Moral panic (Blog Week 3)

The media has long been a central part of the sociological phenomenon known as ‘Moral Panic’.

According to Key Concepts in Communication (O’Sullivan, Fiske et al 1983)

“Moral panics then, are those processes whereby members of a society and culture become ‘morally sensitized’ to the challenges and menaces posed to ‘their’ accepted values and ways of life, by the activities of groups defined as deviant. The process underscores the importance of the mass media in providing, maintaining and ‘policing’ the available frameworks and definitions of deviance, which structure both public awareness of, and attitudes towards, social problems.”

Moral Panics in the media can formally be broken down into 3 stages

1.  Occurrence and signification

An event occurs and, because of its nature, the media decide it is worthy of dramatic coverage (“Full Colour Pics of Satanic Abuse Site”, “Razorblade Found In Babyfood”, “Terrorist Cell plot attack” etc) and the event is signified as a violent, worrying one.

2. Wider social implications (fanning the flames)

Connections are made between one event and the wider malaise of society as a whole. After the initial event, the life of the story is extended through the contributions of ‘expert’ opinionmakers, who establish that this one event is just the tip of the iceberg, and that it is part of an overall pattern which constitutes a major social menace (“Child abuse figures on the up” “Safety concerns at babyfood packing plants”,”Youth Groups targeted by Extremists” etc etc). Thus public attention is focused on the issues.

3. Social Control

Moral panics seek some sort of resolution and this often comes with a change in the law, designed to further penalise those established as the threatening deviants at the source of the panic (“New clampdown on devil-worshippers”. “Strict New Safety Controls on Babyfood”, “Hate Groups Banned”). This satisfies the public who feel they are empowered politically by the media.

Recently, I saw a news from internet, it’s talk about film KONY 2012.

Kony 2012 is a film created by Invisible Children, Inc. which became a viral video. The film’s purpose is to promote the charity’s ‘Stop Kony’ movement to make indicted Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony internationally known in order to arrest him in 2012.

The film has spread virally. As of 9 March 2012 (2012 -03-09)[update], the film currently has over 16.1 million views on Vimeo, and over 70 million views on video-sharing website YouTube, with other viewing emanating from a central “Kony2012” website operated by Invisible Children. The intense exposure of the video caused the “Kony 2012” website to crash shortly after it began gaining widespread popularity. The video has also seen a number of celebrities endorsing the campaign including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Christina Milian, Nicki Minaj, Bill Gates and Kim Kardashian. On April 20, 2012, as part of the campaign, supporters will put up posters promoting Kony 2012 in their home towns. Invisible Children offers posters from an online shop in an attempt to gain wider recognition on the issue. They have also created action kits that include campaign buttons, posters, bracelets, and stickers to help spread awareness.

Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony (pronounced IPA: [koɲ];[6] born c. 1961) is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). While initially enjoying strong public support, the LRA turned brutally on its own supporters, supposedly to “purify” the Acholi people and turn Uganda into a theocracy ruled by the Ten Commandments.

The LRA is a militant group, with an extreme religious ideology that is a syncretic mix of mysticism, Acholi nationalism and Christianity, known for the atrocities it commits against civilians, including murder, mutilations, rape, and in some accounts even cannibalism.

Directed by Kony, the LRA has earned a reputation for its actions against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Sudan. It has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has forced the internal displacement of over two million people since its rebellion began in 1986.

In 2005 Kony was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, but has evaded capture.

Kony received a surge of attention in early March 2012 when a thirty-minute documentary titled Kony 2012 by film maker Jason Russell for the campaign group Invisible Children Inc was released. The intention of the production is to draw attention to Kony in an effort to increase United States involvement in the issue. Michael Geheren, blogger for The Huffington Post, commented: “The 27-minute video was posted on Vimeo and YouTube by Invisible Children and became a worldwide trending topic on the Internet. Personally, I have never seen an outpour of support from people on my Facebook news feed like this.” More than 70 million viewings of the YouTube video have been reported.

The Daily Telegraph pointed out that the film has quickly received attention from celebrities. Elizabeth Flock, writer for the Washington Post, offered more background on the LRA as well as Invisible Children in response to the documentary. Flock and The Toronto Star stated that Invisible Children hoped to raise Kony’s notoriety enough to provoke a massive overnight poster campaign, planned for April 20, 2012.

Kony, I think it should a words about moral panic nowadays. The other day, I saw a news about The Invisible Children charity has been focused on obtaining the support of a select group of individuals in order to “help bring awareness to the horrific abuse and killing of children in the East and Central African countries at the hands of Kony and his leadership”. This list included 20 “celebrity culture makers”, such as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, and Ryan Seacrest.

The list also featured 12 “policy makers” that have “the power to keep U.S. government officials in Africa” in order to work toward the capture of Kony. This list includes former U.S. President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (although their administration pursued a policy of hostility towards the International Criminal Court), and U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry.

The eyes of the world gathered here.


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About culture – mass culture and high culture (Blog week 1)

Damen, L. (1987). Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension on the Language Classroom. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

“Culture: learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day- to-day living patterns. these patterns and models pervade all aspects of human social interaction. Culture is mankind’s primary adaptive mechanism” (p. 367).

Hofstede, G. (1984). National cultures and corporate cultures. In L.A. Samovar & R.E. Porter (Eds.), Communication Between Cultures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another.” (p. 51).

Kluckhohn, C., & Kelly, W.H. (1945). The concept of culture. In R. Linton (Ed.). The Science of Man in the World Culture. New York. (pp. 78-105).

“By culture we mean all those historically created designs for living, explicit and implicit, rational, irrational, and nonrational, which exist at any given time as potential guides for the behavior of men.”

Cultural Differences

Defining ‘high culture’ presents its own problems. Many examples of that which is considered to be high culture today have existed for hundreds of years. Often, the reason that these things have lasted for so long is that their producers and consumers had the wealth and influence required to preserve them. This is the reason that the works of people such as Tchaikovsky have survived to this day where many of the efforts of the poor from the same era, such as folk music, are long forgotten.  As these forms of entertainment have survived, so has their reputation for being high culture.

the world of media can be divided into three categories: ‘High culture’ captured by the elite, ‘mass media’ as defined by Carroll, and the ‘popular culture’ which, if left behind by the elite and ignored by the media industry, would now be called ‘folk culture’.

 For examples,video games provide one of many good examples of this. Modern video games often bring together art, architecture, classical music , actors and writers to name a handful. Most if not all of these things would be classified as ‘high culture’ if they were to stand alone. And yet when they are used to make a video game, the product would certainly be considered a piece of mass media.


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Subcultural about girl in Japan

There are 10 unusual Japanese fashions and subcultures about girl.

1. Sukeban

Suke means female, and Ban means boss. Sukeban were known for forming all girl gangs, and then committing acts of violence and shoplifting. Sukeban gangs first began to appear in the 60s. They were inspired by the gangs of boys known as Bancho, who hoped to one day join the yakuza. There was quite a range in size for the Sukeban groups, but the largest was known as the Kanto Women Delinquent Alliance, which included 20,000 girls. Rival groups would often get into fights. The Sukeban girls followed strict rules within their own groups, and breaking them would result in lynching. Getting burned with a cigarette was considered only a mild punishment. Sukeban were always seen in their sailor uniforms. They would wear pleated skirts that went down to their feet, and would custom embroider their uniforms.

2. Takenokozoku

The Takenokozoku were some of the first to form Harajuku into one of the best known places to view Japanese street fashion. The style was popular in the late 70’s and early 80s, and consisted of neon colored accessories such as beads, whistles, bows, and nametags. A store called Takenoko inspired the clothes worn by the Takenokozoku, which were influence by traditional Japanese fashion. Their outfits were loose and baggy, and usually hot pink or bright blue or purple. They wore robes with kanji characters, and slippers that were comfortable for dancing. Large groups of Takenokozoku would choreograph dances in the streets of Harajuku, playing the current popular music on their boom boxes.

3. Yanki and Bosozoku

Motorcycle gangs became popular in Japan in the early 60s, and became known as Speed Tribes (Bosozoku). In the 70s, girl motorcycle gangs began to appear. At the time, it was estimated by police that at least 26,000 Japanese citizens were involved in a biker gang. By the 80s, the number of male biker groups began to decrease. However, more and more girl biker groups began to pop up. Yanki, heavily influenced by both the Bosozoku and the Sukeban, often wore sarashi (white cloth wrapped around the chest), an embroidered tokko fukku robe, and a gauze mask. The Bosozoku also owned customized scooters.

4. Ko Gal

The word Gal has been used since the 80s in Japan to describe a girl who likes trendy clothing. Ko Gal was first used in the 90s by the media to describe an eighth grader who made $4000 a month for paid dating with middle aged men. Ko comes from the Japanese word for child, kodomo. Ko Gals tried to look as young as possible, by wearing the cutest accessories they could find. They wore their school uniforms with the skirts shortened, tanned their skin, and bleached their hair. And of course, the famous loose socks. Some girls would use sock glue to keep their loose socks from slipping. Although some Ko Gals of Shibuya did take part in enjo kosai (paid dating), it was not quite as popular as the media made it out to be. As the style spread from Tokyo to around Japan, Kogal movies, magazines, and TV programs became popular. Kogals were never seen without their phones, and they were some of the first avid young technology users in Japan. Ko Gal fashions has evolved into some of Japan’s present styles, such as Hime (princess) Gal. Hime Gal involves wearing expensive brand name clothing, usually of the pink and frilly variety.

5. Ganguro

Although Ko Gals had tan skin, Ganguro girls took tanning to a new extreme. They would tan their skin every week, and then apply foundation meant for black women. Ganguro literally means “Black Face.” Besides tanned skin, the Ganguro look included platforms shoes, mini dresses, bleached hair, black ink used for eyeliner, blue contacts, and white concealer used for lipstick. A Gal magazine called Egg featured Buriteri, one of the most well known Ganguro, on its cover. The look was popular with groups of teenagers in Shibuya, however, they were often harassed, or viewed by the general public with disgust. By the end of 2001, the trend had died down and tanning salons began to close.

6. Manba

The Manba style, which is still seen today, shares many similarities with Gonguro. The name comes from the word Yamanba, the name of an ugly witch in a Japanese folktale (Yamanba was a term the media used for the Gonguro). Because of the dangers of tanning, they often use dark skin foundation instead. Groups of Manba participate in Para Para dancing, or quick synchronized movements to techno music. Groups of Manba form Gal circles, the most popular one being Angeleek. Boys who spent their time in the same clubs as Manba adopted their own similar style. They became known as Center Guys (after Shibuya’s Center Street). Manba clothes and accessories vary, but are always trendy and garishly bright. Manba makeup consists of white lips and large white circle around the eyes. Colorful decals are placed around the face, and rainbow hair extensions are also popular.

7. Kigurumin

Kigurumin was a short lived (2003 to 2004) and strange fashion phenomenon. Girls who spent their time hanging out in Shibuya and wanted something comfortable to wear began sporting cheap animal costumes bought in party sections of stores. Along with a Pikachu, Hamtaro, or Winnie the Pooh costume, Kigurumin would carry animal purses, cute accessories, and wear manba makeup.

8. Nagomu Gal

Nagomu was an indie record label created in 1983. The label gained a large fan base. The name for fans, Nagomu Gals, first appeared in the magazine Takarajima. Nagomu Gals favored vintage clothing. They often wore long sleeved t-shirts, thick soled rubber shoes, and knee socks. The term Nagomu Gal was not exactly positive, as they were sometimes viewed as annoying fan girls. In 1989 the Nagomu label was shut down.

9. Lolita

Lolita is one of the most popular new Japanese subcultures, and has begun to appear in countries across the world. There are numerous Lolita brands, such as Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Metamorphose, and Angelic Pretty. Lolita fashion began becoming popular in the late 90s, and like the Nagomu style, it has been influenced by music. Gothic record labels in Japan lead to visual kei music, which helped inspire Gothic Lolita clothing. Visual kei refers to bands which wear extremely elaborate makeup and costumes. Lolita is also inspired by the clothing of the Rococo period. The name came from Mana (from the visual kei band Malice Mizer) who called the theme of his clothing line Elegant Gothic Lolita. The popular magazine Gothic and Lolita Bible came out in 2001. There are several different types of Lolita. Gothic Lolita involves primarily black frilled clothing. Sweet Lolita uses pastels, and lots of lace and bows. For punk Lolita, plaids and chains are combined with the frills. Wa Lolita incorporates traditional Japanese clothing, such as kimono, into the look. Accessories that are popular for Lolita include bonnets and headdresses, rocking horse shoes, parasols, petticoats, and frilled knee socks.

10. Decora

Decora is a Japanese street style popular today. In 1997, the magazine FRUiTS was created to display photographs of Japanese street fashion. Aki Kobayashi, the cover model of the first issue, wrote columns for FRUiTS about her style and how she created her own accessories. Soon, girls began making their own eccentric accessories. The style became known as Decora, and its followers traded and sold their accessories in Harajuku. Although each Decora outfit is unique, they all have the similarities of being extremely bright, decorative (hence the name), and cute. Decora girls wear an insane amount of plastic accessories and barrettes, neon skirts, colorful socks, and cute character products.

In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong.

Nowadays, society is making progress, equality of the sexes, so many girl break from parental control, project oneself them unisex nature and no exaggerated masculinity and so on.

However, on the other side, it easy to cause moral panic, this is provoked by several factors, including boredom and the mass media coverage, encouraged the violence by
building it into a spectacle.


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Postmodern Culture & Punk Subculture (Blog Week 2)

Postmodern Culture. The statement that we are living in postmodern times is an acknowledgement of postmodernism’s influence on contemporary culture.

Postmodernism gained currency in the 1960s with reference to certain tendencies in art and literature, but by the 1980s its meaning was expanded to describe a much more pervasive social and cultural mood within the whole of Western life. Like the modernist sensibility that preceded it, postmodernism celebrates the immediate over the distant, the new over the old, the present over the past. In these respects, at least, it seems to represent an extension–not an overcoming of modernist modes of thinking.

The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, and forms of expression, including fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film, which grew out of punk rock.

Punk-related ideologies are mostly concerned with individual freedom and anti-establishment views. Common punk viewpoints include anti-authoritarianism, a DIY ethic, non-conformity, direct action and not selling out. Other notable trends in punk politics include nihilism, anarchism, socialism, anti-militarism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-nationalism, anti-homophobia, environmentalism, vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights.

Punks seek to outrage others with the highly theatrical use of clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, tattoos, jewellery and body modification. Some punks cut their hair into Mohawks or other dramatic shapes, style it to stand in spikes, and color it with vibrant, unnatural hues.

Postmodernism has influenced many cultural fields, including religion, literary criticism, sociology, linguistics, architecture, history, anthropology, visual arts, and music. The punk subculture is a reflection of the Postmodern culture.


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