Archive for February, 2014

Jessica Abdilla- Participatory Culture and Veronica Mars

As mentioned in Mark Deuze’s article on convergence culture, the nature of media is dramatically changing. Rather than companies having full power over passive consumers, individuals online can actively create and shape media discourse. Writing consumer critiques, creating memes and even engaging with the corporate sector through social networks, consumers are able to control business affairs and monitor political affairs. Kickstarter in particular is a crowd-funding website where consumers have immense power: they decide which commercial platforms are worth investing in, fund platforms they believe in and impact both the development and distribution of funded commercial goods. Veronica Mars fans recently interacted with the program’s creator (Rob Thomas) through Kickstarter and raised over $5.7 million for The Veronica Mars Movie to be created. Becoming investors in a major Hollywood film, Veronica Mars fans actively took power into their own hands. In a digital world, consumers resist passivity and are able to blend public and private spheres of communication.
Here is a link to more information about The Veronica Mars Movie for anyone interested:

James Twitchell highlights how North America, specifically America is so captivated and immersed with consumer culture. There values and norms are based off individual consumption habits, in our society we are defined through our material possessions. Materialism is the obsession, and emphasis of values placed on ones possessions. Twitchell states how people create their identities and define themselves through buying things, these things are referred to “goods as in goods and services” (P282).

The movie “The Bling Ring” is based off a true story of high school teens who are obsessed with celebrity culture and materialism. These teens are so immersed in a materialistic and celeb culture that they break into celebrity houses to steal their high end goods, so they could be apart of that lifestyle.

In Friday class (February 28), we watched a film that compared the 20 million dollar Chanel ad and the 20 million dollar Pepsi ad. The Chanel advertisement had Nicole Kidman walking down a red carpet, and then a shot of her on top of a building with ‘Chanel’ lit up in lights. The ad is very glamorous and portrays Chanel as a very luxurious brand. The Pepsi advertisement, on the other hand, took that 20 million dollars and allowed consumers to submit ideas on different causes that could use the money. The chosen causes were documented and put in an advertisement. The result was that the Pepsi ad became way more popular than the Chanel ad. There are a couple possible explanations for this. Perhaps, the Pepsi ads are more relatable for the average consumer than the Chanel ad could be. Another reason that came to mind, was that people love a good story. Referencing my last post (on the Budweiser ‘BestBuds’ ad), people like stories that pull at their heart strings and this is exactly what Pepsi’s ad accomplishes. Another reason why I thought that this ad was so popular is the interactive factor. Consumer’s like to feel as though they are being heard. They are often left to feel as if they are the ‘little guys’ in the grand scheme of things and by asking for the community’s participation, Pepsi recognizes their consumers and wants to give back to the people that made them this mega company. Another, recent example of this interactive factor in advertisement’s is the Lay’s commercial to create a new chip flavour. By allowing this input from buyers, consumers feel like they have a voice, making the company seem like they care about the consumers.



At the very start of the break, I did a big shopping trip with my entire family. We decided to go to Yorkdale because it is not one of the closer malls to us and we felt like a change. I had not been to Yorkdale mall in a very long time, so the style of the place through me off a little. Right away it was apparent that this mall was much higher-class than the malls I regularly go to (Sqaure One, Sherway). Practically every store was a high designer store, and even the food court only had franchises associated with high-class such as Sushi and steak sandwiches. Despite being the weekend, the mall was not as busy as one might think. Perhaps this is because there is only a certain demographic of people who can afford to shop at this mall. 

When Fiske mentions businesses establishing an identity, what first came to my mind was the Apple store. The entire aura of the Apple store looks fresh, clean, and appealing. They have large windows instead of walls and all their products are laid out in front of you in an organized fashion. It is obvious how successful the Apple franchise is, and I think a lot of that can be attributed to the way they portray their brand. In relation to this, I was walking through Yorkdale with my family and I noticed my first ever “Microsoft Store” spotting. Seeing this store made me laugh because it was practically an exact replica of the Apple Store. It is clear that Microsoft noticed how well the design of the Apple store was doing, and they decided to hop on the same boat. Microsoft wanted to be a part of that sleek identity.

This is the store I saw:

Over the break I went on a little road trip across the state of New York. During my time their I visited many of the schools and viewed their on campus clothing stores. There were always many students frequenting the stores looking for new products in order to promote their school spirit. This was a common example of Fiske’s idea of creating an identity through the use of wearing specific products. In the stores they had a variety of different things from shoes to sunglasses at a completely over priced rate. This shows how much people are willing to spend just to promote a certain image whether it be through their school spirit or just to fit in. 

At home over the break I went shopping in a local mall with my mother. As it was a Saturday night the mall was not extremely busy.  My mother had said to me earlier that day she wanted to buy something new, so we spent a couple hours of our Saturday evening shopping. On our trip we had bought something from a majority of the stores we entered. My mother’s comment on buying something new and purchasing multiple items for the spring season to come, relates directly to Fiske’s reading. Fiske discusses women’s desire to be up to date on trends, purchasing not only items of newness but “nowness,” buying items with the thought of the future in mind. While shopping, there were a growing number of people going to the dressing rooms, trying on the clothes before buying them. I myself was also guilty of this, and asked the sales assistant for her opinion on which product looked better. This relates to what Fiske’s says about women controlling their looks, so they can control how they are perceived by others. During our experience I had also noticed that the higher end stores had minimalistic window decor, expressing little to none in their displays, and some did not show much visibility into the store. In comparison to the other stores, especially the stores with discounts going on, which had much busier decor in their window displays. This relates directly to Fiske’s reading when he talks about the differences between the “middle-class” and “upper-class” stores. Fiske states that the point of “upper-class” stores lack of visibility and window displays is to create exclusivity. Meanwhile, “middle-class” stores are supposed to be more inviting and display the variety of goods inside says Fiske. The difference between “upper-class” and “middle-class” store displays is to show the division between social identity and the tastes of different classes.

Jennifer Nugent – Quiz #2

Posted: February 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

In order to go shopping I went to the closest mall to my parents house in Mississauga. I went in the early afternoon and by the time I was ready to leave, the mall was quite busy. Just after 2:00pm the mall was filled with numerous high school students who had just finished school for the day. Most of the students stood in large groups in the centre of the mall or took up multiple tables in the food court. The important thing I noticed was that not a single one looked like they had any intentions of buying anything yet they definitely did not look like they were in any hurry to get home. This reminded my of Fiske’s “proletariat” shopper or window-shopper who, as we read, would not be at the mall to shop. 

On my way out of the mall I stopped at a small convenience store and I noticed on the door they had a sign that said “only 3 students at a time”. I’m sure many people, myself included, have seen a sign like this before but today I decided to ask the cashier why they had such a sign. He explained to me that the sign is try and prevent theft because a lot of students will come in and walk out with things in their backpacks. He also said that another reason they have the sign is to discourage students who have no intention of buying anything from coming into the store. Having a crowded store prevents the people who actually want to purchase things from coming in. 

This experience made me think about Fiske’s theory of consumption and how it is socially situated. The students that are sitting the mall empty handed are there because they don’t have the income to spend on a daily basis. Therefore, do they hang out at the mall to make them look like they have that kind of money? Do they hang out at the mall to try and appear as if part of a higher social class? It’s an interesting question to consider.