Hi everyone! My name is Erin and I’m a Senior at Towson University. I’m a Mass Communications major with tracks in Advertising and Public Relations as well as a minor in Electronic Media and Film. I’m on track to graduate in December, after which I hope to move to my favorite city, New York City, and work in Broadway theatre (one of my many passions in life). I’m currently enrolled in the course Media Criticism for the Spring 2011 semester, where I hope to explore the role of media criticism and our society.
The role of media criticism has grown tremendously through the years; it not only shapes our view of the media but helps shapes our everyday lives as well. Mass media has become an everyday necessity in our lives. Whether it’s watching our favorite TV program or simply reading an online article for school, we are constantly looking at the media. It’s important we look critically to the media because it helps us form views, helps us interact with one another on a social level, and even helps form values. Looking at the media in a critical way gives us something to think about, talk about, laugh about, and even cry about. Mass media isn’t simply turning on your television and watching for hours mindlessly, it’s about learning through what we are experiencing and forming our opinions based on it.
Media Criticism is important because it teaches people not to look at the media one dimensionally but to see it as a source with multiple angles and meanings. It’s a way for people to understand what they are watching, hearing, or reading.
Let’s take a look at the TV show “Skins.” No, I’m not talking about the newly remade MTV version (we’ll get to that soon.) I’m talking about the original, British, version. Back in 2007 the British television station, E4, created a show about a group of teenagers living out their everyday lives. This television show wasn’t your run of the mill, angst ridden teenage drama, it was something new, something real. “Skins” showed a group of friends as they went to school, partied, and most importantly, explored their sexual sides. Now in it’s 5th season (and 3rd generation cast, the show only keeps each cast for 2 seasons), the show is a hit in Britian amongst its viewers.
Fast forward to 2011, MTV has premiered their remake of the show. They’ve aimed to keep the show similar to the British version, only changing a few character personalities, names, and overall plot lines. They rounded up a handful of sponsorships to back the show and waited patiently as millions tuned into the series premiere. The first episode sparked controversy amongst American audiences, including many parents. With a 10 pm time slot, it was an easy target to young viewers. All the depictions of sex, drugs, and alcohol consumed wasn’t the only problem viewers found, it was the fact that half the cast wasn’t even 18 yet. Viewers quickly dubbed it “child pornography.” As these allegations grew stronger, MTV lost its sponsors for the show almost immediately. People everywhere instantly become critics of the show. The laws of our society state 18 is the consenting age for sex, so seeing barely (if at all) legal teenagers acting out these sexual acts were wrong and many believe, illegal.
Parents had a hard time seeing teenagers engage in sexual acts because of the culture many grew up in. In England, the consenting age for sex is 16; so many viewers in the UK didn’t see the sexual acts nearly as much as a problem as people here in the US did. The grittiness of the show has since sparked healthy debate between people and has made almost everyone tuning in a media critic. No matter the age, everyone has their own opinion on “Skins.”
Through this course I hope to gain a new look on the media and the way we criticize it. I hope to also engage myself during the course in debates and discussions when it comes to certain topics in the media, especially television!