Project Manta

For my final project for BCM310 I had decided to create a website highlighting the effects media had on manta rays. On this site, I discuss the importance of how media is in helping people become more aware of these creatures. At the same time, I also talked about how media can be used to harm these creatures as well.

Here is a link to the full website: https://livelifeivanng.wixsite.com/mantaray

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Are Animals Having Fun?

Image result for sea world

Sea World is a well-known park that allows visitors to get up close to their favourite sea creatures. It is also famous for its orca shows. However, in 2013 a documentary called Blackfish was released and has to affect Sea World dramatically. This documentary was based on Tilikum, a performing killer whale within Sea World. The film also unravels how the animal was being captive and how its living conditions were not favourable for it (Blackfish, 2013). It also revealed the truth about Tilikum killing several people but was still used in the park after these incidences. They still used him for performances and for breeding purposes.


Image result for blackfish

Reviewing Blackfish, it had a lot of facts to back their claims but the more I watched it the more I felt it was a bias film. Evidence was presented about how sea world was treating their orcas but at the same time, the film was made to trigger an emotional reaction from its views. In fact, even exaggerate some parts of the film so that viewers may empathise more with the orca. The orcas were filmed in an anthropomorphism way. What this means is that we give the animal-human attributes so we can relate better towards it. We are able to empathise with it even more.

There was a scene in the documentary where they showed people hunting for orcas. At one point, they do manage to corner it. Once cornered, the narration then said that the hunters had taken the calf away from the mother. Following that, you could hear the calf crying helplessly for its mother. According to Chris Dold, Sea World’s head veterinarian. The sounds the calf was giving off was fake (Calderwood, 2015). Not only that but the orca calf that was taken was not a calf but an adult with her own children (Entertainment, n.d.). Although this was not proven to be true let’s say that it was true. This shows that Blackfish was biased in the sense that it was providing its views with false information so that we may sympathise with the orca. This is also another point of anthropomorphism. Using the reference of a mother losing its child by force. Allowing viewers to relate themselves more towards the animal.


At the end of the film, they did mention that they tried to interview Sea World but they refuse to be part of this documentary. Once again referring to my previous point on the movie being bias. If Sea World were to participate in the interview I believed that it would have been manipulated to the producer’s perspective. Of course, this is not a black or white situation. Is Sea World at fault for keeping Tilikum after he had killed three people? Was it right for Blackfish to exaggerate the calf seen with face sounds and inaccurate information? The point I’m making here is that it’s not just who’s right or who’s wrong. There is more towards the story, the deeper you go into the story that line of justification can be blurred.


Image result for animals for entertainment

The Documentary also raised some interesting points. From my understanding of the documentary is that just because people are having fun does not mean the animals are having fun as well. True the trainers and animals are doing stunning tricks together and putting up an amazing show but animals are animals. They have their own instincts to follow and an orca can still be very unpredictable. What cause it to be violent can be due to many things. Maybe Tilikum was getting to much stress from performing so close to people. Maybe it was the conditions of its tank, keeping it too enclosed made him uneasy (Sperb, 2016). This can also be applying anthropomorphism again. We keep giving it human attributes we forget that it is still a predator. “I am having fun so you should be having fun too”.

Another point from the film is that they show how trainers may not actually know anything about the animals they are working with. They might be physically good and is an excellent trainer but knowledge on the animals itself isn’t there. An example would be the orca’s dorsal fin. When its top fin goes lumpy it means it is not in favourable living conditions (Seaworldfactcheck.com, 2017). However, staff and trainers were told that this is a common symptom when in fact it is rare for wild orcas to get this. As a conclusion, the documentary raises a lot of issues regarding what Sea World did but I believe that there is more to it. There are more factors contributing to the use of animals for entertainment. We could blame people because we are the one that creates the demand to see these performances. We can question ourselves that we easily look away to such cruelty for the sake of entertainment.


Reference

Blackfish, 2013, About, viewed on 30 March, 2017, <http://www.blackfishmovie.com/about&gt;

Calderwood, I , 2015, Seaworld film Blackfish ‘distorted truth’ and ‘faked scenes’, Mail Online, viewed on 30 March, 2017, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3124645/Seaworld-investigation-Blackfish-faked-scenes-mother-whale-crying-calf-taken-away-distorted-truth-park-three-people-killed.html&gt;

Entertainment, S. (n.d.). Truth About Blackfish, Seaworldcares.com, viewed on 30 March, 2017, <https://seaworldcares.com/the-facts/truth-about-blackfish/#1&gt;

Sperb, J., 2016. From Nihilism to Nostalgia: Blackfish (2013) and the Contradictions of the Nature Documentary. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 44(4), pp.206-219, viewed on 30 March, 2017.

Seaworldfactcheck.com, 2017, SeaWorld Fact Check – Dorsal Fin Collapse, viewed on 30 March, 2017, <http://www.seaworldfactcheck.com/dorsalfin.htm&gt;

Poor People or Poor System

Image result for suffering in the world

You are suffering and I see you suffering, yet I am the one who suffers. This is also known as poverty porn. According to Dortonne (2016), poverty porn is a tactic used by nonprofits and charity organisations. They show us images or videos of people in terrible living conditions hoping to invoke empathy on the viewers. The goal behind this is to use the empathy to get people to give their contributions to the cause. Isn’t it a good thing to be able to help these people? The answer is debatable. Sure it’s easy to call the campaign and give your donation to the cause. What happens after that? Do you know what happens to the money? Is the money being used to help those people you saw being advertised? Or worst is the money going to these people?

I disguised myself as a donation seeker/Pic: mD

Speaking from experience, when I was in Malaysia some people will come approach you and ask for some donation. They would have a folder with lots of graphical pictures of their cause. Some will be about helping old people and some will be about proving for the needy. Thinking about it now that was poverty porn. Them showing me those photos made me empathise with the people in the picture. I did give a donation and that made me feel better as if I had helped them.

Coming back to the topic. Poverty porn is not just about getting funds from people. It is much more twisted than that. Nowadays in television, there are shows that specifically shows people living in poverty and it has been getting many views. For example, Struggle Street. This show was aired in Australia in 2015. The show was made as a documentary to bring awareness to the people about the hardship certain communities were having (NewsComAu, 2016). What I want to point out about this show was that it had received the highest ratings in SBS. Although the show was getting backlash on the controversy it had brought and was also labeled as “Poverty porn”. It had still gained many viewers around Australia (Lallo, 2015). Which come to my point. Watching other people suffer can be a form of entertainment for someone else. In fact watching people in poverty can be a form of gratification to others (Jensen, 2013). Watching others suffering in a way makes you feel better or more thankful for what you have. Isn’t that just twisted? Why can’t we be thankful for what we have already? Why do we need to watch others suffer to feel better about what we have?


There are also terrible side effects of using “Poverty Porn”. According to Roenigk(2014), one of the negative effects is that this encourages people to be donors instead of advocates. If they truly want to help eradicate poverty shouldn’t they focus more on people that will become activist to this cause? Instead of seeking people that will give a one-time donation. Another point is that poverty porn misrepresents the poor. Poverty comes in lots of different angles whether if he/she is having a piece of bread for dinner or does not have enough money to pump gas into their car. When poverty is being televised, they try to show those who are most in need. The “deserving poor” compare to those who are “undeserving poor” (Roenigk, 2014).

My final point about poverty porn is that it mispresents poverty itself (Roenigk, 2014). Most of the time it shows the people are to be blamed for their poverty. What if that’s not the case and it’s due to faults in the system that causes them to be poor. Should the system be more empowering for the poor so that it can help them get out of their situation? It could also be due to culture understand what poverty is. Because of people’s perception of the poor, they would not want to hire them. Poverty porn is more focus on the people’s suffering rather than the solution to help end their suffering. As a conclusion, poverty porn is more than what is being shown. There are so many more factors behind it but they don’t show it to us. Is it because people can make money out of others empathy? Or is it because people do not what to deal with the actually issue and instead do what they can at that moment?


Reference

Dortonne, N, 2016, The dangers of poverty porn, viewed on 26 March 2017, <http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/08/health/poverty-porn-danger-feat/&gt;

Jensen, T., 2013. A summer of television poverty porn. Sociological Imagination.

Lallo, M, 2015, Struggle Street sets ratings record for an SBS documentary, with 1.31 million viewers, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed on 26 March 2017, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/struggle-street-sets-ratings-record-for-an-sbs-documentary-with-131-million-viewers-20150507-ggw15r.html&gt;

NewsComAu, 2016, Struggle to find the new Struggle Street. viewed on 26 March 2017, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/sbs-documentary-struggle-street-struggling-to-find-suburbs-to-film-second-series-in/news-story/60624b54cfb5b9f26caa098e0d61f83a&gt;

Roenigk, E, 2014, 5 Reasons poverty porn empowers the wrong person. viewed on 26 March 2017, <https://www.one.org/us/2014/04/09/5-reasons-poverty-porn-empowers-the-wrong-person/&gt;

What’s Happening Here? #SelfieFirst

Image result for something bad happening but we take a selfie first

Everyone would already know what a selfie is. It’s simple, it’s just a photo you take of yourself using a camera (most commonly using a smartphone). After that, the picture is posted online on varies social media outlets. It is just a simple action but it has caused huge ripples in our society. Why has this simple action created such a dramatic impact?


What They Say

The most common attribute about a selfie is that it is a form of narcissism (Senft, 2015). Selfies are used in a way to help promote oneself (Connolly, 2015). Either with what they are doing or literally promoting themselves to everyone. Our society has adopted this as an acceptable narcissism. I believe the reason behind this is because everyone can take a selfie. Selfies are amateur work, you don’t need to buy a DSLR to take it. All you need is a smartphone and there you have it. The act of a selfie is simple and with our smartphones, we can take as many photos as we like and if it’s not good. Delete it and try again.

Another reason behind this thread is the user’s gratification they receive from their photos. Having one of your selfies liked can mean many things. According to Riordon (2017), one of the reasons why someone likes your photo is because you look hot in it. That gives people a boost in their self-esteem. Imagine what happens when 100,000 people likes your photo. That could mean that many people believe that you are hot.

On the Other Hand

There are also different benefits of a selfie. One of it is to realise self-beauty. Having a selfie of yourself can make you feel more confident (Riordan, 2017). It is important to love yourself for who you are and not get sucked up with what the media think beauty is. Selfies help you to track your own progress. For example, many people would take a selfie of themselves as they are about to take part in a long journey of getting fit. Seeing the progress after the goal is accomplished makes you feel amazing. As it shows that you can do anything once you put your mind to it. It can even be used to help motivate others. If you post a compilation of your progress on social media other people may be moved on what you have done and might end up following your steps.

The Promotion Phase

Image result for snapchat instagram tumblr logo

Modern technology is also a factor in making the selfie craze grow. Now we have so many different app to promote ourselves. Connolly wrote that Instagram has made it possible for us to promote ourselves with no shame (2015). Instagram also provides the user with the necessary editing tools to make them look better. With filters, lighting and colour edits, their picture can be redefined. Another app that we can say that helps promotes ourselve is Tinder. The pictures we use as our displays are normally selfies. I’ve been on the app and I can say almost all profiles I look through has at least one selfie in it.

Image result for star wars rogue one snapchat filter

Snapchat also encourages people in taking selfies through the filters they have. Some are special filters for an event and some are special due to its location. People would want to show others that they are here so using the filter with their selfie is saying “I’m actually here #nojoke”. Selfies are also used to show your support towards something. When the latest starwars film was being released snapchat had a special starwars filter to go with it. People would pose with it and post it on their story or save it to be posted on another platform.


What Is Being Done

Seeing that selfies have taken over by storm some countries has even taken it into consideration into law. In America, some states have made it law that people are not allowed to take ballot selfies. The justification of this ruling is that they do not want voters to be influenced by these selfies (Wagman, 2016). Other countries have taken different measurements regarding selfies. In South Korea, certain selfie sticks are banned due to the Bluetooth signal that causes other devices to malfunction (“Places around the world that have banned selfies”, 2015). In Saudi Arabia, selfies are not allowed in Mecca as they believe it affects the prayers rituals and causes distractions to others (“Places around the world that have banned selfies”, 2015).


Overall selfies have become a unique trend in our generation. There are many layers to look at it. Some believe that selfies are bad as it makes us more narcissistic. Others believe that selfies can be used as self-love and motivation for oneself. Selfies are also redefining marketing as campaigns can be built around selfies. So, that people can contribute themselves into the campaigns cause. There are still many different angles a selfie can be looked as. Who knows maybe in the future selfies will evolve even further and included augmented reality in it.

 

Reference

Connolly, S ,2015, The good, the bad and the ugly: Are selfies turning us all into narcissists?. TheJournal.ie, viewed on 14 March 2017, <http://www.thejournal.ie/selfies-changing-society-1772622-Jan2015/&gt;

Riordan, H , 2017, What It Really Means When He Likes Your Selfies. Bolde, viewed on 14 March 2017, <http://www.bolde.com/really-means-likes-selfies/&gt;

Places around the world that have banned selfies, 2015, Fox News, viewed on 14 March 2017, <://www.foxnews.com/travel/2015/01/29/cities-and-countries-that-banor-at-least-frown-upontaking-selfies.html>

Senft, T., & Baym, N. (2015). What Does the Selfie Say? Investigating a Global Phenomenon Introduction. International Journal Of Communication, 91588-1606.

Wagman, E. (2016). BUT FIRST, (DON’T) LET ME TAKE A SELFIE: NEW HAMPSHIRE’S BAN ON BALLOT SELFIES AND FIRST AMENDMENT SCRUTINY. William & Mary Bill Of Rights Journal, 25(1), 343-372.