Twitter’s Celebrity Problem

Twitter’s Celebrity Problem

The most followed person on Twitter is Katy Perry. The second most followed is Justin Bieber. In fact out of the top 20 most followed on Twitter, 15 of them are celebrities. Society’s obsession with celebrity culture is alive and kicking on the world’s most popular micro-blogging site.

For celebrities that gained fame by offline means, Twitter is used a tool of self-promotion, a means by which they can continue to market themselves when not acting/singing/modelling etc. The platform seemingly provides a glimpse into celebrity lives, allowing their followers to interact by commenting, favouriting and retweeting. The scale that which celebrity tweets are retweeted by followers is excessive. Let’s use one of Katy Perry’s latest tweets as an example;

This banal comment has been (at time of writing) favourited 6,923 times and retweeted 3,313 times. All for a sentence about someone’s dinner. Whilst Twitter’s celebrity focus may seem harmless, it still tends to lend authority to the (usually subjective, sometimes harmful) words of the rich and famous.

In Twitter’s defense, it also hosts a vast number of accounts focused on science, education, news, charities etc. Let’s hope that in the future more attention is paid to the 140 characters of accounts such as  NASA, Malala Yousafzai or National Geographic than the 140 characters of celebrities.

Original Unoriginality: Remix Culture

Original Unoriginality: Remix Culture

November 2014: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars release the single Uptown Funk. The song stays no.1 for 14 consecutive weeks on America’s Billboard charts.

March 2015: KFaceTv release Dark Lord Funk a parody mash-up of Ronson and Mars’ hit and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. As of April 2015, the video has over 7million views on YouTube.

Dark Lord Funk demonstrates the pervasiveness of remixes and mash-ups in contemporary culture.

“Remixing” creative works is not a new trend however. It’s easy to define remixes solely as old songs reworked entirely or in part by contemporary artists (recent examples include Rihanna’s “SOS”, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump it”, and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”). If we broaden remixing to include a diverse range of art forms however, it’s easy to see the long history of remixing creative works.

Famous literary texts face constant remixing. A string of ‘teen-friendly’ Shakespeare films in the late 1990’s, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland…these are just a few examples of well-known texts remixed and re purposed.

With so much of our cultural texts now remixes of previous work, does this mean the end of originality? Are there no new ideas?

Such a view is narrow-minded. No text – no song, no book, no film – exists in a cultural vacuum. All creative works draw from somewhere. If we refer back to KFaceTv’s Dark Lord Funk it’s easy to pick-up on the text’s being remixed i.e. Uptown Funk and Harry Potter. But these text’s themselves can too be seen as remixing older texts. Uptown Funk heavily remixes and samples 1980’s funk and R&B music , reworking Minneapolis Groove, a sound made famous by the artist Prince. Likewise the Harry Potter saga can be viewed as remixing a wide variety of pre-existing texts such as The Worst Witch, A Wizard of Earthsea, countless English folktales and even the Bible (being an old and widely read text, motifs and content of the Bible are commonly said to be remixed).

Both Uptown Funk and Harry Potter are viewed as original works despite these clear links to prior texts. Why then should a work like Dark Lord Funk be viewed as any less original? With the expansive array of creative texts pervasive in 21st century society, it is impossible to not in some way be remixing another work.

Nothing can be entirely original. But a remix presents an idea in a new way.

Remixes are original unoriginality.

All your media are belong to us – Media Ownership

All your media are belong to us – Media Ownership

Let’s imagine for a moment that I have control over everything you watch. No need to worry though. I’ll be covering some great content. I hope you like Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders and the complete collection of Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

 herculepoirotIt has occurred to me that this will be a utopian society no?

Not your thing? Too bad – I own all the networks so I’ll broadcast whatever I think is best.

Not hard to see why it’s important who has control over our media networks and platforms. My example best shows why we need diversity in media ownership. If one individual owns too many networks there’s a risk that only one sort of content will be published, or only content that only ascribes to a particular ideology (Bainbridge, Jason 2011).

It’s also important to be aware of who owns your media sources so that you can understand the reason for any bias in publication, why content might be covered from a certain angle. A mining bigwig for instance, should they have vested interest in media platforms, would want those platforms to paint mining in a favourable light. Ask Gina Rinehart if you don’t believe me.

CHOGM BUSINESS SESSION PERTH  “Don’t know what you’re talking about. Oh, hello Fairfax…”

When only a few people own the majority of the media, there is the potential for freedom of speech to disappear. Without the opportunity to hear several angles to one story, it’s difficult for anyone to give a critically informed opinion on it. This effectively can lead to media owners being able to ‘control the news’. My young, naïve self once thought that reading different newspapers meant I was getting a more informed idea about a topic. Then I started to wonder why both papers I was reading reported the story in the same manner. The newspapers? The Herald Sun and The Australian – both News Corp (Rupert Murdoch) publications.

When you know who writes what you read, you can read it better.

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