The Art of Media

As my final blog, I will write about the best medium that I believe communicates a message. It is a medium that expresses a feeling, everybody can understand, it has been present since the beginning of times, and has been part of globalization and has not stopped evolving ever since it started. This is the medium of food. Food is used when celebrating, when morning, when in love, and simply in order to enjoy time with someone else, among other things. Food helps one express how they feel personally and how they feel about another person. It is used as a medium not only to the people that consume it, but the people that prepare it as well. The moment when the food is cooked or consumed depends on the feeling or mood the person is in. For example, one might sometimes need comfort food, or might feel creative and invent new recipes, or simply one might be in the mood of eating healthy. This medium is very important in every society because beside the obvious of giving energy to live, it also defines a society and distinguishes one from another.

Food can be considered as part of globalization since it has been evolving by combining different types of cuisines. Based on the factors of globalization cuisine it is not new, it is uneven since people from different parts of the world have access to different techniques and ingredients (therefore, it is interpreted differently) and it happens at home because ever since one is little, one is surrounded with food. The type of cuisine from each society depends on their history, but as one moves around the globe, there aresome patters of the ingredients each part uses. Nonetheless, many chefs travel around the world in order to learn more about food and as a result, they are able to combine different cultures and create a new type of cuisine.

Another reason why food is considered to be a medium is because it is polysemy, it has multiple meanings and the consumer can interpret it in different ways. For example, for an American kid a bowl of rice can represent lunch, for a kid in an Indian tribe in South America it can represent the path to survive a couple of more days, and for an Italian chef it can represent a new ingredient to create art.

Cuisine is considered to be a form of communication and expression; it is art for the experts and future for people with low resources. Food is used to express moods, events, and represents societies around the world. Societies should appreciate it more and continue globalizing it in order to create new cuisines and traditions, and never stop the evolution of such and expressive and creative form of medium.

La Mara Salvatrucha

Croteau defines ideology as “a system of meaning that helps define and explain the world and that makes value judgments about that world”.  It relates with values and beliefs of the world or a specific group. Marxists define ideology as a belief system that helps justify the actions of those in power by distorting and misrepresenting reality. Additionally, James Davis Hunter believes that media is the center of what he calls “culture wars” since ideologies are communicates through the mass media by the use of media technologies. Heremony is a contemporary study of the ideology of media, and it states that ruling groups can maintain their power through force, consent or a combination.

The terms ideology, “culture war”, and heremony can be related to a criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles but has spread across North America and South America. The gangs are mostly composed of Central Americans who organize child prostitution, drug trafficking, human trafficking, murder, kidnapping, and abusing women or children. This gang is called Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13; they are known for being very violent and having revenge and cruel retribution with others that cross their way. La Mara is able to distinguish themselves by tattoos that cover their face and whole body. Although their ideology does not have a positive effect in society, I consider this gang to be part of the “culture war” because the members use a form of art (referring to their tattoos) to distinguish themselves from others. Through the technology of tattoos, they are able to see who is part of their gang and are able to express their story. Their tattoos represent who they are; they each have different meaning to the gang member. Furthermore, they are known for having tear shaped tattoos in their face which represent the amount of people they have killed. Not only they are able to express and distinguish themselves through their tattoos, but they have a hand sign for purpose of identification and communication; this hand sign represent the devil’s head.

The Mara Salvatrucha uses different form of communication to express their ideology; hence, their beliefs and background story. Members from the gang Mara Salvatrucha follow and ideology through the media of hegemony because their beliefs and symbol operate at a level of common sense in the assumption of what each member makes out of life. La Mara is able to display a range of behavior and lifestyle through the use of tattoos, which are considered to be a media since they express an idea or belief, and serves the purpose of communicating who they are.

 

Here you can see the trailer of a movie called “Sin Nombre” that is about a boy who is becoming a member of the gang Mara Salvatrucha, but then he is able to leave it behind: 

Exotic Beauty

 

Beauty is defined as: “the quality present in a thing or a person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind”. Through beauty, people are able to express themselves, communicate an idea or belief, or simply attract other people. Depending on what part of the world you are, or the religion or the time period, beauty will be expressed differently; especially if you are comparing a city with a tribe. On the other hand, medium is defined as: “the means of communication that reach or influence people widely”. Beauty is considered to be a media because people use it to express themselves or a desire. In today’s society, beauty is seen as a trend. What most women consider to be beautiful depends on what they see in the magazines or through celebrities. However, in some African and Asian cultures, men and women consider beauty to be something completely different.

In Kayan Lahwi, a woman that has an elongated neck is considered to be beautiful. They are able to do this by placing spiral metal coils around their neck. These women gradually increase the coils up to twenty-five turns in order to stretch their necks. The primary reason for wearing the neck rings is for beauty. Also, it ensures that Kayan women will marry only someone from her same tribe. This type of beauty is not common in our society, but in Kanyan women see it as a way to express their beauty or that they are part of the tribe. The National Geographic channel filmed a girl that had her neck rings removed: Taboo: Neck Rings (from National Geographic Channel).

Another type of beauty that is not commonly seen in our society is foot binding. This tradition is seen in Chinese cultures and consists of tightly binding the feet of young girls in order to prevent growth; the average length of the foot is three inches long. This tradition became popular when men considered it very attractive in women. Women who had tiny feet were seen as beautiful as well as elegant; the movements they made while walking was very graceful and delicate. Besides representing beauty, having the tiny foot was a prerequisite in order to find a husband. Elegant daughters who wanted to be brought up as a lady normally had their foot banded because it was the door to marry into money and represented freedom from manual labor.

It is important for us to consider these exotic beauties as part of the media because women are able to express their beauty in order to find a husband or express the life they want to live. Using beauty as a medium is a metaphor of the persons mind; it shapes how a culture sees beauty. As Postman express in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death: “each medium makes possible a unique mode of disclosure by providing a new orientation for though, for expression, for sensibility”. Women from these tribes and culture are able to express their thoughts and feelings by altering their bodies and making them beautiful for their tribes. Traditions and beliefs is what creates the content of what is beautiful in culture.

Modern Kids

This weekend I was traveling to St. Louis and for one of my flights I had to wait in the airport for 2 hours. I had already walked through the whole terminal and found myself with nothing else to do; therefore, I decided to sit and do some people-watch. A little girl sitting in front of me, around the age of 10, was talking and laughing with her dad until her cellphone starts to ring. What shocked me the most was when I saw the girl pulling out of her little purse an iPhone. How can a little girl have an iPhone already? It’s not as if she needs to be in constant communication through her e-mails, or searching the web for information, or organize her calendar and schedule. Kids, now a day, use iPhones simply for the games or to hear music. This made me think of how society has created such dependence to smart phones that even parents give their kids expensive phones just to play with them instead of encouraging them to be active.

It has become obvious that smart phones are very useful to humans. We have everything we need in one small technological artifact. McLuhan states in his book “Understanding Media”, that “media are the extension of man”, meaning that it allows us to express ourselves and breaks all the limitations by allowing humans to extend their ability to do things. A smart phone is definitely an extension to all humans because we can communicate with people all around the world through our voice and the webcam. We can access all the information that we need through the internet; we do not have to memorize phone numbers, address, or even the rout to get to a place. We don’t even have to learn how to spell a word because it has auto correct and translation. The truth is that the iPhone corrects all our human impediments and gives us the ability to have “superpowers”.

However, smart phones, as well as other types of media, amputates people; it puts new limitations.  Humans have become so dependent to their phones that they don’t even rely in other types of media to achieve what they want, such as: dictionary, paper maps, notepads, or in-person communication, among other types of medium. As I was able to observe with the little girl and her father, the phone separated her from continuing to talk to her father and ignoring all her surroundings, focusing only on her phone. Another example is that phones cause us to be lazy. The other day, my roommate was in her room and I was in the living room (50 feet away, more or less) and instead of her walking to ask me something, she just sent a text and did not have to move. Phones have revolutionized how we see the world, but it has also changed how we interact with others.

As a result, although smart phones can make our lives very easy and comfortable, it also deprives us to use other types of media or simply makes us more sedentary. An iPhone is a very cool technological artifact that is changing the way we see the world and is shaping society. However, I do think there is an appropriate time to give and iPhone to a child. Children have to experience what other generations have gone through and be constantly active and socializing. Parents should not deprive their kid’s childhood by giving them smart phones and the latest technological artifact. As one student said in class: “technology is making kids more socially awkward and consequently, they are growing up to be less sociable and do not learn how to interact with other humans in person”.  Thus, we should not forget the other types of medium in society; we could learn how to incorporate them all in different ways instead of depending so much on our smart phones.