Friday, 17 May 2013


In the US in 2012, music downloads accounted for 55.9% of all music sales.

Online Music Piracy Destroys Local Music:
95% Of Music Downloads Are Illegal:
The Positive Effects Of Music Piracy:

Positive Effects Of Music Piracy:

  • Better distribution of music
  • Leads to greater concert attendance
  • Greater record sales for lesser known artists
Neil Young On Piracy:

Why Are Shock Tactics Used In Media Products

Music continues to rely on shock tactics to gain noteriety to the ponit that some artisits are better known for their stage show and image than their music. and this is by no means a recent occurence. Shock tactics in music began in the 1960's with various artists employing a variety of unconventional stagecraft. Examples being The Who smashing their instruments to pieces, Alice Cooper performing a fake beheading, Iggy Pop rolling around in broken glass and inventing stage diving and Jim Morrison pretending to be shot in the head when The Doors performed their song 'The Unknown Soldier'. These odd and provocative acts became well known amongst music fans and provoked interest in the artisits in question because it helped seperate them from other bands who had no recognisable stage show. Some bands would not have a stage show and would opt for a different shock tactic; sheer volume. For example, The Grateful Dead utilising their 'Wall Of Sound' amplifier setup to surprise the audience with their unfathomably loud concerts. Having a recognisable performance forms a legend around performers. Music culture thrives on tales of outlandish actions and acts such as detroying your equipment at the end of a show generates more interest in the act.

Iggy Pop walking on the crowd at a show

Jim Morrison pretends to be dead as The Doors play 'The Unkown Soldier'

The Grateful Dead's defeaning "Wall Of Sound" amplifier setup

And shock tactics have by no means been abondoned by performers nowadays, in fact they have been updated for a modern, desensitised audience. Performers have become more provocative, scary and even violent to attract attention. The Heavy Metal band Slipknot are a prime example as their stage show includes band members actively fighting each other and over the top pyrotechnics. The bands three percussionists are elevated on hydraulic drum risers which shake violently over the audience. Slipknot are well known for this chaotic and terrifying live show and this has contributed to their success which includes several grammy nominations and three platinum albums. Other performers take older shock tactics and change them for a modern audience. For example, Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato advancing Iggy Pop's stage diving. Iggy Pop would simply run across the stage and jump into the audience while Greg Puciato climbs the lighting rig above the stage and throws himself as much as 30 feet into the crowd. Clearly, shock tactics are an important part of performance. Shock tactics push the boundaries of what is acceptable, always creating new and interesting performance styles which is precisely what music thrives on; forming new and creative styles of music and thus innovative stagecraft is an essential component of music for many performers as it generates interest from an understimulated public who are looking for an exciting live performance.

Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist, Ben Weinman, climbs the lighting rig at a show.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Film Ratings - Controversy and Debates

The release of the documentary film, 'Bully' generated controversy because the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave the film an R rating meaning that no children under the age of 17 could see the film unless they were accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. As the documentary is primarily aimed at children and teenagers it was argued that the R rating would sabotage the film as a large proportion of the film's audience wouldn't be able to see the it an would not receive help with their own bullying problems as a result. The documentary's distribution company, The Weinstein Company launched an appeal against the rating so bullied children of all ages could see the film but the appeal failed.

The cast and crew of the movie, 'Blue Valentine' were outraged when the movie received an NC-17 rating due to the movie containing an oral sex scene. The movies star actor Ryan Gosling argued, "How is it possible that these movies that torture women in a sexual context can have an R rating but a husband and wife making love is inappropriate?". The MPAA eventually changed the rating of 'Blue Valentine' to an R rating and actress Michelle Williams was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the movie.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Institutions Involved With Paranormal Activity 4

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures was the distributor for the movie. It is a major distributor for television and film and is one of the top grossing production studios in the world having made a profit of $2.1 billion in 2011. Paramount Pictures is also a unit of the media conglomerate Viacom which is the fourth largest media conglomerate in the world. Paranormal Activity 4 is somewhat of an anomoly in Paramount Pictures works since most of the studios movies have been blockbuster action movies and dramas such as Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart as well as family friendly movies such as Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda. It is very unusual for Paramount Pictures to distribute a horror movie, especially a movie like Paranormal Activity that has such an incredible simple premise. One can only assume that the distribution company was attracted to the movie due to the franchises reputation for grossing a lot at the box office and not for the content of the movie itself. The movie itself benefits from having the Paramount Pictures brand applied to it as Paramount has been distributing movies since 1912 and it's logo (a snowcapped mountain with the word 'Paramount' encircled by stars) is an instantly recognisable piece of iconography for many people as it has appeared in the credits to countless movies for over a century.

Henry Joost

Henry Joost is a little known name in Hollywood having directed just four movies. However he is making a name for himself as a capable director, his work on Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 has earned him a reputation as a man who knows how to make a good profit and his most recent film, Catfish, is now making him recognised as a good quality film maker as Catfish recieved positive reviews from most critics.

Product Placement

Paranormal Activity 4 featured an explicit amount of product placement. Entire scenes of the movie seem tailored to show off products including the Macbook, Canon XA10 and multiple smart phones. One 5 minute scene of the movie consists almost entirely of an actor discussing the Kinect add-on to the Xbox 360, the actor practically gives a full tech demo to the product showing off its many functions. While these products do play important roles in advancig the plot of the movie it is definitely possible that the film makers were at least encouraged to give these products significant portions of screen time.


The film was released on Blu-Ray and DVD and was released in IMAX theatres, Paranormal Activity 4 is a movie that relies a lot on impacting the audience with shocking imagery and crescendo moments so it makes good business sense to release the movie in formats such as Blu-Ray which has the highest visual qaulity of any home movie viewing experiece, therefore getting the audience more worked up and scared by the scary moments of the movie. IMAX theatres have the highest quality and most realistic looking 3D currently available and 3D is now practically essential in marketing a blockbuster movie such as Paranormal Activty 4 because 3D enhances the viewing experiece for a lot of movie goers.

The film lived up to the franchises reputation for featuring blockbuster movies as Paranormal Activty 4 grossed a worldwide total of $140,706,358. However the movie did gross considerably less than its two predecessors indicating a drop in the interest of the Paranormal Activity franchise or a growing disinterest in this style of "hidden camera" film.

Critical Response

The film recieved mostly mediocre and negative reviews and is considere by most critics and fans to be the most dissapointing movie in the franchise.

Rotten Tomatoes - 26% approval rating based on 94 reviews."While it does manage to wring a few more screams out of the franchise's surprisingly durable premise, Paranormal Activity 4 provides fans of the series with dismayingly diminishing returns."

Metacritic - 40 out of 100 based on 22 reviews.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Impact Of Blogs On The Film Industry

Movie blogs have increased in popularity in recent years as they are a fresh new take on journalism. Most of the writers for these blogs are not paid for their contributions so are therefore writing these blogs as a creative outlet, indicating a greater passion for film than a magazine critic who sees their work as a job rather than a hobby.

Blogs are also popular because they are not bound by the rules of older media such as magazines or TV. A critic may be restricted from giving something a negative review in a magazine or a TV show but on their own blog  writer has the freedom to write their own opinions even if they aren't popular. There is a greater sincerity and dedication to these blogs because they offer so much creative freedom, they build large fan bases because their audience is looking for a critic whose opinions they can trust.

An example of this guerrilla style of film journalism would be the blog "". This is certainly a blog whose style could probably never translate well to television. is reminiscent of a stand up routine of Bill Hicks or George Carlin in the way that the blogger mercilessly attacks movies and the movie indusrty in general. The blogger uses large amounts of profanity and is incredibly sarcastic. One example of  this acerbic criticism is the blogs review of 'Movie 43' where the blogger states in the opening of the review, "I won't fucking sit here and shun the binds of commercial Hollywood especially when it churns wrong shit like this". This is a style that can easily find a home and a loyal fan base on the internet, if the blogger tried to apply this style to a TV show his reviews would constantly be censored by the producers or he would be asked to remove or add content to his review. On the internet the blogger is free to swear as much as he wants and say his own opinion and have it left unmolested by any producers or directors.

Most movie blogs contain a link to a trailer of the movie that they are reviewing. This is another aspect where new media is more advanced than more conventional media platforms. Having the trailer available to watch helps the audience get a better grasp of the film, with a media form such as film the only way to truly experience the product in question is to watch some of the film as it allows you to get the basic gist of the film such as what the acting is like, what is the tone of the movie, where it is set etc. With a magazine review you simply can't get the full experience since there is no trailer conveniently at your disposal, you cannot properly experience the build up to the movie.

Even on a TV review show a lot of producers are reluctant to give trailers of their films up for review for copyright reasons or because they are afraid that a negative review will tarnish the films reputation and ensure less viewership. However on the internet the blogs are not violating any copyright laws since they are simply linking to a film trailer, not featuring the trailer on their own website. Also because their are so many movie blogs on the internet, one bad review from a blog doesn't ensure a huge fall in the number of people who are interested in the movie. However because their are only a handful of movie review shows on TV one bad review from one of those shows could be extremely detrimental to a films viewership. In this case both the audience and the film industry benefit from the presence of online movie blogs. The audience benefits because the availability of so many blogs allows the audience to gather many different opinions on a movie, allowing them to weigh up critics opinions and gather more extensive supplies of information before they see the movie. The movie industry also benefits because the blogs advertise the movies but the industry doesn't have to spend anything to advertise the movies since the bloggers are doing these reviews of their own accord. And because their are so many movie blogs there is more space for negative reviews as a handful of negative reviews do not guarantee a significant fallout in viewership.

Blogs are a great place for personal expression for people who didn't have a voice with older media. has its own blog section that users can post on, the most popular section of the blog is the page where users can submit their own fan fiction. Their are literally hundreds of these fan created scripts posted on the blog ranging from unique death scenes to entire scripts that fans have written for their own films. While this doesn't directly benefit the film industry it does allow the fans of the Final Destination franchise to get more invested in the movies, brain storming their own ideas for a movie is a great way to get people thinking about a movie and will help build a loyal and sustainable fan base as fan fiction has been popular with hardcore fans for as long as the internet has been in wide use. There is plenty of fan fiction on the internet encompassing everything from Star Wars to The Simpsons and fan fiction can easily turn the more creative and hardcore fans into rabid fans who will want to experience everything that the franchise in question is marketing.

While many blogs are non-profit there are some that do make money for the bloggers and most of these make their profits through advertising. has many ads on every page of the blog. This actually provides a very stable source of income. Magazine and television critics have their jobs constantly in jeopardy since one unpopular review could lead to them being blacklisted from the broadcast or print institutions. Having ads on your blog provides you with a stable source of income since visitors to your blog don't even have to click on the ads, simply viewing the page with the ads on it makes profit for the blogger. The ads are also relatively unobtrusive since they are not pop-up ads or embedded YouTube videos that automatically play when accessing the website so the audience isn't discouraged from visiting the blog. If a blog is popular enough a blogger can actually make a living off of simply having ads on their blog and they don't have the threat of being fired because they are technically self employed.

Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have proved instrumental in advertising in recent years. and indeed many other blogs have links to Facebook and Twitter pages. These websites have already been used to advertise movies, TV shows and music and now bloggers are using them as they help to ensure a loyal fan base.Having Facebook users sharing or 'liking' the blog on Facebook is a source of free advertising since your blog is being shared among more people while the blogger hasn't had to do anything besides create and maintain the Facebook page. A Twitter account is also useful as it allows you to send out information to your followers quickly, for example if you want your fans to know that you have a new review out you can send a tweet nad have plenty of your fan base aware of your new content.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Supersize Vs. Superskinny - Analysis

1. How Are The People Represented In The Clips?

The two brides on the show both serve as a sort of freak show for the audience. The opening shots are full body shots of both women in cheap flesh coloured underwear with extreme bright lighting. All of these factors combine to make the women look utterly unappealing, emphasising their pale skin and disproportional bodies. The show has an unusual way of drawing the audiences attention, presenting them with unattractive imagery that captivates the mind simply because it is something unusual that the average person can gawk at.

2. What Do You Think Is The Appeal Of Lifestyle Programming Such As These?

A show such as Supersize Vs. Superskinny seems to rely on two motivating factors for viewership; escapism and educational benefits. First and foremost the show emphasizes the unattractive aspects of the two brides and allows the audience to poke fun at them and be thankful that they themselves don't have a weight problem or if they do have a weight problem they can watch the show and feel better about themselves to know that other people share their burden. Less important in attracting an audience are Jillian McKeith and Anna Richardson, the two diet experts who give advice on how to maintain a healthy body. People may watch the show to pick up tips from Richardson and McKeith and in that sense the show has an educational aspect. However these segments are clearly seen as an accompaniment to the main act of the two subjects who are trying to gain/lose weight. The show seems to exist primarily as a source of entertainment rather than a serious forum for discussion on health. The "freak show" aspect of the show is greatly emphasised by the opening sequence which gives much longer screen time to the two people struggling with their weight.

3. Do You Believe That Lifestyle Programming Creates And Fuels Negative Ideologies?

I believe that most lifestyle programming does create and fuel negative ideologies. Supersize Vs. Superskinny is definitely not the only show of its kind. Embarrassing Bodies and Snog, Marry, Avoid also profit off of taking people who are not considered attractive by most of society and exploiting their characteristics and traits to serve as something for the public to point and laugh at. These shows conduct their societal cleansing by thinly disguising their shows as educational when clearly all the focus is not on trying to improve one's own  image but rather poking fun at anyone who doesn't conform to conventional ideas of what it is acceptble to look like. On Snog, Marry, Avoid for example, most of the subjects on the show don't have a weight problem or have a poor grasp of fashion, they are simply followers of "alternative" fashions such as the "Goth/Scene" look or any number of Asian fashion trends. These people attempt to embrace different cultures or try to bring in new clothes or hairstyles to prevent the fashion world from stagnating and instead they are shunned for being too far out on the lunatic fringe when in fact fashion is all about finding one's own signature style and being proud of it rather than making everybody conform to similar ideas of what is considered beautiful.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Henry Rollins Show - Case Study

The Henry Rollins Show was essentially a televised forum for music, movies, art and independent thinking. The show was on the American television network IFC (Independent Film Channel). Anomalous in it's premise, The Henry Rollins Show featured live musical performances, interviews with actors, directors and musicians and skits such as the 'Teeing Off' segment of the show where host Henry Rollins would give his opinion on a certain topic. Henry Rollins is an intimidating presence, tall, muscle bound, covered in tattoo's and sporting a grey crew cut, Rollins speaks clearly and in a 'matter-of-fact' voice that clearly outlines the point of the show; to deliver culture and intellectual nourishment in a sensible and progressively minded environment.

Channel And Brand Identity

The Henry Rollins Show was somewhat of an anomaly for IFC. In recent years IFC has been known for showing re-runs of modern American sitcoms such as Arrested Development and Malcolm In The Middle and certain British exports such as The IT Crowd. The Henry Rollins Show almost seems to have been a purposeful break in the IFC routine to cease re-runs and create their own recognisable original programming. The show is certainly not a simple minded 'entertainment' show whose purpose is necessarily to make the audience laugh, the show is more focused on bringing culture to the masses and in that case it was very successful in breaking IFC out of it's rut of airing other television network's shows.

Target Audience And Scheduling

The target audience for The Henry Rollins Show seems to be anybody with an interest in culture or independent thinking. There is very little that indicates that the show is geared towards any particular age group, there is very little slang in Rollins' speech, modern topics for discussion such as the internet are typically passed up for more widely recognised topics that focus on improving one's own outlook on life. There is occasional swearing from Rollins himself meaning that children are obviously exempt from the ideal audience but all other age groups seem to be well catered for. Perhaps the only aspect of the show that seems geared towards particular groups of people are the live music performances. Most bands featured on the show are underground acts such as Dinosaur Jr, Jurassic 5, and Bob Mould, artists that are only largely recognised in their own sub-genres and therefore may be alien to the average music listener who is not well informed on underground music.

Audience Appeals And Responses

The main appeal of the show is Henry Rollins himself. Rollins past in the underground American music scene is legendary. Rollins was the lead singer of the Hardcore Punk band Black Flag, it was here during the 1980's that Rollins (perhaps deliberately) built his image as a gentle giant, his square jaw, aggressive stage presence and toned body being misnomers to the well spoken and disciplined man that he truly is. Making Rollins the host of the show was a smart move by IFC as Rollins has a lot of respect from music fans and has achieved status in the alternative music world as an arbiter of truth and decency. Segments of the show such as 'Teeing Off' and 'Rollins Reconsider's are a joy to watch as the audience gets to see Rollins in his element, viciously dismantling aspects of society that he has qualms with. These segments are also very easy to relate for a wide audience as often Rollins doesn't discuss topics such as the economy or politicians but rather concepts such as truth and free speech, Rollins deals more in "personal politics", asking the audience to figure themselves out before they concern themselves with larger problems that relate to the whole world. These concepts are encountered by everyone on an almost daily basis and therefore can actually be more widely and democratically discussed than any political issue.

The second function of the show is as a platform for the arts. Each episode of the show feature an interview with one subject and a performance from a band. Despite it's small budget The Henry Rollins Show certainly didn't skimp on the star appeal of their guests as interview subjects have included Ozzy Osbourne, Eddie Izzard, Steve Buscemi, Marilyn Manson and Christopher Walken. The show's roster of interview subjects is very impressive with some of the music and film worlds most recognisable personalities who are there to give insight on their projects and personal lives. In this way The Henry Rollins Show is appealing in the same way as shows such as The Graham Norton Show or Late Night With David Letterman, the show is a laid back conversation between people who want to discuss the arts and is informative for the audience, the audience uses the show to hear from their idols.

Format And Technology

All episodes of The Henry Rollins Show are available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, perhaps to engage a younger audience who are often better aquainted with services such as Netflix. These streaming video services have become incredibly popular in recent years with more and more people relying on their computers for entertainment rather than their TV's and a show like The Henry Rollins Show that is focused on culture and the arts benifits from being available on the internet where it can reach a larger audience. People usually watch TV to be entertained but people will often go on the intenet to be informed so it makes sense to have a cerebral and intellectual show such as The Henry Rollins Show available on the internet where it is in peoples better interests.