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Caneel Burgner

What makes us "keep up" with reality tv and it's stars.

The End of a Digital Journey

Throughout this semester my knowledge of the digital world has grown exponentially. It has gone from seeing how some people find success as being a social media star to learning about the impact the digital community has on the world. The era of digital media is upon us and is rapidly growing and changing. We live in a world where new technological advances emerge weekly and jobs involving digital communications are on the rise. Glynda Hull’s article, At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times, covers how in order to make it in today’s world a person needs to be digitally literate. This growing platform has so much to offer and in order to succeed in a digital market a person needs to know how to market themself to others to prove their knowledge of the digital field. From this past semester of digital communications I have learned myself how to become digitally literate and the benefits that it has on my future. Opening my eyes to new platforms like Audacity and learning who to create my own website as well as market myself have been skills that will have an enormous amount of impact on my skill sets and has greatly enhanced my digital literacy.

Though I learned many things this from this semester long experience my highs and low were defiantly clear. It became very apparent to me that I am a leader and I take charge very quickly. While that may be a good thing most of the time it can also have a negative impact by causing copious amounts of unpredicted stress. But through all the stress faced by taking on major projects I was able to find the digital platforms that I loved best. I was able to define my passion for the video and film platform and learn and play with video editing. This helped influence and seal my ideas of entering the film industry in the future and gave me valuable insight and perspective into the work that it takes to produce a film no matter how short or long. My group’s video regarding Downtown Greenville, SC and it’s relationship with Furman turned out to be a success but not after a ton of hard work and detailed time management. It also became very obvious to me that audio is an extremely delicate media to work with and requires the utmost patience to perfect. The product that I can say I am most proud of would be my personal website. I never would have thought I could create something like that but with enough time and practice I am beyond happy with what I have made to show people in the future.

This class showed me how to market myself and my personal brand to the public in what I want to do and how crucial that is in a person’s career. While designing my website I found that having a digital resume is far more savvy than your typical black and white resume and how branding your website you are presenting yourself to the world and possible employers. My showcasing my skills on website I was able to highlight my assets while also providing a professional portfolio of all my work. The skills I have learned over the past fews months will make all the difference in my future personal and career hopes and it truly proved that with a hard work and dedication anyone can become digitally literate.

 

 

 

The Next Big Thing

Take Your Pick

As I have previously mentioned on this blog, we live in a world of advertising; we see it everywhere and whether we will admit it or not, it influences our lives. What we choose to watch on TV is our own personal choice, but now a day we have hundreds and hundreds of choices to pick from when we sit down to watch a show. If we sit down to watch a reality show it is also apparent that there seems to be endless choices in that category alone and they seem to be about anything and everything. And when I say anything, I mean anything.

Anything Goes

Recently I was watching TV and saw a promo for a new show called “My Diet is Better than Yours“. To be perfectly honest I thought it was a joke at first but pretty quickly I realized that this was a new, legitimate show. All I could think about is, who is their right mind would spend their free time, sitting on a couch, watching a show about other people bickering over their different diets, but apparently their must be someone out of the 7 billion people in the world that found it entertaining since it stayed on for an entire season. But thinking about that idea a little deeper I realized that their are other shows that seem to have slightly ridiculous subject matters. There’s shows about female wrestlers, rich housewives, redneck pageant children, crab fishermen and, trust me, there are much more. Now when the subject matter of these shows is simplified into you a few words you realize that what we are watching on tv that is so called “reality” are on some of the strangest subject matters. But we must love the strangeness because these shows get millions of viewers each season and continue to air for years and years. People watch shows that range from failing celebrity marriages to naked people surviving in the jungle, but whatever the subject matter these shows keep getting views.So if I set out tomorrow to make the next big reality show I could. I would just have to brainstorm a subject matter that may be found a little weird or out of the ordinary and go from their. But as it can be seen from the clear trend of the interest in the abnormal it is 100% possible.  The next big show is out there and could be about anything because the reality industry allows for every subject matter to be in play and there are literally no limitations. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the industry due to the ever changing diversity seen within the genre.

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The cast of Season 1 of My Diet is Better than Yours. Source: eatthis.com

The Day the Kardashians Came to Town

TMZ of SB

Where I am from it is not uncommon to see a celebrity around town every few weeks are so. Living just an hour and a half north of Los Angeles means that my town is a very happening place when celebrities want to escape the paparazzi and hustle and bustle of the city, especially on the weekends. That means going to brunch on the weekends with my friends serves a high chance of seeing a star, I mean Oprah does live only five minutes away. For some people seeing a celebrity suddenly gives them the need to immediately bombard the person asking for a photo and drawing more attention to them, something they probably do not want, but I just sit ideally by and watch. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get a little starstruck. It’s exciting to see a celebrity but I will admit there comes a point where it is no longer exciting to have them around, in fact, it is an absolute nuisance. The nuisance you may be wondering, well that would be when Kim Kardashian got married right down the street from my house. With thousands of people flocking from all around the world to catch a glimpse of the family, this event showed just how much influence these people have on society.

Kris, Khloe and the Rest of the Gang

Yes, inconveniently, Kim Kardashian married Kris Humphries just down the street from my house. While it may sound like something exciting, and believe me I thought it would be, it turned into an absolute nightmare. While my town is not a tiny little seaside village it is also not a huge city so there was no comfortable way to handle all of the people that traveled there just to see the wedding. I remember the Saturday of the wedding my friends and I went to out regular breakfast place and the line was not only out the door but down the street at least a block. Wondering why on earth the line was so long, I asked a woman standing there if she new why there were so many people and she told us that, a) she had traveled from Florida for the weekend to try to catch the wedding and b) that Kim had eaten there they day before so clearly she had to try it.

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Police shutting down street for Kardashian wedding. Source: cb2u.com

But Why?

What astonished me about that weekend was the amount of people there just to try to see the celebrities in attendance as well as the couple. People spent their hard earned time and money to travel from other states, probably countries too, with absolutely no guarantee of them meeting or even seeing a celebrity but due to their obsession with the Kardashians they felt compelled to be there. The thing is the Kardashians are basically famous for being famous. It’s difficult to tell where their fame really seemed from but because of their weekly reality show people idealize them and see them as role models and gods. Due to good agents and good marketing they have become moguls who can launch any product and have it immediately sell it out. The most recent is the youngest, Kylie Jenner, who launched her own lipstick line which sold out in under 10 minutes. Because the women of the family are seen as role models in the beauty world they can easily influence fans minds, especially young girls. They want to look and act or at least pretend like they are similar to the Kardashians and will buy their brand to do so. Anything with the Kardashian name will gain attention and it seems like they really don’t mind. But due to the entertainment they provide for one hour every Sunday that usually consists of crying, shopping, fighting and a scripted “dramatic” ending, people keep watching, buying and boosting their name. A Fox News article discussed how reality television has given these social lights like the Kardashians their status because we love the drama the bring to entertainment industry and their name is what keeps them famous and in the spotlight. It is because of the Kardashian name that they have been the constant talk of the Hollywood for the past 7 years or so and bring attention everywhere they go. Yes, my town may have had a huge spike in economic increase for that weekend because of that wedding but the inconvenience it caused to all the residents completely out weighed the positive and by the end of the weekend I can safely say that everyone was please to say that they would be thrilled if the Kardashians never came back to town again but that doesn’t mean that I won’t still tune in every Sunday to see what they are up to next.

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Out of towners lined up to see Kardashians. Source: edhat.com

 

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Infographic by Caneel Burgner.

Being the Next Steven Spielberg

The world of film is a forever growing industry that brings in millions if not billions of dollars each year. We go see movies in theater, rent them on computers, watch some over and over again, but do we ever really think about what goes in to making a film when we are watching it? I bet very few of us do. Tod Chappell describes a broad outline of film production in his piece, Video Production Primer. He outlines the 3 major points of film making which are preproduction, production and post-production and how each part plays a significant role.

Preproduction

This is where it all begins. The ideas and brainstorming, the rough draft of scripts and the plan of what will go into a film. The preproduction of a film is noted as possibly being the most critical part of film production because it can make or break the rest of the process of making a film. Chappell explained how if you work efficiently and plan well during preproduction than the production and postproduction will be easy and painless but with poor planning in the preproduction it could lead to disastrous and hellish experiences in the following two sections. Here is where you map out your film, the beginning, the middle and the end and develop what you want your story to be. Also, this is where you draft and edit your script. In a typical Hollywood film a screenplay script it used and is also what most people may think of when they think of a script. However if you are shooting a documentary you may want to use what is called an AV script since it is structured differently and would work better for shooting the audio of a documentary. Another crucial part of filming a documentary is having proper interviews. This contribute credibility to the documentary as well as gives the audience a break from just hearing the narrators voice. Needless to say, the preproduction is what will make or break a movie and without it every studio is Hollywood would be out of business.

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Traditional screenplay outline. Source: videomaker.com
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Outline of an AV script. Source: imgur.com

Production

This is the step everyone thinks of when they think about how a movie is made. But this is truly where the magic happens and the movie literally comes to life. This step is where you need all the gear, the camera, the sound equipment and a tripod is necessary, as well as knowing the different kinds of shots used in filming which are:

  • Subject shot/action shot
  • Establishing shot
  • B-roll

Each serves a different purpose but are quiet useful. The subject shot is great when filming an interview. You need a medium frame of the persons head and shoulders which will serve as a great shot if needed in a documentary interview. The action shot can be used to show the credibility of the interviewee, in the realm of a documentary. An establishing shot is used to, obviously, establish the time and space of where a movie is taking place. If you have ever seen The Office it is clearly seen at the beginning of almost every episode they show a shot of the entire office building or just an overall shot of the Dunder Mifflin office to establish where the episode is taking place. Last of the list is the B-roll shot. All this is, is any shot that is not a subject or action shot and surprisingly an establishing shot is actually considered a B-roll shot.

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Establishing shot of the Dunder Mifflin office from The Office. Source: iamnotastalker.com

Post-Production

This is where all the magic that was shot in production is edited down to what we see on a screen. When editing you need to have the right kind of software for your editing ability and a few of the ones Chappell suggests are Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, depending on your computer. Once you spend the time to properly edit down the movie you have to export that work of art so you are able to share it with your friends and family or the rest of the world.

While for some of you this may seem like a monotonous system maybe it will make you think a little harder about what goes into a movie the next time you are sitting in a theater.

 

Putting the “real” in Reality

No Rags, a lot of Riches

Being a reality tv star is the easiest way to make a decent living. It is a get rich quick scheme that involves little talent, unless you count all the fake crying, has an flexible schedule and will leave you with a solid paycheck. It seems like now a days if you have no other career options the best thing to do is to get yourself cast on a reality show. In every reality show there seems to be this image of wealth and status amongst the cast. Keeping Up with the Kardashians constantly shows their enormous mansions, decked out cars, plastic surgery appointments and expensive clothing that they adorn. But there seems to be an intrigue within the audience of this lifestyle because viewers are drawn to these bougie types of people. Now there are shows like The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, Total Divas and Basketballs Wives that depict eccentric living from every angle. Entire series’ are being developed from this kind of lifestyle like The Real Housewives, which has several different cities that it takes place in involving different groups of women. Notice how the word “real” is in the title of this show. Watching this show for 5 minutes would make you realize that there is nothing “real” about these housewives. Moms pull up to pick their kids up from elementary school in shiny white Maseratis and hand their child green juices which is far from real, since what I experienced in elementary school was mini vans and apple slices.

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Dorthy of The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. Source: eonline.com

The next week on the show all the moms will jet off to Turks and Caicos for the week and leave their kids with god only knows who. The depiction of these so called “real housewives” is completely blown out of proportion. Like excuse me, aren’t you supposed to be raising your children? While I understand that the title of the show is an exaggeration of the actual content of the show and that they can’t exactly call it “The Rich, Plastic, Divorces of Orange Country” since people may get a little upset, the networks still produce these shows staring these wealthy women instead of possibly showing a “real” housewife or mother. But perhaps viewers wouldn’t be interested in that since they may find it too relatable to their actual life.

 

Some Rags, Eventually Riches

Now while you may say there are some reality shows about real people like, Kate Plus 8 or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, these people actually profit greatly from their shows which will in time boost them up into a higher tax bracket and turn their once relatable show into a slightly toned down version of an E! network show. The Huffington Post noted that Honey Boo Boo and company make between $8,000 and $10,000 per episode which could eventually rise as the seasons gain more viewers. These “realish” people that have these shows are quickly climbing until they eventually meet the level of the Kardashians and Hiltons turning them from the middle class family they once were into one of the many other wealthy families of Hollywood. The reality industry is a game for the rich or for those who want to be rich and it is clear from the shows that people will do just about anything to get there.

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A representation of the the amount of advertisement we encounter everyday. Sources: I Am Cait- forbes.com, The Real Housewives of Atlanta-cdn.net, The Bachelor-thedenverchannel.com, Keeping up with Kardashians-hulu.com, The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills-trashtalktv.com, Bravo-bravotv.com, Kate Plus 8-amazon.com, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo-ricky.com

 

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Bee holder or beholder?

We have all heard the sayings, a picture is worth a thousand words or beauty is in the eye of the beholder, meaning basically that image can be used in replacement of words if powerful enough or that what one person sees can be something completely different than another person. But in Sturken and Catwright’s Practices of Looking  they make a point of explaining how what the artist or producer may intend the audience to see or feel from a piece could be entirely different from what the audience actually takes away.

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What do you see? Source: mikehamel.com

Aesthetic and Taste

Meaning is essentially produced from a mixture of 1 part- viewers interpretation or experience of the image and 2 part- context in which the image is seen. From this concoction, meaning is created. While the producer of the image may have an idea of what they want people to take away from their image the reality is, there is no guarantee that the audience will see the same thing as the producer. The spectators are the ones that truly give an image its meaning. But while the audience gives an image its meaning the idea of aesthetics and taste also factor in to the combination. Aesthetics are said to be a notion about the perception of beauty and ugliness but the fact is there is no longer a standard for what beauty really is and it differs from person to person. Something aesthetically beautiful to one person may not be seen the same way as another, so the audience can no longer generally judge if something is beautiful or not because of the meaning of aesthetic differs so drastically. Also mentioned is the notion of taste. Taste is more directly related to class, education and cultural background and acts more of a class boundary. An example of the idea of taste and the division of class can be directly seen with the idea of fashion. What Honey Boo Boo see’s as fashionable may be seen as “trashy” to say, a child living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Because these two children are from such different class backgrounds their perception of taste is on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. So while the audience gives the image it’s power, the perception of the image can differ between each individual thanks to help of aesthetic and taste.

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True Honey Boo Boo fashion. Source: socialitelife.com

 

 Encode, Decode, Repeat.

What Sturken and Cartwright also bring up is the notion that images are encoded and decoded and how the image is, “-encoded in its creation production, and further encoded when placed in given setting or context,” (Sturken and Cartwright, 56).” As an image is being processed by its audience it is just being decoded by the viewers and fully consumed and processed. But it order to properly function the two have to work perfectly together to produce the necessary understanding of the image. The example provided is the idea of television. The encoded is what the writers, directors and producers intend for the show to show but the decoded is how the show is actually perceived by its audience. It all comes down to what the audience will take away from a piece.

 

This makes me think about the next time I watch a show or explore an art museum. Am I seeing what the artist wants me to see? Do I properly understand what the image means or is trying to represent? Am I seeing the same thing as the person next to me? There are now so many more questions for me, the audience, to mull over next time I try to define and produce the meaning of anything.

 

Evolution of Reality Television

Think of the reality shows you watched in 2005. Now think of the ones you watch today. What are the differences? Along with the missing denim skirts, I am sure you’ll notice that the amount available to watch has shot up significantly.

Kings of the Networks

There’s no doubt that we see commercials and ads for new tv shows every single week if not every day. If you look closely you may notice that a lot of them are for reality shows, especially if you are watching certain channels like E!, Bravo, TLC or NBC, just to name a few. It seems like many of these major networks air at least one reality show that is on weekly. To cover and discuss all of the reality shows out there would be near impossible and would take months to properly cover which is why I am going to try to narrow it down to just a few.From what I see when watching tv it looks like the kings of reality are E!, Bravo and TLC. E! network alone airs 15 different reality shows, their most popular, in my humble opinion, seem to be Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Fashion Police (RIP Joan Rivers), Botched and Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. Bravo seems to the the first runner up in this competition because while they currently have 19 reality shows airing, they seem to be cheating just a little with that number. 8 of their 19 shows come from The Real Housewives franchise. They now have so many different groups of housewives from different cities across the world that The Real House Wives almost need their own network since they are basically taking over Bravo.

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Current cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Source: people.com

The Numbers Don’t Lie

When looking at a list of reality shows from the 2000’s up to the present day it appears that the surge of the reality tv takeover began in 2009. Before that there were some popular reality shows like Laguna Beach (a classic of my childhood), Deadliest Catch and The Bachelor but the amount was nowhere near what it is today. After the first The Real Housewives premiered in 2006, they began in Orange County which is a fitting place to gain spectators, the amount of shows began to expand. Now a day you couldn’t even keep up with all the shows no matter how hard you try. We have shows about anything and everything from Amish teenagers, to pageant children, to watching what Ozzy Osbourne eats for breakfast. There are millions of people who tune in every week to watch their favorite show including Keeping Up with the Kardashians which averaged a whopping 3.39 millions viewers during their 5th season. The industry has exploded in recent years and from the looks of it, it will continue to grow and evolve as long as the numbers and the viewers are there to boost it. It will be interesting to see where the reality television industry will be at in 5 years. If all The Real Housewives are still around or if they have been overthrown by a new group or if anyone cares about the Kardashians at all anymore. I am sure there will be many hits as well as many fails when it comes to new shows within the next few years but regardless it seems that the public will never be bored again because of the overwhelming about of reality tv shows available to watch.

 

How to Save a Whale

It is no secret that the newspaper industry is struggling and that the internet has been the hot spot for second by second news but Brian Carroll and Lynda Felder explain the proper ways to use digital and social media for news.

Digitize

While the everyday use of newspaper is declining due to the use of internet news outlets Carroll still presents this idea of the industry as a whale that needs to be saved. But, in order to save this whale it needs to learn how to adapt to a new environment. So basically the traditional news media has to evolve to the way news is presented today if they want to still exist in the next 10 years. But to help the whale stay afloat, Carroll shares 4 choices that the newspaper publishers can make if they want to try to survive, which are:

  1. Find another use for their product.
  2. Write and edit for those who are buying, which are typically they elderly.
  3. Enter into the substitute industry, online
  4. Try to salvage the enterprise.

What the future seems to hold for a majority of the newspaper industry is not bright since it is so hard to compete with the up to date news that can be provided by news outlets with simple ways like just sending out a tweet. Twitter was a major contributor to keeping residents of Boston as well as the entire nation up to date with the happenings of the police hunt after the marathon bombings. It was crucial for residents in the area to know what was happening since the suspect was in a residential neighborhood. But while providing the information for the public is important, it is equally if not more important that the information is accurate. Carroll provides the example of how Reddit.com had an incident of identifying the wrong person as the bomber and major news providers like CNN retweeting Reddit’s tweet. So while it is important that digital news outlets are providing their followers with information as fast as possible, they also need to ensure that what they are putting out to the public is reliable and accurate. The digital era is upon us and it is growing each and every day so the only way that the whale, the newspaper, can keep up and stay alive is if they learn how to transition themselves into a medium that maybe fulfills both criteria of both print and online.

Storylines

While Carroll provides helpful and easy to understand explanations of how and why newspapers need to save themselves and adopt the digital era, Felder instead gives other important information that is crucial to writing both with print and digitally. What it basically is, is how to write a good story and what makes a good story. A lot of it we have all heard before in middle school and high school English classes like having good characters and strong plot lines but there are other facts given that will help anyone’s story. Felder’s way of starting a good story is with a hook. The hook is in the beginning and sets the tone for the rest of the story and essentially lets the reader choose if they want to spend the time reading your piece or not. Gripping events and memorable characters add to a piece’s characteristics and will help make or break the story line. Challenges give more depth to the plot and its characters and if you use a cliff hanger at the end of your writing…well be prepared because you will probably have to write a sequel.

But regardless, whether or not you want to want to write for a newspaper or just freelance online the first step is having an excellent story which both Carroll and Felder properly teach how to do.

More Than Just Clickbait

Let me preface by saying, I have no idea what I am doing. This blog will hopefully turn into a beautiful work of all of my thoughts on the information learned about blogging and digital media but as of this very moment I have never written a blog or really have any idea what to do. This process of developing a blog will be filled with trial and error as well a first hand learning experience. But thankfully the help and direction I will need to learn this important skill trait will come from books by Brian Carroll and Lynda Felder. They have compiled all one would need to know about blogging into decently short books and even I was able to learn new tips and tricks that would attract a reader, keep them entertained and make them want to continuously follow your blog.

Attract

The biggest, and supposedly easiest, way to grab a person attention as they are scrolling through different articles across the internet is to have the headline. You’re not going to improve your ratings or stats if you aren’t getting any new viewers. And the best way to get the viewers is to have that sparkling headline that will shine above all the others. What you have to get across within those few words is the message of what your article is about and make it interesting enough for someone to read. Carroll also covered a short list of tips of how one can construct the ideal headline like things about present tense forms, using will instead of to, numerals instead of spelling out numbers, single quote marks and more. This idea of the headline being the crown and glory of your article was the thing I found most important when attempting to be the next big internet blogger.

Entertain

So you have your reader interested in your article, now what? Now you have to make sure that what you have written is something that will keep their intrigue and that they will not just lightly skim over, like a majority of people do. It is now where Felder steps in and provides simple steps and ideas to help with that success. Some of the points that Felder presents that I am certain you should note would be:

  • to write in a conversational style to keep the article or blog more personal and appealing to readers
  • use precise terms
  • list items and make bullet points (see what I did there?)
  • keep sentences brief. I would elaborate but you know…
  • keep paragraphs short as well

To attract and entertain your reader the information you are writing about has to be fresh, new and exciting and even if its not, you have to make it seem like it is. Between the excitement factor and the steps provided by Felder you can easily achieve the task of entertainment.

Continuity

So you have grabbed your reader, sparked their interest about your blog but now they are done reading what they came for but you want them to stick around to read your other articles. What to do…well basically what you can do it to make sure your blog and articles are as pristine as possible. The key to that is to edit, proof read and repeat those steps until you are beyond certain that it is as good as it will get.  No one wants to read a blog that is has misspelled words or terrible grammar so in order to make it a perfect blog, a blog that could be featured on Oprah’s website, you have to make sure to edit and proof read all you possible can.

Carroll and Felder both give extremely useful tips and tricks to their readers so clearly if you want to be the next big internet blogger, it’s simple. Just listen to them.

 

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