Week 2, Specialist Interview (Rumbi Mupindu)


I conducted this interview on the 11th of November; the interview was with Senior Lecturer John Keenan at Coventry University in Media and Communications and Culture. This Interview was conducted through email due to work commitments never the less I would like to thank John Keenan for participating. I thought John’s views and opinions would be beneficial and towards my dissertation, as he specialises in advertisements and my work will be looking into how digital media platforms and advertisements help shape representations and ultimately the world as we know it. As you are well aware on this blog my aims are to ask questions revolving around what shapes the media world, as we know it. In it’s many different forms. This week what I planned to find out is about sexuality, advertisements and online identity.




What is your definition of digital media?

John: If you want my definition of it, it is one of annoyance at the tautology of the term. All media is digital now. Even newspapers which come in what might be termed an analogue form are digitally produced. It is a term used to signify it is no TV, newspapers, magazines etc but it is a nonsense term as they are all online as well. Might be better using the term ‘new media’ but even then, the ‘old’ is in the new

Digital Media has forced marketers to evolve in the way they reach their audiences as we have almost tripled how much time we spend online whether that be on social networks, blogs, YouTube etc. Letters have been replaced by emails, Pictures are now being used in place of decryption, and links have become explanations. Do you believe we can sustain this increase in media consumption or will there be another shift? 

John: A better question. If it is one about media use. I am more interested in the move back to analogue – LPs, world record days, Polaroid cameras. The backlash tells us about the need to keep media human. Yes, there are human desire for more, for ease but there is also for an emotional aspect and a pleasure in recognising the faults in the system. Humans are humans and we will still interact and find pleasures offline as much as, if not more than on it. I, for example, rarely use social media and want to see someone to talk with them as I need to see their faces, read their body language, value the time spent by them for me. This is all metalanguage and it is what the internet is no good at. More communication happens in this way than through the words and images that can come at us on a screen.

Digital media has changed the way we consume media. Recently I’ve noticed through observing comments, tweets, and trends, hash tags, things that have made me question whether this has caused our society’s values to change. This generation does not play outside; football games in the park have been replaced by fantasy online games. By Consumers prioritising their time towards digital media surely we lose sight of reality and manufacture an online present which in fact is not the real us? 

John: A good point. I am not part of the younger generation so I may be unusual but I talk to those who are and there seems to be a switch-off happening. If you want my guess (and all futurology is a guess) then this generation will be typified by its electronic media and future ones will be less inclined to use it. What you are writing about sounds like a moral panic – no-one’s exercising and everyone’s looking at their screens. This was the cry since television first came about. I think people are playing sports and going to gyms and going to the pub because it is so much better than being on your own inside. However, the addiction to the screen is something to be aware of. It is getting better but still some people cannot go out without checking their phones. I would not be around them for long if they did this and I think others will make these decisions as well. We will evolve…

One thing I have noticed that managed to sustain continuity is how woman are being sexualised in advertisements and marketing campaigns and all other media platforms in fact. Going back to my observations, after watching a rape scene on Eastenders I headed to Twitter and saw a tweet which said “she couldn’t handle the D, she didn’t even arch her back” I found this disturbing And it has left me with a question which I would love to know your opinion on. Do you believe the way women have been portrayed and sex symbols in media has now affected how they are seen in situations such as rape? 

Yes, women are seen as sex symbols in adverts. Men are too but women for far longer. It is not the advert that we should look to but the culture in which it is made. Adverts will reflect hegemonic thought. So, if women are the display gender in a culture – and I believe it could just as easily be men – then this is what will be seen. It does not mean women lose power. Young attractctive women are given enormous power from these images as they are elevated. Less attractive and older ones are not given this and so self-esteem issues come up. This is in the culture, not the advert but the adverts shows the culture. Adverts, films etc are manifestation of unspoken rules. We may not like the manifestation but look to the rule first. As for rape, yes the culture of objectifying women’s bodies for male pleasure will increase rape I am sure. Women need to be asserted as equal and males as much as women as sexual objects of desire. It is not adverts that can do this, though. A male as a sex object is often ridiculed. A male doing housework is the same. The culture needs to change. Cultures always do and it is from movements such as feminism that the balance shifts. Work on making a noise in society. Spray offending images, stop your friends saying sexist things out loud. Be a strong independent woman. Change will come and is coming and has come.

My generation is the last generation that would have been brought up without having technology at the tip of our hands. The following generations will rely heavily on computers phones etc. When all these platforms are being created they are being made to benefit us, to make our lives easier. do you believe digital media is benefiting our lives or rather dehumanising us and turning into online robots living on planet digital? 

John: You have been the first native generation so you should know. People are people and goodness is timeless in my view. We will not become robots because the human brain is a billion times more sophisticated than any machine. We feel, we believe, we are irrational. we create. Art galleries abound yet there is no need for them. Churches and mosques are full yet they do not follow any logic being based, as they are on belief (and sometimes culture). People still self-destruct and end up addicted, drugged, alcoholics etc. Some people want to lose. Machines at the moment cannot do this. Can they be programmed to? Possibly. Humans will not become robots but robots may become human. Imagine, though, a robot inventing or enjoying Christmas. It’s unlikely.

Do you worry at all that as great of a platform as digital media is, do you worry about what kind of tool it is being used for. The representations that are being formed and the power, which is be given? 

I don’t worry about anyone else except what I am doing as I cannot control anything else. There are people being killed at the moment in parts of the world over land, power, jealousy. There is torture, cruelty regardless of digital forms. If anything, I am more optimistic when the power of the media is outside of the control of the few. The democratisation of the media is a good thing and Tim Berners-Lee should be given every award under the sun for starting and keeping the interne free form control. We should fight censorship in my view as it often leads to the powerful from gaining economic and sometimes information control. Let it go. Power is in society and there are many power-bases. Let a thousand flowers bloom, as the Chinese say.





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