Group D – Communication – Presentation

Yesterday’s presentation put significant emphasis on how our individual majors intertwined over this semester. Although we all focused on different subjects (Film, History and Politics) throughout our Liberal Arts degree, we effectively combined our interdisciplinary knowledge to create a presentation about Brexit.

Although I never enjoyed history or politics, this project taught me to look at it through a cinematic approach. My ability to analyse visual material allowed me to conceptualise complex economic language used in mass media and thus contribute to a political subject constructively.

Please find the final version of the presentation with the bibliography here: Communication Group D 18-19 Presentation

US response: short term solutions

  •  one month after the Live Aid concert when the head of the US Agency for International Development said the situation in Ethiopia had “greatly improved”.
  • A year later, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Policy said the famine in Ethiopia had ended – but these were misleading statements.
  • Even though US aid relief had improved the situation in Ethiopia in the short term, it had done nothing to address the underlying political aspects of the famine.
  • Instead, the US and the NGO’s active in the area, including the Red Cross, turned a blind eye to the horrors of Mengistu’s resettlement politics
  • As the US’s priority was not to save lives in the long run but to send money to gain political influence in the region.
  • The structural problems thus remained.

Normative spreading through US influence in Ethiopia

  • The short-sighted solution to Ethiopia’s structural problems were born out of the US’s geopolitical objectives in Ethiopia. Ethiopia was a “key nation” for the US – as described by Chester Crocker, the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs at the time – because the Ethiopian government had officially adopted communism in 1984
  • So, in line with the US’s containment politics at the time, the US had to intervene to prevent communism from spreading and the Soviet Union gaining more influence in the rest of the Third World.
  • This is also eminent in the 1985 CIA report on the situation in Ethiopia, which concluded the US should continue support for the sitting president Mengistu, turning a blind eye to Mengistu’s horrific crimes, because it was in their own interest to support him to gain Western influence in Ethiopia.
  • Thus, US’s aid relief can be understood as symptomatic of a colonial normative spreading of Western values (democracy) as they were interested in having them under their sphere of influence, rather than actually solving their structural problems.

Famine of 1948

  • The famine that broke out in 1984 was no exception. Four factors contributed to its outbreak:
  • First factor, a two-year drought across the Sahel sub-region.
  • Second factor, a civil war that had forced citizens to flee their homes
  • Third factor, a forced agricultural collectivization policy implemented by Ethiopia’s president Mengistu that forced every farmer in the country to accept artificially low prices for grains and coffee.
  • Finally, a growing population of 2.9% a year at the time.
  • What this evidently suggests is that without local and international political barriers, the famine could have been largely prevented.
  • However, the foreign policy of the biggest humanitarian aid sponsor in Ethiopia – the US – was oblivious to these complexities. Rather, the US focused on short term solutions and merely wanted to “help” in order to push through their own political agendas.

Final Week reflection

As this whole process comes to a close, I have to say in all it was a positive experience. It was nice to see one idea come together, after 10 weeks of working through the challenges and opportunities that are stirred from people of different minds and specialties. Everyone in our group has something to contribute and challenge during the whole process. Ironically, I think the most challenging part of the whole assignment was remembering to add to the blog. Our group faced a few scheduling challenges but regardless, we always managed to make up for the lost time, finding another time to meet and work. It helped that when we were in our meetings we didn’t dilly-dally, but got straight to business. I am very excited to share our presentation after 10 weeks and found we all enjoyed the process and actually had fun doing it.

Week 7-9//

During the last few weeks of the group work we started to bring our research and ideas into a physical form. Breaking up elements of the script into manageable sections for each individual to tackle. Coming together in the last week to consolidate the whole thing into one clear argument. Below is a working conclusion I wrote based on what the other members of my group put together. Although, in this state, it is unfinished and raw it is intended to help communicate why the our research in the end matters

Our research matters because we are showing that the album listener is provided with an incorrect view of prison reality, never fully recognizing the authenticity of prison life.

The success of Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison album is not based on its ability to memorialize the actual lived experience of prisoners in Folsom in 1968, but rather the whole production of its memoriam. From what we have shown, by breaking the album into perceived and conceived space, we as listeners are coming away from the album with a more critical gaze. As a listener, even considering the obvious cultural implications of recording an album in a prison: highlighting a space that is normally considered separate, we do not initially leave the album feeling ambivalent or discomforted by what we’ve heard. We instead are actually entertained. A result that is supported by the fact that after its release, the album climbed to the top of the charts, redeemed Cash’s declining image, became memorialized in films, and remembered in a gift shop. Folsom Prison Museum commemorating Cash’s visit on their website, stating: In the museum description it reads ‘you can still discover the reasons for Johnny Cash’s “Blues” at Folsom State Prison. Learn how the prison was fashioned gray granite from the surrounding rock quarries. The museum features a wealth of photographs, old hemp ropes used to hang prisoners, [and] memorabilia from Johnny Cash’s famed concert shows…’ sentence to explain why this matters

The Folsom Prison album offers an inauthentic sonic perception of prison’s reality as Columbia records conceive a homogenized ‘happy go lucky’ group of outlaws. Their claps, woots, and hollers are edited and manipulated to enhance to the music not to present an argument for reform. But from what we’ve determined, to bring the prisoners to the forefront, to recognize the ways their sounds have been manipulated by the space directs a new narrative. The prisoners on the album are not the authentic lived experience.

Celebrity Geopolitics and Live Aid

Live Aid reunited the top Rock and Pop artists of the time which is indubitably what gave the event such an outreach. Celebrity geopolitics are very useful in examining this phenomenon.

Celebrity geopolitics treats of the impact that the involvement of celebrities in geopolitical issues can have. It triggers the population’s interest on a specific issue and reaches a broader audience  when such issues are vehiculed by celebrities themselves without the bias of competent politicians. Indeed, celebrities that take action for geopolitical issues tend to raise awareness to these questions in an unprecedented manner. Dittmer and Grey argue that this is key especially since it allows such issues to be discussed and understood outside of the political or academic sphere. Celebrities tend to create a feeling of proximity that everyday people don’t necessarily find with politicians, notably because of the complexity of the political discourse compared to how easy it is for celebrities to communicate with their fans through tools such as shows, magazines and above all social media.

In the case of Live Aid, the large audience of both shows as well as the home viewers allowed a broader awareness of the situation in Ethiopia and the money raised by the concerts and donations show the reach of celebrities compared to political/media discourse that never had the same result, even though the issues in Ethiopia were discussed in the political sphere and experienced media coverage.

On the other hand, the use of celebrities that were actually mainly celebrities in the Western world is symptomatic of the western-centred view of humanitarian aid: it is understood that money can be raised in the West because this is the most developed part of the world and thus where the population actually has the ability to aid. But that also means that it creates a one-sided channel of humanitarian aid where the flow is from the West towards Africa. As a result, it is Western money raised by Western organisms that goes towards Africa.

Research Update

Over the past couple weeks I have focused my research around the instagram account FuckJerry, memes and how we can apply to this to our readings of Baudrillard and Mcluahan’s theories.

Studying FuckJerry is crucial to understanding the FYRE film as JerryMedia, the media company that spawned from FuckJerry, not only produced it, but also managed the marketing campaigns for the Fyre Festival itself. Certainly some bias needs to be taken into account. Some other news articles regarding the ‘ethics’ of FuckJerry and its dubious relationship to its content, which could also be considered.

Reading the history of memes has also been interesting. Studying some ‘Memetic Theory’ has allowed me to draw some interesting relationships with both Mchluan’s ‘Message is the Medium’ theory and Baudrillard’s ‘Simulation and Simulacra’. This combined with an analyisis of the memeability of the FYRE film promises some interesting conclusions regarding the effects of the documentary.

Group D – Communication – Questions Prior Wednesday

Hi Angel,

We hope all is well.

All of us got together today to structure our presentation. The following questions came up which we would appreciate to discuss on Wednesday:

  • After your feedback last week, we have come up with a revised research question. As you suggested, we have united our research question into one and included your idea of the debate: How did the mass media’s presentation of the EU Referendum campaign debate influence the electorate?
  • How do you want us to reference graphs/images in the presentation? Is a bibliography at the end of the presentation valid?
  • What do you want to see in the conclusion? We included why we chose Brexit as our subject, how the research project links to the sub-theme of communication and our individual disciplines (Film, History and Politics) and what limitations our project faces.
  • What is the “Presentation Title” on the “Liberal Arts Individual Participation” document. When do we upload it? Prior or post to our presentation?

Please let us know what you think.

Thank you so much for all your patience and support.

All the best,

Communication Group D


Group D – Communication – Post Half-term

After the data collection over half-term, I put together an abstract of my presentation to present to Angel: Group D – Communication – Abstract.

I received the following criticism which I will address prior to next week:

  • Unite the research questions.
  • What does the research project suggest? What is changing in the world? Truth? Power?
  • Restructure the order of my argument and use the politician as a back up for my argument.
  • Employ transition sentences and overlap key words for a clear structure and an overall understanding.
  • I asked the politician whether she trusts what newspapers print in respect to political coverage. She writes “Yes. Most definitely.” This is an example of how influential the press is, even on politicians, and a reflection on how accurate they really are.
  • Explain why The Sun and The Guardian are an example of a left- and right-wing newspaper.
  • Why are The Sun and The Guardian comparable?
  • Find an editorial version of The Guardian for a valid comparison.