faith and some innocence.

Now someone else to could at the same picture and see something totally different. The meaning of texts varies between people. That picture of Katy Perry could be compared to the Britney Spears picture we talked about in class.

My example of media text: The media text example I will be using for my blog post is the song “American Dream” by MKTO.

Not many people have heard of this song. The main lyrics of it is talking about the American Dream. Everyone knows or has heard of the American Dream. The American Dream to most people is a man marrying a woman, them having 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. The man would go to work wearing a suit and tie, while the female would stay home take care of the kids and the house. In the end, the American Dream would be a perfect life.

The point of the song “American Dream” is that the original american dream doesn’t exist anymore. The beginning of the song starts off with “We broke down, trying to leave town Flying down the road to change We were born to run, Cali here we come Escape from nowhere USA” It is basically saying that you can’t stay where you are and that dreams are made in California.

Right after that, the lyrics say “Say goodbye to white picket fences…We don’t want two kids and a wife I don’t want a job, I just want a life” This lyrics are saying that the things that make up the American Dream are not what people want anymore. They don’t want the white picket fence, the wife, two kids and the job. They just want to have a life, the life they want. Sometimes the life you want is not what the American Dream is. The last line of the chorus is, “What ever happened to the American Dream.” Saying the American Dream is gone.

The audience for this video is young teens to people in their early 20s as well. I am almost 22 and I find MKTO’s music great. Most likely females will be watching this video because it is two young, good looking males singing. The genre of the music is pop music. The music has the MKTO performing in it while showing different people finding their “American Dream.” A  female ballerina, a male artist, a male cello player, a male fashion designer and a female basketball player. All six of them are in California trying to make their dream come true. Throughout the video they are seen trying and all the end they are seen achieving their dream.

The text-center approached I am using for this text is narrative analysis. Narrative analysis is the systematic study of texts and how they are structured into a cause-and-effect chain of events with a beginning, middle and end. By understanding the sequence of the events, it helps revel the potential meaning in the texts. There are four distinctions in terms in narrative analysis. They story, plot, emplotment and narrative analysis. Story is the chain of explicit (present) and implicit (inferred) events and happenings. Plot is all that is visibly and audibly presented to us. Emplotment is the selection and arrangement of the events/happening into a coherent narrative. Narrative analysis is the exploring how stories are told through emplotment and the selection and arrangement of elements to achieve certain effects.

In the music video “American Dream” by MKTO, the story is that the six people are trying to each their “American Dream” or just a dream since the meaning of the song is that the American Dream is gone.

Female Ballerina: First you see the ballerina standing there as they are basically introducing her to the story. She is posing like a ballerina getting her picture taken. Then you see her waking outside. She is then seen at a dance studio getting ready to dance. She is seen sitting there on the floor as the other dancers around her stretch. It is like she is taking everything in. She is seen dancing in front of judges. Ends with her picture being taken again.

Male Cello Player: Like with the ballerina, you first meet the guy standing there having his picture taken holding his cello . He is then seen walking at night with his cello. He is then seen at a subway station with his cello and then riding the subway. He walks into a room with music notes on the wall and opens his cello case. He starts to play his cello. Ends with his picture being taken again.

Male Artist: Again, you first meet the male artist posing in front of the camera like an introduction to him. He is standing, there holding a paint can in one hand. He is seen sitting down and you can see paint on his hands. He is at his studio, his back facing the camera, Then the camera turns to show him mixing his paint in a paint can. He is barefoot, pouring paint on a canvas on the floor. He is also splattering paint as well. He is setting up his artwork. Ends with his picture being taken again.

Female Basketball player: She is standing with a basketball in her hand for her picture. She walks outside against a gate with her hood over her head and bouncing the basketball. First it is a close up shot and then the angle changes to a wide shot. She is at a basketball court, equating at the end of the paint, spinning the basketball around. In the next shot, she is seen playing basketball. It is daytime and she is at the basketball court watching a bunch of guys playing basketball. She gets up and starts to play with them. As she is playing with them she gets knocked down, but one of the guys helps her help. She makes a basket and is congratulated by the guys. Ends with her picture again.

Male Fashion Designer: Like everyone else, the fashion designer is posing for his picture and he has a measuring tape around his neck. He is then seen sitting down drawing out designs in his notebook. He is cutting fabric in what looks like his office and then using a sewing machine. A little montage of his sewing, drawing and putting fabric on the mannequin is shown. He walks in to meet with important fashion people. Ends with his picture again.

The plot of the video is that the American Dream that everyone used to know is gone. The dream of the white picket fence, two kids, wife and job isn’t what people want anymore but to be an artist, musician, dancer, designer, or even a athlete.

The emplotment is that the selection and arrangement were done to show the feelings of what the people went through to get to their dream. The process they went through. An example is the fashion designer. He is first seen, being introduced and then what he does. He draws out designs, sews them together, puts them on a mannequin and then shows them to important people. That is his selection/arrangement of the events that happened. If they were in any other order, the story and plot wouldn’t make sense.

Last is the narrative analysis. Like I mentioned before, if the story was in a different order it wouldn’t make sense. Seeing how they go from when you first meet them to the end when they achieve their dream. That arrangement gives a better effect. Seeing them from start to end effects us more because you see their struggle. Like with the basketball player, you see her watching the guys play and tries to play with them. When she does she fails at first but is helped out by the guys. She then makes the basket and feels part of the team. Showing the struggle first makes the effect greater.

Conclusion: So why is this all so important? Well if people didn’t look at media texts and analysis it, it would just be media texts. But when people look at an image, an advertisement or even a music video, they can see more that what meets the eye. Every text has a sign and a meaning. One person might see it as one thing while another sees something. That is what is so great about media criticism, one medium text could have so many meanings.



One thought on “Who am I and what is media criticism?

  1. matthewghamilton

    Hey Ashley! This was an awesome description of just a 3:45 music video. Yes, I have to admit I watched it twice because the first time, I was rocking on it. Safe to say I’m a MKTO fan now, so thanks for that. But the second time I watched it, I realized all the parts of the story that brought the theme to life that the American Dream is certainly different than before. Choosing to go into detail about each character in the music video was an awesome idea and I think it drove home the points you were trying to make about the emplotment and storyline creating the overarching theme. I do think it could have helped to have images associated with the characters, maybe from a screenshot or something of that sort. Your descriptions were great, but I think pictures could have brought your point home even more. I think you’re right in that the audience is mostly younger females (and apparently a 22-year-old male now), but I think it would have interesting to figure out how older generations would view this music video. Would they agree that the American Dream is different or would they stick with what they grew up on? It would also be interesting to use stats like this. Either way, I think this was an awesome example of narrative analysis. Thanks for showing me this new band I can listen to and not feel bad about all!



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