Globalization and freedom

In my opinion, Chapter 9 in Practices of Looking encompassed way too much material. There’s so much to talk about, and just not enough time to do it in the space of a single chapter.

I’d first like to address the interaction of the terms the authors first introduce: globalization, convergence, and synergy. These concepts are often looked at with either unabashed zeal or fearful hesitance. Professionals in the media industry are particularly conflicted about this scenario. It means we can reach more consumers, but it will eliminate media jobs. This will decrease diversity, thus silencing some voices. Of course, the beauty of the Internet is that anyone can be a publisher — but the truth of the matter is that one must have some sort of brand identification in this day and age in order to command an audience. Mere access is no longer enough.

I was also intrigued by the discussion of First vs. Third world conceptions and uses of media. (And I found the original meaning of Third World particularly interesting — I never knew it meant anything beyond “impoverished.”) The idea of television being more powerful than a military force — which it certainly is — was frightening. I also never knew that an international convention had established airwaves as belonging to respective countries. I find this increasing rhetoric of ownership disturbing, although I can also see why it is necessary.

Finally, my pet topic for this chapter: pornography. Sturken and Cartwright devote just a few pages to the issue of pornography, but I think it is vitally interesting. For all intents and purposes, pornography represents the most visible Internet-based battlefield out there. Feminist critics like the late Andrea Dworkin assert that pornography subjugates women, period, and that we must therefor wage war on pornography — and free access to the Internet, by extension. Other feminists argue just the opposite — that pornography is integral to women’s liberation. I take my direction on the Internet censorship argument from a couple of landmark Supreme Court cases dealing with the dissemination of pornography (and those decisions are largely based on the First Amendment). Basically, we cannot censor material intended for the eyes of consenting adults. (Children add a new facet to the debate, but one case establishes parenting as the appropriate venue for censorship of Internet porn to children.) I think forthcoming court rulings on online pornography will likely illuminate the path all Internet content will eventually have to follow. This will have a profound affect on all the globalization and convergence currently occurring.

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