Information Flux in the 21st Century

Media Conversations

Last night I went to the opening night of the Media Conversations conference on youth, media and education. This conference was organized by Lance Strate from Forham University and David Walczyk, of my most recent alma mater, Pratt Institute. First, I listened to Eric Goodman present his (and Mike Stevens) music video media critiques that included Thus Spoke the Spectacle.

The initial draw to the conference for me was the preview of the movie Consuming Kids. The movie turned out to be as compelling as I thought it would be. Advertisers begin indoctrinating kids as close to birth as possible. And, the worst part is that advertising to children is totally unregulated in the United States. After the movie a woman, Julie Zuraw, a concerned individual who felt strongly about this issue, stood up to try to get interested parties in the audience to band together with her to advocate for some regulation. I’m with her.   I know my daughters are influenced by advertising, but I like to think that we, their parents, have some input as well. However, as Julie pointed out, what about when our children are out in the world and we’re not there to guide them? I think some regulation is called for, and I don’t see this as an infringement of freedom of speech.

Finally, the keynote speaker, Tom de Zengotita, author of Mediated, gave his perception of how media influence has created an ideology of “funnism.” The right to have fun trumps all else, and a critique of media may exclude the believers of funnism, a large population. I found myself oddly not paying attention to his double spectacle look. Was I actually turning off the media influence to mock such things? Hope so. 

This got me thinking about something else. I am now a devotee of Games for Change and have introduced my daughters to the games on their website. One of the games that my daughter Nathalie played was mentioned at the Games for Change conference that I attended last week. The game is called Fatworld. The name is controversial enough. To top this off, the object of the game is to make healthy choices in order to live a long life. My daughter discovered that at the end of a long healthy life, her character died. She did not like this part of the game and decided she didn’t want to play anymore. First, I thought, okay, I understand. Games should be fun and if the fun is taken out, then the game fails. But, no, I know better, that’s not the point of games that are supposed to build awareness of larger issues in our world. This didn’t hit me until I had time to ponder what Tom de Zengotita had to say. We want our kids to be aware and be critcal. I don’t believe this can truly happen in a culture solely dedicated to funnism.  Tom, I think got it.

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June 5, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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