Posted by: itslikethatweb | October 14, 2012

Re-coding the Media Beast

Although the processes of deconstruction we’ve been exploring in Media & Society have cast a dark shadow of analytical thinking over all of my media consumption, I know that it’s for the best. Being able to break down elements of media from basic interpersonal communication between friends to larger-scale Hollywood films seems at first tedious, but pulling apart all of these carefully crafted messages shows us so much about the nature of the building blocks.

Chapter 17 explores binary oppositions (i.e. male and female, black and white, etc.), which some critical theorists would refer to more specifically as “false hierarchical binaries.” As the text goes on to discuss, these binaries position cultural classifications in dualistic opposing categories, which are essential to organizing language. I felt squirmy, however, about the exclusion of “false hierarchical” in the text’s language, since the process of opposition so frequently constructs incorrect and socially destructive assumptions about one side of the binary (as Turner does explain on pg. 283). They also oversimplify our understanding of identifiers like race, gender, and sexuality – all three are much more complex than a binary can encapsulate.

I don’t disagree that binaries can be helpful in many way to suss out a very complicated world, but as a communicator, worry about how readily we may accept their simplicity. In what ways can we integrate complexity into our perception and discourse without overloading ourselves and our audience? Are there subtle ways, like through showing rather than telling?

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