Posts Tagged BuzzFeed

Censorship is Dead; Long Live Censorship.

2013 was a landmark year for television; the opus of Breaking Bad came to its much-lauded conclusion, Netflix triumphed with web-streamed series House of Cards, Orange is The New Black and Arrested Development, prompting Cards star Kevin Spacey to speak out in favour of ‘binge-watching’ and echo these sentiments about the so-called ‘watercooler moment’. Beyond this, many actors and actresses famed for movies gravitated towards television and even naysayers couldn’t fight the popular opinion that we had now entered the ‘third golden age of television‘. Finally it is not only acceptable but encouraged to consider television a hobby or interest without sounding like a brainless zombie.

Beyond that however, it was also the most controversial year to date: The Red Wedding aired on HBO and became officially the most shocking moment of the year, Orange is The New Black showed explicit representations of sexual identity and gender roles as well as putting women front and centre, and True Blood showed its first male full-frontal nudity. However, fan reactions to these, such as this and this, indicated that the result of what we were seeing was more important than what we were seeing. Take the True Blood example: for six solid years everyone has got used to regularly seeing female full-frontal nudity from both extras and the main cast members in the vampire-centric show, but the internet went into shock mode the second a main male cast member showed us his wooden stake (ahem.) This video perfectly illustrates the ‘dumb double standard’ that audience reaction backs up:

Beyond this, it is (somewhat cynically) arguable that rather than eschew previous standards of censorship to actually advance equality or promote discussion around tricky or unexplored issues, the TV companies showing us this unprecedented level of violence and sex are in fact doing it for their own gain. Of course, television is an industry just like any other, to assume that decisions would be made without profit in mind would be horribly naive, but to present shocking and thought-provoking content purely to garner a reaction, therefore buzz, therefore increased viewership, seems somewhat problematic.

Rather than furthering any discussion it does in fact simply shine a light on how prudish viewers actually are; indeed, violence has become somewhat passé, so Game of Thrones had to show an ugly, appalling and incredibly shocking act of violence to get people talking. Even that, however, didn’t seem to get people talking quite as much as a black transgender woman being a main character in Orange is The New Black.  Now of course, any promotion of discussion and furthered understanding around previously unexplored issues is positive, particularly in such an accessible medium, but the question remains: are networks doing it for the right reasons? Or are they simply trying to generate more tweets?

Sadly it seems censorship still has a long way to go before it’s broken down for the greater good, as opposed to greater profit.


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Is Advertising A Lost Industry?

Friday 13th of December 2013: unlucky for some? Yes. It was a dark day for the advertising industry, simply because of one woman: a certain Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. As the clock struck midnight (EST) and the 12th became the 13th, the superstar dropped her self-titled fifth album with no warning, no announcement and, crucially, no advertising.

What happened next was virtually unprecedented; Twitter naturally exploded, and the shockwave of a global superstar not so much breaking the mould as reinventing  it resonated with such force that a mere 13 (poetic) hours later, BuzzFeed were able to put together this hilarious post. Beyond the initial media storm however, the figures spoke for themselves, the ‘visual album’ smashing all previous iTunes records and garnering universal acclaim from critics.


Now, clearly, it was only quite that successful due to Beyoncé’s powerful extant media brand and her voracious fanbase; however, it raises questions that have been around for the better part of twenty years about how relevant traditional advertising is in the digital age. A quick google of the phrase ‘the death of the ad agency‘  returns millions upon millions of hits from several different, highly respected outlets. Since the advent of the smartphone many everyday facets of life have become outdated and unnecessary, illustrated here:

In a similar way, social media and online journalism have all but removed the need for traditional forms of advertising. Put into an exemplary everyday context, a billboard advertisement for the latest George Clooney blockbuster that someone sees on their drive to work is no longer the primary way of generating interest, as said person will likely have already seen five tweets, three Facebook statuses and an article on their Flipboard about it over their morning coffee.

The digitalisation of key areas of a person’s life (news, socialising, media consumption etc) that is inexorably and inarguably happening presently means that advertising is all around us all the time. Alongside this, digital journalism means that even a few hours to react to a breaking news story is too long; the population now wants and expects to know things as they happen, and everyone has to keep because if one media outlet isn’t reporting it, someone, anyone else will be. The sheer rapidity of the online world is exactly why Beyoncé didn’t have to advertise or even announce BEYONCÉ; the very second it dropped, the world did it for her.

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