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The Social Network (2010) ; Directed By: David Fincher

Elizabeth Hagele, Lindsay Geier and Waverly Hurd

November 1, 2016

The Social Network emulates the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s claim to fame as he became the youngest billionaire in the United States. Facebook was originally designed and created for Harvard students, but expanded to a larger audience. As of Winter 2016 Facebook had more than 1.65 billion monthly users. In the spring of 2016 Facebook was named the most popular social networking site in the world based off of the number of accounts in use (Wikipedia). The continuity of Facebook has taken time but in hindsight has become one of the world’s front running social media sites in the world today. Through the evolution of Facebook, we have seen technology determine social change. The characteristics and abilities Facebook possess ultimately changed society member’s lives overnight. Throughout The Social Network directed by David Fincher, we see the accurate portrayal of how Mark Zuckerberg along with many others contributed to the transformation of where Facebook stands today.

In the beginning of the movie, Erica Albright breaks up with Mark Zuckerberg because he is a narcissistic and an insensitive boyfriend. While extremely drunk and upset, Mark starts to create this idea of comparing individuals at Harvard based on their looks. During the scene beginning at 09:00, we see Mark intensely hacking different residence halls and off-campus houses’ computer systems for individual’s identification photographs. The scene continues to transcend into the entrance of partner, Eduardo Saverin who has the key algorithm to making the site become complete and go live to all Harvard students. They sent the “FaceMash” URL to several students and it immediately went viral. It eventually ended up crashing Harvard’s Internet system (12:50-15:40). Harvard instantly tracked down Mark as the culprit for launching the degrading site. The Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler heard about Mark’s “great success” and then proceeded to confront Zuckerberg. They then pitched him their HarvardConnection.com idea that they needed his coding help on.

The idea of the Harvard Connection was to connect with friends similar to other social networking sites such as Friendster or MySpace. Baran described social networking sites to be “websites that function as online communities of users” (Baran, 242). The difference of Harvard Connection was going to be that it was only for elites and could only be accessed with a “Harvard.edu” email address (24:47). According to Baran, the first social networking site was Classmates.com that launched in 1995, followed by many similar sites such as, Friendster and MySpace whose goals were to connect people socially and professionally (Baran, 242). The evolution of Friendster and MySpace recuperates the idea that Facebook was a re-developed idea shaped to form a unique and new media source.The Harvard Connection is no different as Facebook, as both ideas stemmed from building upon past ideas of social media sites. In fact, TheFacebook encompassed similar ideas that Friendster, MySpace, and HarvardConnection had. As Zuckerberg states in the film to the Winklevaaus brothers, “You know you really don’t need a damn forensic team to get to the bottom of this. If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook” (35:01).

Zuckerberg continued to build upon past ideas and transcend to meet audience members needs by adding a “Relationship Status” area to be published on individual’s profile pages. The relationship status was Zuckerberg’s final addition to TheFacebook before he launched the website. By adding this final element to TheFacebook, Zuckerberg was able to capture the attention of others and was able to show students what they wanted to see (35:24). The nature of technological innovation is demonstrated through these social media websites as their evolvement has progressed over durations of time in continuous and fluid progressions.

Zuckerberg’s idea of TheFacebook argued that society’s individuals drive technology. Baran discusses the role of technological determinism and how technology drives social change (16), however throughout our class discussions we talked about the idea of social determinism. Throughout our class discussions we have learned that “social determinism is the building upon previous technologies as it addresses pre-existing social needs. Society users give a product meaning and may result in unintended consequences” (Kittler). TheFacebook was a new medium of communication that built upon previous technologies and allowed students to publicize their college lifestyles through statuses, connections, pictures, videos, etc. In the film, Zuckerberg says, “I am talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online” (37:00). College students wanted to be able to share with others what they were doing and how their college experience was going.

Zuckerberg’s desire to engage a niche community created TheFacebook ultimately changed how people engaged online. Upon launch, TheFacebook was viewed as a new medium of communication that served as a technological solution or answer to the pre-existing social need of college students. Students had the ability to post their current thoughts, feelings or plans. Baran would describe Facebook as a global village. As it is, “a form of sub-network or sub-culture and as people come to know more about others who were once separated from them by distance, they will form a new, beneficial relationship” (Baran, 232). The industry expanded when the online realm turned into a completely public social networking site available to anyone with an email address. Millions of people were inter-connected by “friending” relatives, friends, coworkers and others to stay connected with.

In 2012, Facebook held 845 billion users, which is more than one third of the world’s entire Internet population (Baran, 242). In the film, Zuckerberg states he is noting Facebook traffic in Bosnia when Marilyn states, “Bosnia? They don’t have roads but they have Facebook” (55:20). At this point of the film, it’s important to note that places such as Bosnia have access to Facebook and interconnectivity. Our world today suggests that it doesn’t matter one’s physical location. Sean Parker even said, “we lived on farms, we lived in cities and now we are going to live on the Internet” (1:48:00). Thanks to Facebook, our lives no longer are determined by our physical location but measured by our access to the Internet.

Live From Baghdad (2002); Directed By: Mick Jackson; Starring: Michael Keaton, Helena Bonham Carter and Joshua Leonard

By: Elizabeth Hagele, Waverly Hurd and Lindsay Geier

October 24, 2016

The accessibility and instant ability today’s media platforms are capable of is essential to have as citizens of the United States. Mass communication is “the process of creating shared meaning between the mass media and their audiences” (Baran, 6). Over the past century we have become very reliant on mass communication platforms to understand and comprehend what is occurring in our surrounding societies. Live From Baghdad directed by Mick Jackson follows CNN reporters Robert Wiener, Ingrid Formanek, Bernard Shaw, and Peter Arnett as they first handedly experience and witness the injustices that are occurring leading up to the first war in Iraq. Throughout the film, audience members are subjected to make note of the trivial moments leading up to the war and the strong influence media had on both countries’ government officials.

When the United States was solely reliant on the radio, it posed the issue of spectrum scarcity. The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) put regulations on the amount of space that was granted to those who possessed licenses (Baran, 158). As time progressed, the technological continuity was exhibited, as the use of the television became a powerful and fundamental tool especially during the war in Iraq.

Throughout the progression of Live From Baghdad, CNN became a big name on the board for news channels. Weiner says, “We are a 24-hour network looking for a 24-hour story. One just fell from the sky…” (Live From Baghdad, 2:35). The footage CNN broadcasted to the American people was not only essential in helping citizens understand what was occurring through TV news coverage, but also helped government officials make decisions and state their opinion on the detrimental situation. CNN was able to be a 24/7 news-story due to an elaborate phone system creating 24-hour coverage live from Baghdad. This technological device, otherwise known as the four-wire, embraced cultural change in Baghdad (Baran, 16). CNN was now able to stream live coverage of bombings and mass destructions happening in those very instances. Wiener tricked Naji al Haditi, the Minister of Information, into obtaining this wire for his crew saying that it would be used to communicate with another CNN crew nearby, when in reality it was connected to their home base in Atlanta.  This wire was equipment only used by CNN and is debated to be the most significant factor in CNN’s rise in the television industry. Weiner claimed, “people aren’t gonna wait until 7 o’clock at night to find out whether we’re at war or not. They’re going to tune into CNN” (Live From Baghdad, 2:20).

CNN became the middleman between the government for Iraq and the United States. Both officials Sadaam Hussein and President George Bush used the power of the television to elude to particular viewpoints and actions to be taken by their countries. At 31:10, George W. Bush and the American government create a video to the Iraqi people. He says, “Once again, Iraq finds itself on the brink of war.” Bush eludes to the fact that he knows the Iraqi people do not want this but it is their miscalculated government who is at fault. The trickle effect from this video results in the bombing of Iraq (Live From Baghdad 1:25:00). As noted from this particular moment of the movie, as audience members it is extremely evident that CNN is benefiting from the situation as they become a reliable and essential source to the happenings in Iraq.

Throughout the moments where the United States and Iraq are communicating through CNN, Naji Al-Hadithi says: “All governments use the press.. That’s reality. I use you, you use me. We’re the same” (Live From Baghdad 52:45). Both countries use the media to their advantage to create a bias, as they attempt to manipulate the situation for their own country’s benefit. For instance, at 13:40, Hussein holds a press conference with a young British boy. This broadcast from the Iraqi people attempts to manipulate the situation by stating that their relations with the “guests” in their country is both peaceful and civil. As CNN gains permission to use Hussein’s segment to further broadcast to the American people, the newscaster Bernard Shaw states, “In the rest of the world they are called hostages, but here they are called guests.” This particular example demonstrates how CNN is trying to get a rise out of the American people and put things blatantly into perspective for them. Another example (Live From Baghdad 47:00) of how Iraq manipulated the situation to benefit themselves was when Naji sends CNN to the hospital following up on the story about how Hussein’s army unplugged babies’ incubators. Naji purposely sets it up for CNN to fail and to report to the Iraqi people and the American people that nothing has changed. Robert Weiner and Ingrid Formanek instantly realize that Naji used CNN to create a wild goose chase, ultimately making the CNN broadcasters the center story.

CNN revolutionized the television industry as “the people’s eyes and ears-and-power-where before they had little” (Baran, 211). The 24-hour story Live From Baghdad provided CNN’s audience and viewers with credible, hard news to ultimately provide “stories that help citizens to make intelligent decisions and keep up with important issues of the day” (Baran, 108). This film demonstrates how one media news network, CNN, was able to become the most influential and powerful among others because CNN was the first news station to broadcast live footage from a war-zone.

The September Issue (2009); Directed By: R.J. Cutler; Starring: Anna Wintour

 

By: Elizabeth Hagele, Lindsay Geier and Waverly Hurd

October 11, 2016

The September Issue is a documentary on the fabulous, Anna Wintour. Anna obtained the reputation of being one of the most talented editor-in-chiefs for the most respected and influential magazines of the world. The work she has done for Vogue magazine helps influence fashionistas every day. Her journalist even described her as, “the most powerful woman in the United States.” Her utmost responsibility and duty to society is to create content geared toward the mass fashion world. Wintour is known for having a very aggressive personality, but she uses this to dictate what is considered to be “in-style” each season. This documentary follows her staff as they prepare to release their most important Vogue issue of the year, The September Issue. Wintour additionally analyzes every detail of each photo her staff takes, and the advertisements allowed to go into the issue targeting specific niche markets.

According to Baran, a niche market is, “aiming media content or consumer products at smaller, more demographically, homogenous audiences” (Baran, 37). When 1 in 10 women will buy a copy of Vogue, it’s important that the messages and illustrations conveyed within the magazine properly influence and affect the minds of their consumers. As Tom Florio, the publisher of Vogue states, “Nobody was wearing fur until Anna put it back on the cover of Vogue, back in the early 90s. And she ignited the entire industry. If we get behind something, it sells” (The September Issue, 9:25) In the text, Baran explores the idea of agenda setting, which proposes ideas to the consumers on what to think about (Baran, 93). Anna Wintour is a trendsetter and her biggest contribution to Vogue and the fashion industry was fur. The content within this magazine affects the audience, as it gives specific trends and clothing meaning. Wintour and the Vogue magazine editors have the power to set our fashion trends, including the fashion for younger generations. the_september_issue_2009_1280x720_871558

They have this power because they are responsible for choosing what goes into the magazine. The images that are displayed throughout the magazine are known for influencing its viewers to buy certain products over others. Due to her total power, she has become the gatekeeper of the fashion industry, ultimately allowing her to decide what is ‘in’ or ‘out.’ The concept of gatekeeping refers to “the process in which information is filtered, disseminated, whether for publication or broadcasting” (Wikipedia). In the documentary, Anna exemplifies being a gatekeeper as she is giving feedback in regards to Grace’s 1920’s photograph shoot. When faced with Grace’s favorite photograph that was taken, Anna says to her editor, “this one is… unnecessary, don’t you think” (The September Issue, 41:00) and immediately removes it from the collection eliminating any chance it has being in the September Issue. Throughout the documentary we see Anna constantly dictating what goes into the magazine, which by transgression influences what the American society deems as fashionable and “in style.”

Through the use of correct product positioning, which is “the practice in advertising of assigning meaning to a product based on who buys the product rather than on the product itself” (Baran, 337), Vogue is able to sell a lifestyle that we as consumers gear to strive for. Although, the Vogue lifestyle is targeted towards the elites as the products are of great sum, the magazine ultimately influences other magazines including Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Glamour, which provide their audience with affordable products that resemble items in Vogue. Wintour is able to target mass audiences through subscriptions of Vogue and also through pass-along readership. According to Baran, pass-along readership is the, “measurement of publication readers who neither subscribe nor buy single copies but who borrow a copy or read one in a doctor’s office or library” (Baran, 78).rs_600x600-130821090212-600-anna-jl-082113 Anna Wintour’s influence in Vogue has socially constructed the fashion industry and dictated many citizens’ thoughts, feelings, and daily actions without individuals even being consciously aware of her power.

The Most Dangerous Man In America; Directed By: Rick Goldsmith and Judith Ehrich

By: Elizabeth Hagele, Lindsay Geier and Waverly Hurd

September 27, 2016

Daniel Ellsberg was involved in an act against the United States government in 1971. As he released the Pentagon Papers to different media sources such as, The New York Times and other newspaper companies, he exposed the public to the 47 volumes of the top-secret Pentagon study the U.S. government conducted discussing decision-making during the Vietnam War. “People typically excluded from social, cultural, and political mainstream quickly saw the value of the mass newspaper” (Baran, 76). During this day of age, newspapers were the main medium source utilized to share information to the public. Newspapers were especially essential during the Gulf of Tonkin incident and continuing through the Vietnam War. The Gulf of Tonkin incident involved two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The confrontations have been a very controversial issue over the years. The United States reported that North Vietnam was to blame for both incidents as they claimed the North Vietnamese ceased fire with torpedoes and machine guns on the USS Maddox destroyer. Although there were no U.S. causalities, the outcome of both supposed interactions, through manipulation and deception, resulted in the passage by Congress on the resolution of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, allowing President Lyndon B. Johnson assist South Vietnam as it was considered to be under the influence of communist aggression (Wikipedia).

Ellsberg was a pivotal individual during the Vietnam War in several aspects. As a RAND (research and development American nonprofit global policy think tank company) employee, he worked as a strategic analyst with a concentration in nuclear strategy and the command and control of nuclear weapons. His extensive knowledge on dealing with logistics both with RAND and in regards to his work prior at Harvard, granted him the reputation as being smart, technologic, and strategic. Ellsberg worked in the Pentagon in 1964 under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, John McNaughton.

https://www.google.com/search?q=pentagon+papers+new+york+times&espv=2&biw=1083&bih=592&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj364Hc8K_PAhXCGB4KHS1ND2UQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=vietnam+war&imgrc=cfJGukYLlzPncM%3A

Photo Image Source

Ellsberg, who began as clouded to the truth as the rest of the world was originally in support of the American boots on the ground. At 14:55 in The Most Dangerous Man in America by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, a lady singer speaks about the bombings in her country. This is one of the first pivotal moments when Ellsberg starts to see the truth to all the madness of war. Upon his return he witnesses his higher official, McNamara speak to the public and blatantly lie about how he is exceptionally happy with all of the military war efforts in Vietnam (19:40:00, Ehrlich and Goldsmith). Majority of the public, and even the higher officials were media literate at the time. Individuals had the ability to actively encode and decode media messages portrayed to them (Baran, 21). In 1967, Ellsberg contributed to a top-secret study in regards to the Vietnam War. The more he was exposed and learned about the inconsistencies and untruthful things the government was doing and saying, the more Ellsberg gravitated to the opposite end of the spectrum as he was against the Vietnam War and passionately wanted it to end.

https://www.google.com/search?q=pentagon+papers+new+york+times&espv=2&biw=1083&bih=592&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj364Hc8K_PAhXCGB4KHS1ND2UQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=ellsberg&imgrc=4743mfOeC1Qt7M%3A

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During this stressful time, the newspaper was the main source of information, as it was the only medium that conveyed to what the public believed was the truth. The Pentagon Papers confirmed many people’s suspicions about the active role the United States Government had in the Vietnam War. The idea of freedom of press circulates the Frist Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating: “congress shall make no law, abridging or limiting the freedom of speech, or of the press” (Wikipedia).

https://www.google.com/search?q=pentagon+papers+new+york+times&espv=2&biw=1083&bih=592&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj364Hc8K_PAhXCGB4KHS1ND2UQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=wF7pTL3YOjqv8M%3A

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Despite the freedom of press, Nixon’s administration obtained a federal court injunction forcing the New York Times to cease production of the papers after three articles, as they believed this knowledge should not have been released to the public and it was a matter of national security. Editors of the Times believed it was their duty to release information and “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in the government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people” (Wikipedia).

Nixon was undermined during his presidency, as Ellsberg went behind the government’s back and posted to what everyone saw as the truth. The government was outraged by Ellsberg’s betrayal to his country and his people. We still live in a society where the news has the power to control mankind. Senator Birch Bayh, at the time, believed that publishing the Pentagon Papers was a justified decision because, “The existence of these documents, and the fact they said one thing and the people were led to believe something else, is a reason we have a credibility gap today, the reason people don’t believe the government. This is the same thing that’s been going on over the last two-and-a-half years of this administration. There is a difference between what the President says and what the government actually does” (Wikipedia). The same issue still persists in today’s society, as major corporations own majority of the media social platforms, which are responsible for the true and false information that is leaked to America’s citizens. According to Baran, the issue of globalization orchestrates “the mass communication process that speaks to the issue of diversity and expression. [Baran questions,] will distant, anonymous, foreign corporations, each with vast holdings in a variety of non-media businesses, use their power to shape news and entertainment content to suit their own ends?” (Baran, 35) As we’ve mentioned previously, The Pentagon Papers targeted the United States people in hope to uncover the government’s lies and false accusations about Vietnam. Before the publications were released, the government shaped public opinion by using their power to withhold information from their country. In today’s society, we continue to relish on information disclosed on various media platforms, and question: Is this true or false?

https://www.google.com/search?q=pentagon+papers+new+york+times&espv=2&biw=1083&bih=592&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj364Hc8K_PAhXCGB4KHS1ND2UQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=bwVI0vwap459QM%3A

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Works Cited

Wikipedia:       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagon_Papers#Legal_charges_against_Ellsberg

The Name of The Rose; Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud; Written By: Umberto Eco; Starring: Sean Connery and Christian Slater

By: Elizabeth Hagele, Waverly Hurd and Lindsay Geier

September 20, 2016

            As we have discussed in class in much depth, the idea that different mediums have slowly evolved over time. Convergence, one of Baran’s five trends of media, alters almost all aspects of the book industry in today’s present society (Baran, 58). The erosion of traditional distinctions among media have all transformed and converged into being readily available on specific devices. “Hundreds and thousands of in- and out-of-print titles are available for platform agnostic publishing—digital and hard-copy books available for any and all reading devices” (Baran, 60). The immediacy of information these devices contain has ultimately eliminated the need for having separate mediums.

The iPhone has become a necessity to individuals. Not only does it emphasize the progressive and fast-paced moving world we live in, but it also embraces and shapes how our society functions. As humans and inventors, we encourage the constant rush and updated technology, where Baran conveys the idea of technological determinism, that, “to some thinkers, it is machines and their development that drive economic and cultural change” (Baran, 16). The iPhone has almost everything an individual might need in the palm of their hands. One can search the inter-web and ask questions, find out the weather, watch television, and most importantly read pieces of literature. The idea of technological determinism would encourage iPhone users, to note that as a society, we must utilize it responsibly and thoughtfully to construct and maintain our culture (Baran, 17).

The Name of the Rose is a 1986 Italian-French-German drama mystery film, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and is based off of the novel by Umberto Eco. This deadly mystery film in the medieval abbey exemplifies the beginning of this digitalized revolution, as it begins with Aristotle’s 14th century book of poetics in the scriptorium being the center of the unknown cause of death in the abbey.

This film takes place in 1327 C.E. During the Medieval time period, the church was being challenged. The major role the abbots played was copying and illustrating ancient books and manuscripts. There was much controversy within the Catholic churches, which paralleled with the current state of society, as there was constant conflict, strife, and challenging of typical ideas. Religion was the major unifying factor across European cultures. The purpose of religion was to be able to explain the unexpected. Throughout this film, there was a divide between William of Baskerville and his apprentice, Adso of Melk, versus majority of the Northern Italian Benedictine abbey inhabitants.

While William investigates the recent deaths occurring at the abbey, he concludes that there is a logical reason for the cause of deaths, while the other Abbots believe that there is a supernatural cause. During the film at 15:25, William says to Adso, “we must not allow ourselves to be influenced by irrational rumors of the Antichrist. Let us instead exercise our brains and try to solve this tantalizing conundrum” (Annaud, The Name of the Rose). As Adso and William discuss this compelling and corrupt mystery, they touch upon Aristotle’s influence upon William himself and physical science. Aristotle was a controversial Greek philosopher during this time period. Aristotle creates separation between the church as his pieces of literature suggest the use of deductive reasoning.

This film takes place during the end of the medieval period. The points of view and ideals put forth by Aristotle continue to influence individuals during the Renaissance era. During this time period it can be believed that knowledge is being reborn, as monks attempt to re-scribe and revise manuscripts to be once again shared with society. Jorge and other monks of this time are hesitant and against the use of Aristotle’s books as they question and downplay the role of the supernatural forces. Baran discusses the importance books play within cultures, which directly correlates with The Name of the Rose, as the monks are frightened by the power Aristotle’s books hold over society. Baran states, “books traditionally have been seen as a powerful cultural force for these reasons: books are agents of social and cultural change, books are an important cultural repository, books are our windows on the past, books are important sources of personal development, books are wonderful sources of entertainment, escape, and personal reflection” (Baran, 53). During the end of the Medieval time period and into the beginning of the Dark Ages, the church is highly being questioned. Many abbots try to ostracize and belittle individuals who try and question the supernatural world, by using logic to explain events.

From the film at 1:04:50, Jorge says to William, “Brother William your pride blinds you. By idolizing reason you failed to see what is obvious to everyone in this abbey” (Annaud, The Name of the Rose). The attempt to belittle and make William feel as though he is completely crazy to think logic could be a cause for the deaths, fails, as William triumphs and succeeds to discover that Jorge poisons this book of logic due to his own fear that logic might be more prevalent than the church’s opinions.

The purpose of this movie is to shed light on how this time period utilizes books to spread shared meaning and how it influences a culture greatly. It allows individuals to interpret readings through the use of deductive reasoning without being influenced or swayed by the church’s past ideals. Books during this time were sacred, and only the wealthy could access them. It’s important to note that overtime, our culture had embraced reading and books. The Name of The Rose, strongly emphasizes the concept of reading and understanding means to hold knowledge. In this context, to hold knowledge, also indicates the notion of power. The manuscripts produced by monks, not only a shared meaning between mass media and their audience, but evidentially shaped our society today.

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By: Lindsay Geier, Waverly Hurd and Elizabeth Hagele

September 12, 2016

Many social institutions have influenced our society’s culture. All forms of media, school, family, and churches convey a similar message that has the power to socially construct and/or influence the masses. Through the use of symbols, corporations are able to communicate certain messages to specific audiences. This evidently influences our culture as it produces societal norms and specific behaviors making our world meaningful. Reel Bad Arabs directed by Sut Jhally, which is an extension from the book by Jack Shaheen, is a film about a Hollywood stereotype about Arabs who are portrayed as “sub-humans.” This film recognizes the influence of images on society. The main objective of this movie is to shed light on the negative stereotypes, which are constantly being portrayed and reinforced through social construction.

“When media professionals produce content that we read, listen too, or watch, meaning is being shared and culture is being constructed and maintained” (Baran, 9). Due to the fact that culture is made up of learned actions, shared values, traditions and behaviors, media has the power to convey and construct societal norms. Thus, producing predictive generalization, which is when we form preconceived notions and stereotypes before we even begin to know the group being discussed. From our class discussion we evaluated common stereotypes of Arabian men, which consisted of violent barbaric men, dominant over women, often portrayed as an evil “terrorist,” and seen as the “other.” The common stereotypes Hollywood portrays for women have transitioned from being naïve, pursuing lust and extravagance, and being the submissive, to more violent, emotionless, and powerful. These stereotypes help shape society’s perceptions of Arabs, which transcends to the mistreatment of Arabs on a daily basis. Through Hollywood’s portrayal of the Arabian man and woman, it has influenced people to believe the negative connotations as it continues to dehumanize their culture.

The documentary makes reference to Father of the Bride II as Hollywood continues to reinforce the negative gender role stereotype of portraying the woman as the submissive.

In this example, our class made note of the Arab man treating his wife poorly as he instinctively dismissed her from speaking. This scene accurately demonstrates the socially constructed beliefs towards Arabs. Socially constructed views of Arab culture have led to our American society to believe that Arabs are the “other.” Another movie that the documentary makes reference to is the opening scene of Aladdin. The song that is played in the opening credits continues to dehumanize Arabian culture and its individuals, as the lyrics say, “Where they cut off your ear. If they don’t like your face. It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home” (Howard Ashman, Disney).

Through previous class discussions, we made note of the influence media has on young generations and how it influences their opinions of Arabian people from a very young age. This transcends back to the term, predictive generalization, which is the notion that our society formulates stereotypes about specific cultures before they are even given the opportunity to begin to learn about the group being discussed and the effects it yields (Kittler).

Similarly, to The Truman Show, Hollywood reinforces these stereotypical norms for gender roles. Truman Burbank is portrayed as the breadwinner, while his wife stays at home cleaning and cooking. These gender roles are constantly being reinforced through different forms of media, ultimately influencing our society to believe that men at work and women at home is a societal norm. One of the trends of mass media communication is audience fragmentation, which is where larger companies narrowcast their messages to specific target audiences (Baran, 37). Despite the many multiple networks posting “same stories,” each segment produces a different bias on the story. Depending on which companies own these smaller networks, that is how the information portrayed is encoded or decoded by the audience members. Despite an individual’s personal perception of the story, the larger corporation can manipulate and ultimately decide how the story will be presented. This causes narrowcasting. According to media theorist, James W. Carey (1975), said: “Communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed” (Baran, 7).

Due to current events, it is of no surprise that people have continued to believe that different races are the cause of many controversial issues and tragedies. Dean Obeidallah in his article for the Huffington Post, shares his personal opinion on the effects of the September 11th horrific event, 15 years later, as he states:

“9/11 was not just a tragedy, it was the beginning of a terrible chaos we are still suffering from in the Middle East”

The continued negative portrayals of Muslims through the media have left a lasting affect on current and future generations. Jhally and Shaheen’s book and documentary are imperative in our culture’s future of understanding the influence media has on manipulating beliefs towards different races, religions, and cultures.