World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 15

Media has a pivotal role in the understanding of international conflicts. Whether it be through newspapers, television, radio, or the internet; the media has the job of explaining and presenting said conflicts to the masses. If it does so correctly, it has the potential to create a catalyst for change. However, if done incorrectly, it could have disastrous consequences.

The center of said problems with international conflict coverage can be found in what can be seen as the biggest center of media in the world, the United States. The U.S. tends to cover these affairs in a less than ethical manner. This malpractice can be simplified into four key patterns, which will be discussed through the rest of this blog post.

When the U.S. covers a conflict happening in a different area of the world, they tend to simplify the conflict, creating arbitrary brackets that the masses can understand. This action, however, could lead people to understand the conflict incorrectly, and potentially underestimate or overestimate the danger of said conflict. The U.S. also tends to give certain conflicts more media representation than others. This is due to bias towards the area of the world that these conflicts are taking place in. This bias can be related to allies, or even to make enemies look worse. The U.S. also tends to take a U.S. centric approach to foreign conflict. They tend to ask how will this affect me, rather than relaying the facts or calling for action. The U.S. also tends to amplify or de-amplify the true amount of violence in a conflict, in order to garner greater readership or viewership from people who desire to see both ends of the spectrum.

Evidently, while the U.S. is a media powerhouse, it has its issues with regards to covering international conflicts. This malpractice can be presented through four key media patterns. These patterns cause U.S. citizens to often misunderstand said conflicts, which could have disastrous effects in the long run.

Sources:

  1. http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/example/youn7500.htm
  2. http://newint.org/features/2012/09/01/media-war-coverage/

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 12

Being one of the most diverse regions in the world, Oceania has one of the most interesting media systems to discuss. Oceania is composed of four major sub-regions, each with their own unique history and cultures. These sub-regions are Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia, and Polynesia. These sub-regions combined have over 1,000 spoken languages. This is just an example of the extremity of diversity in the region, and it is reflected in their media systems. However, that doesn’t even begin to cover the impact of external influence, including, but not limited to, European colonization.

Each sub-region of Oceania, and even the individual countries within them, have unique media systems. While some are extremely restricted, such as Tonga, others are beacons of press freedom, such as Fiji. With notable exceptions of Australia and New Zealand, newspapers in the region tend to have very low impact. This is due to high illiteracy rates throughout most of Oceania However, with regards to other mediums, usage is varied, due to the heterogeneity of the region.

The major media hub of Oceania is considered by many to be New Zealand. It has the most immigration from other Oceanic countries, other than Australia. It has the most developed and popular media systems of the region, and is a very popular location in other aspects, such as tourism and governmental systems.

Evidently, the sheer diversity of Oceania leads to inconsistency of media systems in the region. While some are very free, others are extremely restricted. Medium usage also varies greatly between sub-regions and individual nations. External influences, as well as European colonization, still has major impacts on media of the region today. Therefore, it is hard to pin down a single media system standard that defines Oceania.

Sources:

  1. http://education.nationalgeographic.com/encyclopedia/oceania-physical-geography/
  2. http://press.anu.edu.au/ssgm/global_gov/mobile_devices/ch06s05.html

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 11

Latin America is a very unstable region with regards to its media system. Firstly, there is inconsistency on a country to country basis, simply based on the different cultures and influences that affect them. However, there is also media instability caused by frequent regime change and historical colonization.

Latin America is a region that many European powers colonized during the Columbian exchange era. These countries have had a massive impact on the region, completely altering their societies as they knew it. Mainly colonized by the British, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and French; the indigenous people of the region had their cultures minimized in favor for a dominant, European way of life. The media influences of these European powers can still be seen in Latin American media today.

There is also the issue of political instability in the region. Many countries in Latin America have frequent regime changes. With this governmental chaos of sorts comes a fluctuation in media freedom. Some regimes will allow large amounts of freedom, while others will use extreme propaganda and censorship to prevent the media from operating freely. As discussed, this varies on a country to country and regime to regime basis.

Evidently, Latin America’s media systems are very hard to define due to historical influence, a variety of cultures, and frequent regime changes. However, for the most part, the region has relatively low media freedom today. Therefore, while some beacons of free media do exist in the region, they are rare.

Sources:

http://classroom.synonym.com/european-nations-established-colonies-latin-america-23245.html

https://freedomhouse.org/blog/fragile-state-media-freedom-latin-america

RWBY Vol. 3: Episode 2- Review

This week’s episode of RWBY, though not as intense as the premiere, was still fantastic. I have a feeling the sentence prior will be used to describe almost every episode this season (at least that’s what I can hope for). With only two major plot developments, which I will discuss towards the end of this review, this episode was really more focused on characterization. 

Returning to the animation upgrade I discussed in my review of the volume premiere, there was something I failed to mention. This episode really brought prominence to it, so I thought i’d discuss it here. With the improvement in animation comes major strides in battle animation in particular. The tournament matches of this episode were some of the most enticing, fluid, and all around fun battles i’ve ever seen in animation period. I give the animators props for making battles, which can sometimes be tedious and boring, to be some of the most interesting parts of the episode. However, I don’t think this feat is accomplished by the animators alone.

I believe that the writers are using these tournament battles as a vehicle for characterization. Although we are already familiar with team JNPR, we get to see their battle dynamic in a new light through in-battle dialogue and collaborative choreography. We are also introduced to the final two members of team SSSN. Both Scarlet David and Sage Ayana are very well designed characters, and we really get to know them through their actions in the tournament battle. This instance in particular seems to prove my point. I look forward to seeing what new characters we will meet this way, as well as how these battles will better characterize show veterans.

Finally, the point you have all been waiting for, Qrow. Firstly, from the two scenes showing him drinking at a bar, as well as the extremely clever animation technique used when he walks, it is revealed he is an alcoholic. My personal theory is that his alcoholism is due to the loss of two people he loved and cared about more than anyone else (excluding Taiyang obviously), Summer Rose and Raven Branwen. However, it was also revealed that he is not at Beacon to watch the tournament, but to either rendezvous or intercept with Winter Schnee, who was shown at the end of the episode to be arriving at Beacon.

Speaking of Winter, I was surprised at Weiss’ reaction to Winter’s arrival. I thought it was hinted at in the past that the two had a bad relationship. However, it is clear that they either love each other, or that Weiss idolizes Winter in an unhealthy way. The latter would make an interesting character development for Weiss, so i’m hoping for that. However, Winter’s arrival may have something to do with the dynamic between Weiss and her father. Maybe winter has come to Beacon to convince Weiss to reconcile with her father. However, what we do know from both the opening and Qrow’s dialogue, is that Qrow and Winter will be meeting up sometime very soon.

It’s episodes like these that exemplify why RWBY Volume 3 is the most excited I’ve been for a TV season in a while. Every episode leaves me on the edge of the seat, and has me counting down the days until the next one. I doubt there’s going to be a bad episode this season, so please don’t read these reviews if you don’t want to hear me gushing about how much I love this show.

Rick and Morty: S2 E10- Review

Season 2 of Rick and Morty has come and gone. While it definitely has had its ups and downs, theres no denying that this finale was not only the hands down best episode of the entire series, but one of the best season finales in television history. With major plot developments, character reunions, and the strongest emotional core of a Rick and Morty episode to date; theres no denying that this episode was a masterpiece on every level.

Due to the sheer amount of important content in the episode, this will be a spoiler filled review. Therefore, if you have not already seen this episode, I would highly recommend watching it before reading this review. However, make sure you have seen the rest of the series up until this point before watching, or else you will be very lost.

With the most important episode to the main narrative since season 1’s Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind, it is clear that this was a game changer for Rick and Morty. Rick, Morty, and the rest of the Smith family are invited to the wedding of Birdperson and Tammy on Planet Squanch. Rick, despising weddings due to his own failed marriage, does not want to attend. However, after Jerry is accidentally transported to said wedding, Rick must endure, and suffer through the event.

After intense hesitance, Rick finally decides to open up and enjoy himself after having a deep conversation with Morty. However, the second he does so, Tammy reveals that she was an undercover agent for the Galactic Federation the entire time, and assassinates Birdperson on the spot. The rest of the episode follows the Smith family, and their attempts to find a new home due to the newly forming Galactic Federation presence on Earth.

The episode concludes with what is hands down the strongest character development for Rick in the series to date. This also doubles as the most emotional scene in the show. Rick turns himself in to the Galactic Federation in order ensure the safety of his family. The episode ends with him being imprisoned for life, accompanied by the emotion triggering song Hurt, by Nine Inch Nails.

This episode not only developed Rick to an extent we have never seen before, it revealed a massive amount of previously unknown backstory. We now know that Rick, Birdperson, and Squanchy were part of some sort of failed rebellion against the Galactic Federation during their younger years. This explains why Rick was never there for Beth when she was growing up, and might explain why his wife left him. We also see Rick, an extremely self centered man, sacrifice himself for the safety of his family. Rick has truly changed as a character; this was a major turning point for Rick and Morty.

However, what could be either interpreted as hilarious nonsense, or the single most important scene of the episode, is the post-credits scene. Mr. Poopybutthole is sitting in an apartment of sorts, still healing from the gunshot wound inflicted on him earlier in the season. It is revealed that he is watching the episode we just finished on a TV. Once it ends, he turns to the camera, and explains how much he loved the episode we just watched, and how he is still healing from Beth’s attack. He then assaults a pizza delivery boy attempting to give him his dinner, due to the sheer amount of excitement he has for the episode. Left to twitch on the floor in a pile of pizza, he makes one of the best jokes in the series to date.

This scene could be scene as a random event used just for laughs, in typical Dan and Justin fashion. However, I think it has much larger implications for the series. I believe that Mr. Poopybutthole is some sort of overseeing figure, serving a similar role to the narrative as the Concierge in Bravest Warriors. This could be a major development for the overarching plot, and change the game that is Rick and Morty for good. Although this scene isn’t enough to make any grand conclusions, it is a major hint to the puzzle of deciphering this complex and dense narrative. Take this scene as you will, but I believe it will have major relevance to the end game of the series.

Evidently, this episode was a flawless masterpiece of a finale. I never expected an episode of this caliber, and almost never expect to see one again. It raised the bar for an already almost perfect series. I don’t think I can handle waiting a year and a half for new Rick and Morty content, but it is something I must do. This actually concludes my first completely reviewed TV season on this blog. I loved sharing my opinions of this show with you all, and I look forward to returning to the series in 2016.

RWBY Vol. 3: Episode 1- Review

After over a year long hiatus, RWBY is finally back, and better than ever. With what can be seen on a technical level to be one of the best premieres in online series history; it is clear that this volume s going to be the best yet. As it is nearly impossible to review this episode without giving away content, this will be a spoiler filled review. Therefore, if you have not yet seen the episode, be sure to watch it before reading this.

The episode begins with Ruby talking to her mother at her grave stone. In a way, I saw this scene as an indirect tribute to the passing of the creative mastermind behind the series, Monty Oum. However, we learn a lot about the personalities of both Summer Rose, and Taiyang Xiao Long; whom we get to see for the first time, as he is standing behind Ruby.

This shot in particular brings me to my first major point, background character design. Rather than using black figures, or stock models; the animators decided to use detailed stills. These stills have a differing style from the standard character models, making them extremely unique and detailed. The animators use this mechanic to their advantage throughout the episode, and I look forward to seeing how they handle this skillful technique in the future.

We then cut to the highly anticipated Vytal Tournament itself. Unfortunately, we are treated to an exposition dump with regards to the rules of the tournament. While somewhat jarring to the viewing experience, it wasn’t a large enough flaw to hinder my overall opinion of the episode. In this battle we see some of the best character facial reactions in animation to date, especially coming from Blake, who if you did not know, is my favorite character in the series.

This battle in particular showcases the massive upgrades that Rooster Teeth made to their animation engine. Everything is much more fluid, crisp, and bright; and is a true pleasure for the eye to look at. If you put this action scene side by side with an action scene from early volume 1, you could definitely see a major difference. However, a con of pioneering this animation engine is a slight bug that I noticed on multiple occasions throughout the episode. When characters are standing completely still, they tend to slightly vibrate. This causes a jarring effect that takes me out of the scene immediately. I am very forgiving of this flaw, however, as this is a new technology that they are pioneering with this episode. With time, this bug can easily be fixed.

During a conversation slightly further in the episode between team RWBY and Emerald, it is revealed that the fourth member of Cinder’s team is indeed Neo, wearing a very convincing disguise. It was great to see one of the most intriguing characters in the show for a third time, and this scene definitely got the biggest reaction out of me for this episode. I cant wait to see more Neo this season, and maybe even hear her voice.

Speaking of voices, lets talk about Ren’s new voice actor. If you did not know, Ren was voiced by the late Monty Oum. Therefore, he was re-casted to be played by Monty’s brother Neath. The new voice, although not identical to Monty’s, is perfect for the character. From Ren’s minimal dialogue in this episode, it is clear that Neath is an extremely talented voice actor. I cant wait to see how he handles this character, and I have complete faith that he will do it well.

Further developing Ren’s character was a piece of dialogue from Nora. In a fit of insecurity, Nora reveals that her and Ren do not have any parents. Knowing that the two have been inseparable since an early age, this brings a lot of speculation to their backstory. Were they living on the streets? Were they raised in an orphanage together? I like this ambiguity, but I would like to know a bit more. I have a feeling before the series ends, we will be able to put the puzzle pieces together and figure this mystery out.

Another interesting plot development was Weiss’ relationship with her father. When he tried to call her after her match in the tournament, she declined his call. It is clear that there is some sort of strain in their relationship, but it would be interesting to know what. We later see that he most likely cancelled her credit card, as she could not pay for her team’s ramen. As Weiss’ sister Winter will be coming into the story at some point this volume, I believe we will find out what is going on in this dynamic very soon.

The final plot development I will be discussing is a particular scene involving Mercury, Emerald, and Cinder. Cinder reveals that the three know the outcomes to each match of the tournament. Therefore, it can be inferred that the tournament is rigged in some way. Could it be that Cinder, or one of her unknown higher ups has skewed the tournament in order to fit into their plans? Only time will tell.

Evidently, this was one of the most dense RWBY episodes to date. With massive improvements in storytelling, writing, and animation; it is clear that this was the best premiere of the series yet. If this episode is any indicator, we are in for a great volume.

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 10

Western Europe is very unique in the inconsistency that has plagued the region. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, territorial borders have never been a stable concept in the area. This is mainly due to the sheer amount of unique cultures and individual groups occupying the area.

When the Roman Empire, which spanned across almost all of Europe and even some of Asia, fell; it was divided into two halves. The eastern half of Rome became the Byzantine Empire, and eventually evolved into the region we know today as Eastern Europe. The western half quickly collapsed, and became a cluster of feudal states and small empires. Which groups of people owned which territory at a given time was not always very clear, due to constant change. This led to cultural and political instability in the region.

However, everything changed with the discovery of the discovery of the Americas in the late 15th century. This ushered on the historical era known as the Columbian Exchange. Western European powers fought for control of various colonies and territories around the world, mainly in North America, South America, South Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Not only were the cultures of these world regions forever shaped by Western European influence, Western Europe itself was changed by the cultures that they dominated.

Spawning soon after was the Enlightenment Era. This was a time of unique thought and creativity on a scale never seen before. Many religions, political ideologies, systems of thought, and artwork that are famous today came out of this period. The works of this era are still reflected in Western European media today.

The final major turning point was the World War 1 and World War 2 era. These wars changed both Western and Eastern Europe forever, completely altering their previous inconsistent system. There was a need for European unity in order to ensure that what happened in these wars would never happen again. Thus, the European Union (EU) was formed. The EU has a heavy bearing on Western European media, and even has media systems of its own.

The influences of these major historical milestones can still be seen in Western European media today. From the influences of the Columbian Exchange, Enlightenment, and the semi-unification of Europe after WW2, Western European media constantly calls back to these milestones with both style, content, and organization. Modern Western Europe is mostly democratic, and this is heavily reflected in the freedom of its media. While some nations are obviously not as open as others with regards to media, Western Europe is still a beacon for free media around the world.

Sources:

http://hartford-hwp.com/archives/61/index-a.html

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-history-basics/beginners-art-history/a/a-brief-history-of-western-culture

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ee.html

Rick and Morty: S2 Eps 6-9- Mini Reviews

Update:

Due to my laggard pace with regards to reviewing television content, as well as season 3 of RWBY having started this past weekend, I have decided to prioritize catching  up on reviews of Rick and Morty, Steven Universe, and Doctor Who. However, with regards to Rick and Morty specifically, I will be quickly reviewing episodes 6-9 of the season below, only giving a full length review to the finale. Again, I apologize for the hiatus of sorts, and hope this somewhat satiates your appetite.

Episode 6- The Ricks Must Be Crazy:

To my knowledge, this is the first episode of the series to not contain a B plot. I was happy about this; the A plot needed 22 minutes to reach its full potential. The episode explores the concept of micro-verses, or smaller universes within your own. However, in this instance, Rick has created a micro-verse, a entire civilization, just to power his car. A trickle down effect begins to occur when Rick discovers that scientists in his micro-verse have created their own micro-verse in order to get their energy and stop producing for Rick. One step further, the scientists of that micro-verse are on the cusp of creating a micro-verse of their own. Conflict arrises when Rick and one of the head scientists of his micro-verse begin to fight over the concept. I found this episode to be much stronger then its predecessor, Get Schwifty. It had unique and original concepts, some solid jokes, and was not bogged down by a forced B plot. While it wasn’t the best Rick and Morty has to offer, it definitely was a strong episode. Be sure to stay after the credits for a laugh out loud treat.

Episode 7- Big Trouble in Little Sanchez:

If you are looking for a slightly off-putting and creepy episode that subverts your expectations, this is the Rick and Morty episode for you. I do not want to go deep into the literal plot of the A plot, for you must watch it for yourself to truly appreciate it. However, I found the B plot, while entertaining, to be somewhat frustrating. It seems that Beth and Jerry are falsely solving their relationship issues at the end of each episode, bonding over some event and gaining arbitrary satisfaction. However, there is no progress with this development, for the next episode always begins with them in conflict with each-other, back to stage 1. Regardless, the A plot is the true meat of this episode. Disturbing in that just slightly off way, while leaving enough open for viewer interpretation leads to a truly eery episode overall. The episode also expertly subverts your expectations, building up a strong conflict, and solving that almost instantly, focusing the episode on an offshoot conflict instead. While not flawless by any means, this is definitely the most off-putting and creepy Rick and Morty episode, and I can see myself coming back to it many times in the future.

Episode 8- Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate:

Rixty Minutes, the first Interdimensional Cable episode, is unanimously considered to be one of the greatest Rick and Morty episodes of all time. Praised for its improvisation, variety, comedic timing, and surprisingly strong morals; it’s no surprise why it gained such popularity. Cashing in on that popularity, Dan and Justin had to have gotten really drunk or high one night, and attempted to write a sequel episode. That must have been the case, for thats the only logic that can explain the sheer garbage that was this episode. This was hands down the worst episode of Rick and Morty to date, and the only one I can confidently consider to be genuinely bad. The comedy was extremely stale, only one joke being satisfactory. With nearly none of the TV programs/commercials being interesting, funny, or cleverly improvised, it is clear that Dan and Justin put no effort into this episode. Justin even apologized for the episode on Twitter, proving its horridness. This episode doesn’t even manage to fall into the so bad its good category, it has almost no redeeming qualities. Final verdict: while there is one stand out joke, just YouTube search it, there is no point to watching this garbage.

Episode 9- Look Who’s Purging Now:

This episode was a return to true Rick and Morty form after the hands down worst episode of the series thus far. A direct parody of the Purge series of films, Rick and Morty end up on an old-west like planet inhabited by humanoid felines. The people of the planet are about to engage in their annual purge (all crime legal for a single night). A series of events causes Rick and Morty to have to stick around. Together, they must survive the night, and the viewers are treated to the hilarious situations they get into along the way. The episode introduces a great minor character in the form of Arthiricia. While she doesn’t have a massive amount of substance, she is interesting, well designed, and well acted enough to be engaging. This episode also takes a deep look into Morty’s psyche, revealing a side of him that we have never seen before. In other words, we get some of the strongest Morty character development in the series to date. While this episode was not perfect, and definitely not top tier for the show, it was still great. Honestly, anything could have been better than the previous episode, and this filled those shoes perfectly.

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 9

The Eastern European region is very interesting with regards to the media systems of its nations. Eastern Europe is unique in that it differs greatly from its western counterpart with regards to the historical context that brought it to where it is today. Therefore, when examining its media, history is very important to understanding it.

The majority of Eastern Europe was formerly part of the massive state of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union consisted of what we consider today to be the majority of the Eastern European region, the area we know as Russia being the leadership of the state. The Soviet Union had a very harsh way of governing its people, and clashed with western ideology during its time as a state. However, the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, leaving a multitude of nations in the area with independence.

While many of the surrounding nations have developed relatively free media systems, reflective of western media, Russia has still managed to somewhat hold on to its soviet past. There is a clear sense of nostalgia for the soviet era in popular Russian media. With regards to media freedom, it experienced some freedom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, under the current regime of Vladimir Putin, media is fairly restricted.

Evidently, the media of Eastern Europe is heavily influenced by the historical context of the region. The former Soviet Union continues to shape regimes in the area, and therefore shapes media systems. Popular media, while more western in some nations, reflects a soviet nostalgia of sorts in others. Eastern European media is more free then it ever was prior to the late 1990s, however, it still has a ways to go to becoming a prime example of free media.

Sources:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Union_of_Soviet_Socialist_Republics.aspx

http://www.interpretermag.com/a-brief-history-of-the-russian-media/

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 8

Modern Africa is relatively unfree compared to other regions of the world with regards to media. While there are some exceptions, most of the countries in the continent do not provide a stable atmosphere for free media. This is mainly due to the complete change of the region ushered in by intense colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Colonialism completely modified the region as we knew it. Independent villages, communities, and empires were operating successfully before European intervention. European colonialism and the fall of it led for arbitrary national borders to be formed, ones that do not accurately divide the nationalities of the people in the region. These incorrect national divides led to massive conflict within most of the newly formed nations. With intense conflict comes the need for stricter governments, and thus, intense media restriction to prevent coups, revolts, or rebellions.

The situation in the region has worsened due to modern economic globalization. International conglomerate companies often come to Africa to drain resources and provide little in return. This leads to the collapse and impoverishment of certain areas in Africa, thus leading to unstable governmental regimes and restricted media systems.

Evidently, the toxicity of the sheer amount of conflict in Africa provides a hostile environment for free media. While there are some advancements being made due to the internet and smart phones, the region is still very far from true press freedom. Its rocky past has definitely shaped its media of today.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/opinion/africas-free-press-problem.html?_r=0

http://www.doxafrica.org/media-freedom-and-the-importance-of-a-free-press-in-the-development-of-society-the-african-experience/