Reclaiming the Commons

The cultural and natural resources that humanity requires to maintain its existence have come to be known as ‘the commons’. A fundamental characteristic immediately deducible from the name – inherited from the traditional term ‘common land’ – is that all that comprises ‘the commons’ belongs to commoners: or the common man or woman. It includes such basic necessities as air, water, and land; but the term has evolved to include the modern-living amenities central to a functioning society. Such essentials as electricity, gas, and in cultural terms education, healthcare, and the communications industries, have come to be commoditised in the name of neo-liberalisation. Klein elaborates on this process of privatisation when she says… Continue reading

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Authenticity in Popular Music

The question of how ‘authentic’ a popular musical passage is cannot be gauged on a readily quantifiable scale. When one considers a piece of creative art’s authenticity, one inherently questions its origin as well as the origins of its producer: it is whether a homology exists that one is trying to ascertain. There are many factors bearing on the direction one might take, such as the lyrical content, the technical quality of the product, and even the musical styles involved. Some of these factors involve the feelings and opinions of the producer as well as those of the consumer, which brings a high element of individual values and personal judgments into the equation. These individualised considerations ultimately cloud judgment and in some cases, make it very difficult to determine the authenticity of a piece of popular music. However, if one were to persist and attempt such a feat, one would be advised to first consider some of the more rudimentary questions. One such consideration might be to define what constitutes popular music, as well as to understand why, if at all, the question of authenticity is an important one. Continue reading

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Critical Analysis – The Game

The Game’ is a five-minute film (available in my Video page) that portrays the story of a young teenager seriously addicted to computer games. Much like other ‘traditional’ addicts who contend with arguably more serious dependencies, the protagonist – Nathan – fails to accept the reality of his situation and in so doing, evades responsibility for his actions. The narrative is conveyed in a typical ‘day-in-the-life’ format, with the protagonist guiding the audience through a normal day. As the day progresses, Nathan reveals more about the unique thought process of an addict: one that subconsciously works to justify his actions and therefore, draws attention away from his problem. The protagonist’s reality is portrayed as having become blurred with the imaginary world of gaming: a world that provides him with escapism, and a new reality in which he feels comfortable. This becomes evident when the film touches upon Nathan’s relationship with his mother, and on that of his friends.  Continue reading

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The Divide Between Popular Culture and High Culture

Since the eighteenth century the word ‘culture’, derived from the Latin word ‘cultura’, has been defined and re-defined successively on par with the modernisation of societies. Consequently, Raymond Williams (1976: P25) describes the term as one of the most complicated words in the English vocabulary, with earlier uses so diverse as to describe the cultivation of land, to worship, and to protect but to name a few. Having tracked the modern development of the term, he then goes on to identify three distinct categories of its use, the third of which is most relevant to describe the mass media’s cultural products, defined as… Continue reading

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Critical Analysis – Who is Roy Johnson?

The film called “Who Is Roy Johnson?” (available on my Video page), portrays the week leading up to a British amateur wrestler’s debut match. The title immediately highlights Rory’s disposition towards creating an alter-ego. Formal interviews form the chronological structure to the piece, focusing on Rory’s feelings on his weight-lifting injury, and the possibility of suffering further injuries through wrestling. The question of nerves and apprehension is also a central and recurring consideration. The subject however, always remains confident in his ability to fight, even when confronted with these questions just minutes before his debut match. In resolution, the subject reveals his sense of accomplishment, and a positive outlook towards the future. Continue reading

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Feminine Sexuality and Identity – Unravelling the Male Perspective

Throughout and beyond recorded history there have been many civilisations that have come and gone, leaving behind a trail of evidence alluding to their existence. It could be argued that many of them were relatively modern, when judged upon the plethora of artefacts that remain testament to a once thriving, but now silent culture. Many of these artefacts generously depict the phallus (appendix A), highlighting the importance that has been historically attributed to this ‘symbolic’ organ. Jacques Lacan, who based much of his work on Freudian psychosexuality, expands further on this concept. The phallus as understood by Lacan, is the signifier of an ‘imaginary’ penis with functions only in the symbolic realm, and by which both sexes are demarcated symmetrically either through possession of an actual penis, or as having been castrated (lacking a penis). This however, is a point of strong contestation by many post-modern feminist thinkers that deem ‘Phallocratism’ as being deeply ingrained in our culture. One such critic can be found in Elizabeth Grosz, who summarises that, Continue reading

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Neoliberalism and the British Broadcasting Industry

Since the publication of the Annan report in 1977, the BBC has had to constantly defend its enviable status as public service broadcaster. Prior to the report, the BBC was considered a household name and a trustworthy institution. The report abandoned the principles of public service in favour of a liberalised market. Jean Seaton interprets this shift from public service as a move towards… Continue reading

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Critical Analysis – Music Mag Mix

The group production entitled “Music Mag Mix” (available on my Audio page) is an original, general entertainment, magazine show comprised of news, features and even gossip from the UK national music scene. The piece is created specifically as a late-evening or night-time live show that would be scheduled to air on Heart FM during the working week (Monday to Friday). The intended target audience for the show is very much the average person, as indicated by Heart FM on their website: Continue reading

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The Quasi-Mediated Public Sphere

The public sphere is seen by modern thinkers as a fundamental pre-requisite for a functional democratic state. One of the most renowned philosophers to contribute on the subject of the public sphere is German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, whose work on modernity and the transformation of the public sphere, is widely regarded as a benchmark when discussing the subject. But what the public sphere is, and how it comes to take form, is itself a subject of deliberation with varying points of view. Habermas describes the basic principle of the public sphere as, Continue reading

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The Formation of a Fluid Identity

In “Identity and Difference”, Kathryn Woodward summarises that identity is often the subject of conflicting points of view. Identities can be “seen as having some essential core”, but others might argue that identities can be “seen as contingent; that is, as the product of an interaction of different components, of political and cultural discourse and particular histories” (Woodward, 1997: 28). In the former viewpoint, an essential core at the centre of an identity could be representative of Freud and Lacan’s concepts of psychoanalysis. In the latter, the culture industry (or the media industry) is central to the non-essentialist characteristics which help define a fluid, non-fixed identity. Continue reading

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