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

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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/

Update: 10/14/15

As you can tell, this blog has been lacking in frequent content over the past month or so. As I am a college student who has course work, social life, and media consumption to balance, I have had a very hard time keeping up with blog posts in a timely matter. Not to worry, some changes will be made in order to keep this blog up and running.

Firstly, I apologize, but weekly reviews of Dragon Ball Super will no longer be posted. It is simply too time consuming for a show that is very slow paced and repetitive. Instead, I will be reviewing the show on an arc by arc basis. If the show turns out not to fall into such neat boundaries, I will modify my review style as I see fit. To summarize, still expect Dragon Ball content in the future, just not as frequent.

You are all probably wondering about three series that have been a staple to this blog since its inception; Rick and Morty, Steven Universe, and Doctor Who. Reviews of these on a weekly basis wont be going anywhere. As Rick and Morty recently aired its season 2 finale, I will be prioritizing those reviews first. Expect a conglomerated review of episodes 6-9 of the season, as well as a stand-alone, in depth review of the season finale. Doctor Who will be reviewed on a biweekly basis, since I have been lead to believe that season 9 will be comprised of only two-parters. If the show proves otherwise, it will be returned to weekly status. As for Steven Universe, expect stand alone reviews for each episode in the near future.

Since Rick and Morty season 2 has come to a close, the TV season replacing it will be RWBY Volume 3. Expect weekly reviews for each episode once the season begins in a little under two weeks.

Also, here’s something to look forward to in the somewhat distant future. I have begun my delve into One Piece. At the time I am writing this post, I am on chapter 310 of the manga. Once I catch up to where the anime is, I will be switching mediums and consuming One Piece that way. Expect weekly reviews once I catch up; however, if my progress is any indication, this wont be for quite a while.

I hope this post gave you some indication as to where I have been, and what is in store for the future of this blog. I hope you all continue to read and provide constructive criticism in the comments.

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 7

The Middle East region is interesting in the immense conflict that dominates the area. This conflict has mainly arisen due to ideological rifts caused by the region’s dominant religion, Islam. While the two main divides in Islam are between Sunni and Shia muslims, there are also multiple other rifts created by various interpretations of the religion as well. This has had major impacts on the media systems of the region.

The majority of nations in the Middle East have very little media freedom. This is reflected in the Freedom House press freedom score of 5% given to the region. Heavily restricted by their respective governments, as well as threats by the various terrorist organizations that said governments support, the media can’t say much about the true problems in the area.

However, there are some beacons of hope. A fairly new nation in the region, Israel, has a fully functioning democracy, and has very strong press freedom. Al Jazeera, an extra-national media organization, strives to provide legitimate news from an eastern perspective to both the Middle East, and the nations of the west. Because of this, it is currently the most consumed media organization in the Arab world.

Evidently, while there are some small slivers of free media in the Middle East, the region is far from having even a somewhat free media scope overall. The sheer amount of conflict and anti-democratic principles that dominate the area makes little room for press freedom. With such deep ideological roots, change in this front doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

Sources:

https://freedomhouse.org/regions/middle-east-and-north-africa

http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/CairoReview/Pages/articleDetails.aspx?aid=20

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2014/israel

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 6

South Asia is a somewhat unique region in both its history and its modern day condition. The region has a history of frequent external influences, mainly British colonization. Therefore, modern South Asia is a unique blend of various cultures and religions.

The earliest civilizations of South Asia set the foundations for the religion of Hinduism, which continues to be a prominent religion in the region today. Hinduism was the main religion of South Asia until the state conversion to Buddhism mandated the Mauryan emperor Ashoka. Islam was later brought to the region by muslim merchants and traders. Eventually, Islam became the dominant religion of South Asia under the rule of the Mughal empire, which lasted from the 1500s through the mid 1800s.

However, the region’s rich history changed forever with the occupation of South Asia by the British Empire. This time period was known as the British Raj, and lasted until about halfway through the 20th century. During this time, the majority of the region we know as South Asia today was broken off into a territory known as British India.

Once the British lost their power after World War 2, South Asia turned into multiple nations. These include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Pakistan was created as a new nation for the Muslims currently living in India. However, the transport and home finding for said Muslims failed, leading to massive amounts of death and homelessness. Based on these events, the relationship between India and Pakistan is still very tense today, especially regarding the dispute over the territory of Kashmir.

One of the most famous modern South Asian media circuits is Bollywood. It is a subsection of the Indian film industry that emerged in the 1990s, and continues to remain popular across South Asia today. Its films have had a major impact not only on the region of South Asia, but in the west as well.

Overall, the variety of religions and cultures in South Asia make way for a very diverse region. This leads to some conflict in the region, and a somewhat prevalent terrorist presence in the northwest. However, although restricted, that doesn’t fully prevent media from emerging and popularizing.

Sources:

http://www.ancient.eu/Ashoka/

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mughal_Empire

http://classroom.synonym.com/british-influence-india-during-19th-century-9012.html

http://worldfilm.about.com/od/bollywood/a/historyofbollywood.htm