Second Paper Assignment on Media and Culture Industries

For this second essay, you will compare the one of the essay we covered in the “second third” of the class with the political-economy argument posed by Herbert Schiller.


Writing in the 1980s, Herbert Schiller observes the increasing control of culture by a decreasing number of corporations that prioritize profit over the artistic or cultural value of a work. Does this argument update and reinforce the “mass culture” argument made by Adorno and Horkheimer nearly fifty years earlier?

Discuss how the author of the one of the following essays extends Schiller’s argument about media and culture industries at the turn of the twenty-first century?

  1. Michael Curtin, “On Edge: Culture Industries in the Neo-Network Era.”
  2. Tom McCourt and Patrick Burkart, “When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of Online Music Distribution.”
  3. Tizania Terranova, “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy.”
  4. Mark Andrejevic, “The Work of Being Watched: Interactive Media and the Exploitation of Self-Disclosure.”
  5. Lawrence Grossberg, “The Affective Sensibility of Fandom.”

Sample Outline

  1. Introduction, based on your own ideas. Write this last.
  2. Summarize Schiller’s argument, including relevant quotes.
  3. Answer the question: *Does this reinforce, update, and extend the “culture industry” argument”?
  4. Analyze one of the other authors listed above: The work of _____________________________ extends this argument by…
    1. _____________________________
    2. _____________________________
    3. _____________________________
  5. Conclusion, not a summary.

A Quick Note on Lighting in Eyes Wide Shut

In Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, which we screened earlier today in my Ways of Seeing class at Pratt in support of teaching mise-en-scène, I observed a use of lighting that I didn’t get to cover in class.

In the scene where Bill and Alice are in the bedroom and begin the conversation about the sexual appetites of men and women, the are shown in a single shot, embracing each other.

Vlcsnap 2016 10 04 18h00m42s538

The lighting cast on both Bill and Alice in this shot is the same. However, the background has two distinct colors to it:

  1. a warm light cast by an incandescent light in the bedroom, presumably from the lamp on the bedside table, and
  2. a very cold, blue light cast from outside, visible behind Alice, that washes over the bathroom in the background.

At this point in the scene, the two begin their debate which escalates to the point that Alice leaps up from the bed, away from Bill. The two continue their disagreement but now are framed in separate shots, stitched together through editing.

Bill is still on the bed and primarily lit by the warm incandescent light from the lamp. The entire shot glows like that light.

Vlcsnap 2016 10 04 19h02m22s124

However, Alice is now opposite Bill, over by the bathroom, and though she is still illuminated by the lighting cast from the bedside lamp, the shot glows in a much colder, blue color.

Vlcsnap 2016 10 04 18h01m11s026

The visual differences between warm and cool lighting illustrates the split that Bill and Alice have encountered in their relationship. This split will activate the crisis throughout the rest of the film and will only get resolved when they are both cast in similarly cool light after both sharing traumatic experiences.

Vlcsnap 2016 10 04 18h24m51s356

Patricio Guzman’s The Pearl Button at IFC Center

Relevant to the Latin American film course I am teaching at Pratt this semester is the latest documentary from Patricio Guzman. The Pearl Button covers two historically distinct but thematically related atrocities: British colonization in the nineteenth century and the military dictatorship of the late twentieth century.

The film is screening at IFC Center in Greenwich Village from now through November 5, 2015.

(Via Screen Slate: you should subscribe to their site to stay updated on independent, repertory, and art film screenings around NYC.)

Digital Job Search — The Center for Communication

The Center for Communication, a New York–based organization dedicated to connecting today’s media industry professionals with the leaders of tomorrow, is hosting a workshop on jobs in the technology sector.


Wednesday, March 11, 6:30 to 8:00 pm
The New School
Theresa Lang Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor

The technology sector is booming! Exciting opportunities (with incredible perks) exist in this highly competitive field. Silicon Alley recruiters share insights on the various openings and the skills you need to land a job.


Unfit for Our Early Print Class

The material I covered in last night’s class was a little lighter than I had anticipated. This is the first time I’ve split up the material on print into two sections to correspond with the textbook’s chapter structure: early print and mass print.

If you want to follow up on some of the material we covered, here are some resources I would recommend.

As my friends would say… ABC: Always Be Curious.

Telegraphs and Blizzards Don’t Mix

Due to the “potentially historic” blizzard due to hit the Northeast today and tomorrow, all classes at Fordham scheduled on Monday after 1:00 PM and on Tuesday are cancelled. We will have to wait until next week to discuss Tom Standage’s book The Victorian Internet.


Incidentally, during the Blizzard of 1888, one of the most intense snow storms to ever hit New York City, telegraph lines that hung above the street posed one of the greatest dangers. Ice formed on the wires and threatened to bring down the lines with icicles acting as daggers. This particular blizzard is why power lines are now underground and why many cities moved to construct underground mass transit systems, such as the cities.

An Apple-1, on Sale at Christie’s, Finds a Techie –

Remember how we discussed the Apple II in class last night?

If you want to get your hands on the even older Apple I, you can bid on one at a Christie’s auction for about $400,000.

Corey Cohen, a vintage computer enthusiast, has been bringing these back to life and shared some insights into these machines with the New York Times.

What accounts for the soaring value of the Apple–1? The popularity of Apple?

Yes, partially because of Apple. There were only 175 made. There are only 60-odd boards that are actually known to still exist. It’s probably one of the prettiest boards that you see because it was laid out really well. The Apple–1 board is a piece of art.

How much computing power does an Apple–1 have?

It’s incredible how primitive the machines are. You were able to type commands in to do things, but they were extremely cryptic. If you wanted to add two numbers it was a fairly complicated task. You couldn’t even backspace on an Apple–1. Your iPhone is light years ahead.

Couldn’t even backspace? Was there no control-H?

Update: The computer sold for a bargain: $365,000.

Online Advertising and Wasting “Half” Your Advertising Budget

John Wannamaker, a very successful nineteenth century department store mogul, famously once said that “I know I’m wasting half of my advertising budget, I just don’t know which half.” In his day, he didn’t have to contend with online advertising and click-fraud.

Take it with a grain of salt, but a trade group representing the nation’s biggest advertisers has found that bots are costing advertisers billions of dollars. According to Bill Cromwell at Media Life, the report…

offers an in-depth look at bots, software that imitates humans by going to web sites and clicking on ads and activating online videos, creating fraudulent traffic that advertisers end up paying for. The study predicts bot fraud will cost global advertisers $6.3 billion next year.

In mass media, advertising involves three parties. The advertiser wants to deliver a message. The publisher, such as a television station, magazine, or website, will display the ad in exchange for a payment. An advertising agent places an advertiser’s advertisement in a publisher’s publication. The first two parties are almost the same in the online world, but the role of advertising agent is often done by an advertising network. (Google owns the largest advertising network in the world.) Most commonly, advertisers pay for each click their ad receives. If memory serves, the higher the click-through rate the more money the publisher and advertising network receive from the advertiser. This is clicks generated by software, rather than human beings who will actually respond to an advertising message, is a problem.

Lastly, I say to take this with a grain of salt because advertisers are likely looking to drive the price of online ads down. Moreover, the organizational co-author of the report, White Ops, is a technology firm that sells bot-detection software. It absolutely makes sense that they would find that bots and click-fraud are a big problem for advertisers.

Starbucks, Facing a Saturated Market, Looks to the High End –

About a week ago in class, I presented to you, as an example of “disassociation,” the case of the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet.

Here’s another example of dissociation: Starbucks is going high-end. For years, Starbucks has become more or less the default coffee shop in most of the world and certainly in America. However, there’s been competition coming from cafes that feature baristas with fancy hats among other accoutrements. That’s right, instead of serving coffee that has been “roasted within an inch of its life,” as The Awl’s Matt Buchanan refers to it, Starbucks will serve single-origin, small batch coffees that will be prepared by hand. This is to placate, ahem, discriminating coffee drinkers, like me. And as I order a $7 manual pourover coffee that will take five minutes to make, I will not be reminded of the Starbuckses that crowd every corner of Manhattan, every airport concourse, and mall in America. They will be disassociating themselves from that Starbucks.

To distinguish Reserve from its mass-market cousin, Starbucks is banishing, to a great extent, its green mermaid logo at the new shops and in the product line. The Reserve stores and line of coffees instead carry a star logo, along with a red “R.”

From a coffee-drinker and armchair-business–analyst perspective, this could either be a great opportunity to bring high-quality single-origin coffee to the masses or it could be Budweiser Select.

Justice for Black Lives March, at CUNY Queens College, December 10, 12:15 PM

A student group at CUNY Queens College, QC Students Without Borders, has called on the QC faculty to rally students to protest the unindicted murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York City.

We are from a club called Students Without Border on the QC campus. As you may have heard the state has decided to not indict the officers who’ve murdered Michael Brown and also Eric Garner. The failure to indict these officers has shown once again that this criminal justice system doesn’t value black life. This is also seen with very similar cases of black youth being executed by the police forces such as Oscar Grant, Rahmarley Graham, Travyvon Martin, Shantel Davis, Akai Gurley and Tamir Rice.

Our club likes to bring social issues like these to the light which deserve mass participation from the people. We are issuing a wide call for an action on campus next Wednesday, December 10, during the free hour, 12:15–1:40pm, in the main cafeteria hall. Justice for Black Lives March [aims to] show, that although the courts may not value black life, at the very least Queens College can stand up and say we do.