“Every step you take…I’ll be watching you”

“Every step you take…I’ll be watching you”

If you are prone to paranoia I’d suggest you stop reading. Right now. Don your tin foil hat and run for the hills. Because the media is coming, and it knows everything about you.

The media is becoming more intertwined in our society with each passing day. For some time now the media has been a two-way street. We consume a mightily impressive amount of content but are simultaneously producing it. And all the while we are being watched. Take media ownership for example. The content we upload is all being recorded by someone. Most people don’t think twice about who owns the papers they read, the shows they watch. It gets a bit more concerning when you don’t consider who owns what you create and post online. All the content you’ve posted on Facebook? Your photos, video, posts, all your personal details – are under a non-exclusive license for Facebook. Those pesky advertisements that can appear in your news feed? Tailored from the information collected. My mother was particularly annoyed by this. After assessing all her personal data (age, sex, marital status and posts) Facebook decided she would most benefit from anti-cellulite and weight-loss ads. Very brave of them to suggest that. Here’s a great example of how the ads target individuals.

But at least in our increasingly connected world we can be certain that our offline activities remain private.

WoodyFacepalm
So very naive…

Whatever you do in a public space is now potentially globally accessible. The proliferation of CCTV cameras and devices with video recording (e.g. your iPhone) mean that there’s likely video footage of you that you don’t know about. In ten years will there be any difference between the public sphere and the mediated public sphere? The upcoming release of ‘Google Glass’ will close the gap between public and mediated spheres further still. Essentially a pair of lightweight glasses, the device can send messages, photograph and video record all whilst internet connected. Walking down a street you could be surreptitiously recorded without ever knowing, then have that video uploaded instantly (Hurst, 2013 – read his blog here). “All the world’s a stage…” said Shakespeare. He may have been more right than he knew.

Verily
Verily

Surveillance is a constant in our current understanding of media practices. As new technologies develop, the influence of surveillance will only increase.

Images courtesy of

http://www.fastcompany.com, http://www.myfacewhen.net, images.cryhavok.org

Supersizing the debate in the public sphere

Supersizing the debate in the public sphere

Maccas. Mickey D’s. The Golden Arches. Friend to the time poor and hung over alike. Easily one of the most iconic brands, the McDonalds Corporation has in the last decade morphed into a symbol of the global obesity epidemic. You can thank in part this guy for that.

MorganSpurlock

“Hello ladies…”

Morgan Spurlock is a documentary filmmaker. He’s not as famous as Spielberg or Tarantino, but you’ve doubtless heard of his 2004 film Supersize Me. Because despite it being tagged as an ‘infotainment’ documentary (i.e. not a serious media platform), it caused a Big Mac sized debate in the public sphere.

Spurlock’s film documents the effects of eating non-stop McDonalds for a month, the idea inspired by two teenagers who attempted to sue McDonalds as the cause of their obesity. The documentary however isn’t intended as an attack on McDonalds itself. It’s tackling the issue of obesity in general.

After the film’s release, the public began to question its consumption habits. The sometimes graphic scenes of overt gluttony sparked discussion in the public sphere about the problem of obesity in society and who was to blame for it. The documentary places responsibility on the aggressive marketing power of the big franchises, particularly marketing aimed at children. Just six weeks after Supersize Me came out, McDonalds began withdrawing the ‘supersize’ option from their stores and introducing salads and ‘healthy’ option Happy Meals. McDonalds however continues to deny the film played any role in these changes.

BabyCakeFace

“We deny that we were influenced in any way. No, I don’t know where your cake went…”

Although the adage is ‘all publicity is good publicity’, McDonalds instigated an alteration in its marketing strategies. Comparison of advertisements pre and post 2000 show a clear change of tact. Older advertisements emphasise portion size whilst contemporary advertisements focus on health benefits (however small).

BIGMaccasMealAd 400caloriesMcDonalds

McDonalds advertisements from top; 1971, 2012.

Admittedly there is no direct causality between Spurlock’s film and the increased awareness on obesity within the public sphere. Regardless, Supersize Me was pivotal in sparking public discussion on the effects of fast food and obesity.

Images courtesy of

carriestroudphotography.blogspot.com, http://www.ninjamarketing.it, http://www.flickr.com, http://www.prefixmag.com, liquidbio.pbworks.com