The Death of the Producer

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My mom always told me as a child, “You can be anything you want to be if you set your mind to it.” Never has her statement seemed more true than now. With the rapidly evolving technology and our increasingly individually minded society, our possibilities seem endless. On Instagram, I’m a photographer. On YouTube, I’m a videographer. On Twitter, I’m a microblogger who can also easily showcase her photography or videography skills. You get the picture.

Sturken and Cartwright claim that in Chapter Two, “Viewers Make Meaning” of their book, they have “moved beyond the moment of the death of the author heralded by Barthes into an era in which we might speak about the death of the producer.” All the apps I mentioned earlier, along with various other apps and social networking sites coming to your mind now, are enabling us to voice our concerns and choose what we become informed about or support.Bieber-YouTube

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While we have more opportunities to showcase our creative side, we will not all become Justin Biebers of the world, reaching mega star fame through YouTube. More people have the chance to produce works that other people will see, but this ease of access does not eliminate the need to appeal to others. The principles of aesthetics and taste have always, and likely will always, determine who becomes successful in the world of pop culture and how we interpret the images and videos saturated within our pop culture.

Sturken and Cartwright explain that aesthetics, the essence of something that pleases us, is largely determined by the culturally informed notion of taste. An individual’s taste, while it may appear “natural” is actually formed over time by many factors such as class, education, etc. Because each individual grows up in a unique environment, everyone’s personal definition of aesthetics and taste will look at least a little bit differently.

However, Chapter Two also focuses on how our individual thoughts and perceptions of images, videos, and other forms of entertainment are largely affected by the ideologies and hegemony surrounding us in our society. Sturken and Cartwright note several philosophers such as Marx, Althusser, and Gramsci and touch on each of their views on ideology. Each philosopher held different views, but each view was founded on the principle that societies make the culturally constructed meanings appear natural.

As consumers, and now producers, we have the job of determining these ideologies and interpreting our own meaning from them. This may seem like a daunting task, but we’ve been doing this subconsciously already!

Sturken and Cartwright note Stuart Hall’s classification of how viewers decode images and other forms of entertainment:

  • Dominant hegemonic reading- passively identifying with the powerful message of an image
  • Negotiated reading- engaging with the predominant interpretation and possibly altering it
  • Oppositional reading- actively disagreeing with or ignoring the privilege position

Its important to realize that these types of readings often interact and its very rare for someone to strictly look at all images using one type of reading!

Until next blog,

Evan

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