Media Content Cultivation Theory Analysis

Game of Thrones is a very popular TV show.  But it is also one of the most violent in mainstream media.  According to there have been 456 deaths in 4 seasons of Game of thrones.  That is incredible, especially considering the statistics count only characters that are prominent to the plot and prominence is determined by “importance to the plot.” 456 deaths in 4 seasons that effected the plot in one of the most popular shows, that is a great illustration of the prevalence of violence in mainstream media.

This portrayal of murder as something that is common place and maybe necessary is disturbing because it may make children, young people who are not yet able to discern fact from fiction, believe that death and specifically murder is normal.  Now for adults and teenagers who know that the show is fiction yet are still influenced they might experience “Mean World Syndrome” (McIntosh 350).  Because murder is viewed so much it makes the viewer believe that is the way the world is they are more likely to view the world as a dangerous place.  Below is a statistic for the most deadly characters on Game of Thrones, they seem quite active in killing people.Deadliest game of thrones characters

One concern I have about the implications of cultivation theory is not about “mean world syndrome” but how it will distract people from important issues in the world(350). Most shows deal with very selfish and individualistic goals, portraying a world in which everyone is out for his or her self will stifle any altruistic tendencies in young children.  Game of Thrones is the worst offender because all the deaths are for furthering someone’s cause or getting revenge.  Adults as well may have this problem, if the only reason an adult values a relationship is that the relationship benefits him or her then the relationship is just a means to an end and not intrinsically valuable.  If nothing is intrinsically valuable then there is no reason to stop global warming for most Americans and there is no reason to care about international politics because it won’t effect the average American’s life.

I believe teenagers are the most susceptible to these problems because they watch shows about teenagers trying to fit into society while they are trying to fit into society and the lessons they see can and will effect how they act, especially when seeing certain shows may be something that makes students popular or not.  This need to fit in will distract them even more from important issues in the world.  Here is a message a majority of the population would likely find funny but trivializes death.  I wouldn’t call this a good message. game+of+thrones+meme+5

When we see the same message repeatedly in different forms of media we may begin to believe the message or at least be increasingly influenced by it. This extension of TV media allows the world of a TV show to be seen more often increasing the effect of Cultivation theory.  Which is frightening because children may begin to see murder as an everyday occurrence but a nice distraction from caring about greater issues.


Picture of the most murderous killers on Game of Thrones came from

picture of Game of thrones creator meme

Pavlik, John V., and Shawn McIntosh. Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.

Patent Trolls

Patent Trolls only exist due to questionable ethical practices.  “Called patent trolls or non-practising entities (NPE), companies that make most of their money from licensing patents don’t have the best reputation.” (Business Insider)  The problem with patent trolls is that what they do is technically not illegal.  enforcing and licensing ideas is not against the law.  But the manner in which the companies enforce the law is detrimental to consumers and possibly market competition (Business insider).  If information and technology can be withheld from the public market indefinitely then some innovations will never enter the public domain and never be able to foster more innovation.

Judging by the utilitarianism approach I can say that patent trolls are very unethical because especially in this age of technology building on itself continually if a few key patents are kept from being licensed then a few companies may have a technopoly.  This is bad for everyone who isn’t a stakeholder in the company because it hinders competition and can create a monopoly in certain markets.  The largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures has between 10,000 and 70,000 patents it licenses (Business Insider).  Such consolidation does the least good for the least number of people forcing billions of people to utilize one company’s technology.

As Vaidhyanathan said in his essay, “Digital distribution allows a higher level of regulation than we ever imagined. Soon we may have to apply for a license to listen or read…”( 182).  The greatest innovation of modern times, digital distribution of information is being perverted to become the greatest oppressor of knowledge.  This is not ethical, restricting information to everyone based on the greed of a few businessmen.

The problem with this phenomenon is that it happens because the laws allow it to.  The white papers the white house published under the Clinton administration gave more powers to corporations and took power away from the inventor and federal government.  Examining databases, all technology is suppose to enter the public domain after some amount of time to foster innovation, but with databases every time more information is added the patent is renewed because it counts as a new addition making the creation unique (Vaidhyanathan 175-176).  This stifles growth because as more knowledge is added it actually keeps the information from entering the public domain and since human knowledge continues to increase the database will remain under copyright forever.  This question that needs to be answered here is how can the system be changed?  I think it will only be changed once there is a clear and evident damage done to someone or the populace as a whole, possibly the cure for cancer getting stored away in a database as a trade secret.  I think the general population will only find out about such a damage through a whistle-blower.  Corporations are exceptional at covering things up so I think it will take an inside employee who has ethical fortitude to do the right thing in the face of serious consequences to cause any change.  And only after social outcry will the government do anything about it but since the law has been changed to make the government less powerful at effecting copyright and patent law I am afraid for the future of the patent industry.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity. New York: New York UP, 2001. Print.

Chick-Fil-A “Eat Mor Chikin” Campaign

The “Eat Mor Chikin” advertisement campaign by Chick Fil A is an example of a long running successful ad campaign.  According to Chick Fil A’s website the campaign began in 1995.  The campaign is striking because the slogan is misspelled and shows cows doing things no cow would ordinarily do.  Because of the success of the campeat-more-chickenaign the company has decided to use the cows indefinitely.

It is difficult to find a blog about Chick-Fil-A that doesn’t focus on the owner’s views about gay marriage. He believes in the biblical definition and has received much public criticism for his belief.

No sources blogs or websites disagree that the ad campaign has been wildly successful.  PETA however has asked that the company to add a faux chicken option because it is healthier which may be considered a critique of the ad campaign in that it gets away from the message.  The full article is here

The success of the campaign lies in its creativity as well as its expansiveness.  The campaign employs the use of outdoor advertising, social media, and interactive advertising.  Sometimes the advertisements will end without answering a question and at the end the announcer will say, visit our website to find out what happened to stimulate further association with the brand.

Also the campaign is ingenious because it is social marketing, the campaign doesn’t sell something physical, it sells an idea.  As Pavlik and McIntosh note, the company is selling a lifestyle and an idea, not a product (262).

Another reason the campaign is so successful is because the campaign acts like a public service announcement for cows.  Because the cows have been anthropomorphized the audience is encouraged to view them as relatable and more sacred and thus to “agree with the persuader’s point in an apparently natural or commonsense way (McIntosh 254).”  This point is that cows don’t want to be eaten, therefore don’t eat them.  One might call this type of persuasion rhetoric because the audience members are being swayed to an opinion that changes their actions.

One criticism of the campaign is that if cows don’t want to be eaten, why should  chickens feel differently?  They probably have the same desire.  Unless the entire goal of the advertisement is to trivialize the slaughter of animals in general.  Because of the laudable nature of the signs the cows hold, the true goal of the ad campaign could be to make consumers think they are better than animals and therefore consuming them is ethically sound.

Viral Media analysis

I chose the video the Evolution of Music by the Pentatonix acapella group to analyze.  I think the video went viral because it appealed to everyone’s appreciation of music in a new and interesting way.  Especially using only well known music everyone heard most of the songs.  It may be considered viral because it reached  a large number of people and was shared on numerous platforms (Nahon and Hemsley 16).  In terms of the reach by numbers 71 million is enough to classify it as viral.  Reach by networks on the other hand is difficult to quantify.  Facebook, youtube, Vine, Twitter, and Instagram have all had the video shared on it so if the big five is all that is necessary for reach by networks it certainly qualifies as viral in that respect as well.

This video may have spread as quickly as it did because there was already a fan base for the group because they had already won a singing competition on NBC but the group didn’t have such large appeal until it covered almost every type of music and appealed to almost everyone’s taste in music.  Based on their popularity in general it could be thought that the group went viral because of a top down format but I argue that this would be a bottom up form of virality because no one with a large audience brought this specific video to the public and caused the video to gain popularity (Nahon and Hemsley 42).

“Word of mouth” marketing caused this video to go viral.  I think the appeal of an illustration of the change in music made this video so popular for people.  Hearing classic song as well as classical songs in a progression of popular music is interesting.  Humans like to know where we’ve been and where we’re going to get a sense of who we are and I think this video allows people to see that.

The general trend of musical competitions in the 21st century may be another reason why this video went viral and why the Pentatonix are so popular.  It may not be what was happening at the time that made the video such a shared topic but just another example of a growing interest in alternative forms of music.

One implication of this video going viral is that it shows even if a contestant wins a contest he/she may still have trouble making money despite being a household name.  Pentatonix has an advantage in that the type of music it produces is unique but its still limited by copyright laws because most of their songs are covers.  Although the group is a produser in a sense they are still professionals because they won a competition and received a record deal so they are another example of the line blurring between professional and amateur.  They are also a perfect example of the “creation” aspect of social media, part of their identity is intertwined with what they create.


Importance of Media Literacy as Gaming Marketplace Steam Grows in Popularity

Steam is an online gaming marketplace that has grown to provide games for over 100 million users.  As video game producing companies start to make “blockbuster” games similar to Hollywood’s method of creating blockbuster movies similar plots and stereotypes will be represented.  Gamers are unique because they are very susceptible to cultivation theory.  This is not a rule but a large amount of gamers are teens who are very impressionable.  Users need to critically analyze the content they are exposed to to protect themselves from having their world view influenced to portray the virtual world they engage in.wordle

Visual Media Analysis

Pope Francis Time Cover

“Semiotics is the study of signs as conveyed through codes.” (Moriarty). This cover of Time magazine shows Pope Francis looking away from the reader and smiling to the left.  One of the most interesting messages conveyed in the picture is the tone.  With a shadowy silhouette the viewer sees the Pope as sinister.   Maybe the viewer is suppose to understand that the Pope is like every other person and like an average person he is a sinner shrouded in darkness.  Or possibly we are suppose to believe the Pope is a bad person, maybe even we should get the message that the world is under a shroud of darkness.  Bad or sinister are two messages the tone conveys.

Gomery talks about the effectiveness of color TV in helping NBC become number one in the ratings during the 1970’s (174), but lack of color can also be used as a technique.  One of the most basic struggles in all of literature is the battle between light and dark and the pursuit of light from the darkness.    The angle of the Pope seems purposeful because he has light on his forehead like he is facing the light and moving towards it.  This may be the photographers way of showing that the Pope is a human just like the average person who is trying to reach the light by escaping the darkness.

This cover was the source of extreme controversy when it first came out because some people claimed that Time had tried to make the Pope look like the devil.  For Catholics this was a cardinal sin and was impermissible.  Especially as Pavlik and McIntosh wrote, “They[photographs] transmit culture by what they show”(124), if the culture transmitted is incorrect culture than people must defend the correct culture.  Something the photographer left out purposefully is the Pope’s crucifix necklace and his rings.  This may purely have been a marketing move, to appeal to the broadest group of people because some consumers may think that a religious symbol that is not a part of their religion on a magazine would make the magazine offensive.  Possibly the photographer may have meant to make Pope Francis more appealing to the everyday person by not showing his solid silver crucifix and rings.

If we perceive the Pope to be a more personable person because his white clothes have been downplayed by a dark shadow and his religious articles have been blocked, technically this man could be anyone dressed in a robe because the few artifacts that make the pope uniquely his entity have been taken away.  This is dangerous because it means that based on different signs someone can be portrayed as anyone else.  For example a foreign country’s citizens might think Bert from Sesame Street when Photoshopped with Osama Bin Laden  is cause for an international (Convergence Culture, 2) incident purely based on ignorance.

Visual media can be used to galvanize men and women in a cause and it can also be used to discredit very powerful men and women.  When merely the lighting of a photo can convey the message of good or bad to a viewer than visual media is very powerful because illiterate people and children can get the same message as a very educated adult.  If consumers are constantly influenced to think a certain way without knowing it the beliefs may become something accepted in their world view.  An implicit condition for how one views the world is a very dangerous idea because it causes men and women to be close-minded to new ideas, and that could hurt advancement in everything from how the United States views the rest of the world to how we view our own educational system.


The link to the picture if you would like to view it is