Media & Money: Crash Course Media Literacy #5



Did you know Finding Dory made 486 million
dollars in 2016? Or that Barack and Michelle Obama received
65 million dollars in advance of writing their
newest books? Or that Beyonce made 105 million dollars in
2017? Those are the big bucks, people. Sure, media is a form of communication and
the foundation of our shared culture. But it’s more than a collection of songs
and books and movies and newspapers. It’s also a lot of money. The media is a big collection of massive,
money-making industries. That means most of the media you digest was
made by specific people with specific paychecks. And that money has a specific impact. Understanding how and why media is produced, the
business of it all, is key to the full media literacy picture. If last episode was about your mind on media,
today is all about your media on money. [Theme Music] Pretend for a second you’re a superstar movie
director with a string of award-winning hits. Hollywood anxiously awaits your next film,
but you’re feeling the pressure. First you’ve got to land on idea – should it be an
original film? A remake? A sequel? About what? Who’s gonna write it? You? That woman
with the funny webseries you love? A studio hack
paid by the word? Speaking of studios, who are you going to
work with? Will they have a say in what you make, and
how it’s written? Or who’s in it? Then you’ve got to shoot the thing. Find the perfect cast, build all the sets or find
locations, pay the CGI company, hire a costume
designer, make sure the schedule runs on time. And then it’s not even over!
Hopefully a distributor will pick it up. Who will see it?
How will it be advertised? Will your cast end up on every late night
show to promote it? That’s a lot of questions to answer. So instead of making decisions, you’re sitting
on your couch eating cereal and watching Scandal
reruns pretending your problems don’t exist. But you’re not a big-shot Hollywood director. (Well if you are – hit me up in the DMs.) Anyway: have you ever thought about how much
goes into a movie before it gets to your screen? Or before a video game gets to the store or
a newspaper onto your doorstep? Media is made. Every bit of it is constructed by someone,
or groups of someones. Each step of the way they’ve made choices,
too, about what to create and how to create it. And they’ve made those decisions based on
life experiences, preferences and money – who
has it, and how they can make more of it. But those choices affect you, the consumer. First, let’s focus on why media is created. Its purpose, like to entertain, inform or
persuade. The reason a piece of work is created can
be really helpful in understanding its impact. An advertisement’s purpose is to convince
the viewer to buy a product. You see an ad for soda, you know the
company created and paid for it in hopes
that you will buy their soda. Great, that’s an easy one. What about movies? You might say they’re made for entertainment,
duh. They’re for fun. And yes, movies are made to make money and
entertain. But if that was their only purpose, a lot more
movies would just be remakes of Titanic, the
greatest and most entertaining film of all time. Some movies are made to bring up important
topics and encourage cultural conversations. On the outside, Pixar’s Inside Out looks
like a film made to bring families together
through entertainment. But if you’ve seen Inside Out you know it’s really
a film designed to make you cry while contemplating
the complexity of human emotion, and how we’re all so different and yet the same. Or think about the film “Get Out.” On one level, it’s a horror movie about a man
whose girlfriend’s family wants to kill him. But along the way, the film unpacks issues
of contemporary racism and how horrifying
the modern world can be to black men. Every piece of media has many purposes, and they
each impact how the work is made from day one. If purpose is the “why” of media creation,”
the “what” is focus. Focus is the topic or subject, what we’re
including (and at the same time excluding)
when we create. Sometimes deciding what to focus on is the
name of the game – like when a newspaper can
only fit so many stories on the front page. They’re deciding what news is the most important. But sometimes focus can be a bit more…manipulative. Like that soda ad you saw earlier; it didn’t
mention how much sugar each bottle contains
or how it will affect your health. It just wants you to think about that crisp,
refreshing taste. Or a government report that touts how many jobs were
created last month, but conveniently leaves out that
most of those jobs were low-paying, temporary ones. The thing is, the purpose and focus of media
can affect how you think about other people,
especially when they’re not like you. Let’s head into the Thought Bubble to wrestle
with that a bit. Media texts have the power to impact your
understanding of things like race, ethnicity, gender,
age, disability, or sexual orientation. The way they deal with and present these topics
is called representation. Like everything else, the way different people
and places are represented in media is always
a choice. And since the mass media is disproportionately
run and created by straight white men, that means
the representations of everyone else can skew
toward stereotype. Think about a pretty common TV trope, the
“gay BFF” stereotype. There’s Kurt and Blaine from Glee. Cameron from Modern Family, Justin from Ugly
Betty. Or, throwback, Jack McFarlan from Will & Grace
and Stanford from Sex and the City. What do they all have in common? Well, as I mentioned, they’re gay men. They’re all the BFF to a major female character. Also, they’re all fashion-conscious, they
all love theater. Most of them have really broad personalities,
too. Weird how they’re all so…similar. Media representation of gay men has historically
skewed toward these stereotypical depictions, where
only one type of gay man is found on-screen. Our brains love familiar things since they’re
easier to understand. So why invest in shows written by and about
complex gay men or women, or LGBTQ people of
color, when you could save time and money by
lazily using stereotypes instead? Plus, as a familiar stereotype, this representation
can be used in mainstream media without ruffling
too many conservative feathers. That means more viewers and more money. This is a big problem for diverse cultures
that have trouble understanding each other. When minority groups are frequently stereotyped in
the media, people may start to believe the associated
stereotype is even more true. They reinforce themselves. Paying attention to how different groups and
people are represented in the media is critical. Each representation is a choice made by the creator,
sometimes because of money, and they can be used
to positively or negatively impact how we think. Thanks, Thought Bubble! Of course, every production choice isn’t part of
a grand scheme to sell more pop music or prevent
more women of color from directing films. The media is a nebulous group of individuals
all doing particular jobs. But there are people and systems at work within
the business of media that help block or perpetuate
certain stereotypes and ideologies. For instance, cultural theorist Stuart Hall
wrote about how racist ideologies are spread
through the media. He said, “It would be wrong and misleading to see
the media as uniformly and conspiratorially harnessed
to a single, racist conception of the world.” The idea of “the media” monolith doesn’t
exist. If it’s not some grand conspiracy, how do
stereotypes and ideologies like these persist? That’s right, it’s money again. Who has it, and where they want to spend it. If you’ve ever posted on Tumblr or doodled
in a notebook, you were probably able to do
that for free. But somewhere along the way, someone had to pay for
your internet access and phone or a notebook and pen. Maybe you paid for it, or your parents did. But without that money, you couldn’t have
even doodled. All types of media creation require some kind
of money. The big, fancy, mass media kind, like publishing
a newspaper or making a movie, requires a lot. And not everyone has the money to create media. When you don’t have the money to create
media, sometimes you can get other people
to pay for you to create it. Like a patron or an investor. But because media creation costs money, and
not everyone has money, it’s most often done by
people who already have it. And those who have it often want to spend
it on people and things they already know
will make more money. How do they decide who to give it to? They consider who has experience making media
that makes money. And usually that’s people who have already
had the money to make media to make money. It’s a cycle that prevents different voices
from creating different kinds of media, keeping
cultural power in the hands of a few. Critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max
Horkheimer believed that this closely held,
homogenous mass media was dangerous. “Culture today is infecting everything with
sameness” they wrote…in 1944. They thought that mass-produced popular
culture created for profit lulled consumers into
passive contentment. No matter your situation, you’d be happy as a
clam if you could access the easy entertainment
of pop culture. At the same time, it manufactured needs in the
audience – like I need to see this movie, I need
that brand of shampoo to be happy – that could only be solved by buying more stuff. In many ways, social media has helped break this
cycle by lifting up diverse voices and challenging the
ways media is traditionally made. Social media campaigns have even
thrown the spotlight on negative or non-existent
representations in mass media. But the mega media players still tend to dominate
the scene. That’s not to say every creative decision
is based solely on money. Plenty of decisions are made for practical
reasons, or by people just doing mundane jobs. Each one may not seem like a big deal,
but when strung together they create all the
media we absorb. We spend most of our day with media, so it’s
crucial we understand what is created by who,
how, and for what reason. It’s almost as important as constantly reminding
each other that media is created. It didn’t just appear out of nowhere;
humans did that. And humans do some weird stuff, especially
for money. Next time on Crash Course Media Literacy
we’re talking about people who do it all for that
cold hard cash: advertisers. But until then, I’m Jay Smooth.
I’ll see you next time. Crash Course Media Literacy is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT. It’s made with the help of all of these nice
people and our animation team is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you wanna keep imagining the world complexly
with us, check out some of our other channels like SciShow, Animal Wonders, and The Art
Assignment. If you'd like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series
at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued
support.

21 thoughts on “Media & Money: Crash Course Media Literacy #5”

  1. Representation. So all straight white men have the same perspective and tell the same story; Hitler, Schindler, Bono, the uni-bomber… all the same. Same goes with all black women… all gay X… It's almost as if "representation" puts people into stereotypical identity groups and assumes that they can be collectively "represented" because they are, of course, all the same.. based on arbitrary cataloging performed by.. who? And here I thought every human being had a unique voice, silly me.

  2. whatever they talk we don't understand very bakwas…😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴 and very boring and feel like to sleep if we hear….😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😱😰😨😧😱😱😱😱😷😷😷🤒🤒🤒🤕🤕🤕🤧🤧🤧😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴

  3. A good reminder of why people lean on using stereotypes, and to always critique the creator. We all have agendas, if you go in with eyes open, you can choose what you want to take or leave from each piece of media. Where/who the money comes from can tell a lot about the agenda. Good to teach our kids how to critically evaluate media too! Doesn’t mean not curiously exploring other viewpoints, but to be aware of how certain messages trigger us, your mind on media, and to be aware of them so not sleepwalking through experience.

  4. I think another factor behind representation is the experience of writers in their chosen medium. For instance, if someone is a playwright and they want to write a gay character, chances are the people they’ve surrounded themselves with are also into theatre and some may be gay. Because of this, even gay characters based on real people can fulfill stereotypes (such as the gay theatre buff) because of the writer’s limited worldview.

  5. I don’t like it when my education is biased. Hard to avoid though. Good and important series otherwise.

  6. Jack is a stereotype, but Will isn't. And Will is the best friend and a main character. I feel like Jack is almost making the same point but in a meta way. Will is the the character that is implied more gay characters should be like.

  7. Watching the video sped up by 1.5 seems more natural than watching it at the normal speed. Did they slow down the audio? Or is Jay just that Smoooothhhh

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